Today's Opinions

  • Some families have politics in gene pool

    Political dynasties are a hot topic lately because of potential runs by a Bush or a Clinton. We have our share in New Mexico.
    In this election cycle, we heard most often about the King family, but other candidates (at this writing we don’t know who prevailed) grew up with politics in their Cheerios.
    Take the two men competing for state land officer.
    Incumbent Ray Powell Jr.’s father, a mechanical engineer, came to New Mexico in 1943 to work on the Manhattan Project and helped found Sandia National Laboratories. He retired in 1985, ran for governor and lost to Garrey Carruthers.
    In 1963, when all state employees were political appointees, Gov. Jack Campbell assigned Powell to develop and implement a state personnel system, which he did, with integrity and fairness. In 1988, Powell became state chairman of a Democratic Party fractured along geographical and ideological fault lines, which spawned coalition control of the Legislature. Under Powell’s leadership, Democrats won majorities, and the coalitions ended.
    When he died in 2010 at 90, columnist Jay Miller wrote, “New Mexico has lost one of its greatest public servants.”
    Powell’s opponent, Republican Aubrey L. Dunn, another junior, is the son of a legislative powerhouse.

  • Utility profit limitations at risk


    Well-meaning letters from charter change proponents exhibit naïveté and inexperience with public utilities, government and politics. Ed Birnbaum’s latest letter, for example, refers to a transfer rate from utilities of 5 percent established by a 1997 resolution. He is not correct. How do I know? Because I was the county councilor who wrote the 1980s ordinance requiring a 5 percent profit be added into each year’s budget for planning purposes. A 5 percent profit transfer is not guaranteed. This ordinance is found in the municipal code and has precedence over resolutions. (Sections 40-63(c)(11) and 40-63(b))

    What Birnbaum fails to realize is that the proposed new charter language not only nullifies this ordinance, but bypasses all checks and balances in the current charter. It allows future councils to take as much money as they’d like from the utilities department. This loophole is easy to explain.

  • Snarky insults rule today


    Before I was even a pipsqueak, a popular, no-account insult was “so’s your old man.” In my prime years as a pipsqueak, the snappy no-account insults were “you’re a chicken” and “drop dead.” 

    Today, new customs are on the loose. 

    The airwaves carry so many symptoms that insults pass for normal. The daily news may suggest the infection comes from politics, but the wider pattern says otherwise. Social media spread the habit of scorn to one culture, then the next and next.

    The insult culture is easy to find in network TV, talk shows, politics, sports and every level of school. The signs are the same whether the topic is last night’s ball game or taxes. 

  • Voters shouldn't fear experimenting

    I’m a theorist, so I have much more respect for experimental results than for theoretical arguments.
    Our county charter has worked reasonably well but includes inconsistencies with state law and limits citizen control of the utilities department by isolating it from the county council.
    I have been to charter amendment committee meetings and know and respect
    those who served. They have made careful and sensible efforts to improve the charter.
    We should do the experiment and see whether or not improvements result. It’s not as if these changes are irreversible in our strong local democracy.
    If conservative Kansas can try significant changes, surely Los Alamos County can try relatively small ones.
    Many people whom I respect and admire argue that the charter amendments will drastically alter the positive features of the current charter. I find this fearfulness and the associated scandalous characterization of our current and potential leaders to be unbecoming and see no reason for the associated predictions to be accurate.
    True, we are a suburb of Washington, D.C., but we don’t have to behave like people there do.
    I’m voting for the charter amendments and I hope you do, too.

    Terry Goldman
    Los Alamos

  • Pet Talk: Dogs can get diabetes

    Canine diabetes, or diabetes mellitus, is a common disease in dogs and is the result of inadequate insulin production.
    “Canine diabetes is usually caused by an immune mediated attack on the pancreas, which is likely related to genetic predispositions,” said Dr. Audrey Cook, associate professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences. “It may also be secondary to chronic pancreatitis, or may occur in intact females following their heat cycle.”
    Some predisposed breeds include the cairn terrier, the dachshund, and miniature poodles. Although these breeds have a higher incidence than others, all dogs have a chance of becoming affected.
    Diabetes mellitus is known to cause excessive thirst and urination due to the high concentrations of glucose in the bloodstream. “Hunger is also a common symptom in the early stages of diabetes, followed by rapid weight loss,” said Dr. Cook. “Vision loss is sometimes reported.”
    Glucose appears in the urine, and can predispose the patient to urinary tract infections. Untreated, other signs such as vomiting, dehydration and lethargy are expected.

  • Calculators: the first sign of alien invasion

    Quick, what’s 44 percent of 25? Most adults know how to do this, but would have trouble doing it in their head.
    But ask them to find 25 percent of 44.
    That’s a horse of a different math!
    Virtually every adult knows that 25 percent is 1/4 and so 25 percent of 44 is 11. Percentage is simply a multiplicative factor, meaning you divide by 100. So 44 percent of 25 is the same thing as 25 percent of 44, right?
    Ask the same question to a student in middle school, or high school, or even college. It’s a good bet that they won’t know the answer and the only way they can solve it is to pull out a calculator and start punching numbers.
    And if you did try explaining that they could simply take 25 percent of 44, it’s likely that they would push those buttons to figure that one out, too.
    Our children are carrying these portable black holes that are literally sucking intelligence out of their skulls.
    I’m beginning to think that it’s a conspiracy, a plot to dumb down our entire world! Those electronic know-it-alls are slowly turning our nation’s youth into know-it-nothings. Instead of developing sharp minds, kids are honing their dull fingertips.

  • Early childhood home visiting programs have lots of value

    “Home visiting” is a program strategy designed to promote child wellbeing through the delivery of a variety of informational, educational, developmental and support services to families. It would be a shame for good practice to become jeopardized by misinformation distributed as part of political campaign. It seems that some clarification is needed.
    New Mexico has several models of home visiting programs serving communities throughout the state including First Born, Parents as Teachers, Nurse Family Partnership and Early Head Start, to name a few.
    It is a misconception that these are radical, government-monitored programs. Home visiting in New Mexico is funded by several sources including private philanthropy as well as government through the New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department. Programs are run by teams of trained healthcare workers and parent educators who are caring, culturally sensitive and supportive of children and families’ individual needs.

  • Uncle Sam only one seizing public lands

    In a recent New York Times editorial, New Mexico Senator Martin Heinrich asserted that supporters of a transfer of some federal lands to the states are engaged in a “land grab.”
    He’s not just wrong he’s inverting the truth completely. It is actually the federal government that has “grabbed” New Mexicans’ lands. In the past two years, Heinrich endorsed the federal government’s placing of more than 783,000 acres of New Mexico land, much of it private or “multiple-use” in two highly restrictive “monument” designation (the Rio Grande del Norte and Organ Mountain monuments).
    Ironically, while any effort to return some federal lands to New Mexico control would require the support and buy-in of large numbers of state and local officials, these two wilderness areas were declared by the Obama Administration without so much as a single vote in Congress.
    It is no surprise that Heinrich would support such a real land-grab as he is known for reflexively supporting the radical environmental lobbying groups in Washington. He has a 93 percent lifetime score from the League of Conservation Voters and boasted a 100 percent score in 2013.