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Today's Opinions

  • APPreciating calculus can happen without AP

    Question: Should Los Alamos High School offer a non-AP Calculus course?
    I’m asking this question because I’m interested in ascertaining what parents and students think.
    Now, I should emphasize that I am not asking this on behalf of Los Alamos High School. I’m asking it on behalf of what I personally believe makes sense to do.
    Obviously, I think we should offer the course. But the real question is: Do YOU think we should offer the course?
    If you already have an answer to that question, you can go to johnpawlak.com and complete a very brief survey to provide your response and comments.
    However, I would ask that you read my column before making a decision. I desire as many people as possible to respond, whatever their opinion. Your voices matter and I want them to be heard.
    LAHS currently offers Advanced Placement (AP) Calculus courses. Students taking AP courses can earn college credit.
    AP courses also provide a cumulative grade bump. Whereas an “A” normally equates to a “4”, a “B” to a “3”, etc., in AP courses an “A” equates to a “5”, a “B” to a “4”, and so on.
    What is non-AP Calculus?

  • A path forward to budgeting for results

    In May, I wrote a column called “Follow the Money,” and I suggested taking the county’s budget discussions to a new level; adopting an approach that would allow the public, the county staff, and council members to better focus on the link between costs and service outputs, rather than focusing on costs by county department.
    That approach would enable more public involvement in how tax dollars are spent. It would also provide important decision information to help elected representatives and county staff consider the trade-offs necessary to balance the budget; and it would help us understand how well our actual spending aligns with the goals outlined in our Strategic Plan.
    It sounds obvious. Decide what’s important through Strategic Planning, then frame spending decisions in a way that shows whether spending actually flows to the highest priorities.

  • N.M. economy is making a slow pivot toward recovery

    Last winter I heard two very different views of the New Mexico economy. An upbeat Jon Barela, Secretary of Economic Development, said the state was shrugging off the recession.
    “We’re recovering,” Barela told a committee in January. “The private sector is growing.”
    “New Mexico’s economy has really not begun to recover from the recession,” Jeff Mitchell, director of University of New Mexico’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research, told another committee. “We’re seeing real declines in the numbers of people in the labor market. An unprecedented number of people are leaving the state.”
    They were both right. The men two have different readings of the economic pulse because they occupy different positions along the timeline.
    Barela, an economic developer, has the pleasant duty of announcing new companies and expansions of existing companies. And he hears from economic developers around the state that inquiries are up.
    Mitchell, an economist, is reading data from the past year or previous quarters. When the ship begins its slow turn, it’s more apparent if you’re standing at the bow.

  • Letter to the editor 7-8-15

    Kurds and Druze are threatened

    The conflicts in Syria have increased the complexity of the Middle East and exacerbated the instability in the region.
    Terrorists have taken advantage of the instability and have made dramatic territorial gains in Syria and Iraq. They now threaten two minorities — Kurds and Druze.
    The Kurds are starting to receive military aid from the U.S. and this should be increased since they are trustworthy and reliable fighters willing to take on ISIS and other terrorist groups. We should send equipment and supplies directly to the Kurds and not through the Iraqi Army.
    The Druze minority, a Muslim offshoot sect, is threatened by ISIS and al-Nusra. There are 800,000 Druze in Syria with most of them living in the southern province of Sweida, which is near the Israeli border.
    Israel, which is home to 125,000 Druze who are deeply assimilated into the Israeli military and Israeli society, cannot allow the Druze of southern Syria to be decimated and possibly suffer genocide.
    Israel should provide a safe Syrian territory for the Druze and equip them so they can defend themselves. If necessary, Israel should provide direct military intervention to protect the Druze of southern Syria.

    Donald A. Moskowitz
    Londonderry, New Hampshire

  • The link between climate and poverty

    The climate alarmists appear practically giddy over Pope Francis’ recently released climate encyclical.
    Even Al Gore, who admits he was “raised in the Southern Baptist tradition,” has declared he “could become a Catholic because of this pope.”
    The Sierra Club’s former executive director, Carl Pope, chimes in. On June 22 in EcoWatch, he bashes “American conservatism” and positions the papal publication as being responsible for a “new dynamism” that he calls “palpable.”
    “It is more a gale than a fresh breeze,” Pope exclaimed, “when the most ground-breaking pope since John XXIII links poverty and climate.” He offers a litany of news stories to support his position.
    There is a link between climate policy and poverty, which is why many European counties are returning to fossil fuels and retreating from renewables — led by German capacity payments to keep coal-fueled power plants open.
    In PV Magazine, Stelios Psomas, policy advisor at the Hellenic Association of Photovoltaic Companies, laments Greece’s “policy U-turn towards lignite.”

  • Museum licensing and royalty program to add Europe, Asia

    Doing new stuff is one of the key ways to build an economy.
    The proposal by Sen. Cisco McSorley, Albuquerque Democrat, to legalize growing hemp for industrial purposes was one such idea. McSorley’s bill met the governor’s veto pen.
    Liberals were outraged. According to Wikipedia, hemp incorporates several varieties of the Cannabis plant and is used for rope, fiber and oil, among other things. If “Cannabis” sounds familiar, think marijuana.
    A side benefit of the bill was to illustrate that even mega-liberals, of which McSorley is one, can think productively about capitalism once in the while.
    So can government.
    The Museum of New Mexico is one of those parts of state government that I see as a good thing. That the people working for the museum add to total government employment is, well, so what.
    A side note is that the museum still suffers from the name confusion of really being a system of museums and including what it calls “historic sites” such as Coronado, Jemez and Lincoln.
    It is the largest, state-run museum system in the country, the system’s “corporate” parent, the Department of Cultural Affairs, confirms.

  • Letters to the editor 7-7-15

    Celebrate civil rights in Taos

    Greetings, I am Judi Cantu and I was voted in 2014 to the Town of Taos Council. I would love to invite everyone to attend our first ever attempt at revitalizing culture and encouraging tourism at the same time, and hope to meet you personally when or if you attend the event. We are calling it “A Cultural Preservation, Educational & Tourism Conference to Honor Cesar Chavez.”
    Please feel free to make it a family outing and bring all your loved ones with you. In this day and age of fast living, families sometimes do not get to spend as much quality time as they once did, and this event could be a good reason for a family get together. If you have young children or grandchildren, there will be face painting at the park and if we are able to coordinate properly, jumpers also will be available on Aug. 1 at the Kit Carson Park.
    Taos is a beautiful place to spend the weekend with those you love.
    It has now been 45 years since the signing of the first United Farm Workers Union Contract between Delano, California, grape growers and the United Farm Workers Association.

  • When politicos come unglued

    As June bled into July, top-tier Republican politicos evidenced signs bordering on bonkers.
    First the Supreme Court ruled that there are no legal impediments to prevent Obamacare from proceeding on course. Then it decreed it within the rights of same-sex couples to enter into the legal relationship know as marriage?   
    There were exceptions, of course. New Mexico’s Republican governor, Susana Martinez, pretty much kept her cool throughout it all.
    She had never been keen on same-sex marriage, the governor noted, but with the court’s ruling it is now lawful and, basically, we should just get on with our business.
    As for the Affordable Care Act, Martinez was that rare Republican governor to sign onto the program from the start by instituting an insurance market exchange for New Mexico, if only because she recognized that it would effectively reduce the state’s high rate of medically uninsured residents.
    What we witnessed in this instance was a pragmatic governor doing her job and leaving the grandstanding to others.
    The lion’s share of other high profile Republicans, on the other hand, reacted to the high court’s rulings as if they had been plunged into a nightmare from which they can’t awaken.