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.

Strapped In Together

Oct 20, 2020

Commentary: The newborn phase is a bit like war: no sleep, an unknown opponent, meeting different layers of yourself through caffeine and adrenaline, and learning to distinguish the urgency of loud yelling.

For both of my kids, the car was an elixir of relief, first for me and then for them, once they were lulled to sleep. They realized that no amount of yelling would stop the ride. Thanks to them, I also know all the circular routes in a 70-mile radius, the length of which I chose depending on the cantankerous need of my kid and the length of a podcast.

Report: Declining Oil & Gas Industry Unlikely to Recover

Oct 20, 2020
Laura Paskus, New Mexico In Depth

Commentary: James Jimenez, executive director of New Mexico Voices for Children, issued the following statement regarding the report on the outlook of the oil and gas industry in New Mexico, released today by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA): 

“For too long New Mexico has been whipsawed by volatile oil and natural gas markets that our policymakers have no power to control. Once again low oil and gas prices are causing shortfalls in dollars needed in the state budget for our schools, public safety, health care, and more. The IEEFA report released today makes it clear that we cannot simply blame COVID-19 for our revenue shortfall and expect New Mexico to recover when the pandemic subsides. The signs that the oil and gas industry is in decline go back almost a decade. New Mexico needs to diversify its economy in order to reduce our reliance on a declining industry now. 

 Commentary: Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg's earlier idealism has worn off. But he still views social media as a force for good in the world. I can envision him employing the analogy of automobiles. Many people believed that they would mark the end of civility; that they would be a distraction, cause social anxiety, and impede sleep. Yet who can envision the world today without motorized transportation? Although Zuckerberg has acknowledged that there will be accidents and unintended consequences along the way. He ultimately views his creation as an indispensable tool of communication, commerce, and even democracy itself.

Sobering Restaurant Statistics Show The Damage Caused By The Pandemic

Oct 19, 2020

Commentary: So much has changed for all of us in the last six months.  It is time to take a look at the raw numbers of the restaurant industry.

To be sure, restaurants are taking the virus seriously. They are cleaning, sanitizing, social distancing, following the CSP’s, and wearing masks. The safety of restaurant employees and customers has been and always will be our top priority in restaurants. 

Unfortunately, the economics are not in our favor. According to the New Mexico Economic Development Department’s quarterly summary, the accommodation and food service industries have lost $574 million since January.  This is a 31% decrease from 2019.

 


  Commentary: It was less than a year ago that Russell Allen, vice president of operations for Allen Theaters, announced a major expansion for the Telson 12 complex in Las Cruces.

Along with a new game room, bar, restaurant and party room, the 31,000-square-foot project also called for a 16-lane bowling alley, bringing bowling back to Las Cruces for the first time since 2018, when 10 Pin Alley closed.

Senator Martin Heinrich (D) New Mexico

  Commentary: U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) joined Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Senate Rules Committee Ranking Member Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Senate Budget Committee Ranking Member Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), and U.S. Senators Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) to release a report summarizing for the American people what to expect on Election Day and reinforcing the Democrats’ call to encourage everyone to vote.

The report follows the month’s long effort by President Trump to undermine the election and his repeated refusal to commit to a peaceful transfer of power. With the general election already well underway in every state across the country, Senate Democrats have a clear message for the American people, which is to vote and to cast their ballot as early as possible. Democrats are optimistic that Election Day will go smoothly around the country, but the report outlines it’s still possible that in some states, the outcome might not be known on November 3. The last message from the report is to make absolutely clear that voter intimidation is illegal and that federal law prohibits coercing or threatening anyone in order to interfere with their right to vote.

 

New Mexico must address state’s food, water insecurity

Oct 19, 2020
REP. JOANNE FERRARY

Commentary: There is nothing more basic to life than food and water. And, yet, here in New Mexico we have among the highest rates of hunger in the country and communities that are without access to water. It is hard to imagine in the 21st century that food and water insecurity continue to have such a profound impact on our state. That is why we must take decisive action during the upcoming Legislative session to address the food and water needs of our communities.

Amid Continuing Chaos, Election 2020 Draws To A Close

Oct 19, 2020
Peter Goodman

Commentary: The late breaks don’t seem to be falling Donald Trump’s way, so perhaps even Republican vote-suppression tactics won’t save him.

Polls have him well behind Joe Biden. Trump’s base still loves him; but he’s no longer a newcomer promising change. People have seen four years of mismanagement and illegality, beneath a thin veneer of bluster. He has a record now, notably his abject failure to deal with the pandemic; and Biden isn’t as unpopular as Hillary Clinton was.

 

A Brisk Import Business In The United States

Oct 19, 2020

     

     Commentary: According to a report by the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Hackett Associates, 2.1 million cargo containers entered the U.S. in August, an all-time record for imports of this type. This figure was up 9.7 percent from July and 8 percent compared to 2019. The NRF estimates September container imports at 2.08 million, which is a 10.9 percent increase compared to 2019. October is forecasted at 1.86 million, a 1.1 percent decrease from last year. The 2020 July through October time period is the time of the year that retailers start to stock their shelves in time for the holidays, and the 7.96 million containers that were imported during this period is a record. Supply chains are straining to keep up with the demand.

University of Notre Dame

Commentary: The confirmation of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court could lead to over 280,000 New Mexicans losing Medicaid and over 30,000 losing health insurance through the marketplace. At stake is access to quality, affordable health coverage for millions of people across the country and New Mexico if the Supreme Court strikes down the Affordable Care Act, says the coalition NM Together for Healthcare.

“Everyone needs and deserves access to quality and affordable health coverage,” said Adriann Barboa, New Mexico Policy Director at Forward Together. “The Affordable Care Act expanded coverage to hundreds of thousands of New Mexicans and significantly helped reduce coverage gaps nationwide for communities of color. If the ACA is repealed, racial and geographical disparities in accessing healthcare will devastate communities of color and families living in our rural areas.”

imagebase.net

Commentary: In 2018, the Las Cruces' GO bond projects for a new fire station and animal shelter; for an expansion of our bike and walking trail system; and to build or improve recreational sites were approved. City voters approved all four measures for a sum total of $35.6 million.  

A homeowner with a house valued at $100,000 has to pay approximately $67 a year in additional property taxes to fund these various projectsUnfortunately, because of the incompetence of the city officials,  the planners did not fund construction of the roadway and related infrastructure for the sports complex on East Mesa. 

Santa Fe / Photo by LIAM DEBONIS, DAILY LOBO

Commentary:  Sponsors of 2019’s House Bill 100 creating Indigenous Peoples’ Day, Representative Derrick Lente (D-Sandia Pueblo) and Andrea Romero (D-Santa Fe), provide this joint statement following Monday’s events in Santa Fe: 

"Monday's removal of the obelisk must serve as a reminder to those in power that our community is in pain and is seeking answers. Indigenous Peoples' Day was created democratically to bring to light that no one voice is louder than another's. That we must do better to acknowledge each other's experiences and history and move forward together in unity.  As this work continues, we must do so in peace and do not condone violence in any form. We call on the City of Santa Fe and County leaders to bring our community together through truth and reconciliation. We are committed to doing this at a state level. The formation of an intersectional body is necessary to respond to this moment. We desire constructive dialogue surrounding what values and symbols we want representing our community and how we move forward in unity." 

Commentary: Most Americans do not want a political revolution; they want human rights. They want their community to be safe and for their family to have access to health care. Most Americans want a fair tax system that provides for essential services, such as sanitation, waterworks, roads, schools, and hospitals. Most Americans are in favor of common-sense gun regulation, including background checks and banning military issued assault weapons.  Most Americans view structural racism as a reality and do not see the current prison system as sustainable. 

Examining The Effects Of COVID-19 Lockdowns

Oct 12, 2020
Dr. Chris Erickson

Commentary: Our economic wellbeing is intertwined with the COVID Pandemic. We are currently in recovery from the sharpest decline in economic activity in one month on record. The cause of that recession is the implementation of public health measures collectively referred to as a lockdown.

The question is the effectiveness of these lockdowns and whether other measures could be as effective at a lower cost. These are issues to which economists can apply our research tools to investigate.

In studying alternative policies, economists are at a disadvantage in that controlled experiments are rare. Seldom do we have the luxury of two matched groups, one which is exposed to a particular policy, the other not.

Trump Economy—Greatest Ever?

Oct 12, 2020
Flickr (Creative Commons)

Commentary: Up until January of this year, President Trump constantly reminded the American people that he had created the greatest economy ever. He constantly touted the decrease in the unemployment rate and increase in stock values. Under President Obama, the unemployment rate went from 9.9% in 2009 to 4.7% in 2016 and it went to 3.5% at the end of 2019. It is now 8.4%. The improvement during Trump’s term was a continuation of the Obama years and the high rate now is due to mismanagement of Covid-19.

What Endures Above

Oct 12, 2020

Commentary: Even before the pandemic, we may not have been what you call a traditional family. We're a bit spur-of-the-moment, especially with our parenting. A long while back, after a late lunch outing during which we scouted random local places for tacos, our family drove through town trying to find things to do on a lazy weekend afternoon. As we passed the cemetery next to our city's oldest church, I called out, "Who wants to go see a cemetery?"

A plan to avoid breaking the U.S. Senate

Oct 12, 2020


 

  Commentary: I fear the unfortunate timing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death may break the U.S. Senate.

It is, perhaps, the inevitable culmination of a battle between Mitch McConnell and Harry Reid that started years ago, where every time the majority changed, so did the rules. About the only thing left protecting the minority party is the filibuster rule, and its days may be numbered.

With his term as majority leader in danger, McConnell is rushing to get Amy Coney Barrett confirmed to the Supreme Court before the election.

 

I wish candidates would answer debate questions

Oct 11, 2020

  Commentary: I wish candidates would answer the questions.

The vice-presidential debate reminded me of moderating candidate fora where candidates take any question as an invitation to cover the next few talking points.

The first question to Mike Pence was why the U.S., with advanced medical learning and technology has seen so vastly more COVID-19 cases and deaths than other nations? It ain’t close. We’re 4% of the world’s population and have suffered more than 20% of the world’s COVID-19 cases. Some folks blame governmental incompetence.

 

Commentary: WildEarth Guardians sued the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s “Wildlife Services” today over its outdated wildlife-killing program in New Mexico. The program—formerly called “Animal Damage Control”—relies on scientific studies and data from the 1970s and 80s and has never prepared an Environmental Impact Statement for its activities in New Mexico.

Last year, Wildlife Services killed over 1.2 million native animals across the U.S. In New Mexico nearly 10,000 animals were killed in 2019, mostly native mammals and birds. Preferred methods include leghold traps, strangulation snares, aerial gunning from helicopters and planes, poison gases, and sodium cyanide bombs [M44s] placed on the landscape.

Rep. Damon Ely

Commentary: Dear Mr. Hendricks and Republican Party Leaders:

I am a Jewish member of the House of Representatives.  I am a Democrat.  During this campaign, as a Jew, I look at the behavior of Republican party leaders and I am reminded of the Nazis.  But I have not said anything because I don't think it is appropriate to compare either party to an ideology that killed 6 million of my people.

I haven't said anything about Nazis when Trump supporters threatened to intimidate people at the polls - even though that is exactly what the "Brownshirts" did during the Nazi era.

Crucial Information About Developer Incentive In Las Cruces That Was Withdrawn

Oct 7, 2020

Commentary: A few weeks ago the Las Cruces City Council considered an application for a Tax Increment Development District (TIDD) for the Royal Crossing development on the former Las Cruces Country Club property.  In the course of that consideration I and the Council asked independent land use consultant Daniel Hernandez to review the TIDD process and provide an overview and recommendations.

Even though the Royal Crossing developer withdrew his TIDD application, that Review was completed and delivered to the City.  It is available at https://www.las-cruces.org/1531/Economic-Development-Reports .  I am sharing a few takeaways from it because I believe its contents can help guide us in evaluating similar proposals in the future.

Paul J. Gessing

Commentary: Recently, California Gov. Gavin Newsom made headlines with his announcement that by 2035 his State will ban the sale of gas-powered vehicles. That is an ambitious goal, but given the time line, it is hard to say what compliance will look like.

But for another, arguably even more ambitious car mileage proposal, one need look no further than New Mexico. Las September New Mexico Gov. Lujan Grisham announced that by just model year 2022 New Mexico would be increasing its fuel economy requirement for new cars to 52 MPG. The current average fuel economy rate is 25.1 MPG according to the EPA. 

Commentary: If your neighbor doesn’t have the sense to come in out of the rain, you aren’t surprised if he gets sick. When that happens, you hope he gets well soon and learns from his mistake.

Based on all the public information available as I write this Monday, President Donald Trump is getting better now after being hospitalized with symptoms caused by Covid-19. I wish him a full and complete recovery, as I wish for the thousands of others who are hospitalized and fighting for their lives.

 

Commentary:  At the top of the state initiatives section of your ballot this November you will see Constitutional Amendment 1.  It seems straightforward enough.  It reads like a ho-hum good government measure.  Unfortunately, the ballot description of Amendment 1 deliberately conceals its real purpose - taking away your vote.  

The ballot summary reads “amend the Constitution of New Mexico to provide that the Public Regulation Commission (PRC) consist of three members appointed by the Governor from a list of professionally qualified nominees.”  It fails to tell you that the current commission consists of five members elected by the general public.  Would it be that hard to include this bit of info in describing the amendment?  Voters deserve clarity about current law before being asked to change it. 

 

Self-Care In The Time Of COVID

Oct 5, 2020

Commentary: I woke up the morning after the first presidential debate shaking off a mental dust that lingered like democratic fallout. I also woke up to a singular, throbbing thought that mirrored my slight hangover: Watching the debate was entirely not a good thing for my self-care.

Given that a return to anything that resembles normalcy seems like a stretch, what does self-care look like during the pandemic, especially topped off with the icing of political madness? I had a few thoughts, but, if you're looking for advice like sipping orange mint tea under the full moon, turn back, because this article is not for you.

Concerns Raised About Las Cruces Area Rally

Oct 5, 2020
Peter Goodman

Commentary: Our community is illustrating Aldo Leopold’s remark that our "paradoxical mixture of appetite and altruism for our recreational lands” requires tough decisions among opposing interests.

Organizers of the 4th Annual River Run (October 17th, with a smaller event October 10th) proudly proclaim they expect thousands of people, many from outside New Mexico, for a rally in which jeeps, trucks, and off-road vehicles race up and down the Rio Grande. They hope to donate funds raised to a charity and to needy families. They’re particularly excited about organizing a fun event after months of relative isolation.

 

Remember: In The Arid Southwest, Water Is Everything

Oct 5, 2020
nm.audubon.org

Commentary: I always monitor the level of water in the Rio Grande at the onset of autumn. It always leaves me feeling melancholy when the river gets shut off in its main basin south of Truth or Consequences this time of season. When I started working on the border, I thought it bizarre to see ATVs and people practicing soccer on the dry riverbed. In Albuquerque, I have always enjoyed seeing the river flowing all year round, refilling Elephant Butte Dam for the following spring. However, looking at the low water flow currently in the Albuquerque Rio Grande region, I was reminded how precious a resource this element is for life to grow.

Photo by Supertrooper / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

  Commentary: Three local conservation groups have sent a nine-point letter to US International Boundary & Water Commissioner Jayne Harkins stating significant concerns regarding two planned off-road vehicle rallies to take place in the bed and along the banks of the Rio Grande in Las Cruces. The rallies appear to be attracting many hundreds of local and out-of-state participants.

 

The International Boundary & Water Commission (IBWC) manages the Rio Grande, including permitting river access for approved reasons. The conservation groups are the Las Cruces Chapter of the Native Plant Society of New Mexico (NPSNM), the Mesilla Valley Audubon Society (MVAS) and the Southwest Environmental Center (SWEC).

 

Commentary: Democrats Pass Smaller COVID-19 Relief Bill As Republicans Balk

Oct 1, 2020

Commentary: U.S. House Assistant Speaker Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) issued the following statement on the House passage of the new Heroes Act to support families and small businesses, bolster COVID-19 testing and contact tracing, and provide much-needed relief to local, state, and Tribal governments:

“In the nearly 150 days since the House passed the original Heroes Act, I have heard from tens of thousands of New Mexicans calling for additional relief for their families, small businesses, hospitals, and schools. They witnessed as America surpassed 205,000 deaths from the coronavirus while Mitch McConnell refused to allow a vote on this legislation.

Bernalillo County paid leave law goes into effect

Oct 1, 2020

Commentary: An ordinance requiring employers in the unincorporated areas of Bernalillo County to provide workers paid leave goes into effect today. The law will help alleviate the serious challenges many workers face when forced to choose between a paycheck and the health of their families and community. 

Its implementation comes late for many working families who have needed paid time off to keep themselves and the community healthy before and during the ongoing pandemic. 

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