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.

James Jimenez

Commentary: Over the last decade, New Mexico has grown increasingly dependent on oil and gas revenues to fund our schools and classrooms. Yet, in the coming years, those revenues are expected to decline, and we must prepare for a future that is less dependent on fossil fuels. That is why we need to take full advantage of this brief window of high oil and gas production, and ensure that we are setting our children and grandchildren up for long-term success. Unfortunately, the federal government’s outdated fiscal rates for drilling on public lands are standing in the way and, as a result, communities across our state have lost out on billions in revenue over the past ten years that could have helped fund education for decades to come. 

facebook.com (donald trump)

Commentary:  Late last week, President Donald Trump announced that his Administration added six new countries to the growing list of nations facing travel restrictions on people from predominantly Muslim countries. The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) National President Domingo Garcia and LULAC CEO Sindy Benavides issued the following statements following the news that President Trump added Nigeria, Myanmar, Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Sudan and Tanzania, to the restricted travel list. The total number of countries included in the ban is now 13 and includes Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Venezuela, and North Korea.

 

Lessons From Giovanni And La Cueva

Feb 3, 2020
Peter Goodman

Commentary: Sunday we visited La Cueva, where Giovanni Maria Agostini (“el Ermitario”) lived 150 years ago.

Giovanni apparently was born to Italian nobles, studied for the priesthood, did not take vows, and spent many years walking through Europe and the Americas. He arrived in New Mexico at 62, after walking with the wagon train of Eugenio Romero (related to J. Paul Taylor, soon to be 100) and lived on a hill (now called Hermit’s Peak) northwest of Las Vegas. 

 

Las Cruces City Councilors: It’s Time To End The Failed War On Cannabis

Feb 1, 2020
Gabe Vasquez

  Commentary: New Mexico has an opportunity, to again, catch up with the majority of its Western neighbors if it decides to legalize recreational cannabis in the 2020 Legislative session.

Here in the Land of Mañana, we are unfortunately used to being last. We trail behind the economies and progressive policies that have made our neighboring states more prosperous and better able to provide the basic services, infrastructure and quality of life that people deserve.

 

But that is changing.

Commentary: U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.) issued the following statement after Senate Republicans voted to block key witnesses and documents in the Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump:

“Witnesses and documents that shed light on wrongdoing are basic tenets of our justice system. The Senate and the American people have been deprived of their right to know the full truth. Thanks to Senate Republicans, the Trump impeachment trial will now be the first Senate impeachment trial of a president without witnesses in history.

“The American people deserve the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth—not a cover-up.  Today’s vote sends a signal to the American people and the entire world that the Senate Republican majority does not stand by the most basic procedures of conducting a fair trial – and that they are willing to shirk their constitutional responsibility to seek the truth about gravely serious abuses of power. And it sends an unambiguous message to the president that Senate Republicans will not hold him accountable for misconduct.

“One way or another, more and more information regarding this president’s abuses of the power of the presidency will come to light, and history will not look kindly on those who sought to suppress it.”

Raise Your Voice For New Mexico Students

Jan 31, 2020
Bethany Jarrell- VP, NEA New Mexico

Commentary: New Mexico’s children continue to be the No. 1 priority in Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s Budget for next year.  NEA-New Mexico welcomes this prioritization, but we must ask: is it enough to meet the needs of today’s youngest children and our students, grades K to 12?   

PRC approves 140 megawatts of wind power for PNM

Jan 31, 2020
pnm

Commentary: On Wednesday, the Public Regulation Commission (PRC) approved PNM’s 2020 Renewable Energy Plan, including the 140-MW La Joya Wind Farm to be built in Torrance County, N.M, by the end of the year.  Approval of the wind farm will allow PNM to meet its legal requirement to provide 20 percent of its electricity through renewable energy in 2020.

Before passage of the Energy Transition Act, New Mexico’s Renewable Energy Act capped the amount that large users like Intel paid for renewable energy, slashing the funds available to develop renewable sources (and until recently allowing large customers to enjoy savings from renewables paid for by other customers). Because of this loophole, even though New Mexico law requires 15% renewables by 2015 and 20% by 2020, PNM was still meeting its legal requirement with just 13%. The cap also meant the largest industrial users paid less for renewables than residential ratepayers. The Energy Transition Act closed these loopholes, forcing PNM to bring on significantly more renewable energy and requiring large users to pay their fair share. 

 

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 Senate Democrats in demanding President Trump retract statements he made about cutting earned benefits like Medicare or Social Security in order to pay for his 2017 tax scam—a handout to corporations and the ultra-wealthy at the expense of working families and older Americans.

 

Despite Republican claims that the bill is a tax cut for working people, it has proven to be nothing more than a giveaway to corporations and the wealthy. The Trump-Republican tax bill also exploded the deficit – which Republicans planned to use as their justification for cutting the benefits of hard-working Americans. Udall, Heinrich and their colleagues are demanding Trump publicly commit to protecting Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid for the remainder of his Presidency.

 

We Must Meet Our Students' Needs

Jan 31, 2020

Commentary: New Mexicans deeply love our children, and we believe in family and community.  Somewhere along the path, we seem to have gotten stuck in a cycle of mistrust and blame when it comes to collectively nurturing and educating our children. As a veteran middle school teacher from a low-income school in southern New Mexico, I know that if we work together towards funding and give ourselves time, we can rebuild trust in our public institutions that serve our youngest citizens through adulthood.  Our children are depending on those of us who govern and make decisions to get it right. 

Representative Jason Harper (R-Rio Rancho)

Commentary:  The House Taxation and Revenue committee today moved forward a gas tax measure sponsored by Rep. Matthew McQueen (D-Santa Fe County) on party line vote of 8-4. House Bill 173 will nearly triple New Mexico’s gasoline tax. If approved the bill would move the state from the fourth lowest gas tax to the fourth highest in the nation, according to the Tax Policy Institute.

“I am shocked that the Democrats are continuing to burden wage earning New Mexico families with increased taxes. What are they doing with the massive tax increase Democrats passed last year in HB 6?” said Representative Jason Harper (R-Rio Rancho), “What’s even more concerning is that HB 173 seeks to divert the gas tax revenue away from our roads. Our roads are in desperate need of repair and any bill that reroutes those funds is dangerous to our state.”

imagebase.net

Commentary: Every New Mexico student has a constitutional right to a sufficient education, but the state still fails to provide children the educational opportunities they need, charge Yazzie plaintiffs from the Yazzie/Martinez v. State of New Mexico lawsuit. The reply brief, filed with the First Judicial District Court today, provides evidence that New Mexico public schools have less spendable funding and lower teacher pay than in 2008 when adjusted for inflation. 

“While education spending increased last year, a large portion of that money couldn’t be spent and we still haven’t caught up with 2008 levels of per student spending,” said Gail Evans, lead counsel for the Yazzie plaintiffs. “School districts have been forced to use money meant for at-risk students to keep their doors open in the 2019-2020 school year.”

Urban/rural divide seen in committee chairs

Jan 30, 2020
Walt Rubel

Commentary: Once again this year, none of the committee chairmen in the state House of Representatives are from southern New Mexico.

Nine of the 14 committees in the House are led by chairmen from Albuquerque. The other five are from Santa Fe, Gallup, Milan, Corrales and Sandia Pueblo.

Things are much different in the Senate, however. The recent selection of Joseph Cervantes as chairman of the Judiciary Committee means the two most powerful committees in the Senate are now led by chairmen from southern New Mexico. John Arthur Smith of Deming heads the Finance Committee.

It's Time For Pension Reform In New Mexico

Jan 29, 2020

Commentary: Commentary: Over the last few weeks leading up to the 2020 legislative session, an all too rare alignment has occurred in New Mexico—the Governor, legislators from both parties, labor and taxpayer representatives, plan managers and other stakeholders in Santa Fe all agree that it is time to reform the state’s largest public pension system.

Commentary: The New Mexico legislature last year passed enabling legislation to establish an independent Ethics Commission, as required by a constitutional amendment passed by 75% of NM voters in 2018, but Common Cause New Mexico says there is a big problem.

   “The legislature doesn’t want to come up with the funds to ensure that it can fully do its job,” says Heather Ferguson, Common Cause’s executive director.  Ferguson says the Legislative Finance Committee’s recommendation will not allow the commission to cover its start-up costs this year and hire hearing officers for the complaints it expects during the upcoming election season. The Governor has recommended full funding, but so far, the House budget committee is not on board. 

A Plague You Won't Mind Catching In Las Cruces

Jan 29, 2020
Photo by: Nathan J. Fish

Commentary: At the end of the play’s opening scene, the entire ensemble lays on the floor dead: A death count rivaling Shakespeare at his most violent, and the night had just begun.

Yet what a pleasure it was to see the Black Box Theatre full on the opening night of a Eugène Ionesco revival this weekend — and for one of his more obscure and difficult plays, yet.

The No Strings Theatre Company is greeting the new year with a production of “The Killing Game,” a stark-looking suite of mordantly funny scenes about a plague. The play, first produced 50 years ago, somehow feels dated and relevant at the same time, in part because director Marissa Bond and her ensemble approach it without excessive seriousness.

Provide Full Funding For The Land & Water Conservation Fund

Jan 27, 2020

Commentary: The Land & Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) is one of those programs whose rewards most of us enjoy without even realizing it. Providing funds to conserve and create public spaces on land ranging from national forests to national monuments to city parks, LWCF has positively impacted nearly every county in the United States. Here in southern New Mexico, it’s protected some of our most cherished trails and landscapes: Soledad Canyon, Achenbach Canyon, and Peña Blanca to name a few.

Commentary: Funding Is Needed For New Mexico's Outdoor Equity Fund

Jan 27, 2020

Commentary: When Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham made the campaign promise to create a New Mexico Office of Outdoor Recreation, it was received positively by the majority of New Mexicans.

After all, with 23 million acres of federal public lands and 9 million acres of state trust lands, New Mexico stands to capitalize from a coordinated economic development effort that invites residents and visitors alike to enjoy our state’s forests, rivers, lakes, mountains, grasslands and deserts. This is the type of economic activity that lessens our state’s reliance on oil and gas and promotes a wiser use of our natural resources.

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.

KRWG News

  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.

 

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