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Today's Opinions

  • Recent shooting proves dangers to store employees

    At a Circle K convenience store, the clerk shot a suspected armed robber.
    We expect to read the opposite story. Convenience stores can be dangerous places, especially for the people who work in them.
    This happened a few weeks ago in Albuquerque in mid-afternoon. The suspect was wounded and is expected to recover; the clerk was not charged with any crime.
    What was that clerk doing packing a gun?
    The incident brought to mind a court case from 20 years ago in which Circle K clerk Paul Sedillo followed a shoplifter into the parking lot and was shot and killed.
    The Eldridge case (named for the mother of Sedillo’s daughter) raised the question of whether Circle K might be civilly liable outside of workers’ compensation, whether the company was so greatly “at fault” that it might violate the “no fault” principle basic to the workers’ comp philosophy.
    It was a hot issue in the workers’ comp legal community, but the case was settled out of court so the question was not resolved.
    Conventional wisdom is that employees should never be instructed to pursue armed robbers or shoplifters. Let them take the money and go. I heard that message in dozens of safety seminars and passed it on to small business owners in my own seminars.

  • Weinstein case shows power corrupts for so many people

    Power corrupts. Worse, as 19th-century historian Lord Acton concluded, absolute power corrupts absolutely.
    It doesn’t matter whether you’re talking about a politician, an entertainment mogul, a corporate CEO or a police officer, give any one person – or government agency – too much power and allow him or her or it to believe that they are entitled, untouchable and will not be held accountable for their actions, and those powers will eventually be abused.
    We’re seeing this dynamic play out every day in communities across America.
    A cop shoots an unarmed citizen for no credible reason and gets away with it. A president employs executive orders to sidestep the Constitution and gets away with it. A government agency spies on its citizens’ communications and gets away with it. An entertainment mogul sexually harasses aspiring actresses and gets away with it. The U.S. military bombs a civilian hospital and a school and gets away with it.
    Abuse of power — and the ambition-fueled hypocrisy and deliberate disregard for misconduct that make those abuses possible — works the same whether you’re talking about sexual harassment, government corruption, or the rule of law.

  • Globalization helped set the stage for 'Dreamers' laws

    Millions of middle class Americans, mostly in rural areas, are feeling cornered by the overwhelming forces of globalization.
    Their employment was displaced by automation, international competition and corporations’ transfer of jobs to other nations with lesser production costs and more flexible laws. Many of these Americans express a visceral anger towards anything international and desperately reach for national isolation and solutions that would save them from people who don't look and speak like them.
    Some leaders have convinced them that they are victims of sinister foreigners who ridicule American goodwill and naivete in international agreements, which are unfair to the U.S. Those leaders claim that criminals who have crossed the border illegally are responsible not only for loss of jobs but also for rape, murder and unprecedented addiction to drugs among Americans.
    Fear over declining income, increase of joblessness and violence make people susceptible to lash out at anyone with whom they are unfamiliar. The federal program DACA founded in 2012 is perceived to benefit such “others.”

  • New Mexico First, conference are in need of a review

    Probably the least known fact about the long career of Sen. Pete Domenici has to be that he did not hire me to be his press aide in 1989.

    Instead of the knowledgeable New Mexican — me — Domenici hired Ari Fleischer, who knew Washington, D. C. A sound choice, I think. Fleischer went on to be press secretary for President George W. Bush.

    Equally obscure is the story I wrote for the Albuquerque News in 1968 about the first city budget he presented as chairman of the Albuquerque City Commission.

    Much later my kids played Little League baseball with a Domenici grandchild. Domenici attended the occasional game.

    Domenici’s leadership of the Senate Budget Committee brought access to the committee’s economics staff, a smart, collegial group that provided insight on the national economy and New Mexico’s fit into the big picture.

    In the 1980s Domenici and Sen. Jeff Bingaman, together with Gov. Bruce King, created the Joint Economic Development Initiative (JEDI). (Get it?) Santa Teresa with its border crossing was one focus.

    As a matter of good management, two of Domenici’s policy legacies deserve a closer look.

    First is New Mexico First. During the mid-1980s several groups were having conversations about the murky future facing New Mexico.

  • Letters to the Editor 11-8-17

    Some county codes do not fall into county purview

    Dear Editor,

    (A letter to the County Council:)

    I missed out on completing the citizen survey of attitudes towards the above, but wanted to register my opinion before your meeting tomorrow.  I agree with comments that the recent code enforcement and county attitudes towards the code in general are over-reaching and excessive.  The power of the county to tell people what their houses and yard should look like is limited to health and safety issues only.

    I also agree that the county code and related enforcement smacks of a homeowners’ association of private parties, and is not authorized by governmental powers. This is still the Wild West and we Westerners love it that way; people who want homeowner associations should move down to Tanoan or back to the East Coast.

    While monster weeds and obstructive junk on curbs may fall within the realm of governmental regulation, peeling paint and the cosmetic appeal of yards is not health and safety related. The influence of real estate agents on the county council is also excessive and a conflict of interest, designed to line their own pockets through sales commissions rather than in support of public welfare.

  • Letters to the Editor 10-11-17

    Today’s Republican Party is unfit to govern

    Dear Editor,

    The biased, deceptive science-teaching standards proposed by the Martinez administration are the latest evidence that today’s Republican Party is unfit to govern.

    Science is the systematic investigation of the physical world in which we live. It seeks to accurately describe and quantify physical phenomena and to propose models and theories that will allow us to make future predictions.

    It is a continuing endeavor in which theories and models are tested, modified or abandoned to reflect new observations and experimental results.

    Although no human undertaking is infallible, science is inherently self-correcting.

    When we reject science, we reject reality and we lose the ability to make rational, information-based decisions for ourselves, our families, our nation and the future of humanity.

    Unfortunately, due to religious/regional cultures, our ineffectual educational system, special interest groups, and ignorant/corrupt politicians, the U.S. is one of the most science-illiterate societies in the developed world.

    Whereas many take pride in proclaiming that the U.S. is an “exceptional nation,” a nation that makes decisions based illusion or disinformation, rather than reality, cannot survive.

  • Letters to the Editor 9-29-17

    Domenici, Bingaman served as model for
    bipartisanship

    Dear Editor,
    Pete Domenici had a daughter who had mental health problems, so he fought for the mentally ill. He helped pass the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity Act of 2008.

    His mother was an undocumented immigrant so he tried to help pass an immigrant bill.

    Trump’s meeting with Democrats Pelosi and Schumer about DACA was petty. Pelosi and Schumer were being partisan.

    Both sides interpreted the meeting to suit themselves. Until Congress has hearings and discussions with both parties, nothing will be done on immigration.

    Domenici worked in the 1990s toward a balanced budget. In 1997, the Senate approved the Balanced Budget Act. In 1998, we had the first balanced federal budget in 30 years.

    During the last budget crisis, Domenici suggested that Congress should stop giving sound bites on TV and start working on a budget in a back room.

    Domenici and Bingaman served together for 26 years.

    They voted along with their parties when it was right to do so.

    If it was something that would benefit New Mexico, they always voted together. It’s called being bipartisan.

  • Working together to enhance our community

    BY DAVID IZRAELEVITZ
    Los Alamos County Council Chair

    This is part three of a three-part series.

    In part one of my editorial on code enforcement, I covered the “why” behind the program, and in part two, I addressed the “how” of the process that is involved. Today in part three, I would like to talk more philosophically about code enforcement and what the county and the community can do to assist with resources. 

    Let me address the “government-encroachment” argument first which I have heard a few times. I can understand that some, and probably most individuals feel an initial gut feeling of government overreach when an ordinance is passed that imposes additional personal responsibilities for property maintenance. However, *any* new law, by definition, imposes new constraints on our freedoms.

    After that initial reaction, we need to then look at the fundamental issue that this new ordinance is addressing, and whether it is the right approach or not. If no one drove dangerously, we would not need speeding limits. If everyone was attentive to their property, we wouldn’t need property maintenance standards either. We do have a property maintenance problem in town, and I don’t see a practical alternative to some kind of code and its enforcement.