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Opinion

  • A new evaluation of fast reactors and recycling spent fuel is badly needed; the time to start is now. To recycle spent light water reactor fuel and use the product to fuel a fast neutron reactor will solve at least two major problems – adequate electricity (with no emissions) for the indefinite future (millennia) and elimination of the current red herring, spent light water reactor fuel disposal. The power stations of the future, equipped with fast neutron reactors, burn everything – plutonium does not accumulate.

  • With Gov. Bill Richardson following his usual management approach to tough matters – leave town – the Legislative Finance Committee gathered in Santa Fe Aug. 28 for the latest report on what might be done to maintain the solvency of state government.

    The LFC got a first look at proposals to deal with the state’s shortfalls.

    Right. That’s plural, meaning two budget years, the previous one and the current one.

  • SANTA FE — This is a highly unusual special session. It might be over by the time you read this. But if it is, it will be because lawmakers gave up on solving the total problem.

    The state is faced with its biggest deficit ever. Gov. Bill Richardson has complicated matters greatly by putting tax increases and public school classroom cuts off limits.

    What’s left are cuts of over 10 percent to the rest of the budget. Since people are by far the largest part of governmental budgets, it is almost impossible to make 10 percent cuts without cutting people.

  • SANTA FE ­— We’re not out of the woods yet. Have you noticed that our state budget deficit grows about $100 million a month beyond projections?

    Last March, the 2009 Legislature plugged a $500 million hole. The budget reduction was projected to get us through until July 2010. But by August 2009 we were already over $400 million further in the hole.

    In September, that deficit rose to $550 million and in October, it was $660 million. At this rate, by January, when the 2010 Legislature convenes, we’ll be another $300 million deeper in the hole.

  • “Money is good,” my daughter says.

    In politics, money means communication – that is, speech. Lobbyists have a job. It is communication.

    A new report from Think New Mexico, a non-partisan but liberal think tank in Santa Fe, treads the well-trodden path that money in politics is evil, especially money from people contributing to candidates.

    The title is, “Restoring Trust.” The subtitle is, “Banning Political Contributions from Contractors and Lobbyists.” Find it at www.thinknewmexico.org.

  • SANTA FE – The closing gavel of this year’s special legislative session also served as the opening gavel for next January’s 2010 Legislature.

    The first round has been completed. And as in any heavyweight fight, the budget cutters and tax increasers spent their time feeling each other out.

    Now that the combatants know each other’s tendencies, both can proceed to defend their territory and attempt to maximize their advantages.

  • SANTA FE — As predicted here, it’s as though the special legislative session never ended. Verbal assaults are still flying between Gov. Bill Richardson and legislative leaders.

    Progressive Democrats are still upset the governor and their leaders prevented any consideration of tax increases. Moderate Democrats and Republicans continue to insist that deep cuts in all budgets are the only answer.

  • Consider the last 9 years – the fire and how many of the original houses of Los Alamos were lost.  The theater and the sense that the community center will never be the social agora it once was. The demolition of the Municipal Building.  The planned demolition of the LA Apartments and the buildings on Trinity site.  The three houses, again from the original stock, for the sake of street widening. Proposed demolition of Aspen Elementary and the bulk of the high school classrooms.

  • SANTA FE  — On Veterans Day let us pause to remember those who have served our country. Many of the thoughts and words that follow come from Dave Clary of Roswell, a loyal reader and an abundant source of information, inspiration and ideas.

    All those who heeded their call to duty deserve to be honored but today let us pay tribute to some of those who were our heroes.

  • Although the world-wide International Day of Climate Action – urging  legislators around the world to bring the carbon level back to 350 parts per million – is over, some of us who participated in the Los Alamos gathering thought the community might enjoy looking at the creative ways that groups turned themselves into the numbers “350.”  Take a look at 350.org  to see 181 countries from Mongolia to Antarctica, icons from the pyramids to the Great Barrier Reef, activities from kayaking to sky-diving, people from U. S.

  • Our government officials and legislators have plenty of things to work on these days — both at the national and local levels. The economy, health care, education, two wars and state budget cuts — the list goes on and on. But there is a giant looming behind these issues that is more important than all of them: global climate change. Bad decisions or inaction in any of the other areas — even the wars — can have serious consequences but can be remedied.

  • My 84-year old mother bent over the cookbook one day recently and read aloud to me as I wolfed down a chicken sandwich I’d made at lunchtime. The reading was a lesson in how to make a traditional – and very fine as it turned out – pork roast.

    Personally, I suspect it would be morally responsible to live as a vegetarian, and certainly good for my family’s health and for the nation’s medical-care bills. But I’m a sinner, and my kitchen produces meat and poultry meals on a daily basis.

  • In this season of Thanksgiving, I was reminded that we all get snowed under by day-to-day life. Too many errands to do, too much work — keep the house tidy, look after the kids. Life can be a whirlwind sometimes. But when you hear of bad news, or you get bad news yourself, it kind of reminds you what we should really be thankful for.

  • SANTA FE — It will be a little more difficult for many New Mexicans to celebrate Thanksgiving this year. Bad economic times have hit us hard in the past 12 months causing layoffs, furloughs, business failures and bankruptcies.

    But most will still want to give thanks for having been born in this great country and having enjoyed blessings that much of the rest of the world doesn’t offer. And there still are reasons to give thanks for family, friends and good health.

  • We are all very saddened by the tragic loss of Logan Collins last week. Pedestrian deaths represent a significant fraction of the traffic fatalities in Los Alamos County. Some time ago one of our own children was nearly struck in the crosswalk near the middle school, the same one where last Wednesday’s accident happened. At another crosswalk at the west end of the golf course, in more than one instance a car has changed lanes, accelerated, and passed me while I stopped for a pedestrian.

  • I send my deepest condolences to the Collins family.

  • It was decades ago, but I remember it well. The teacher had caught me chewing gum in class – clearly a capital offense. Fortunately, drawing and quartering children had long gone out of style but spanking had not. As a sixth grader, I was young, but I did have a sense of pride. And so when the teacher walked over with a paddle and told me to bend over, I spit out my gum and told her to go bend over herself.

  • President Obama enjoyed widespread electoral support among women in the past election. The reasons for this are complex and are beyond the scope of this letter. If however we believe that there are no unmotivated behaviors, we must conclude that women voted for Obama in large numbers because they expected to achieve some tangible benefit for this show of electoral confidence.

  • One of the many touchstones by which Thanksgiving is remembered and recharged is the proclamation by Abraham Lincoln on Oct. 3, 1863, that declared the final Thursday of the month of November as a national holiday.

    Before that time, only Washington’s Birthday and the Fourth of July were national holidays.

    A few days before that occasion, on September 28, 1863, Sarah Hale, a magazine editor and the author of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” had written him a letter that gave so many future generations this day of rest and contemplation.

  • With the passing of former Gov. Bruce King, a lot of us are recollecting our favorite King moments.

    One of mine was his role in the Big Mac tax cut. It’s a lesson that’s relevant today.

    In 1981, state coffers were bursting with oil and gas money. Euphoric lawmakers expected a $200 million surplus. Not only could they bankroll their pork projects, they could give money back to taxpayers.