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Today's Opinions

  • Petty politics damaging New Mexico’s national brand 

    BY KELLY FAJARDO
    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

    BY BOB MOOS
    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
    Columnist

    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.

  • If you see a horse, say ‘hey!’

    BY LAURA MULLANE
    Vice President, Pajarito Riding Club

    As the weather becomes warmer and many of us head outside to enjoy the county’s excellent trail system, now is a good time to talk about how best to share the trails with horses.

    It’s good to start with a basic understanding of how horses see the world. Horses are prey animals. This means they’re ruled by one primary fear: the fear of being eaten. Never mind that most domesticated horses today have never known anything but safe, comfortable lives. Millions of years of evolution tell them that a mountain lion could be hiding around every bush or rock, ready to pounce. This is why seemingly innocuous things such as cyclists, hikers, mailboxes, balloons, umbrellas, tarps, etc. can be the stuff of equine nightmares.

  • Road construction season on its way

    The assortment of snow, rain and sunshine that splattered through the area last week resembled more of a wintry mix than anything resembling springtime. But seasonal construction is on the way, whether or not spring will get over this stage fright and make its grand entrance.

    The latest Cone Zone reminded me Friday that this season’s traffic congestion and road troubles could test a lot of our nerves. Commuters in Los Alamos are facing several road projects on Central Avenue and NM 502 this year, and I am hoping that we can all use a bit more patience with each other during this time.

    I started years ago writing my first column for a small community newspaper in northern Nevada. The column was called Moped Mamma and I wrote about my daily journeys riding my newly purchased moped from my home in one county to work 20 miles away in another county.

    The drive included a small stretch along a highway, a few back roads, a small jaunt past a neighborhood and church parking lot and a dreadful end run along a bypass that required me to try to keep up with cars that were traveling about 55 miles an hour. I called it my own “death ride.” The whole idea was for me to try to save money on gas at the time while raising my kids.

  • Next year should be the year of higher education

    Rob Schwartz said he spent 40 years whining about how the University of New Mexico was run. As a new regent, the retired law professor has an opportunity to do something about it.

    The most important problem right now, he said, is a disheartened faculty beaten up by repeated rounds of budget cuts. 

    “They cut to the bone and they cut some more,” Schwartz told members of New Mexico Press Women recently. He referred to lawmakers and their desperate work to match spending to dwindling revenues in recent years.

    Faculty members couldn’t go to conferences or buy books or do many of the things that are a normal part of teaching. 

    “For a long time they thought they could tough it out, but now people don’t believe anything will get better,” he said. “This year after a 3 percent increase to faculty salaries, the university cut every single department by 1.5 percent. 

    “They can’t run their programs. The university is really standing on a precipice,” he said. He hopes oil and gas revenues will provide some relief.

  • Letters to the Editor 6-19-19

    Happy to not be an LANB customer

    Dear Editor

    We arrived in Los Alamos in 1967. After checking in at the lab and receiving a quad assignment, we went to LANB and opened a bank account. When they did their big computer upgrade, it was done for people who are computer literate and have smart phones. Those of us who are technophobes and have dumb phones had to stand in line time and time again to try to fix the problems we were having. I found out that the account I thought was a joint account was not. The first person listed on the account was the only one who could make major changes on the account like closing it.

    I finally switched to Del Norte. Not only was I able to navigate their web site, I was able to sign in with one password to see my checking, saving, all my CDs and my two Visa cards. I get separate statements for the credit cards, but everything else is on the front and back of one sheet of paper. The interest on the CDs is posted every month, so it is cumulative.

    When our account at LANB was closed, we received 12 statements, all multiple pages. There was a separate statement for checking, savings and each CD.

    Reading Tris DeRoma’s article on LANB’s transition made me so glad I switched to De. Norte when I did. I can just sit back and smile.

    Camille Morrison
    Los Alamos