Local Viewpoints

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Heinrich Says President Articulated The "Strength And Spirit" Of Americans

Jan 13, 2016
US Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM)

Commentary:  U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) released the following statement tonight after President Obama delivered his final State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress.

Pearce Says President Is "Out Of Touch" With Americans

Jan 13, 2016
Rep. Steve Pearce (R) New Mexico

 Commentary:  Congressman Steve Pearce (NM-02) issued the following statement after President Obama’s final State of the Union Address:

Tonight, the President demonstrated how out-of-touch he is with the American people.  When he risks our national security or damages our health care system that hurts American jobs, he calls it an accomplishment.  He cannot implement his policies without increasing taxes.  Instead of helping Americans, he has put their jobs, economy, and way of life at risk. 

NEA Leader: Educators share President Obama’s vision for America

Jan 12, 2016

  Commentary:  President Barack Obama delivered his final State of the Union Address to the nation before a joint session of Congress tonight. 


The following statement can be attributed to NEA President Lily Eskelsen García:


Senator Stewart Pre-Files Bill to Address New Mexico Teacher Crisis

Jan 12, 2016
Senator Mimi Stewart (D-17-Bernalillo)

 Commentary:   Senator Mimi Stewart (D-17-Bernallilo) pre-filed a bill to address New Mexico’s current teacher crisis by investing in our most experienced teachers to keep them in our children’s classrooms. Senate Bill 14 will increase the wages of experienced teachers who have not received a wage increase in over seven years.

Udall, Heinrich Urge Executive Action to Limit Anonymous Campaign Contributions

Jan 12, 2016
U.S. Senator Tom Udall D-NM

  Commentary:   Last week, U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich joined 27 other senators to urge the president to limit anonymous political spending in elections by requiring new transparency for previously secret campaign contributions. The senators are pushing the administration to require federal contractors to disclose political spending before submitting bids for government work. The administration released a draft plan to do so five years ago, but has not finalized it.

Commentary:  Somos Un Pueblo Unido, New Mexico's statewide immigrant's rights organization, released the following statement in response to Republican Representative Paul Pacheco introducing HB 99, a proposal that would unnecessarily take away drivers' licenses from thousands of New Mexico's immigrant families and force them to carry a discriminatory driver's permit:

In Deming, Charter High School Fights For Its Life

Jan 11, 2016


  Commentary:  Just north of the railroad tracks, the Deming Cesar Chavez Charter High School occupies what used to be Martin Elementary School. Principal Stan Lyons gave me a tour last week, frequently stopping to welcome students back from the holiday break and urge them along to class. It looks much like other schools, but with a smaller faculty and smaller student body. The building seems much larger than the school it houses. 

Photo by David Marshall, Malheur National Wildlife Refuge

  Commentary:  The occupation of the Malheur Refuge in Oregon is interesting.  (The Malheur is a place to watch migratory birds. We spent Christmas morning with the sandhill cranes at Bosque del Apache. I'm glad no armed group was occupying the Bosque to force the government to abandon the refuge.) 

First, let's stop calling these guys “militia.” They're nut-cases. They're also making the case for reasonable gun control much more effectively than Obama could do. 

New Mexicans Did Not Need to Purchase a Passport To Travel

Jan 8, 2016
Senator Mary Kay Papen (D)

Commentary:  Senate President Pro Tem Mary K. Papen (D-38-Doña Ana), Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez (D-29-Bernalillo & Valencia) and House Minority Leader Brian Egolf (D-47-Santa Fe) today announced that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will continue to accept New Mexico driver’s licenses for boarding commercial air flights until January, 2018.  The Democratic leaders expressed outrage that Governor Susana Martinez has engaged in partisan politics on the issue instead of finding solutions to comply with REAL ID.

  Commentary:  Reports from Burns, Oregon indicate that some community members condemn the violent tactics of the Bundy family and the militants but support their goals of turning American public lands over to private owners.

Without question, some in the West—including some citizens in Burns—share the view that the U.S. government’s ownership and management of the region’s public lands are to blame for economic challenges. Yet public opinion research indicates that this view is actually not shared widely in the region.

  Commentary:  For the past several years, as the holidays draw near and the legislative session looms just beyond them, I have written an article outlining the challenges facing New Mexico and trying to map out solutions to them.  This year feels different.  Perhaps it is because I recently retired from my full-time job and now have much more time to devote to my service as a state senator and because I continue to talk with and listen carefully to people from all over the state.  Of course, as the years go by, the number of challenges we face as New Mexicans never really

Commentary:  Somos Un Pueblo Unido, New Mexico's statewide immigrant's rights organization, denounced recent announcements by Governor Martinez and her anti-immigrant allies in the House to introduce a proposal that would unnecessarily take away drivers' licenses from thousands of New Mexico's immigrant families and force them to carry a discriminatory driver's permit.

Pearce Votes To Repeal Affordable Care Act

Jan 6, 2016
Rep. Steve Pearce (R) New Mexico

  Commentary:   Congressman Steve Pearce issued the following statement after the House agreed to the Senate Amendment to H.R. 3762, the Restoring Americans’ Healthcare Reconciliation Act of 2015:

 Commentary: Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that in 2015, wildfires burned a record 10,125,149 acres across the United States, surpassing the previous record set in 2006. The Secretary renewed the call for Congress to pass the bi-partisan Wildfire Disaster Funding Act.

Friedrichs Case Brings Hope of Individual Liberty

Jan 6, 2016
Paul Gessing, President-Rio Grande Foundation

  Commentary:  While the upcoming 2016 legislative session and presidential primaries dominate the news cycle in New Mexico, an upcoming US Supreme Court case is making individual liberty a not-so-distant reality for millions of Americans.

The battle at hand—Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association—is over labor law, and it grapples with a simple question: Can unions override the First Amendment and force employees who disagree with their agenda to support them financially? 

Udall: President's Actions On Guns Are "Modest Steps," But It's Not Enough

Jan 6, 2016
U.S. Senator Tom Udall D-NM

  Commentary:   U.S. Senator Tom Udall issued the following statement:

D'Ammassa: Tragedy Is Not Always the Right Word for Bad News

Jan 6, 2016

Commentary:  A new year is underway, and it is a safe bet that 2016 will bring moments of happiness and moments of grief. How's that for prognostication?  There will be much to say in this column and across all media about unhappy events in this new year.


  Commentary:  Former Nevada Congressman Steven Horsford, who represented the district encompassing the Bundy Ranch until 2015, and the Center for Western Priorities today released a petition urging all elected officials to call for an end to threats of violence against public lands employees and cease incendiary rhetoric that fans these flames.

Commentary:  Mr. Stewart (Las Cruces Sun News, 1/5/16) has the idea that HB55, the so-called "NM Religious Freedom Act  “...will give protection not discrimination,” Just laughable.  Where is any factual basis for  his claim that “…homosexual individuals have knowingly and purposely…selected Christian businessmen to support their…lifestyle.”  This is false.  Mr. D’Ammassa’s recent column is actually correct.

Pearce Blasts President's Executive Action On Guns

Jan 5, 2016
Rep. Steve Pearce (R) New Mexico

Commentary:  Congressman Steve Pearce issued the following statement after President Obama unveiled his executive actions, including the expansion of background checks for gun ownership:

Heinrich Applauds President's Efforts To Reduce Gun Violence

Jan 5, 2016
US Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM)

 Commentary: U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) released the following statement today on new executive actions to reduce gun violence and make our communities safer:

Commentary: New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violence thanks Obama for not giving up and for his courage to help stem the tide of gun violence in our state and country.  President Obama stands with the 90% of Americans who want universal background checks. 

  Commentary:  President Barack Obama today hosted a meeting at the White House to shine a spotlight on the epidemic of gun violence in America. The president also announced several executive orders aimed at keeping more Americans safe from senseless gun violence.


  Commentary:  Gun violence has taken a heartbreaking toll on too many communities across the country.  Over the past decade in America, more than 100,000 people have been killed as a result of gun violence—and millions more have been the victim of assaults, robberies, and other crimes involving a gun.  Many of these crimes were committed by people who never should have been able to purchase a gun in the first place.  Over the same period, hundreds of thousands of other people in our communities committed suicide with a gun and nearly half a million people suffered other gu


  Commentary:  Western Watersheds Project is disappointed that the government’s acquiescence to ongoing law-breaking on public lands across the West has led to the armed occupation of one of America’s premier bird sanctuaries. This weekend’s militia takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge is another battle in the “War on the West” that extractive industries have been waging for 150 years.

Senator Mary Kay Papen (D)

Commentary:   Today, Senate President Pro Tem Mary Kay Papen (D-38-Doña Ana), Senate Majority Leader Michael S. Sanchez (D-29-Bernalillo & Valencia) and House Minority Leader Brian Egolf (D-47-Santa Fe) sent a letter to Governor Susana  Martinez and Speaker Don L. Tripp urging them to join Democratic legislative leaders in requesting an extension of the deadline for REAL ID enforcement from the Department of Homeland Security.

O’ Connell: Capitalism Not Working for Majority

Jan 4, 2016

 Commentary: Every first year student in Economics learns that Market Economics (Capitalism) has certain conditions that should be met if this system of exchanging goods and services will fairly distribute economic benefits to a  majority of people and businesses functioning in a given society. These conditions were 1starticulated by Adam Smith (considered the Father of Capitalism) back in the 18th Century.

Senator Jacob Candelaria (D-26-Bernalillo)

  Commentary: Senator Jacob Candelaria (D-26-Bernalillo) pre-filed a bill to create the Brittany AlertSimilar to the Amber Alert, the Brittany Alert creates a notification system for law enforcement when an individual with severe physical, mental or developmental disabilities goes missing.

Goodman: New Year's Resolutions

Jan 3, 2016
peter goodman

  Commentary:   It sounds foolish and old-fashioned to make “New Year's Resolutions,” so here goes:

One is to keep writing columns. (Three columnists quit writing columns this year. I'll miss their voices.) Yesterday I heard an old phone-message from a lifelong Cruces resident I've never met, just thanking me. There are people who told me confidentially of being treated badly by powerful people. After investigating I gave voice to their pain and sometimes even improve their situations. So I'll keep doing this awhile. 

   Commentary:  Rainwater harvesting, green infrastructure, and low-impact development were the focus of a two-day workshop put on recently by the City of Las Cruces, Stream Dynamics (SD), Watershed Management Group (WMG), and the New Mexico Environment Department.

Attendees came from as far away as Santa Fe and Tucson.  Many of those attending work for the City.  Also represented were Doña Ana County, NMSU, UTEP, and NMDOT. Tucked in among the dozens of engineers, planners, architects, designers, and developers were also a few regular folks like me.