Today's Opinions

  • Letters to the editor 7-15-15

    Foundation responds to letter

    Without our being aware of it, my organization, the Rio Grande Foundation, has been the center of some controversy in Los Alamos County, as relates to the Los Alamos Aquatic Center. Most recently, a letter from Betty Ann Gunther discussed our organization’s supposed involvement in budget cuts at the aquatic center.
    We did publish a report in 2011 called the “Piglet Book” which argued that the $1 million-plus the county was spending annually to operate the center was exorbitant.
    Apparently, four years later, a majority of the Los Alamos County Council agrees at least that other budget items took precedence over the aquatic center.
    I don’t know whether or not a councilor ran across our report in their research on the issue, but the information remains as relevant today as it was then.
    Lastly, I would be remiss if I didn’t take issue with the inordinate attention Ms. Gunther pays attention to our funding. She can certainly argue that other priorities should have yielded to the aquatic center, but it seems that the funding sources of conservative and free-market groups are a far greater issue for their critics than are the funding sources of liberal organizations.

  • Bandelier sites could be destroyed

    The park manager at Bandelier National Monument is planning to re-open portions of a trail that was closed in the 1950s in order to protect archaeological sites.
    The reasons for this new trail project are ostensibly stated as a safety concern due to the possibility of flash floods in the canyon floor and to provide visitors with additional archeological remains to explore.
    No one can fault the National Park Service for wanting to develop trails that provide reasonable access to our public lands. This is something we all want in our parks. However, any new developments or changes need to be done thoughtfully and carefully to ensure that our actions do not destroy the very treasures we are trying to preserve.
    Unfortunately this trail project will result in damage to and destruction of the archaeological sites that Bandelier National Monument was created to protect.
    Archaeologists from neighboring agencies and institutions including the Santa Fe National Forest, the State of New Mexico, San Ildefonso Pueblo and the National Park Service toured the proposed project area in late 2013.
    The unanimous concerns were that caves and associated archaeological remains would be permanently damaged by the proposed trail access.

  • Orwellian logic and free speech

    In totalitarian regimes, aka police states, where conformity and compliance are enforced at the end of a loaded gun, the government dictates what words can and cannot be used.
    In countries where the police state hides behind a benevolent mask and disguises itself as tolerance, the citizens censor themselves, policing their words and thoughts to conform to the dictates of the mass mind.
    Even when the motives behind this rigidly calibrated reorientation of societal language appear well-intentioned — discouraging racism, condemning violence, denouncing discrimination and hatred — inevitably, the end result is the same: intolerance, indoctrination and infantilism.
    It’s political correctness disguised as tolerance, civility and love, but what it really amounts to is the chilling of free speech and the demonizing of viewpoints that run counter to the cultural elite.
    As a society, we’ve become fearfully polite, careful to avoid offense, and largely unwilling to be labeled intolerant, hateful, closed-minded, or any of the other toxic labels that carry a badge of shame today.
    The result is a nation where no one says what they really think anymore, at least if it runs counter to the prevailing views.

  • ‘Road to Character’ brings David Brooks to Santa Fe

    For David Brooks, the key to the magic kingdom — or a side door, anyway — of major mainstream media and politics came from a smart-alecky spoof of William F. Buckley, the conservative guru and founder of the National Review, who was scheduled to speak at the University of Chicago.
    The student Brooks was closing his undergraduate time in the great books program at Chicago with a history degree. “The formative experience of my life,” he calls the Chicago time.
    During his speech, Buckley, known as I remember for his sense of humor, offered Brooks a job from the podium. After a brief time as a Chicago police reporter, Brooks joined the National Review as an intern in 1984.
    So began a path through companies such as the Wall Street Journal, the Weekly Standard and now the New York Times and “The News Hour” on Public Broadcasting. Brooks is a star, in other words. The path brought Brooks to Santa Fe and St. John’s College June 26.
    The occasion was what St. John’s called a “Gala Benefit Dinner” that was the final event of the college’s yearlong celebration of its 50 years in Santa Fe.

  • Letters to the editor 7-12-15

    Los Alamos cops, residents go above and beyond

    Our heartfelt thanks to everyone who helped rescue our dog, Sofie, from the bottom of Barrancas Canyon while we were away on vacation.
    Sofie’s adventure began on Sunday when she escaped our yard and climbed and/or fell into the canyon. Neighbors, friends, animal control officer Tom Beyers and our very conscientious dog-sitter searched high and low on Barranca Mesa, but by nightfall could find no trace of our wayward dog.
    Miraculously, our neighbor, Mary Langworthy, heard Sofie barking in the canyon early Monday morning and called Los Alamos police dispatch.
    Responding to the call for help, LAPD officers Cpl. Matt Lyon and Sgt. Brent Hudspeth climbed into the canyon and found Sofie, who was very weak and couldn’t walk on her own.
    These caring officers carried 13-year-old, 70-plus pound Sofie out of the canyon on their shoulders. Lyle Edwards heard the officers as they neared the top of the canyon around 6 a.m. and aided the rescue by dropping ropes so they could hoist themselves and Sofie up the final steep section.
    It was an amazing effort on the part of many that we have our beloved dog home safe and sound.

  • Bring back public health standards for women

    As Americans, we strive for safety — the safest medicines, safest cars, safest toys.
    But when it comes to women’s reproductive health, our state legislatures are passing laws putting women’s health at risk — about 250 since 2011.
    And now they do it under the guise of “women’s safety.” Women of color, especially African-American women, are disproportionately being affected by these policies throughout the Southern states where I live and spend much of my time mentoring young physicians and health professionals.
    The most serious health risks for women are coming from politicians cutting back access to family planning services and telling doctors how to practice medicine especially around procedures related to terminating a pregnancy.
    Costly clinic licensing standards, invasive ultrasound procedures and lengthy mandatory waiting periods (as if women haven’t already thought about this decision) are unnecessary because legal abortion is one of the safest surgical procedures available.
    In the United States, nearly 90 percent are done in the first trimester when abortion is safest.
    Once again, Texas is the battleground in the war over women’s bodies.

  • LANL helps Española company create jobs

    When Eric and Celina Quintana started their residential and commercial cleaning service in 1994, their goal was to dominate the janitorial services market in northern New Mexico.
    Two decades later, Performance Maintenance Inc. provides janitorial equipment and supplies to Los Alamos National Laboratory and sells environmentally certified cleaning products nationwide.
    PMI is poised to introduce its own bio-based cleaning products in July, when it hosts a grand opening for its new 10,000-square-foot retail warehouse and distribution center in Española.
    One part of the company’s growth was securing a five-year, $660,000 contract with the laboratory eight years ago — a contract that has since been renewed, Eric Quintana said.
    To improve his chances of getting that pivotal deal, Quintana schooled himself in the government procurement process at classes and workshops offered by the laboratory’s Small Business Program Office, the Regional Development Corporation (RDC) and the New Mexico Small Business Development Center at Northern New Mexico College. The RDC provided business expansion assistance funded by an investment by Los Alamos National Security, LLC — the company that manages the laboratory.

  • APPreciating calculus can happen without AP

    Question: Should Los Alamos High School offer a non-AP Calculus course?
    I’m asking this question because I’m interested in ascertaining what parents and students think.
    Now, I should emphasize that I am not asking this on behalf of Los Alamos High School. I’m asking it on behalf of what I personally believe makes sense to do.
    Obviously, I think we should offer the course. But the real question is: Do YOU think we should offer the course?
    If you already have an answer to that question, you can go to johnpawlak.com and complete a very brief survey to provide your response and comments.
    However, I would ask that you read my column before making a decision. I desire as many people as possible to respond, whatever their opinion. Your voices matter and I want them to be heard.
    LAHS currently offers Advanced Placement (AP) Calculus courses. Students taking AP courses can earn college credit.
    AP courses also provide a cumulative grade bump. Whereas an “A” normally equates to a “4”, a “B” to a “3”, etc., in AP courses an “A” equates to a “5”, a “B” to a “4”, and so on.
    What is non-AP Calculus?