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: United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and United States Representative Deb Haaland (D-N.M.), a member of the House Armed Services Committee, unveiled the Military Housing Oversight and Service Member Protection Act, a comprehensive bill to address a series of disturbing reports revealing unsafe and unsanitary conditions in privatized, on-base housing for military personnel and their families. Senate cosponsors include Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.).

"Our servicemembers make sacrifices to protect our country, and they and their families deserve safe, affordable housing that isn't falling apart around them," said Senator Warren. "This bill will eliminate the kind of corner-cutting and neglect the Defense Department should never have let these private housing providers get away with in the first place."

Commentary: A New Mexico high school basketball coach who was violating the Constitution resigned after the Freedom From Religion Foundation alerted the school district.

A concerned Animas Public Schools community member reported to FFRF that the head coach of the Animas High School boys basketball team was promoting religion to his team. Before a playoff game on Feb. 27, the coach had his players wear T-shirts that said, “I can do all things though Christ who strengthens me.” The coach was also reportedly holding bible studies with players.  It is a violation of the Establishment Clause for coaches to organize a bible study or endorse a religious message to students, FFRF had informed the school district. 

"Star Wars" Connects Multiple Generations

Apr 25, 2019

 

  Commentary: My young sons can tell you tales of Jason pursuing the golden fleece, how Hercules died and how Odin lost his eye. They also know the tale of Luke Skywalker and how he left a farming community for other worlds in pursuit of a mysterious destiny (and learned how to use a really cool sword).

Is one world of mythology any more legitimate or elevated than the other? If a statue of Masau'u, the Hopi figure, is acceptable as folk art, would a statue of Yoda be less so, because it is associated with commercial entertainment? My kids could not care less.

 

New Mexican Women Endorse Ben Ray Luján for Senate

Apr 23, 2019

Commentary: Today, nearly 300 New Mexicans announced their support of Congressman Ben Ray Luján for Senate. The women include local leaders, activists, teachers, health care professionals, retirees, and everyday New Mexicans who've said they are inspired by Luján's progressive vision for the state. Additionally, U.S. Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Congresswoman Deb Haaland (D-NM) announced their endorsement of Lujan last week.

"I've known Ben Ray for years, and he has always been a leader that steps up for New Mexicans. As a native son, raised on a small family farm, Ben Ray understands that hard work and a commitment to community is what our families deserve. I am proud to support his candidacy because I know he'll continue to bring those values to his work every day and fight hardest for our right to health care, education, and women's reproductive freedom," said Diane Denish, the former Lieutenant Governor of New Mexico.  

 


  Commentary: In all my years of local government reporting, I’ve never seen a new leader make a better first impression than Greg Ewing when he was hired as superintendent of the Las Cruces school district in December of 2016.

 

For months leading up to his hiring, the school board had been locked in a bitter struggle with then-Education Secretary Hanna Skandera, who at one point threatened to take over control of the district.

Stan Rounds, the superintendent at that time, made the mistake of trying to appease both sides.

Board members were looking for a full-throated advocate, and found one in Ewing. He forcefully stood up for the district, and eloquently defended its teachers.

 

Perhaps that’s why, more than two years later, school board member Terrie Dallman is still referring to him as “a breath of fresh air.”

 

Delaying Border Commerce Is Hurting The Entire Nation

Apr 22, 2019

Commentary; Waves of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border have prompted the Department of Homeland Security to temporarily assign Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) agents at the southern ports of entry to the Border Patrol. Their new role is not necessarily the traditional duties of watching the border and conducting interdiction - rather, they are being reassigned mostly to process migrants who are giving themselves up at ports of entry to seek asylum, and to transport these migrants to and from medical checkups and holding houses.

Peter Goodman

Commentary: It's great to be home. 

To step outside to the mild weather and relative quiet of Las Cruces in April, hear the familiar chabbling of the hens, and reassure the cat that we still love him. (Yeah, I invented “chabbling” to suggest babbling, chattering, and occasional squabbling.) 

Everything suddenly seems simple. It helps that I was away from Facebook and most email for a week. 

 

 Commentary: American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of New Mexico sent a letter to New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham and Attorney General Hector Balderas asking them to investigate an armed vigilante group currently engaged in the unlawful detention of hundreds of migrants near New Mexico’s southern border.

Excerpted from the letter:

“Two nights ago, on April 16, 2019, an armed fascist militia organization describing itself as the United Constitutional Patriots arrested nearly three hundred people seeking safety in the United States, including young children, near Sunland Park, New Mexico. Other videos appear to show arrests in the past few hours.[1] The vigilante members of the organization, including Jim Benvie, who posted videos and photographs[2] of the unlawful arrests to social media, are not police or law enforcement and they have no authority under New Mexico or federal law to detain or arrest migrants in the United States. Their actions undermine the legitimate efforts of our state’s law enforcement officials to keep New Mexico families safe and they erode community trust. The Trump administration’s vile racism has emboldened white nationalists and fascists to flagrantly violate the law. This has no place in our state: we cannot allow racist and armed vigilantes to kidnap and detain people seeking asylum. We urge you to immediately investigate this atrocious and unlawful conduct.” 

More audits would benefit honest taxpayers

Apr 19, 2019
Dr. Chris Erickson

Commentary: Honest tax payers should want more IRS audits. Not of themselves, of course, but in general. The reason is to incentivize those who are less honest to pay their taxes.

In fact, a lot of taxes go uncollected. An IRS study for tax years 2008-2010 found he tax gap, which is the amount of money owed the IRS but not paid, averaged $406 billion per year. This translates into 16% of taxes going unpaid; about 2.8% of GDP.

"Electability" Is Once Again A Question For Democrats

Apr 18, 2019

Commentary: Behold! See, mortals, the unseeable: This week brought us a glimpse of a black hole, briefly flooding social media timelines and popular science digests with a blurry image of a fiery orange ring that newspaper writers have likened to everything from the eye of Sauron to a donut.

Commentary: Late Monday night, the Albuquerque City Council voted 5-3 to pass a weakened Clean and Green ordinance that will end single-use plastic bags in retail but allows restaurants to distribute single-use plastic bags, plastic straws and Styrofoam takeout containers.

 

Sierra Club’s Global Warming Emergency (formerly Global Warming Express) kids, who have been advocating for such an ordinance since the beginning of the year, waited for four hours to speak on the importance of ending the proliferation of single-use plastic bags, plastic straws and Styrofoam takeout containers that create microplastic and nanoplastic pollution that could endanger our health, in addition to damaging our oceans and killing wildlife.

Asylum-seekers arrive at Community of Hope / City of Las Cruces


  Commentary: I’ve always been proud of the way our community treats those who are in need of help.

The most obvious example of that is the Community of Hope complex, where the homeless can get food, shelter, clothing, showers, counseling, computer access, job assistance and treatment for both their physical and mental health.

More recently, when federal authorities began dropping off families of Central America refugees in Las Cruces, El Calvario Methodist Church launched a massive volunteer effort to welcome those families and help them get to their sponsors around the country.

 

NMFO

Commentary: American Rivers today named the Gila River #1 on the list of America’s Most Endangered Rivers® of 2019, citing the grave threat that climate change and a proposed diversion project pose to New Mexico’s last free-flowing river. American Rivers and its partners called on Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham to permanently stop the diversion project and advance more cost-effective, innovative water supply solutions. “

Facebook / Wikileaks

Commentary: According to their website, "on April 5th, 2010 WikiLeaks released a classified US military video depicting the indiscriminate slaying of over a dozen people in the Iraqi suburb of New Baghdad- including two Reuters news staff. The video, shot from an Apache helicopter gun-sight, clearly shows the unprovoked slaying of a wounded Reuters employee and his rescuers. Two young children involved in the rescue were also seriously wounded."

 

As a result, the U.S. is now charging Julian Assange with conspiring to hack into a Pentagon computer network. But even if he was part of the hack itself, who can rightly argue that the material he accessed should have been hidden from the public forever? In other words, did Julian Assange commit a crime or expose one? Is the United States seeking accountability for his actions or merely a way to eliminate the messenger? 

Las Cruces Event Was A Reminder Of Those Who Serve

Apr 14, 2019
Peter Goodman

Commentary: Last weekend, I played in the 2nd Annual Aaron Gifford Memorial Pickleball Tournament. 

It was fun. Met many enjoyable people from eleven different states, on two beautiful New Mexico spring days, and ran around a lot. Healthy exercise, and a chance for local pickleballers to play with referees and strict rule, and play game after game in the hot sun, even when they felt tired or dehydrated. There was even a court for beginners to try out the game and learn. If some of those folks got hooked, the exercise could improve their health and even their longevity. 

It was also a good event for a good cause. 

New Federal Proposal Gives Needed Boost to New Mexico’s Working Families

Apr 10, 2019

Commentary: U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich today joined Senators Sherrod Brown, Michael Bennet, Dick Durbin, Ron Wyden to introduce the Working Families Tax Relief Act (WFTRA), legislation that would begin to fix our tax laws to help working people with low-wage jobs make ends meet as they work to support themselves and their families. The proposal would strengthen the highly successful Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) for working families, most of whom have children, ensure that millions of poor children aren’t left out of the Child Tax Credit (CTC), and boost the CTC for families with very young children.

Group Applauds House Democrats' Efforts To Restore Net Neutrality

Apr 10, 2019

Commentary: On Wednesday, April 10, 2019, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 232-190 to pass the Save the Internet Act (H.R. 1644). If enacted, it will restore the Federal Communications Commission’s 2015 Open Internet Order and bright-line net neutrality consumer protections. The FCC would be responsible for regulating the internet instead of allowing Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to regulate themselves. Additionally, the agency would have the requisite rule-making and enforcement authority to protect consumers from harmful, discriminatory actions by ISPs.

Art And The Struggle For Justice

Apr 10, 2019

Commentary: The visual and performing arts have traditionally served as a means for political movements to communicate, but is political struggle a subject for art?

The subtitle of the art exhibition at the Southwest Environmental Center in downtown Las Cruces through April 30 answers in the affirmative: “The struggle is beautiful.”

This may not seem an obvious takeaway from the daily news. Climate disruption threatens natural systems that preserve much of the planet’s life forms, including us. Society remains organized through exploitative models of power and exchange, while organized labor continues to decline. Rates for alcoholism, addiction and suicide — measurements of societal despair — are on the rise.

 

Haaland Marks 100 Days in Office with House Floor Speech

Apr 9, 2019

Commentary: Today, Congresswoman Deb Haaland (NM-01) marked her first 100 days in office with a House Floor speech highlighting significant legislative accomplishments. The speech was part of the freshman class’ 100 Days For the People special order. Haaland’s remarks as prepared for delivery are below.

If we think back to the beginning of this Congress, we started the 100 days under an unnecessary government shutdown – I met with constituents, federal workers, business owners in my district who were forced to suffer for the President’s frivolous campaign promise.

At the end of the day, we funded the government and made sure federal workers received back pay.

National Park Service

Commentary: New Mexico Wild today is celebrating the reintroduction of federal legislation aimed at protecting lands in the greater Chaco region. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich have introduced the Chaco Cultural Heritage Area Protection Act of 2019, while Representatives Ben Ray Lujan, Deb Haaland, and Xochitl Torres Small have introduced a House version of the same legislation.

“Many Chacoan sites exist outside the Park's official boundaries, so lease sales by BLM in the surrounding area almost always mean the loss of artifacts, history, and sacred sites as well as wildlands, habitat and dark skies. This bill represents a major step forward toward permanently protecting the area’s rich cultural heritage, world-class archaeological resources and sensitive natural landscape,” said Mark Allison, Executive Director of New Mexico Wild. “We are proud to stand in solidarity with the All Pueblo Council of Governors and the Navajo Nation supporting this legislation. We also want to express our profound thanks to Senators Udall and Heinrich for their leadership.”

Good timing and good fortune for Ben Ray Lujan

Apr 9, 2019

Commentary: If there is such a thing as a political silver spoon, Ben Ray Lujan was born with one in his mouth.

The son of former longtime New Mexico Speaker of the House Ben Lujan, the skids were well greased when Ben Ray decided to follow his father’s footsteps into politics and ran for the Public Regulation Commission in 2004.

Lineage probably counts for more  than it should in New Mexico politics, especially in the Democratic Party. The last three Democrats to run for governor all haled from powerful political families.

Mexican wolf count indicates that true recovery is distant

Apr 8, 2019

Commentary: Today, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service revealed that 131 Mexican gray wolves survive in the wilds of southwestern New Mexico and southeastern Arizona. The annual count shows a small increase from last year’s count of 114. The Mexican Wolf Interagency Field Team deployed in February and found at least 64 wolves in Arizona and 67 wolves in New Mexico. The population is divided into 32 known packs along with a number of solo wolves. The relatively slow growth of the population is not surprising, given extraordinarily high Mexican wolf mortalities in 2018 and political sideboards too narrowly constraining the recovery strategy for the endangered species.

The Humanitarian Crisis At The Border

Apr 8, 2019

Commentary: On March 27, Customs and Border Protection Commissioner (CBP) Kevin McAleenan visited the El Paso field sector and held a press conference highlighting the “humanitarian crisis at the border” (his words). He announced that CBP will be performing direct releases of migrants when ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) is unable to provide bed space to relieve overcrowding. McAleenan estimated that 55,000 families, including 40,000 children, are expected to enter the immigration process this month. To handle this increased flow of immigrants, mostly from Central America, 750 CBP officers have been assigned to the Border Patrol (BP), and CBP has been authorized to reassign up to 2,000 agents. In some sectors of the border, up to 40 percent of BP officers are engaged in just the care, transport, and processing of migrants – these agents are not on the line providing security functions.

Goodman: Blacklisting Is Not A "Democratic" Idea

Apr 7, 2019
Peter Goodman

 

Commentary:  Dear Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee:

 

Please rethink your heavy-handed warning that you'll boycott any consultant who works with a primary challenger to a Democratic incumbent. 

 

Primaries are how we choose our candidates – and leave everyone feeling s/he had a fair shot. Involvement in primaries can strengthen ties to the Party. Telling us we can't try weakens those.

Political parties aren't mentioned in our Constitution. The two-party system has done both good and harm. Our government has grown so complex that the parties function almost as an unofficial arm of the government. The parties have tremendous power – and, I would argue, some obligation to use that power wisely – but are not subject to constitutional restraints on governments. 

Worth Preserving - El Paso Artist Tom Lea

Apr 5, 2019
Adair Margo

Commentary:  Even in divisive times, there’s one thing everyone can agree on: The unifying power of art. Selecting and organizing the parts of a subject to make them a unified whole was a key to the life’s work of El Paso artist Tom Lea.

“Tom Lea was interested in every part of his subject, drawing inspiration from Leonardo da Vinci’s quote - that he recorded in one of his notebooks - ‘Every part is disposed to unite with the whole, that it may thereby escape from its own incompleteness.’ Tom Lea strove for that in everything he did,” says First Lady Adair Margo.

KRWG News

Commentary: "From what I’ve heard, it sounds like the most effective method is bullets." This quote from the Sun News article from March 10th reporting on the anti-immigrant event held in Deming earlier this month keeps ruminating in my head. This is where the immigration debate starts for some, inciting violence against some of the most vulnerable and defenseless individuals. For those of us who are immigrant rights advocates, who are driven to this work from personal experience, this sentiment is too unsettling. How do we possibly compromise with someone who refuses to see our humanity?

Haaland Condemns Trump Administration’s Attacks on Affordable Care Act Protections

Apr 5, 2019

Commentary: Congresswoman Deb Haaland condemned the Trump Administration’s attacks on New Mexicans’ health care by voting to pass H.Res. 271, a resolution condemning the Trump Administration’s participation in the Texas v. U.S. health care lawsuit seeking to strike down protections for people with pre-existing conditions and the entirety of the Affordable Care Act, and calling on the Department of Justice to reverse its position in the case.

“Every single New Mexican deserves access to affordable health care, but this Administration continues its efforts to take away health care from our families. They can’t have it both ways -- Republicans claim to protect people with pre-existing conditions while they’re busy arguing in federal court that those protections should be destroyed,” said Congresswoman Deb Haaland. “While this administration works to strip health care away, I’m working to pass Medicare for All which will lower health costs, so no one has to break the bank to see a doctor.”

Office of Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham

  Commentary: Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed a bill into law that ensures home care and domestic workers—the people who clean homes and deliver care for others—are protected by New Mexico’s minimum wage standards and other wage protections. Senate Bill 85, Domestic Service in Minimum Wage Act, is sponsored by Sen. Liz Stefanics and Rep. Christine Trujillo.

“This is a historic win for domestic and home care workers,” said Carlota Muñoz, a member of El CENTRO de Igualdad y Derechos. “During my employment at a cleaning service company, I stopped receiving payments for the hours I was working. I felt helpless and felt my work was not being given any respect. I am proud of the services I provide for my community, and I am glad to see this law go into effect that will provide workers like me more protections and assurance that their work will be valued like any other."

Commentary: The Santa Teresa/San Geronimo border crossing has become an engine of growth for Dona Ana county. Santa Teresa is home to industrial parks and the Union Pacific Intermodal Facility. Just across in San Geronimo is the massive Foxconn plant.

In total, the Santa Teresa border crossing accounts for about 4400 jobs, making it the second largest source of jobs in Dona Ana County, behind White Sands Missile Range. But unlike the missile range, where employment has been relatively stable, employment continues to grow at the border crossing. (NMSU is the largest single employer.)

Examining The Tragedy In Yemen

Apr 2, 2019

 

  Commentary: It took less than a day to disable Yemen’s air force, beginning March 26, 2015. Yet this week the siege of Yemen entered its fifth year.

Fittingly, the anniversary was marked by the bombing of another hospital. At least seven dead. Another war crime.

What should we call this activity? News writers call it “the Saudi-led war,” sometimes an “intervention” by a “coalition led by Saudi Arabia,” draping a cloth over American and European participation: the active, knowing collaboration of France, the United Kingdom and the United States with Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Cooperation Council.

 

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