Today's Opinions

  • Political emails: Outrageousness to love

    Like phone calls around the country between potential Gary Johnson supporters, political emails get little attention. That’s unfortunate because the grandiose and stupid style of a good many of these emails supports the notion that the other side is evil and worse, thereby feeding the much-lamented hyper-partisanship of today’s political world.
    For New Mexicans, a second reason to notice such messages is that one of our representatives in Congress, Ben Ray Lujan, is nominally responsible for some of them. Luján chairs the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), a job he got via appointment by House Minority Leader, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. Luján’s duties, beyond electing more Democrats to Congress, aren’t clear, nor is the time required.
    Presumably, DCCC time takes Luján away from tending constituent duties, such as follow-up on the 2015 mine waste spill into the Animas River. On July 5, NBCnews.com published a 1,575-word fluff piece without mentioning task and time topics. The story dwelt on Luján’s “Uncle Gus’s wingtip shoes.”
    I get these emails from both parties and their friends and until a year ago got DCCC emails. Maybe because I didn’t donate. There were ten DCCC emails in August 2015 through the 28th. The DCCC program continues, DCCC said.

  • Letters to the Editor 8-17-16

    New WIPP Accident Theory Implausible

    A new theory advanced by Charles Bowman that a hydrogen deflagration caused the 2014 Waste Isolation Pilot Plant accident is implausible. It contains errors and omissions that should be corrected.
    I spent most of my 30-plus years of corporate experience dealing with TRU waste. As the manager of the Los Alamos National Laboratory plutonium analysis section, I had hands-on generation of portions of LANL’s TRU waste. Under contract to Sandia National Lab, I led a LANL team to conduct many lab experiments on alpha radiolytic gas generation of TRU waste under conditions expected at WIPP. Al Zerwekh, mentioned by Bowman, was a member of this team.  This was followed by my working in LANL’s TRU waste management operations developing strategies to work off LANL’s TRU waste inventory based on its characteristics. I am a LANL retiree – “Class of 2005.”

  • Court decision makes small farmers more like small businesses

    Is a small family farm a business, a hobby, a living museum or something else?  
    It’s increasingly clear we can’t have it both ways – business and quaint tradition. The recent state Supreme Court decision on workers’ comp coverage for farms and ranches puts that in sharp relief.
    The court decided the special exemption for farmers and ranchers is unconstitutional. Agricultural employers are now required to buy insurance if they have three or more employees, just like other small businesses. (Construction is an exception, requiring all employers to have coverage.)
    One insurance professional commented to me that he is impatient at the way New Mexico has coddled family farmers. They are running businesses, he said. They should develop budgets like other businesses, make businesslike decisions about who is an employee and treat employees as the laws require.
    That’s what this court decision will force them to do, but we also may be losing a valuable part of our traditional culture. The change will mean more formality and bureaucracy. Probably some family farms will be scared to hire anybody, even when they need help, and some farmers will decide farming is not worth the trouble.  

  • Letters to the Editor 8-10-16

    Public School
    retirees invited to breakfast

    If you live in the Western Area, you’ve heard the high school band back at work, football practice has started, and a school supply list is up at Smith’s. This part of the summer must be getting us ready for Back to School.
    Los Alamos Public School Retired employees are invited to the organization’s only yearly meeting at the NOT-Back-to-School Breakfast Aug. 18.
    Breakfast is at 9 a.m. and will be at Kelly Hall of Trinity on the Hill Episcopal Church. At the request of attendees last year, a more full protein-based breakfast will be available. The cost this year is $11 per person.
    RSVPs must be in well before midnight Aug. 15, along with your request for the lighter breakfast or the protein-based meal. Contact Emily Engle (larse@ieee.org) or Eileen Trujillo (662-6533, etrueheo@gmail.com). Contact me with your e-mail if you haven’t already (drummer@rt66.com).
    Judy Crocker
    Los Alamos

    Thank you for support for this year’s Chalk Walk

    The Los Alamos Arts Council hosted the seventh-annual Secretary Sandoval Chalk Walk again this year.

  • Makerspaces nurture business development

    Uncertainty about the commercial viability of an innovation or idea — in addition to the cost of renting or buying the machinery needed to build a working prototype — has stifled many an entrepreneurial impulse. But the makerspace movement that’s gaining a foothold in several New Mexico communities is trying to change that.   
    Makerspaces offer access to expensive equipment and expert mentoring that innovators need to turn a concept into something tangible. Their advocates see them as cauldrons of entrepreneurism and economic development — as early-stage business incubators.
    Nurturing creativity
    New Mexico is home to half a dozen makerspaces, many of them only a few years old.
    Los Alamos Makers calls itself “a scientific playground for all ages,” and its members can use all sorts of industrial, mechanical, laboratory and electronic equipment that the organization has procured in its two years of existence.
    Lots of people have ideas, said founder Prisca Tiasse, a former biologist at Los Alamos National Laboratory, but they lack the means to invest in something that might not go anywhere. “That is a major hurdle for entrepreneurism.”

  • Johnson is another choice for president

    The 2016 presidential contest is down to two people. That’s what Deborah Maestas, Republican chair, would have us believe.
    In a July 17 op-ed she called for “Republicans and conservatives” to unite behind Donald Trump. “Trump’s success represents a shift that our country desperately needed,” she said. However laughable Maestas assertion in the op-ed, she was just doing her job.
    But, well, no. While unhappiness is everywhere, more is happening here than an either-or choice. It ain’t over ‘til it’s over, as Yogi Berra said.
    A phone call came a couple of weeks ago from my sister-in-law in southwest Wisconsin. A Catholic and a Democrat, she works for a branch campus of the University of Wisconsin in a community of 12,000.  She is distressed at the prospect of either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump being president. Her protest vote in the Wisconsin primary was for Bernie Sanders.
    After a few minutes, the topic of Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson entered the conversation, as you might expect. My wife, the Clinton supporter, gave me the phone. I said, “Policies aside, Gary is honest.” The other two are serial, purposive liars, among other things.

  • Focus legislation on one issue at a time

    The U. S. Senate, as you probably know, left Washington for a lengthy summer recess without passing an appropriation for research on the Zika virus. Though most senators agreed on the funding, Democrats disagreed with provisions unrelated to this issue, which had been included in the bill by Republicans.
    Among those provisions were restrictions on funding for birth control services from Planned Parenthood, weakened clean water laws governing pesticides and, as if the nation needs something else to motivate people to shoot each other, a provision that would have allowed the Confederate flag to be displayed at military cemeteries.
    Let us not, for this moment, debate the Planned Parenthood issue, the pesticide issue or even the Confederate flag issue. Let’s talk about process.
    This process, sometimes called logrolling, is what happens when legislation is written so that in order to vote for one thing that a legislator is in favor of, the legislator has to vote for something he or she opposes.
    In this case, according to the news reports, U. S. senators on both sides are now waiting for a few American babies to be born with tragic deformities so they can point fingers at each other. At least New Mexico, with its low humidity, is not a heavy mosquito state.  

  • Letters to the Editor 7-27-16

    Kudos to Los Alamos Fire Department

    Kudos to the Los Alamos Fire Department for the handling of the North Mesa fire. Their quick and skillful response prevented what could have been a disastrous situation with the current dry conditions.  I wish to convey a personal thank you to all of the firefighters who did an outstanding job.
    Carol Bronisz
    Los Alamos

    BPU should consider free market economic forces for setting rates

    Regarding the setting of (gas) rates, the Board of Public Utilities appears to have ignored the importance of free market economic forces.
    With a commodity rate, these forces can act to reduce consumption when prices are high due to supply limits. Their efficacy depends on the elasticity of demand, but turning down thermostats on hot water tanks and furnaces is not difficult compared to, say, buying a more efficient automobile. With a fixed rate, however, consumers have no impetus to conserve in times of shortages.
    It would be very disappointing if the BPU did not consider this aspect of rate-setting at all; the report in the Monitor makes no reference to any such discussion.
    Terry Goldman
    Los Alamos

    Los Alamos deserves better venue for hosting visiting scientists