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Today's Opinions

  • The unintended journey of a Japanese midget submarine

    In war-time New Mexico, what were crowds so eager to see that they spent $700,000 for a glimpse?

    The story begins in Japan in 1938 with the launch of that nation’s first midget submarines. They were 81 feet long, 6 feet in diameter, and armed with two torpedoes. Powered by a 600-horsepower electric motor, they had a speed of 19 to 23 knots , but at full power the sub’s battery was only good for 55 minutes.

    On Dec. 7, 1941, five of the diminutive subs joined the attack on Pearl Harbor. After riding piggyback on large subs, they launched near the harbor entrance the night before the attack. Their mission was to attack war ships and then rendezvous with the mother ships or blow themselves up next to a war ship. They began prowling before the air attack, but none of them would do any damage that day.

    One of the five, Ha-19, had a malfunctioning gyrocompass. It hit a coral reef several times and ran aground. When a U. S. ship spotted the little sub, it fired, knocking it off the reef. The sub dived, and its crew tried again to complete their mission but damage prevented them from firing one torpedo. More attacks from the now-alerted fleet caused more damage that kept Ha-19 from firing its second torpedo, and fumes overcame the crew members. The little sub drifted.

  • Rules for predatory lenders must reflect letter, spirit of law

    An elderly woman got a small loan from a storefront lender and couldn’t understand why she could never manage to pay off the loan even though she made payments.

    Leonard Gorman, executive director of the Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission, explained the basics of principal and interest and renewal language in the loan agreement. Once she understood, she cried inconsolably.

    Last year, when the Legislature finally reformed laws governing storefront lenders – also called predatory lenders or payday lenders – there was a sense of accomplishment that they had dispatched a nagging problem after years of complaints.

    A recent hearing in Gallup made it clear there’s still work to do. Gorman blamed the lenders’ deliberately confusing communications for financial burdens on Navajos, but the small lenders trap Indian and non-Indian people alike.

    This is one reason New Mexico is poor. Thousands of people can’t get out from under these debts with their spiraling interest rates, so they don’t participate fully in the economy.

  • Letters to the Editor 5-25-18

    Yucca Mountain was safe, secure idea

    Dear Editor,
    I read with interest Sherry Robinson’s editorial, Interim nuclear waste? Not so fast in the Monitor of May 16. I wish to make the following comments.
    The NRC statement that spent fuel in cooling ponds and casks is safe and secure is correct. Such storage has been used, under construction, or considered in countries like Argentina, Finland, Germany, Russia, South Korea, Sweden and Switzerland. I designed part of an IAEA remote monitoring system for the encapsulation and storage of spent CANDU fuel at the Argentine reactor in Embalse. I’ve spent numerous hours on top of the storage casks there.
    The proposed use of Yucca Mountain was a safe and secure idea. The USA has spent over $15 billion to construct and study the site; I believe this was shown to be a perfectly reasonable solution to spent fuel storage.

  • Letters to the Editor 5-23-18

    Sheehey has qualities, personality to be member of Legislature

    Dear Editor,
    As a resident of Los Alamos for many years, I would like to express my strong support for Pete Sheehey’s candidacy for District 43 representative, New Mexico House of Representatives.
    Pete is strongly committed to fully serve in the best interests of our district and state. He is currently a member of the Los Alamos County Council, he is a recent vice-chair of the Los Alamos Planning and Zoning Commission, and he is President of the Los Alamos Committee on Arms Control and International Security.
    Pete has the experience, skills, judgment, leadership qualities and personality to be an effective good-government member of the state Legislature.

    Lewis Agnew
    Los Alamos

  • Startup success begins with team of top performers

    BY PAUL BUTLER
    Managing partner, Azrael Partners and former chief operating officer of Lumidigm, Inc.

    Building a startup or creating a new line of business is hard work, and statistics show the odds of success are long ones. Beating the numbers comes down to a combination of experience, expertise, and commitment.

    The last of these three traits is important, but experience and expertise can make or break your venture in three critical areas.

    Building a high-performance team: Behind every profitable venture is a team. You might have a compelling idea, an excellent offering with market fit, and a large market opportunity, but without a competent team, your business won’t make it.

    You need folks who excel at what they do, because they’re an order of magnitude more productive than average employees. They also know what not to do. By helping a business avoid unnecessary cycles of learning and poor decisions, they allow more of that productive power to be used efficiently.

    Employees with this level of skill are drawn to startups because they seek a challenge, expect the payoff to be significant and hate mediocrity and bureaucracy. They must believe in the offering and will do their own calculus on your venture’s probability of success before joining the team.

  • Money is rolling in, but budget makers are cautious

    During the 2018 legislative session, held in January and February, the Legislature passed a budget for the 2019 budget year that starts July 1.

    The news is not that the Legislature did its job of passing the budget, but that the task, straightforward if difficult, was done without headline-generating nastiness, a difference from previous years.

    Possibly the biggest difference was that some new money was available. Saying yes to proposals always makes elected officials happier. The task of no is difficult, involving choices and facing constituents convinced of the righteousness of their cause.

    In her cover letter to the Legislative Finance Committee’s annual Post-Session Review, LFC Chair Patricia Lundstrom said, “An economic rebound made the 2018 legislative session a very different experience from the session of a year ago.”

    One significant item adds $28.4 million to early childhood programs, continuing a years-long commitment from the Legislature and Gov. Susana Martinez.

    The additional money stands in the face of claims that raiding the permanent funds would somehow make something magic happen.

  • Letter to the Editor 5-11-18

     

    Dear Editor:

    Local Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts and Venture Scouts are prepared to help the Atomic City Letter Carriers and LA Cares to collect, sort and store community donations of food and supplies during the 26th Annual National Letter Carriers Food Drive on Saturday. All we need is the community’s help to “Stamp Out Hunger.”

    It may be surprisingly to learn that even in our prosperous community there are dozens of families, many with young children or elderly, who need help in addition to those in our neighboring communities. In fact, one in six Americans (many of them children) struggle to get enough to eat.

    So what can you do to help?

    The community is asked to go to their pantry and fill a grocery bag (double it for strength), or a box with non-perishable food and other necessities. Then on Saturday morning, place it near the mailbox and soon a letter carrier, a Boy Scout or an adult BSA leader will pick it up and take it to be sorted, stored and distributed by LA Cares.   

     

  • Why I care about education and health care

    BY PETE SHEEHEY
    Los Alamos County Councilor, Democratic candidate for NM House of Representatives, Dist. 43

    I have written about the importance of scientists like myself playing a role in government. I will work to make sure that facts and sound science are included in lawmaking. I was honored recently that the National Education Association-New Mexico has recommended my candidacy, because I also feel strongly that good affordable public education and health care for all are the keys to a strong society and economy.

    My life experience has taught me this. I grew up in a working class family. My parents were well-read, intelligent people, but were only able to get a year or two of college because of the Great Depression and World War II. From an early age, they took my sisters and me to the public library and encouraged our curiosity, so we looked forward to starting school.

    We had access to good affordable public education, and this served us well. One sister became a librarian, the other an English and Creative Writing teacher.