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Today's Opinions

  • Why would I leave Los Alamos?

    BY VERNON KERR
    Guest Editorial

    When some people retire, they move away from Los Alamos and that I do not understand. In my opinion, there cannot be a more idyllic place on earth to retire.

    Despite the fact we do not have all the amenities of metropolitan areas, we can still visit them. One hundred miles to Albuquerque or 35 miles to Santa Fe is no big deal. The Aspen Ridge Lodge is a fantastic place for young at heart but antiquated in body. Their personnel are fantastic, the food is good, and you are still in Los Alamos.

    The people of Los Alamos are kind, thoughtful and curious, quite a combination. You could not ask for better neighbors. The American Legion Post along with the VFW are places where you can meet some great GI’s. The Elks, Knights of Columbus, The Masons, Beta Sigma Phi, and other organizations occupy esteemed places in our town. Officials in our local government are accessible and open to citizens’ questions and concerns.

  • State lottery scholarship under siege again

    By Milan Simonich
    The New Mexican

    New Mexico college students should beware of trickery at the state Capitol.

    A proposal that seems innocuous at first glance would undermine the state scholarship program that serves them well.

    I call your attention to Senate Bill 283. It's the latest attempt to fatten the income of vendors for the state lottery at the expense of New Mexico's students.

    The title of this legislation by Democratic Sens. Jacob Candelaria of Albuquerque and John Arthur Smith of Deming is as deceptive as any I've seen.

    It reads: "Limit lottery operational expenses."

    Restrictions on what the New Mexico Lottery Authority could spend to run its gambling operation are only a small part of this proposed legislation. And they're the least important part.

    The bill by Candelaria and Smith would eliminate a section of law requiring the lottery to provide at least 30 percent of its gross monthly revenues for college scholarships. Instead, the bill contains a stark reference to net revenues going to the scholarship fund.

  • Rep. Chandler co-sponsors transparency, healthcare and education bills

    BY REP. CHRISTINE CHANDLER
    New Mexico House of Representatives, Dist. 43

    Rep. Christine Chandler has co-sponsored several important bills this legislative session. Senator Daniel Ivey-Soto (SD 15) and Representative Christine Chandler (HD 43)’s bill (SB 11) closing the so-called lobbying “loophole” has successful passed out of committee and onto the Senate. The bill is similar to Senator Ivey-Soto’s bill from the 2018 session that was vetoed by the former governor.

    According to the Secretary of State, Maggie Toulouse Oliver, current law needs clarity with regard to small lobbying expenses. Currently, the law requires individual expenses over $100 to be reported but ignores small cumulative lobbying expenses that in total are more than $100. The bill clarifies that cumulative small donation lobbying of $100 or more should be reported. “I am committed to ensuring New Mexicans have more information about the money that is spent influencing policy at the legislature,” Rep. Chandler said. “I am proud to to work with Senator Ivey-Soto to get this important legislation signed this year by the governor.”

  • For education reform to work, more money must reach classroom

    BY FRED NATHAN
    Think New Mexico

    As Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham and the legislature consider a package of bills to transform New Mexico’s public schools, Think New Mexico urges them to include House Bill 77, which will make sure that a greater proportion of New Mexico’s education funding reaches our students and teachers in the classroom.

    The education reform bills being considered by lawmakers were developed in response to last year’s landmark Yazzie/Martinez court decision. In that decision, Judge Singleton directed New Mexico lawmakers to spend more on education for the state’s most vulnerable students. Judge Singleton also made clear that this additional money must be spent on evidence-based “classroom instruction programs such as quality pre-K, K-3 Plus, extended school year, and quality teachers” that have been proven to make a difference for at-risk children.

    In order to accomplish this, New Mexico will need to change the way it spends its education dollars. When Think New Mexico analyzed New Mexico’s education spending, we discovered that in the decade between 2006-2007 and 2016-2017, more than two-thirds of school districts across New Mexico (61 of 89) grew their central office administrative spending faster than their classroom spending.

  • Killing the goose that lays the golden eggs

    BY REP. ROD MONTOYA
    R-District 1, San Juan

    What is the No. 1 source of education and state government funding in New Mexico? What is our No. 1 industry for employment, high paying jobs and tax revenue?

    What is the specific source of the current $1.1 billion budget surplus? – If you said that the oil and gas industry is the “Golden Goose,” you would be correct. So why is the governor trying place natural gas production on the endangered species list?

    Since the beginning of the year, we’ve seen the new administration declare war on oil and gas producers, and at the same time propose a 13 percent budget increase. That’s like expecting to win the lottery every year!

    Unfortunately, the governor has announced plans to institute a Methane Rule, and the first order of business for her new (OCC) Oil Conservation Commission members is to undo a previous decision to update to the Blanco / Mesa Verde Pool Rule. The Pool Rule allows existing gas wells to be reworked to produce natural gas from multiple gas strata pockets.

  • Why LANL cannot host a plutonium pit factory

    By Greg Mello
    Los Alamos Study Group, Guest Columnist

    At the end of the Cold War it made sense for the Department of Energy (DOE) to consolidate and temporarily preserve pit production technology at LANL. Given the National Nuclear Security Administration’s(NNSA’s) mandate, it still does.

    However, hopes for a reliable, small, pit production capacity at LANL – let alone an enduring one that could quantitatively contribute to maintaining the nuclear stockpile over decades – didn’t pan out.

    In 1989, when the Berlin Wall came down and the Rocky Flats Plant madeits last pit, PF-4 was only 11 years old. The extent of LANL’s seismic hazard was then unknown, officially at least.

    Likewise, the poor geotechnical properties of the unconsolidated volcanic sediments at LANL’s TA-55 were unknown then.

    They were certainly plain to see in the surrounding terrain and in records of TA-55 borings.

  • It’s not hard to understand why teachers are leaving

    New Mexico is short of teachers – about 740, according to NMSU’s College of Education. Vacancies are up by 264 from last year. Add in counselors, librarians and nurses, and we’re short 1,173 skilled professionals.

    Some 53,455 students are being taught by substitutes.

    Understanding why isn’t too hard. It’s pay, job insecurity related to testing, and the lack of respect for teachers, according to NMSU’s survey of teachers and comments from union representatives. Half of 1,900 survey respondents would not recommend a career in education.

    These shortages didn’t just sneak up on us. The warnings began in 2012.

    During the 2011-12 and 2012-13 school years, when 23.2 percent of teachers left, New Mexico had the nation’s second highest rate of teacher turnover, according to the Learning Policy Institute, a California think tank. Only Arizona was worse, at 23.6 percent.

  • Russia shows little regard for international law

    The Telegraph published this editorial Nov. 27 on the seizure of three Ukrainian warships by the Russian navy.

    The seizure of three Ukrainian warships by the Russian navy in the Black Sea shows that Moscow has lost none of its enthusiasm for seeking to intimidate its neighbor. Accusing the Ukrainians of illegally entering what Moscow deems to be Russian territorial waters, Russian warships are reported to have fired on two Ukrainian vessels, and rammed a third. As is often the case with unprovoked acts of aggression by Russia, the attacks took place when the rest of the world was distracted, on this occasion because EU leaders were meeting to sign off the Brexit deal.

    Indeed, it is precisely because the world has failed to take sufficient interest in Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014, and its subsequent meddling in eastern Ukraine, that the Kremlin felt emboldened to attack the warships sailing through the Kerch Strait which, under international law, is designated as shared territorial waters.