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Today's Opinions

  • How much testing is enough and when is it too much?

    What do you remember fondly about your school days? When you look at photos that capture these early years in school, you remember how nervous you were in your carrot costume before your big part in the school play. You remember how proud you felt standing next to your blue-ribbon science fair project. Oh! There you are with the turkey you colored after tracing your little hand on a piece of paper.
    And you remember using a No. 2 pencil to bubble in multiple-choice answers on a test. OK, maybe a photo of this last one didn’t make it into your grandma’s album.
    There was a time not so long ago when students were given a comprehensive assessment at the end of third grade and eighth grade, and then took the ACT/SAT tests for college purposes. These were informational tests, telling parents what their children had achieved academically and how they compared to other students across the country.
    When the results came in from that big test, teachers gave their students a little more practice as needed, and parents may have pulled out the flash cards for a little extra help at home — and everyone remained focused on teaching and on raising whole children.

  • LAHS homecoming parade will go on

    In spite of the closed street and construction project, the county has agreed to allow the Los Alamos High School Homecoming Parade to proceed from 4th Street on Central Avenue all the way to Canyon Road and then to Sullivan Field.
    LAC will have the barricades pulled back so that the parade will have use of the direct and traditional parade route. Those barricades will be replaced immediately after the parade passes and Central is still closed to all other vehicle traffic from 15th to 20th Streets.
    We are excited to showcase our community to returning classmates and are grateful to Mike Johnson, Debbie Garcia and LAHS, the Holiday Inn Express, The Lodge, Ashley Pond, Urban Park and Los Alamos County Staff, Los Alamos Public School Foundation, Georgia Strickfaden of Buffalo Tours, the LA History and Bradbury Science Museum, Valles Caldera National Preserve, the Los Alamos Golf Course, Rick Nebel, Mike Luna, Armando Jaramillo, Bobby Chacon, KRSN, the Los Alamos Monitor, Rio Grande Sun, The Santa Fe New Mexican, Betty Ehart Senior Center, Smith’s Marketplace, Sue Dummer and Manhattan Project, Red Barn Screen Prints, LA Chamber of Commerce, Auto Zone and all the wonderful individuals, businesses and groups in the northern New Mexico region that are helping, and have helped, us make this event (Sept. 19, 20 and 21) a great success.

  • Thanks for an enjoyable Chalk Walk

    The Los Alamos Arts Council hosted the fifth annual Sec Sandoval Chalk Walk last Saturday. It was a beautiful day and the Ashley Pond sidewalk was bustling with artists of all ages expressing their creativity and having an enjoyable time. Thank you to those who helped to make the event interesting and fun. We were a part of the Los Alamos ScienceFest and enjoyed all of the activity provided by the nearby booths. Ashley Pond was definitely the place to be.
    Special thanks goes to Sec Sandoval who attended the event and talked with some of the budding artists about their artistic efforts. We look forward to seeing him each year.
    Thank you to those local businesses that provided prizes for the different categories: Village Arts, Reel Deal Theater, Metzger’s and Starbucks Coffee.
    A huge thank you goes to LANB who sponsored the 3D chalk artist from We Talk Chalk in Los Angeles who created a special 3D drawing for our community. Bank representatives were busy all day taking pictures of people with the special effect. This coverage of the event was much appreciated. As always, the Los Alamos Arts Council appreciates your support of our community events. Everyone really enjoyed this addition to the Chalk Walk.

  • Rocket Day was a blast

    On Sept. 6, Girl Scout Troop 116 and the Zia Spacemodelers organized the first ever Rocket Day at Overlook Park in White Rock. Close to 1,300 people turned out to watch the launching of more than 260 rockets. It was a great day and we hope to earn our Girl Scout Silver Award for all of our hard work.
    There were so many people that helped make the day a success. First we would like to thank our event sponsors, the Los Alamos National Laboratory Community Programs Office and Boeing. Rocket Day never would have launched without their support.
    Thank you to the Kiwanis Club, the Key Club, the National Association of Rocketry, Positive Energy Solar, the Holiday Inn, Los Alamos National Bank, Ken Nebel of Fuller Lodge Art Center and Village Arts, Boy Scout volunteers, the Girl Scout Council, and Molly McBranch who were all key to our success. In addition, Metzger’s White Rock (glue and pieces parts for launch racks) and Estes Industries (Make-it-Take-it Rocket Kits and engines) provided deep discounts. Thank you to KRSN and The Los Alamos Monitor for getting the word out.

  • 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.

  • Bartlit 'spot-on' as always

    John Bartlit’s Sunday column, “Eyes on gold, oil … rare earths,” provided a perfectly balanced, non-opinionated, review of the strategic and economic importance of the 17 named rare-earth elements to the United States.
    As the world’s population continues to grow at an exponential rate anyone reading through the lists of where rare-earths are utilized by modern-day industry can see immediately their importance for the defense industry, computing, the generation of several different forms of solar energy etc.
    He also points out in no uncertain terms that currently the world’s major supply and associated cost is dominated by China and other growing foreign sources. With Russia’s recent embargoes on fuel supplies to EU and former Soviet States in mind we obviously need to concentrate on developing and retaining our own rare-earth resources.
    Once again recycling of used rare-earth containing products is an absolute national must.
    The rare-earths have the ability to react and form compounds/alloys with every known element except most of the noble-gases (helium, argon etc.).
    This made studying them during the 1960s and early-1970s extremely difficult because of the cost and almost impossibility of isolating them as pure metals.

  • More response to Milder's letter

    Ken Milder’s letter encouraging voters to vote down Question 2 on the November ballot has some incorrect and/or misleading statements regarding the revisions proposed to Article V of the Los Alamos County Charter that address the operation and oversight of the Department of Public Utilities (DPU).
    Although it is true that the language in Question 2 appears to be completely new, the text of roughly half of Article V is actually not new, but rather just rearranged for clarity and to separate fundamental issues so that they are not co-mingled, as they are in the current Article V document.
    More importantly, Mr. Milder suggests that under the new charter, council will be able to use the DPU to generate “hidden” revenue for the county, by forcing the Board of Public Utilities (BPU) to raise utility rates and then transfer these funds into the county budget. However, the dispute resolution process in the proposed Article V requires two public meetings and a 5 out of 7 vote by council before council can require the Board to increase utility rates, or force DPU to transfer utility funds to the county. That hardly qualifies as a “hidden” rate increase.

  • Sky's the limit on small-loan interest rates in New Mexico

    Payday loans, title loans, signature loans. New Mexico has more than 656 small lenders operating in nearly every town. On a nearby street, they’re so thick they perch next to one another, like turkey vultures on a snag.
    There’s a small argument to be made for their services, but they’re basically a drain on the economy.
    Lawmakers have tried to get a handle on small lenders since at least 1999, but we haven’t seen much impact. In 2007, the Legislature cracked down by limiting payday loans to 35 days, prohibiting indefinite loan rollovers, and capping interest rates at 400 percent. The small lenders just found ways around it.
    Cash Loans Now and American Cash Loans (with offices in Albuquerque, Farmington and Hobbs) avoided the net by shifting from payday lending to signature loans, which require no collateral.
    In 2009, the attorney general sued the two companies for predatory lending and for an interest rate in excess of 1,400 percent a year. On June 26, the state Supreme Court ruled in favor of borrowers. The interest rate, said both courts, was “unconscionable.” One borrower earned $9 an hour at a grocery store; the $100 loan had a finance charge of $1,000. Another, earning $10.71 at a hospital, got a $200 loan with a finance charge of $2,160.