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Today's Opinions

  • 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.

  • The dam that never got built

    There might have been a dam, a mile and a-half of stored water and a new chance at sustainability — though “sustainability” was not in our vocabulary then — with thriving truck gardens, lush orchards and a much greener valley.
    Or something else entirely. It depends whom you believed.
    Indian Camp Dam is the dam that never was. Seeing the current conflict over a proposed dam in the Gila, I looked back at the stories I wrote in the mid-1970s, when Indian Camp Dam was the dominant controversy in Taos.
    Years earlier, led by U.S. Sen. Dennis Chavez, Congress passed a law creating the San Juan-Chama project.
    The project diverted water from the San Juan River, a tributary of the Colorado, across the Continental Divide into the Chama River, from which it flows into the Rio Grande.
    The Chama joins the Rio Grande near Española. Communities farther north did not have access to that water, so the legislation authorized a dam to be built in Taos County.
    The dam was to be sited in the foothills upstream from Ranchos de Taos, along the Rio Grande del Rancho, the stream that runs near the famous St. Francis Church.

  • 10 ways to become financially independent

    After the 2008 economic crisis, many people assumed they would never be able to reach true financial independence — the ability to live comfortably off one’s savings and investments with no debt whatsoever.
    However, individuals willing to use their time horizon to plan and adjust their spending, savings and investment behaviors might just find financial independence is possible. Here are 10 ideas to get started.
    1. Visualize first, then plan. Start by considering what your vision of financial independence actually looks like — and then get a reality check. Qualified financial experts can examine your current financial circumstances, listen to what financial independence means to you and help you craft a plan. The path to financial independence may be considerably different at age 20 than it is at age 50. The more time you have to save and invest generally produces a better outcome. But at any age, start with a realistic picture of your options.
    2. Budget. Budgeting — the process of tracking income, subtracting expenses and deciding how to divert the difference to your goals each month — is the essential first task of personal finance. If you haven’t learned to budget, you need to do so.

  • The first nuclear fallout was in N.M.

    Part 2 of 2

    For days after the first atomic test on July 16, 1945, a powdery ash floated from the sky, coating everything in the Tularosa Basin, including cattle and crops. Then it rained, washing the stuff into wells and water sources.
    Ranchers noticed that their cattle turned white or partially white. Family pets similarly exposed had partially white coats. A rancher said his beard stopped growing for a few months, when it began growing again, it was white.
    Locals visited Trinity Site, walked around the cavity left behind, picked up the green glass that was sand before the blast, and looked at the twisted remains of the tower that suspended the bomb.
    Immediately after the blast, as a red haze descended, scientists and military personnel scrambled to evacuate.
    North of Trinity Site, men waited with vehicles to evacuate civilians, but radiation readings indicated they were safe, so far as they knew then.
    Photographs taken two months later show Manhattan Project leader J. Robert Oppenheimer and other scientists, unprotected, examining the tower’s remnants.
    Today, knowing what we know, it’s surprising how casual everyone was. It was the world’s first nuclear fallout, and New Mexico was the recipient.

  • 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.

  • Spirits inhabit sites of our revolution

    This year brought the 35th edition of “The Capitol Fourth,” the public broadcasting show that runs twice each July 4. “The Capitol Fourth” celebrates the United States.
    To start this year, Barry Manilow walked onto the stage, took his place at the piano and sang, “America the Beautiful.” He followed with his own “Let Freedom Ring.” The song’s chorus says, “It’s a dream to build upon. We’ll take the dream and pass it on and on and on, and let freedom sing, let freedom ring.”
    The show included Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture. The overture was accompanied by fireworks exploding in the sunset behind the Washington Monument, which was framed by flags.
    The usual 10-minute fireworks and music spectacular closed the show with a medley of Souza marches and “Yankee Doodle Boy,” from the musical “Yankee Doodle Dandy.”
    A few weeks ago, I mentioned our drive-by of historic sites in Massachusetts and Philadelphia.
    We went to Lexington and Concord, Old North Church and Paul Revere’s house in Boston, and Independence Hall In Philadelphia. Spirits inhabit these places. Not ghosts, really, but a definite sense of events having happened.
    Today, Lexington and Concord mean the Minute Man National Historical Park.

  • BPU to review SJGS Tuesday

    At its regular meeting on July 15, the Board of Public Utilities voted unanimously to approve and forward to the County Council for their approval the following five agreements related to the San Juan Generating Station (SJGS):

    1. The San Juan Project Restructuring Agreement
    2. The Amended and Restated Mine Reclamation and Trust Funds Agreement
    3. The San Juan Decommissioning and Trust Funds Agreement
    4. The Restructuring Amendment Amending and Restating the Amended and Restated San Juan Project Participation Agreement
    5. The Exit Amendment Amending and Restating Amended and Restated San Juan Project Participation Agreement

    The county council will be reviewing these documents for possible approval at its regular meeting on Tuesday.
    The documents are agreements among the nine entities which currently participate in the SJGS and concern many issues. In particular, the agreements provide conditions for exiting from the plant in 2022, or how a decision for remaining in the plant post-2022 would be handled. Other topics include federal and state regulatory requirements, fuel supply sources, site and mine reclamation arrangements.

  • Flexibility exists for San Juan issues

    With respect to the San Juan Coal Fired Power Generating Station Vote in the County Council on Tuesday:

    1) We are told that we can’t get out from our ownership of San Juan until 2022.
    2) We are told it is smart to maintain our ownership to recover our $6 million bond outlay for the NOx abatement equipment to be installed.
    3) We are told we will have to pay our share of the expected forthcoming lawsuits whether in or out of the picture.
    Here is some background on all of these issues. Flexibility exists if we choose to take it. Going blindly ahead, we could be committing to much larger costs and here’s why:
    First, the removal of our ownership of San Juan was on the table. Here is how several California cities utilities did it. It is revealed in the document Entitled “City of Colton Electric Utility Department 2013 Integrated Resource Plan,” which can be found at ci.colton.ca.us/DocumentCenterView/1830:
    Here is a quote on page 17:
    “The California owners of Unit 4 (Anaheim and Modesto Irrigation District, Santa Clara and Redding or MSR) are trading their ownership in Unit 4 for capacity in Unit 3 so that when Unit 3 is decommissioned in 2017, they will have no remaining capacity in the project.”