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Today's Opinions

  • State population growth dismal, but seven counties gain

    In a previous column, I discussed those leaving New Mexico, namely the 25- to- 44-year olds who should provide the core of a productive society. This time the topic is the number staying. The numbers, for July 1, 2017, come from the Census Bureau. New numbers are due next month.

    The state’s overall population situation remains dismal; we added only 28,891 people from the April 2010 census to 2017. That’s a 1.4 percent increase. Contrast that with Arizona, up by 624,253 (yes, from a larger base), a 9.8 percent increase.  Booming Colorado’s population grew 11.5 percent during the period. Those two neighbors can’t match New Mexico’s “accomplishment” of declining population in 2014 and 2015. It has been a lost decade.

    Ten New Mexico counties gained population during the period. Only Sandoval and Santa Fe counties gained every year.

    Bernalillo and Los Alamos counties lost population during one year by amounts so tiny as to not really count. These four are the north central urban area. Doña Ana is also urban with the second largest county population in 2017 (215,579), with Las Cruces and part of the larger Júarez-El Paso combo.

    Urban wins. The message isn’t good for the rest of the state.

    Amid the gloom a few glimmers appear.

  • Letters to the Editor 11-4-18

    Sara Scott will serve interests of community

    Dear Editor:
    I have coached Sara Scott’s children in soccer; I am her neighbor; and I have worked with her in LANL’s Russian programs. Sara is approachable, inclusive and makes decisions based on a carefully considered consensus of all stakeholders. She has lived, worked, built friendships, recreated, and raised a family here over the past 30 years. She loves this community and will serve the interests and well-being of its residents. 
    Join me in supporting Sara Scott for the Los Alamos County Council. Here are others that I know support Sara as well: Laura and Roy Bohn, Laura and Ed Kober, Thomas Bowles, Steve Russell, Margo and Steve Batha, Laura and Andy Wolfsberg, Ann Cernicek, Mary K Cernicek, Morrie Pongratz, Don Cobb, John and Sarah Gustafson, Steve Buelow, Craig Martin and June Fabryka-Martin, Denny Erickson, Judith McKenzie, Laura Loy, Ed Garcia, Doug Reilly, Bill Wadt and Ann McLaughlin, Susie Schillaci, Norm Schroeder, Barb Smith, Pat Walls, Allen Pratt, Dave Schiferl, Joe Granville, Nan and Jeff Sauer, Amy Birnbaum, Karyl Ann Armbruster, Lynn Strauss, Felicia Orth, Susan and Warren Oldham, Sue Newman, Laura Smilowitz, Erika Leibrecht, Benjamin Warner, Ellen McBee, John Berg, and Brian Scott.
    Molly Cernicek
    Los Alamos

  • County’s decision to defend IPRA suit is questionable

    BY HELEN M. MILENSKI
    Guest Editorial

    I love a bargain. These days everyone needs to be selective on where and how we spend our hard-earned dollars. It puzzles me how the local government in our corner of the world doesn’t seem to share this frugal sensibility, especially when it is our money they get to spend.

    There are lots of examples I could point to, but recently there is the notorious case of Brenner vs. Los Alamos County Council regarding Councilor Susan O’Leary’s emails.

    First off, let me say that I believe heartily that Patrick Brenner was firmly in the wrong when he wrote his infamous letter to the council, but I also think that the events that unfolded illustrated flaws in character all around. I got sick of hearing about this whole thing a long time ago and hoped that the end was in sight when I head a judgment was to be issued by the court. I think the judge felt the same way I did. I think we all felt it was going to go away, but alas we aren’t so lucky.

  • Pineapples have the gift of hitching rides

    Pineapples first sprang up deep in South America, in the region where Brazil and Paraguay now meet. The wonders of their shape, color and taste led people to begin carting them outward from there.

    Over hundreds of years, pineapples worked their way from native tribe to tribe and to islands in the Caribbean. One of them was the lush, volcanic island of Guadeloupe, where Columbus landed in November 1493. Imagine sailors ashore amid the wonders of a “new world,” where they met with pineapples. The story builds.

    From this second voyage, Columbus brought pineapples back to Spain. Most likely no more than pineapple crowns arrived intact, which could start new pineapples. News of pineapples spread across Europe and spurred attempts to grow pineapples in the adverse climate.

    In those same years, seafarers ranged far around the globe. Pineapples reached the Philippines on Spanish ships on occasions in the 1500s and after. Later the fruit reached Hawaii. By tricks of fate, today’s icons of tropical islands got

    Early seafarers from New England brought pineapples back from trips to the Caribbean. Pineapples were big treats in the colonies, as much as in South America, Europe and the islands, and then a notch more. Their novelty and scarcity brought a price higher than many people could afford.

  • Experience matters for the next sheriff

    By Greg White

    My name is Greg White. I’m an Independent running for Los Alamos County Sheriff because I love LA and it’s people. A little background is helpful to understanding my views and platform.

    Since the 1950’s a faction has tried to eliminate the Sheriff’s office. The problem stems from the fact that Los Alamos is a very small county and it’s county and municipal boundaries are the same. 

    This came to a head when Los Alamos elected its current sheriff eight years ago, a very experienced fully accredited law enforcement officer. Most sheriffs in Los Alamos history have had no law enforcement experience. One wonders why the County Council would spend the last eight years desperately trying to eliminate the office. And now are deliberately defying a direct court order from Judge Mathews to restaff the sheriff’s office, give him back all his statutory duties, and fund it sufficiently to carry out those duties. The Court decision is available on my web site at greg4sheriff.com, which also has links to my Facebook and Twitter pages (you do not need a Twitter account to get an inspirational message every day).

  • Letter to the Editor 10-21-18

    Recent mailer is ‘last straw’ in legislative race

    Dear Editor,

    Good leaders define problems, formulate solutions and try to unify people behind them. How can that happen – even as our nation’s in crisis – considering the tone of this year’s election?

    I received a “straw that broke the camel’s back” mailing that really ticked me off.  It came from Patriot Majority of New Mexico, attacking Lisa Shin in ways reflecting, from my view, little integrity and condemning her because she “supports Trump on health care.” This ensured one thing. Despite my respect for Chris Chandler, I’ll vote for Shin.
    How telling that the “patriots” condemned her, rather than praise Chandler!

    I come from generations of Democrats, but today’s party – led by reality-challenged extremists like Nancy Pelosi – forgets what it stood for as recently as the early 2000s, when for example, Sen. Chuck Schumer sponsored a bill making it illegal for illegal border crossers to apply for work. Then, Democrats stood for tight border enforcement and low immigration. 

    Democrats cared about workers, the middle class and the environment – all harmed by the immigration tsunami (That Wall Street loves.) of recent decades.

  • Making it Count: Five tips for choosing a health plan

    BY DAVID ALLAZETTA
    CEO, UnitedHealthcare of New Mexico and Arizona

    This fall millions will head to the polls to cast their vote in the mid-term elections, but they have another important choice to make as well: their health care coverage for 2019.

    Many people in New Mexico will have the opportunity to select or switch their health insurance plans for 2019 during “open” or “annual” enrollment.  But unlike Election Day, the dates to keep in mind aren’t the same for everyone and vary depending on your situation:

    • For the more than 175 million Americans with employer-provided coverage, many companies set aside a two-week period between September and December when employees can select health benefits for the following year.

    • For the more than 60 million people enrolled in Medicare, Medicare Annual Enrollment runs from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7 each year.

    • Health insurance marketplace or individual state exchange open enrollment runs from Nov. 1 to Dec. 15.
    For most people, changes made during this time will take effect Jan. 1, 2019.

    Choosing health benefits can feel stressful, but it doesn’t have to be. Consider the following five tips to help make the process easier.

    Take Time to Review Your Options

  • UNM, higher education in desperate need of reform

    BY DOWD MUSKA
    Research Director, Rio Grande Foundation

    Our state’s system of taxpayer-funded higher education is in crisis. A few key facts about postsecondary institutions in the Land of Enchantment, and the University of New Mexico in particular, reveal the depth of the problem:

    • Contrary to popular belief -- the left-wing New Mexico Voices for Children recently made the assertion that Santa Fe has made “inadequate public investment in higher education over the last decade” – New Mexico spends quite a lot on its government colleges and universities. According to the State Higher Education Executive Officers, the “national association of the chief executives of statewide governing, policy, and coordinating boards of postsecondary education,” we spend $9,348 per full-time equivalent enrollment. That sum is far in excess of the national figure of $7,642, despite the state’s low cost of living. On occasion, brave voices have acknowledged the system’s spendthrift ways.

    In 2016, former UNM President Chaouki Abdallah told the Albuquerque Journal: “Our higher ed spending is more than most other states; the trouble is we don’t spend it wisely and [we] spread it across so many entities.”