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.

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.

 

Commentary:  Today, Rep. Rod Montoya (R-Farmington) announced he will introduce legislation for the upcoming 2020 Legislative Session establishing a New Mexico Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR). The constitutional amendment, if enacted, will restrict annual spending by state lawmakers and require any future tax increase to be approved by a three-fifths majority in both chambers. Additionally, the amendment would provide taxpayers with annual rebates after spending limits are met. If approved, the constitutional amendment would be placed on the ballot for voter ratification in the 2020 general election.

Paul J. Gessing

Commentary: Gov. Lujan Grisham recently released her budget to be considered by the Legislature in the upcoming 30 day session. As expected, there is a lot of new spending thanks to the continued growth of oil and gas production in the Permian Basin.

After a 12 percent boost in General Fund spending last year, the Gov. is requesting yet another big increase. This year she’s asking for 8.4 percent.

Millennials And The Decline Of Organized Religion

Jan 13, 2020


  Commentary: The far east New Mexican town in which I spent my high school years had an unsubstantiated rumor that there were 90 churches for a town of 30,000 people. It certainly felt like it, with churches on nearly every corner and tucked away into neighborhoods. I was ready to explore each, like an anthropologist who had only read about these tribes in books.

No, we’re not just killing industries; now millennials are canceling things like religion. Pew Research Center found four in ten millennials say they are religiously unaffiliated. It’s been a point of discussion for years, with a dash of “oh, but when they have families, it’s back to church they go” and yet, no. That’s not happening. And it’s one stereotype I actually fall into. That, and I won’t pass up some nice avocado toast.

 

Important Border Legislation Before Congress

Jan 13, 2020

Commentary: Two interesting pieces of legislation have been introduced in Congress, both aimed at securing the border, each with very similar titles. The first is titled the “Securing America’s Ports of Entry Act,” sponsored by Senator Gary C. Peters (D-MI). The bill’s objective is “To increase the number of U.S. Customs and Border Protection Office of Field Operations officers and support staff, and to require reports that identify staffing, infrastructure, and equipment needed to enhance security at ports of entry.”

TV’s New Golden Age Predicted By Economists

Jan 12, 2020
Dr. Chris Erickson

Commentary: Critics have designated this the new Golden Age of Television. The list of recent great TV shows is long starting with the “Sopranos” continuing with “Breaking Bad,” “Mad Men,” and going on to “Game of Thrones” and “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel..” Add to this list “Walking Dead,” “Stranger Things,” “Fringe” and “Arrow”—there is something great for everyone.

Interestingly, the emergence of really good TV was all predicted by economists way back in the 1970s. Back then, Cable TV was an unrealized technology. Over-the-air television was highly regulated by the FCC. Most people watched only three or four channels.

Peter Goodman

Commentary: We elected Joy Goldbaum Presiding Municipal Court Judge because she promised to focus the court on productive solutions – not on being a modern debtors' prison, as too many such courts in the U.S. become. 

 

Municipal Court handles “minor” crimes, mostly violations of city ordinances. Because many defendants are poor, mentally challenged, homeless, and/or vets suffering PTSD, many don't show up for court, or can't pay their fines. Unless they're allowed (and able) to work off the fine, a warrant and a penalty are added to the fine, making it even harder to pay. Too often a defendant who's committed some minor offense ends up in jail – for which the City pays the County $100 per night per prisoner. Raw deal both for citizen and for us taxpayers.

Commentary: Common Cause New Mexico (CCNM) has announced its priorities for the 2020 legislative session. 

“We’re focused on fulfilling the promise made by the legislature to New Mexicans when it created the independent Ethics Commission,” Heather Ferguson, Common Cause Executive Director said. “We’re requesting that the legislature fully fund the Ethics Commission with $1.2 million to pay for adequate staffing, resources and office space."  

Over 75% of New Mexico voters mandated the Ethics Commission's creation in a 2018 constitutional amendment, and the legislature last year passed enabling legislation. Commissioners have been appointed, regulations promulgated, and the commission will start receiving complaints in January. 

facebook.com/nmdgf

Commentary: The Nuestra Tierra Conservation Project has been organizing and serving underserved New Mexico youth for three years. Our goal is to provide more Hispanic and low-income youth and their families with opportunities to enjoy their outdoors, state lands, state parks, public waterways and more. We engage youth in hunting, fishing, hiking, camping, and cultural learning opportunities throughout the year with the goal of creating access and opportunities for them to continue our state’s rich outdoor traditions. 

Our Water Is More Important Than Their Profits

Jan 10, 2020

Commentary: New Mexico is a state with abundant natural resources, but, unfortunately, our water supplies are in short supply. That’s why we need to work collaboratively to ensure that we can sustain future generations of our communities, families and businesses on the land we share.

This means taking care of our water resources and preserving our culture, economy and traditions as best we can. In the Mesilla Valley, we should work toward a future in which we have adequate water supplies to honor the legacy of agriculture we communally share while planning for the future water needs of the generations to come.

Photo by: Nathan J. Fish

 

  Commentary: Election year has arrived, and while I do not bother much with new year resolutions, I will renew my pledge to avoid describing election campaigns as races, unless the candidates are facing off in a contest of athletic skill.

It is not just that the metaphor is inapt and erases debates about policy, principle and effective leadership, but ultimately it erases democracy. The winner of a race does not need a mandate from the people in the stands. Fans may have a favorite runner on the track, but the result is not up to them.

Rep. Paul Gosar / twitter.com

Commentary: Today, Members of the Western Caucus released the following statements after the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) released it's proposed rule modernizing the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to facilitate more efficient, effective, and timely environmental reviews:

"Enacted with the best intentions in mind, NEPA has been hijacked by serial litigants to halt construction on critical infrastructure projects. Under the guise of environmental protection, special interest groups have stopped new roads and bridges, transmission lines, pipelines, and even offshore wind projects dead in their tracks. Today’s announcement shows the Trump administration’s commitment to ensuring the government works better for the people. Streamlining NEPA will create a more efficient and certain time line for new projects, while ensuring we safeguard our environment for the future," said Chairman Paul Gosar (AZ-04).

 

Commentary: Today, the White House announced a proposal to significantly change how federal agencies would handle environmental reviews for energy and infrastructure projects. The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), signed into law half a century ago, directs agencies to evaluate and mitigate the environmental impacts of development and requires extensive consultation with local communities before projects can proceed. The new proposal would allow agencies to weaken NEPA reviews and ignore the climate impacts of fossil fuel development.

  Commentary: Today, U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.) released the following statement after the Trump administration decided to undermine the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) by limiting the consideration of climate change impacts of new federal projects and eliminating NEPA reviews entirely for projects with major environmental impacts like mining, pipelines and logging: 

 

“This move to gut NEPA is one of the worst decisions made by the worst environmental administration in history,” Udall said. “The Trump administration’s attempt to gut the only law that requires federal agencies to consider the environmental and climate related consequences of federal actions is an affront to all of our communities who deserve a voice in projects that affect their health, safety and economic well-being. Since 1970, the National Environmental Protection Act has ensured the federal actions are fully evaluated before decisions are made, protecting public health and including the public input necessary in a healthy democracy.

 

Legal settlements rob us of real resolution

Jan 9, 2020
Walt Rubel

COMMENTARY: The costs of former Superintendent Greg Ewing’s mismanagement of the Las Cruces school district keep mounting.

It was confirmed last week that the school district has reached a $350,000 settlement in the lawsuit filed by Elizabeth Marrufo, a 30-year employee of the school district who had been the director of its Human Resources Department.

That comes on top of a $250,000 settlement paid to former Head Start program facilitator Lilliam Duran, bringing the total thus far to $600,000, with more lawsuits working their way slowly through the system.

The Stunning Hypocrisy Of Trump's Evangelical Supporters

Jan 8, 2020
twitter.com/potus

Commentary:  In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus tells his disciples: "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God." In 1 Thessalonians 5:15 of the New International Version, Jesus implores his followers to not "return evil for evil." And in 2 Corinthians 10:4, he taught Christians that "the weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world."

On no other topic was Jesus more committed or clearer than nonviolence.

Commentary: James Jimenez, executive director of New Mexico Voices for Children, issued the following statement regarding the budget recommendation released by the Legislative Finance Committee:

“Once again, some in the Legislature want to continue this slow-drip process for funding early childhood care and education (ECCE) services. Unfortunately, the Legislative Finance Committee (LFC) budget recommendation is far below the investments needed in the programs that matter most to New Mexico kids and families and far below the responsible recommendations made by Governor Lujan Grisham.

Commentary: The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) today reported that its members and leaders in Puerto Rico are in contact with teams across a large swath of communities assessing the extent of damage and injuries caused by Tuesday morning’s powerful earthquake off its southwestern coast. LULAC leadership issued the following statements urging airlines to reduce airfare costs and calling on the federal government to provide immediate support for Puerto Ricans, who are American citizens.

 

Commentary: The following is a statement from Party Chairman Steve Pearce regarding this morning's presidential address on Iran:

“First and foremost, I am pleased to hear that no Americans were killed or injured in the Iranian missile attack. The safety of our men and women overseas is a top priority. The fact that Iran 'appears to be standing down' after the strike shows that Iran understands our military might and potential future consequences. The President has allowed Iran to save face by not responding to the latest missile attack. They have the good judgment not to hit any Americans. It’s good to see our Western allies, like Britain and Italy standing strong with us and now on military standby.  President Trump today demonstrated great leadership and a sound understanding of the Middle East region. It is evident he is working to de-escalate rising tensions, while staying tough when it comes to Iran trying to become a nuclear power.”

Peter Goodman

Commentary: Time Person-of-the-Year Greta Thunberg is just the tip of the iceberg.

We need an all-out WWII-style commitment to fight climate change. Some U.S. politicians deny that publicly – until their constituents experience floods, fires, or drought. 

 

Young people may break the logjam. It's their future, not ours.

Consider the Sunrise Movement. Days after the Democrats took back the House last year, 150 young people sat-in at Nancy Pelosi's office to urge her to push forward with promised climate-change legislation. It became a bigger news story when Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez stopped by. Suddenly D.C. was full of young people wearing black T-shirts with a rising sun. 

 

Mt Taylor Mine to Close

Jan 3, 2020

Commentary:  In a stunning victory for Native communities, Rio Grande Resources (RGR), owner of the Mt Taylor uranium mine, notified the Mining and Minerals Division (MMD) of the New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department of “cessation of mining operations” and RGR’s intention “to begin closure plan activity.”

Eric Jantz, Staff Attorney at the New Mexico Environmental Law Center, which has been representing the Multicultural Alliance for a Safe Environment (MASE) and Amigos Bravos on the Mt Taylor permitting, said,

“The frontline communities are thrilled about this development because they have been living with the mine for so long. We are all happy that RGR and MMD are finally facing the reality that the Mt Taylor Mine is not economically feasible or environmentally sustainable and we are looking forward to a thorough remediation process.”

Commentary:  Jonny is a fourth -grader in a small, rural school in New Mexico. His teacher, Mr. R., lacks any form of teacher’s license. It’s common for “Long Term Substitutes” to teach for an entire year or more in this school. Jonny’s is one of the classes reported in a statewide report that shows 644 teacher vacancies. 

New jail lawsuits challenge county claims

Jan 2, 2020
Walt Rubel

COMMENTARY: The name Matthew Coyte probably isn’t familiar to most Dona Ana County residents, but perhaps it should be.

Coyte is an attorney in Albuquerque who specializes in cases involving the abuse and neglect of prisoners. He hit the motherlode in 2012, a $22 million jury award, one of the largest ever in the history of federal civil rights cases involving an inmate. All as a result of the horrific conditions at the Dona Ana County Detention Center, and at the expense of the county taxpayers.

The case of Stephen Slevin should be familiar to most residents, as it drew national shame to our county. Headlines and news stores throughout the nation told the story of the man left in solitary confinement and so badly neglected that at one point he was forced to pull his own tooth. All of the stories were accompanied by a photo of Slevin looking like he had just crawled out from the cave where he had been living for months.

Udall Statement on Escalation in Iraq

Dec 31, 2019
U.S. Senator Tom Udall D-NM

Commentary:  U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, issued the following statement after Iranian-backed protestors attacked the U.S. embassy in Iraq following U.S. air strikes:

 

“The predictable result of the Trump administration’s reckless bluster, escalation and miscalculation in the Middle East is that we are now hurtling closer to an unauthorized war with Iran that the American people do not support. I am hoping and praying the dangerous situation at the U.S. embassy in Baghdad is resolved without serious injuries or loss of life, and I urge the administration to focus on dialogue and diplomacy going forward.

 

Las Cruces Area Groups Blast Additional Border Wall Funding

Dec 30, 2019
KRWG News

Commentary: Our Borderland represents some of the best and unspoiled landscapes in our nation. In the Southwest, our public landscapes and people represent an oasis of authentic, land-based culture with direct and unbroken generational ties going back thousands of years. On December 17, our Congress, through the FY20 Homeland Security minibus released $1.37 BILLION dollars for; new construction of border wall along our southern border, increased spending on ICE, and does nothing to address the generation of traumatized children and families that are growing up in these detention camps.

A Wish List For 2020

Dec 30, 2019

Commentary: It seems like 2019 has been a roller coaster of a ride for international trade and affairs. Scarcely has one been able to catch his/her breath when another crisis pops up creating uncertainty in the markets. As we approach the end of the year, here is a wish list of international trade and affairs that I hope will be resolved in 2020.

In 2020, Let's Keep Talking...And Listening

Dec 29, 2019
Peter Goodman

 

 

 Commentary: Recently someone remarked that we can do little or nothing to affect what happens. I agreed, but suggested that as long as we're here, why not continue our foolish efforts?

 

2020 will bring elections with more than usual riding on the results. Let's listen to candidates, and work hard for whomever we support. BUT let's all recall that few of our political adversaries, if any, are evil, or mean harm to us or our country. Almost all share our wish to make the U.S. the best nation we can be. Sure, many haven't researched things systematically, others are trapped in outmoded beliefs or ideologies, and many are afraid; but they are not the enemy.

 

Therefore it's important to keep talking. And listening! Not giving up on each other. 

 

Commentary: There are hundreds of thousands of parks in the United States, from our smallest towns to our biggest cities.

Las Cruces has six large parks - Apodaca, Klein, Mesilla, Pioneer Women’s, Veterans and Young Park, as well as smaller parks throughout the city.

New Mexico has 34 state parks, including the Mesilla Valley Bosque, which at one time was set to lose its state park status in a transfer to the Game and Fish Department.

Commentary: Today marks two years since President Trump signed the GOP tax law, giving millions in tax breaks to massive corporations and multi-millionaires, while leaving hard-working New Mexican families behind.  

 In 2016, Donald Trump came to New Mexico and claimed he was going to “massively cut taxes for the middle class” and “lower your taxes big.”  Instead, President Trump’s law was designed to penalize families with children, which is why New Mexico’s Democratic-led state legislature and Governor Lujan Grisham passed a critical fix, which would put $26 million back in the pockets of hard-working parents.  

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