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Today's Opinions

  • How do you like your water?

    Do you drink your tap water? If not, why not? Is fluoride, perhaps, one of your concerns?
    Many cities add fluoride to their water supply because it strengthens teeth. The controversy is over what else fluoride does that is not so desirable.
    There’s a fluoride war in Albuquerque right now. The Albuquerque-Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority is proposing to put fluoride back into the water supply after removing it a few years ago. Passions are high.
    While the Albuquerque issue is local, the fluoride question affects all communities.
    According to Rudy Blea, of the Office of Oral Health in the state Health Department, the following communities have adjusted water systems to accommodate the appropriate levels of fluoride: Chama, Cimarron, Cuba, Estancia, Farmington, Los Alamos, Milan, Pecos, Raton, Ruidoso, Santa Fe, Santa Rosa, Springer, Taos, Villanueva and White Sands. These communities add supplemental fluoride to naturally-occurring fluoride to bring the level up to an accepted standard. Other communities don’t fluoridate, either because naturally occurring fluoride levels are high enough, or because they choose not to.

  • Bring telecom regulation into the 21st century

    We need better broadband access and infrastructure in New Mexico, especially in the rural areas. This year, the Legislature took a big step forward with a bill to spend $50 million over five years to bring broadband to schools statewide.
    The Democrats are congratulating themselves for this success, and they should. But they can’t congratulate themselves for the state’s backward attitude toward telecommunications regulation. Telecom is the flip side of the same coin. It’s one reason neighboring states move forward, while New Mexico remains stuck.
    Senate Bill 159, which the governor signed, allows the state to buy hardware for schools to link to the Internet. It’s a real plus for education.
    Senate Joint Memorial 4 got less attention. It creates a task force to study what role the state should play in building broadband infrastructure so that all New Mexicans have access to a broadband network.
    Political reporter and blogger Steve Terrell has been throwing cold water on legislative memorials as a waste of time and paper, and I mostly agree with him. Memorials can also provide the information and arguments to support future legislation.

  • Jury duty is one's Constitutional duty

    Voting, private property and stable legal institutions are pillars of our society. So is trial by jury.
    The United States Constitution, Article 3, Section 3, says “The Trial of all Crimes, except in Cases of Impeachment, shall be by Jury…”
    In the New Mexico Constitution trial by jury is in Article 2, Section 12, between religious freedom and bail. “The right of trial by jury as it has heretofore existed shall be secured to all and remain inviolate.”
    Neither constitution mentions peers, though in the common vernacular “jury” and “peers” go together like “love” and “marriage.” Jury impartiality is what counts. But one Internet source (criminal.findlaw.com) traces the use of peers back to the Magna Carta. Today “fellow citizens” is another phrase for peers.
    To be on a jury, one is plucked from voter lists and just about any other official known database. A letter comes saying the court needs some possible jurors, and you are on call for a while, three weeks in my case.

  • Fifty years of doing ‘wings’ the right way

    Column as I see ‘em ...
    They are to my native home what green chilie is to New Mexico, but considerably more famous.
    “They” are chicken wings and this month the staple of Buffalo, N.Y., cuisine celebrates its 50th birthday after a rather inauspicious beginning that, believe it or not, has at least some religious overtones.
    No, they weren’t conjured up as an appetizer to be enjoyed with sacramental wine. Ihey were born when a group of hungry men poured into the Anchor Bar, a nondescript Buffalo gin mill owned at the time by Frank and Teressa Bellissimo.
    The owners’ son, Dom, was tending bar that cold March night when a group of his friends came in around 11:30, looking for food.
    Dom asked his mother to cook something special, but urged his buddies to wait until after midnight — an obvious nod toward the Catholic practice of meatless Fridays.
    After the clock struck 12, not only did Teressa cook something special for Dom’s buddies, she created what would become known the world over as Buffalo wings.

  • Gun owners must show some responsibility

    In response to Mary Louise Williams in her letter to the editor titled “Teach gun safety to all,” let me first say that I am sorry for her experiences with guns being the wrong hands. Those tragedies are more than anyone needs to experience in a lifetime. I can’t even imagine.
    Secondly, I would like to thank her for the tone of her letter. It was respectful, kind, and to the point. So many letters today are just the opposite.
    I am an avid firearms enthusiast, hunter, Sportsman’s Club member, NRA member, and 2nd Amendment supporter. I am also a father.
    What really caught my attention in this letter was the answer to her own question, “What did these deaths have in common? Each of these young men were experienced hunters, well trained in the use of firearms.”
    While I don’t have the facts in front of me, I don’t doubt Mary Williams. To me, it’s really immaterial.
    I always tell my friends and coworkers, lock up your guns when they are not in use. There are many reasons for this, and you can still be ready in an emergency. I believe there is no excuse for not securing firearms when they are not in use. Let me explain.
    Kids will be kids. Kids are immature and inexperienced. They lack good judgment. Good judgment comes from experience.

  • Loan helps equine therapist treat veterans with PTSD

    When Claire Ann Barr-Johnson applied for a loan with Accion in 2013 to expand marketing for her Albuquerque-based equine therapy nonprofit, her primary goal wasn’t the money. She wanted the mentoring and advising that comes with being an Accion client.
    Barr-Johnson’s for-profit company, Clinical Solutions, generated enough revenue to provide an income. But she wanted advice about how to build Horses for Healing into her central occupation — especially in light of a new, $50,000 contract with the state Behavioral Health Services Division to work with veterans who are struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder.
    Horse sense
    Barr-Johnson began her work in equine therapy more than a decade ago while working at an agency that treated young victims of abuse and neglect. She noticed how children who distrusted people relaxed their guard around horses.
    A few years after starting her own clinic, she returned to the idea of working with horses during discussions with her son-in-law — an Iraq War veteran. Barr-Johnson began researching how horses could help former combatants reintegrate into civilian life.

  • The metaphysical metaphors of meaning

    A few weeks ago, Google gave tribute to John Steinbeck by posting a rather nice Google Doodle. As I clicked on the animated icons, I soon found myself reading a synopsis of “Grapes of Wrath” to reacquaint myself with some of the characters.
    My two favorites were Grampa and Granma Joad. Grampa is a foul-mouthed earthy fellow who delights in tormenting his wife. The family has to drug him in order to get him into the car when they leave. He dies soon afterwards and they decide to secretly bury him so that they can save the money. Can you feel the love?
    Granma is another lovable character whose only reason to inhale is to spout off hellfire and damnation to her family and friends. Keeping up with family tradition, she also dies on the trip, but they cart her body along for a few days without telling anyone. Her quiet demeanor during those three days should have been a clue to the kids that she was no longer inhaling.

  • Saying no to GE foods

    Recently, Kroger and Safeway both announced that they will not sell genetically engineered salmon in their stores. The fish in question have had their DNA altered so that they grow twice as fast. These announcements were preemptive, as the Food and Drug Administration has not even approved these salmon for market. Yet this action sends a strong message: consumers are more thoughtful than ever about the food we are putting in our bodies, and retailers are starting to respond.
    As retailers, scientists and even ethicists consider the ramifications of GE animals and crops, there is a very simple step that retailers can take right now to appeal to conscious consumers: by labeling foods already on store shelves that contain these ingredients.
    By labeling their store-brand products that contain genetically modified ingredients, Kroger and Safeway and our local chains like Smith’s and Albertsons could take a great step towards empowering consumers to make fully informed choices in the grocery aisle.

    Sean Foran
    Albuquerque