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Today's Opinions

  • LANL contract change merits attention more than worry

    BY ROBERT GIBSON
    Los Alamos

  • Reflections: On snow balls and drivers’licenses

    As best my research has been able to determine, testing American drivers’ skills as a prerequisite to operating motor vehicles on public arteries began in 1899, and it started in two U.S. cities, Chicago and New York City.
    The purpose of that testing was to validate motorists’ ability safely to use and operate all those automobiles and other motorized locomotives that had suddenly started lumbering along the local roadways and streets which previously had served mainly as thoroughfares for horses and buggies, oxen and wagons.
    The new tests also measured a would-be motorist’s “knowledge of the road,” including speed limits, stop-and-go regulations, rules governing left turns and right turns and all the other protocols involving the art of operating motor vehicles.
    When a person passed one of those tests, he or she would be licensed to drive and would be given an actual artifact known as a “driver’s license” which validated his or her ability safely to drive.
    It wasn’t nuclear science or brain surgery, of course. It was simply a very sensible thing to do. If you are going to have all these vehicles running around on public roadways, make sure you set down some rules to ensure that persons operating motorized vehicles have passed the required tests.
    So what have we done with this common sense arrangement?
    Well, here in New Mexico lately, we have pretty much screwed it up.

  • Requirements to get a job won’t make jobs magically appear

    Food stamps have been a battleground for two years.
    On Jan. 1, with New Mexico’s unemployment the highest in the nation, a new rule kicked in that returns pre-recession requirements. Thousands of New Mexicans must work, with or without pay, to receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.
    Nonprofits, religious organizations and the public objected to the new rules and some even sued. The state Human Services Department modified a few rules and pushed them through.
    We’d like to think this move would create more wage earners, but that’s unlikely. Economic reality and systemic weaknesses will sandbag the administration’s wishful thinking.
    The new rule requires most able-bodied, childless adults aged 18 to 49 to show 80 hours a month of approved work to qualify for SNAP, formerly called food stamps. Otherwise, they get just three months’ benefits in three years. On Oct. 1, people aged 16 to 59 and parents of children 13 and older will come under the rules. That’s 24,000 people, HSD estimates.
    The idea is that these people can work without pay in a job that “gives a person experience in a job or industry, tests a person’s job skills, or involves volunteer time and effort to a not-for-profit organization,” the regulation says. They can also participate in state-supervised activities like filling out job applications and contacting employers.

  • Unemployment trends don’t seem to apply in New Mexico

    When people leave an area, unemployment should drop. That’s because, so the theory goes, the people leaving (migration is the technical term) have some tendency to be unemployed. That doesn’t seem to apply here. Migration declined ever so slightly in 2015 from 2014, but unemployment stayed essentially the same.
    The applicable theory appears to be the old Lew Wallace maxim, “Every calculation based on experience elsewhere fails in New Mexico.” Wallace was governor of New Mexico from 1878 to 1881.
    During the year ended July 1, 2015, there were 13,352 people pulling up their New Mexico stakes and leaving, according to the annual population estimates released by the Census Bureau Dec. 22. The population dropped 458 during the year.
    For the year ending July 1, 2014, it was 14,154 departures and an overall population decline of 1,323. The decline in out migration was 802 people, or 5.7 percent,
    The departure total since the April 2010 census is 43,041 with 27,506 going during the last two years.

  • Letter to the Editor 1-24-16

    Vote yes on schools bond

    Because we don't have our own children, we were supporters and observers of our schools system as community members and property owners, until a young nephew came to live with us and attend Los Alamos High School.  What he found was a system that had the resources not just to teach reading, writing, science, math and computer skills, but to offer music, sports, debate, and many other extracurricular programs.  All of these things helped him learn and grow in many ways, and he was well prepared for college.
    The HB33 schools bond, on which Los Alamos citizens can vote by mail no later than Jan. 26, provides money to maintain our schools and buy needed equipment and facilities.  As a County Councilor, I have consistently voted against raising the county's portion of property taxes, in part because I believe this community prefers that property taxes should go first to support our schools. Good schools benefit everyone, not just in the young lives changed for the better, but by building a prosperous community with good property values.  Please join us in voting yes for the HB33 schools bond.
    Pete Sheehey
    Los Alamos County Councilor
    Naishing Key

  • Letters to the Editor 1-22-16

    Congrats to Larry Baca for his years as coach

    As LAHS boys track and field exits the Larry Baca-era of 30 years as coach consider: Larry has been inducted into NM Coaches Hall of Fame; his teams have won two state championships and were in contention several other years. He produced 43 individual, 13 relay state champions and five state records – four of which are current. And, his charges have set 13 of 19 event records at LAHS. Most telling of his coaching depth and consistency is that of the top 10 performances by LAHS boys in each of the 19 events, 167 of the 190 listings are his guys! (Larry is on two of these lists, javelin and shot, from his days as a Topper!)
    Larry’s teams were particularly strong on relays where they accounted for 37 of 40 listings and 13 state championships.
    Congratulations to Larry Baca and all his athletes for making the ‘Toppers a force to contend with in high school track.
    Wayne Morris
    Los Alamos

    Support HB33 for schools, community and children

    As a resident and homeowner, my property value is dependent on the quality of the schools. I support the HB33 Referendum and open enrollment.

  • Letters to the Editor 1-15-16

    Thank you for
    continued support

    It is always a pleasure to return to Los Alamos and visit my folks because it is such a unique and generous community.  This year when I returned home for the holidays I performed a recital at Fuller Lodge on New Year’s Eve and was pleasantly surprised to have over 90 people come to the performance!
    I took up a free will offering for the Santa Fe Youth Symphony, one of the many ensembles in the area that was vital to my success as a professional musician, and I just sent them $250.
    For those of you who attended: thank you for your presence and generosity, and to the community of Los Alamos: thank you for your continuous support of the arts.
    Given the size of the community, the arts opportunities in Los Alamos are amazingly diverse which is completely driven by the people who participate and support the arts. Keep it up!
    Daniel Nebel
    USAF Band of the Golden West

    Musical supplies made possible by mill levy

  • Letters to the Editor 1-13-16

    Thank you for the
    opportunity to serve
    as council chair

    I am writing this letter to say thank you to my fellow community members, and my fellow county councilors, for the opportunity to serve Los Alamos as the chair of the Los Alamos County Council for 2015.
    As most, but not all, of our community knows, Los Alamos is both a city and a county, effectively, under the New Mexico Constitution; the only such entity in the state. Accordingly, rather than have both a county commission and a city council for the same geography – and more importantly, the same citizens – our “forefathers” in the 1960s opted for one elected body, in the form of the hybrid county council. Each January, the council selects a chair.
    Many of the responsibilities of the chair are obvious – chairing the council meetings, officiating at certain community events – and some less obvious, such as setting the Agenda for the council meetings (with a rotating subset of councilors and senior county staff), and representing the community in the region and in D.C.