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Today's Opinions

  • Focus legislation on one issue at a time

    The U. S. Senate, as you probably know, left Washington for a lengthy summer recess without passing an appropriation for research on the Zika virus. Though most senators agreed on the funding, Democrats disagreed with provisions unrelated to this issue, which had been included in the bill by Republicans.
    Among those provisions were restrictions on funding for birth control services from Planned Parenthood, weakened clean water laws governing pesticides and, as if the nation needs something else to motivate people to shoot each other, a provision that would have allowed the Confederate flag to be displayed at military cemeteries.
    Let us not, for this moment, debate the Planned Parenthood issue, the pesticide issue or even the Confederate flag issue. Let’s talk about process.
    This process, sometimes called logrolling, is what happens when legislation is written so that in order to vote for one thing that a legislator is in favor of, the legislator has to vote for something he or she opposes.
    In this case, according to the news reports, U. S. senators on both sides are now waiting for a few American babies to be born with tragic deformities so they can point fingers at each other. At least New Mexico, with its low humidity, is not a heavy mosquito state.  

  • The cost of RPS in New Mexico

    BY TIMOTHY J. CONSIDINE
    Professor, University of Wyoming

  • Perspectives on a national conversation

    BY CHIEF DINO SGAMBELLONE
    Los Alamos Police Department

  • Is romantic, exotic “Land of Enchantment” overlay useful today?

    With her energy, money and international company of luminaries, Mabel Dodge Luhan helped create New Mexico as a romantic ”Land of Enchantment.” By the time Luhan and others wrote in New Mexico Quarterly, Summer 1951, she had been in Taos for 33 years. It is likely her leadership time had passed. Luhan died in 1962.
    (My complete notes from the New Mexico Quarterly are posted at capitolreportnm.blogspot.com.)
    Drawn by romance and exoticness, pilgrims continue to come. In 1980 I met an aspiring poet who couldn’t spell.
    I mock the pilgrims occasionally for their mantra, “I came to New Mexico, saw the sun set over the mountain and found God.”
    Such folks are prone to overlooking the details of paying the bills. Unless, like Luhan, they bring money, such details catch them. Then they return to New York or wherever, mumbling about stupid New Mexicans. Very annoying.
    The sixties brought hippies and communes. In 2013, New Mexico Magazine said that by the late 1960s, the state had 25 communes, “according to one count.” The reception was mixed. One view shows in an essay, “Taos: Hippies, Hopper and Hispanic Anger,” in “Telling New Mexico A New History.” Other perspectives appear in “Scrapbook of a Taos Hippie,” by Iris Keltz, published in 2000.

  • What’s your bedroom worth on Airbnb?

    It’s called the sharing economy, and it’s dismantling our economic models.
    Need a ride? Text Uber to have a driver show up and take you there in his or her own vehicle. Need a vacation rental? Go to Airbnb.com to book everything from a castle to a couch directly from the owner. Need tools, sports gear, photo equipment, garden space? Somebody will rent them to you for a few bucks.
    Last week the city of Santa Fe and the town of Taos reached an agreement with Airbnb to collect lodgers’ taxes from Airbnb hosts, beginning August 1.
    Until now, people renting their homes or mother-in-law quarters or bedrooms have been invisible to the tax man, but traditional hotels, motels, and bed and breakfast inns pay lodgers’ taxes to promote their areas. This, in fact, was a complaint during legislative Jobs Council hearings last year.
    Santa Fe has an estimated 1,000 short-term rentals operating, even though the local ordinance allowed just 350. The City Different estimated it was losing up to $2.1 million in lodgers’ taxes each year, along with uncollected gross receipts taxes, and hoteliers complained the underground rentals were unfairly competing. Santa Fe now allows 1,000 and requires a permit; violations can mean stiff fines. Santa Fe and Taos city officials look forward to new revenues to help balance the budget.

  • Luhan brought artists, romantics, intelligentsia and radicals to Taos

    Maybe Mabel Dodge Luhan didn’t do everything required to create a romantic overlay on Taos and northern New Mexico. But she did a lot.
    An excellent show at the Harwood Museum of Art (harwoodmuseum.org) in Taos, running through September 11, tells Mabel’s tale without quite making the leap to one significant result.
    An article in the Summer 2016 issue of the Museum of New Mexico’s “El Palacio” (elpalacio.org) magazine, “A ‘Creator of Creators,’” parallels the exhibit. The author, Lois Rudnick, now retired to Santa Fe, apparently is the expert on all things Mabel.
    I brought to the exhibit general knowledge that Luhan lived in Taos a long time and famous people such as D.H. Lawrence visited. At the exhibit, a page from the New Mexico Quarterly, summer 1951 issue, was open to view. It said, “For the world Taos has become a living symbol…” This symbol creation appears something that happened as a layer on top of the locals who weren’t especially involved.
    In late 1917, Luhan was summoned to New Mexico. Husband three, Maurice Stern, wrote her from Santa Fe, “Save the Indians, their art—culture—reveal it to the world!”
    Save the Indians! They are objects, artifacts.

  • Early voting may involve a long drive

    The map of New Mexico is a vivid reminder of what starkly different worlds we New Mexicans live in – one tight clump in the center of the state and enormous open spaces dotted with small towns.
    The map, in this case, was provided by the Secretary of State’s office, showing the polling sites for early voting and Election Day voting for the recent primary. It is online at polling.sks.com. Save this link for the general election.
    We can’t tell from the data how much early voting influenced our recent primary election.  What we can tell is how much the early voting option was utilized.
    The numbers indicate that early voting was much more heavily used in Bernalillo County and other metro areas than in our sparsely populated rural counties.  
    The early voting period this year was May 21 to June 4. By law, each county was required to make early voting available at the county clerk’s office.  Counties could also set up additional early voting sites.
    Several rural counties used only the clerk’s office. Others had an additional location at a fire station or other public building. Most tribes had a site location at a tribal community center, but not all. Voters from little Picuris Pueblo would have to go to the Peñasco community center.

  • The tragedy of the commons, part two

    BY GEORGE CHANDLER
    Guest Columnist, Los Alamos