.....Advertisement.....
.....Advertisement.....

Opinion

  • This is part 1 of 2

    For the past 10 years, local and national trends have been that the price of solar has been sharply declining while cost and risks associated with coal and other fossil fuels are going up as evidenced by closure of half of the San Juan generating facility and a wave of divestiture.
    State and Federal incentives for homeowners and businesses adopting solar energy, including tax credits that can amount to a significant portion of the upfront solar investment have also been a significant driving force behind the rapid adoption of solar.
    In a state that is widely recognized as a natural leader for solar energy, it is stunning that the Los Alamos Board of Public Utilities (BPU) is proposing to slap its residents who operate solar systems with a steep monthly fee of $12/month. At best, this fee is seen as the Department of Public Utilities (DPU) attempt to recover the costs of distribution service. At worst, it penalizes Los Alamos County residents with a fee that does next to nothing to offset DPU operating costs and discourages other homeowners wishing to adopt renewable energy.

  • Nearly 2 million men and women served in America’s defense during the Global War on Terror. As troops return home, they face a new fight: finding a job in a highly competitive market.
    Most served in the Middle East, risking their lives for America, and ensuring an uninterrupted energy supply. They believe in the greatness of America.
    Their experiences in the military make them ideal employees for America’s oil-and-gas industry. Many companies have seen the value veterans bring to their organization and are actively recruiting veterans.
    The U.S. oil-and-gas industry has added millions of jobs in the past few years and expects to add more and more — especially with the new energy-friendly Republican-controlled Congress. Just the Keystone pipeline — which is now likely to be built — will employ thousands. Increased access to reserves on federal lands will demand more personnel. But finding potential hires that fit the needs of the energy industry in the general labor pool is difficult as they lack discipline, the ability to work in a team and, often, can’t pass a drug test. Here the fit for the veteran becomes obvious.

  • Forty-two days. Six long painful torture-filled weeks.
    Forty-two days until I’m able to turn on the radio or the television set without having my eardrums suffering the waterboarding-style torment of tinny Christmas music!
    I own a stopwatch that can measure time in tenths of a second, but that’s not enough granularity to capture the speed in which stores switch from Halloween decor to Christmas decor. Kiddies weren’t even able to finish saying “Trick or Treat” before the seasonal aisle was cleared of HFCS infused chocolates and replaced by tacky trinkets to adorn dead pine trees.
    Thanksgiving is celebrated about a month after Halloween, but Christmas rules the day after all the ghosts and goblins and zombies have gone home to consume a mountain of sugar.
    Speaking of sugar, can anyone explain the love affair this country has with candy corn? Seriously, is it theoretically possible to make something more vile than candy corn? Who actually eats that stuff?

  •  

    Understanding what peace means

    In the theater, the overture is the moment when everything begins. It gently directs our attention to the stage. It helps us willingly suspend disbelief and enter the world of possibility. The overture says, “Hush, pay attention, something wonderful is about to happen.”

    On Oct. 27, the White House released a letter (full text posted at thecommunity.com) that created in me almost exactly that feeling of wonder and anticipation. Perhaps this feeling is even better because this possibility is very real. What if now is the time when we can end, peacefully and permanently, the awful practices of “extraordinary rendition” and “enhanced interrogation techniques?”

  •  

    Let me to first state the obvious. Veterans Day is for those who return from war. Memorial Day is for those who have not survived. Two days to remind us in a multitude of ways how to remember and also act. Our veterans need us now.

    On Veterans Day, it’s one day to think hard. What do we contemplate when we launch into war? Do we plan for the seemingly endless painful plight of veterans — their families, friends and communities?

  •  

    Well-meaning letters from charter change proponents exhibit naïveté and inexperience with public utilities, government and politics. Ed Birnbaum’s latest letter, for example, refers to a transfer rate from utilities of 5 percent established by a 1997 resolution. He is not correct. How do I know? Because I was the county councilor who wrote the 1980s ordinance requiring a 5 percent profit be added into each year’s budget for planning purposes. A 5 percent profit transfer is not guaranteed. This ordinance is found in the municipal code and has precedence over resolutions. (Sections 40-63(c)(11) and 40-63(b))

    What Birnbaum fails to realize is that the proposed new charter language not only nullifies this ordinance, but bypasses all checks and balances in the current charter. It allows future councils to take as much money as they’d like from the utilities department. This loophole is easy to explain.

  •  

    Before I was even a pipsqueak, a popular, no-account insult was “so’s your old man.” In my prime years as a pipsqueak, the snappy no-account insults were “you’re a chicken” and “drop dead.” 

    Today, new customs are on the loose. 

    The airwaves carry so many symptoms that insults pass for normal. The daily news may suggest the infection comes from politics, but the wider pattern says otherwise. Social media spread the habit of scorn to one culture, then the next and next.

    The insult culture is easy to find in network TV, talk shows, politics, sports and every level of school. The signs are the same whether the topic is last night’s ball game or taxes. 

  •  

    Spanish-speaking people have been part of New Mexico’s workforce for hundreds of years. But the dramatic growth of this population — driven largely by immigration — and the anticipated growth well into the future underscore the urgency of culturally tailored workplace safety training. 

    The Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries has consistently shown higher workplace fatality rates for Hispanic workers than for workers from other racial or ethnic groups, and these rates are highest among Spanish speakers born outside the U.S. Hispanic workers also suffer higher rates of nonfatal occupational injury and illness.

    One reason for this is that many Hispanics work in higher-risk industries and occupations, including agriculture, construction, petroleum and gas extraction. But manufacturing and food processing also attract many entry-level workers — including recent immigrants.

  •    If you’re currently enrolled in Medicare, what you do or don’t do over the next few weeks could determine whether you can secure the best, most affordable coverage next year. Here’s why:

    Medicare Part D prescription plans frequently change premiums, drug formularies, deductibles and copayment amounts for specific drugs from year to year. Medicare Advantage plans often make similar changes; plus doctors, hospitals and pharmacies may drop out of their preferred provider networks.

    Thus, by simply choosing the same options for 2015 without investigating alternatives, you could wind up paying hundreds or thousands of dollars more for similar healthcare services.

  •  

    Defeat Constitutional Amendment No. 5

    Constitutional Amendment No. 5 is a sleeper that might well pass because it is not easy to understand. 

    It allows investment of the Land Grant Permanent Fund without the protection of the Prudent Man Rule that has governed the State Investment Council (SIC) management of the fund and served us well since statehood. 

    This rule states that one would make investments of trust money as one would for their own portfolio with essentially minimum risk. The proposal removes this rule and substitutes a new rule that would give the SIC (under the Uniform Prudent Investor Act (UPIA) the leeway to legally make risky investments. 

  •  

    This is an open letter to all the dogs out there, who have the unmitigated audacity to think it’s OK to be a dog. Being a human, I can tell you quite authoritatively that it is most definitely not OK to be a dog!

    Or a cat. Or a yak. Or a dung beetle. Or anything organic that doesn’t pay taxes!

    First of all, dogs bark. We humans never bark (at least not without good cause). We yell. We scream. We screech, bellow, shout, wail, howl, whine, shriek and clamor. Oh yeah, and we love reading our thesaurus.

    But we don’t bark.

  •  Forming public banks 

    is an option for U.S.

    Our economy is in bad shape. Two observations make this clear: First, the fraction to the population living below the poverty level has been steadily increasing for several years now. Second, the average income of the middle class — those earning $100,000 or less per year, — has been steadily decreasing over recent years.

    One of the causes of this could be the fact that the local and regional banks have less money available to loan to local businesses and entrepreneurs. (They are also operating under increasingly strict regulations, and the overhead of increasing reporting requirements.) 

  •  

    In newspapers (in all of their forms.). I believe in the First Amendment (45 words/five freedoms): 

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

    Our founding fathers thought it important enough to make this the very first one! 

    I believe in delivering fair, accurate, objective, timely and complete journalism across multiple platforms while maintaining integrity and high ethical standards… this is what separates newspapers from the opinion-based blogosphere. Newspapers bring truth to light and are the connection to the community.

  •  

     

    Thank you to the Los Alamos Republican Party for hosting a Forum Aug. 21 on the merits of Question 2 on the November ballot: Should Article V of the County Charter be repealed in its entirety and replaced to reconfigure the relationship between the Board of Public Utilities and the County Council?

    Proponents of the new charter provision stated that it is critical that the board be “fully functional,” given its important role in county governance. Their focus was on board members as individuals who might become impaired. On this basis, they assert that “accountability is lacking” and a mechanism must exist for council to remove a board member “without cause.” 

  •  

    A response to Milder’s letter

    I am responding to Ken Milder’s letter on Sept. 5. The county charter was passed nearly a half-century ago.

    The provisions governing the utilities department are flawed because they (1) do not allow effective oversight of the utilities operations by the council, which is accountable to the voters and the law for these operations, (2) there is no way for the council to hold the utilities board or the utilities director accountable for mismanagement or poor performance and (3) most important, there is no way to resolve disagreements over policy between the council and the utilities board. It is high time these flaws be corrected; the proposed changes do so in a way that has the smallest possible impact on the operations of the utility department.

  •  

     A prized few of the Earth’s marvels have had astonishing effects on world history, geography, discovery, economics and politics. Great reaches of the globe’s long, winding road from the past were built to gain access to gold and silver, spices, silk and oil. 

    In like manner, the years ahead will be marked by the pursuit of rare earths. 

    Rare earths are a group of 17 natural elements whose properties meet growing needs in the 21st century. Rare earths have strange old names and strange new uses. They are vital for building high-tech military and green technologies.

    Dysprosium, erbium, europium, gadolinium, neodymium, praseodymium and yttrium are used in cruise missiles, smart bombs, guidance systems and night vision technology. 

  •  

    The flu is nothing to sneeze at, especially if you’re an older adult.

    About 226,000 Americans will land in the hospital this year as a result of the flu and its complications, and anywhere from 3,000 to 49,000 will die from flu-related illnesses. Adults 65 and older will account for 60 percent of the hospital stays and 90 percent of the deaths.

    As people age, their immune system typically weakens and their ability to ward off diseases declines. That puts older adults at increased risk of the flu. Moreover, the virus can cause complications for those already struggling with chronic health problems. 

  •  

    Remember those old commercials for Geritol? “When your get-up-and-go got up and went?”

    If this gubernatorial campaign were a person, it could use a swig. These days, we’d recommend Red Bull or 5-Hour Energy. Anything to give it some oomph. In southern New Mexico, the 2nd Congressional District candidates must be consuming energy drinks by the case.

    Gov. Susana Martinez sits on a mountain of money, and her millions have purchased just 50 percent support in the polls. Gary King, who calls himself the “challenger,” has 41 percent without doing much of anything. Maybe “challenged” is the more accurate term.

    They occupy play forts full of wet ammunition. Neither one has a record to run on. 

  • Elder suicide looks us in the eye, thanks to columns written by Leslie Linthicum in the Albuquerque Journal.
    The facts: In the northeastern community of Roy, Geraldine Ray, 89, was found lying face down on her bed with cotton balls up her nose, plastic filling her mouth, and packing tape across her lips. The state Office of the Medical Investigator called it a homicide, despite two suicide notes in Ray’s own hand. The woman’s daughter was arrested for murder. Her family never believed that for a moment, neither did Linthicum, and science backed them up. Charges were dropped.
    OMI didn’t think a person could kill herself that way. They must never have met a willful woman. I come from a family of willful women, and you’d be surprised what they can do.
    I had just returned from eye-opening visits with elderly relatives out of state, so Linthicum’s column hit me in the heart.
    Cousin Betty (name changed), my role model, was gorgeous, successful in her job, known by everybody in her Roswell-sized town, married with two boys and managed the perfect home. She now has macular degeneration and can no longer drive, she’s diabetic, and she’s had one hip and both knees replaced, not entirely successfully, so she walks with a cane. Four months ago, her husband died.

  •  

    Someone inside the administration gets the notion that life and economics are complicated and understanding might come from a thorough, if expensive, look at what is and is not happening. The result is a new report from the Department of Cultural Affairs, “Building on the Past, Facing the Future: Renewing the Creative Economy of New Mexico.” 

    Summarizing the Cultural Affairs report will take at least one more column. Before starting, a much smaller scale summary deserves applause. The summer issue of “New Mexico Earth Matters,” the newsletter of the Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources, reviews the role of geology in the state’s future. Topics include water, energy, mining, geologic hazards and induced seismicity.