Today's Opinions

  • Digitizing the social contract for safer roads

    By Erez Dagan
    Mobileye and Intel Corporation

    When Mobileye set out to design a safety concept for autonomous vehicles (AVs), we first had to examine the concepts and mechanisms that humans use to maintain road safety. We needed a framework fully compliant with the human road safety system so that AVs could share the same roads. We also needed something demonstrably safer, by design, for society to accept them on the roads.

    During development of this system, we discovered the same framework that solves this challenge for AVs is also capable of dramatically improving the safety of the road today via advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS). The solution digitizes the mostly informal, hard-to-enforce social contract that governs road safety today. How this works was the subject of my keynote address today at SAE World Congress.

    The Gap in Our Traffic Rules

    The foundation of the existing road safety system is traffic rules: explicit, unequivocal instructions to the driver, coded through on-road and road-side signs and indicators such as traffic lights, stop signs, lane dividers, etc.

  • State leaders more concerned about soundbites than protecting the border 

    House Republican Leader

    James Townsend (R-Artesia)

    The situation on the U.S.-Mexico border is an unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe. In times like these, one’s character is revealed, which is why the response from New Mexico’s political leaders is so disheartening.  

    The headlines this past month have been alarming. More than 650 people crossing the border were taken into custody in just a couple hours during the early morning of April 30. 

    International trade through our points-of-entry on the southern border is being choked to a standstill. Meanwhile, interior checkpoints have been shut down because the agents that usually staff those security stations have been reassigned to the border.  

  • County council lost public trust with bait and switch REC Bond Election

    By Lisa Shin
    Guest Editorial

    On May 23, 2017, five recreation projects were put together in a package and voters were asked to let council pass a $20 million general obligation REC bond to build them. Before the election, councilors told citizens that it was an “all or nothing” proposal.

    They said that if the REC bond was voted down, then CIP funds would be used towards non-recreation projects. Right after the election, councilors changed their story, and said that we had $13.9 million in CIP funds to spend on recreation projects. Now, we finally learn the truth: the REC Bond Election was a “bait and switch” tactic. They were really after the $20 million recreation center. Even though we had more than $10 million in the budget to pay for the other projects, they had to include those to get citizens to vote for the $20 million recreation center.

    Tax payer funded elections should be definite “yes” or “no” questions, not subject to bait and switch schemes. Citizens should clearly understand what council’s specific actions will be, given a “YES” or “NO” election result. The council should have just put the $20 million recreation center up for a citizens vote, and not included the other four projects.

  • A mixed state Legislative session

    Lawmakers in New Mexico have listened. A poll conducted by the Albuquerque Journal about two months before last year’s election found voters identified crime, education and homelessness as some of the top problems in need of solutions in our state.  

    The Legislature responded to these concerns by allocating $64 million – a 63% increase from last year’s sum – to local projects, including money to update our first responders’ communication system, for city police and for a new homeless shelter. This pot of money, for Albuquerque only, is in addition to the more than $500 million lawmakers added to the statewide education budget.

    Lawmakers listened this session, but it remains to be seen whether they will listen to our priorities in the future.

    If non-spending legislation supported by the governor and several members of the Legislature is enacted, we cannot expect such generosity in the future. That’s because the movement in the statehouse to pass radical energy legislation to delay or end natural gas production is growing, even though that production provides the single largest source of revenue for our public schools, higher education institutions, and health care, accounting for one-third of total funding.

  • Petty politics damaging New Mexico’s national brand 

    R-Los Lunas, New Mexico House of Representatives

    Sometimes, New Mexico can’t help but snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. 

    Three years ago, New Mexico won a national competition to bring Facebook to our state. Facebook agreed to build its new data center in Los Lunas, and in exchange, New Mexico promised the company that the state would upgrade its electric grid to power the complex with 100% renewable energy.

    The agreement was a victory for everyone involved, especially New Mexico. Facebook would get the best deal possible for its new data center and invest $1 billion in the project. New Mexico would gain millions in tax revenue from the economic activity spun-off from the data center. And everyone would benefit from upgraded transmission infrastructure that would bring more renewable energy online.  

    Facebook delivered on its side of the deal and more. In 2017, it announced it was tripling the size of the complex, creating hundreds of long-term jobs for New Mexicans and spurring an economic boom in Valencia County. 

  • Use prescription pain medications safely

    Southwest Public Affairs Officer, U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services

    Medicare wants to help you use prescription pain medications safely.

    Prescription opioid medications – such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, morphine and codeine – can help treat pain after surgery or after an injury, but they carry serious risks, like addiction, an overdose and death.

    Those risks increase the higher the dose you take or the longer you use the pain medications, even if you take them as prescribed. Your risks also grow if you take certain other medications, like benzodiazepines (commonly used for anxiety or sleep), or if you get opioid medications from many doctors or pharmacies.

    More than 11 million Americans misuse prescription opioids every year. In fact, opioid misuse has become so prevalent that the government has declared it a public health emergency. Opioid overdoses accounted for 47,600 deaths in 2017, and 40 percent of those deaths involved a prescription opioid medication.

  • Capital outlay process remains secret

    Every year, the Legislature divides up a pot of money known as capital outlay, for one-time expenses such as construction, repair, and purchases of equipment. This year the total has approached a billion dollars.

    The process of dividing the money is done behind the scenes, out of public view. Open government advocates have been ranting about this secrecy for the last few years.

    Since New Mexico’s capital outlay structure is designed largely to provide bragging rights to legislators, the secrecy seems absurd.

    But more absurd, and far more important, is the method used to divide up the money, which has received national recognition for its stupidity.

    The process goes like this: legislators submit wish lists of projects to be considered for funding. Each legislator’s list is probably longer than what can realistically be funded. Legislators know some of their requests will be chopped off.

    Meanwhile, the finance committees are calculating how much money in total will be available. When the numbers are crunched, the projects selected for final approval are packaged into one or two long and detailed bills. This year the main bill was Senate Bill 280.

    You can read every legislator’s original list on the Legislature’s website (nmlegis.gov).

  • Chernobyl remains worst nuclear accident in history

    Dr. T. Douglas Reilly

    The 1986 accident that destroyed Unit-4 at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Station in Ukraine was indeed the worst nuclear accident at that time. The effort of the station staff to extinguish the fire caused by the fuel meltdown was truly heroic.

    I saw satellite photos of the burning reactor in a colloquium at LANL shortly after the explosion and fire occurred. Two workers in Unit-4 died from physical injuries caused by the explosion; 28 workers and firemen died from acute radiation doses after flying in helicopters over the reactor to drop sand and fire retardant chemicals.

    These volunteers were told beforehand that the time over the fire was only a few seconds and that there was a high probability they might receive a lethal dose. They were awarded the Hero of the Soviet Union posthumously.