Today's Opinions

  • Helping disadvantaged children catch up

    While New Mexico’s children were out of school for summer vacation, some of them were forgetting what they learned last year.
    When they return to school, they will be further behind their peers.
    Children who lose ground, the studies say, are those who can least afford to slip behind.
    They are the children who are already disadvantaged — identified by poverty and affected by the social ills poverty so often creates.
    They may lose as much as three months’ worth of learning over the summer.
    Think of it this way: middle class children with educated parents get twice as much education as disadvantaged children. They are exposed to learning at home, from their families and their environment. They see books, magazines and computers. Their parents talk to them, expanding their vocabulary.
    One in-depth study recorded thousands of hours of conversation between parents and their children and counted words.
    The study found upper income families used 2,153 words every hour; middle-income families used 1,251 words; and welfare-recipient families used just 616.
    An upper income child at age 4 has been exposed to 30 million more words than a disadvantaged child.

  • Movie tells story of Japan after bombing


    If you want to fathom the Japanese military mind when the Allies asked for Japan’s surrender in July/August of 1945, I urge you to attend the film “Japan’s Longest Day,” on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. in the Pajarito Room of Fuller Lodge.
    This documentary, a Japanese production with famous Japanese actors, explains why the emperor wanted to stop the war after Hiroshima was bombed.
    Army General Korechika Anami wanted to continue the war, even after the atomic bombing of Nagasaki. The emperor needed, and achieved, unanimous support for surrender from his war council and cabinet.
    Even after this remarkable turnabout, the emperor’s surrender broadcast almost did not happen when the Commander of the Imperial Palace Guard was killed by Army officers during Japan’s Longest Day.
    Persons wishing to understand how the atomic weapons shocked Japan into surrender will learn much from this film, shown under the Los Alamos Historical Society film series.
    In Japan, a newly filmed version of this story was released this weekend.

    Nancy Bartlit
    Los Alamos

  • Business development services help clients improve bottom line

    By the time a client gets a loan from The Loan Fund, she’s in a committed partnership with the nonprofit lender. That’s because The Loan Fund offers business development consulting to all potential clients — not just those who receive loans.
    The Loan Fund loan officers provide “pre-loan consulting” the moment they receive an inbound call or greet an office visitor.  And consulting continues after the client walks out the door — either to get more prepared or to start putting the loan money to work building a business, creating jobs and improving communities. The Loan Fund is fully invested with the people whose business startup and expansion plans it helps finance —even with those who aren’t ready for a loan.
    To fulfill its mission “to provide loans and assistance to improve the economic and social conditions of New Mexicans,” The Loan Fund offers the kind of advice and support that help businesses grow and reach sustainability.

  • New Mexico’s food stamp work requirements hardly onerous

    Since 2009, New Mexico has waived federal work requirements tied to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly known as food stamps.
    More than 21 percent of all New Mexicans receive food stamps, leaving us behind only Mississippi.
    Gov. Susana Martinez’s administration has proposed to reinstate rules limiting able-bodied people — including parents of children older than six years — to three months of SNAP benefits unless they work, do volunteer work or attend job training classes at least 20 hours per week.
    Children and the myriad food programs targeted at them, as well as those who simply cannot work are not up for changes.  
    New Mexico is not alone in re-instating these modest requirements. According to a September 2014 report from the Pew Center, no fewer than 17 states were working to re-instate work requirements on able-bodied adults.
    In 2014, Maine re-imposed a three-month limit (out of every three-year period) on food stamps for able-bodied adults without minor dependents — unless they work 20 hours per week, take state job-training courses or volunteer for about six hours per week.
    The number of such people receiving food stamps in Maine has dropped nearly 80 percent since the rule kicked in, to 2,530 from about 12,000.

  • The American nightmare: The tyranny of the criminal justice system

    Justice in America is not all it’s cracked up to be. Just ask Jeffrey Deskovic, who spent 16 years in prison for a rape and murder he did not commit.
    James Bain spent 35 years in prison for the kidnapping and rape of a 9-year-old boy, but he too was innocent of the crime. He was finally freed after DNA testing proved his innocence.
    In comparison, Mark Weiner got off relatively easy. Weiner was wrongfully arrested, convicted, and jailed for more than two years for a crime he too did not commit.
    In his case, a young woman claimed Weiner had abducted her, knocked her out and then sent taunting text messages to her boyfriend about his plans to rape her. Despite the fact that cell phone signals, eyewitness accounts and expert testimony indicated the young woman had fabricated the entire incident, the prosecutor and judge repeatedly rejected any evidence contradicting the woman’s far-fetched account, sentencing Weiner to eight more years in jail. Weiner was only released after his accuser was caught selling cocaine to undercover cops.

  • Letters to the editor 8-7-15

    Missoula Theatre
    a complete success

    On behalf of the Los Alamos Arts Council, we would like to thank the cast members of Missoula Children’s Theatre’s production of “The Jungle Book” for their wonderful performance.
    The arts council would like to thank Los Alamos County for co-sponsoring this event, which was also partially funded by a grant from the New Mexico Children’s Foundation.
    We would also like to thank all the parents and friends of the cast who attended the play on Saturday, as well as the staff of Crossroads Bible Church. They were wonderful to work with and made the week a complete success.
    Additionally, many thanks go to Los Alamos Arts Council board members who volunteered their time to help make this year’s production a wonderful experience for the participants and to all of LAAC supporters whose annual membership fees make programs like this possible.  
    Finally, thanks, as always, to the community of Los Alamos for supporting the many programs and events presented by the Los Alamos Arts Council.

    Margaret McIntyre
    Chris Monteith
    Missoula Children’s Theatre,
    Los Alamos Arts Council

    The Sanctuary
    at Canyon’s Edge

  • Tourism numbers show New Mexicans are enjoying state

    We’re in peak tourist season, and the number of Texas license plates and happy crowds of shoppers are a welcome sight.
    Gov. Susana Martinez traveled to several communities with the announcement that visits are up a whopping 30 percent over last year and credited the “New Mexico True” campaign.
    As reporters dug into the numbers, they found that the 30 percent was local visitation. Critics panned her announcements as Not So New Mexico True, with a few saying the numbers were bogus.
    Not exactly, but they mean different things.
    To the local economy, my lunch when passing through Española, or my recent stay in Cloudcroft provides the same lift as a lunch or stay by a Texan or Coloradoan. To the state’s economy, it’s money recycled internally, so the buck has less bang.
    Former Tourism Secretary Monique Jacobson, with every speech, urged her audience to see New Mexico.
    And the department directed several campaigns at New Mexicans.
    It’s a point well taken. If we’re not willing to be tourists in our own state, why should we expect anyone else to come here? In 2014, New Mexicans made 661,000 more in-state visits than they did in 2013, so either New Mexico True worked on us or we were “staycationing.”

  • Legislative policy dealings 2015: Alcohol to water

    Part 1 of 2

    The scope of our government is easy to forget.
    Like fire hydrants, government is in the background much of the time, doing whatever.
    Then, like a fire hydrant that doesn’t work — surprise — government can get our attention. In the broken hydrant case, the firefighters run the hoses to the hydrant in the next block, one that does work.
    Other attention getters are momentary. Last winter, Bernalillo County government bumped the gross receipts tax rate by 0.1875 percent, making the Albuquerque rate 7.1875 percent.
    I first noticed the change three weeks into July when a $32.10 ($30 plus 7 percent) became $32.16 ($30 plus 7.1875 percent). The change brought some mumbling while writing the check and slid to the shadows.
    “Highlights 2015” is the annual report about the legislative session from the Legislative Council Service, the staff to the Legislature.
    The table of contents shows 45 separate topics, some covering multiple sectors. The alphabetical list starts with alcohol and ends with water.
    The topics are policy. The Legislative Finance Committee’s annual “Post Session Review” discusses the money side.
    The regular session saw introduction of 1,755 items of legislation including 1,449 bills.