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Today's Opinions

  • Legislative decisions range from schools to crime

    Recently, this column looked at the Legislative Council Service (LCS) report on the legislative session and considered the budget (the biggest part of the picture), listed state government’s major functions, and briefly discussed Medicaid.
    Today we look, from the policy view, as before, at legislative decisions affecting those major functions and touch on a few of the tiny and always interesting items. “Less than very seldom” is how often really big changes happen in state government.
    Scrounging money required considerable creativity during the session. The term “skimming money” isn’t usually associated with doing good, legal things. But skimming money is the LCS description for pulling money from “various reserves.” House bill 311 did the deed.
    Public schools get 44.3 percent of the money budgeted through the General Fund, the state’s operating account. Education changes amounted to bits and pieces, the same as for all of state government in this year of reduced spending. One change, following the precedent from the 2008 recession, allows school districts to change requirements for class size, length of the school day and other factors. This suggests Santa Fe doesn’t know all the details of running the schools.

  • More than ever, we need each other

    My heart aches over the stories I hear about heroin overdoses. Local fathers post stories about their sons and daughters, fatal victims of the heroin market. Police conduct raids. The illegal marketing demand continues to fund Afghanistan poppy farmers. Other illegal drug markets cause societal issues, as meth labs contaminate homes and acreage. A house in my neighborhood is selling for half its former market value because of meth lab damage. More than ever, we live in a drug culture.
    When I google “heroin,” however, my top hit is an article by the National Institute of Drug Abuse indicating that nearly half of young people who inject heroin reported abusing prescription opioids before starting to use heroin.
    As bad as our illegal drug market has become, the potential for the abuse of prescription drugs is a much more pervasive problem throughout America today.
    This conversation is frequently fueled by stories about yet another superstar and his/her battles with prescription drugs, the most recent being that of Prince. I am not sufficiently familiar with his pain and challenges to comment on his possible addictions, but I am saddened at his plight and that of millions of Americans who deal with chronic pain.

  • Enchantment and economy in your own back yard

    BY LORETTA HALL
    Guest Columnist

  • Letters to the Editor 6-10-16

    Monitor story on
    Am-241 source moved to  LANL

    An article in the Friday Monitor, LANL partner in radioactive removal, relates LANL assisting NMED in moving a drum containing 8.63 Ci of Am-241 from Santa Fe to LANL for safe storage. The Santa Fe New Mexican carried an article on the same exercise. This article misstates the drum as containing 9.2 Kg of Am-241. I assume the Monitor value of roughly 9 Ci is correct. An Am-241 source containing 9.2 Kg of Am-241 would be about 32,000 Ci, i.e. a very large and dangerous source. A 9 Ci am-241 source would also be dangerous, if not shielded by the source shield and the drum that contained it.
    The principal radiation from Am-241 is alpha-particle, and alphas can not penetrate a sheet of paper or even the first layer of human skin (epidermis). I assume the source was in some type of lead (Pb) shield from which no alphas would escape. Approximately 60% of Am-241 decays are also accompanied by the emission of a 60-kev gamma ray that does penetrate further, but they would be totally absorbed by any Pb shield.
    The bottom line of this note is that the source in question was of minimal health hazard and certainly didn’t require up to $6 million or involve 40 people; it could have been safely transported in a common pickup driven carefully.
    Dr. T. Douglas Reilly, physicist,

  • Judging uncertainty is a risk

    The great blessing that science gives us humans is a growing supply of knowledge.  
    The great curse that science puts on us is a growing supply of knowledge.
    And everything we learn brings the next unknown, which may be a new cure, a new cause of harm, or a sizable chance of both.  
    The thorny work for us is to blend new knowledge safely into a busy world. Democracy slows the work to a tortoise’s pace, with so much time given to the enormous patchwork of public opinions.  
    So we keep doing our best to minimize the risks that are intertwined in a world of new knowledge, unknowns, and opinions of every shade. Our lot is called the human condition.
    Such struggles are often in the news, with scant history. Lead made news recently.  
    Hazards from lead predate Ancient Rome and were clarified as science grew. In the last century, science learned specific chances of harm to different people from lead in different amounts for enough time.  
    A proper question to ask is, “Should we get rid of lead in painted walls and lead in working pipes as soon as we have that knowledge?” After all, some children will eat leaded paint from walls. Lead pipe systems are mostly handled better.   

  • Letter to the Editor 6-5-16

    Sheriff Rojas would have tears in his eyes

    Remember when you said the sheriff and everyone knew you meant Louie Rojas? I have been here 49 years and I can’t remember another sheriff by name.
    It was an elected office and Louie was a born politician. He worked at Zia and called every male who worked at the Lab “doctor.”
    Louie’s kids were known as the sheriff and Patsy’s kids. Being sheriff wasn’t a job to him, it was a community service, and Patsy was serving right beside him.
    I don’t know what he was paid but he was the best P.R. person the county ever had.
    Louie is no longer with us, but I know wherever he is he has tears in his eyes.
    Camille Morrison
    White Rock

  • Loan Fund expands to state’s creative entrepreneurs

    In the first 15 months of its CreativeFund program, The Loan Fund helped more than 100 creative entrepreneurs in Albuquerque and Santa Fe secure a loan or receive training or advice to help turn their creative talents into successful business ventures.
    The program has been so successful, in fact, that The Loan Fund is planning to expand its offerings statewide.
    It’s all part of an effort by the nonprofit – a community development financial institution with an economic and social improvement mission – to serve a group of typically debt-averse individuals who support themselves through creative endeavors of some form, said Matt Loehman, The Loan Fund’s director of development and special projects.
    Changing mind-sets
    Creative enterprises are the primary source of income for more than 43,000 New Mexicans, according to a 2015 report by the University of New Mexico’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research. That’s equivalent to the number of New Mexicans who work in construction and 50 percent more than the number of manufacturing workers.

  • Presidential campaign turns into a pie-throwing contest

    Gary Johnson is saying something worth listening to. It’s about the conduct of the presidential election.
    New Mexico’s former governor is running for president again as the candidate of the Libertarian Party. He probably will be the only third-party candidate on the ballot in all 50 states. I am not a fan of Johnson or his political philosophy, but he’s absolutely right about the process.
    He tried to run as a Republican but was not given a chance to appear on Republican debate stages because he was not high enough in the polls. As he has said, the only way to get higher in the polls is to get enough exposure on TV. Debates are one critically important way to do that. The other way is through all the interviews Johnson didn’t get.
    Last fall and into the spring, when Republican candidates were interviewed, they were usually asked to comment on Donald Trump, and were not given a chance to talk about their own views on national policy. It was disgraceful.
    Senator Bernie Sanders didn’t get much exposure, either, you recall.
    Way back before the public was invited, a few network executives apparently decided which candidates were going to get coverage and which would be ignored.