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Opinion

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    Hardly a day passes without Tim Jennings’ name cropping up in Senate committees or floor discussions: “Sen. Jennings was working on… I was working with Sen. Jennings to…”

    The Roswell Democrat was liked and respected, yes, but his absence is a constant reminder to Senate Democrats of the bruising election cycle that took their president. Most certainly, Majority Floor Leader Michael Sanchez, another target of the governor’s blitz, is not willing to forgive and forget.

    The spirit of compromise lubricating gears in the House and (maybe) in the Governor’s Office is harder to detect in the Senate, where floor debate on some bills has been pointed and even sarcastic.

    In February, Senate Democrats shot down a Republican measure to increase use of state aircraft.

  • SANTA FE — I have written on several occasions about the misdirected wrath aimed at the National Rifle Association for enriching itself as a result of the introduction of gun control legislation in Congress and probably every state legislature. 

    The NRA was created to be the lobbying and political action arm of the gun manufacturing industry. 

    Everything it does is perfectly legal and it includes gun safety courses an other public service projects. 

    Many industries have such organizations. 

    Years ago when I was representing school employees, I was standing in line at the Secretary of State’s office to register our organization when a good friend ahead of me registered New Mexicans for Better Roads. 

    I mentioned to him that I never had heard of that organization. He replied that since the state had some surplus money that year, the word was that road improvements would be a likely recipient. 

    So highway contractors had hired him to help channel as much money as possible into the state road fund. And why not improve your image by calling the entity New Mexicans for Better Roads? It doesn’t really have any members, he said. It’s just an old trick. 

  • The U.S. tax code grows more complicated every year and currently spans thousands of pages – even government experts can’t agree exactly how long it is. So it’s not surprising that millions of Americans hire professional tax preparers to complete their returns.

    Relinquishing the onerous task of calculating your taxes to a professional may save you time and give peace of mind – they know more about tax law than you do, right? 

    But remember: You’re still legally responsible for all information on the return. 

    So if the preparer makes a mistake or intentionally defrauds the government, you’ll be on the hook for any additional taxes, interest and penalties – even possible prosecution.

    The IRS notes that although most tax return preparers are professional, honest and serve their clients well, taxpayers should use the same standards for choosing a preparer as they would for a doctor or lawyer, and be on the lookout for incompetence and criminal activity.

    There are several basic types of tax preparers: certified public accountants, IRS-designated enrolled agents, tax attorneys, storefront agents (think H&R Block) and self-employed preparers.

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    Diabetes is a complicated disease that is all too common today.  This disease affects 25.8 million people in our country alone.  

    People with Diabetes don’t produce enough insulin.  This causes high levels of blood glucose, which can lead to Diabetes complications.  

    However, it is possible to control Diabetes and live well with the disease.  The Los Alamos Heart Council is pleased to provide education on this topic to our community.  

    The council is hosting its annual community seminar at 5:30 pm on Tuesday at the First Baptist Church, located at 2200 Diamond Drive.

  • Despite passing the Senate Public Affairs Committee late Tuesday evening after an overwhelmingly positive discussion, Senate Bill 18 to amend the New Mexico Food Act to require the labeling of genetically engineered (GE) food and feed was “deemed lost” after a majority of the Senate, in an extremely rare action, voted on the Senate Floor not to adopt the committee’s report.
    Under Senate rules, this stopped the bill in its tracks and cut off any further debate or public input.
    “Even though SB 18 is dead this year, it’s clear that New Mexicans want and deserve a label that tells them whether or not their food has been genetically engineered,” said the bill’s author Senator Peter Wirth (D-25 Santa Fe). “I greatly appreciate the Public Affairs Committee’s feedback and discussion around the issue of labeling GE food, as well as Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez’s leadership on this issue.
    “GE food labels are a right New Mexican consumers deserve and, while this defeat is a setback, this discussion will continue at the state and national level.”

  • The Rio Grande Foundation (along with a host of organizations that support educational choice) will participate in School Choice Week 2013, which includes a first-of-its-kind trans-continental whistle stop tour.
    The tour will stop in Albuquerque on Saturday and includes a reception at 5:30 p.m. at the Albuquerque Museum of Art and History near Old Town.
    Rio Grande Foundation president Paul Gessing will be among the speakers — a list that includes elected officials, parents and children who have benefited from school choice — on hand to explain why school choice is important.
    “It is only fitting that — 150 years after construction began on the first transcontinental railroad — supporters of educational reform embark upon a whistle stop tour on behalf of educational choice,” Gessing said.
    “After all, the transcontinental railroad opened up a continent that had previously been closed to all but a select few; school choice will open up children’s’ minds and grant educational options to all children, not just a select few who’s parents can afford educational choice.”
    The Rio Grande Foundation has, and continues to support, all forms of school choice including charter schools, education tax credits, vouchers, digital learning, and home schooling.

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    It was very disturbing to read the Sunday Los Alamos Monitor, front page, above the fold.  You stooped very low to report and describe in detail a crime involving domestic violence.  I believe the news war between the local media has resulted in sleaze journalism.

    This incident could have simply been reported in Police Beat.  By naming and describing the victim in such detail the Monitor is guilty of re-victimizing the victim.  

    A victim of domestic violence (DV) is most often humiliated and shamed and you most likely made it worse.  

    There are usually many incidents of DV before the police are called. 

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    SANTA FE — When I suggested in a recent column that Spaceport America might be a good location for the $1 billion research ghost town a one-man international development company is promoting, I was only half serious. 

    It does seem that New Mexico’s much-heralded spaceport could be on its last legs Gov. Susana Martinez and the New Mexico Legislature work very hard in the next few months to keep it. 

    Some very exciting offers have been made to Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic by some deep-pocketed suitors. 

    Virgin Galactic now says it was sold a bill of goods when former Gov. Bill Richardson painted a picture of Virgin being the center of a thriving spaceport. After several years, Virgin remains the only tenant at the site. 

  •  During a newsroom discussion about guns about a decade ago, a woman piped up: “I don’t understand what the big deal is. I’m from Santa Rosa. We grew up with guns.”

    In New Mexico and other rural states, we begin the discussion from different sides of the fence. In the country, a gun is a tool used to hunt and protect livestock against varmints. In the city, the varmints are two-legged.

    Since the nightmarish shootings in Connecticut, the arguments and analyses fly back and forth like an old western shoot-out, which leads me to a few observations.

    First, gun ownership is a personal decision. I lived for eight years in a tough neighborhood where people kept telling me I should have a gun. 

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        At the turn of the New Year, the Speakers of two Houses of Representatives were much in the news.

        In New Mexico the death of Ben Luján, longtime Democratic Speaker of the state House of Representatives occasioned glowing tributes to a man characterized as “a political giant” and “a statesman.”

        Back in the nation’s capital, the weakened U.S. House Speaker John Boehner’s inability to manage his fellow House Republicans, never mind the Congress itself, left not a few onlookers wondering how much longer his speakership could endure.

        House Speakers are traditionally elected by the majority party in that legislative chamber. In New Mexico there have been exceptions to that custom.  

  • 1. The practice of hitting children teaches them to become hitters themselves. Extensive research data is now available to support the direct correlation between corporal punishment in childhood and violent behavior in the teenage and adult years. Virtually all of the most dangerous criminals were regularly threatened and punished in childhood.

    2. Punishment gives the message that “might make right” that it is ok to hurt someone smaller and less powerful than you are. The child then feels it is appropriate to mistreat younger or smaller children, and when he becomes an adult, feels little compassion for those less fortunate or powerful than he is, and fears those who are more so. Thus it is difficult for him to find meaningful friendships.

  •   As a child, I remember eating clouds of cotton candy, marveling at the simplicity of interwoven sugar, and wondering - “How did the first person ever think of making this stuff?”  Seriously, who out there decided that centrifuged sugar would be its own food group?

     Perhaps that’s the true genius behind the advancements we enjoy in a civilized world.  Some whacked out nutcase wakes up in the middle of the night and shouts, “Injecting Clostridium botulinum bacteria (to produce botulism) into your face will make you beautiful!”   Now that’s pure genius!

     No, forget that example.  That guy actually was in fact a whacked out nutcase.

  • This intangible thing we call freedom is interpreted differently by just about every individual, but one aspect that’s not open for debate is that we enjoy freedom because of the sacrifices made by countless men and women of our armed forces. We must never question that freedom is worth fighting for, and dying for. That very concept was the genesis of the United States of America.

    This Veteran’s Day, take the time to salute the men and women of this country’s military and the fact that they have always exemplified valor, courage and bravery. The sacrifices they’ve made throughout the history of this great country allow us all to revel in the freedom we have today; the forfeiture of one’s own life for the cause of freedom is the quintessence of all that is good, right and noble about this country.

    The greatness of America’s armed forces has liberated countries, freed the oppressed, toppled tyrants and dethroned dictators. But not without sacrifice; look at virtually any corner of the globe and you’ll find a spot where U.S. troops have spilled their blood.

    Thus, we often speak of our freedom yet we rarely speak of those to whom we owe it.

  • I may never understand what a bonfire, parade, football game and dance have to do with the word “homecoming,” but it seems to be something that’s become a tradition not only for Los Alamos High School, but schools across the country. 

    There are many aspects of homecoming that are open to the entire community, but since the homecoming dance is exclusive to the teen community, I’ll tackle that subject. More importantly, it’s a subject that makes students either scratch their heads or lose their temper for various reasons. One reason is the sound and music choice. Another reason is the theme and decorations each year. 

    This year, the official word is out that the dance will take place in the school’s lobby, with a zombie apocalypse theme. This being reason enough for people to not even give homecoming a chance, is the part that I feel people need to man up on. 

  • Over the past year, the Los Alamos Public Schools conducted an extensive community listening process in an effort to develop a strategic plan to raise the quality of our schools to an even higher level of achievement.  Repeatedly, we asked the questions of “What do we do well?” and “What can we do better?” I feel we have heard your voices, and in the process, learned a great deal about the things our community values about education.  From information gathered, the school district will lay out a five-year strategic plan to move the district forward on a journey to excellence.

  • This intangible thing we call freedom is interpreted differently by just about every individual, but one aspect that’s not open for debate is that we enjoy freedom because of the sacrifices made by countless men and women of our armed forces. 

    We must never question that freedom is worth fighting for, and dying for. That very concept was the genesis of the United States of America.

  • How did Mother’s Day begin? Well you would be forgiven for thinking it was a business ploy to sell off all the cute fluffy toys that didn’t get sold on Valentines and Easter.

  • Redevelopment of the “Trinity Site” into a shopping center has been pursued since 2005.  

    Times, circumstances, and the proposed development have all changed since then.  

    It is time to abandon this approach. 

  • Happy New Year. Let’s see how the crystal ball looks this year. 

    HMMM … it looks clearer. Maybe that is because we’ve had a year to get acquainted with the new state administration.

    Oh, I see Gov. Susana Martinez pushing her drivers license bill up another steep hill. Maybe she should wait until next year and hope she has a Republican legislature.

  • Another school semester came to a close. Students scurried about searching for ways to improve their grades at the last minute.  

    Teachers found themselves staring at piles of papers to review, a mountain of tests to grade, endless emails from concerned parents, and a finals schedule conveniently permuted by inclement weather.