Local Viewpoints

KRWG welcomes you to join our community discussion.  E-mail your comments to:  feedback @  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.


Commentary: In response to a critical shortage of ventilators needed to keep severe COVID-19 patients breathing, President Donald Trump ordered General Motors to produce the life-saving machines under the Defense Production Act. The Department of Health and Human Services will be responsible for implementation of and follow through on that order. 

In response, Matthew Wellington, Public Health Campaigns Director for U.S. PIRG, issued the following statement:

“It's about time we got serious about ramping up ventilator supply, and we need to do more. Health experts say we don’t have enough ventilators -- machines used to help people struggling to breathe -- to treat the projected number of COVID-19 patients. From Seattle to Detroit to New York, hospitals are preparing for the worst-case scenarios. 

Laura Paskus, New Mexico In Depth

  Commentary: James Jimenez, executive director of New Mexico Voices for Children, issued the following statement regarding upcoming lease sales for oil and gas extraction on federal lands in New Mexico:


“While New Mexico families are focused on making sure their loved ones are safe and healthy during this fast-moving crisis, other problems are brewing at the state level that may cause pain for years to come. Plummeting oil and gas prices are draining the state budget of funds needed for public safety, health care, education, and more. Actions by the Trump Administration will make this long-term revenue crisis worse.


  Commentary: In this time of fear, chaos and uncertainty, a choice must be made in the heart of every individual — to abandon one’s principles to fear, or to hold firm to them. The Libertarian Party seeks always to lead by example, and we choose to hold firm to ours.

One of the core principles of libertarianism is that governments should not pick winners and losers. Instead, the free market should make that determination. All efforts by the government to redistribute wealth inevitably result in favoritism towards the politically well-connected.

Commentary: While the Affordable Care Act and the expansion of Medicaid in our state has brought many successes, COVID-19 has exposed major holes in our health care system and social safety net. Bold action is needed to ensure that New Mexicans have the resources they need. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) was a critical first step in this effort.

However, additional steps will be necessary. The State of New Mexico, local clinics, and the New Mexicans who are weathering this crisis need more resources to ensure an adequate response. To that end, Health Action New Mexico has developed a series of health-related recommendations to help individuals and families access care and feel more financially secure, bolster the state’s capacity to respond, and assist clinics who help vulnerable populations. While this is by no means a comprehensive list of the steps necessary to address this crisis, it represents a critically-needed response to health coverage and access issues facing New Mexico and the United States.

Commentary: If you have not read Max Boot’s column “The coronavirus shows how backward the United States has become” (Washington Post, 18 March), you need to.  It details the many ways in which the United States, instead of being the world’s leader as the world’s richest country, is middling among the world’s wealthiest countries (OECD).

One damning paragraph reads:

Our health-care failures are particularly important now. We spend more on health care than any other country in the world, but we are the only OECD country without universal medical coverage (27.9 million Americans lacked health insurance in 2018). Child mortality in the United States is the highest in the OECD, and life expectancy is below average. We have far fewer hospital beds per capita than other advanced democracies (2.4 compared to 12.2 in South Korea), which makes us particularly vulnerable to a pandemic.

Stuck At Home? Write A Letter (Yeah, On Paper)

Mar 24, 2020
Photo by: Nathan J. Fish


  Commentary: Sitting in my favorite downtown pub has become a fond memory as New Mexicans have been ordered to stay home and businesses close, to slow community spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

The pub was where I often wrote letters in a notebook with detachable pages, using my favorite pen. There is a cohort of people located around the world with whom I exchange letters in English and Italian, and I’ve never shied from zipping off comments or suggestions to businesses, journalists, politicians or whomever.

Senator Martin Heinrich (D) and Senator Tom Udall (D)

Commentary: U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) joined every member of the Senate Democratic Caucus in a letter to President Donald J. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence demanding answers about medical supplies and equipment in the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) critical to addressing the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The senators are requesting that President Trump and Vice President Pence disclose any relevant medical supply and equipment shortages in the SNS, their strategy to close any such shortages, and to clarify how they plan to use Defense Production Act powers to increase production of supplies and equipment needed for the pandemic response.


Commentary: New Mexicans are facing a glut of economic uncertainties because of the effects of the Covid-19 (Corona Virus) on the New Mexico economy. Senator Michael Padilla is calling on New Mexico superintendent of insurance, Russell Toal, to impose an immediate 12 Month Insurance Premium Rate Moratorium. “New Mexicans are facing massive economic uncertainty on many fronts, I am calling for a 12 Month Insurance Premium Rate Moratorium” said Senator Michael Padilla.

Commentary: Today marks the 10th anniversary of President Obama signing the Affordable Care Act (ACA) into law. Since its passage, the ACA has helped more than 226,000 New Mexicans gain access to health care coverage, and currently it’s one of our most effective tools in the fight against COVID-19. 

 Despite the success of the ACA, Donald Trump has spent his presidency attacking the law and trying to dismantle protections for people with pre-existing conditions. Just yesterday, the president admitted that he would continue his lawsuit against the ACA, even in the midst of a global pandemic.  

Swapping the handshake for a fistbump

Mar 23, 2020
Walt Rubel

Commentary: I still remember the day my day taught me about the importance of a handshake.

I was probably 9 or 10, and was riding with him in the front seat of our Plymouth Fury with a push-button transmission. I could tell from the tone of his voice that he felt like what he was telling me was important, so I paid attention.

Your handshake has to be firm, he told me. Not so much that you crush the other guy’s hand, but nobody likes shaking hands with a dead fish. And, always look the other man in the eye when shaking his hand.

The advice has served me well. Many friendships over the years have started with a hearty handshake. It’s a safe, acceptable way to make a physical connection with somebody you don’t know.

Well, we used to think it was safe.

Reflections On Life Amid Coronavirus

Mar 22, 2020
Peter Goodman

Commentary: I write about the world around me.

But when that world is so schizophrenic . . .? It’s a beautiful day, the dog is happy to see us, I feel great; and our county had no known cases of Covid-19 as I started this column – then suddenly did. 


Elsewhere people are dying. Doctors are without masks. Patients lack ventilators. Urban medical personnel risk their health daily. Our bars and restaurants and stadiums are as silent as graveyards.

There are things that feel urgent to say, though others are saying them.

How life is changing after COVID-19

Mar 19, 2020
Photo by: Nathan J. Fish


  Commentary: Life changed quickly after Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham declared a public health emergency on March 11 to slow the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

The team of reporters with whom I work raced to keep up with developments. Schools closed, concerts and events were canceled, hospitals restricted visitors. The public was encouraged to work remotely if possible, limit social contact and be extra vigilant about hygiene and health. More than once, I filed a story only to learn it was already out of date and needed to be rewritten.

“I hate how scared I am,” a colleague confessed to me at a news conference.

Commentary: New Mexico’s budget is experiencing major upheaval from the recent oil market crash and the response to COVID-19. State revenues are plummeting, and many small businesses and their employees are facing untold consequences as New Mexico is on the brink of a major economic and fiscal crisis. 

House Republican Leadership, in a letter delivered today, are strongly urging the Governor to take extraordinary action to reconvene the Legislature to ensure the current and next year’s budgets are balanced and to provide relief to the families and businesses in New Mexico that are being negatively impacted by the efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19.  With oil and gas revenues accounting for 45 percent of current state revenues, the dramatic decline in oil prices could result in a budget shortfall of $500 million to $1 billion. For every dollar the price of oil drops in the markets, New Mexico revenues are reduced on average by $22 million. Oil prices have been hovering around $22 per barrel in recent days, which is $30 per barrel lower than the original price per barrel projections the Legislature used in building New Mexico’s record-breaking operating budget in February. 

Relying on the experts, not the skeptics

Mar 19, 2020
Walt Rubel

COMMENTARY:  It feels like we’re all in the opening scene of a horror movie, with birds flocking ominously on power lines all over town. Things are calm now. Some people see the danger coming and scramble to board up the windows. Others scoff at the nervous Nellies and go about their business as usual.

There is no certainty as to what the next few weeks and months will bring. But experts tell us a lot of people will get sick from the coronavirus here, just as they have in other countries.


  Commentary: Advocacy groups from across the state urged New Mexico’s leaders to exercise their emergency powers and provide emergency assistance, access to healthcare, and other relief to stem the rising financial insecurity and income inequality caused by the coronavirus crises. 

The recommendations were sent to Governor Lujan Grisham, Attorney General Balderas, Chief Justice Nakamura, Speaker Egolf, Senator Papen, Mayor Keller, Mayor Webber, Mayor Hull, and Mayor Miyagishima. 

Gail Evans

Commentary: In a motion asking the First Judicial District Court to dismiss the Yazzie/Martinez v. State of New Mexico lawsuit on Friday, the state acknowledged it continues to violate students’ right to a sufficient education. Legal counsel for the Yazzie plaintiff families pledge to continue litigation to hold the state accountable to comply with the court’s landmark ruling.  

NM Department of Health

Commentary: Coronavirus pushed aside my draft columns about Biden-Sanders and the latest local guardianship hearing.


The virus has upended all our lives. As if we felt great but had been diagnosed with an aggressive cancer, everything is the same but different. We are uncertain, sluggish, a bit dazed. The garden is sunny and peaceful, yet everything feels strangely ominous. Each of us contradicting today something we said yesterday. So are most of our leaders. 


Virus and oil price cash shift New Mexico budget reality

Mar 13, 2020
Paul J. Gessing

Commentary: With Coronavirus grinding travel and much of society to a halt and oil prices having crashed, there is little chance the budget passed during the 2020 Legislature will survive the year without some major revisions.

Even prior to the session ending Senate Finance Committee Chairman John Arthur Smith said, “I don’t think any of us can walk away from here and say the spending was controlled, we’re skating on very thin ice from a spending standpoint.” It’s hard to argue with that considering that Governor Lujan Grisham and the Legislature grew government by 20% (from $6.3 billion to $7.6 billion in just two years)

Commentary: I want to thank the people of Doña Ana County for the honor of serving as your County Commissioner District 4 these past 4 years.  In serving I have met my commitments to my constituent’s roads and infrastructure and there is more to be accomplished.

As many of you know, my parents were migrant workers in the 1960’s.  My father persevered and became a business owner in the cotton industry.

Commentary: Covid-19 is now spreading rapidly in all the major economies of the world. The economic impact of this will be large and almost certain to cause a recession. The uncertainty around the virus is undermining business confidence, which is reflected in fall the falling stock market and declines in investment.

Getting a grip on the likely impact of Covid-19 is a daunting task for economists. There is much we don’t know about the virus at this point. But what is clear is that this is the first time in two generations, the United States is facing an illness that is significantly affecting economic activity.

The 2020 Legislative Session Gets Graded by a Teacher

Mar 12, 2020

  Commentary: As the legislative session ended a few weeks ago, our State Senators and Representatives returned to their districts. Weary from a 30-day avalanche of bills, lobbyists, constituents, media, and long hours, our unsalaried elected officials took on the task of touting their wins, explaining their valiant attempts, and decrying their losses.   As the dust settles on this session and the Governor signs the bills into law, let’s evaluate the outcomes for education.


Social Media And Politics...Not A Good Combination

Mar 12, 2020
Photo by: Nathan J. Fish

Commentary: Imagine Facebook and Twitter, if you will, as large auditoriums full of sock puppets yelling and squabbling like Punch and Judy.

Honestly, do you trust those sock puppets to help you think clearly about candidates for office?

This year’s Democratic presidential primary may seem unusually nasty, or not, based on how closely one involves oneself with public comments on social media platforms, many of which are echoing points made by television commentators aligned with the major political parties; and yes, social media behavior is often malicious. So in most cases, you are encountering imitations of others’ statements, at best, and dehumanizing malice at worst.


Heinrich Backs Emergency Paid Sick Days Legislation

Mar 10, 2020
U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM)

Commentary: U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) is supporting new, emergency paid sick leave legislation to provide paid sick days immediately to workers in light of the coronavirus crisis, and in preparation for future public health emergencies.

This emergency paid sick days legislation requires all employers to allow workers to accrue seven days of paid sick leave and to provide an additional 14 days available immediately in the event of any public health emergency, including the current coronavirus crisis.


Walt Rubel

Jim Townsend (R-Artesia)

Commentary: With just days remaining for the New Mexico budget to be signed and approved by the Governor, today’s news headlines showing plunging oil prices and large losses on Wall Street indicate major concerns for the New Mexico budget which heavily relies on oil and gas revenues. Oil prices have declined to less than $35 per barrel today and such dramatic cuts will most certainly adversely affect both state revenues, and oil producers who have operations in the Permian Basin in southeastern New Mexico.

Peter Goodman

Commentary: Both Interim Manager Bill Studer and Assistant City Manager David Dollahon survived the cut from ten to five candidates for Las Cruces City Manager.

Some city employees want anybody but these two. Former manager Stuart Ed had a dictatorial management style. He allegedly made some questionable choices, and insisted the City follow them. That’s no fun for employees. Some say Studer and Dollahon facilitated some of Ed’s missteps – and that damaged employee morale would heal best in a wholly fresh environment. 


Bandelier National Monument--photo by Sandy King


  Commentary: Following President Trump’s February budget proposal that slashed funding for the Department of Interior, including a 97% reduction to the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), conservation groups across the state are now applauding bipartisan legislation that would fully fund LWCF.

“This would be a historic win for land and water conservation, and for the people of New Mexico,” said Jesse Deubel, Executive Director of the New Mexico Wildlife Federation. “Our Congressional Delegates, particularly Senators Heinrich and Udall, have worked on this for years and Representative Torres Small and our House members have brilliantly picked up the torch. The momentum right now is very real. Full and permanent funding of LWCF is a real possibility in the near future. ”


New Mexico voters watch others pick the nominees

Mar 5, 2020
Walt Rubel

COMMENTARY: Being a voter in New Mexico during the presidential primary election is a little bit like being a Cleveland Browns fan during the Super Bowl. It’s interesting to watch, but it would be a lot more fun if we could participate.

By the time we vote in June, the process will have been four months old, and voters in 46 other states will have already weighed in. The election will probably be over and we’ll just be a rubber stamp for the candidate who voters in other states have decided should be the nominee.

Democrats Must Prioritize Turnout To Win In November

Mar 4, 2020
Photo by: Nathan J. Fish


  Commentary: Turnout. Turnout. Turnout.


That’s what all the noise is about, all the money spent, all the arguments on television and in your social media mentions: It’s about making selections on a ballot. That’s the deal.


Yet the people eligible to vote who actually participate remains a minority. Most people who can vote do not. In 2016, tens of millions of eligible voters stayed home. It would not have taken many of those voters, in just three states, to change the outcome of that election.

Commentary: Today, U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) joined a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers to announce major progress on legislation to fully and permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and the Restore Our Parks Act to address the national parks maintenance backlog.

“Today we are taking a major step forward in our effort to fully, permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund—one of America's most successful conservation programs, and finally address the national park maintenance backlog. LWCF has helped preserve many treasured public lands—including the Valles Caldera, Ute Mountain, and Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico—that power our thriving outdoor recreation economy. It also protects our drinking water, provides public land access, and ensures there are neighborhood parks, soccer fields, and baseball diamonds for our children,” said Heinrich. “Our National Parks are uniquely American and offer endless opportunities to explore our nation's natural and historical treasures, and significantly boost local economies in their surrounding communities. I'm proud to help lead this bipartisan effort to address the parks maintenance backlog and invest in the infrastructure that improves access and visitor experience to all our public lands for generations to come.”