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Today's Opinions

  • Letter to the editor 9-7-14

     

    A response to Milder’s letter

    I am responding to Ken Milder’s letter on Sept. 5. The county charter was passed nearly a half-century ago.

    The provisions governing the utilities department are flawed because they (1) do not allow effective oversight of the utilities operations by the council, which is accountable to the voters and the law for these operations, (2) there is no way for the council to hold the utilities board or the utilities director accountable for mismanagement or poor performance and (3) most important, there is no way to resolve disagreements over policy between the council and the utilities board. It is high time these flaws be corrected; the proposed changes do so in a way that has the smallest possible impact on the operations of the utility department.

  • Eyes on gold, oil ... rare earths

     

     A prized few of the Earth’s marvels have had astonishing effects on world history, geography, discovery, economics and politics. Great reaches of the globe’s long, winding road from the past were built to gain access to gold and silver, spices, silk and oil. 

    In like manner, the years ahead will be marked by the pursuit of rare earths. 

    Rare earths are a group of 17 natural elements whose properties meet growing needs in the 21st century. Rare earths have strange old names and strange new uses. They are vital for building high-tech military and green technologies.

    Dysprosium, erbium, europium, gadolinium, neodymium, praseodymium and yttrium are used in cruise missiles, smart bombs, guidance systems and night vision technology. 

  • Excited about United Way events

    My name is Jenna Erickson and I am the 2014 chair of the United Way Youth Team. It is such an honor for me to be in this position to work on the events that the team has to present to the community this year. I am so excited for everyone to see what we have to offer.
    The members of the team this year are so motivated, creative, passionate and just cannot wait to present all the hard work that they have been doing to everyone. We hope the community is as excited as we are.
    The United Way Youth Team just kicked off its campaign at the beginning of this month. Proceeds from the youth team events benefit the Community Action Fund. Last year, the funds raised at youth team events helped start Link Crew, which is a peer to peer mentoring program at the high school. At the start of the school year, the Link Crew leaders welcomed freshmen into the high school community. Many of the youth team members are also a part of the Link Crew program.

  • Works of art to lead homecoming parade

    The Los Alamos High School graduating class of 1964 will have its 50th reunion in Los Alamos instead of Albuquerque. Opting to hold it on the weekend of LAHS’ homecoming game (Sept. 19), the organizing committee chose to bring to their alma mater and Los Alamos much of the business many reunions give to Albuquerque.
    The administration of LAHS graciously invited the Class of 1964 to ride and walk in the lead of the homecoming parade Friday starting at 2:30 p.m., with a special seating section that evening at the game against Kirtland Central High Bronco’s at 7 p.m.
    Everyone thought it might be really “cool” if the ’64 Homecoming Court could ride in ’64 vintage vehicles … however, locating such transportation proved to be a bit more of a challenge than first thought.
    After putting the word out through various contacts and media, having several volunteers and then drop out due to engine difficulties, it is exciting to finally announce that the ’64 court will be in convertibles and classmates will ride in a beautifully restored pick-up truck — all vintage works of art folks!

  • Vote 'no' to county charter changes

    The most important, long-term decision facing Los Alamos voters is not only choosing candidates, but the proposed major changes to our County Charter, our county’s constitution.
    Ballot Question 2 proposes to gut Article V, Utilities, by repealing that section in its entirety and replacing it with new language. That is, charter language that has served Los Alamos citizens quite well for over 45 years must be “fixed.” Go figure: Something that ain’t broke needs “fixing!”
    Be wary. The so-called “fix” will actually break something that works well.
    How? Foremost among the proposal’s many flaws is that it inserts several loopholes into governance of our utilities system. Those loopholes give future county councils the ability to impose hidden taxes that ultimately increase utility rates.
    The change also shifts governance from a business-focused board to a politically motivated council, a shift that violates the industry-standard model for management and oversight of a publicly owned utilities system.
    The changes are substantial and arcane. They are so massive and confusing that Article V must be totally repealed in order for the new language to make any sense.

  • Defending our right to be wrong

    I love this country and everything it stands for, especially our Constitutional rights to pursue happiness and to taunt the relatives of gay soldiers at funerals.
    It’s no coincidence that the Founding Fathers chose “2,” the first prime number, as the Amendment to highlight our right to bear heavy armaments. It’s a prime example of the wisdom that allows our nation to boast some of the highest firearm injury and death rates in the world.
    Uruguay and El Salvador still beat us in the suicide-by-firearms statistics, but with a little help from gun rights advocates, we’ll get there! Nothing says, “I’m proud to be American” better than shooting your mouth off with low caliber thinking.
    Recently, law abiding citizens were once again under attack by pinko fascist socialist hippie Nazi zombies who want to take away all our guns and sharp knives, and force us to eat soggy free-range veggie burgers on recycled paper plates.
    I happen to know that the Founding Fathers did not eat veggie burgers.
    OK, so a 9-year old girl accidentally shot and killed a shooting range instructor with a fully automatic 9mm Uzi.
    Six years ago, a similar incident occurred when an 8-year old boy died after shooting himself in the head with an Uzi at a gun show in Massachusetts while shooting at a pumpkin.

  • Social Security to resume mailed benefit statements

    Call it a paperless experiment that didn’t quite pan out. In 2011, a budget-strapped Social Security Administration (SSA) stopped mailing annual benefit statements to workers over 25 in order to save $70 million on annual printing and mailing costs.
    In return, the agency launched the “my Social Security” online tool that allows 24/7 access to your statement, as well as other helpful information. (Your statement shows a complete record of your taxable earnings, as well as estimated retirement, disability and survivor benefits.)
    Although more than 13 million people have opened accounts, that’s only about 6 percent of the American workforce. With millions of Baby Boomers at or approaching retirement age, Congress was justifiably concerned that not enough people were accessing this critical retirement-planning tool.
    That’s why this month SSA will resume mailing paper statements every five years to workers from ages 25 to 60, provided they haven’t already signed up for online statements. The expectation is that more people will migrate to electronic services over time, as Social Security continues to close field offices and reduce in-office paperwork services — thanks to years of funding cutbacks.

  • Fix social issues by legalizing pot

    New Mexico has a mix of fermenting social problems that could be fixed by the passage of a bill that would regulate marijuana like alcohol.
    Legalizing recreational marijuana use and possession for adults would provide users with a safer alternative to alcohol given the likelihood of it creating safer access for them.
    Safer access means consumers buying their product from a state and county-licensed retailer instead of an anonymous street dealer with cartel connections.
    Generally, marijuana has been a safer alternative because users tend to remain in control of their behavior and don’t generally commit acts of violence, or sexual assaults as people occasionally do when they are drinking.
    Reported sexual assaults, murders, and robberies have all decreased in Denver, since marijuana was legalized in January 2013. My hunch is that there are fewer black-market drug deals going bad. More people socializing with weed means less women are being sexually assaulted by aggressive drunks at parties.
    In New Mexico, drinking alcohol is ingrained as a cultural norm.
    During the last 30 years that the United States Census Bureau collected comparable data, New Mexico was among the top-three states for total alcohol-related deaths.