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Opinion

  • Recently I read in the Optic a couple of articles that question whether Las Vegas’ charter properly sets the mayor’s term at two years. I understand that the New Mexico Municipal League’s attorney, Randy Van Vleck, has taken the position that the mayor’s term must be four years under state law. If that is the position he has taken, I beg to differ. One must look deeper into the statutory history to avoid this incorrect conclusion. Let me explain.

  • New Mexicans can no longer depend on only elected officials to fix our state budget issues. We, as the people who elect them, need to make ourselves heard. The bickering which often occurs in state government inhibits results and must stop.  Energies need to be focused on working on solutions without concern for who receives the credit (or blame) for decisions that must be made.

  • thumb DOWN to ... A CORPORATE RESPONSE. Last week, advocates for the union representing employees at Alta Vista Regional Hospital went to the administration office and presented a proclamation asking that the hospital negotiate with the employees. They took their message right to the hospital’s administrator, Richard Grogan.

    They brought along a mop as a symbol of their desire to see a cleanup at the hospital’s parent company’s Tennessee headquarters and a chair to reflect the need for the hospital to sit down with the union.

  • As one with entirely too much time on my hands, I concocted a series of unusual movie, book and TV titles, usually with a letter or two altered to create an entirely different scenario.

    I received three e-mails from readers, Steve and Yolanda Jensen from Springer, Richard Lindeborg from Las Vegas, and Ben Trujillo, who lives in Albuquerque.

  • For many, the approach of winter means weatherizing the home or stocking up on heating fuel to burn in the cold nights ahead. For others, it means finding a way to survive — and that’s where the generosity of our community comes into play.

  • 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.