Local Viewpoints

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Facebook / White House

Commentary:  There’s a rule at trials: when one side’s lawyers have improperly lost evidence, hidden evidence, or refused to show the jury evidence in their control, the judge may order jurors to assume that evidence is bad for the side controlling and withholding it. It’s a life rule, too: if the warm chocolate-chip cookies are disappearing, and your kid is hiding his hands behind his back, don’t you infer something?

So why shouldn’t Donald Trump’s unprecedented, across-the-board stonewalling of legitimate Congressional inquiry raise questions in everyone’s minds?

Emphasize Critical Thinking In Undergraduate Education

Jan 24, 2020
Dr. Chris Erickson

Commentary: High salaries and the chance to work with new technologies have attracted young people to jobs in the tech sector. Seeking to serve these students has led to a shift in the emphasis in higher education toward STEM majors and away from liberal arts. Parents worried about their children paying student loans are happier as well.

Nationally, the trend is declining enrolment in liberal arts colleges. Fewer than one-in-five degrees are now awarded in the humanities.

Udall Blasts Trump Rollback of Clean Water Act

Jan 23, 2020

Commetary: U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.) released the following statement on the Trump administration’s rollback of protections under the “Waters of the United States” provision of the Clean Water Act:

“Simply put, the Trump administration is endangering the future of clean water in New Mexico, the Southwest and across the country. The proposed changes would strip Clean Water Act protections from the vast majority of New Mexico’s surface waters, putting drinking and irrigation supplies at further risk.  This means more hazardous pollution into open waterways and then into our groundwater, more damaging floods following rains, and more destruction of habitat for fish, birds, and other wildlife we treasure.

Addressing Discrimination At The Ballot Box

Jan 23, 2020
Photo by: Nathan J. Fish


  Commentary: As an employer, I may not deny you a job because I don’t like your skin color or your hijab; yet as a voter, I am free to help elect a government that will strip away your rights and dignity.

Or am I?

Terry Smith’s new book, “Whitelash,” out this month from Cambridge University Press, presents a provocative question: If the law forbids various forms of discrimination in the workplace, in housing, in commercial spaces, etc., why is it acceptable to practice invidious discrimination at the ballot box?


Walt Rubel

Commentary: In the spring of 2009, I was the fastest runner in all of Dona Ana County.

It’s a boast I can make now after having won the gold medal in the 100-meter dash at the Senior Olympics. I think it’s safe to say that the 100-meter race is the universal standard for who is fastest, and I still have my medal to prove that in 2009, I was that guy.

I should probably mention at some point in this story that I won my gold medal by finishing second in a two-man race, but that detail can wait.

I always knew that I was pretty fast. I went out for the track team late during my sophomore year, after failing to make the baseball team. And so, they stuck me in the 3,200 meters, where I was constantly getting lapped in meets. But I used to race against the sprinters in practice, and held my own with most of them.

Four Corners Power Plant. Photo courtesy of EcoFlight and San Juan Citizens Alliance

  Commentary: On Tuesday, several Public Regulation Commission members listened to comments from dozens of New Mexicans asking for a full transition away from dirty San Juan coal electricity to renewable energy. 


Tuesday’s PRC hearing addressed what resources should replace the San Juan coal-fired electricity that PNM plans to stop using in 2022. The commission has separated that case from the one regarding whether it will allow PNM to exit the coal plant and how the exit will be financed. 


New Mexicans from all over the state asked the commission to require 100% renewable replacement, rather than PNM’s preferred scenario, which includes building a new gas plant. 


Good Times With Family? Priceless

Jan 22, 2020

Commentary: I got suckered in by the advertising and clicked through: exactly how much was a night’s stay at a Disney location? First, which one is closer. Unlike many, I’m not big on my knowledge of The Mouse. I confuse the world with the land.

California’s Disneyland seemed much more likely a go for a New Mexican Griswald-esque drive. So, tell me, Mouse, what’s the going rate for a family of four; sure, include the premium rooms, I’m feeling fancy.

Commentary: The most  grievous betrayal of New Mexicans occurred in 1990 when the New Mexico state legislature passed and the then Governor Garrey Carruthers signed into law obnoxious legislation basically double-taxing  all New Mexico residents 65 or older who receive Social Security. This tax is a form of double taxation, since New Mexicans pay income tax on the money that is deducted from their paychecks for Social Security, and then they are taxed again on the benefits they receive.

Concerns Continue Over Guardianship In New Mexico

Jan 19, 2020
Peter Goodman

Commentary: Doris and Rio Hamilton allege that after they consulted lawyer CaraLyn Banks, she proceeded — without telling them — to have Ms. Hamilton declared mentally incompetent and Advocate Services (AS) appointed to take over her life and make all her decisions, including banning her son, Rio, from the house they own together.

Commentary: The New Mexico Game Commission today approved trapping of bobcats, foxes and other wildlife throughout nearly all of the state, disappointing wildlife and public-safety advocates who sought to ban a practice long criticized as inhumane and indiscriminate.

The decision reauthorizes the use of leghold traps, body-crushing traps and strangulation snares that have killed and maimed endangered Mexican wolves and countless other animals. Last year five wolves in New Mexico were caught by private trappers. Such trapping is legal as long as the intention is to catch some other kind of animal.

New Mexico: "From The Many, One"

Jan 16, 2020
Photo by: Nathan J. Fish

Commentary: For New Mexico’s upcoming legislative session, the governor has proposed a budget that would allocate lavish spending throughout our education system, create a new Early Childhood Education and Care department, endow a new early childhood trust fund, establish scholarships to make in-state tuition free and boost the public school budget to $3.4 billion.

Whether all these proposals are approved or not, four lawmakers are also proposing mandatory displays of the national motto, “In God we trust,” in every school and college classroom, in every public library and on every public building, and on our license plates.

A compromise on early childhood funding

Jan 16, 2020
Walt Rubel

Commentary: This year, Dr. No is saying yes.

Sen. John Arthur Smith of Deming has earned that moniker after decades of serving as one of the Legislature’s chief budget writers in a state where revenue has fluctuated wildly from year to year based on the international market for oil and gas - something we have absolutely no control over. And so, Smith is always looking at what he calls the “out years” - two years, five years, 10 years from now. That’s especially true in years like this one, when the coffers are full.

It was Smith’s opposition to a series of bills over the past several years seeking to tap into the state’s permanent fund to create a new funding source for early childhood education that led to the title of Dr. No. Each year, those bills have died in Smith’s Senate Finance Committee without ever getting a hearing.


  Commentary:  U.S. Senator Tom Udall joined Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, Appropriations Committee Vice Chair Patrick Leahy, Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Jack Reed, and Defense Appropriations Subcommittee Vice Chair and Democratic Whip Dick Durbin, in denouncing the Trump administration’s reported plan to raid an addition $7.2 billion in Pentagon funding for border wall construction this year. In doing so, the president is again abusing the National Emergencies Act in an unprecedented way to divert money from these projects to border wall construction for political purposes.


Commentary:  Today, Rep. Rod Montoya (R-Farmington) announced he will introduce legislation for the upcoming 2020 Legislative Session establishing a New Mexico Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR). The constitutional amendment, if enacted, will restrict annual spending by state lawmakers and require any future tax increase to be approved by a three-fifths majority in both chambers. Additionally, the amendment would provide taxpayers with annual rebates after spending limits are met. If approved, the constitutional amendment would be placed on the ballot for voter ratification in the 2020 general election.

Commentary: Gov. Lujan Grisham recently released her budget to be considered by the Legislature in the upcoming 30 day session. As expected, there is a lot of new spending thanks to the continued growth of oil and gas production in the Permian Basin.

After a 12 percent boost in General Fund spending last year, the Gov. is requesting yet another big increase. This year she’s asking for 8.4 percent.

Millennials And The Decline Of Organized Religion

Jan 13, 2020

  Commentary: The far east New Mexican town in which I spent my high school years had an unsubstantiated rumor that there were 90 churches for a town of 30,000 people. It certainly felt like it, with churches on nearly every corner and tucked away into neighborhoods. I was ready to explore each, like an anthropologist who had only read about these tribes in books.

No, we’re not just killing industries; now millennials are canceling things like religion. Pew Research Center found four in ten millennials say they are religiously unaffiliated. It’s been a point of discussion for years, with a dash of “oh, but when they have families, it’s back to church they go” and yet, no. That’s not happening. And it’s one stereotype I actually fall into. That, and I won’t pass up some nice avocado toast.


Important Border Legislation Before Congress

Jan 13, 2020

Commentary: Two interesting pieces of legislation have been introduced in Congress, both aimed at securing the border, each with very similar titles. The first is titled the “Securing America’s Ports of Entry Act,” sponsored by Senator Gary C. Peters (D-MI). The bill’s objective is “To increase the number of U.S. Customs and Border Protection Office of Field Operations officers and support staff, and to require reports that identify staffing, infrastructure, and equipment needed to enhance security at ports of entry.”

TV’s New Golden Age Predicted By Economists

Jan 12, 2020
Dr. Chris Erickson

Commentary: Critics have designated this the new Golden Age of Television. The list of recent great TV shows is long starting with the “Sopranos” continuing with “Breaking Bad,” “Mad Men,” and going on to “Game of Thrones” and “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel..” Add to this list “Walking Dead,” “Stranger Things,” “Fringe” and “Arrow”—there is something great for everyone.

Interestingly, the emergence of really good TV was all predicted by economists way back in the 1970s. Back then, Cable TV was an unrealized technology. Over-the-air television was highly regulated by the FCC. Most people watched only three or four channels.

Peter Goodman

Commentary: We elected Joy Goldbaum Presiding Municipal Court Judge because she promised to focus the court on productive solutions – not on being a modern debtors' prison, as too many such courts in the U.S. become. 


Municipal Court handles “minor” crimes, mostly violations of city ordinances. Because many defendants are poor, mentally challenged, homeless, and/or vets suffering PTSD, many don't show up for court, or can't pay their fines. Unless they're allowed (and able) to work off the fine, a warrant and a penalty are added to the fine, making it even harder to pay. Too often a defendant who's committed some minor offense ends up in jail – for which the City pays the County $100 per night per prisoner. Raw deal both for citizen and for us taxpayers.

Commentary: Common Cause New Mexico (CCNM) has announced its priorities for the 2020 legislative session. 

“We’re focused on fulfilling the promise made by the legislature to New Mexicans when it created the independent Ethics Commission,” Heather Ferguson, Common Cause Executive Director said. “We’re requesting that the legislature fully fund the Ethics Commission with $1.2 million to pay for adequate staffing, resources and office space."  

Over 75% of New Mexico voters mandated the Ethics Commission's creation in a 2018 constitutional amendment, and the legislature last year passed enabling legislation. Commissioners have been appointed, regulations promulgated, and the commission will start receiving complaints in January.

Commentary: The Nuestra Tierra Conservation Project has been organizing and serving underserved New Mexico youth for three years. Our goal is to provide more Hispanic and low-income youth and their families with opportunities to enjoy their outdoors, state lands, state parks, public waterways and more. We engage youth in hunting, fishing, hiking, camping, and cultural learning opportunities throughout the year with the goal of creating access and opportunities for them to continue our state’s rich outdoor traditions. 

Our Water Is More Important Than Their Profits

Jan 10, 2020

Commentary: New Mexico is a state with abundant natural resources, but, unfortunately, our water supplies are in short supply. That’s why we need to work collaboratively to ensure that we can sustain future generations of our communities, families and businesses on the land we share.

This means taking care of our water resources and preserving our culture, economy and traditions as best we can. In the Mesilla Valley, we should work toward a future in which we have adequate water supplies to honor the legacy of agriculture we communally share while planning for the future water needs of the generations to come.

Photo by: Nathan J. Fish


  Commentary: Election year has arrived, and while I do not bother much with new year resolutions, I will renew my pledge to avoid describing election campaigns as races, unless the candidates are facing off in a contest of athletic skill.

It is not just that the metaphor is inapt and erases debates about policy, principle and effective leadership, but ultimately it erases democracy. The winner of a race does not need a mandate from the people in the stands. Fans may have a favorite runner on the track, but the result is not up to them.

Rep. Paul Gosar /

Commentary: Today, Members of the Western Caucus released the following statements after the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) released it's proposed rule modernizing the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to facilitate more efficient, effective, and timely environmental reviews:

"Enacted with the best intentions in mind, NEPA has been hijacked by serial litigants to halt construction on critical infrastructure projects. Under the guise of environmental protection, special interest groups have stopped new roads and bridges, transmission lines, pipelines, and even offshore wind projects dead in their tracks. Today’s announcement shows the Trump administration’s commitment to ensuring the government works better for the people. Streamlining NEPA will create a more efficient and certain time line for new projects, while ensuring we safeguard our environment for the future," said Chairman Paul Gosar (AZ-04).


Commentary: Today, the White House announced a proposal to significantly change how federal agencies would handle environmental reviews for energy and infrastructure projects. The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), signed into law half a century ago, directs agencies to evaluate and mitigate the environmental impacts of development and requires extensive consultation with local communities before projects can proceed. The new proposal would allow agencies to weaken NEPA reviews and ignore the climate impacts of fossil fuel development.

  Commentary: Today, U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.) released the following statement after the Trump administration decided to undermine the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) by limiting the consideration of climate change impacts of new federal projects and eliminating NEPA reviews entirely for projects with major environmental impacts like mining, pipelines and logging: 


“This move to gut NEPA is one of the worst decisions made by the worst environmental administration in history,” Udall said. “The Trump administration’s attempt to gut the only law that requires federal agencies to consider the environmental and climate related consequences of federal actions is an affront to all of our communities who deserve a voice in projects that affect their health, safety and economic well-being. Since 1970, the National Environmental Protection Act has ensured the federal actions are fully evaluated before decisions are made, protecting public health and including the public input necessary in a healthy democracy.


Legal settlements rob us of real resolution

Jan 9, 2020
Walt Rubel

COMMENTARY: The costs of former Superintendent Greg Ewing’s mismanagement of the Las Cruces school district keep mounting.

It was confirmed last week that the school district has reached a $350,000 settlement in the lawsuit filed by Elizabeth Marrufo, a 30-year employee of the school district who had been the director of its Human Resources Department.

That comes on top of a $250,000 settlement paid to former Head Start program facilitator Lilliam Duran, bringing the total thus far to $600,000, with more lawsuits working their way slowly through the system.

The Stunning Hypocrisy Of Trump's Evangelical Supporters

Jan 8, 2020

Commentary:  In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus tells his disciples: "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God." In 1 Thessalonians 5:15 of the New International Version, Jesus implores his followers to not "return evil for evil." And in 2 Corinthians 10:4, he taught Christians that "the weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world."

On no other topic was Jesus more committed or clearer than nonviolence.

Commentary: James Jimenez, executive director of New Mexico Voices for Children, issued the following statement regarding the budget recommendation released by the Legislative Finance Committee:

“Once again, some in the Legislature want to continue this slow-drip process for funding early childhood care and education (ECCE) services. Unfortunately, the Legislative Finance Committee (LFC) budget recommendation is far below the investments needed in the programs that matter most to New Mexico kids and families and far below the responsible recommendations made by Governor Lujan Grisham.

Commentary: The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) today reported that its members and leaders in Puerto Rico are in contact with teams across a large swath of communities assessing the extent of damage and injuries caused by Tuesday morning’s powerful earthquake off its southwestern coast. LULAC leadership issued the following statements urging airlines to reduce airfare costs and calling on the federal government to provide immediate support for Puerto Ricans, who are American citizens.