Today's Opinions

  • Vote for bail reform to fix system of turnstile thugs

    One item on your ballot this November is bail reform, an issue with so much support and study it’s a no-brainer. But House decisions muddled by campaign donations came close to killing reform in the last legislative session.
    The issue: Everyone has a right to get out of jail by paying a bond, but over time it’s given us a turnstile system in which the most dangerous criminals get out if they have the money, while many who pose no risk remain behind bars because they can’t afford bail – at a cost of $100 a day to the county.
    “We often release high-risk people who commit new crimes and hold people who are no threat to us at all,” said Supreme Court Chief Justice Charles Daniels in a talk before New Mexico Press Women. “We’re releasing boomerang thugs and packing jails with people who don’t belong there. They’ve become debtors’ prisons.”
    It explains why some of our worst crimes have been committed by people who had been in jail but bonded out.
    “How did we end up with a system where money decides who gets out?” Daniels asked.
    We inherited it. The system is so old it goes back to the earliest laws in England. The commercial bail-bond industry has grown steadily since 1900, and, judging by the number of bondsmen stationed near courthouses, is a booming business. Judge for yourself whether that growth is benign or malignant.

  • Make sure every dollar you give to charity counts


    Financial Matters


    eciding to make a charitable contribution can arise from a desire to help others, a passionate commitment to a cause or the aim to give back to a group that once helped you or a loved one. Choosing which organizations you want to support can be difficult. There are over a million public charities in the United States according to the National Center for Charitable Statistics, and every dollar you give to Charity A is a dollar you might not be able to match for Charity B. 

    Whether it’s a friend’s charity run or supporting an animal rescue, often the decision to give comes down to a mix of internal and external factors. You have to determine which causes are most important to you, and with outside help you can compare how effective various charities are at using their funding.

    Many non-profits do incredible work, but it’s always smart to verify their claims. You can start your due diligence by double checking an organization’s tax-exempt status using the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) Exempt Organizations Select Check Tool. 

  • Letters to the Editor

    Sheriff wants to prevent public from voting for sheriff

    According this morning’s Albuquerque Journal, Sheriff Marco Lucero wants to prevent us from being able to vote on whether we want a sheriff because it “unconstitutionally interferes with the rights of voters to vote for candidates” for sheriff.
    Camille Morrison
    Los Alamos

    Is Stover willing to state if she supports marriage equality

    I’ve been heartened this past week to see no fewer than three ads in which Sharon Stover has focused her campaign for state office on the well-being of New Mexico children. What a great cause to embrace.
    I’m a bit perplexed, however – does Stover intend to be an advocate for all New Mexico children, or only the straight ones? I ask because as county clerk, she moved to deny marriage licenses to same sex couples. (For background, see The Los Alamos Monitor, Aug. 31, 2013, or the Albuquerque Journal, Sept. 4, 2013.)
    Her prior actions could only be called hurtful to LGBT children, not helpful, in that she sought to exacerbate the damaging isolation and fear felt by a significant, vulnerable segment of our population. Such actions serve to perpetuate the conditions that lead to LGBT youth having far higher risk of suicide than straight youth. Not helpful.

  • Letters to the Editor 10-12-16

    Opposition to sheriff smacks of desire for
    more power

    First, let me compliment the Monitor on an accurate representation of the discussion between Deputy Sheriff John Horne, Jr., and ex-Councilor Robert Gibson. What I read was hardly distinguishable from what I experienced by attending the League of Women Voters event.
    However, I must comment on two points: One was Gibson’s astonishing confusion regarding investigation of violations of the law. An enterprising Monitor reporter can investigate same. It does not require law enforcement credentials simply to investigate. But I would expect that a professional investigation by the sheriff might be rather preferable to the shock and (not awe but) dismay that a reporter would be motivated to generate. Our councilors may be insulted by the prospect of any investigation for corruption, but they clearly demonstrate the propensity for it to manifest itself by their opposition to the sheriff’s office. The widespread opposition of our political leaders to the sheriff smacks of a desire for more narrowly held power, but the ballot box should not be the only way to implement the checks and balances so innate to America.

  • Letters to the Editor 10-7-16

    Teacher’s evaluation not representative of reality

    My name is Heidi Schembri, and I have been teaching for 15 years in Los Alamos Public Schools. I love my profession and have had the honor to work with many wonderful children, parents, school employees, and community members. Over the last several years, there has been much controversy over the new teacher evaluation system. Our current New Mexico teacher evaluation system rates teachers on the following criteria: “Each category is weighted according to the amount of student achievement data available for the teacher. Improved student achievement is worth from 0 to 50 percent; classroom observations are worth 25 to 50 percent; planning, preparation and professionalism is worth 15-40 percent; and parent/student surveys are worth 10 percent” (ped.state.nm.us/ped/NMTeach_EvaluationPlan.html).

  • Letters to the Editor 9-30-16

    Check out our ‘new schools’
    during tours

    Thanks to the voters of Los Alamos and their approval of recent Los Alamos Public Schools bond elections we have three “new” schools for you to visit! The bond approvals made the funds available from property taxes and the schools partnered with the State of New Mexico for matching funds.   
    Combined with excellent construction oversight this resulted in a maximum “bang for the buck” whereas some existing facilities were maintained and some completely new facilities were constructed.
    You are invited to tour the schools, “new” and “work to be done”.   
    The high school and Topper Freshman Academy tour is scheduled for 4 p.m. Oct. 3. The middle school tours are 3:15-4:15 p.m. Friday 9:30-10:30 a.m. Saturday. The Aspen Elementary School tour is 4:30 p.m. Oct. 3. The Barranca Elementary School tour 4 p.m. Oct. 11. The Chamisa Elementary School tour is 5:30 p.m. Oct. 6 and the Mountain Elementary School tour is 3:45-4:30 p.m. Oct. 3.  The Piñon Elementary School tour is 12:30 p.m. Oct 5
    Again, a big “thank you” to the citizens of Los Alamos!
    Morrie Pongratz
    Former school board member

    Candidate Espinoza is lively, impressive

  • Letter to the Editor 9-25-16

    There are many reasons to oppose HB 145

    Statements in the local media have represented House Bill 145 as something that only union shills could vote against. However, anyone that has followed the use of adjunct faculty in education should understand that there are actually serious reasons why one might not vote for it, at least in its current form.
    Prior to my retirement from a 15-year stint as a university department chair, I often hired adjunct instructors to meet our teaching needs, so I am quite familiar with “the good, the bad and the ugly” of this process.  Adjunct instructors on limited-term contracts can be hired to fill a short-term vacancy due to a regular teaching faculty member taking a leave, to offer a specialty course to provide students with a broader educational experience, or to replace a tenured faculty member at a lower salary and with fewer paid benefits.

  • Letters to the Editor 9-18-16

    Snow ordinance should include snowplow rules

    According to a recent newspaper article, you are considering an ordinance requiring homeowners to shovel snow from sidewalks in front of their homes within 24 hours of a snowfall.
    I have no problem with such an ordinance, as I always try to shovel my walks as soon as possible after a snowfall.
    However, I am really tired of sometimes having to shovel my sidewalks as many as three or four times because of snowplows repeatedly plowing the snow back onto the sidewalks.
    And, as you may or may not know, shoveling the snow packed by the snowplow is much more difficult than shoveling the original snowfall.
    I would therefore like to request that, if you pass an ordinance requiring snow removal within 24 hours, you include a provision requiring that snowplows must plow far enough away from the curb so as not to plow snow back up onto the sidewalks after they have been shoveled clear of snow.
    Thank you.
    Roger Ferenbaugh
    Los Alamos

    Turkish journalist, ‘brother’ detained for unknown charges

    The letter below was emailed to me from a Turkish journalist who has been a colleague of Sahin Alpay, my “Turkish brother” who lived with my family in California in the ‘60s.