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Today's Opinions

  • Changes would hurt utility customers

    All those who have served on both the Utilities Board and the County Council — and have seen the relationship between them from both sides — feel strongly that the proposed change in the charter would be damaging both to utility users and county citizens in general.
    I have been overseeing or watching Utilities Department operations for more than 30 years. My experience during the 10 years I spent on the County Council and my 10 years on the Utilities Board make me believe that the present charter affecting utilities has worked very well.
    The proposed change could lead to utility funds being drained to support other county undertakings instead of being reinvested in utility infrastructure. The proposed change would also expose utility rates and services to politically motivated manipulation that often benefits special interests to the detriment of most customers.
    Please vote “against” Question 2.

    Lawry Mann
    Former County Council, BPU member
     

  • Protect pets from rabies

    Although the rabies virus is commonly known for causing a life-threatening disease, many people are unaware of what exactly it entails and how to prevent its transmission. In honor of World Rabies Day on Sept. 28, here is some information to help further raise awareness about rabies and how to help protect your family and pets from this deadly disease.
    Rabies is an infection affecting the central nervous system, or brain and spinal cord, of humans and animals. This infection is caused by a virus that is transmitted primarily from bites wounds, scratches, or tissue from an infected animal. It is nearly always deadly if not treated before the beginning of symptoms.
    “Symptoms include fever, lethargy, seizures and ultimately paralysis,” said Dr. Stacy Eckman, lecturer at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. “This paralysis can include paralysis of the muscles that control swallowing, leading to a ‘fear of water,’ or ‘hydrophobia’ that is often described with rabies.” Behavior changes leading to abnormally aggressive behavior may also occur.

  • Changes needed for outdated Los Alamos County Charter

    On Nov. 4, we will be asked to vote on two questions on the ballot related to the County Charter, a document that was adopted by the voters and that has served us well for many years.
    I am a longtime resident of Los Alamos. I grew up in Los Alamos, have served on a county board and on the County Council, and I have spent quite a few hours of my life since 2010 serving on the Charter Review Committee (CRC), where we went through the current charter very carefully before recommending to the council the changes now before you.
    The people who crafted our current charter, passed in 1968 when Los Alamos was completing the transition from a government-run community to a self-governing, home-rule community, were friends and acquaintances of my parents. They did important work and I respect their efforts.
    However, the time has come to make some changes to the charter and I will support the two questions when I go to polls. The first question, which has to do with the structure of government, goes into a little more detail about the duties and responsibilities of the council chair, specifies that the council chair must be elected annually, and strengthens the recognition of the council chair as the head of the government.

  • Hamburgers and tax policy

    Filet mignon is more expensive than Hamburger Helper. If government imposes a tax based on a measure of dollars, wealthier people pay more. That’s called progressive taxation, and most of us agree it’s the right way to tax. Except when we don’t.
    New Mexico’s tax policy right now is a mess and is primarily hurting local governments, which rely heavily on gross receipts and property taxes. That’s why you are hearing about proposals — for example — to reinstate the gross receipts tax on food.
    When our gross receipts tax covered food, low-income households were protected in two ways. First, the tax didn’t apply to food purchased with food stamps. Second, low-income families received a rebate on their income tax, intended specifically to compensate them for taxes embedded into food and other purchases. If you believed these safeguards worked, the food tax was paid mostly by people who could afford it. Wealthier people who ate expensive food would pay the most.
    But the tax was always controversial. No matter how you try to explain or justify it, taxing food just does not sound good.

  • New book offers substantive, inclusive conservative framework

    Midwestern backyards lack fences. Why the custom is different from the concrete block walls of New Mexico or El Paso’s rock walls, I don’t know.
    Community benefits of the openness include homeowners accommodating one another when choosing a boundary for mowing. Open space allows kids to wander from house to house via backyards. Woods (small groves of trees) might fill the back parts of lots. Paul Ryan had these things when growing up in Janesville, Wisconsin, where he still lives, just down the street from his childhood home.
    Ryan climbed the political ladder from junior class president to semi-accidental congressman elected in 1998 at age 28, to Republican policy guru to candidate for vice president in 2012. An important step for Ryan was the decision to spend a semester in Washington, D.C., which became a job with Wisconsin Sen. Bob Katsen, who “was a wonk, which is to say he was my kind of guy,” Ryan said. (All quotes are from Ryan’s memoir and policy manifesto, “The Way Forward, Renewing the American Dream,” published in August.
    That job led to an entry-level position with Empower America, the Jack Kemp-Bill Bennett think tank. The rest, as they say, is history. Kemp’s thinking permeates Ryan. For those who forget, Kemp was kind of an ultimate economic policy wonk politician.

  • In favor of transparent government

    By Democracy succeeds when citizens trust their government. Citizens can only trust their government when it operates in a transparent manner — when citizens can see how funds are spent and decisions are made.
    To achieve transparency, government has to purposefully work to make relevant information available to citizens in a timely manner, in ways that are convenient for them, and in formats that are useful and informative. That means something more than just publishing agendas and summaries, or transcripts of meetings. Local governments that are leaders in this area actively invite an informed, engaged electorate to participate continuously; not just at election time.
    The Los Alamos County government has many strengths in this area. The county website has a fantastic section that clearly communicates the priorities and decisions that are embedded in the county budget. It’s so good that our county routinely receives national awards for it. The LA County Line and other emails available to the public contain information about county events and issues. The Open Forum is a blog that allows citizens to comment on upcoming decisions. Those are all great starts.

  • Race does matter in Los Alamos

    As an African-American citizen living in this community, I empathize with the recently published letter to the editor by Thalia Gibbs-Jackson regarding her perception of “Encountering racism in Los Alamos.”
    I have the highest respect and appreciation for the fine work of the Los Alamos law enforcement officers whom I believe work diligently to uphold their sworn duty to serve and protect the citizens of this community. Racial profiling is a very serious and sensitive issue facing this country, particularly for persons of color. In my experience, African-Americans tend to arouse suspicion not necessarily as a result of the course of actions we may engage in, but rather, all too often, we arouse suspicion without probable cause merely due to the color of our skin.
    In my view, one’s perception is a reality that is deeply intertwined with the depth and scope of one’s individual life experiences over time.
    Race is a crucial component of how we relate to one another in diverse communities like Los Alamos. As a minority in this community, I have experienced prejudice and racial profiling on numerous occasions over the years that has caused me to sometimes feel rather ill at ease.

  • Ross' response shows naïvity

    Inez Ross’ response to Thalia Gibbs-Jackson’s expression of distress over encountering racism in Los Alamos was well intentioned, but I believe, naïve.
    I am a white woman who grew up in Los Alamos. Leaving the safety of this community after high school and encountering the “real world” was a real education for me.
    I have never been followed through a store because the manager thought I would steal something. I have never been stopped on the highway because I “match the description” of someone who might be trafficking drugs. I have never had to excel in any field in order to be judged adequate. And I have never been followed by law enforcement as my car crept slowly down a street because I was looking for a particular address.
    But all of these things do happen to people of color every day in our country, even in Los Alamos. In her letter Gibbs-Jackson very clearly stated that the driver of the law enforcement van did not speak to her, or make any effort to explain why she was being followed. Did she look like a “bum from out of town?” On what basis would such a judgment have been made?