Today's Opinions

  • 2019 Legislature supports soil, parks, babies, little league, new license plates needed

    One Catch 22 was removed from state government during the 60-day 2019 legislative session (maybe more, I don’t know). 

    Public safety officers, people who work for police departments but aren’t full-fledged cops and who get to take intoxicated and/or incapacitated people to treatment centers or jails, can now ask the facilities to take the individuals. Curious situation for the public safety officer—being employed to take people to the facility but unable to seek commitment to the facility.

    This enlightenment, via House Bill 234, is one result of the session that saw 309 bills passed with 281 signed by new Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, double the approvals compared to former Gov. Susana Martinez in 2017, Martinez’ final 60-day session.  These new laws are now in effect. The numbers come from the Legislative Council Service’s annual “Highlights” publication that, LCS says, “summarizes much, but not all, of the legislative action.”

    “Busy” is the LCS word for the session.  Indeed. Lots of new money from the Permian Basin oil boom explains the activity.

  • Nuisance Code Enforcement: For thee, but not for me


    Guest Opinion

    On March 13, 2019, a severe wind storm caused a mess in Los Alamos, causing hundreds of trees to be knocked down and road closures. 

    Unfortunately, one of those trees on Los Alamos County property, hit my home and caused considerable damage to my roof, walls, and patio door.  I am thankful that no one was home, for my homeowners’ insurance, and for the contractors that helped us.  But I am greatly disappointed, but not surprised, by the county’s refusal to accept any responsibility for this incident.  

    After the storm, the county paid to remove trees that fell on its own property, the roads, and LANL premises.   It is reasonable to expect the county to pay to remove its trees falling on private property as well.  It is the duty of the county to maintain their own property, in a safe and hazard free condition, inspect, identify, and cut down at risk and damaged trees.

    Note that in the Los Alamos’ Nuisance Code #2. “Trees/shrubs extending into a public street or sidewalks. Vegetation obstructing or impeding the safe removal of pedestrians must be trimmed back.” If the county expects citizens to keep their trees off of public streets and sidewalks, then the county should keep its own trees off of private streets and sidewalks, too.

  • Coworking space helps vet build gourmet popcorn business


    Finance New Mexico

    A decade ago, Roberto Mendez was broke, his real estate business wiped out by a devastating recession and his wife sidelined by a debilitating stroke. Today he runs a thriving family business built on his favorite snack food: popcorn.

    “Ten years ago, life was hell,” said the owner of Albuquerque-based Cornivore. “We were trying to survive, so we would make a couple of hundred bucks here and there” selling homemade gourmet concoctions created in a kettle corn popper to friends and acquaintances.

     Cornivore was a bootstrapped business, started with Mendez’s limited resources, as no one would lend to him at the time. First, he found a niche market—people willing to pay several dollars for a bag of fresh popcorn coated with natural flavors. Then he expanded his clientele beyond friends and family, experimenting with wholesaling and concession sales before landing a ready-made sales force in the fundraising market.

  • Gov’s marijuana group sends up red flags

    The governor’s new working group created to come up with legislation to legalize marijuana in New Mexico should send up many red flags for anyone who believes in honest government.

    First, let me state that I am not attempting to wade into the shark-infested waters of saying whether pot should be legalized. I am only focusing my comments on the working group charged with crafting possible legislation.

    Last week, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced the members who will make up her working group. Make no mistake, this group of people has been handpicked because of their ties to the marijuana industry or their pro-legalization stance.

    She has put the matter on the docket for January’s legislative session but it may still be a difficult task, even though her working group already appears to be high on believing in its own success.

    New Mexico became the 24th state this year to decriminalize marijuana possession. Beyond that, the medical marijuana program has been expanded to include more qualifying conditions. But Lujan Grisham wants to take this a step further and create legislation to make marijuana fully legal in the state.

  • Democracy is circling the drain

    Guest Op-Ed

    As I read Tom Wright’s column (Los Alamos Monitor, June 26), I thought of the adage of how all it takes for evil to prevail is that good people do nothing.  Welcome to the U.S.A. in 2019, obsessed with political correctness, at each other’s throats and ignoring the real danger!

    We’re so caught up in a media-generated political-correctness frenzy centered around political correctness and Trump as arch villain that we’re not noticing our democracy circling the drain. 

    How can anyone be OK with the intolerance to others’ views, the distortion of history and outright racism (in the name of “tolerance”) of Kamela Harris, Cory Booker, Julian Castro, Beto O’Rourke, etc.? That’s not a defense of Trump, also part of the problem, but reminding that such “values” of self-righteous divisiveness are the last thing we need. 

    Presidential wannabes call anyone with concerns about immigration, racists. Joe Biden is labeled “insensitive” merely for saying that he tried to work with those with whom he disagreed. You’re either absolutely with the “correct” left or, as Wright defined, they will destroy you. 

  • Democracy’ means discussion of issues among people

    Discussion – earnest, thoughtful discussion – is the historic lifeblood of our democratic republic. A democracy differs from a dictatorship to the extent that policy evolves from discussion of issues among the people.
    Abraham Lincoln built his most weighty speech on the basics of our country “of the people, by the people, for the people.” Then he famously resolved that it “shall not perish from the earth.”
    Yet, the people are turning their backs on discussion of issues. Worst of all, the people now turn their backs most fiercely when the issue is the most important issue. Bit by bit, people forget that the nation’s lifeblood is discussing issues among the people.

    This very point is the elephant in the room that we can’t talk about. The creeping loss of discussion is the gravest threat to democracy.

    To begin with, today’s news and talk shows are less about issues than they are about “obstacles” to issues. An issue involves ideas for discussion from which a national policy could evolve. Obstacles to issues are personal traits that disqualify an idea by the bare mention of a person’s name or a trait.

  • Iran has not moved closer to making nuclear weapons

    Dr. T. Douglas Reilly

    Much has been reported recently regarding Iran exceeding the JCPOA limit of 300 kg of 3.67% enriched uranium, and the announcement that it will begin enriching to higher levels by Sunday. These higher levels are still below the 20% limit that the IAEA defines as the boundary between low- and high-enriched uranium; LEU/HEU.

    The 300 kg of 3.67% enriched uranium contains 11 kg of 235U, i.e. the fissile isotope of uranium. The IAEA defines a Significant Quantity (SQ) of HEU to be 25 kg; the SQ for plutonium is 8 kg. These limits are chosen to be roughly the amount of nuclear material necessary to built one nuclear explosive. Such explosives can be made with lower amounts of U or Pu; but these are what IAEA safeguards have accepted.

    It is absolutely impossible to make a nuclear explosive from 3.67% U. The critical mass of 20% enriched U is roughly 400 kg (900 lbs); it is very impractical to make a weapon with a core weighing 400 kg.

  • Small steps and giant leaps, 50 years later

    On July 20 we’ll celebrate the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. While it’s rightfully framed as a national achievement, the flawless execution of a near impossible goal was really an engineering feat.
    And its hero, Neil Armstrong, was, in his heart, an engineer.

    “I am, and ever will be, a white socks, pocket protector, nerdy engineer,” he said in 2000. “And I take a substantial amount of pride in the accomplishments of my profession.”

    Armstrong remained modest and avoided publicity for the rest of his life. That was because, as an engineer, he understood that he stood on a lot of shoulders.

    That’s one of my takeaways from this remarkable event. The second is what a massively complex undertaking it was.

    The space race involved many thousands of people – NASA alone employed 30,000 – scattered across the country.

    In New Mexico, at White Sands Missile Range, NASA had a propulsion system development facility that tested the engines for the Lunar Excursion Module under lunar atmospheric conditions. The LEM, as it was called, would take the two astronauts from orbit to the surface of the moon and back again. At a second site, the launch escape system was tested.