• By T. Douglas Reilly

    Consider the following fact: the percentage of lawyers in the USA is 0.6%; the percentage of lawyers in our Congress is 41%. Why is this? Is it a problem? Should we be worried about it?

    As regards Why, the simplest answer may be that Congress, a legislative body, makes Laws, and lawyers are educated to make and defend Laws. As whether it’s a Problem, I believe it is; however, I know that the situation has been this way almost from the beginning of the Republic. Regarding Worry, I do worry and I’ll try to explain my worry in this  note.

    I should say that I’m not talking about local lawyers who help us with wills, deeds, house purchases, injury issues, legal defense, etc. We are a nation of laws and, at times, we all require some legal help to negotiate through some of these laws. The lawyers in Congress rarely started as such; more often they’ve been district attorneys, prosecutors, state house officials, and corporate and tax lawyers. Often they’ve come from prestigious law firms that pay large salaries and bonuses.


    Los Alamos Public Schools

    Here are five reasons to vote “YES” on Nov. 5 to renew our school bonds: no tax increase - it is all about the students, improved safety and learning spaces are needed, the proposal is fiscally responsible, Los Alamos schools have strong community support, and the school board has kept their promises to voters.

    1. No increase in tax rates, it is all about the students - voter approval of the school bond means that property tax rates will remain the same in Los Alamos - no tax increase. Let’s support our children and help them build brighter futures by building better schools. We can help with a vote of “yes” for the bond that will fund infrastructure improvements to enrich academics, music, clubs and sports, to name a few.

    2. Needed for learning and safety - Chamisa and Pinon elementary school buildings are over 50 years old. Research has shown that modern classrooms have a positive impact on student well being, improved learning, and staff well-being and effectiveness. The remodeled buildings will also be designed to increase student and staff safety with a single entrance, access control, and improved security technology.


    The Communicator

    MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Bob Newhart, the famous comedian, turned 90 last week. Furthermore, he has been married to Ginny for 56 of those 90 years.

    I wonder: Will he dump her for a younger woman anytime soon? Oh well, that’s a topic for a later date.

    As often happens, when someone gets this age and still is not a blabbering idiot, we seek them out for some words of wisdom. So as not to disappoint, I will give you a few of Bob’s quotes.

    Just so you know, I know someone who stayed overnight in his house, so I feel it is OK for Bob and me to be on a first name basis.

    When asked to share tips for those of us hoping to get to 90, Bob responded, “I’ve said it before, but of all the weird things, comedian marriages seem to last the longest. George Burns and Jack Benny and Buddy Hackett and (Bob) Hope. I think there is something between longevity and laughter.

    “You’ll be having a fight, and you’ll say something stupid and she’ll start to laugh, and then the fight is over.

  • By Tom Wright

    President Trump has a campaign visit scheduled for Monday, September 16 in Rio Rancho. In response, Congressman and senatorial candidate Ben Ray Lujan sent out a Facebook statement saying, ””…President Trump is the antithesis of everything New Mexico stands for.  His values are not our values.” In the next paragraph Congressman Lujan writes, “Rio Rancho is in my district, and anyone who undermines the safety, security or way of life of our communities, isn’t welcome here.”

    Congressman Lujan, I am a New Mexican in your district and while I respect that you do represent me, you do not represent my values and I find your lack of respect for the office of the president and your position on not supporting our immigration laws to be most disconcerting. We New Mexicans have several political parties, representing different values, some of which are not yours. The Congress in which you serve is composed of a mix of these values and our Congress has passed laws that govern our immigration policy. For you to suggest they be ignored is disrespecting our democratic-Republic.


    Former Santa Fe Mayor

    Guest Opinion

    The silly season is upon us! The first slick, on-line video has hit voters in the Third Congressional District and it has already caused controversy. 

    It deals with a video that Valerie Plame released on Monday for her congressional campaign. The problem with the video is that parts of it are factually incorrect and it raises many questions about Ms. Plame’s past regarding accusations that she posted anti-semitic content on Twitter.

    New Mexico State Senator, Los Alamos, Rio Arriba, Santa Fe and Taos

    To all my friends, neighbors and constituents.

    First and foremost let me remind you of the extraordinary work I’ve been able to accomplish over the course of the last 34 years. I was able to secure millions of dollars for our communities surrounding the counties of Taos, Los Alamos, Rio Arriba and Santa Fe.

    I was the primary sponsor of Capital Outlay legislation to our community. I carried the GO bonds that provided funding for universities, colleges, libraries and senior facilities across the state.

    I take a great deal of pride in sponsoring needed legislation for our acequias. During the course of my tenure in office, I’ve been instrumental in carrying legislation necessary to advance and protect our acequias across the state.

    I’m also proud for securing funding for our Taos County veterans. Today we have sufficient monies to complete the Taos County Veterans Cemetery.

    There are those who would advocate that seniority is not important to our district. I will remind you the legislature is set up on the principle of seniority and a member is assigned to the best committees, both standing committees as well as interim committees.

  • I have been following Democratic candidate and former CIA operative Valerie Plame recently as she tours the rural areas in her bid for the open congressional seat in New Mexico’s Third District.

    Plame, who now lives in Santa Fe, is the only national figure running for the seat. Of course this is all very exciting, as she has written books and is a national speaker who has been on the national news at various times as an expert on different topics.

    In a recent interview with the Las Vegas Optic, she described her job as a CIA operative and I became curious.

    Plame told the reporter, “I worked really hard and ran around the world chasing terrorists or black marketeers or rogue nation states to make sure they did not acquire nuclear weapons.”

    She also said her world was turned upside down when her identity was revealed in a column in the Washington Post, effectively ending her career in the CIA.


    ESPANOLA — It’s infuriating to get those press releases from Kit Carson Electric Cooperative. They’re so informative, so uplifting, enlightening. They give you hope for a better future.

    Then the reality check: oh yeah, we’re stuck in Jemez Mountains Electric Cooperative’s coverage area, led by a bunch backwards thinking, clandestine, criminally-minded, self-helping zealots.

    Grit your teeth. Here’s what’s going on just up the road at Kit Carson:

    The co-op serving Taos and small villages in Taos County is working toward using 100 percent renewable daytime energy by 2022. They’re achieving this by breaking ground on three new solar arrays. Combined, they’ll add six megawatts of electricity for Kit Carson electricity users.

    The press release states they did this by teaming with Guzman Energy. It will give Kit Carson the lowest wholesale rates in the region. They expect to save up to $70 million in energy costs.

    They’ve done this by working with local governments and villages. Completed projects include solar arrays in Eagle Nest, Picuris Pueblo and Tres Piedras.

    Massachussetts Institute of Technology

    InterContinental Hotels Group will replace mini-shampoos and conditioners with possibly more efficient bulk products by the year 2021.

    But environmental activists shouldn’t rejoice just yet.

    The announcement is yet another example – such as banning plastic straws, false sustainability claims and corporate commitments that are far in the future – that seem to be more of a PR exercise than real attempts to move the needle.

    I’m a professor of engineering and the director of the MIT Center of Transportation and Logistics. As I argue in my book “Balancing Green: When to Embrace Sustainability in a Business (And When Not To),” announcements of these kinds distract us from legitimate – and more challenging – measures we need to put in place to avoid environmental catastrophe.

    Behind the headlines

    InterContinental Hotels Group CEO Keith Barr says that replacing miniature bathroom products “will allow us to significantly reduce our waste footprint and environmental impact” at the conglomerate’s hotel chains, which include InterContinental, Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn.

  • Fall rehearsals begin on Sept. 10 for the 75th Anniversary year of the Los Alamos Choral Society. The chorus, founded in 1945 by Manhattan Project scientists, will be preparing for a gala anniversary concert on Jan. 26, 2020, in partnership with the Los Alamos Symphony Orchestra.

    The program for the concert will include Part III of Handel’s Messiah, along with works by Michael Maudlin, Mary Badarak, and Frances Meier, all New Mexico composers. The concert will conclude with a movement from the 1892 Grand Mass in E-flat by Amy Beach, the first major choral/orchestral work composed in America by a woman composer.

    Additional 2020 concerts will include a May 1 performance of Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy with the Los Alamos Community Winds, Ted Vives conducting, and an informal “Dessert Concert” of popular songs and musical theater excerpts.

    Singers in all sections are invited to join the chorus, and no auditions are required. Rehearsals are Tuesday evenings from 7-9 p.m.

    Special accommodations are available for singers wanting only to perform on the Messiah portion of the program, with rehearsals for Messiah not beginning until October.

    The kick-off session Sept. 10 will begin with sign-up and refreshments at 6:30 p.m., followed by the 7 p.m. rehearsal.

    Guest Opinion

    This past week, the Save As You Throw (SAYT) Research Subcommittee decided to postpone the public poll, perhaps indefinitely, due to “need for finalized rate estimates” and “questions from the public suggest that there is still much confusion about the basics of SAYT.”

    LAC Public Relations Administrator Julie Habiger suggested that the Open Forum Poll “may not be the best way to query public on complex topics...People don’t take the time to evaluate the information presented and give thoughtful responses.” Wrong on both counts.  

    The public is not confused, but fully understands that SAYT aims to reduce waste, pay for increasing costs, and allow citizens to “control” the rate increases through different carts or bags. But SAYT places a significant burden on those with a fixed income, penalizes large families, and creates a new revenue stream without the appearance of raising taxes. 

  • ROSWELL — If standards of beauty were to be followed, our everyday realities would look something like a poetic cliché. Our cheeks would match the tinted roses that line a garden in springtime, our skin would be as clear of imperfections and as uniform as porcelain and our appearance would never be allowed to differ from the ideal.

    Below its shimmering surface, however, this version of perfection is painfully unrealistic and has many obscured examples of what it truly means to have a body. Regardless of what social media would have you think, no human being goes through life looking like a runway model at every given moment. Our hair has its off days, our skin gets sunburned and our makeup sometimes seems better suited for a children’s coloring book. And yet, in spite of this, we are still worthy of love and we should still be able to consider ourselves beautiful. Even the Greek gods and goddesses we sometimes compare each other to are not what our harsh standards would consider perfect; there is a beautiful statue of Aphrodite with belly rolls.

    President of Smart Approaches to Marijuana

    With the new school year upon us, it’s crucial parents and teachers talk to students about school safety. This year, the different threats to safety can seem overwhelming for parents. One new trend unfortunately picking up steam in New Mexico’s schools is vaping and marijuana.

    Over the past 30 years, school health programs have put a premium on warning students about the harmful effects of cigarettes and alcohol.

    Now, vaping is rapidly becoming the latest public health crisis – delivering harmful, addictive substances to kids, some as young as middle school, undetected. It’s a two-fold problem.

    According to the National Institutes of Health, seven in 10 teens report being exposed to e-cigarette advertising. And it’s working. A recent study found “a dramatic increase” in youth vaping, with more than 37 percent of 12th-graders reporting vaping in the past year. According to data from the New Mexico Department of Health, almost one in four students between ninth and 12th grades reported using e-cigarettes in 2017.

    R-Rio Rancho

    With the beginning of the school year upon us, it’s a good time to remind ourselves of the big picture. The ultimate goal of K-12 education is to give students the skills they need to become contributing members of society. 

    For years, academic success meant graduating from high school and enrolling in a four-year university or college. It’s time to rethink that definition of success in New Mexico.

    Disparaging New Mexico’s public education system has become the norm in our state. Although much of the criticism is justified, what if I told you that New Mexico is excelling in one area of education? 

    The numbers don’t lie: New Mexico’s Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs are doing an outstanding job in keeping students engaged and graduating them from high school. Students who choose to enroll in CTE courses are more likely to make it to graduation. 

    According to a 2016 study by Fordham University, students who focus on a CTE career pathway increase their chances of graduating by 21 percentage points. The average high school graduation rate for CTE-focused students is 9%.

  • There are some opinions I prefer to stay away from as a reader and these include anything that furthers hateful agendas.

    Whenever someone starts something off with “thoughts and prayers are not enough,” for instance, that is disrespectful.

    Even before the 2016 elections, many Democratic Party candidates and supporters declared their dislike for the term, “thoughts and prayers.”

    Former President Barack Obama referred to Americans who did not support him as “bitter clingers” in 2008.

    “They get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations,” he said.

    But using this term, “thoughts and prayers are not enough,” has become a rallying cry, repeated over and over on social media and elsewhere by leaders or thousands of everyday keyboard activists.

    In my opinion, it is just another way to disrespect your neighbors and entire swaths of the population. It is passive-aggressive trash talk. For me, I think it is also a way for the person writing the phrase to put down Christians as a lower class of people.

  • The Boston Herald published this editorial Aug. 6 on what can be done to combat mass shootings after massacres in Texas and Ohio.

    Bullet-resistant backpacks are now being sold in major retail stores. The idea is that when the next school shooter opens fire in the hallway, fleeing children who are shot in the back will have a better chance of surviving.

    It is a new consideration that children and parents have to make in 2019: Is my child dressed for style? Is she dressed for weather? Is she dressed for war?

    The present condition is unacceptable. High-profile mass-shootings have become a normal occurrence and this weekend brought the scourge front and center when 31 were shot dead and more than 50 injured in Texas and Ohio.

    These were innocent victims out shopping or enjoying a vibrant entertainment district.

    It happens too often — laughter and joy turn to screams and horror.

    Something must be done and something can be done.

    Reacting to the shootings, Rep. Stephen Lynch got it right, saying, “I don’t know if there’s a single, one-hundred-percent solution, but there might be a hundred one-percent solutions.”

    Guest Opinion

    Much is said and printed in the Media of the incidents in Gilroy, El Paso, and Dayton; all three occurred within a week, and the last two within 24 hours. The big question is will anything be done?

    The basic problem is the absurd number of guns in the USA; our country has over 11 times as many guns per 100 citizens as the average of the rest of the world.

    There are about 88 gun deaths per day in the USA. Barely 2 percent of these are mass shootings, over 80 percent are suicides, and the rest domestic arguments, police shootings, and accidents. The availability of a gun makes a suicide or a domestic incident much more likely to result in death.

    After the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting, much was said, but nothing was done. My wife and I believe the same lack of action will occur here.

    We’re not protesting guns for hunting. In New Mexico, as other areas, hunting provides winter food for many families.

    When we lived in northern Italy, we learned licensed hunters had to keep their rifles or shotguns in the questura, police station, except during hunting season.

    The reaction of the students at the Parkland school and elsewhere may force some action. Disarming the public is not conceivable; however, some steps might be taken.

    Gazette Media Services

    SANTA ROSA — Up until recently, it’s been pretty much a seamless takeover.

    Worn out by Susana Martinez’s can’t-do/won’t do policies as governor toward issues like clean energy, full marijuana legalization and public education, voters made their voices heard in New Mexico with the resounding election of Michelle Lujan Grisham last year. Since then she’s been pushing the state in a far more progressive direction — touting education reform as her top priority.

    Last month, however, Lujan Grisham took an unexpected turn when she fired her Public Education Department (PED) secretary, Karen Trujillo, after just six months on the job. The reasons given for her dismissal were general and vague: in a statement, Lujan Grisham said her expectations “were not met in a number of areas” and that she needs a “vibrant and ambitious new leader” for PED. In the interim, until she names a permanent secretary to the position, Deputy Secretary Kara Bobroff will head up the department as the state moves into the 2019-20 school year.

    Quay County Sun

    TUCUMCARI — I was visiting with a new acquaintance recently in her lovely home in Portales.

    During the afternoon, as we sipped ice water and munched on cookies she’d baked earlier in the day, she twice used a word that rarely makes it into conversations anymore.

    In fact, I can’t think of the last time I’ve heard anyone use it.

    It’s not a challenging or unusual word. It’s not even hard to spell.

    It was this: Content.

    I’m talking about the one with the accent on the second syllable; the one that my American Heritage Dictionary defines as, “Desiring no more than what one has; satisfied.”

    When this gracious woman welcomed me into her home, we walked past what turned out to be a 2,000 piece jigsaw puzzle that was mostly completed.

    Picture puzzles came up in our visit.

    She gestured to that one and mentioned that she loves to get a cup of coffee first thing in the morning when her house is quiet and the day is just waking up. She settles next to that puzzle and sips her coffee and fits in a few pieces.

    “I just feel so content,” she said.

    Quay County Sun

    TUCUMCARI — A July 16 column by the New York Times’ Thomas L. Friedman favors some moderate ideas he thinks the Democratic party should adopt even as it lists leftward.

    I agree. Friedman and I share a belief that Americans tend to settle toward the center even as the Republican and Democratic parties gravitate toward extremes.

    Friedman and I also concur that people mostly miss good jobs. Yes unemployment is down, but, as Friedman points out, “the wealth of the top 1 percent equals that of the bottom 90 percent.”

    At the same time, the type of job that leads to increasing success with hard, smart work has become as much an endangered species as carburetor repair mechanics in the age of fuel injectors.

    While Friedman thinks that raising taxes on the wealthy and reducing student loan burdens will help redivide the economic pie, he added, “I’m disturbed that so few of the Democratic candidates don’t also talk about growing the pie.”

    I have a different way of putting it: We should be scouring the horizon for the next rising tide that will lift all the boats, an analogy apparently made popular by President John F. Kennedy in the optimistic early 1960s.