Thumbs - Our high country lowdown on the news

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By Optic Editorial Board

THUMBS UP! FUN FOR A GOOD CAUSE. Saturday’s “Jamboree for Japan” was a rousing success — and a lot of fun to boot. Members of First United Methodist Church, students from United World College and other volunteers organized various “booths” in the basement of the church for such things as how to make origami and paper lanterns, write haiku poems, use chopsticks, and more.

And the $10 admission also got you a full meal. It was all to benefit Japanese people suffering after the effects of last month’s earthquake and tsunami.

Close to 100 people turned out for the event. Rev. Ellen Swain, a chief organizer of the fundraiser, reported that more than $3,300 was raised from the admission tickets and a silent auction. All proceeds, she said, are being sent to the United Methodist Committee on Relief, with 100 percent earmarked for direct services to the Japanese.

THUMBS DOWN! INCOMPLETE BUDGETING. Gov. Susana Martinez signed into law last week a $5.4 billion state budget, which cuts spending by nearly 3 percent for the coming fiscal year. The governor also signed into law a bill that will save the state $111 million off the backs of public employees — by requiring state workers and others to pay an additional 1.75 percent of their salaries into their pensions.

In addition to this painful cut into employee salaries, the budget lacks a realistic school funding formula that, unless addressed soon, will result in a shortfall for rural school districts around the state.

Not the best first budget for the new governor. Let’s hope she’s better prepared for the next round.

THUMBS UP! WINNER. Congratulations to Las Vegas resident Debra Roybal, who won $50,000 off a lottery scratcher she purchased recently at Main Street Station on Grand Avenue. At first she thought she had won $5,000 with nine complete words on her card, but after waking up her parents to tell them the news, her father found another word — for 10 times the winnings. Not a bad return on a $5 ticket.

Pardon the familiar refrain, Ms. Roybal, but don’t spend it all in one place.

THUMBS DOWN! DRY AND WINDY. With virtually no precipitation since January, Las Vegas is drying up and blowing away. And while the city is reacting appropriately to the threat of a water shortage this summer, that’s not the only negative impact — as a particularly brutal allergy season is being whipped up by springtime winds.

Here’s hoping for some rain and calmer winds, and soon.

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“There are not enough trucks in New Mexico to truck water into the community of Las Vegas. ... I ask people to join us and help us in taking an active part in conserving (water).”

— Mayor Alfonso Ortiz, as the city declared a water emergency and enacted a ban on outdoor watering and car washing.