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Today's Opinions

  • Orwellian logic and free speech

    In totalitarian regimes, aka police states, where conformity and compliance are enforced at the end of a loaded gun, the government dictates what words can and cannot be used.
    In countries where the police state hides behind a benevolent mask and disguises itself as tolerance, the citizens censor themselves, policing their words and thoughts to conform to the dictates of the mass mind.
    Even when the motives behind this rigidly calibrated reorientation of societal language appear well-intentioned — discouraging racism, condemning violence, denouncing discrimination and hatred — inevitably, the end result is the same: intolerance, indoctrination and infantilism.
    It’s political correctness disguised as tolerance, civility and love, but what it really amounts to is the chilling of free speech and the demonizing of viewpoints that run counter to the cultural elite.
    As a society, we’ve become fearfully polite, careful to avoid offense, and largely unwilling to be labeled intolerant, hateful, closed-minded, or any of the other toxic labels that carry a badge of shame today.
    The result is a nation where no one says what they really think anymore, at least if it runs counter to the prevailing views.

  • Bring back public health standards for women

    As Americans, we strive for safety — the safest medicines, safest cars, safest toys.
    But when it comes to women’s reproductive health, our state legislatures are passing laws putting women’s health at risk — about 250 since 2011.
    And now they do it under the guise of “women’s safety.” Women of color, especially African-American women, are disproportionately being affected by these policies throughout the Southern states where I live and spend much of my time mentoring young physicians and health professionals.
    The most serious health risks for women are coming from politicians cutting back access to family planning services and telling doctors how to practice medicine especially around procedures related to terminating a pregnancy.
    Costly clinic licensing standards, invasive ultrasound procedures and lengthy mandatory waiting periods (as if women haven’t already thought about this decision) are unnecessary because legal abortion is one of the safest surgical procedures available.
    In the United States, nearly 90 percent are done in the first trimester when abortion is safest.
    Once again, Texas is the battleground in the war over women’s bodies.

  • Letters to the editor 7-12-15

    Los Alamos cops, residents go above and beyond

    Our heartfelt thanks to everyone who helped rescue our dog, Sofie, from the bottom of Barrancas Canyon while we were away on vacation.
    Sofie’s adventure began on Sunday when she escaped our yard and climbed and/or fell into the canyon. Neighbors, friends, animal control officer Tom Beyers and our very conscientious dog-sitter searched high and low on Barranca Mesa, but by nightfall could find no trace of our wayward dog.
    Miraculously, our neighbor, Mary Langworthy, heard Sofie barking in the canyon early Monday morning and called Los Alamos police dispatch.
    Responding to the call for help, LAPD officers Cpl. Matt Lyon and Sgt. Brent Hudspeth climbed into the canyon and found Sofie, who was very weak and couldn’t walk on her own.
    These caring officers carried 13-year-old, 70-plus pound Sofie out of the canyon on their shoulders. Lyle Edwards heard the officers as they neared the top of the canyon around 6 a.m. and aided the rescue by dropping ropes so they could hoist themselves and Sofie up the final steep section.
    It was an amazing effort on the part of many that we have our beloved dog home safe and sound.

  • APPreciating calculus can happen without AP

    Question: Should Los Alamos High School offer a non-AP Calculus course?
    I’m asking this question because I’m interested in ascertaining what parents and students think.
    Now, I should emphasize that I am not asking this on behalf of Los Alamos High School. I’m asking it on behalf of what I personally believe makes sense to do.
    Obviously, I think we should offer the course. But the real question is: Do YOU think we should offer the course?
    If you already have an answer to that question, you can go to johnpawlak.com and complete a very brief survey to provide your response and comments.
    However, I would ask that you read my column before making a decision. I desire as many people as possible to respond, whatever their opinion. Your voices matter and I want them to be heard.
    LAHS currently offers Advanced Placement (AP) Calculus courses. Students taking AP courses can earn college credit.
    AP courses also provide a cumulative grade bump. Whereas an “A” normally equates to a “4”, a “B” to a “3”, etc., in AP courses an “A” equates to a “5”, a “B” to a “4”, and so on.
    What is non-AP Calculus?

  • LANL helps Española company create jobs

    When Eric and Celina Quintana started their residential and commercial cleaning service in 1994, their goal was to dominate the janitorial services market in northern New Mexico.
    Two decades later, Performance Maintenance Inc. provides janitorial equipment and supplies to Los Alamos National Laboratory and sells environmentally certified cleaning products nationwide.
    PMI is poised to introduce its own bio-based cleaning products in July, when it hosts a grand opening for its new 10,000-square-foot retail warehouse and distribution center in Española.
    One part of the company’s growth was securing a five-year, $660,000 contract with the laboratory eight years ago — a contract that has since been renewed, Eric Quintana said.
    To improve his chances of getting that pivotal deal, Quintana schooled himself in the government procurement process at classes and workshops offered by the laboratory’s Small Business Program Office, the Regional Development Corporation (RDC) and the New Mexico Small Business Development Center at Northern New Mexico College. The RDC provided business expansion assistance funded by an investment by Los Alamos National Security, LLC — the company that manages the laboratory.

  • N.M. economy is making a slow pivot toward recovery

    Last winter I heard two very different views of the New Mexico economy. An upbeat Jon Barela, Secretary of Economic Development, said the state was shrugging off the recession.
    “We’re recovering,” Barela told a committee in January. “The private sector is growing.”
    “New Mexico’s economy has really not begun to recover from the recession,” Jeff Mitchell, director of University of New Mexico’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research, told another committee. “We’re seeing real declines in the numbers of people in the labor market. An unprecedented number of people are leaving the state.”
    They were both right. The men two have different readings of the economic pulse because they occupy different positions along the timeline.
    Barela, an economic developer, has the pleasant duty of announcing new companies and expansions of existing companies. And he hears from economic developers around the state that inquiries are up.
    Mitchell, an economist, is reading data from the past year or previous quarters. When the ship begins its slow turn, it’s more apparent if you’re standing at the bow.

  • A path forward to budgeting for results

    In May, I wrote a column called “Follow the Money,” and I suggested taking the county’s budget discussions to a new level; adopting an approach that would allow the public, the county staff, and council members to better focus on the link between costs and service outputs, rather than focusing on costs by county department.
    That approach would enable more public involvement in how tax dollars are spent. It would also provide important decision information to help elected representatives and county staff consider the trade-offs necessary to balance the budget; and it would help us understand how well our actual spending aligns with the goals outlined in our Strategic Plan.
    It sounds obvious. Decide what’s important through Strategic Planning, then frame spending decisions in a way that shows whether spending actually flows to the highest priorities.

  • Letter to the editor 7-30-15

    More must be done for N.M. children

    Early last week, information was published by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, ranking the 50 states on various factors that indicate child well being.
    New Mexico is a jaw-dropping 49th — even more astounding, our state has hovered in this area, dropping to 50th position in 2013, for several years.
    Child poverty rates around the state are increasing steadily and programs to help these children are few and far between.
    Looking at this information, coupled with the start of the 2015-2016 school year quickly approaching, and everything that goes along with it — the stress of homework, readjusting to the school schedule, and making new friends — and it is easy to imagine this can be a difficult, overwhelming time for a child.
    Los Alamos is widely praised throughout the state and beyond, as being a great community, due to the affluent nature of the community.
    Even in a community like Los Alamos, there are children and families struggling and in need.
    We must do better for all of our children.
    It sounds daunting, impossible even, but there is a way to make a difference: volunteer.
    The Family YMCA is proud to be the only YMCA in New Mexico and one of 38 states that is currently offering the free Reach and Rise Mentoring Program.