KRWG

Local Viewpoints

KRWG welcomes you to join our community discussion.  E-mail your comments to:  feedback @ nmsu.edu  Comments included here represent the views of the individual writers and do not necessarily represent the views of KRWG or New Mexico State University.  Submissions must adhere to these guidelines.

Oil-Fueled Surplus both Blessing & Curse for New Mexico

13 hours ago
Paul J. Gessing

Commentary: The news that New Mexico’s oil and gas industry has again generated record-breaking revenues for the State was welcomed by policymakers and interest groups alike. But the disconnect between the State budget picture and the economic situation for average New Mexicans could not be starker. And this is one of the “problems” associated with the state’s dependence on oil and gas.

Don’t get me wrong: we at the Rio Grande Foundation fully support the oil and gas industries. The so-called “progressive” Democrats in the Legislature who signed a letter to the Biden Administration earlier this year in support of the Administration’s illegal moratorium on new permits on federal lands definitely believe oil is a curse. We believe that New Mexicans are the recipients of a fabulous gift and that there is no reason for us to be among the poorest states in the nation as is currently the case.

Commentary: The advantage to being a customer of a City-owned utility such as Las Cruces Utilities (LCU) is that you have a voice, either directly to staff or through your LCU Board members. The reverse is also true, LCU has a responsibility to keep its customers informed and correct misinformation in the public arena.

Recently an opinion column titled “Facing our Energy Future” was printed in the Sun-News, the author presented some interesting points about the City of Las Cruces (City) plans to transition from natural gas. It’s true Las Cruces leaders passed a resolution in October 2020 calling for a “Climate Action Plan” that clearly defines objectives to reduce carbon emissions by the year 2050 and a goal of decarbonizing the natural gas system while ensuring energy affordability in our community. In April of this year, the Las Cruces City Council (City Council) also passed a resolution directing LCU to create an energy transition plan for LCU’s natural gas line of business with a long-term goal of transitioning to renewable energy while again ensuring affordability for all our customers. The City Council has recognized the need for careful planning and responsible fiscal management while pursuing a carbon-neutral future for Las Cruces. This planning does not include denying affordable services within LCU’s natural gas service area, which extends just outside the city limits.

From All Knowing To Questioning It All

17 hours ago

Commentary: My kids enjoy having a hand in decorating our home. What that means is that scraps of cardboard become signs throughout the house. There is a scrap of paper denoting the napping to be done in the bedroom. There is a scrap of paper asking if we enjoy coffee — on the cabinet where I keep my coffee. There is a sign on their playroom that I refuse to let them take down that simply states, "No bad gas in."

This was before my daughter knew how to spell "guys," and it still amuses me every time I walk by.

  Commentary: There is an epidemic growing in New Mexico not being talked about in mainstream media–the growth in suicide among Indigenous youth. But with September being the National Suicide Prevention Month, it is time we address this head-on systematically, otherwise our Native communities will continue to suffer. 

Suicide has been gravely impacting New Mexico. In 2018 alone, New Mexico had the highest rate of suicide in the nation and it has been increasing every year since then. Most unfortunate, suicide impacts our youth disproportionaly–especially Indigenous youth between the ages of 15 to 24.

Heinrich Introduces Legislation To Help Students Complete College

Sep 15, 2021

Commentary: U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) introduced the College Completion Fund Act, landmark legislation to promote college completion in a thoughtful, innovative, and comprehensive way, and address longstanding inequities in college access and success.

Senator Heinrich unveiled the legislation last week during a virtual briefing hosted by the Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP), in partnership with TICAS and Results for America, and with support from UnidosUS and Third Way—organizations all dedicated to the success of today’s students and are calling for a once-in-a-generation investment in the College Completion Fund (CCF).

Concerns About University Athletics In New Mexico

Sep 15, 2021


 

  Commentary: When the New Mexico Legislature put additional money in the budget last year to wipe out the debts of the athletic programs at New Mexico State University and the University of New Mexico, it was hoped that the schools would no longer need to put our football teams up as cannon fodder in so-called “money games.”

 

“I’m sick and tired of both universities having to take money games,” said then-Senate Finance Committee Chairman John Arthur Smith. “We’re not competitive, and we’re getting crushed. But they’ve got to play these games to get enough money for their athletic departments.”

Peter Goodman


Commentary: Why can’t the proposed soccer stadium bond be a traditional municipal revenue bond? With a revenue bond, bond holders look to the bond project – not the taxpayers – for payment.

On August 16, the Albuquerque City Council passed resolution R-21-187 which puts the following question on the November 2 ballot: “Shall the City of Albuquerque acquire property for, and to design, develop, erect, construct and otherwise improve a public stadium for multiple uses, including, but not limited to, professional soccer events to be financed by up to $50,000,000 of its gross receipts tax revenue bonds?”

2013 Congressional Map

Commentary: Following each decennial census, the seats in the U.S. House of Representatives are reapportioned so that rapidly growing states gain representation and states with slower growth lose.  Then the states draw new district boundaries (redistricting) to reflect shifts in population within the state.  While New Mexico’s total seats will remain at three, the current Congressional Districts (CDs) have grown at different rates and redistricting is required to keep the three districts about equal in population.  Our large CD 2 District grew the most and will be reduced in size in some way to accommodate the change.  Similarly, legislative and other districts of elected officials have to be adjusted.

ALLIANCE FOR EXCELLENT EDUCATION

Commentary: I'm a fan of the concept of liminal spaces. It's about those sometimes-awkward in-between spaces where you aren't truly in one place, but you haven't moved into another. Think of the weird sterility and bustle of an airport. Or the light feeling during the week between finishing class work and walking across the stage to get the diploma. Turns out that the time before you pick up your kids from school is another one of those liminal spaces. However, of this one I am not a fan.

If I finish something too close before it's time to pick up — a meeting, a load of laundry, editing work — I can't really dive into anything else before I have to stake my claim in the pickup line. More often than not in the last few weeks, I'm grabbing a coffee and zoning out with my phone, the car idling as I send off a stray email.

Demanding the Basics Is Not Radical

Sep 9, 2021

Commentary: When my daughter was born, her lung collapsed. Our local hospital put her in the neonatal intensive care unit, but on the second day, the doctors recommended that we take her to the bigger city about 40 miles down the road that had "stronger machines."

As staff initiated the transfer to the other hospital, they asked if I wanted to follow behind or if I wanted to ride in the ambulance. One of my strongest memories after giving birth to my daughter was how I hobbled behind what looked like a little translucent plastic coffin — a mobile NICU bed. I couldn't walk very fast; I was stitched up in the nethers and had nearly bled out during the birth. The EMTs would slow down as they rolled her along, asking me if I was OK.

Give Us a Minute to Grieve the Future

Sep 9, 2021
imagebase.net

Commentary: When I was little, and my parents had to explain things that happened before I came along, they amused themselves by referring to it as B.C. — Before Cassie. When they watched the moon landing, when Sweden had a moment with ABBA, and when everyone wanted hair like someone named Farrah Fawcett — this was way back in B.C.

It was a family idiom that let us distinguish a clear line in our lives. Another clear line for my family's chronology was drawn when my dad died.

Bleak Values Build a Bleak Future

Sep 9, 2021

Commentary: Being sick is sometimes the best opportunity to catch up on shows that I normally can't sneak into my schedule. Felled last week by a stomach bug, I draped myself like a limp noodle on my bed and binge-watched the Netflix series "Modern Love."

Because it came out in 2019, I'm already behind any of the buzz that it may have pulled along during its original airing, which mostly means that I can't read, and comment on, any recent tweets or posts that might share in my experience watching it.

Commentary: Local elected leaders announced statewide support for a pathway to citizenship for New Mexico’s undocumented essential workers through Congress’ budget reconciliation package during a press conference on Wednesday.

“We know our communities and our economies are surviving during this pandemic because of essential workers,” said Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller during the virtual press conference.

Thoughts on the USMCA

Sep 7, 2021

Commentary: The US-Mexico-Canada (USMCA), which replaced the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), is approximately one year and two months old, having entered force on July 1, 2020. A major change in the agreement raises North American content in automobile manufacturing from 62.5 percent to 75 percent. Also in this industry, 45 percent of the content in pickup trucks, and 40 percent of the content of light trucks must be made with labor earning more than $16 per hour. Stricter provisions for intellectual property, stronger protection for drug patents, and easing the flow of digital trade are other areas highlighted in the USMCA. Under the agreement, a dialogue for environmental and labor standards also was established.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott

  Commentary: In response to Texas Governor Greg Abbott signing a broad anti-voter bill, Tom Lopach, President and CEO of the Voter Participation Center (VPC) and Center for Voter Information (CVI), released the following statement. Among its many anti-voting provisions, this bill bans drive-through and 24-hour voting and places limits on vote-by-mail, making it more difficult for Texans to vote. 

“This bill is an all-out assault on our democracy and on Texas voters. In 2020’s election, Texans made their voices heard and voted in record numbers. We should be building on this success and keep fighting to make voting more accessible for eligible voters, not enacting new draconian barriers that make it more difficult for people of color and other historically disenfranchised voters to access the ballot box.

Veterans Courts Help Save Veterans' Lives

Sep 7, 2021

 

  Commentary: Justice should be blind to litigants’ wealth, power, influence, creed, and ethnicity; but maybe she should be compassionate concerning trauma, addiction, and mental health. I don’t mean falling for every defendant’s claim that childhood troubles made him/her do it; but openness to looking behind conduct for causes, and maybe approaching solutions.

Looking Back On The 20th Anniversary of 9/11

Sep 7, 2021


  Commentary: As I think back to the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, my primary memory is one of confusion.

 

I was the editor of an afternoon newspaper in Kansas, and was almost finished with the front page. I’ll be forever grateful to the publisher who  convinced me to tear it up and start over.

 

Like most Americans, I didn’t know anything about Osama bin Laden or al Qaida, and couldn’t imagine how or why anyone would do such a thing.

Here's why I have hope this Labor Day

Sep 6, 2021
Randi Weingarten / AFT

  Commentary: This Labor Day, we find ourselves caring, fighting and showing up: caring for those who are suffering the consequences of the pandemic, hurricanes, flash floods and wildfires; fighting for our members, students, patients and communities to have the freedom to thrive; and showing up by crisscrossing the country supporting our members who are working to open schools safely.

That’s what caring, fighting and showing up is about. That’s what our union—indeed, what the labor movement as a whole—is about: fighting for a better life for all and demonstrating that together we have the power and solidarity to accomplish what is impossible to do alone. And the American people understand the importance of unions; this Labor Day, union approval is up to 68 percent, the highest since 1965.

Commentary: Senator David Gallegos (District 41-Eddy and Lea) today applauded the new Texas law that went into effect following the U.S. Supreme Court’s refusal to take up last-minute challenges from Texas abortion providers.

 “Congratulations to my fellow pro-life legislators who stood up for the future of their state and delivered a law that protects unborn children from the crime against humanity that is abortion,” said Senator Gallegos. “It is a great day when Roe is rolled back.”

Commentary: Following a recent report from the Legislative Finance Committee projecting $1 billion dollars in additional revenue for the upcoming budget year, Senate Republican leaders today renewed their call for a repeal of New Mexico’s social security tax on seniors. In previous years, Democratic lawmakers have repeatedly blocked Republican efforts to repeal the outdated tax, citing the loss of government revenue as their justification. 

“Today, we are calling on our colleagues in the Roundhouse and the Governor to pay more than lip service to our seniors by ending the state tax on social security benefits,” said Senator Greg Baca (District 29-Bernalillo and Valencia), Senator Craig Brandt (District 40-Sandoval), and Senator Mark Moores (District 22-Bernalillo). “This double tax has harmed our seniors for too long, particularly those living on a fixed income. In addition to supporting themselves, many are raising grandchildren and helping extended family survive the financial challenges of the pandemic. Repealing the tax on social security is one reasonable way to put more money in the pockets of those who need it most, and given the new revenue estimates, Democratic leaders no longer have any excuses. We have the funding to cover this. Now it is time to exercise the political willpower to get it done.”

Senator Gregg Schmedes Pushes Back on APS-Proposed Charter School Moratorium

Sep 1, 2021
Senator Gregg Schmedes

 

Commentary:  The Albuquerque Public School (APS) Board is set to consider a resolution this evening urging the Legislature to issue a moratorium on all new charter schools. In response to the proposed resolution, Senator Gregg Schmedes (District 19-Bernalillo, Sandoval, Santa Fe, and Torrance) issued the following statement:

“The past 18 months have proven that New Mexico parents and children need more choice in education, not less. The charter schools in my district are some of the brightest spots in our troubled public education system, and year after year, they outpace our public schools in key metrics. No parent should be forced to place their child in a failing school simply because of where they live. And yet, the twisted priorities of APS continue to put the funding of entrenched bureaucrats and buildings over students’ well-being and success. In 2019, a bipartisan group of legislators soundly rejected efforts to sanction a charter school moratorium, and I urge the APS Board to do the same.”

  Commentary: In response to the Texas legislature in a special session passing a broad anti-voter bill, Tom Lopach, President and CEO of the Voter Participation Center (VPC) and Center for Voter Information (CVI), released the following statement. Among its many anti-voting provisions, this bill bans drive-through and 24-hour voting and places limits on vote-by-mail, making it more difficult for Texans to vote. 

“This bill is an all-out assault on our democracy and on Texas voters. In 2020’s election, Texans made their voices heard and voted in record numbers. We should be building on this success and keep fighting to make voting more accessible for eligible voters, not enacting new draconian barriers that make it more difficult for people of color and other historically disenfranchised voters to access the ballot box. 

No New Revenue Tax Rate Adopted by El Paso Commissioners Court

Aug 30, 2021
Commissioner Iliana Holguin

Commentary: The El Paso County Commissioners Court today unanimously adopted the No New Revenue Tax Rate for FY2022, which means that El Paso County will not collect more in property taxes from taxpayers than it did in FY2021. In fact, not only did the County of El Paso not increase taxes, but will actually be reducing the tax rate for the next fiscal year, resulting in savings to El Paso County taxpayers.

Many Afghans start their new lives here

Aug 30, 2021

  Commentary: Thousands of Afghan refugees whisked to safety during the massive evacuation that concluded this week experienced their first taste of freedom here in Dona Ana County.

 

The Dona Ana Range Complex, a part of the Fort Bliss Army base that extends into Dona Ana and Otero counties in New Mexico, is being used as a temporary holding site for those evacuated from Afghanistan as part of Operation Allies Rescue.

 

As many as 10,000 evacuees are expected to be processed there. The Department of Defense has said that up to 22,000 Afghans have been approved for transport to the United States.


 

 

 

  Commentary: Las Cruces Utilities proposes to increase rates 75% for small businesses and 30% for residential customers, largely to fund gas-line expansion, despite the trend toward renewable energy. Chambers of Commerce question the wisdom of expansion, and say any rate hike should wait ‘til businesses recover from pandemic problems and a temporary storm-rider.

As we create a sustainable energy future, natural gas will play a diminishing role. The City Council has resolved to utilize more and more solar energy, and has discouraged gas expansion.

Laura Paskus, New Mexico In Depth

  Commentary: On Thursday, elected officials, residents from across New Mexico, and groups representing nearly 300,000 members sent a letter urging New Mexico’s U.S. Sens. Martin Heinrich and Ben Ray Luján to pledge their support to end federal fossil-fuel subsidies in the upcoming Budget Reconciliation bill. Representatives from Friends of the Earth, the Sierra Club Rio Grande Chapter, and New Mexico residents hand-delivered the letter urging the Senators to prioritize eliminating fossil-fuel subsidies and shared their concerns with staff at Senator Heinrich’s office in Albuquerque. 

Commentary: A broad coalition of New Mexico advocates today applauded Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham for announcing an executive order to protect 30% of the state’s land by 2030. The order—titled “Protecting New Mexico’s Lands, Watersheds, Wildlife, and Natural Heritage”—is a critical step to conserving the state’s treasured landscapes and biodiversity for generations to come, while bolstering our economy, expanding access to the outdoors, and increasing opportunities for hunting and fishing. 

Nearly 80% of New Mexicans support conserving 30% of land and waters by 2030. Click here for a fact sheet on what the executive order will do. 

Senator Crystal Diamond

 Commentary: Today, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham issued an executive order directing state agencies to pursue government control of 30 percent of New Mexico’s land and water for “preservation and climate stabilization.” The order is in line with the Biden Administration’s federal push to preserve 30 percent of all land in the United States by 2030. 

"I am beginning to think that the Governor has never met a rancher or farmer in her decades as a bureaucrat, candidate, and elected official,” said Senator Crystal Diamond (District 35-Dona Ana, Hidalgo, Luna, and Sierra). “Almost half of all land in New Mexico is already owned and controlled by the state or the federal government, and we all know that our family-owned, private land is better managed, utilized, and preserved. This 30x30 initiative set forth by the Governor is a thinly veiled land grab and the people of New Mexico will not stand for it.”

New Mexico Gov. Lujan Grisham sets 2030 preservation goal

Aug 25, 2021

Commentary: Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham on Wednesday signed an executive order to conserve at least 30 percent of all lands in New Mexico by 2030. New Mexico’s “30 x 30” framework complements a nationwide effort to protect the nation’s lands and waters but is tailored to honor New Mexico’s traditional land uses while promoting biodiversity, encouraging recreation opportunities and protecting watersheds.

The executive order directs the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department, New Mexico Environment Department, Office of the State Engineer, Department of Agriculture,ou Indian Affairs Department and the director of the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish and Outdoor Recreation Division to use their existing authorities to support and implement programs that conserve, protect and enhance our lands and natural environments. This framework will leverage available funding and programs, allowing the state to move more quickly to protect and conserve New Mexico’s unique landscapes. The committee of agency leaders will work with local communities on recommendations to ensure our diverse land uses are represented.

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