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.

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Commentary: New Mexico Wild Executive Director Mark Allison issued the following statement on the inclusion of the Pecos River in American Rivers’ annual Most Endangered Rivers report:

“The Upper Pecos River Watershed is far richer for its cultural, historical, habitat and recreational values than it is for any potential mineral development. The river’s presence on the 2021 Most Endangered Rivers report emphasizes just how critical it is that we act now to protect it before it’s too late,” said Mark Allison, New Mexico Wild Executive Director. “The surrounding communities have fresh memories from the devastation wrought by past mining activities that polluted the river, killed tens of thousands of fish, and severely damaged the area’s outdoor recreation economy for decades. We call on New Mexico’s leaders to remember all possible threats to the long-term viability of the Pecos River as they consider a petition by local stakeholders to protect the river through an Outstanding National Resource Waters designation. We will also continue to support legislation Senator Martin Heinrich reintroduced earlier this year to remove all federally managed minerals in the Upper Pecos Watershed from future lease sales.”

  Commentary: The New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department (EMNRD) supports the effort in the United States Congress to pass legislation funding orphan well plugging. Both the House and Senate have now introduced companion bills on this important issue with leadership from New Mexico’s delegation. EMNRD applauds Senator Ben Ray Luján for co-sponsoring the Senate bill with Senator Cramer of North Dakota and Representative Teresa Leger Fernández for sponsoring the House bill. The bills will provide federal funding for oil-producing states to plug and reclaim orphaned wells and associated sites. A fully funded program would ensure EMNRD’s Oil Conservation Division can plug and reclaim many of the orphaned sites in the state and protect the environment, while putting oilfield workers back to work.

Commentary: During the pandemic access to voting increased and contributed to higher voter participation in 2020.  Since the election there have been efforts to reduce voter rights based on disinformation about voter fraud. 

The Brennan Center for Justice reported that over 250 bills have been proposed in 43 states this year, which would restrict access to the ballot.  Some proposals take away the vote-by-mail option, some tighten ID requirements, some rig the redistricting process, some slash voter registration opportunities, some purge voter rolls, and others directly attempt to suppress democracy.   This includes ways for state legislators to modify the election process if they do not like the results. 

Gov. Lujan Grisham legalizes adult-use cannabis

Apr 12, 2021
Medlineplus.gov

Commentary: Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Monday formally enacted adult-use cannabis legalization in the state of New Mexico, signing into law an historic measure approved by the state Legislature after the governor called them into a special session for that purpose late last month.

“The legalization of adult-use cannabis paves the way for the creation of a new economic driver in our state with the promise of creating thousands of good paying jobs for years to come,” said Gov. Lujan Grisham. “We are going to increase consumer safety by creating a bona fide industry. We’re going to start righting past wrongs of this country’s failed war on drugs. And we’re going to break new ground in an industry that may well transform New Mexico’s economic future for the better.”

Hindsight still blurry when it comes to virus

Apr 12, 2021

 


  Commentary: I’m scheduled to get my second COVID-19 shot Friday, meaning I’ll be fully vaccinated in a couple of weeks.

 

The pandemic, for me, is almost over, and I’m incredibly grateful to the brilliant men and women who developed these safe and effective vaccines. But this doesn’t feel like victory.

 

Until March of last year, Americans saw pandemics as something that happens every few years in Africa or Asia. We were confident that our modern health care system would protect us. The notion of more than 562,000 U.S. deaths, and still growing every day, was inconceivable then.

'Thus, They Were Spared'

Apr 12, 2021

Commentary: The physical differences between my son and daughter grew as rapidly as they did. My son has always been much denser. His torso is sturdy as a brick, with a heft that my daughter has never had, even with three years on him.

So, when he lost about 4 pounds during his three-week bout of strep throat, the lightness of his body afterward scared me as much as his wheezing did when he was sick. But even at the emergency room, I didn't think the outcome would be anything terribly dire. We could fix him; we have the technology. Right?

Photo by Peter Goodman

 

  Commentary:The County is working on a sole-source contract with “Barkhouse” to help decrease our homeless dog population, partly by transporting dogs to other states for adoption.

Many question the plan’s wisdom and legality. Some urge competitive bidding, because other entities could provide the same services. Some argue that since Barkhouse participated in writing the plan, it’s disqualified: a county can’t “accept a bid or proposal from a person who directly participated in the preparation of specifications, qualifications or evaluation criteria on which the specific competitive bid or proposal was based.” (County Manager Fernando Macias says this provision doesn’t apply.)

Senator Crystal Diamond

  Commentary – This week, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed Senate Bill 193 into law. The bill, sponsored by Senator Crystal Diamond (R-Hidalgo, Luna, Sierra, and Doña Ana) and Senator Siah Correa Hemphill (D-Catron, Grant, and Socorro) creates a “Rural Equity Ombud” charged with addressing issues of concern to rural and frontier communities. “The urban/rural divide in our state must be addressed and this bill is an important step in that direction,” said Senator Diamond. “The Rural Equity Ombud will help us identify the needs of the underserved and give rural New Mexicans another advocate at the seat of government. The staff person will be housed in the Department of Finance and Administration and will work full-time to ensure the needs of rural communities are met.”

Governor Signs Medical-Debt Protections into Law

Apr 6, 2021

  Commentary: Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Monday signed The Patients’ Debt Collection Protection Act into law, ensuring that New Mexico patients can get the care they need without ending up buried in debt.

“Medical debt is the worst thing I’ve ever had to recover from,” said Anna Rondon, a McKinley County mother and grandmother who spent years trying to repair her credit after she was unable to pay unexpected hospital and ambulance bills related to emergency gallbladder surgery. “Under this law, New Mexicans like me can stay healthy without going bankrupt.”

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham

Commentary: Today, New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed into law a bill banning traps, snares, and poisons on public lands across New Mexico.


Called “Roxy’s Law” in honor of a cattle dog who was strangled to death in a neck snare on public lands in 2018, this new law will go into effect in 2022 and will save untold numbers of native wildlife—as well as recreationists and companion animals—from cruel and indiscriminate traps, snares, and poisons on public lands across the Land of Enchantment.

NMFO

Commentary: Community leaders and nonprofit organizations are applauding New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham for signing House Bill 200 into law today. The legislation,which was co-sponsored by Reps. Matthew McQueen and Nathan Small and Senate President Pro Tempore Mimi Stewart and Sen. Siah Correa Hemphill, ends the proposed Gila diversion project and fast-tracks the spending of the remaining approximately $80 million in the NM Unit Fund for priority water projects, creating long-term water security and jobs in southwest New Mexico (Catron, Grant, Hidalgo and Luna Counties).

Shining Sunlight to Find Hope in Yourself

Apr 5, 2021

Commentary: After responding to a flurry of emails from early risers and adjusting my seat, I also needed to adjust my window curtains. The daily switch from bright morning light to the more productive midmorning sun was complemented by the sounds of heavy machinery reversing in the distance and a stream of cars humming on the main road nearby.

Sound and light travel differently as the day moves on. Sometimes that stream of cars is thunderous. My neighborhood is nestled between one of the city's main arteries and a highway that cuts through the state. Around 7:30 in the morning, drivers rev their engines, likely with coffee mug in hand or in cup holder, to get to where they need to be, if not where they want to be.


  Commentary: The government has no right to tell me what I can eat, drink, smoke, snort or inject.

 

It can prevent me from doing those things in public. And it can hold me responsible for any crimes I commit after having done those things, including driving. But that’s all.

 

Not only does the government lack the right to prevent me from eating, drinking, smoking, snorting or injecting anything I want, it also lacks the ability. Desperate attempts to disprove that reality through mass incarceration have only served to highlight the deeply ingrained injustices in our court system based on race and class. We filled our jails and prisons, but people kept getting high.

The AMLO Puzzle

Apr 5, 2021

Commentary: Presidents in any country tend to have criticism piled upon them the longer they are in office. Such is the case with Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO).

People who are angered or surprised at AMLO’s policies should not be, as he fully revealed where he was coming from in the two previous presidential campaigns he unsuccessfully ran before winning the office in 2018. AMLO is a blend of quirkiness and populism. During his previous two campaigns in 2006 and 2012, AMLO clearly displayed this interesting combination.

Facebook / White House

 

  Commentary: Republicans don’t like the results of majority voting in the U.S. and have introduced more than 300 bills in more than 45 states to undermine it.

Any who aren’t allergic to facts realize that significant voter fraud is an urban myth. The conservative Hoover Institute reviewed decades worth of records and found very, very little. Before Trump and Trumpists filed scores of lawsuits in 2020 and provided no evidence, former N.M. Secretary of State Dianna Duran sent the State Police 64,000 records to investigate for voter fraud and found none; and the State paid $90,000 for illegally hiding those public records from the ACLU.

So the folks who desperately shout “Voter fraud!” can’t find any.

House Bill 98 Will Permanently End the Taxation of Delivered Groceries

Apr 3, 2021

Commentary: A year ago, as New Mexicans began staying at home to limit the spread of Covid-19, a disturbing fact came to light: some grocery stores, particularly large chains, were charging tax on the food they delivered to New Mexicans.

New Mexico was one of the last states to repeal its food tax, back in 2004. At that time, nine states still fully taxed the sale of groceries; today, the number has shrunk to just Mississippi and Alabama. States have moved away from food taxes because taxing food is bad policy. Food taxes are among the more regressive of taxes, since food is a necessity and since poor families spend a much larger share of their income on food – and thus on the food tax – than wealthier ones.

The Privilege to Ignore Grows the Divide

Apr 1, 2021

Commentary: I struggle mightily with writing about race. I'm a relatively run-of-the-mill white lady, and mine has been a very white upbringing, without much, if any, diversity. While attached to military life as a dependent, the kids are pulled together regardless of their race, especially in the Department of Defense American schools in foreign countries. To me, the pecking order was built more on something like a class struggle — had your parent enlisted, or was he or she an officer? But, of course, there were other pecking orders that I didn't see.

New Mexico Poised to Become the 17th State to Legalize Cannabis

Mar 31, 2021

  Commentary: Today, legislation that would legalize, regulate, and tax cannabis sales for adults 21 and over in New Mexico — HB 2 — received final approval from state legislators. The bill now proceeds to the desk of Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D), who has pledged to sign it into law. 

With the governor’s signature, New Mexico will become the 17th state to legalize cannabis for adult use and the fourth state to adopt a legalization policy by passing a bill through its state legislature, joining Illinois, Vermont, and — earlier today — New York. Thirteen additional states have legalized by voter initiative. 

Heinrich Praises American Jobs Plan

Mar 31, 2021
Senator Martin Heinrich (D) New Mexico

Commentary:  U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) issued the following statement praising the American Jobs Plan:

“I am thrilled that President Biden has placed clean energy and bold investments in America’s infrastructure at the forefront of his plan to build back better. We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to power our economic recovery and put Americans to work by solving our long-term climate challenge. Too many families in New Mexico are living without internet access, clean water, and reliable electricity. The American Jobs Plan is our opportunity to change that. We will make our grid more reliable and our homes more resilient. We will improve everyone's quality of life and create millions of good paying jobs in our communities.

An Urgent Need For Change At The NCAA

Mar 30, 2021

 


  Commentary: Rodeo may be the only college sport that isn’t knee-deep in hypocrisy.

 

That’s because rodeo is not part of the NCAA, and has never held romanticized notions about the purity of amateur athletics. The sport has always been about prize money. The PRCA champion each year is the one who wins the most money.

 

Marginal athletes in rodeo don’t get cut or put on waivers. They know it’s time to quit when they can’t earn enough gas money to get to the next event.

Goodman: Let’s not drop the ball while celebrating

Mar 29, 2021
Peter Goodman

 

 Commentary: It’s fitting that it’s spring, as (barring a powerful COVID-19 variant or world-class stupidity) we cautiously “re-open.”

I’ve watched many plants poke their heads out of the dirt, with the shy determination of a kid attending a first dance. I also recall an early spring day snowshoeing in some mountains in Oregon mountains and hearing sporadic loud gunshot-like sounds that turned out to be saplings, after months bent almost double under the snow’s weight, snapping to attention as the snow melted. Then there’s that whole groundhog shadow thing.

Making Government Good Again

Mar 28, 2021

Commentary: Government help is on the way, thanks to the passage of President Biden’s historic relief package. Soon, a typical family of four will receive a $5,600 check, our struggling restaurants will be thrown a lifeline, and child poverty will be cut in half.

However, though nearly 70% of Americans supported the bill, Representative Yvette Herrell voted to prevent this relief from reaching New Mexicans in dire need. Herrell and most other politicians in her party believe that government is the problem and that people should just take care of themselves. But what they seem to forget is that "we the people" are the government. And it’s only as good or bad as those we elect.

Commentary: I was talking to a friend from Mexico the other day about the scramble everybody seems to be doing to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Here in the U.S., there are more vaccine sites opening up, and increased doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine are now being shipped throughout the country. The pandemic has struck poorer communities, many of which are populated by minorities, particularly hard. The same can be said for developing and poorer countries that struggle to have access to the vaccine when the wealthier countries have already pre-purchased most of the supplies.

Shifting Gears To Re-Engage

Mar 24, 2021

Commentary: I'm always happy with my fellow porch dwellers, especially those who tolerate my enthusiastic hand-waving during my walks. One older couple in my neighborhood sits together, the lady vocal enough that I'll take my earbud out just to catch what today's turn of phrase is, more so I don't reply a low "Good morning" to her chirpy "Beautiful day, isn't it?!"

During one of my walks, the older neighbor was pulling out her driveway, sitting in the passenger seat, when she called out her window, "It's a different perspective today, isn't it?" I nodded and laughed when she drove away. But the thought stayed with me.

Congress: Pass The “For the People Act” To Strengthen Democracy

Mar 24, 2021

Commentary: The recent national elections provided greater awareness of election processes, including a variety of changes implemented to facilitate voting during the pandemic.  Differences in voting processes among the states and counties provided opportunities to see how well different approaches worked.    

The proposed For the People Act (HR 1 and S1) currently before the Congress would take advantage of some of those state level experiences to improve the safety and security of voting processes and to strengthen our democracy by engaging more citizens and allowing more voices to be heard.  The League of Women Voters has supported this Act since it was introduced in 2019.

Commentary:  A very telling question to ask any legislator is “What is the cause of the increasingly large wealth gap between the average citizen and the millionaire/billionaire class?”

Regardless of their answer, I believe it is structured into our economy in too many ways. It’s not that “we don’t work hard enough”. There are numerous structured things that our legislators have allowed (or actually advocated for) such as the predatory “Payday” loans which the poorest of us falling on hard times have to use periodically.

Commentary: The New Mexico Legislature is not a co-equal branch of government, and that’s by design.

The New Mexico governor’s office is modern and up-to-date; and operates much like other governor’s offices throughout the country. The last major update came in 2020 when a new cabinet-level department was added to coordinate services for young children.

 

The New Mexico Legislature is antiquated and out-of-date; and is thoroughly unlike any other state legislature in the country. I’m not sure when (or if) the last major update was, but it happened sometime before I came here in 2002.

Peter Goodman

 

  Commentary: Spring’s arrival and school reopenings remind me of a conversation years ago, when a friend was saying that his high school French teacher had not only taught him French but held frank discussions of life from which Dan learned even more.

I suggested he write that teacher and tell him that. The teacher, likely retired, might be doubting he ever did anything worth a damn, and appreciate hearing someone recalled him gratefully.

Commentary: We are on a limited income and are mad as hell about the double taxation on our Social Security benefits. 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.

Commentary: The 60-day, 2021 legislative session closed at 12 p.m. today, marking the end of a unique session in which legislators and the public participated virtually and some of the most transformative legislation in New Mexico’s history passed through the legislature. 

House Democrats succeeded in passing long-held priorities and created a budget that sets an active role for the state in economic recovery and makes sustained investments in education, health care, infrastructure, workforce development, job creation, and more. Although health concerns prevented the public from gathering in the Roundhouse, public participation reached record levels with more than 19,000 members of the public testifying during committee hearings over the past 60 days. 

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