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Today's Opinions

  • 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.

  • Letters to the editor 7-28-15

    Beware of fees with Quemazon HOA

    I want to give my former neighbors in the Quemazon communities a heads-up about some exorbitant fees you may be unaware of that you will face when/if you decide to sell your home within the Quemazon Master Association or its Woodlands Homeowner Association (HOA). I suspect the other HOAs within Quemazon have similar fees.
    We recently sold our home on Sinuoso and, much to our surprise, we were hit with an additional $800-plus expense from the management company of the Quemazon Master and Woodlands HOAs that was added to our closing costs.
    Following is the text of a message I sent June 13 to the person listed as president of the Master Association on the Quemazon website. I have not received a response.
    We also communicated our surprise and displeasure to the president of the Woodlands HOA. He said the Board of Directors would be discussing these fees.
    Please beware of what can happen to you if you decide to sell your home.
    “We are unsure whether you are still the president of the Quemazon Master Homeowner’s Association (HOA), but trust that you will direct us to the appropriate person if this online info is out-of-date.

  • Letter to the editor 7-24-15

    Time to compensate Downwinders

    Upon the 70th anniversary of the Trinity blast, we must not forget what has happened and continues to happen to the people of our state.
    Tina Cordova, Co-Founder of The Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium, along with other members, have recently met with Senator Tom Udall and Senator Martin Heinrich. “We were unknowing, unwilling, uncompensated taxpaying guinea pigs in the world’s largest science experiment” is how Cordova describes what happened to the people who were and continue to be affected by the radiation from The Trinity site test on July 16, 1945.
    The Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) set up in 1990 to compensate people living downwind of the Nevada test site is long overdue in including the residents of New Mexico.
    Please contact your Congressmen/Congresswoman and let them know the amendments to RECA should be a priority for them in Washington. The Santa Fe New Mexican did an incredible job in their Five Part Series, “The Legacy of the Bomb, Trinity 70 years Later.”