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Today's Opinions

  • Lieutenant governor can make a difference

    BY BILLY GARRETT
    Lieutenant governor candidate, guest opinion

    Last October I announced my candidacy for lieutenant governor on the Democratic ticket. In the months since then I’ve been asked many times, “What does the lieutenant governor do?”

    The lieutenant governor has a complex workload based on a combination of statutory responsibilities, standing within the executive branch, and personal initiative.

    Statutory responsibilities are clear. The lieutenant governor serves as president of the Senate, sits on eight boards and commissions, and has been designated as the “Ombudsman of the People of New Mexico.” In addition, the lieutenant governor takes over as the state’s chief executive when the governor is out of state or the position becomes vacant.

    Serving as the Senate president is not the same as being an elected legislator. The Senate president does not serve on any legislative committees, introduce legislation, or vote – except to break a tie. Instead, the lieutenant governor ensures that Senate proceedings move smoothly and that all members are treated with respect. While the role can be seen as largely ceremonial, it provides a personal connection between legislators and the governor’s office that could be valuable on critical issues.

  • Letter to the Editor 6-15-18

    School district dress code fuels culture of rape, sexual harassment

    Dear Editor,

    This week, 75 parents, students and recent graduates of the Los Alamos Public School system sent a letter to the superintendent and school board expressing concern that the dress codes at the individual schools as they are currently written and enforced unfairly target girls with the following negative consequences:

    • It sexualizes girls at a young age.

    • It publicly humiliates them.

    • It sends the message that it is acceptable for adult teachers and staff – including adult men – to judge their clothing choices and, by extension, their bodies. We strenuously impress upon our daughters and sons that it is not appropriate for adults to evaluate them sexually – and yet that is exactly what dress code enforcement allows.

    • It puts the responsibility on girls to dress so as not to “distract” boys, rather than expecting boys to be responsible for their own behavior. This is a dangerous precedent that can fuel a culture of rape and sexual harassment.

    • Furthermore, it unfairly assumes that boys will be unable to control themselves because of girls’ clothing choices.

  • Letters to the Editor 6-1-18

    Sheehey recommended for state representative

    Dear Editor,
    I recommend Pete Sheehey as best qualified to serve Los Alamos County in the state Legislature.
    I support Pete for several reasons. First, he’s service oriented. He gets that serving in government means working for actual people, not simply engaging in policy debate. He knows that the job of our legislator is to achieve results that improve our community. He’s demonstrated that philosophy in the hundreds or thousands of decisions he’s made over the past decade as County Councilor and Planning and Zoning Commission member.
    Second, Pete’s extensive time in these leadership positions give him a full and timely understanding of issues that are important to many of us today. He’s put in thousands of hours serving our community and has participated in economic development, housing and public works decisions. He’s researched utilities and environmental issues. He’s heard from citizens across all demographics on the issues and opportunities that matter to them. He has served when county revenues went up and when they went down. These prior experiences make him well qualified to represent us in the Roundhouse.

  • Rules for predatory lenders must reflect letter, spirit of law

    An elderly woman got a small loan from a storefront lender and couldn’t understand why she could never manage to pay off the loan even though she made payments.

    Leonard Gorman, executive director of the Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission, explained the basics of principal and interest and renewal language in the loan agreement. Once she understood, she cried inconsolably.

    Last year, when the Legislature finally reformed laws governing storefront lenders – also called predatory lenders or payday lenders – there was a sense of accomplishment that they had dispatched a nagging problem after years of complaints.

    A recent hearing in Gallup made it clear there’s still work to do. Gorman blamed the lenders’ deliberately confusing communications for financial burdens on Navajos, but the small lenders trap Indian and non-Indian people alike.

    This is one reason New Mexico is poor. Thousands of people can’t get out from under these debts with their spiraling interest rates, so they don’t participate fully in the economy.

  • Letters to the Editor 5-25-18

    Yucca Mountain was safe, secure idea

    Dear Editor,
    I read with interest Sherry Robinson’s editorial, Interim nuclear waste? Not so fast in the Monitor of May 16. I wish to make the following comments.
    The NRC statement that spent fuel in cooling ponds and casks is safe and secure is correct. Such storage has been used, under construction, or considered in countries like Argentina, Finland, Germany, Russia, South Korea, Sweden and Switzerland. I designed part of an IAEA remote monitoring system for the encapsulation and storage of spent CANDU fuel at the Argentine reactor in Embalse. I’ve spent numerous hours on top of the storage casks there.
    The proposed use of Yucca Mountain was a safe and secure idea. The USA has spent over $15 billion to construct and study the site; I believe this was shown to be a perfectly reasonable solution to spent fuel storage.

  • Letters to the Editor 5-23-18

    Sheehey has qualities, personality to be member of Legislature

    Dear Editor,
    As a resident of Los Alamos for many years, I would like to express my strong support for Pete Sheehey’s candidacy for District 43 representative, New Mexico House of Representatives.
    Pete is strongly committed to fully serve in the best interests of our district and state. He is currently a member of the Los Alamos County Council, he is a recent vice-chair of the Los Alamos Planning and Zoning Commission, and he is President of the Los Alamos Committee on Arms Control and International Security.
    Pete has the experience, skills, judgment, leadership qualities and personality to be an effective good-government member of the state Legislature.

    Lewis Agnew
    Los Alamos

  • Startup success begins with team of top performers

    BY PAUL BUTLER
    Managing partner, Azrael Partners and former chief operating officer of Lumidigm, Inc.

    Building a startup or creating a new line of business is hard work, and statistics show the odds of success are long ones. Beating the numbers comes down to a combination of experience, expertise, and commitment.

    The last of these three traits is important, but experience and expertise can make or break your venture in three critical areas.

    Building a high-performance team: Behind every profitable venture is a team. You might have a compelling idea, an excellent offering with market fit, and a large market opportunity, but without a competent team, your business won’t make it.

    You need folks who excel at what they do, because they’re an order of magnitude more productive than average employees. They also know what not to do. By helping a business avoid unnecessary cycles of learning and poor decisions, they allow more of that productive power to be used efficiently.

    Employees with this level of skill are drawn to startups because they seek a challenge, expect the payoff to be significant and hate mediocrity and bureaucracy. They must believe in the offering and will do their own calculus on your venture’s probability of success before joining the team.

  • Money is rolling in, but budget makers are cautious

    During the 2018 legislative session, held in January and February, the Legislature passed a budget for the 2019 budget year that starts July 1.

    The news is not that the Legislature did its job of passing the budget, but that the task, straightforward if difficult, was done without headline-generating nastiness, a difference from previous years.

    Possibly the biggest difference was that some new money was available. Saying yes to proposals always makes elected officials happier. The task of no is difficult, involving choices and facing constituents convinced of the righteousness of their cause.

    In her cover letter to the Legislative Finance Committee’s annual Post-Session Review, LFC Chair Patricia Lundstrom said, “An economic rebound made the 2018 legislative session a very different experience from the session of a year ago.”

    One significant item adds $28.4 million to early childhood programs, continuing a years-long commitment from the Legislature and Gov. Susana Martinez.

    The additional money stands in the face of claims that raiding the permanent funds would somehow make something magic happen.