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Today's Opinions

  • Recent shooting proves dangers to store employees

    At a Circle K convenience store, the clerk shot a suspected armed robber.
    We expect to read the opposite story. Convenience stores can be dangerous places, especially for the people who work in them.
    This happened a few weeks ago in Albuquerque in mid-afternoon. The suspect was wounded and is expected to recover; the clerk was not charged with any crime.
    What was that clerk doing packing a gun?
    The incident brought to mind a court case from 20 years ago in which Circle K clerk Paul Sedillo followed a shoplifter into the parking lot and was shot and killed.
    The Eldridge case (named for the mother of Sedillo’s daughter) raised the question of whether Circle K might be civilly liable outside of workers’ compensation, whether the company was so greatly “at fault” that it might violate the “no fault” principle basic to the workers’ comp philosophy.
    It was a hot issue in the workers’ comp legal community, but the case was settled out of court so the question was not resolved.
    Conventional wisdom is that employees should never be instructed to pursue armed robbers or shoplifters. Let them take the money and go. I heard that message in dozens of safety seminars and passed it on to small business owners in my own seminars.

  • Weinstein case shows power corrupts for so many people

    Power corrupts. Worse, as 19th-century historian Lord Acton concluded, absolute power corrupts absolutely.
    It doesn’t matter whether you’re talking about a politician, an entertainment mogul, a corporate CEO or a police officer, give any one person – or government agency – too much power and allow him or her or it to believe that they are entitled, untouchable and will not be held accountable for their actions, and those powers will eventually be abused.
    We’re seeing this dynamic play out every day in communities across America.
    A cop shoots an unarmed citizen for no credible reason and gets away with it. A president employs executive orders to sidestep the Constitution and gets away with it. A government agency spies on its citizens’ communications and gets away with it. An entertainment mogul sexually harasses aspiring actresses and gets away with it. The U.S. military bombs a civilian hospital and a school and gets away with it.
    Abuse of power — and the ambition-fueled hypocrisy and deliberate disregard for misconduct that make those abuses possible — works the same whether you’re talking about sexual harassment, government corruption, or the rule of law.

  • Globalization helped set the stage for 'Dreamers' laws

    Millions of middle class Americans, mostly in rural areas, are feeling cornered by the overwhelming forces of globalization.
    Their employment was displaced by automation, international competition and corporations’ transfer of jobs to other nations with lesser production costs and more flexible laws. Many of these Americans express a visceral anger towards anything international and desperately reach for national isolation and solutions that would save them from people who don't look and speak like them.
    Some leaders have convinced them that they are victims of sinister foreigners who ridicule American goodwill and naivete in international agreements, which are unfair to the U.S. Those leaders claim that criminals who have crossed the border illegally are responsible not only for loss of jobs but also for rape, murder and unprecedented addiction to drugs among Americans.
    Fear over declining income, increase of joblessness and violence make people susceptible to lash out at anyone with whom they are unfamiliar. The federal program DACA founded in 2012 is perceived to benefit such “others.”

  • New Mexico First, conference are in need of a review

    Probably the least known fact about the long career of Sen. Pete Domenici has to be that he did not hire me to be his press aide in 1989.

    Instead of the knowledgeable New Mexican — me — Domenici hired Ari Fleischer, who knew Washington, D. C. A sound choice, I think. Fleischer went on to be press secretary for President George W. Bush.

    Equally obscure is the story I wrote for the Albuquerque News in 1968 about the first city budget he presented as chairman of the Albuquerque City Commission.

    Much later my kids played Little League baseball with a Domenici grandchild. Domenici attended the occasional game.

    Domenici’s leadership of the Senate Budget Committee brought access to the committee’s economics staff, a smart, collegial group that provided insight on the national economy and New Mexico’s fit into the big picture.

    In the 1980s Domenici and Sen. Jeff Bingaman, together with Gov. Bruce King, created the Joint Economic Development Initiative (JEDI). (Get it?) Santa Teresa with its border crossing was one focus.

    As a matter of good management, two of Domenici’s policy legacies deserve a closer look.

    First is New Mexico First. During the mid-1980s several groups were having conversations about the murky future facing New Mexico.

  • Gov. candidate Cervantes brings experience, results

    Joe Cervantes’ office is an old house a half block from the New Mexico State University campus in Las Cruces. His car (truck, really), a black GMC Yukon, tucks into an alcove under a tree next to the door. He doesn’t know the age of the house, though he notes that the thick walls certify that the house is old.

    Cervantes, a state senator and a Democrat, is running for governor (joe4nm.com). The day we talk, a hot mid-September Wednesday, his attire is business casual, sleeves rolled up.

    For those seriously undertaking a task as complex, difficult and expensive as running for governor – and Cervantes is very serious about this – all sorts of reasons appear. He is clear about what is not a motivation. “I am not running for governor to ascend” to a higher political position, he says.

    Cervantes doesn’t name names, but the reference certainly is both to Bill Richardson, who became governor as a platform for running for president, and Susana Martinez, formerly touted for higher posts.

    Results are Cervantes’ focus. “There’s a lot to be said” about having a governor knowing the process. Bruce King was the most recent to come from the Legislature. His final term ended in 1994.

  • Working together to enhance our community

    BY DAVID IZRAELEVITZ
    Los Alamos County Council Chair

    This is part three of a three-part series.

    In part one of my editorial on code enforcement, I covered the “why” behind the program, and in part two, I addressed the “how” of the process that is involved. Today in part three, I would like to talk more philosophically about code enforcement and what the county and the community can do to assist with resources. 

    Let me address the “government-encroachment” argument first which I have heard a few times. I can understand that some, and probably most individuals feel an initial gut feeling of government overreach when an ordinance is passed that imposes additional personal responsibilities for property maintenance. However, *any* new law, by definition, imposes new constraints on our freedoms.

    After that initial reaction, we need to then look at the fundamental issue that this new ordinance is addressing, and whether it is the right approach or not. If no one drove dangerously, we would not need speeding limits. If everyone was attentive to their property, we wouldn’t need property maintenance standards either. We do have a property maintenance problem in town, and I don’t see a practical alternative to some kind of code and its enforcement.

  • The ‘how’ of code enforcement

    BY DAVID IZRAELEVITZ
    Los Alamos County Council Chair

    In part one of my editorial on code enforcement, I covered the “why” behind the program. Today, I would like to address in some detail the “how” of code enforcement, a process which is managed within the Community Development Department (CDD) by two full-time Code Enforcement Officers.

    My hope is that by explaining a little more about the process, I can help clear up confusion and concern in our community.

    Let’s begin with clarifying two terms that seem to be interchangeable when the public discusses this sensitive topic, but are very different: Notice Of Violation (NOV) and citation. In fact, these are two very different terms that occur in different steps of the process. While county code sets the standards, our process that implements enforcement of these standards is modeled after best practices used in thousands of communities across America. I do not believe that it is overly restrictive for a town our size and population.

  • Questioning own mortality in Mexico earthquake

    I guess it’s always interesting when you stare the possibility of the end in the face.
    I am not sure if I did or didn’t.

    When that earthquake rumbled through Cuernavaca at 1:14 p.m. Tuesday, I honestly questioned my mortality.

    I sat in the bedroom of the guest house of our awesome land lady in Los Tabachines community in south Cuernavaca.
    Cuernavaca is about 50 miles south of the Mexico City.

    Anyway, it was a typical Tuesday, I was trying to get through writer’s block and fulfill my freelance obligations to various clients.

    But then, the earth shook.

    It didn’t just shake, the ground was moving.

    Jill, who was in the kitchen, yelled, ‘’EARTHQUAKE.’’

    I knew what it was but I was just in shock.

    I talked to my dad today and he said we had been through a couple of tremors growing up in Tokyo.

    I had felt nothing like this.

    I could not even up stand up.

    Nori, our faithful Belgian Sheepdog who had been watching me from the bed, jumped up and we somehow got to the kitchen and then to the back yard. Jill was there on her knees. She told me she could not walk because of the quake.

    She told me that she could not believe I was still standing. When I thought about it, I was surprised too.