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Today's Opinions

  • Letter to the Editor 8-13-17

    You can be conservative and in favor of
    improvements

    Dear Editor,
    It was a great pleasure to see Tony Fox insist that the council recognize that voting against the rec bond is not identical with voting against the rec projects. One may be fiscally conservative and still be in favor of some quality of life improvements and infrastructure development.

    And while Dr. (Lisa) Shin is indeed correct that quantification is not precise, it is certainly clear that everyone who voted for the bond is also in favor of the projects. Now if only one in 10 fiscal conservatives are nonetheless also in favor of at least some of the rec projects, a small fraction, then there is also a majority in favor of those projects.

    It is good that the CIP funds will be reviewed for how much we can already afford. However, we certainly can afford something. The improvement of Ashley (Pond) Park is an example of how much can be added to our enjoyment of Los Alamos.

  • State’s economy may be turning around; indicators remain troubling

    Is it possible that New Mexico’s economy is finally starting to revive? If you follow the numbers in the last couple of months, you could get whiplash.

    Some major indicators are up dramatically, but they’re both heartening and concerning. Bear with me for some statistics.

    We’re finally on a good list. The U. S. Bureau of Economic Analysis recently clocked a healthy surge in gross domestic product for the first three months of 2017. New Mexico’s growth was 2.8 percent, the nation’s third highest. The leading contributor was oil and gas.

    In late July the Legislative Finance Committee brought joy to state bean counters with the news that recurring revenues in May were up 32 percent ($141 million) from May 2016.

    More good news is that gross receipts tax revenue in May was $39.3 million higher than the year before, and year-to-date it was up 6.2 percent. This means, among other things, that people are out spending money. For five months in a row, revenues have surpassed the same months in 2016.

  • Don't Splash Our Cash!

    By Lisa Shin

    President, A Better Way for LA Political Action Committee  

    On August 8, Councilors Chrobocinski and O'Leary will present “Discussion and Possible Action Relating to Proposed Changes to the Capital Improvement Program (CIP) Fund.” There will be recommended action on recreation projects for the bond election, which failed on May 23, 2017.  

    The following are my recommended actions.     

    I strongly recommend that the $13.4 million of CIP funds be used to improve existing facilities: the golf course and softball fields. The Splash Pad had an estimated cost of $720,000 with $37,000 yearly operations and maintenance costs. Through a competitive bidding process, it could be done at a significantly lower cost.  $350,000 with $20,000 yearly operations and maintenance is reasonable.

    I strongly urge the council to wait for the LANL contract to be awarded in April 2018, and our budget to be finalized, before directing our county staff to begin work on the multi-generational pool. Our financial situation could change quickly, with budget cuts and possible lay-offs. We must prioritize the needs of our community, and adjust the CIP funding expected for this project accordingly.

  • NM buried in known unknowns; policy organization could help

    A few people truly worry about New Mexico’s long term. But they don’t know what to do. These isolated individuals emerged in the past few weeks in Farmington, Roswell, Las Cruces and Albuquerque from conversations with nearly 40 people who ought to be thought leaders in the state.

    The individuals cover the state’s precious demographics, though most conversations have been with old White guys. But then I am an old White guy.

    For recent conversations, the question has been whether the individual gets in discussions and/or is thinking about the long term for New Mexico. A few answered, “Yes.” Ah, but what to do.

    I used to ask what the individual saw for New Mexico. That question generated the conventional wisdom: too much government, Central New Mexico Community College is doing good stuff.

    The Albuquerque-Denver comparison has resurfaced. This is not especially useful. Denver is the major leagues (think Broncos, Rockies, Nuggets, Avalanche). Albuquerque is AAA. Compare Albuquerque with Tucson, Des Moines, Omaha.

    Typical “future” thinking amounts to citing New Mexico’s position on “all the lists” and wailing.

    Defining the problem is what we have not done. A position on a list says only a little.

  • Mexican gray wolf program is travesty

    By David J. Forjan

    To the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service:

    Look, we’re all grown-ups here.  Let’s cut through all the BS.

    Every USFWS employee involved with the Mexican gray wolf recovery program has sold them out.  You’ve all sold out the Mexican gray wolves.

    Either by the “Sin of Commission” or the “Sin of Omission.” Either selling them out by direct action, like those who wrote the new recovery plan. Or selling out the Mexican gray wolves by their inaction, like not standing up or speaking up or screaming at the top of your lungs that the program has, and is continuing to, fail the wolves.

    Let’s also cut the BS about the reasons the program is failing. The real reason, the core problem, is money, power and influence. Some people who have alot of money then want power. 

    And some people with power want to influence things. Mostly to make themselves more money. In this case, that influence is also killing Mexican gray wolves. And killing them off.

    And let’s skip the pretense that this new recovery plan will succeed. It will fail for so many reasons that if it wasn’t so sad it would be laughable.

  • Democrats need to offer real solutions

    BY REP. BILL MCCAMLEY
    New Mexico House of Representatives, Dist. 33

    Resist.

    For many of us scared and angry about our current president, it’s become a mantra for a good reason. Protecting basic health care, opposing turning our schools over to corporations, and defending America’s credibility worldwide are all vital to our future.

    But it is not enough. Recently, 52 percent of Americans polled only define Democrats by our work to fight Trump. If we are going to really change communities for the better, and regain people’s trust, we have to be proactive and bold in pushing for real change. What does that mean?

    While unemployment is low and the stock market continues to rise thanks to President Obama’s work after the Great Recession, wages have stayed flat. So while the average CEO now makes 335 times that of the average worker, most people feel like no matter how hard they work the best they can do is keep pace on a treadmill. And if working families have any problem, like unexpected health bills or a major house/car problem, that treadmill kicks them right off.

  • Farmington seeks softer landing from power plant cuts

    The nation’s lowest average residential electric bill comes to New Mexico’s homeowners. Who’d a thunk?
    The rates rank 20th nationally, but we use less electricity, the 11th lowest amount. Combine the factors and the average monthly bill becomes the lowest.
    This is a federal number, coming from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, courtesy of our Public Regulation Commission. Four PRCers, led by Sandy Jones, commission chair, had a long session July 19 in Farmington with the Legislative Finance Committee and the Revenue Stabilization and Tax Policy Committee at the BP Center for Energy Education at San Juan College. The session ran an hour and 25 minutes beyond the scheduled hour.
    The electric bill item, obscure but of interest to all New Mexicans, appeared in an out of the way place making it difficult for the information to circulate. This is an old problem. New Mexico’s large size means a lot of out of sight and out of mind. Even the Center for Energy Education, a gorgeous white building located about four blocks from the main campus, shares the out of sight problem.

  • Sheriff investigate corruption? Makes no sense

    Corruption: dishonest or illegal behavior especially by powerful people (such as government officials or police officers) (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

    My fellow councilor Pete Sheehey has proposed a council resolution to more expansively define the roles and responsibilities of the Los Alamos County Sheriff’s Office. The last paragraph of his resolution is very troubling, as it would give the Sheriff the power to perform a criminal investigation should the police department be deemed, in the sheriff’s “reasonable” opinion, to be compromised. I see this expansive power as a fatal flaw in his proposal. To understand my objections, let’s dig deeper into the implications of this role.