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.

Include Slevin case in bail reform discussion

Nov 28, 2019
Walt Rubel

Commentary: Every discussion of bail reform in New Mexico should include at least a mention of Steven Slevin.

In 2005, Slevin was arrested on charges of auto theft and drunken driving. His attorney says the car wasn’t stolen, but was borrowed from a friend. It was an argument that he never got to make in court.

Slevin suffered from mental illness and was not competent to stand trial. As the wheels of justice were slowing turning, he spent 22 months alone in a padded cell at the Dona Ana County Detention Center in conditions so inhumane that they are hard to comprehend.

Changes to ‘Public Charge’ Rule Would Impact 170,000 New Mexicans

Nov 26, 2019

Commentary: New Mexico could lose an estimated $146 million in federal funds if the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is able to implement rules it promulgated regarding government benefits, including nutrition and health care services.

That lack of federal funds would translate to a loss to the state’s gross domestic product (GDP) of as much as $285 million, as well as 1,937 jobs, and $17 million in state tax revenue. That’s according to a policy brief co-released today by the Fiscal Policy Institute of New York and New Mexico Voices for Children.

Let's Focus On The Facts In The Impeachment Inquiry

Nov 24, 2019

Commentary: Republican efforts to defend Donald Trump from possible impeachment are making less and less sense. 

 

 

Trump held up Congressional-mandated aid to Ukraine to bully Ukrainian President Zelensky into opening an investigation into Hunter Biden, son of the 2020 Democratic Presidential candidate Trump most fears. The delay, amidst rumors of a whistleblower's formal complaint, sparked questions by senators, making it too hot for Trump and his minions to carry on.

Continuing To Move Las Cruces Forward

Nov 22, 2019

Commentary: I am honored to have been re-elected as Las Cruces mayor.  I love this city and the people who live here, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to serve you for another term.

Election campaigns inevitably draw attention to our differences, but what struck me this year, as I campaigned, was how much the many candidates agreed on what we want for our city.

We all want safe neighborhoods and infrastructure that makes our lives more productive. We want recreational opportunities for people of all ages.  We want entrepreneurs to work their creative magic in our community.  We want to live in harmony with our neighbors, treating with compassion those who struggle among us, and remaining eager to find solutions for the challenges they face.

Another view on the Las Cruces Minimum Wage

Nov 21, 2019

Commentary: The recent meeting at Lynn Middle school and commentary by Phil San Filippo in the Las Cruces Sun News about potential impacts of increases in minimum wage addresses only one side of the debate—the effect on business owners. By the way it only goes from $10.10 an hour to $10.25 an hour on January 1, 2020—big deal.

Are people aware that only amounts to about $21,000 a year for a full-time worker? With the current cost of housing, medical bills, food, education and transportation who can afford to exist on that salary? That is below the poverty line. Don’t tell me that is only what early entry workers earn. Fewer than 10% are young people that just entered the workforce, whereas more than half are prime age adults who must support a family.

What If Local Reporters Covered The Impeachment Hearings?

Nov 21, 2019
Photo by: Nathan J. Fish

 

    Commentary: What if local reporters were brought in to help cover the impeachment hearings?

Not to slight the expertise of seasoned Capitol Hill journalists, but while digesting coverage of the first public hearings into the potential impeachment of President Donald Trump, my attention was drawn to the D.C. media bubble.

For someone who has been following developments about President Trump’s communications with the Ukrainian president, the best coverage might have been simply to watch or listen without commentary.

 

Commentary: New Mexico State Representative Bill Rehm (R-Albuquerque) today formally announced his plan to seek bail reform legislation designed to keep dangerous suspects off the streets.

"The function of political leaders is to protect the safety of the community," said Rehm."And right now, communities don't feel safe. We have failed communities."

Walt Rubel

Commentary: The story by former Associated Press reporter Barry Massey in 2014 should have served as a warning. The fastest-growing population in the state by age are those 65 and older. There was no growth for those age 18 to 64, according to Census figures, and a decline for those 17 and younger. And, the trend is expected to continue in the coming decades.

The state’s birth rate has remained fairly consistent. But the growth in the aging population means more people are dying each year than being born, according to Jeff Baker, a demographer for the University of New Mexico.

By the year 2030, nearly half the state’s population will either be older than 65 or younger than 18, Baker said, creating what he referred to as a double dependency - people who need services (schools for the young, health care for the old) but are typically not in the workforce.

Commentary: Families continue to go without food and medical assistance they are eligible for because the New Mexico Human Services Department has failed to implement major elements of a corrective action plan the department itself helped draft and the court approved and mandated. In a motion filed yesterday evening on behalf of plaintiffs in the lawsuit Deborah Hatten Gonzales v. David Scrase, the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty asked a U.S. District Court to order HSD to comply with the plan, set deadlines, share information, and meet with plaintiffs.

Building Upon Inclusion In Las Cruces City Government

Nov 20, 2019
Johana Bencomo

Commentary: I cried the day I walked into the voting booth and saw my name on the ballot. I cried because I honestly couldn’t believe it. Here I am, a 31-year-old community organizer, first generation college graduate, and an immigrant who just 16 years ago was undocumented. At that particular moment the outcome of the election didn’t weigh on me as much, I felt so proud regardless.

I became a naturalized U.S. Citizen at 16 years old. Back then, I deeply believed in the American Dream. I strive every day to live up to the sacrifices of my parents and the opportunities they created, and I hope to be part of creating a world where many others can start believing in this dream again. 

Commentary: Please Do Not Allow UTVs On Las Cruces Streets

Nov 20, 2019
Photo by Supertrooper / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Commentary: At the signing of the bill to allow UTVs on New Mexico public roads, it was made clear by Governor Lujan-Grisham and bill sponsors that its purpose was solely to enable farmers and ranchers easier access to their fields and not to provide for recreational usage.

There is now a plan to present an ordinance to Las Cruces City Council to lift the ban on UTVs on our streets.

Crossing The Border In El Paso For The Holidays

Nov 18, 2019

Commentary: Very soon, we will enter what is termed the “Paisano Season,” in which thousands of people will be crossing the U.S.-Mexico border to spend time with their families during the holidays. Cars and trucks will be loaded with luggage and gifts for the Christmas season. The highways will start to become full as people begin their annual trek back and forth across the border. Ports of entry will become clogged with long lines of cars and people waiting to cross. I generally limit my travel to Mexico during this period because I hate waiting in lines.

Nurturing Community In Las Cruces

Nov 17, 2019

Commentary: Our hens are taking a break, so for Sunday brunch we bicycle to Nessa's. It's a peaceful ride on quiet streets. We pass some small but appealing houses that have seen better days. I always wish I could save them. They're like stray cats I want to feed.

Nessa's is small and welcoming – and nearly empty, because everyone's out back, where musicians are jamming and drinking coffee. Inside, at the table next to ours, two state legislators are discussing energy. After ordering, we briefly discuss with them New Mexico's overly restrictive cottage-industry laws. Then they get back to working, and we start eating. 

The Dematerializing Economy

Nov 15, 2019
Dr. Chris Erickson

Commentary: Left wing environmentalists would have you believe that the insatiable needs of capitalism are inexorably stripping way precious resources. That greed and the desire for more and more is destroying the planet. Well, there is no doubt that capitalists are greedy, but that greed is not stripping the planet but rather driving the development of new technologies that allow us to make stuff with fewer materials.

The U.S. economy is, in fact, dematerializing. We use fewer and fewer molecules each year. Less copper, less iron, less of just about everything. The reason for this is the capitalist drive for efficiency—the drive to get more from less.

imagebase.net

Commentary: Today, U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and U.S. Representative Peter Welch (D-Vt.) introduced companion bills in the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives to reform the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) by mitigating harmful environmental impacts of the corn ethanol mandate and advancing the next generation of biofuels that actually reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The GREENER Fuels Act (Growing Renewable Energy through Existing and New Environmentally Responsible Fuels Act) would phase out the corn ethanol mandate and immediately reduce the amount of ethanol in fuel by as much as 1 billion gallons by capping the amount of ethanol that can be blended into conventional gasoline at 9.7 percent. After thirteen years of increasing mandates, corn ethanol is now a mature technology, but one that has contributed to habitat loss and greater water pollution from pesticides and fertilizers.

Walt Rubel

Commentary: One of the two incoming members of the Las Cruces school board believes we should have an entrance exam for kindergartners, and only those who pass should be let in.

“I believe that there should be requirements for children entering kindergarten,” Carol Lynn Cooper said during an on-air radio forum on KTAL-LP community radio in September. “It puts the responsibility on parents. I mean, if we say five years from now, a student must come to school being able to read … with certain skills that they probably get best from their parents. The point is that they are really ready for school. And so, when a kindergarten teacher is working with these students, they are ready for what she has to give and develop.”

RPNM Chairman Steve Pearce

The following is a statement from Republican Party of New Mexico Chairman Steve Pearce regarding the public impeachment hearings in Washington:

"These impeachment hearings are nothing more than"travesty theater." There's no due process here, no one has first-hand knowledge, and there's no quid pro quo. It's all heresay and second hand knowledge. It's unbelievable the lengths to which the Democrats will go in this partisan witch hunt. The President has to endure this charade all while he continues to deliver on his promises to make this country great again."

Torres Small Statement on DACA Supreme Court Oral Arguments

Nov 12, 2019

Commentary: Congresswoman Xochitl Torres Small, NM-2, released the following statement after the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Department of Homeland Security v. Regents of the University of California, a case that could decide the fate of nearly 7,000 Dreamers across New Mexico:

“Dreamers are students, small business owners, first responders and essential parts of our community who strive to contribute to the growth and prosperity of the only places they’ve called home. Earlier this year, I voted to pass the DREAM and Promise Act in the House, a bill which an overwhelming majority of the country supports.  When most of the country wants to protect Dreamers, Congress would be smart to act accordingly.  As the justices weigh the merits of this case, I will continue to fight for a clear and moral immigration system that keeps our border communities vibrant and safe.”

Udall Statement on Supreme Court Case on DACA Program

Nov 12, 2019
U.S. Senator Tom Udall D-NM

Commentary: Today, U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.) issued the following statement on the Supreme Court case to determine the validity of President Trump’s decision to terminate Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), the program that protects thousands of young undocumented immigrants from deportation. The Supreme Court heard oral arguments today to examine whether the Trump Administration’s decision to terminate DACA was lawful. Previous lower court decisions have supported the legal grounds for the DACA program.

Peter Goodman

Commentary: “¿Qué tal?” [What's up?] That casual greeting inspired the official call-letters “KTAL” for our Las Cruces community radio station.

Despite limited funds, KTAL-LP is a pretty neat radio station – due solely to volunteers. July 2019 marked two full years on the air. Before that, a small but dedicated group worked more than two years to get the station on the air. 

 

Photo by: Nathan J. Fish

Commentary:  Complaints about “political correctness,” “purity” and “woke culture” are all mind-numbing clichés.

With a bit of effort, we could be more precise. Is the object of scrutiny being pedantic, unreasonably partisan, impractical or hypocritical?

Those distinctions allow us to have a conversation, at least; but conversation may not be the point. Keep in mind that the function of these clichés is more often to close down reflection and discussion; and that serves existing power relationships well.

 

A system by the lawmakers and for the lawmakers

Nov 7, 2019
Walt Rubel

COMMENTARY: New Mexico has two ways of distributing money for capital outlay projects, and both were on display here last week.

School building projects are governed by the state Public Schools Capital Outlay Council, which has a rigorous evaluation system to impartially rank projects and take care of those schools that have the greatest need first.

All schools in the state are ranked based on statewide adequacy standards to create the Facilities Assessment Database. School districts seeking capital outlay projects submit a request for funding, which is then scored on a points system based on critical needs.

Rep. Xochitl Torres-Small (D-NM 2)

  Commentary: Members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC), Committee Chairs and the New Mexico Delegation called on the Department of Homeland Security Inspector General to launch an investigation into the actions of Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) with regard to the treatment of Roxsana Hernandez and ICE’s failure to preserve video evidence that may have been crucial to her family seeking justice. Roxsana, a trans woman from Honduras, died just weeks after arriving in the United States.

 

The letter was signed by CHC Chairman Joaquin Castro (TX-20), Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson (MS-2), Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (NY-10), Judiciary Subcommittee Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren (CA-19), Assistant Speaker Ben Ray Luján (NM-3), Congresswoman Xochitl Torres Small (NM-2), and Congresswoman Deb Haaland (NM-1).

Deep State Meaning under the Trump Administration

Nov 4, 2019

Commentary: Back in the 19th century, federal employees served at the pleasure of the President and could be fired at any time. The result was the spoil system--which meant that jobs were used to support political parties in power.

The Civil Service Reform Act of 1883 and subsequent laws change that situation and hiring was based on merit. Under the Hatch Act of 1939, Civilian employees are not allowed to engage in political activities. Each Agency has a limited number of Political employees that are appointed by the President, but the vast majority are civil servants protected by Civil Service laws.

Celebrating Hatch, Chile Capital Of The World

Nov 4, 2019

Commentary: Back in July, I visited my sister who lives in Vancouver, Washington, just north of Portland, Oregon. She is a chile fanatic, and when we are together, we try to cook both red and green chile dishes. When I visit her, I pack my suitcase with fragrant ground red chile from New Mexico. On this recent visit, we went to the supermarket to pick up some fixings to prepare our recipes. As we are strolling down the salsa aisle, she suddenly stops and lets out a cry, “Look at this!” I caught up with her and followed her gaze to dried red chile pods with “Hatch chile” on the label.

Commentary: There are some local election races many folks don't know much about.

The Doña Ana Soil and Water Conservation District (“DASWCD”) has been a rancher-dominated board, largely out of step with the county's views. When most people favored creating the Monument, DASWCD unanimously wrote President Obama opposing it. Fortunately, DASWCD is changing, and now includes both environmentalists and ranchers. 

RPNM Chairman Steve Pearce

Commentary: The Republican Party of New Mexico and Las Cruces mayoral candidate Mike Tellez have filed suit against New Mexico’s Secretary of State, the Dona Ana County Clerk and the County’s Absent Voter Precinct Board. The RPNM and Tellez claim the defendants are ignoring a 2019 law that requires absentee voters to provide their name, address and date of birth.

Should Reciting The Pledge Be Mandatory?

Oct 31, 2019

Commentary: The pledge of allegiance is, without question, the most successful marketing campaign in history.

The original oath — “I pledge allegiance to my Flag and to the Republic for which it stands — one nation indivisible — with liberty and justice for all” – was essentially part of an effort to sell magazines in 1892.

The publication Youth’s Companion used to distribute U.S. flags as rewards for selling subscriptions. The pledge was written by Francis Bellamy in a push to install flags in every public school for the 400th observance of Columbus Day.

No Blood For Oil

Oct 30, 2019
Walt Rubel

 Commentary: I always had a negative reaction whenever I saw that bumper sticker during during the days of the Iraq War. I opposed the war, but thought the bumper sticker, like most bumper stickers, was overly simplistic.

And, it was fundamentally wrong.

It played to an obvious narrative, with both President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney coming from the oil industry. But history will show, that’s not how things played out. 

Yazzie plaintiffs call on state to develop transformative education plan

Oct 30, 2019

Commentary: New Mexico students still lack the basics necessary for a constitutionally sufficient education, charged the Yazzie plaintiffs of the landmark education lawsuit, Yazzie/Martinez v. State of New Mexico in a motion filed with the First Judicial District Court today. The motion asks the court to order the state to develop, implement, and fully fund a long-term plan that will meet the state’s constitutional mandate that guarantees all public school students the opportunity to be college and career ready.

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