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Today's Opinions

  • New amendments violate previous one

    Our county council is asking us to approve two amendments to the county charter, one of which will give the council more influence over the Board of Public Utilities.
    How can we trust them not to abuse this power when they are flagrantly disregarding the charter amendments approved just two years ago?
    In the last general election, we, the voters, approved an amendment to the Los Alamos County Charter affecting the amendment process. Amendments “that are not dependent on each other” and where “there is no direct, necessary or logical connection between the operation of each” would be “submitted separately to the voters.”
    This year we have two questions on our ballot that each has multiple amendments. Each part is capable of independent operation. This is clearly a violation of the letter and the spirit of the previous amendment.
    It would have been easy enough for council to conform to the new rules and submit multiple questions to voters. After all, we managed 11 questions four years ago.
    The voters two years ago clearly indicated a preference for separated questions. How can we trust the Council on large matters when they betray us on small ones? Please vote “no” on both charter amendments.
    Robert Pelak
    Los Alamos

  • Letters have misleading facts about charter

    I don’t understand why letter writers who oppose the Article V question feel the need to obscure or otherwise make inaccurate or misleading statements about the proposed revisions (Question 2). The opposition’s op-ed in Oct. 23 Los Alamos Monitor is a good example.
    First, it is true that the Utilities Charter Review Committee proposal will make it difficult to remove a board member, because that is something that should only be carried out under unusual circumstances. Hence the requirement of a 6-1 vote by council. That does not make it “cumbersome,” nor is it an attempt to have it “both ways.” It only ensures that such an action will not be taken frivolously.
    Second, the fact that the proposed revision contains 67 percent more words, only reflects the fact that the current charter consists of several large, complex paragraphs, each of which incorporates different important issues. The increase in words is primarily due to the use of an easier to follow outline format and expanding on ambiguous language to make the intent clearer, reducing the likelihood of conflicts between the board and council due to differences in interpretation.
    Third, and most importantly, is this issue of transfer of funds from DPU to the county.

  • Workforce Solutions is an oxymoron

    I voted early this year. On the afternoon of Oct. 21 as matter of fact, exactly two weeks to the day before the Nov. 4 general election.
    Actually, early voting has become something of a tradition around my house.
    After months of following the campaigns, watching seemingly endless hours of offensive, negative political TV ads and pondering the choices that will confront me when I enter my polling place, it just feels good to cast my ballot and be done with it.
    I have sometimes wondered if I’m not subconsciously operating on the assumption that if I vote early they’ll shut up out there, stop insulting my intelligence with all those bogus charges and phony claims, which no one, save the most intoxicated partisan, believes in the first place.
    The subconscious is quite often delusional, on the other hand.
    This year my decision to early-vote and get it over with was stimulated by a “news” release that burped up in my email from an agency of state government, known as the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions.

  • School system working to keep kids off drugs

    An article in the Sunday’s Los Alamos Monitor, posed the question of illegal drug use in our community. The drug awareness event, which was held in Duane Smith Auditorium, presented an opportunity for community members to voice concerns on illegal drug use.
    As superintendent of the Los Alamos Public Schools, I would be naïve to say that drugs have not made their way into our schools and our community. But in saying this, I would state very affirmatively school staff and administration are very vigilant in identifying, responding to, and preventing drug use in schools. Moreover, our school board has in place firm and unequivocal policies aimed at keeping drugs and tobacco out of our schools while providing sensible second chances to young people who many have made a mistake.
    Safe and civil schools are one of three non-negotiable goals of our school system. As such, staff and administration, in partnership with students, parents, and school resource officers are continually on alert for behaviors that suggest a student may be under the influence or in possession of illegal substances at school.

  • What's the fairy tale ending?

    If I thought having cancer was easy, I’d forgot to factor in that life doesn’t always turn out how you planned. It’s not so much that having cancer is hard. It’s not being able to conquer it that’s tough.
    For two years, I’ve gone from drug to drug, initially glowing in the euphoric feeling that it’s going to work, and is working against the cancer, only to find out six months down the line that my body, yet again, is retreating from the invading army. The days when the drugs conquered all, and I could have six, 12, even three years free to live a normal life, seem now a long way away.
    So what’s so different about conquering cancer and knowing it’s your destiny? I would say in a nutshell: accepting the truth and learning to breathe through it. For more than three years while I was in remission, even though I was on maintenance chemotherapy, I was able to write about hope, about living life large in the face of cancer, about stopping to smell the roses. But as soon as my cancer came back, and wouldn’t give me a break, the words dried up. I couldn’t understand it. For someone who had found it so easy to see the colors in the face of blindness, my fingers wouldn’t type, my heart wouldn’t give and the block became a constant frustration.

  • Workplace safety materials put accent on Spanish speakers

     

    Spanish-speaking people have been part of New Mexico’s workforce for hundreds of years. But the dramatic growth of this population — driven largely by immigration — and the anticipated growth well into the future underscore the urgency of culturally tailored workplace safety training. 

    The Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries has consistently shown higher workplace fatality rates for Hispanic workers than for workers from other racial or ethnic groups, and these rates are highest among Spanish speakers born outside the U.S. Hispanic workers also suffer higher rates of nonfatal occupational injury and illness.

    One reason for this is that many Hispanics work in higher-risk industries and occupations, including agriculture, construction, petroleum and gas extraction. But manufacturing and food processing also attract many entry-level workers — including recent immigrants.

  • Take some time to look over Medicare options

       If you’re currently enrolled in Medicare, what you do or don’t do over the next few weeks could determine whether you can secure the best, most affordable coverage next year. Here’s why:

    Medicare Part D prescription plans frequently change premiums, drug formularies, deductibles and copayment amounts for specific drugs from year to year. Medicare Advantage plans often make similar changes; plus doctors, hospitals and pharmacies may drop out of their preferred provider networks.

    Thus, by simply choosing the same options for 2015 without investigating alternatives, you could wind up paying hundreds or thousands of dollars more for similar healthcare services.

  • 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.