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.

Commentary: On July 20, the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 landing on the moon and Neil Armstrong’s and Buzz Aldrin’s historic moonwalk, I sat down to watch the film “Apollo 11” with my family. This wonderful film is not portrayed by actors nor is it a documentary, rather it is an aggregation of actual high-quality film footage of the Apollo 11 mission from pre-launch to post-earth- landing. There is no narrator, only the voices of the people in the various film clips are heard. The sheer scope of the Apollo 11 spacecraft (363 feet or nearly 34 stories high), the enormity of the Vehicle Assembly Building (129,428,000 cubic feet) in which the various stages of the spacecraft were assembled, the teamwork of the thousands of people who worked on this mission, and the bravery of astronauts Michael Collins, Buzz Aldrin, and Neil Armstrong who rode their craft more than 238,000 miles to the moon and back, was truly inspiring.

Peter Goodman

Commentary: When a district judge reached for a reliable tool recently, it was suddenly gone.

The tool was Forensic Intervention Consortium of Doña Ana County, better known as jail diversion (JD), a local nonprofit that saves us big bucks every year.

JD helps seriously mentally ill people referred by law enforcement, the courts, the detention center, lawyers, and/or clinical providers. They may or may not have been diagnosed, and often fall through the cracks. JD makes sure they get to court, or meet with a lawyer or counselor. Just finding these folks can be a challenge. Judges consult JD regarding appropriate conditions for pretrial release – then rely on JD for monitoring. 

Commentary:  Donald Trump Jr. today joined Trump allies such as Steve Bannon and failed Kansas Gubernatorial candidate Kris Kobach at an immigration symposium in Sunland Park, New Mexico. The event was organized by “We Build the Wall,” a haphazard organization that has been criticized for endangering federal employees

Democratic Party of New Mexico Chair Marg Elliston released the following statement in response to Donald Trump Jr.’s remarks in Sunland Park:

“Donald Trump Jr. came to New Mexico to parrot his father’s lies and divisive rhetoric. In reality, President Trump has failed to keep his promises to the American people, instead passing a tax bill that benefits the wealthy and enacting tariffs that put an unnecessary burden on hard working Americans. 

“Republicans claim to be fighting for working class people, but their actions speak louder than words. This kind of hypocrisy is why New Mexicans are ready to put a Democrat in the White House in 2020.” 

Commentary:  Rep. Alonzo Baldonado (R-Los Lunas) delivered a letter to Legislative Education Study Committee (LESC) Chair Christine Trujillo (D-Albuquerque) requesting that the LESC hold an emergency hearing on the sudden dismissal of Public Education Department (PED) Secretary Karen Trujillo. Secretary Trujillo was abruptly fired from her position earlier this week.  

 

Fostering Independence In Our Children

Jul 25, 2019
Photo by: Nathan J. Fish

Commentary: “A mission for Gabriel, to be executed with the utmost care and attention,” the scroll began.

At age 11, it was high time for my son to go to the store by himself. Yet there was a good chance he would balk.

Luckily, I had recently finished reading “The Hobbit,” that paradigm of reluctant hero stories, to my children. New experiences and challenges are seldom to Gabriel's taste, rather like dear Bilbo Baggins, unless we frame them so as to capture his imagination.

So I presented his first solo excursion as a quest.

 

Rubel: Senate Should Reform Committee Rules

Jul 24, 2019

Commentary: The Senate, whether in Santa Fe or in Washington, D.C., has long prided itself on being the more deliberative of the two legislative bodies.

The House, where each seat is up for grabs every two years, may twist and turn with the political winds of the day. But the Senate, filled with legislative lifers who have seen numerous past administrations come and go, provides stability and a long-term view.

It’s the world’s greatest deliberative body, or so we’re told. But, can you really make that claim when you refuse to hold deliberations?

Wildlife Services is back on Doña Ana County Commission agenda

Jul 24, 2019
Courtesy: State of Texas

  Commentary: Doña Ana County took a big step last week towards coexisting with wildlife by revising its  annual contract with Wildlife Services for the first time in decades. Under pressure from the agency however, the contract will be back on the Doña Ana County Commission's agenda again in August.

The amendment in question introduced by Commissioner Manuel Sanchez requires the agency to attempt to resolve human-wildlife conflicts non-lethally before resorting to killing the animal. It is expected that an effort will be made at the August 13th County Commission meeting to strip out this amendment. 

Goodman: Hatred Is Always In Season

Jul 21, 2019

Commentary: At first Trump's openly racist tweets seemed comically stupid. Just Trump being Trump.

They are racist. U.S. law says so. Racist guys yell, “Go back where you came from!” to girls wearing hijabs. All four targets were citizens, three born here. The fourth has been a citizen longer than Melania Trump, but has a darker complexion, a refugee kid who rose to Congress. It ain't about citizenship or loyalty, but color.

The tweets seemed especially foolish. Trump attacks women's soccer forward Megan Rapinoe and helps unify UWWMT against him – then sees Dems bickering, steps in to show them what a real enemy looks like. Unifying Dems. Frightening Republican Senators from swing states. 

Trump tweets beg the question, what kind of country do we want?

Jul 19, 2019
Trip Jennings / New Mexico In Depth

 

   Commentary: In the past week our president has taunted four first-year congresswomen of color, tweeting they should “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came,” as if they are not fully American.

He escalated the attack Wednesday at a North Carolina campaign rally, with the crowd chanting “send her back,” a taunt ostensibly meant for Somali-born U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota. 

I’m used to angry jibes and taunting in politics, especially on social media. But this is different, and nastier, and familiar. It’s racist. 

"Unthinkable" Behavior By Elected Officials

Jul 19, 2019

Commentary: Last week was a bizarre time in America, maybe a better word is “crazy.” Yes, crazy, that’s the shoe that fits the foot in Washington these days.

America is the world’s most resilient and envied democracy, well over 200 years  old and still going strong. Migrants hiking 1,000 miles from Central America to our borders aren’t doing that to go to Walmart. They yearn for freedom, safety and hope in America. And opportunity for a decent life.

 

  Commentary: The 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing is approaching, and yet our digital information systems still can’t deal with the apostrophe in my name.

Ordinary business still requires me to explain my name to customer service reps, who respond that while they understand my Italian surname includes an apostrophe, there is little they can do because, they whisper, “the computers don’t understand,” and then trail off as if fearful the machines are listening.

 

Haaland Votes To Raise Minimum Wage To $15 Over Five Years

Jul 18, 2019

Commentary: Today, Congresswoman Deb Haaland (NM-01) voted to give New Mexicans a raise with the Raise the Wage Act of 2019. The bill which would raise the federal minimum wage to $15 over five years and gradually eliminate the subminimum wage for tipped workers passes the U.S. House and now moves to the U.S. Senate for consideration.

Torres Small Rejects $15 Minimum Wage Bill Passed By House

Jul 18, 2019

Commentary: Congresswoman Xochitl Torres Small (NM-2) continues to fight for increased prosperity for rural New Mexicans and remains supportive of increasing the federal minimum wage. However, she does not support the “one-size-fits-all” approach taken by H.R. 582, The Raise the Wage Act. This bill failed to  consider the regional differences in cost of living, and a nonpartisan CBO study concluded that this bill would cost 1.3 million job losses.

“It’s time for the federal minimum age to be raised, but in a way that considers the unique factors of each region’s economy. What works in places like New York City or Seattle doesn’t always work in more rural areas like the ones I represent,” said Torres Small.

Free Enterprise: What New Mexico Desperately Needs

Jul 17, 2019
imagebase.net

Commentary: Amid New Mexico's boom in oil tax revenues, legislators have contemplated ways to put these surplus funds to work for the Land of Enchantment. During the last session the Legislature grew spending by 11%. They raised taxes, doubled the State’s film subsidy program, and created an outdoor division, among many big-spending ideas. When taken together the 2019 session resulted in a massive expansion of government.

 

 

Commentary: The final chapter is finally being written to the horror story that started in the summer of 2013 when Gov. Susana Martinez dismantled the state’s mental health system, alleging that all 15 of its private providers were committing fraud. And, it’s not going to be a happy ending for New Mexico taxpayers.

 

The state Human Services Department announced last week that it had reached a settlement with three of the companies that sued after having their Medicaid funding frozen by the Martinez administration - Hogares Inc. of Albuquerque; Valencia Counseling Services Inc. of Los Lunas and The Counseling Center of Santa Fe.

 

The settlement calls for Hogares to be paid $1.81 million, Valencia Counseling Services $301,500 and Valencia $579,500. Those are negotiated compromises, representing only part of what the companies alleged they are owed.

 

 Commentary:  Today, U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) introduced legislation to help ensure humane and safe conditions and treatment for people in Customs and Border Protection (CBP) custody. The Humanitarian Standards for Individuals in Customs and Border Protection Custody Act, S. 2135, would require CBP to meet the basic health and medical needs of people in its care by conducting health screenings and delivering emergency care; providing humane short-term detention conditions; and ensuring access to adequate water, nutrition, and sanitation.

 

Gerrymandering is OK--according to Supreme Court

Jul 16, 2019
supremecourt.gov

Commentary: Sad time in America. The Trump/ McConnell Supreme Court ruled that Federal Courts cannot stop politicians from gerrymandering districts in their state to favor one party over another. Of the ten most gerrymander states, only one has a Democratic legislature (Maryland). The rest are all Republican and include states like Texas, North Carolina and Kentucky.

As Justice Elena Kagan said in dissent “this decision violates the constitutional rights of many hundreds of thousands of American citizens.” This practice affects local, state and Congressional elections. With modern computer data about voting patterns, Politicians draw District lines so they select their voters, rather than voters selecting the politicians. Weird district shapes appear in these states that look like spaghetti rather than lines based on non-political considerations.

Detention Centers are Part of America’s Dark History

Jul 16, 2019
HHS

Commentary: The first substantial U.S. detention program began in 1838 under the auspices of President Martin Van Buren, who marshaled the manpower of over 7,000 soldiers. Led by General Winfield Scott, Van Buren ordered the eviction of the entire Cherokee nation from their tribal lands in the south and forced them to trek 1,200 miles west to reservations in Oklahoma. Before they were put on the "Trail of Tears", they were detained in detention centers called "emigration depots." These forts existed in North Carolina, as well as Chattanooga, Tennessee and Fort Payne, Alabama. 

Time is Right to Reform New Mexico’s Tax Code

Jul 16, 2019

Commentary: New Mexico has a golden opportunity right now. The discovery of incredible oil riches in the Southeastern part of our State is not just a once-in-a-generation opportunity. Rather, it is the kind of thing that happens only rarely in the history of any state or nation. It is the kind of opportunity that we simply cannot let slip through our fingers.

Thanks to new discoveries in the Permian Basin New Mexico has seen oil production triple since 2012. It will likely double again by 2021. That is great news and it has boosted New Mexico’s sluggish economy. In May, for the first time since 2013, the State’s job growth exceeded the national average.

Luján Calls on Nexstar and AT&T/DIRECTTV to End Blackout of New Mexico Stations

Jul 15, 2019
lujan.house.gov

Commentary:  Today, Congressman Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), the U.S. House Assistant Speaker, and Representatives Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) and Xochitl Torres Small (D-N.M.) called on Nexstar and AT&T/DIRECTTV to restore access to critical news programs in New Mexico as the two companies continue negotiations.

In the letter to Nexstar Chief Executive Officer Perry Sook and AT&T/DIRECTTV Chief Executive Officer Randall Stephenson, Luján, Haaland, and Torres Small criticized that ongoing negotiations have put their constituents at risk because of a loss of access to KRQE and Fox New Mexico – news programs that report on weather conditions, local safety issues, and alerts. This blackout has impacted an estimated 150,000 New Mexico households over the two weeks it has occurred.

Commentary: From 1991 to 1994, I worked in Mexico City as the Director of New Mexico’s Mexico commercial/tourism office. This was the period when the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was negotiated and formally enacted by all three countries on January 1, 1994. American ex-patriots such as myself formed an ad hoc group to lobby the Mexican government and U.S. policymakers in favor of passing NAFTA. I remember being at the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City, with other compatriots, eating snacks and drinking beer while watching the U.S. House of Representatives debate and then vote in favor of the agreement. It was an exciting time to be involved in the international trade arena, and I was grateful to witness first-hand the creation of NAFTA.

The Day A New Mexico Event Changed The World Forever

Jul 15, 2019
Trinity test marker

Commentary: On July 16, we should take a moment to reflect upon one of history’s key events – an ominous one as well for all of mankind.  It happened in America on this date in 1945, at 5:29AM, just up the road not far from Socorro. It was the detonation of the first nuclear weapon, known then as an “atomic bomb”.

Returning To A Sanctuary Of Silence In New Mexico

Jul 14, 2019
Peter Goodman

Commentary: I own land up by Derry only because I visited Cruces just when my friend, Bud (Professor Orville Joseph Wanzer, Jr.) was retiring from NMSU. Somewhat deaf, and much preferring nature to people, he wanted to live out his days in solitude. I saw an ad for 50 acres, a half-mile of riverfront. Cheap. We drove up there. Much to Bud's surprise, it was “the place.” 

It felt isolated. After a few miles on a dirt road, we turned up a gentle slope. Alone on the river's west side, we could see farms and distant mountains to the east. With two friends to split the cost, we bought it. That was in 1984.

D'Ammassa: History Of Impeachment Examined In New Book

Jul 12, 2019

 

Commentary: Loose talk about removing presidents from office has been routine for decades, perhaps since the unsuccessful impeachment of President Clinton in 1998-99.

The irregular election of George W. Bush in 2000 cast a pall of illegitimacy over his administration, and widespread revulsion over the invasion of Iraq, treatment of detainees and domestic surveillance, led to some limited debates over impeachment.

Talk of impeaching Barack Obama began before he took office, following years of lies about his citizenship augmented most prominently by the man who succeeded him to the presidency, Donald Trump.

Warning: New Mexico Families would lose big if ACA struck down

Jul 10, 2019

  Commentary: New Mexico Together for Healthcare sounded an alarm about the number of families that would lose coverage in New Mexico as the U.S. House Oversight Committee on Wednesday heard testimony on the potential impact of the ACA being overturned. The Congressional committee meeting comes just one day after oral arguments before the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in Texas v. United States, a court case seeking to invalidate the ACA. 

“The danger is real,” said Abuko D. Estrada, supervising attorney for Healthcare at the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty, a member of New Mexico Together for Healthcare. “Overturning the ACA would eliminate Medicaid expansion, prevent adult children from staying on their parents’ insurance and shutdown the exchanges—kicking over a quarter-of-a-million New Mexicans off their insurance and leaving them on their own to find healthcare. New Mexico families have benefited from the ACA and need it to stay in place to ensure that they have continued access to the care that they need.”

Haaland Calls For Climate Change Emergency Declaration

Jul 9, 2019

Commentary: Today, Congresswoman Deb Haaland called for a climate change an emergency declaration signing on to the Democratic resolution that acknowledges climate change as an existential emergency. The Climate Emergency Resolution, introduced by U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders and U.S. Representatives Earl Blumenauer and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez calls for the United States to join 740 local governments and sixteen countries in declaring a climate emergency.

Commentary: Today, on the first day of oral arguments in the Texas v. United States litigation supported by the Trump administration and Republicans to eliminate the Affordable Care Act (ACA), U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich joined Senate and House Democrats on the steps of the U.S. Capitol to highlight the stories of New Mexico families who would be hurt if the Trump administration and Republicans succeed in their effort to overturn the ACA and strip away protections for people with pre-existing conditions. 

 

Commentary: The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals today heard oral arguments in a lawsuit that could invalidate the Affordable Care Act (ACA) all together, leaving millions of Americans without access to health insurance. 

 After failing to repeal the ACA in Congress, President Trump and the Republican Party are arguing in court for the law to be overturned completely. The Trump administration has abandoned precedent and refused to defend the law, and nearly every Republican in Congress voted in support of this lawsuit.  If Republicans succeed in invalidating the ACA, tens of millions of Americans could lose their insurance coverage. The uninsured rate would skyrocket by 65%, as millions of Americans lose access to Medicaid, and people with pre-existing conditions are no longer protected. In New Mexico, overturning the ACA could cause turmoil in our insurance system that would increase costs and hold back critical funds for rural hospitals.  

Doña Ana County Commission approves controversial wildlife contract

Jul 9, 2019
Courtesy: State of Texas

  Commentary: Today, the Doña Ana County commissioners voted to adopt a new contract with Wildlife Services, a federal program under the Department of Agriculture that uses indiscriminate and cruel methods to “control” what they consider to be nuisance wildlife. The new contract imposed some new reporting requirements, but failed to include important measures supported by many county residents, including bans on cruel and indiscriminate leghold traps and M-44 sodium cyanide bombs. The new contract includes an amendment proposed by Commissioner Manuel Sanchez and supported by wildlife advocates that requires the agency to attempt non-lethal control twice before resorting to lethal. The amendment passed 3:2 with Commissioners Lynn Ellins and Isabella Solis opposing.

 

  Commentary: What should happen when a person living in our country seeking asylum has their case heard by the court, is found not to be eligible for asylum and is ordered to be removed from the country?

That question, posed by José Díaz-Balart during the recent Democratic debate, deserves a discussion longer than what was allowed for in the debate format. After all, every case is different.

What if the person has been a productive member of the community for a decade or longer? What if he or she is the sole provider for American-born children? What about the Dreamers who were brought here by their parents when they were young children? What if the person is a member of the military or a first responder serving their hometown?

 

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