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Opinion

  • The Las Vegas City Council has accepted a proposed new city charter from the Charter Commission, but the council may make some changes to the document before it’s submitted to voters, likely in the March 2 municipal election. The existing charter, which is essentially the city’s constitution, has been in force for nearly four decades and needs updating.

    The commission performed well in its duty in come up with a better charter. The members decided to keep what works and change what doesn’t.

    Among the high points of the new document:

  • The finding of the State Auditor that Mora School District misspent some $64,000 is obviously appalling.  Worse yet, it indicates that the system of governance used by Mora must have failed three times simultaneously in order for this to have happened.

  • Social Security is an immensely popular program. After all, we as Americans believe that everyone should have an economically secure retirement.

    But sometimes we need to curtail this program’s spending so as to ensure its survival for future generations.

    To their credit, President Reagan and his Democratic rivals got together during the 1980s to take steps to keep the Social Security fund solvent. They increased payroll taxes to make that happen — not a politically palatable choice but absolutely essential.

  • thumb DOWN to ... A SENSE OF ENTITLEMENT? The Mora school district deserves much criticism for its use of a big slush fund to the detriment of education. And we’ve joined in that chorus.

    But what about area state lawmakers who accepted thousands of dollars in gifts from the district, which serves one of the poorest areas in New Mexico? The primary recipients were Sen. Phil Griego and Reps. Thomas Garcia, Richard Vigil and Andrew Barreras.

  • It has come to our attention that Land Commissioner Patrick Lyons is proposing to trade the Aspen Hill portion of Unit 48 to the Stanley Ranch and The UU-Bar Express Ranch in exchange for some unusable and undesirable parcels of land. This is his third attempt at compromising the sportsmen and women of Northern New Mexico in exchange for favor among the ranching population.

  • The Ride To Pride 2009 Annual Benefit, Dinner, Dance and Auction proved to be another success! Serving over 280 persons for the dinner, the fundraiser brought in over $12,000 in proceeds. An outstanding success that could not have been done without the support our community. On behalf of Ride To Pride, the Board of Trustees would like to thank the following for their generous support of this year’s event:

  • We’ve lost yet another significant member of our community. On Monday, Oct. 19, Steve Flores passed away. Thankfully, he was at home with his family, where he wanted to be.

    Steve was founder and president of the Northern New Mexico Hispano Coalition. He was a founding and active member of the San Miguel County Detention Center Citizen Advisory Committee. Steve’s advocacy work on behalf of those unjustly treated by the system was invaluable.

  • In today’s column, Art Trujillo mentioned his granddaughter, Ellen, and a “mal ojo” incident. At a presentation on Latino folklore last week, an audience member referred to mal ojo. Subsequently, memories of experiences with this and other topics of Hispanic folklore (the learning of the people) surged in my consciousness.

  • Three of us were at La Kocina de Raphael earlier this month when we observed a ritual I’d not seen in 30 years.

    My son Stan, with his wife Lisbeth, with daughter Ellen Vestergaard, 7 months, joined me at the restaurant for lunch. In a nearby booth, behind Ellen, were three women who were causing my granddaughter to turn her head to see them. Ellen enjoyed the sights.

  • We are outraged with the gross misspending of education money in the Mora school district. Heads should roll.

    Last week, State Auditor Hector Balderas exposed a slush fund that demonstrated incompetence at best and an arrogance of power at worst.

    The district’s superintendent, Dora Romero, sought the audit earlier this year after the Optic submitted a public records request in connection with thousands of dollars in spending for gifts and refreshments to area state lawmakers.

  • Recently, the San Miguel County Commission decided to slap liens on more than 100 properties for unpaid solid waste bills.

    The county didn’t enjoy having to do so. For some time, its finance staff has been trying to get people to pay their bills for the use of the county’s solid waste convenience centers. But, apparently, they haven’t been tough enough in their efforts, since the county is now sitting on $161,000 in outstanding solid waste bills.

  • In the state’s effort to combat drunken driving, Gov. Bill Richardson has worked hard to reverse unfortunate trends. He can rightly claim credit for having some success in this regard.

    For the first time, New Mexico has dropped out of the top 10 for DWI fatalities. In 2008, the National Traffic Safety Administration ranked the Land of Enchantment 11th for the number of such fatalities per 100,000 population.

  • Incumbents have a big advantage when it comes to raising campaign funds. Lobbyists and big business shower those in office with money.

    Just look at the last local race for state representative. Incumbent Richard Vigil got thousands and thousands of dollars in out-of-town special interest money. In total fundraising, Vigil raised $60,000 to Travis Regensberg’s $12,000 and Naomi Montoya’s $6,000.

    Regensberg got just one out-of-town special-interest donation, $500 from the New Mexico Federation of Teachers. Montoya got none.

  • On Sept. 6, Las Vegas citizens were rocking to the beat of the first annual Ain’t Got No Frijoles Blues Festival at King Stadium, right behind Camp Luna.

  • I’ve had mixed feelings about President Lyndon Johnson for the last 44 years. He contributed much to the welfare of American citizens but at the same time, he held responsibility for so many wasted lives in the rice paddies of Vietnam.

  • I sense an increasing anxiety about the future of our country and thus offer the following modest proposals for improvement. Call it a baker’s dozen for a better America:

    1. Shut down all coal burning power plants by 2015, replacing them with solar, wind and conservation. Natural gas (expensive in the short-term) can ease our transition, but the fossil fuel burns have got to go. It’s either that or the polar ice caps. (And we need others to help: China, India, etc.)

  • thumb UP to ... HEALTHY TENSION. Las Vegas Mayor Tony Marquez, who for months has not returned our messages, responded to an e-mail about an open-government issue recently. We hope this is the beginning of a new approach to dealing with us “inky wretches.”

    The mayor has become something of a mystery man since he stopped communicating with the Optic last March (other than at City Council meetings, where it’s harder to avoid us). This has on occasion left the newspaper and its thousands of local subscribers in the dark about the goings-on in city government.

  • In reading this week’s column, you might get the impression the poofreader is on vacation. That’s a common enough assumption but a rare occurrence. But look carefully. Your job is to figure out that we mean by these cryptic titles to books, movies, plays and TV programs.

    But be warned: Some of the puns and plays on words are atrocious; there’s bilinguality, far-fetchedness and even a few titles made to fit the local scene. Most titles involve changing a single letter; occasionally, you may need to make two changes or even divide a word.

  • Last week, the San Miguel County Commission had to decide whether to abandon one mile of a county road in the Ribera area.

    The petitioners were a family that had owned the road for generations, but it ended up on the county road log in the early 1980s. They said that keeping the road open to the public has led to trespassers vandalizing, rockhounding and creating disturbances on their property. They said their father never meant for the road to be public.

  • If Las Vegas attorney Dave Romero had lived in the late 1700s, he likely would have been a follower of Alexander Hamilton, who supported a strong executive and central government.

    By the same token, Las Vegas’ Charter Commission would likely have fallen behind Thomas Jefferson, who advocated the spreading of power.

    A couple of weeks ago, Romero criticized the work of the commission, a city-appointed panel charged with drafting a new charter, which is essentially the city’s constitution. The current charter is nearly 40 years old.