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Today's Opinions

  • Will anything be done after recent mass shootings?

    BY DOUGLAS AND DOROTHY REILLY
    Guest Opinion

    Much is said and printed in the Media of the incidents in Gilroy, El Paso, and Dayton; all three occurred within a week, and the last two within 24 hours. The big question is will anything be done?

    The basic problem is the absurd number of guns in the USA; our country has over 11 times as many guns per 100 citizens as the average of the rest of the world.

    There are about 88 gun deaths per day in the USA. Barely 2 percent of these are mass shootings, over 80 percent are suicides, and the rest domestic arguments, police shootings, and accidents. The availability of a gun makes a suicide or a domestic incident much more likely to result in death.

    After the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting, much was said, but nothing was done. My wife and I believe the same lack of action will occur here.

    We’re not protesting guns for hunting. In New Mexico, as other areas, hunting provides winter food for many families.

    When we lived in northern Italy, we learned licensed hunters had to keep their rifles or shotguns in the questura, police station, except during hunting season.

    The reaction of the students at the Parkland school and elsewhere may force some action. Disarming the public is not conceivable; however, some steps might be taken.

  • Paddy Martinez, who discovered uranium, died 50 years ago

    Paddy Martinez, of San Mateo, died August 26, 1969, almost 50 years ago. He was 91. His moment of fame—actually a six-month moment—came in the July 1950 when he found rocks that were revealed months later as the first discovery of uranium ore found in New Mexico.

    These days the Martinez story has faded to three words: “a Navajo sheepherder.” This is the designation of the Grants Chamber of Commerce.

    Paddy was more than a sheepherder. He was something of a non-academic polymath, one of those people who knew and did everything.

    To start, he was smart enough to recognize that the rocks he saw might be (a) uranium and (b) of value and then (c) to do something about his discovery. These connections had escaped crowds of educated types scouring the area northwest of Grants to supply the federal government’s post World War II and Cold War uranium demand.

    The government had declared itself the only buyer. Martinez learned about the potential value of uranium by overhearing conversations, possibly at the Lux Motel or the Yucca Hotel.

    The number of sheep he had make him a rancher. He took the rocks to Grants businessman Carrol Gunderson, who forwarded them to the Santa Fe Railway, owner of the mineral rights.

  • Parties should seek next rising tide

    BY STEVE HANSEN
    Quay County Sun

    TUCUMCARI — A July 16 column by the New York Times’ Thomas L. Friedman favors some moderate ideas he thinks the Democratic party should adopt even as it lists leftward.

    I agree. Friedman and I share a belief that Americans tend to settle toward the center even as the Republican and Democratic parties gravitate toward extremes.

    Friedman and I also concur that people mostly miss good jobs. Yes unemployment is down, but, as Friedman points out, “the wealth of the top 1 percent equals that of the bottom 90 percent.”

    At the same time, the type of job that leads to increasing success with hard, smart work has become as much an endangered species as carburetor repair mechanics in the age of fuel injectors.

    While Friedman thinks that raising taxes on the wealthy and reducing student loan burdens will help redivide the economic pie, he added, “I’m disturbed that so few of the Democratic candidates don’t also talk about growing the pie.”

    I have a different way of putting it: We should be scouring the horizon for the next rising tide that will lift all the boats, an analogy apparently made popular by President John F. Kennedy in the optimistic early 1960s.

  • Expanding civil legal resources is a good move for New Mexicans

    BY JUSTICE SHANNON BACON
    New Mexico Supreme Court

    We all know that anybody accused of a crime has the right to legal representation and that if you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you. But being provided a lawyer is not a right, nor is a lawyer guaranteed in civil legal cases even though these types of cases can change the course of a person’s life and have severe life consequences.

    Civil legal cases—anything that’s not criminal—can involve eviction, child custody and guardianship, veteran’s benefits, consumer debt, and restraining orders against an abusive partner. When it comes to essential legal matters, people deserve access to resources to help them through the process. Injustices occur when people do not have access to the help they need. People can become homeless, lose benefits, or lose their children.

  • Lujan Grisham ouster of Trujillo raises questions

    BY SYLVIA ULLOA
    New Mexico In Depth

    Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s decision to fire Education Secretary Karen Trujillo on Monday took a lot of people in New Mexico by surprise, including Trujillo, who said she was blindsided.

    It’s been three days, and some New Mexicans suspect they haven’t been given the real reason Trujillo was fired and why now.

    The administration has said it was about her ability to communicate, manage and meet the governor’s expectations for transforming public education in New Mexico.

    A spokesman initially pointed to the shaky rollout of a signature education program called K-5 Plus across the state, but the administration is beginning to walk back an effort to pin the firing on implementation of that program. Trujillo had pushed back, saying she didn’t get much direction from the governor and that she had raised alarm early on about how difficult K-5 Plus would be to implement immediately, as designed by the Legislature.

    And Trujillo said if communication was deficient, it was on the part of the governor.

    “It would have been nice to have a conversation with the governor where she said what her concerns were so that I could have done something about them, but that conversation never took place,” Trujillo said.

  • Lottery CEO’s excessive pay, golden parachute come at expense of New Mexico students

    BY FRED NATHAN
    Think New Mexico

    The New Mexico Lottery Authority recently voted to raise Lottery CEO David Barden’s salary by 26%, from $174,142 to $220,000.

    That is twice as much as the governor of New Mexico is paid. It is more than twice what the state Attorney General is paid. It is significantly more than the chief justice of the Supreme Court and state cabinet secretaries are paid.

    As a spokesman for Gov. Lujan Grisham put it: “What is the rationale” for this enormous raise? “Is the lottery doing a 26% better job of getting scholarship money to New Mexico students? I think if people find this salary and increase to be inequitable or improper, given the primary goal of the program, they have some justification for feeling that way.”

    After all, every dollar going to excessive compensation for the Lottery CEO is a dollar less for college scholarships for deserving New Mexico students. The statutory purpose of the New Mexico Lottery is to “provide the maximum amount of revenues” for scholarships at the state’s public universities.

  • Legalization coming sooner, not later

    BY TOM MCDONALD
    Gazette Media Services

    SANTA ROSA — We are now about a year away from legalizing recreational marijuana in this state.

    Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has already set the wheels in motion for its passage at the Roundhouse next year, and if the state is ready with the regulations, it could conceivably become legal on July 1, 2020, when a lot of new laws take effect.

    That’s my prediction — legal pot will be selling in New Mexico by this time next year. If it comes to pass, recognize my crystal-ball brilliance. If not, forget I ever said it.

    Whether legalized marijuana will hit the streets next year or the year after, it’s coming, and probably sooner rather than later. Lujan Grisham has created a task force that’s looking at how the 11 states that have legalized recreational marijuana are regulating their burgeoning cannabis industries. She wants the task force’s work done in time for next year’s legislative session, where she intends to pass a law legalizing recreational pot.

    It’s the next logical step. First it was medical marijuana, legalized in New Mexico 12 years ago and now legal in 33 states. Then came hemp, brought out of the cannabis closet late last year when Congress passed a farm bill that legalized the production of hemp nationwide.

  • Counting the well-being of New Mexico’s children

    New Mexico is once again at the bottom of the barrel for the well-being of children. The annual survey known as Kids Count has placed us at 50 out of 50.

    Kids Count measures categories in the areas of economic well-being, education, health, and family and community.

    Behind the summary numbers are detailed analyses of characteristics that affect the lives of children and teenagers.

    In economic well-being, the survey says 27% of New Mexico children live in poverty; 36% of their parents lack secure employment; 28% live in households that spend more than 30% of their pretax income on housing-related expenses; and 10% of teenagers are neither in school nor working.

    These numbers do not surprise us, unfortunately. These issues bring us back to the difficult question of how to address rural poverty. It’s hard to create jobs in very small towns. Other states are not doing well with this issue, either. 

    The education category is just plain alarming: 56% of young children are not in school; 75% of fourth-graders are not proficient in reading; 80 percent of eighth-graders are not proficient in math; and 29% of high school students are not graduating on time.