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Today's Opinions

  • In favor of transparent government

    By Democracy succeeds when citizens trust their government. Citizens can only trust their government when it operates in a transparent manner — when citizens can see how funds are spent and decisions are made.
    To achieve transparency, government has to purposefully work to make relevant information available to citizens in a timely manner, in ways that are convenient for them, and in formats that are useful and informative. That means something more than just publishing agendas and summaries, or transcripts of meetings. Local governments that are leaders in this area actively invite an informed, engaged electorate to participate continuously; not just at election time.
    The Los Alamos County government has many strengths in this area. The county website has a fantastic section that clearly communicates the priorities and decisions that are embedded in the county budget. It’s so good that our county routinely receives national awards for it. The LA County Line and other emails available to the public contain information about county events and issues. The Open Forum is a blog that allows citizens to comment on upcoming decisions. Those are all great starts.

  • Race does matter in Los Alamos

    As an African-American citizen living in this community, I empathize with the recently published letter to the editor by Thalia Gibbs-Jackson regarding her perception of “Encountering racism in Los Alamos.”
    I have the highest respect and appreciation for the fine work of the Los Alamos law enforcement officers whom I believe work diligently to uphold their sworn duty to serve and protect the citizens of this community. Racial profiling is a very serious and sensitive issue facing this country, particularly for persons of color. In my experience, African-Americans tend to arouse suspicion not necessarily as a result of the course of actions we may engage in, but rather, all too often, we arouse suspicion without probable cause merely due to the color of our skin.
    In my view, one’s perception is a reality that is deeply intertwined with the depth and scope of one’s individual life experiences over time.
    Race is a crucial component of how we relate to one another in diverse communities like Los Alamos. As a minority in this community, I have experienced prejudice and racial profiling on numerous occasions over the years that has caused me to sometimes feel rather ill at ease.

  • Ross' response shows naïvity

    Inez Ross’ response to Thalia Gibbs-Jackson’s expression of distress over encountering racism in Los Alamos was well intentioned, but I believe, naïve.
    I am a white woman who grew up in Los Alamos. Leaving the safety of this community after high school and encountering the “real world” was a real education for me.
    I have never been followed through a store because the manager thought I would steal something. I have never been stopped on the highway because I “match the description” of someone who might be trafficking drugs. I have never had to excel in any field in order to be judged adequate. And I have never been followed by law enforcement as my car crept slowly down a street because I was looking for a particular address.
    But all of these things do happen to people of color every day in our country, even in Los Alamos. In her letter Gibbs-Jackson very clearly stated that the driver of the law enforcement van did not speak to her, or make any effort to explain why she was being followed. Did she look like a “bum from out of town?” On what basis would such a judgment have been made?

  • DOE needs to loosen its leash on labs

    Go local.
    That’s just one bit of advice from the Brookings Institution to the United States Department of Energy on the subject of tech transfer. Those are two sweet words to New Mexico companies and economic developers.
    Brookings recently dinged DOE for the sluggish pursuit of technology commercialization at its 17 national laboratories, including Los Alamos and Sandia. The labs could be key players in regional economies, the report says.
    Could be.
    For decades, reports here have cited the labs as a significant resource, but probably an equal number ask why we don’t have more to show for their presence. To their credit, our two labs have taken steps to work with private industry and universities. We even get a footnote in the report applauding the New Mexico Small Business Assistance Program, which gives small businesses with a technical challenge access to lab expertise.
    However, if you’re looking for more tangible results, you’ll be disappointed.

  • Letters to the Editor 9-21-14

     Forming public banks 

    is an option for U.S.

    Our economy is in bad shape. Two observations make this clear: First, the fraction to the population living below the poverty level has been steadily increasing for several years now. Second, the average income of the middle class — those earning $100,000 or less per year, — has been steadily decreasing over recent years.

    One of the causes of this could be the fact that the local and regional banks have less money available to loan to local businesses and entrepreneurs. (They are also operating under increasingly strict regulations, and the overhead of increasing reporting requirements.) 

  • I believe …

     

    In newspapers (in all of their forms.). I believe in the First Amendment (45 words/five freedoms): 

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

    Our founding fathers thought it important enough to make this the very first one! 

    I believe in delivering fair, accurate, objective, timely and complete journalism across multiple platforms while maintaining integrity and high ethical standards… this is what separates newspapers from the opinion-based blogosphere. Newspapers bring truth to light and are the connection to the community.

  • Current shared utilities leadership protects us

    A principal argument to justify the proposed restructuring of county utilities is to increase its “accountability,” to its customers, all of us, by fundamentally altering the relationship between the Board of Public Utilities (BPU), the Department of Public Utilities and the County Council. Increased “accountability” was rejected by voters in 1966, has proven unnecessary since, and carries great risks. Voters who value their utility service and their pocketbooks should reject it again. This is about control, not accountability.
    The first proposed county charter (basically, our constitution) was rejected in 1966 largely because citizens feared that a political body, the county council, with direct control of utilities could pad their revenues via the back-door path of requiring substantial sums to be transferred from utilities to general county coffers, with resulting higher utility rates or inadequate operating and capital reserves. They also were concerned politicians would tinker with rates and services to favor special interests.
    A completely independent utility presents challenges, too. The compromise embraced by voters in 1968 was the present semi-independent system. It is a work of genius that has served us well for 46 years.

  • Thingamabobs and Whachamacallits

    People adept at Scrabble use some pretty strange words. My wife’s vocabulary is “slightly” better than mine and when we are Scrabbling, I might play a word like “rock” and then she’ll play one like “ozaena.” I’ll challenge her play, claiming that such a word doesn’t exist. She shrugs and tells me that it means having a fetid discharge from the nostrils. That’s usually more than I want to know and so I won’t bother asking her what “fetid” means.
    In the morning, do you wake up with rheum? You know, eye gunk or eye sleepers? Ever get an itch on your popliteal fossa? That’s the indented back of your knee. When you ran track in high school, were you ever preantepenultimate? That means fourth from last. Now there’s a word you can use every day!
    That white half-moon shaped area at the base of your fingernails is called the lunula (as in lunar). When the moon is crescent shaped, do you know what that shape is called? That’s a lune. No, not like your brother-in-law. That’s “loon.” Try not to get them confused.
    If you want to impress your doctor, call that blood pressure instrument by its official name ... a sphygmomanometer. And if you can pronounce it correctly, even better!