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Today's Opinions

  • Vote 'yes' on Amendment 2

    On behalf of Northern New Mexico College and the Board of Regents, I urge voters in the upcoming election to support Amendment 2 to grant Northern a voting student regent. Northern is the only four-year college in New Mexico without a voting student regent, a role that I believe is essential in representing the student perspective in administrative decision making.
    This position also provides students with an important leadership opportunity that benefits them later in life.
    I thank you for voting in support of expanding opportunities for New Mexico students and assisting us in our mission of ensuring access to higher education in our state.

    Nancy “Rusty” Barceló,
    President, Northern New Mexico College
     

  • County's utility board should be held accountable

    Let’s see if I’ve got this right: we don’t trust the county council that we elected; we do trust the utility board appointed by the council.
    We can recall elected officials but not the utility board. The council can appoint but not remove utility board members.
    Council meetings are televised. Utility Board meetings are not.
    Everyone has a boss. Private utility companies are held accountable by state regulatory agencies and boards of directors. Our public utility needs to be accountable to the council.
    The fundamental issue that charter amendment 2 addresses is accountability of the utility board. Once appointed, board members determine utility department policy with very little interaction with council other than the annual budget approval process.
    Charter amendment 2 defines a process for resolving differences between the board and council and gives the council authority to remove a board member with a super majority vote of 6 to 1. The autonomy of the Utility Department will be preserved to the extent allowed by state statute. Charter amendment No. 2 will ensure council and public input to our publicly owned utility.
    I believe the current Charter Article V is broken. It is time to fix it. Please vote for charter amendment No. 2.
    Mike Wheeler
    Los Alamos
     

  • Constitutional amendments: Yes on 1, No on others

    Five more amendments to the New Mexico Constitution face voters this fall. Amending the Constitution has been a low-key sideline or, perhaps, a sport of state politics since before statehood.
    Find the text of the amendments and pro and con arguments at websites of the Legislative Council Service (LCS).
    Proposed amendments pass the Legislature as joint resolutions and are submitted to the people in general elections, meaning alternate years. The governor has no authority to comment.
    Sometimes elitists argue that amendments are too complex or boring or whatever for “the people” to consider from the perspective of their averageness. This amounts to the same rationale given by radicals such as Sen. Tom Udall with his First Amendment proposal to regulate political speech. Udall and his far left buddies think that regular folks can’t sort through megabucks spending to make a decision.
    I disagree. Voters really do consider constitutional amendments. If that consideration is for one minute, so what? My evidence is that sometimes proposed amendments lose. Individual amendments always get different vote totals. Clearly voters, some anyway, come to different conclusions about a given proposal.

  • Charter amendment debate continues

    Since the Oct. 14 letter to the Los Alamos Monitor from Morris Pomgratz mentioned my name I feel it is appropriate to comment.
    First I have already voted “yes,” and encourage others to vote “yes.”
    I believe that the proposed charter amendment is far from perfect. I would have worded some parts differently. But it is an improvement over the existing charter. It places ultimate responsibility and accountability, in the event of a dispute between the council and the utilities board, in the hands of the council, who are the elected representatives of the public. And the public should have ultimate responsibility.
    Various letters to the Monitor, and presentations at the LWV forum, have provided extensive detailed comments, and have hypothesized different extreme actions by the council or the utilities board to support their positions. These hypothesizes are highly unlikely, but are within the “possibility” envelope. Therefore it is appropriate that a revision to the charter that is limited, restricted and establishes an open dispute resolution process be approved.
    The proposed charter changes meet these criteria. Ultimate responsibility and accountability should be reserved for the council, acting as the elected representatives of the public.

  • Charter Chapter V — utilities, a reality check

    Several former members of the Board of Public Utilities (BPU) fear that the rewritten Charter Chapter V will result in council imposing hidden taxes and wildly increased utility rates, transferring utility revenues to the county general fund, overturning BPU membership for political reasons and unilateral control of BPU operations.

  • Letters to the editor 10-24-14

     

    Defeat Constitutional Amendment No. 5

    Constitutional Amendment No. 5 is a sleeper that might well pass because it is not easy to understand. 

    It allows investment of the Land Grant Permanent Fund without the protection of the Prudent Man Rule that has governed the State Investment Council (SIC) management of the fund and served us well since statehood. 

    This rule states that one would make investments of trust money as one would for their own portfolio with essentially minimum risk. The proposal removes this rule and substitutes a new rule that would give the SIC (under the Uniform Prudent Investor Act (UPIA) the leeway to legally make risky investments. 

  • Utilities charter change is not in our interest

    As a retired Los Alamos County utilities manager, 10-year member of the Board of Public Utilities (Board) and a utilities customer, I urge voters to vote against Ballot Question No. 2 — utilities. I am concerned about the potential negative effects the proposed re-write of Article V of the Los Alamos County Charter will have on Utilities customers.
    Unless a voter digs deeply into the background he/she may not realize that Article V, which was ratified in 1968 and has effectively guided utilities operations since, will be deleted and replaced with a new version that is substantially changed.
    What occurs in the proposed version is the council gains more control over utilities. Among other things, the council:
    1) will have the ability to remove one or more board members without reason
    2) will have the right to impose a dispute resolution process weighted in the council’s favor, and
    3) could potentially use utilities’ funds for other county operations.

  • No politics with utilities, please

    The advocates of Charter Amendment 2 are now claiming that it is preventive maintenance for the Utilities Department. This type of maintenance is based on the principle: “If it ain’t broke, fix it ‘til it is.”
    Don’t let them politicize our utilities. Vote “No” on Charter Amendment 2.
    Gil Miranda
    Los Alamos