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: A new poll conducted after President Trump’s rally in Rio Rancho shows his approval dropping among Hispanic New Mexicans. The poll, conducted by Equis research, shows Trump job approval among Hispanic New Mexican voters is down to 29%, while favorable views of Democrats rose 13 points. It was conducted after President Trump held a rally in Rio Rancho where he was criticized for his “bizarre” attempt to reach out to Hispanic voters. 

 DPNM Chair Marg Elliston released the following statement in response to the poll: “Donald Trump came to our state with the same divisive rhetoric that he’s been using since the beginning of his campaign, and it fell flat. New Mexican voters have made it clear again and again that we aren’t interested in the president’s destructive lies and broken promises.”  

What Explains The Loyalty Of Trump Supporters?

Oct 29, 2019

Commentary: If any theory of psychology explains the fierce devotion motivating Trump's base, it has to be social identity theory, an idea popularized by the social psychologist Henri Tajfel (1919-1982) in the 1970s. According to Tajfel’s research, people will show remarkable allegiance to arbitrary groups for seemingly unimportant reasons e.g., "shared hair color, place of birth, or even after being randomly assigned to a group by an experimenter."

Gessing: New Mexico Should Look To Colorado For Ideas On Spending Reform

Oct 28, 2019

Commentary: The Legislative Finance Committee recently reported the requests of New Mexico government agencies for FY 2021. Last year the Legislature increased general fund spending by a robust 12%, but with oil production growing rapidly and prices per-barrel holding stable, New Mexico government is planning for another year of massive growth.

In fact, (not including funding requests for public school support and from higher education institutions) agencies are looking to further increase their budgets in Fiscal Year 2021 by a shocking 17 percent.

Commentary: The Choice For Las Cruces Mayor

Oct 27, 2019

Commentary:  Voting in our mayoral election involves not only our preferences among the ten candidates but the new process of ranked-choice voting.

 

RCV, or instant run-off, lets a candidate reach the required fifty-percent-plus-one without wasting time or money on a runoff election. We vote for our preferred candidate by marking him/her as first choice; then there are circles to fill in for second, third, and even ninth choice. Sounds simple, but I've heard many misconceptions.

 

Indicating secondary choices is optional. If you vote for only one candidate, your vote counts. However, voting for secondary candidates cannot possibly hurt your top choice: no one even looks at your second choice unless your top choice has been eliminated. Each round of counting eliminates the last place candidate. Where a voter for that newly eliminated candidate has a next-choice marked, that next choice (if not already eliminated) gets another vote. 

Commentary: Me and about 200 other NMSU administrators recently attended a day long University retreat held at the Farm and Ranch Museum. Announced at this retreat were new performance metrics to be used by NMSU upper administration to evaluate academic departments. As a department head, this caught my attention as the new measures will likely be used to evaluate me!

Three of the new metrics are a measure of faculty productivity. These are instructional dollars per student credit hour, research dollars per tenure system faculty member, and dollars per hour of service.

Photo by: Nathan J. Fish

 


Report: New Mexico Among Worst States in Nation for Higher Education Cuts

Oct 24, 2019

Commentary: New Mexico made some of the deepest cuts in the nation to its public colleges and universities, leading to tuition increases that have students struggling to afford school. Between 2008 and 2018 New Mexico cut state support by $4,030 per student (when adjusted for inflation) – the third deepest cuts per-student of state support in the nation. That’s according to a report released today by the Washington, D.C.-based Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

New Mexico is one of 19 states that cut funding for public colleges and universities by more than 20 percent per student between 2008 and 2018. New Mexico cut per-student spending by 28.8 percent, or $4,030 – outpacing the national average decline of 13 percent or $1,220 per student.

Election comes at a time of leadership changes

Oct 24, 2019
Walt Rubel

Commentary: There have been few odd-year elections in Las Cruces more important than the one now taking place.

For the first time ever, municipal and school board elections are being held at the same time.

Elections for the soil and water conservation board, which had been virtually ignored in the years before leading the opposition against creation of the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument, are also included.

China And The NBA

Oct 21, 2019

Commentary: Two recent incidents that are still playing out illustrate the interconnectedness of the world, in this case, in relation to China. The first has to do with Houston Rockets Basketball General Manager Daryl Morey, who issued a tweet in support of the Hong Kong residents protesting against the Chinese government’s clampdown on freedoms in that province. The Chinese government’s reaction was swift in condemning Morey’s message and blocking or scaling down NBA-scheduled events in China, and canceling broadcasts of NBA games in the country. Morey quickly deleted his tweet and stated that he was merely, “Stating one thought,” meaning his comments were his alone.

Commentary: Trump's Disasterous Decision In Syria

Oct 20, 2019
Peter Goodman

Commentary: Will Donald Trump's bizarre betrayal of the Kurds and our country's security interests wake anyone up?

Imagine for a moment that Barack Obama, against repeated advice by military and defense experts and his own aides, suddenly went wacky on a call with the Turkish President and said, “Yeah, I know you want to get the Kurds, so we'll get out of there.”

Suppose that when grownups from both parties screamed, Obama gave no coherent explanation, but said the Kurds had “nothing to do with us” and weren't necessarily nice people. When reporters noted that his former security advisor, General Mattis, thought the move unwise, Obama said Mattis was a lousy general, and that he, Obama, had beaten ISIS in a month. Yeah, sounds kind of like a playground spat outside an elementary school.

 Commentary: Below is a statement from Emily Kaltenbach, New Mexico State Director and Senior Director of Criminal Justice Reform Strategy for the Drug Policy Alliance, who served on the Governor’s working group on cannabis legalization, in response to the recommendations that were released by the group:

“Having worked towards cannabis legalization in New Mexico for the better part of the last decade, we are grateful the Governor’s office involved us in this process, inviting us to be a part of the working group, and are excited by the opportunity to help shape New Mexico’s policies as it looks to become the 12th state in the country to do so.

Using Fear In Politics Isn't New...And Will Continue

Oct 18, 2019

Commentary: The world certainly does not need one more psychoanalysis of Donald J. Trump. There have been plenty of those already and everyone already has their mind made up about who he is and what he stands for.

But sometimes an intellectual of such immense caliber as Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg says something so misleading that it must be challenged. 

Heinrich Condemns Trump's Decision On Syria

Oct 17, 2019
U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM)

Commentary: As America’s Kurdish allies in Syria continue to deal with the devastating, deadly incursion of Turkish forces, U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and Senate Intelligence Committee, issued the following statement:

"President Trump’s reckless, irresponsible decision to withdraw American support in northern Syria has resulted in an invasion that has endangered countless, innocent lives - sparking a humanitarian catastrophe in the region.

"The Kurds, under attack from Turkey, are the very forces responsible for destroying and imprisoning ISIS forces. By withdrawing our troops who have been instrumental in providing security to the Kurds and ensuring the continued eradication of ISIS, President Trump has abandoned our allies and created a vacuum that will no doubt be filled by an ISIS resurgence. Under this so-called ceasefire, Kurdish forces and their families face the impossible choice of fleeing their homes or being ethnically cleansed. Because of Turkey’s actions, we should seriously reconsider its role in NATO and any future military sales.

"America’s credibility on the international stage depends on us keeping our word to our friends and allies. By deserting those who fought with us, President Trump is throwing away the alliances that America has built up since WWII and making it only more likely that potential partners will side with our adversaries in the future.”

 

Walt Rubel

Commentary: U.S. Rep. Xochitl Torres Small had to cringe Friday morning when she read the headline on the front page of the Sun-News.

“Rep. Torres Small now supports impeachment of Trump.” it said. That’s not accurate.

As reporter Algernon D’Ammassa makes clear in the lead of the story, Torres Small has now come out in support of an impeachment inquiry for the first time. Not impeachment.

Analysis: 70% of NM Families with Children Will See State Income Tax Cut

Oct 16, 2019
New Mexico Voices for Children

Commentary: Most New Mexico families with children – 70% – will get a break on their state personal income taxes when they file their 2019 tax returns, thanks to legislation enacted in April by the state Legislature and Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham. That’s according to an analysis by the Washington, DC-based Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP), released today in coordination with New Mexico Voices for Children.

Commentary: Worker and community organizations support the Bernalillo County ordinance that gives employees paid time off for health, family, and domestic violence related issues, but call for improvements so it helps more working people.   

“We are disappointed that the ordinance was watered down, but we still believe this is a victory for Bernalillo County’s working families. Everyone needs paid time off when they are sick, and this law makes that a reality for more people,” said Zeke Sanchez-Taylor with OLÉ.

In a questionable political maneuver, after Bernalillo County Commissioners passed the ordinance on August 20, business lobbyists began pressuring commissioners to weaken it. 

Welcoming A New Leader In Las Cruces

Oct 13, 2019
Peter Goodman

Commentary: One recent Sunday afternoon I left the garden to go to Peace Lutheran for the Installation of Xolani Kacera as Minister of the Unitarian Universalist Church.

I met Xolani when he first arrived in Cruces, and feel a connection to him.

Churches were never my favorite places in youth. Jesus's words resonated; but churchgoing didn't. As a civil rights worker, I learned that despite Jesus's concern for the poor and oppressed, white churches were fine with discrimination; then as I came to oppose the Viet Nam War, I noticed churches weren't very tolerant of dissenters urging peace. (I didn't yet know Christianity had been used to justify slavery.)

In the '60's, had you shown me a film of Xolani's installation ceremony, I'd have asked what the film-maker had been smoking.

  Commentary: There are a lot of things that millennials as a generation are killing - from diamond industry, to Applebee’s - but it’s only now as we’re staring down the weed-filled road of aging that some articles starting to ask, what’s going to end up killing us?

A study by Blue Cross Blue Shield, who would probably like to keep us alive longer if only to have us pay our premiums for more years to come, does a type of depressing market research with their data. The first ominous news: “The major decline in health happens at 27.”

Valuing The Preservation Of Public Lands

Oct 11, 2019

Commentary: I count myself very lucky growing up in Las Cruces with parents like mine, where publicly accessible lands have provided the backdrop to many of my childhood memories and have shaped who I am today.

Day hikes in the Organs, excursions to the lava flows and rock art sites, and backpacking trips in the Gila provided the setting for imagination to run wild and us kids to experience a sense of independence and discovery not easily found.

The Push To Nationalism

Oct 10, 2019
Photo by: Nathan J. Fish

  Commentary: When the term “cosmopolitan” was originally coined, it had a different sense than it might today.

A “cosmopolitan” was not a cocktail and did not refer to a world traveler, or a magazine marketed for women, or a luxury hotel in Las Vegas.

The Greek notion of “kosmopolitês,” was summed up by Thomas Paine when he wrote, “Independence is my happiness, and I view things as they are, without regard to place or person; my country is the world, and my religion is to do good.”

 

Response to migrant presence in Las Cruces

Oct 10, 2019
Walt Rubel


Commentary: I was elected to serve New Mexico — to attract healthcare providers to rural towns, fix our broken border policy, and invest in infrastructure to save lives and bring our whole country into the 21st century. Every time I get a news alert that distracts from this work, I want to turn it off. But I do not have that luxury.

About two weeks ago, reports were published that President Trump withheld military aid to pressure the Ukrainian President into interfering with our national election. If true, President Trump’s efforts to leverage the power of his office for personal political gain is evidence he put America’s national security at risk.

Commentary: It was fabric softener that clinched it for my Mom. I was now officially a millennial after a Yahoo listicle pointed her toward what all my generation has been killing. “It’s that,” she said, “that’s the thing they all are killing that fits you to a T.”

I explained that using it was just putting unnecessary chemicals on my clothes; what was the need? She pounced, “That’s exactly what the article said. You’re one of them.”

Free College Proposal Raises Serious Questions

Oct 8, 2019

Commentary: Gov. Lujan Grisham has put forth a plan (set for debate and possible approval in the 2020 Legislature) for “free” college for New Mexico residents. For many families this may seem like an unadulterated good thing. And, as the parent of three who is pondering (and already saving for) the college educations of his three children, I totally understand that reaction.

But, from the viewpoint of an economist or even someone who is simply concerned about New Mexico’s future, there are several serious problems with this proposal.

A Trip To Juarez

Oct 8, 2019

Commentary: I am often asked what it is like to travel to Juarez, Mexico, which I go to often for business. A lot of people who used to travel across the border frequently are now reluctant or outright scared to travel to this northern-Mexico border city because of the drug wars and reported violence. It’s easy to perceive Juarez as a scary place where bad things can happen. However, we can tend to lose sight of the fact that this city has residents who do live normal lives, and face the same challenges that we do on the U.S. side of the border. In order to provide people who will not travel into Mexico the opportunity to live vicariously through my visits to Juarez, I will provide a play-by-play of my latest visit to that city for business.

Goodman: Time For A State-Owned Bank In New Mexico?

Oct 6, 2019
Peter Goodman

Commentary: Suppose, in 1919, New Mexico, a cattle-raising state being taken advantage of by large cattle-dealers and big eastern banks, had formed its own state bank? 

In agricultural North Dakota, a populist wave established the Bank of North Dakota (BND) to protect farmers from powerful out-of-state grain brokers, railroad tycoons, and private bankers. Through changing times, BND has fulfilled its mission to "promote agriculture, commerce, and industry," by plowing state funds back into local economic development.

 

  Commentary: The National Education Association of Las Cruces (NEA-LC) is recommending School Board President Ed Frank for re-election in District 5 and local education advocate Teresa Tenorio in District 4. Both candidates agree with parents and teachers that we must work on a school budget to reduce class size, adequately fund classrooms and offer competitive salaries to recruit and retain the best qualified school employees our students deserve. 

What Merits Impeachment?

Oct 3, 2019

  Commentary: Frank Bowman has spent a lot of time on the phone this week.

The University of Missouri law professor’s new book about the history of impeachment in British and American politics, “High Crimes and Misdemeanors,” has arrived in bookstores just in time for the narrative about impeaching President Donald Trump to change, almost overnight.

This week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who had been throwing pails of ice water on talk of impeachment throughout Trump’s term, used the I-word herself when she announced a formal impeachment query following reports about the president’s contacts with his Ukrainian counterpart.

 

Having neighbors means living with cats and dogs

Oct 2, 2019
Walt Rubel

Commentary: The city is about to get into another cat fight; and the county is going to get dragged into it as well.

For the past two years, a joint city and county task force has been working on proposed revisions to their animal codes. The task force recommendations include a proposal to return stray cats to the area where they were picked up.

Where Is Our High-Speed Rail?

Oct 1, 2019
Amtrak

Commentary: I recently had need to go to Houston to pick up a vehicle and decided I would try Amtrak to get there rather than the carbon intensive jet flight. I waited for a while at the Deming stop and got on the train. I ended up seeing a lot of new sights I would not have driving on the freeway or traveling by air.

The ride was comfortable and clean and staff was nice. What I had not known is that freight cars are given priority over the tracks and whenever we we came to a section of two tracks, we ended up sitting still while the freight trains passed the other direction. Sitting still on the tracks many times for many minutes for this relatively short trip made it much longer than I expected. It gave me time to ponder the situation.

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