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Today's Opinions

  • Dental care charity is not enough

    If you need dental care and live far from the nearest dentist or can’t afford the cost, you might plan a trip to Albuquerque on Sept. 22-23. That weekend will be the occasion of the sixth annual Mission of Mercy, called New Mexico’s largest charitable event.

    An estimated 150 volunteer dentists will set up a temporary clinic in the Convention Center and provide services free of charge on a first-come first-served basis.

     There have been five such events since 2010, held in different cities. To date, New Mexico MOM has served more than 6,900 patients and has provided $4.9 million in donated dental care.
    But New Mexico is still woefully short of access to dental care.

    Reports show 32 of New Mexico’s 33 counties do not have adequate access. A 2017 report from the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services states only about one-third of New Mexicans are adequately served, and an estimated 138 dentists are needed to bring the state up to standard.

    So, in this writer’s opinion, the generosity of this charitable event does not compensate for the Legislature’s failure once again to pass a dental therapy bill.

  • Atomic City Update: Officials say no truth to golf course rumor

    In last week’s column, I talked about an idea that had been brought to my attention that I found interesting.

    It involved selling the existing golf course and building a new one in Pueblo Canyon, something I had heard about from a small group of people. However, it was just an idea and I attempted to present it in that way.

    Since the column was published, there has been a lot of reaction from the community and county officials about the idea. Although many people think that it is an interesting concept, it doesn’t seem to be very realistic at this time.

    County Council Chair David Izraelevitz explained that this idea is not a totally new one, and that it has been brought up in the past, but has been quickly dismissed each time.

    “It hasn’t been taken too seriously because of opposition to closing down the course for a long period of time,” Izraelevitz said.

    It has been discussed at least as far back as the 1980s, when then-County Councilor Roger Waterman brought up the idea of moving the golf course and building houses on the current site, according to Morris Pongratz, his fellow councilor at the time.

  • Conference to feature business opportunities in local film industry

    BY DAMON SCOTT
    Finance New Mexico

    The New Mexico film industry has been an economic bright spot for the past several years, helping businesses grow and weather the recession. After state tax incentives for the industry kicked into gear in 2003, opportunities for individuals and businesses have been continually created. And industry leaders say there’s still room for growth.

    Nick Maniatis, director of the New Mexico Film Office, said the industry is “as strong as it’s ever been,” with 2017 shaping up to be the third-consecutive year of record activity – defined by overall economic impact and job creation, among other markers.

    Maniatis and his staff are preparing for the 2017 Film & Media Industry Conference, which draws hundreds of people to sessions, panels and exhibitors. The conference, slated for Aug. 25–26 in Albuquerque, highlights the many ways individuals and businesses can be part of the growing industry.

    More than actors and crew

    Karl Kirsch of O’Malley Glass is a believer. The Albuquerque business owner said he’s worked hard to make connections with producers and crews over the years, and it’s paid off.

    Kirsch said he works with three different departments in the industry – set design, special effects and construction.

  • Letter to the Editor 8-13-17

    You can be conservative and in favor of
    improvements

    Dear Editor,
    It was a great pleasure to see Tony Fox insist that the council recognize that voting against the rec bond is not identical with voting against the rec projects. One may be fiscally conservative and still be in favor of some quality of life improvements and infrastructure development.

    And while Dr. (Lisa) Shin is indeed correct that quantification is not precise, it is certainly clear that everyone who voted for the bond is also in favor of the projects. Now if only one in 10 fiscal conservatives are nonetheless also in favor of at least some of the rec projects, a small fraction, then there is also a majority in favor of those projects.

    It is good that the CIP funds will be reviewed for how much we can already afford. However, we certainly can afford something. The improvement of Ashley (Pond) Park is an example of how much can be added to our enjoyment of Los Alamos.

  • GOP needs to get in line with debt limit

    There seem to be two kinds of Republicans: those who think that the full faith and credit of the United States can be the subject of political experimentation, and sensible ones.

    Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin fits in the latter category. He has repeatedly called upon Congress, controlled by the GOP, to pass an increase in the statutory debt limit, with no policy strings attached, so that the United States government may continue borrowing past the current, already expired ceiling of $20 trillion – and pay all of its obligations on time. The stability of the financial system, domestic and international, depends on preserving the “risk-free” status of U.S. debt, earned over centuries. A failure to raise the debt limit would imperil this status, causing a “serious problem,” as Mr. Mnuchin has put it with considerable understatement.

  • Mexico’s troubles affect the U.S.

    What happens in Mexico doesn’t stay in Mexico.

    Our southern neighbor is wrestling with an alarming surge in cartel violence, a U.S. security crackdown on its northern border and a glut of migrant refugees slipping through its back door.  All of which affects us directly or indirectly.

    The situation demands our attention and a redoubling of efforts to create sound, effective policy.

    Simply put, an unstable and unsafe Mexico isn’t good for Texas. Our economies are too entwined. Mexico is our No. 1 trade partner by far. It’s also not good for American industries that depend on lucrative trade deals and cheaper labor supplied by immigrants chasing the American dream. And it’s not good for American communities struggling with the consequences of illicit drugs flowing into cities, suburbs and rural hamlets.

    Let’s start with the uptick in homicides. There’s no way to romanticize the resurgence in cartel conflicts that are turning once-tranquil towns in Mexico into killing fields.

    The Mexican government’s war on drugs and cartels isn’t working. Mexico is on pace for its deadliest year with 12,155 murders recorded from January through June.

  • Letters to the Editor 8-9-17

    Lab Retiree Group
    recommends RFP provide for communities

    Dear Editor,
    The Laboratory Retiree Group (LRG) is a non-profit organization devoted to helping retirees from Los Alamos National Laboratory (the laboratory) stay in contact with significant issues. The LRG has about 600 members, most of whom live in northern New Mexico, though others live throughout the rest of New Mexico and the U.S.
    Last month, NNSA released a draft Request for Proposals (RFP) for a new management contract for the laboratory. NNSA invited comments on the draft RFP. The board of directors of the Laboratory Retiree Group submitted comments and recommendations to NNSA, on behalf of LRG members.
    This is a summary of those comments and recommendations. The full LRG response to NNSA is available on the LRG web site, lalrg.org. LRG has also shared these comments and recommendations with our N.M. congressional delegation.
    A major concern of LRG is that the draft RFP describes the procedure a management contractor must follow if it changes, terminates, or introduces new retirement or benefits plans. Although those would likely have a profound effect on the lives of both employees and retirees, the draft RFP has no provision for employee or retiree involvement in the decision to make such a change.

  • State’s economy may be turning around; indicators remain troubling

    Is it possible that New Mexico’s economy is finally starting to revive? If you follow the numbers in the last couple of months, you could get whiplash.

    Some major indicators are up dramatically, but they’re both heartening and concerning. Bear with me for some statistics.

    We’re finally on a good list. The U. S. Bureau of Economic Analysis recently clocked a healthy surge in gross domestic product for the first three months of 2017. New Mexico’s growth was 2.8 percent, the nation’s third highest. The leading contributor was oil and gas.

    In late July the Legislative Finance Committee brought joy to state bean counters with the news that recurring revenues in May were up 32 percent ($141 million) from May 2016.

    More good news is that gross receipts tax revenue in May was $39.3 million higher than the year before, and year-to-date it was up 6.2 percent. This means, among other things, that people are out spending money. For five months in a row, revenues have surpassed the same months in 2016.