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Opinion

  • The letter in the Dec. 4 Los Alamos Monitor from Paul Gessing of the Rio Grande Foundation promoting the misnamed “Right-to-Work” cries out for a rational response.
    Gessing continues to push the idea that “right-to-work” legislation will cure all our economic problems, supporting this idea with a long list of beneficial outcomes that he claims are associated with RTW states, in spite of the patent illogic that reducing union representation will somehow induce companies to offer higher wages, better pensions and safer working conditions to their employees. Why would they?
    The statements and quotes contained in his letter are standard conservative rhetoric spread by organizations such as the Heritage Foundation, in spite of his claim that the Rio Grande Foundation is “non-partisan.” This rhetoric frames the issue as protecting the rights of workers, when the legislation is actually designed to destroy the protections workers struggled for two centuries to achieve from exploitation by unscrupulous employers.

  • Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez recently held forth in what some might consider enemy territory.
    The Belen Democrat addressed Economic Forum, an Albuquerque organization of CEOs and power brokers.
    They had two things on their minds: wages and Right to Work. And, of course, the question that follows Sanchez everywhere he goes: with a new Republican majority in the House, will there be gridlock in Santa Fe?
    The discussion was civil, respectful and productive, an example of what happens when people listen to each other.
    Sanchez let them know up front that he’s not anti-business. “I come from a family that’s business-oriented,” he said. He and brother Raymond, a former House Speaker, grew up in their parents’ bakery and restaurant in Belen, and his law practice is a business.
    He’s felt the lingering recession. “In my practice it’s been difficult. It’s hard for people to pay. There just isn’t money going around.”
    In a conversational tone of voice, Sanchez touched on the hot-button issues: tax cuts (he’s not convinced they bring new business to the state), drought (we need a comprehensive water plan), and education (we need to listen to teachers about what works and doesn’t work).

  • The Power Rate Adjustment provision currently in the proposed electric rate ordinance should be removed. There are sound policy reasons for opposing the provisions. But more importantly the provision violates Charter Art. 504. I apologize for the length, but I am attempting to provide useful background and analysis to help council make a considered decision.
    Background: The Charter (Art. 504) defines the role of council and Board of Public Utilities in the rate process. Perhaps because there was concern about abuse of the rate process, all actions on rates must be done after public hearings by both the BPU and the council. The language in the charter is mandatory. In addition, there is no latitude for either body to deviate from charter process or to create alternate processes than may be more facile.

  • Most people looking at election results believe that the person with the most votes “won” and the person with the fewest votes “lost.”
    The real win-lose story is more complicated. Admittedly vague, this concept considers actions candidates take (or do not take) that determine the results.
    A presumably stronger candidate may run a straightforward campaign and even win the vote total without “winning” the race. The determinant would be that the other candidate “lost,” as did the legislative candidate who came close, but ended the campaign with money in the bank.
    The example is Land Commissioner Ray Powell, whose modest campaign was not a winner, but who might slip a higher vote total from the current recount than challenger Aubrey Dunn.
    Carroll Cagle has been around the policy-punditing-journalism-political scene even longer than I have, which is saying something.
    He graduated from Roswell High School and edited The Daily Lobo, the University of New Mexico student newspaper. These days he does a policy and political blog for the New Mexico Prosperity Project (newmexicoprosperity.org), a voter education outfit, where he was executive director.
    Our exchange of emails a few days ago is the basis for what follows.

  • Late on Thanksgiving eve the Obama administration released a roadmap of regulations being finalized in 2015. Within the bundle of more than 3,000 regulations lies a rule on ozone that President Barack Obama himself, in 2011, “put on ice” in effort to reduce “regulatory burdens and regulatory uncertainty, particularly as our economy continues to recover.”
    So why is the rule back?
    First, Obama isn’t facing an election. Most believe the 2012 election was the reason for the about-face. More importantly, following the 2011 decision that struck down the proposed ozone rule, environmental groups sued the Obama administration. The resulting court order required the Environmental Protection Agency to release the proposed rule by Dec. 1.
    Once again, environmental groups are in charge of America’s energy, and, therefore, economic policy. They have systematically chipped away America’s sources of economic strength: cost-effective energy. And we’ve let them.

  • Editor’s note: The following letters were written by sixth graders from Aspen Elementary School regarding recent renovations and rededication of the school. These are the last of the letters sent to the Los Alamos Monitor.

    I am loving our new building for several reasons.
    First of all, I love the two stories. It really helps because we’re not all squished together.
    Next, the elevator is very helpful. It’s helpful because if there was a student in a wheelchair, they wouldn’t have to have a challenge going up the stairs. It’s also helpful because if we needed to bring a heavy item upstairs, we could just put it in the elevator instead of trying to carry it up the stairs. Finally, this school is helping us learn because it’s good to know that we’re gong to a school that’s safe and looks nice.
    Thank you for investing in me and my classmates’ education.
    Rafael

    I am loving our new school for several reasons.

  • Back in high school, I was in a college-bowl style competition (team, buzzers, timers, etc.) that covered the span of general knowledge taught in science, math, English and history classes.
    One of the questions asked was, “What is Avogadro’s Constant?” The competing team hit the buzzer first and answered, “6.2 times 10 to the 23rd power.”
    When the moderator said, “That’s correct for 40 points”, I jumped out of my seat and yelled, “No! The correct value is 6.02 times 10 to the 23rd power.”
    I then added, “In fact, it’s 6.02252 times 10 to the 23rd power!” The chemistry teacher agreed, the moderator canceled the question, and the points were taken back.
    My team ended up winning the competition by a mere 10 points.  Thank you, Amedeo!
    When I got to college, that “constant” had changed to 6.022045 10^23.  Over the decades, it changed again and again, and just recently I read that it is now a constant of 6.0221413 10^23.
    Avogadro’s Constant is a fact. It’s consistent. Stable. Steady. Unvarying. Steadfast. Unchanging!

  • SAN DIEGO (AP) — Clayton Kershaw is considered the top pitcher in baseball, with three Cy Young Awards in four years for the Los Angeles Dodgers, an NL Most Valuable Player award and a $215 million, seven-year contract.
    Max Scherzer may be seeking an even bigger deal as his talks on the free-agent market move forward.
    “I’m not sure Kershaw is relevant,” agent Scott Boras said Wednesday at the winter meetings, “because he’s not a free agent.”
    Jon Lester became the first top-level, free-agent starting pitcher to reach an agreement this offseason, a $155 million, six-year deal with the Chicago Cubs that came together late Tuesday night and still must be finalized.
    Scherzer turned down an offer from Detroit last March that would have paid $144 million from 2015-20.
    Kershaw, meanwhile, has the largest contract for a pitcher in total dollars and has the sport’s highest average salary at $30.7 million.
    “The prominent pitchers that have signed, (Justin) Verlander or (Felix) Hernandez or Kershaw, were not free-agent players,” Boras said. “And certainly if you put a performance like Kershaw into a free-agent market, you’re going to get a much, much different calibration of value.”

  • Editor’s note: The following letters were written by sixth graders from Aspen Elementary School regarding recent renovations and rededication of the school. Keep reading the Los Alamos Monitor for more letters.

    I am loving our new building for several reasons.
    First of all, the dining hall is beautiful. I especially like the quietness of the room.
    Second, I like the light sails on the ceiling. They also add to the scenery down on the first floor.
    Third I like the glass window next to the elevator because it is cool to see the gears of it. It will be also very helpful for disabled people.
    Thank you so much for building the new school and supporting the idea.
    Takuma

    I am loving our new building for three reasons. I am grateful for the money you spent for us and I am happy for our new classrooms and I am grateful for the technology. Thank you so much for our new school.
    Xzavier

    I am loving our new building for several reasons.
    First of all, the thing I’m most excited about is the new technology. In the portable, we could not use the internet all at the same time because it would cut us off.
    A second reason is the new desks and chairs. They are so helpful for our binders because now we can hang them and not trip over them.

  • Journalists are quick to go after elected officials who cross the line, so a skeptical public should know that we’re just as quick to go after one of our own. Sometimes too quick.
    In writing about the Interstate Stream Commission’s decision on the Gila River, I ran across a scuffle in which one newshound accuses another of conflict of interest.
    This is not just a family squabble. Because a lot of work gets farmed out to contractors, consultants and freelancers, it’s worth a look.
    Mary Alice Murphy was a reporter for the Silver City Daily Press. She retired in late 2007, but continued with the paper as a freelancer.
    In September 2008, an Arizona Water Settlement Act committee asked her to create a website, take minutes and post agendas. The newspaper reported this on its front page. She was paid alternately by the county, the ISC, or the Gila Conservation Coalition and at times did the work gratis.
    In September 2010, Murphy stopped freelancing for the Daily Press. By then, her independent website, The Grant County Beat (grantcountybeat.com) was operating. It’s a great community resource, but she works on the side to support it.

  • Editor’s note: The following letters were written by sixth graders from Aspen Elementary School regarding recent renovations and rededication of the school. There are more letters to come, so keep reading the Los Alamos Monitor.

    I love our new building for several reasons.
    First of all the look is amazing. It really gives the building a modern feel. Also the playground looks amazing, and an amazing coincidence, the blow dryers in the bathrooms are the same as ones I’ve used before that I encountered in this new building!
    Esai

    I am enjoying our new school building for several reasons.
    First of all, we have larger classrooms. The larger rooms hold more equipment for more in-class projects. Second, we have more books in the library. More books means more sources to study with. Last, this new building is safer than the other. The older building was falling apart, literally!
    Thank you all for our beautiful new building!
    Maia

    Why should we thank you? Because you, yes you, said yes to us. You gave us a brand new school.

  • If Colorado’s leaders are smarter than those in New Mexico, something I don’t believe, they can’t be that much smarter.
    After all, to determine our performance in a host of categories, we can freeload off Colorado and save work and money.
    The reference here is to the just-released 10th edition of “Toward a More Competitive Colorado,” a comprehensive look at nine general categories, each with up to a dozen components. To find the report, go to metrodenver.org and look in the research and reports section.
    New Mexico’s various national rankings are what this column and the next are about. But the other important point, maybe the important point, is that things can change and change for the better. In 2013, Colorado was third for job growth. It was 49th in 2002 after what the report calls “the ‘dot.bomb’ recession.”
    Many of the comparisons are ugly. But facing these things offers a place to begin a vision. Colorado seems to be in the top handful on just about everything. New Mexico, well, not so much.
    Necessarily the report deals with the past. Most tables use data through 2013. In the present, New Mexico tied Idaho for 34th place among the states in job production performance between October 2013 and 2014. Alaska was the only state losing jobs during the year.

  • Editor’s note: The following letters were written by sixth graders from Aspen Elementary School regarding recent renovations and rededication of the school. Keep reading for more letters through the week.

    This new building that Los Alamos has built is beautiful!
    One thing that surprised me about the new building was the architecture. The architecture around the whole school is just amazing and beautiful. Another thing that surprised me was the media center. The media center has a fireplace and couches so you can read quietly.
    One thing that was eye-catching in the building was the Aspen trees all over the school. The trees in the windows of the media center are incredible! Another thing that was eye-catching was the dining hall. It is very neat and beautiful.
    Something that will take some time getting used to is the hallways that take you everywhere. I think the hallways are amazing; you don’t pay attention where you’re going because everything is amazing! Other things that will take some getting used to are the different types of stairs to go down because all lead to different parts of the building. I am most excited about the sinks in the hallway, because you can wash your hands before you eat.

  • Amid Republican glee, Democrats find themselves picking up the pieces following the drubbing they took at the November elections.
    Back on Capitol Hill, one of those pieces, Nancy Pelosi, the former Democratic Speaker who spent the past four years as Democratic House minority leader, seemingly emerged unscathed by the defeat her party suffered in Congress.
    By all accounts she’ll keep her post as minority leader for another two years, although you’ll find any number of Democrats — rank-and-file on up — who suspect someone other than Pelosi at the head of their decimated party in the House might be the better part of wisdom.
    At the Roundhouse here in New Mexico, on the other hand, leadership changes run rampant.
    For the first time in most New Mexicans’ memories, a certified, honest-to-goodness Republican will wield the gavel as Speaker at the state House of Representatives when the Legislature convenes next month.
    Back in the 1980s Republicans basically controlled the state House for a period of time in a coalition engineered with a few turncoat Dems, one of whom, a gentleman named Gene Samberson, they picked to be Speaker.
    But with the upcoming 60-day legislative session, Rep. Donald Tripp of Socorro is slated to become New Mexico’s first Republican House Speaker in over 60 years.

  • The most wonderful time of the year is upon us, and what better way to prepare for the holidays than including your furry friends in the festivities? However, with all of the hustle and bustle of this busy season, we often forget to adapt our celebrations for the safety of our pets. Here are some ways to keep Fido and Fluffy safe while rockin’ around the Christmas tree.
    When it comes to decorating your home, there are a few items to leave behind if you have a curious dog or cat lurking around. Animals are often attracted to the sparkly tinsel and ribbons left lying out, and these can easily obstruct their digestive tract if ingested, often requiring emergency surgery. Make sure to keep these decorations out of reach or out of sight.
    “Mistletoe especially can cause vomiting and diarrhea, as well as neurologic signs such as seizures,” said Dr. Stacy Eckman, clinical assistant professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. “Other holiday plants, such as poinsettias, can also cause vomiting and diarrhea when eaten.”

  • Since the genesis of the human race, the advance of civilization has been defined by the quality of its regulating. Yet, the word evokes emotions as varied as the looks people fashion on their faces.  
    Regulation is older than written history. The first “regulation” of cavemen by cavemen was throwing rocks to fortify a point of disagreement. As the Stone Age drew on, a new means of enforcement appeared on the scene, namely, the stone axe.
    Slowly, regulatory systems improved. Peer pressure had promising effects among small groups. As groups grew larger, tribal customs grew with them and evolved to be tendrils of religions.
    Time passed. Regulation took more standardized forms, as in the Ten Commandments. Recall those brief decrees against killing, adultery, stealing, bearing false witness and coveting.  
    Businesses sprouted and spread. Entrepreneurs began to see they could build larger markets if they could reach customers farther from their shop.
    But selling things at a distance first requires standardized and enforceable weights and measures and then a trusted means of money exchange — the dawn of banking. In other words, doing business at a distance requires more regulation and inspection.

  • Making a name in the art world used to mean the artist toiled in obscurity and poverty, dependent on galleries and patrons to exhibit and champion his work. This notion — that artistic creativity and business savvy occupy separate worlds — was reinforced by art schools that taught students how to make art but not how to market or sell it.
    An emerging, 21st century approach is that art making is a business and the artist should be at the controls — the chief executive officer of her own production and distribution network. This model borrows many ideas from the business world.
    Get serious about sales. Artists should tear down the contrived wall between the creative and the commercial, because distribution of artwork is just as important as production. They should school themselves in marketing, inventory and financial management, cash flow and all licensing and intellectual property laws that pertain to creative works.

  • A month ago, the United States Supreme Court refused to hear a collection of cases which raised the question of traditional marriage vs. same-sex unions.
    Now, a Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals decision may have changed all of that. By voting 2-1 to uphold same-sex marriage bans in four states under the appellate jurisdiction of the Sixth Circuit — Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee — the panel has now created a conflict between the circuits. This conflict exists because four other federal circuit courts had found bans on same-sex unions to be unconstitutional. We know now, at least according to statements from Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, that a lack of a conflict between the circuits was the reason the Supreme Court balked at hearing the earlier cases from five other states.

  •  

    "My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings. Look on my works, ye mighty and despair!”

    So wrote the English poet, Percy Shelley, in 1818.  Ozymandias, once all powerful and feared, and now nothing remains but fragments to remind us of his reign. The grandeur of a king falls into dusty ruin and oblivion, much like the decaying face of the Great Sphinx of Egypt.

    Ozymandias is a metaphor for the impermanence of all things.

    Humans, however, believe that they themselves are eternal, their fame destined to live on in historic perpetuity.

    Sorry folks. Even a diamond isn’t forever.

  • Dermatophytosis, otherwise known as “ringworm,” is a fairly common fungal infection that can affect dogs, cats and other animals.
    “The term ‘ringworm’ actually comes from the circular, ring-like lesion formed on the skin of infected people; however, the disease itself is not caused by a worm at all,” said Dr. Alison Diesel, clinical assistant professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.
    Dermatophytosis is a zoonotic disease, meaning it not only can be transmitted to other animals, but to people as well. An animal or person can become infected with dermatophytes from contact with another infected animal, transfer from infected materials such as bedding and grooming equipment, or from the soil.
    “Very young animals and older animals with other underlying illness are at higher risk for dermatophytes,” Diesel said.  
    “Dermatophytosis is the most common cause of alopecia, or hairloss, in cats. In addition to poor hair coat, it can also cause reddened skin, hyperpigmentation, and lesions.
    “Lesions will often involve little red bumps called papules, scabs and circular areas of hairloss. Anywhere on the body may be affected by hairloss, but face and paws will often have lesions,” Diesel said.