Today's Opinions

  • From the battlefield to the VA hospital

    In 1974, a group of disabled Vietnam War veterans in wheelchairs staged a 17-day hunger strike in Los Angeles to protest poor treatment in veterans’ hospitals. They demanded better treatment for returning veterans and an investigation.
    And just seven years ago patient neglect at Walter Reed Army Medical Center burst into the news. These and other cases took the same course: finger pointing, congressional indignation, investigations, resignations and reforms.
    Just like today.
    For a little more perspective on VA and military hospitals, I called my friend Jerry, a Vietnam veteran who’s been a recent patient at VA hospitals in Albuquerque and Tucson, Ariz.
    “I just went to the VA, and there were people there from World War II, Korea, Vietnam, the Gulf, and Iraq and Afghanistan. If we hadn’t gone into Iraq, the VA wouldn’t be overwhelmed.

  • Capital spending priorities backward

    For the state’s capital spending to hit the headlines in mid-year is unusual. But then headlines sometimes result from the work of the Legislative Finance Committee, which does oversight and builds a budget providing the Legislature an alternative to the Governor’s budget.
    Much of the LFC’s oversight work is nuts-and-bolts stuff, both needed and boring to most.
    However the report released June 12 at the LFC’s meeting in Las Cruces got attention. The title: Review of Selected Capital Outlay Projects’ Planning, Spending and Outcomes: Public Prisons. The short version is that $277 million is the estimated cost of repairing the state’s prison system. The number drew the media, as well it should.
    Capital spending authorized by the 2014 legislature will come to $714.2 million, assuming all the authorized projects get done, which never happens. House Bill 55, one of two major capital spending bills, authorizes $228.7 million for 852 projects including $2.4 million for four projects at corrections facilities.
    In her executive message to the Legislature, an eight-page letter to House Speaker Ken Martinez, Gov. Susana Martinez listed 73 separate line-item vetoes. The vetoes hit groups of lines, single lines, parts of lines and punctuation. It was not a good year for semicolons.

  • Duck and cover: It's the police

    What? Albuquerque ranks 360th among some 369 U.S. metropolitan areas surveyed as potential places to set up businesses?
    That tidbit of news appeared in local papers a couple of weeks after I had written a column suggesting that our state’s politicos should get their acts together and basically declare war on the dead-last, bottom-of-the barrel status New Mexico routinely garners in all those rating systems that measure the economic well-being of America’s states and cities.
    On the other hand, when a state’s largest city gets the reputation as a place to duck and cover when someone calls the police, you have to wonder about the local social and business atmospherics.
    It made headlines coast to coast when, after an almost year and a-half investigation, the U.S. Justice Department issued a report bluntly stating, among other things, that Albuquerque police officers have routinely “used deadly force against people who posed a minimal threat, including individuals who posed a threat only to themselves or who were unarmed…”
    Worse, the report went on to say, “Officers also used deadly force in situations where the conduct of the officers heightened the danger and contributed to the need to use force.”

  • Council candidate comment lacks adequate peer review


     I must express my keen disappointment after reading former Candidate Ed Birnbaum’s op-ed, “Op-ed comments not scientifically valid” (Los Alamos Monitor, June 11). 

    As a scientist and educator, Mr. Birnbaum should have reveled at the teaching opportunity provided by Ms. Noon’s article, “EPA hides their use of ‘bad science.’” 

    He chose to respond to the article in an ad-hominem fashion, disparaging the “scientific credentials” and “agendas” of those about whom she wrote and with whom he apparently disagrees, rather than to address the merits of her claim — a time-honored Washington political maneuver. 

  • Letters to the editor 06-22-14


    Gratitude and a plea

    This is a heartfelt thanks to members and leaders of Junior Girl Scout Troop No. 10027 for your outstanding beautification project between the Aquatic Center and the canyon trails! It is a wonderful improvement to the area and your efforts are greatly appreciated.

    How grand it would be if this special spot, and all other areas of our community, could remain free of litter for all to enjoy! 

    Once a week, on the daily morning dog walk, I collect a full bag of trash behind the Aquatic Center and on the trail that begins below the parking lot. (I know others do this as well.) By the evening walk more trash has already accumulated. The abundance of bottles, cans, plastic items and paper products of every description, which are seen along our streets and trails, does not support the local belief that we are a highly intelligent community. 

  • Dedicated VA caregivers are targets of lynch mob mentality


    Why does it always take a highly-public, media-driven feeding frenzy and catastrophe like the Veteran’s Administration’s “waiting list” story to get our elected officials in Washington, D.C., off the dime to do what they should have been doing all along? Serious problems within the VA medical system are nothing new. It’s been building up for some time.

    Sen. Tom Udall, in his sixth year as a U.S. senator, is not newly advised to these problems, regardless of what his public relations spin says. He and his staff had to have known, in detail, the difficulties faced by many veterans seeking health care, but it took a national exposure of a systemic tragedy to get them to at least appear fully engaged.

    That’s shameful incompetence. Just as much as the senior administrators who are guilty of creating this debacle.

  • Class of 2014 picnic a success

    On behalf of the Class of 2014, we would like to thank everyone who helped to make the Senior Picnic a huge success, including the parents who not only donated food items but also their time and grilling expertise. 
    Speaking of grilling, thank you to Dr. Gene Schmidt, superintendent, and Mr. Gerry Washburn, assistant superintendent, for taking a turn flipping hamburgers and hot dogs.
    A thank you also goes out to Valynn Purvis, of Party to Go and her staff for supplying the bounce house and dunk tank, as well as to the Los Alamos Animal Shelter for letting members of the senior class meet Texas and Baby.
    The weather was great and everyone had a great time celebrating the end of a four-year journey.
    Connie Goettee
    Stephanie Pittman
    Class of 2014 co-sponsors 

  • The lowest of the low

    It’s a dog’s world. That means dogs rule, people drool. Dogs know how to have fun in almost any situation, whereas people work hard to find fault with anything and everything.
    And people can manufacture nightmares in this dog’s world that would keep Freddy Krueger awake. It’s hard to imagine why anyone would purposely hurt a dog.
    But some people treat dogs like garbage, abusing and tossing them aside with no more thought than one would have for a discarded piece of trash.
    As a shining example of what people value in our society, consider the mound of yak upchuck who goes by the name Michael Vick.
    In a recent interview, Vick (currently a $5 million a year NFL quarterback for the New York Jets) bragged that he could help any team get to the Super Bowl.
    I don’t know if anyone explained to this sadistic cretin, but they don’t torture dogs at the Super Bowl. His talents would be severely wasted.
    Vick personifies the absolute worst in human DNA, the ability of people to place human pleasure above everything else. After serving 18 months in a plush jail, he was quickly put back onto the playing field for the Philadelphia Eagles, making tens of millions of dollars. Despite the pleasure and profit he took in torturing dogs for entertainment, his fans continued to praise him.