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Today's Opinions

  • Time to invest in families, communities

    Much has been made of America’s crumbling infrastructure. Rusting bridges and crumbling highways are only a part of our neglect.
    A much bigger part, and one that many of us don’t see is the neglect of inner-city communities, distressed schools and long forgotten playgrounds.
    The recent protests in Baltimore, much like Albuquerque’s protests last year, may have been triggered by unjust police violence, but are much more deeply rooted in decades of neglecting our families and communities, especially communities of color.
    When Governor Susana Martinez was asked recently about the possibility of a special session to approve the financing of infrastructure projects, she said, “if it is, it’s got to benefit the private sector.” She made no mention of the needs of our families or communities, only the “private sector.” That was the reason that the bill didn’t pass in the first place!
    Lawmakers invested their capital outlay for projects like senior centers, tribal needs and community colleges, much of what she stripped from the bill.
    The tax committees met nearly every day of the legislative session and every day they heard bills that would divert even more of our public tax dollars to the “private sector.”

  • County needs real plan

    The Comprehensive Plan was completed in 1987. By now, even the updates are outdated.
    An effort to rewrite the whole plan in the early 2000s produced only a Vision Statement and Policy Plan, adopted in 2005, that is now cited by the Community and Economic Development Department (CEDD) as “the Comprehensive Plan.”
    This is 19 pages of aspirational platitudes that are so vague and ambiguous that they are useless to anyone attempting to satisfy the requirements of applications for permits and rezoning, or anyone attempting to defend their neighborhood against one of these applications.
    You’d think at least the county attorney would notice a problem here (not to mention the obsolescence of the Development Code — another story for another day).
    My neighborhood experienced the consequences of this ad hoc plan first-hand last year when University of New Mexico-Los Alamos applied to redevelop the apartments on 9th Street. The CEDD worked with UNM-LA to develop a proposal to the council for joint funding of the project, then it coordinated with UNM-LA’s Denver developer to plan for a non-conforming oversize structure and then it attempted to fast-track a rezoning through the Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) using the policy plan as the justification.

  • Capital outlay: Just another political football

    Odds were always slim that we’d see a special session to resuscitate the $264 million capital outlay bill.
    It’s just too close to 2016 elections, and the lost spending bill is too big an opportunity for political missiles.
    Every county had a stake in the game, and the business community made its wishes clear. The parties and the governor apparently had reached some meeting of the minds on capital outlay. Had they left it at that, we’d have a special session and the desired public spending. But the governor wanted a package of tax breaks.
    There are three rules about special sessions: Have an agreement ahead of time, keep it simple, and keep it short.
    Everyone wants capital outlay. The tax breaks are another matter.
    They passed the House but probably would have run into resistance in the Senate. In the last two sessions, I’ve seen a rising bipartisan awareness that continuing to scatter tax breaks like seeds in the wind is not necessarily in the state’s best interest.
    We don’t even know if the last batch of tax breaks worked.
    Even so, I don’t think the governor ever intended to call a special session. The Democrats divined that and both played the hands they held. You could see it in the scripted statements and equally scripted responses.

  • The cost of the war on coal

    About 60 demonstrators were waving signs in front of PNM headquarters the morning of the company’s 2015 Annual Meeting.
    Inside, behind a security cordon of nervous rent-a-cops, CEO Pat Collawn delivered the obligatory bland speech to a handful of local stockholders, while the bullhorn-led protestors four floors below chanted, “No nukes, no coal! Solar is the way to go!” and “Hey, Hey, Ho, Ho! Dirty coal has to GO!”
    A disclaimer to reveal my bias: I’m thrice-related to PNM.
    First, I’m a shareholder. If that conjures up visions of Rich Uncle Pennybags off the Monopoly box, think again. PNM is almost entirely owned by conservative mutual funds that pool the savings of millions of small investors.
    If your nest egg is tucked away with Fidelity or Vanguard, you may be a PNM owner, too.
    Second, I used to work there.
    Looking back over my long and checkered career, I can honestly say it was the best job I ever had. The company demanded a full day’s work for a day’s pay, but the money was good, at least by New Mexico standards, helping me put two kids through college.
    Finally, I’m a PNM customer. The monthly bill is higher than I’d like, and it’s going to be even stiffer if the company’s current request for a 12 percent rate hike is approved.

  • Letters to the editor 5-19-15

    Thanks to community for Nepal fundraiser
     
    On behalf of whole team that organized the fundraiser musical program who helped the victims of the Nepal earthquake, I would like to thank Los Alamos community for their enthusiasm, presence in large numbers.
    Thanks to all singers and dance groups for their superb show. Thanks to the Los Alamos Monitor, LA Daily Post and LA Postdoc association for their publicity.  Thanks to Trinity on the Hill Episcopal church for giving Kelly Hall for free. Thanks to each one of you for your generous support and in one hour, we had collected a $2,217 fund. For those who haven’t donated, look for these people and give your contribution personally.  
    Satyesh Kumar Yadav (facebook.com/satyeshyadav, syadav@lanl.gov)
    Arul Kumar (facebook.com/marulmd04, marulkr@lanl.gov)
    Akhilesh Sing (akhilesh@lanl.gov)
    pratik Dholabhai  (pdholabhai@lanl.gov)
    Ramesh Jha (facebook.com/rjha.unc, rjha@lanl.gov)
    Sachi Krishnamurthy (facebook.com/sachi.krishnamurthy, sachi@lanl.gov)
    Krishna Acharya (kacharya@lanl.gov)
    Nimai Mishra (facebook.com/nimai.mishra.7, Nimai@lanl.gov)
    Nirmal Ghirimie (nghimire@lanl.gov)
    Sanket Navale (facebook.com/sanketnavale, sanket@lanl.gov)
    Tilak Dhakal (tdhakal@lanl.gov)
     

  • Cruelty to animals makes bad publicity

    When somebody’s dog gets caught in a leg-hold trap meant for a wild animal, the incident gets publicity.
    Meanwhile, out of sight and unreported, wild animals are getting caught in those traps.  
    Suddenly, in response to an alleged need that has not been demonstrated, New Mexico has a proposal to allow trapping of mountain lions, coming from our Game Commission.
    If this proposal is approved, Gov. Susana Martinez may someday find herself explaining on national TV why her state not only allows, but has increased the scope of animal trapping.
    One of New Mexico’s persistent problems is that we still have not succeeded in updating our public relations image.
    Much of the industrialized world still thinks New Mexico is a third-world backwater. A great way to perpetuate that negative stereotype is to get a worldwide reputation for being cruel to animals.
    Last year the state earned a national black eye from coyote-hunting contests. It may be necessary for ranchers to shoot coyotes to keep them away from livestock, but there is something gruesome about making that into a game with prizes. A move to ban the contests did not pass in this year’s legislative session.

  • Letters to the editor 5-17-15

    Branding needs
    success measurements

    I found Councilor Kristin Henderson’s recent column on branding very much unconvincing, largely because (a) no objectives were explicitly stated for “branding” and (b) no measures of success were proffered.
    Henderson lists several “successful” branding stories, but frankly I had never heard of any of them. The fact that I never heard of such isn’t terribly important, but what is important is that no measure of just how such efforts were judged successful was offered.
    Without such, there is simply no way to evaluate her statements.
     Let’s assume for the moment that the examples Henderson listed are in fact, somehow, successes. Many communities have attempted to brand themselves. How many such efforts have failed?
    Listing only successes seems to me rather like asking a gambler how he or she is doing. Such folks almost always recall their wins, but somehow forget to mention their losses, which are more often than not larger than their wins.
    Surely many recall the monies spent by the City of Albuquerque under the Martin Chavez regime, where much effort (and funds) was spent to brand the city as “Q.” The “Q” effort failed miserably and has been utterly abandoned.

  • Iran: The gulf region bully

    Iran acts like a Persian Gulf hegemon because it can. Tehran’s military, while capable of making a less-than-concerted attack costly, would be overmatched by the armed forces of the United States and those of the Persian Gulf states and crumble quickly along with its regime
    The window of opportunity is closing with Russia’s announced intention to deploy S-300 anti-aircraft, anti-ballistic missiles. Furthermore, if Tehran bamboozles Washington into a nuclear arms deal involving the lifting of economic sanctions look for Russia, China and some European defense companies to provide a cornucopia of modern arms. Nevertheless, it takes time to develop a defense system capable of thwarting U.S. “hyper-war” capabilities.