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Today's Opinions

  • In final decisions, we’re kinder to our dogs and cats

    I came home from dinner one evening and found my dog lying on the kitchen floor. She couldn’t get up. After I helped her up, she couldn’t walk.
    My dog was old. Her back legs had been weakening for months. She couldn’t see or hear much, was experiencing dementia, and was showing clear evidence of pain.
    I had been preparing myself for the difficult decision I would have to make some day. Did I say difficult? Heart wrenching.
    Our pets are so lucky. When they are too sick or too infirm and their lives are mostly suffering, we can arrange for them to die peacefully, painlessly and almost instantly, with the help of a compassionate veterinarian and some drugs. It’s been said this is the most loving thing we can do for our beloved pets.
    So I’ll point out a truth you might have heard a hundred times. In this most crucial matter, we can be kinder to our dogs and cats than we are allowed to be to our own families. New Mexico law does not allow us to help each other to die in peace.

  • Letters to the Editor 2-10-17

    Support HB 123, a bill that addresses overpopulation of unwanted animals

    I write in support of House Bill 123, a bill that responds to legislative momentum to address New Mexico’s overpopulation of unwanted companion animals, a problem which results in the euthanasia of 60,000 dogs and cats each year.
    HB 123 creates a non-appropriations based mechanism for funding state low-cost spay/neuter through a $100 a year surcharge on pet food companies for each dog or cat food product type sold here, raising about $750,000 a year. Unwanted companion animals are a statewide epidemic that impacts not only dogs and cats, but New Mexico’s families and counties. Counties, in particular, bear the fiscal brunt of this statewide problem. For example, a 2012 study on the scope and impact of animal overpopulation showed that collectively counties budgeted $27 million in 2011 to fund animal shelters (an increase of $2.1 million from 2008), even as upwards of 80 percent of shelters’ animals were euthanized. In 2012, those costs increased, as we would expect.

  • Jobs bills moving despite partisan wrangling

    Lawmakers are more focused on job creation in this legislative session, but jobs bills still get high-centered on ideological speed bumps.
    The Democrats this year offered a six-part plan that’s a shade better than their past packages. They would spend $63 million in capital outlay on infrastructure repairs and improvements, pass a modest minimum wage increase, increase broadband access, allow industrial hemp research, and try to open economic development incentives to home-grown businesses.
    Of the bunch, only broadband would be a home run.
    This year’s capital outlay has already seen partisan wrangling. A Republican lawmaker proposed giving up capital outlay to help stanch red ink, an interesting idea considering the problems with our capital outlay process. Democrats refused, and the governor bashed them for refusing.
    Capital outlay is a different creature in the rural areas. While the cities might forego their public works money for a year, smaller communities rely on it for needed projects. And the spending is a form of stimulus. Just ask the state’s construction companies.
    A minimum wage increase isn’t economic development, but it needs to happen. Our current rate is $7.50, and lots of states are higher.  

  • Redemption plan sought, non-plan offered

    General thinking has slipped into New Mexico’s public dialogue. The two approaches—one from the left, the other from the right or, maybe, center right—aren’t nearly as deeply systemic as this column desires. But, hey, ya gotta start somewhere. For sure, these ideas are orders of magnitude more useful than the narrow ideological menus offered last year by the two parties at their preprimary conventions. The Democrats said: abortion and unions. The Republicans said: no abortion.
    The good deeds come from Alan Webber and Harvey Yates. Both come with a high-level political history. Such history cannot be shed, no matter how hard one tries. Thus, the political history occupies part of the context of the policy thinking.
    Webber, a Democrat, ran for governor in 2014. He finished second in the primary, 12 points behind Gary King who then was trounced by Gov. Susana Martinez. A founding editor of Fast Company magazine, he came to New Mexico after “investors” sold the magazine. Earlier he worked in Oregon alternative media and city and state politics. In Massachusetts Webber edited Harvard Business Review and advised governors including Michael Dukakis.

  • LEDA key to building New Mexico’s economic future

    BY REP. KELLY FAJARDO
    R-Valencia, New Mexico House of Representatives

  • Letter to the Editor 2-8-17

    That gut-wrenching pain

    Have you felt that painful, tightening, gut-wrenching feeling when you hear someone state something that infringes upon your rights or beliefs?
    Good, that means you’re human. The feeling comes from an emotional system that helps us survive.
    Have you allowed that feeling to develop into anger towards the one expressing the statement?
    That’s not good. It’s true that anger is part of our humanity, but it comes from the lowest and most ancient parts of our brain, one we share with lizards.
    Have you taken an oppositional stance of the idea or policy that was stated?
    That’s good. You’re using the higher levels of your brain to do something constructive with that painful feeling you felt initially.
    Is your opposition causing you to see the one who made the statement as someone from another group that’s evil?
    That’s not good. You’re letting the lower levels of your brain control the higher levels. You’re developing what we call hatred.
    Is your opposition directed at the idea or policy that was stated with the understanding that the one who made the statement is your brother or sister?

  • Will Trump sink pipeline projects with protectionist impulses?

    The Wall Street Journal on reviving the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines:

    President Trump is making short work of campaign promises, and on Tuesday he signed executive orders reviving the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines. The resurrection is good news for the economy, but one question is whether he’ll sink the projects with his protectionist impulses.
    Mr. Trump signed an executive order inviting TransCanada to apply again for a permit for the Keystone XL pipeline, which the Obama Administration rejected to indulge the anti-carbon obsessions of Democratic campaign donors. Another Trump directive aims to expedite the Dakota Access pipeline, which is 90 percent finished but was halted by President Obama amid protests. A federal judge ruled that the government had met its legal obligations, but the Obama Administration suspended work anyway.
    Such carve outs for progressive constituencies are one reason voters rejected Democrats in November, and the pipelines promise broader prosperity. Keystone is predicted to spin off 20,000 construction and manufacturing jobs, many of them to be filled by union workers, and add $3 billion to GDP.

  • Looking ahead

    This is the final article on why I am running for re-election to the Los Alamos Public Schools Board.  My first article provided basic information about LAPS as an institution, the Board, and some major accomplishments of the Board and administration. The second article focused on current issues facing LAPS. This article focuses on my compelling vision: the staff, programs, parents, and community working together to enable all students to love learning, have great skills, and know basic facts.
    LAPS has three major challenges that have to be addressed in progressing toward this vision: funding, the technology revolution’s impact on learning, and student and staff well-being.  Each is discussed below.
    Funding first: Over 90 percent of school operational funds are allocated to school districts based on a complex state formula. Local communities cannot vote for additional operating funds, and our state budget, heavily dependent on oil and gas production and federal funds, may be constrained for years to come. Yet LAPS must increase compensation for all employees, grow program diversity, and maintain our commitment to long term fiscal stability and educational excellence.