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.

Census Data a Warning to New Mexico

May 11, 2021
Paul J. Gessing

Commentary: The US Census Bureau recently released what can only be described as some disturbing data regarding the future of New Mexico. Notably, while the Land of Enchantment’s population grew by just 2.8 percent over the past decade, each of our neighbors saw double digit population growth with the exception of Oklahoma which still bested New Mexico with 5.5 percent growth.

That by itself should be a wake-up call for New Mexico’s Legislature and Gov. Lujan Grisham, but a report put out by New Mexico’s Legislative Finance Committee fleshes out some of New Mexico’s impending demographic challenges and should further guide efforts to change course and make our State a destination for jobs and economic growth, not a failing state that is hemorrhaging young people.  

By Any Other Name Lacks Respect

May 10, 2021

  Commentary: When he responded to my call with a deep, slow hello, it sounded like I roused him from sleep. I blurted out the question of whether I could speak to a world-famous comedian. Except, aside from the same last name and a shared first letter of the first name, this was not that comedian.

He laughed when I tripped back over my tongue to fix it. "Oh, it's OK. I can be him," he said pleasantly.

"No! I'm so sorry; that's terrible," I replied. "I even coached myself not to say that name before I called." He continued to laugh, and it smoothed over, but it was another reminder of how important names are to the back and forth of a conversation. Depending on the level of maltreatment of a name, the conversation can go downhill.

Time To End New Mexico's Tax On Social Security

May 10, 2021

  Commentary: As the special election to fill New Mexico’s 1st Congressional District heats up, an important area of bipartisan common ground has emerged: Both Democratic Rep. Melanie Stansbury and Republican Sen. Mark Moores are emphasizing their support for repealing New Mexico’s tax on Social Security income.

During the last two legislative sessions, nine bills were introduced to repeal this tax, sponsored by lawmakers from across the political spectrum. Unfortunately, despite the strong bipartisan support for this reform, New Mexico remains one of 13 states that taxes Social Security benefits. Of those states, New Mexico has the second-harshest tax, costing the average Social Security recipient nearly $700 a year.

Vaccines And Mandates

May 10, 2021
NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGIES AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES

Commentary:  Anybody who wants the COVID-19 vaccine can now walk into any Walmart in the country without an appointment, an insurance card or a dime in their pocket, and get a free shot.

In a very short period of time, the only people in the United States not vaccinated will be those who refuse to take the vaccine. That completely changes the equation on mandatory facemask laws.

 

Facemasks have served two purposes - protecting others from us and protecting us from others. Now that so many of us are vaccinated, we no longer need that protection. If the only purpose of the mandate is to protect those who have the ability to protect themselves, but are unwilling to do so, that’s not reasonable or sustainable.

Facebook / White House

Commentary: The Republican Party’s attacks on Liz Cheney demonstrate why the Trump-inspired question, “What would I do if I were a Republican?” has renewed urgency.

In 2016, conservatives and voters who “distrust all politicians” were sufficiently disenchanted with the U.S. political works to help toss in Donald Trump as a giant monkey wrench. Trump also attracted racist and jingoistic haters; but most Trump voters I know are regular folks. Many soon realized that the reality of “President Trump” was disastrous. He not only said and did harsh things to refugees and immigrants, socialist and atheists, and “welfare bums,” he endangered most everything U.S. patriots prize, such as national security, the rule of law, ethics in government, and separation of powers.

Commentary: With President Biden's proposed programs on Infrastructure and Families, Republicans are calling them socialism ideas that will move us toward communist countries like Cuba or Venezuela. That is not true. Capitalism does a good job of providing goods and services like automobiles, groceries, electronics, banking, repairs, haircuts, and clothing. But there are certain collective needs that the private sector has little incentive to provide—such as public education, roads and bridges, broadband access in rural areas, mass transportation, childcare, police, retraining programs, and basic research. To have a successful society, we need both.

  Commentary: Today, the Department of Interior, the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Commerce, and the Executive Office of the President released a comprehensive report on achieving President Biden’s commitment to conserve 30% of U.S. lands and waters by the year 2030. 

New Mexico conservation leaders share their thoughts and aspirations related to the new report:


Teresa Martinez, Executive Director of the Continental Divide Trail Coalition:

“A national 30x30 goal will ensure that all Americans, regardless of their race or status, will have access to our pristine natural world. Frontier communities in New Mexico and across the country will thrive. The outdoor economy will grow, creating clean, healthy jobs. Nature can heal, and we can help to lessen the impact of the current climate crisis, ensuring clean air and clean water for our children and grandchildren.”

Symbolism, not security, reason for border wall

May 4, 2021
KRWG News

 


  Commentary: For the past four years, our nation’s immigration policy was the equivalent of a “Keep Out” sign on the front yard. That didn’t stop desperate migrants from seeking refuge.

 

The border wall was the physical embodiment of that policy. It was the top priority for the previous administration, and the most motivating issue for the Republoican base, who were promised that Mexico would pay for construction.

 

Former President Donald Trump routinely battled with members of Congress, including those from his own party, over funding for the wall. That dispute led to a 35-day shutdown of the federal government in 2018, the longest in our nation’s history.

From One Moment to the Next

May 4, 2021
imagebase.net

Commentary: We gave in to our children's continued requests for a cat. When we walked into the adoption center, it was all over. A first batch of kittens was a no-go when their little needle-like claws got stuck on the kids' skin. The kids deflated as they pried the adorable mewing floofs off.

The employee suggested the cat room. One friendly little male cat "sold himself well," as my husband said. He's gregarious, playful, and smart; he went right toward the kids and my husband. The kids were over the moon when we walked out with him.

The Canary in the Tiny House

May 4, 2021

Commentary: When I left for college, I was proud that I could pack my life into my car. I stuffed everything that I needed — or thought I needed — into a 1988 Volvo 240. When I shoved my lava lamp next to a stack of shirts, I never for a minute dreamed that it would be considered cool to live in your car, a van or a tiny house originally dreamt up for Keebler elves.

COMMENTARY: When I lived and worked in Mexico City, illegal drugs were shunned by the “gente decente” (decent people) in virtually all classes. Being known as a drug user carried a very bad stigma. At the time, I had the unfortunate luck of having my name be Pacheco, which in Mexico was used as slang equivalent to “stoner” in the U.S. Asking somebody, “Eres muy Pacheco?” meant, “Are you really stoned?” However, even joking about smoking marijuana or other drugs was generally frowned upon.

 

  Commentary: The NFL just completed its annual draft.

In reverse order of last season’s finish (absent trades), each team picks a top college player. There are seven rounds over three days.

In 2005 the San Francisco 49ers had first choice, which meant they’d fallen on hard times. I hoped they’d draft Aaron Rodgers, quarterback at nearby Berkeley. Aaron and others thought they would; but quarterback Alex Smith of Utah, got the call.

Walt Rubel


Peter Goodman: Sound The Alarm On The Climate Crisis

Apr 27, 2021
Peter Goodman


Paul Gessing: Reject Bag Ban

Apr 26, 2021
Paul J. Gessing

COMMENTARY: The City Council of Las Cruces is considering a ban on plastic bags, specifically those bags which are thinner than 2.25 millimeters thick. Restaurants may or may not be exempted from the statute, but banning plastic bags is not a viable solution to our solid waste challenges.

In fact, nearly all cities around the country and State of New Mexico including Albuquerque put their bag bans on hold for the duration of the COVID 19 pandemic. Albuquerque’s ban remains in place with no return date set.

 Commentary: Teachers play an integral role in shaping strong, vibrant families and communities through their ongoing work of shaping the leaders of the future. But the COVID-19 pandemic showed the growing inequality found in our education system as students lost access to many essential services and supports that were offered only through schools. 

Teaching a student without actually looking at them is more complicated than it seems. I had some students that were tardy, some had their cameras off most of the time, not  knowing if they were there, or they were safe–and some students were just absent.

Commentary: It’s the week of Earth Day in 2021, and we’re way past the point of closing our eyes and imagining the terrible effects of climate change. In New Mexico, we already endure year-round wildfire seasons. We already live through record-breaking droughts and heat waves. And like other parts of the nation and the world, we’re already seeing how extreme weather can damage the infrastructure that supports every aspect of our lives.

In 2011, the Los Conchas Fire threatened the supply of electricity to roughly 400,000 customers and forced the Los Alamos National Laboratory to close for more than a week. In 2016, severe lightning storms caused power outages for nearly 130,000 New Mexicans. And in 2020 alone, climate-related disasters caused nearly $100 billion in damage to houses, businesses and public infrastructure nationwide.

Archbishop John Wester

Commentary: Archbishop John C. Wester’s statement on the verdict in the trial of Derek Chauvin:

 

Yesterday’s verdict in the George Floyd murder trial is one step toward accountability, toward a measure of justice for the family of George Floyd, and toward building a more just world free of racism and systemic violence against the Black community. We know we have much more work to do to build a more just society. We must continue the prayers and stand up to bigotry and racism in our country.

Commentary: Today, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham announced the regression of 9 counties to the Yellow and Red COVID framework levels. Catron, Chaves, Eddy, Harding, Lincoln, Rio Arriba, Sierra, and Socorro all regressed to the Yellow Level, and Colfax moved to the Red Level. 


Senator Cliff Pirtle (District 32-Chaves, Eddy, and Otero) issued the following statement in response to the announcement:


“Unfortunately, the inevitable came to pass and New Mexico businesses are again facing more restrictions. We have been saying for months that the COVID framework was unsustainable. We knew that when COVID cases drastically declined, a percentage based model would make no sense, especially in rural counties. It is time for the Governor’s office to descend from their ivory tower of faulty statistics and delusion, and see the effects these policies have on regular New Mexicans. Because of her failure to remove or adapt the lockdown framework, business owners from some counties now have their livelihood in jeopardy because of less than a dozen cases in the entire county. More than half of our state’s citizens have had at least one vaccine and thousands more have recovered and are immune. There is no logical, scientific, moral, or ethical reason to keep our state closed down. It is time for a full reopening of our state.”


  

Gila River

Gordon West, Founder, CEO and CTO of TrollWorks, a Silver City-based company focused on bioenergy + carbon capture and sequestration, released the following commentary regarding Earth Day 2021:

New Mexico is feeling the impacts of climate change with severe drought and increased risk of wildfires becoming the new norm, but we’re also uniquely positioned to lead on solutions to climate change.

On this Earth Day, we should both recognize the challenges presented by climate change, celebrate the progress that’s been made, and look to the actions that must be taken to reduce our carbon emissions and transition to a clean energy economy. It’s going to take innovation and new technologies from the private sector coupled with strong policies and investments from all levels of government.

Learning Our Worth and Our Power By Cassie McClure

Apr 21, 2021

Commentary: My first job was when I was 15. After hanging around the computer lab a little too long, I was asked if I wanted to help with tech support for my high school. I would spend one of my school periods wandering around the school and adding memory cards or updating software. It was billed as an advanced computer class, but I was also paid for my work.

I still have a copy of my very first paycheck, which was about $150 for a month's work. The minimum wage was $5.15. The first check also had taxes, and it honestly felt somewhat amazing that little ol' me was contributing a few dollars into a system that supports others in America. It made me feel connected to that greater mystical "workforce" that I'd heard so much about as a kid.

Laura Paskus, New Mexico In Depth

Commentary: Farmers and ranchers, conservation, recreation, and tribal groups filed[1]  motions to intervene today to defend the Biden administration’s pause on federal oil and gas leasing pending the Department of Interior’s comprehensive review of the program. With this action, the groups seek to defend the leasing pause against two lawsuits filed by Wyoming and the Western Energy Alliance. The coalition argues this is the legal and necessary first step to a long-overdue review of the federal oil and gas leasing and permitting program. 

 


  Commentary: In his 2007 book, former CIA Director George Tenet boasts that the first U.S. covert teams were in Afghanistan 16 days after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. 

 

“Less than two and a half months later, a core group of 90 CIA paramilitary officers, along with a small number of special forces units, in combination with Afgjhan militias and supported by a massive aerial bombardment by the U.S. military, had defeated the Taliban and killed or captured one quarter of Usama bin Ladin’s top lieutenants, including his military commander, Mohammed Atef, a key player in the 9/11 attacks,” Tenet wrote. “Kabul had been liberated and Hamed Karzai named president by a national council. Afghanistan would be CIA’s finest hour.”

Remembering A Las Cruces Leader

Apr 19, 2021
Kevin Boberg

Commentary: On March 22, 2021, I lost a friend and colleague. After a long illness, Kevin Boberg passed away on that day. When I met him, he was working as a professor at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces. He was the first international logistics experts I met when I become a trade specialist thirty years ago. I remember being introduced to him and the talk turned to the soon-to-be-established Santa Teresa Port of Entry in southern New Mexico. He strongly argued that an intermodal yard incorporating rail and truck modes needed to be established there.

Archibald Cox: A Profile In Leadership

Apr 19, 2021

 


  Commentary: Fifty years ago, if you saw a pickup truck in Harvard Law School’s parking lot, it belonged to Archie. Professor Archibald Cox, who loved his farm and his horses.

Archie was a Yankee, and born to law. His father was a noted lawyer. His great-grandfather, William Evarts, had prosecuted Jefferson Davis and defended Andrew Johnson against impeachment. Archie was a diligent and brilliant lawyer; but what makes any of this worth telling was his quiet, stubborn commitment to do right.

Las Cruces Leader: Should There be a Moratorium on Routine Traffic Stops?

Apr 19, 2021

Commentary: I have been pulled over by law enforcement officers twice in the past year. Both traffic stops occurred in the middle of a pandemic. Both times, I was outraged by the disregard for my safety during the pandemic. Were the officers just doing their jobs? And, what exactly is their job, anyway? Both times I invoked my best people skills to make sure the officers were at ease, regardless of my ire. Both times I was furious but dared not show emotion or escalate the situation. I am painfully aware that all too often these encounters are costly, if not deadly.

New Mexico Democrats Walk Fine Line on Energy

Apr 17, 2021
Paul J. Gessing

Commentary:  If there were an overall theme for New Mexico’s current political situation it would be the ongoing attempts by Democrats to placate their environmentalist base which opposes traditional energy sources while at the same time keeping energy dollars flowing into the State’s coffers.

The Biden Administration’s moratorium on oil and gas permitting is the most notable example of this conflict. Gov. Lujan Grisham has publicly spoken out about it, but Attorney General Balderas has refused to join a lawsuit challenging the policy that was recently filed by a dozen states. None of those states have as much to lose as does New Mexico, but our elected leaders are unlikely to challenge a President of their own party.

  Commentary: Yesterday, Representative Yvette Herrell voted against the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would help reduce the wage gap by giving all workers more power to fight for equal pay, especially women and minorities who have long faced wage discrimination.  This passed the House on a bipartisan vote. 

Herrell also opposed the Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act today which would protect nurses, physicians, social workers, emergency responders, and other health care workers from violence in the workplace This passed the House on a bipartisan vote of 254 to 166.

File / KRWG

  Commentary: After announcing it would drop one of its leases in the Palo Verde Nuclear plant last year, this month PNM proposed replacing the energy with 100% solar and battery. In support of its proposal, PNM cited the Energy Transition Act’s requirements and the Public Regulation Commission’s decision last year to choose a 100% solar/storage proposal rather than PNM’s favored gas-inclusive replacement scenario for San Juan Generating Station coal. The replacement proposal will need to be approved by the commission. 

Earth Day 2021: New Mexico Is Moving Forward

Apr 14, 2021

  Commentary: On Thursday April 22, we celebrate Earth Day, a time to give thanks for our environment and to recommit ourselves to addressing the threats it faces.

 

In New Mexico, we are blessed with one of the most diverse environments in the world, from the forested Rocky Mountains in the north to the high plains in the east, from the tablelands and mesas in the west to the Chihuahuan Desert in the south.

 

But as in the rest of the world, our environment is threatened by climate change. Its effects are all around us: record heat, diseased forests, larger wildfires and mountain snowpacks that run off too quickly.

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