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Letter to the Observer: Complaints about editorial, mental health care

Editor:

The Observer editorial of Aug. 2, entitled “Injustices Served for RR” highlights the selective memory of the newspaper’s editorial staff and is the latest example of its bias in favor of Republican candidates and elected officials.

In the editorial, the Observer righteously laments that would-be school shooter Joshua Owen was let off the hook after attempting to murder his classmates. While being held in juvenile detention, Owen apparently did not receive the mental health treatment he needs.

The reason cited is there are no resources available to treat Owen to competency, so he can’t stand trial and his charges were dismissed.

The Observer stated, “This is the first instance where the system failed,” but that’s not true. In 2013, then-Gov. Susana Martinez decimated New Mexico’s behavioral health system and the impact is being borne out in the dismissal of Owen’s case.

This result is incomprehensible and should never have happened. We are all less safe because we have a broken behavioral health system in New Mexico.

Let’s rewind the clock to 2013 when Susana Martinez was governor and she unilaterally shut down 15 of the state’s mental-health providers by cutting their Medicaid funding based on unfounded allegations of fraud. In an instant, New Mexico’s behavioral health-care system was gone.

Their contracts were awarded to out-of-state firms on an emergency no-bid basis. In 2016, the attorney general finished clearing all 15 of the providers from any wrongdoing, but the long-lasting damage was done.

It has been a slow recovery for New Mexico’s behavioral health-care system since then and we are clearly not where we need to be. It should come as no surprise that resources were not available to effectively treat Owen in this instance.

It also begs the questions, how many more people, especially juveniles, are not receiving appropriate mental health treatment? What risk does that pose to our society? What are our elected officials, Democrat and Republican alike, doing about it?

The Observer noted that it is “encouraged to learn that state Rep. Jason Harper has started looking for solutions to the gap in the law, and state Sen. Craig Brandt wants to fix the issue in the next legislative session.”

While those are nice sentiments, perhaps these legislators should have done more to prevent the decimation of our behavioral health system long ago. They have both been in office since 2013.

Will the Observer continue to unabashedly give deference and preferential treatment to Republican candidates and elected officials in its Viewpoints column? Each Sunday when I open the Observer, I know I can count on Republican campaign propaganda masquerading as legitimate guest/opinion columns.

As we gear up for another election, I hope the Observer will at least make a good-faith effort to present information in an objective, unbiased and non-partisan way.

Edward W. Lovato

Rio Rancho

Editor’s note: The Observer always strives to be objective and fair. We do not favor Republicans, do have a range of political views among staff members and were not discussing partisan politics or 2013 occurrences in the editorial in question. We believe mental health and the handling of would-be school shooters are non-partisan issues. We run whatever opinions local residents send us, regardless of political affiliation, as long as they are not obscene, libelous, unnecessarily inflammatory or violations of our policies on political candidates.



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