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Talk of the town

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — But where’s the alternative to the ACA?

I FOUND STEVEN Parente’s op-ed in the July 14 Albuquerque Journal about the cost of the Affordable Care Act to be informative, but I have to wonder why he chose to submit such an op-ed to a New Mexico newspaper when he is the director of an institute and a university professor in Minnesota. His comments, if accurate, would apply to all states, so why try to scare New Mexicans?

More importantly, although he warns us of a potential rise of health care costs in the future due to the implementation of additional provisions of the ACA, he does not put his predicted rise in costs into perspective. Health care costs have been rising at double-digit rates for many years prior to the ACA. How does the rise he predicts compare to the average rise in health care costs over the 10 years prior to the ACA?

Even more disturbing, he offers no solutions. It may be that health care costs will continue to rise under the ACA, but at least the coverage will be better and more people will be able to obtain health insurance.


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It is counterproductive to do nothing but complain about the ACA. If Parente has a better plan to increase coverage for the millions of uninsured and lower health care costs for all, let’s hear it.


Los Alamos

Teacher could have split award with kids

THE TAOS TEACHER who modestly declined a $5,000 award for his students’ high test scores is to be commended for his unselfishness and dedication to his profession.

However, I think he might have considered dividing the award evenly among the students – perhaps keeping one equal share for himself – because, after all, they were the ones who studied and concentrated, and put their full effort into that coursework and mastered the content. Then the word would have quickly gotten around to other students and maybe lots more kids would try harder in school.




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Don’t disrupt our teachers’ relationships

RECENTLY, THE JOURNAL editorial board endorsed APS’s proposal to involuntarily transfer teachers between schools. In support of this, the editorial cited research affirming the importance of quality teachers in the classroom.

However, being a quality teacher is much more than just the ability to teach reading and math well. The relationships a teacher forms within their school community are an essential part of what makes a teacher so effective.

Over the past nine years working at the same school, I have earned a positive reputation in my community. I have taught whole families of children; the eagerness with which younger siblings enter my classroom helps motivate the hard work and effort I will expect from them. I am already familiar with the majority of students who will show up to my classroom next month because I have seen these children grow up since kindergarten.

My future students have seen me in the hall, have chatted with me on the playground at recess, roller skated with me on community nights and played games with me at fall festival. Because of this, these students are already familiar with me, too, and will be excited to be in my class.

Any plans that would seek to disrupt these valuable relationships by involuntary placement of teachers around the district are misguided and undermine the positive impact quality teachers have on their students.


Cedar Crest

Time to change Senate calendaring rules

SEN. MICHAEL SANCHEZ’S iron-handed control over the Senate calendar deprives all New Mexicans of their constitutional guarantee to live under a republican form of government – U.S Constitution Art. IV, Sec. 4.

Thus, Sen. Phil Griego’s proposal to change the Senate’s calendaring rules should be given serious consideration in the Democratic caucus or, should it fail there, by the entire Senate. History is replete with examples of tyrannical men preventing a fair and open debate and vote on legislation.

Rep. Fernando Wood of New York kept the proposed 13th Amendment that abolished slavery off the House calendar for over a year. In the 1930s, no bill that did not have the approval of Gov. Huey Long was ever voted on by the Louisiana legislature. And one man, Sen. Richard Russell of Georgia, with the help of a small group of Jim Crow senators, blocked civil rights legislation for decades.

How many bills that other legislators considered to be “good, honest, and solid,” reflecting “sound policy,” have withered at the bottom of the Senate calendar at the hands of Michael Sanchez? How many programs, solutions and just plain good ideas have never been debated because this one man takes it upon himself to decide when a bill’s “time has come?”

In the long run, all New Mexicans would benefit from this proposed rule change. Finally, while the senators ponder Griego’s proposal, they would be well-advised to examine how many bills supported by the clients of Sanchez’s brother, a prominent lobbyist, do indeed make it to the Senate floor.



Supreme Court finally rules correctly

RE: (“FREEDOM of religion perverted,” July 7).

Contrary to some opinions, the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision regarding Burwell v. Hobby Lobby is not about whether a corporation has a human soul, rather it is about individual rights and freedoms as defined by the U.S. Constitution.

Owners of businesses are certainly human beings and, as such, have rights bestowed upon them by the Constitution. An individual or group of individuals who start a business are not required to renounce their religious rights, or their religious beliefs, in order to engage in commerce in the U.S. As such, to force an individual to go against their religious beliefs or teachings merely because they are the owners of a business is, in fact, a violation of their rights as an American citizen.

Having employees does not preclude an employer having the free right to exercise religious expression. This ruling in no way denies employees of Hobby Lobby access to contraception. It merely rules the owners cannot be forced to participate in an act contrary to their religious beliefs, which has always been the rule of the land.

Furthermore, contraception is hardly stigmatized in this country. People of all faiths and backgrounds use it freely and have for decades.

Even some Christian groups who, before the 1930s condemned the use of contraception, have since embraced their use. And some contraception, such as the pill, can be used for extreme health issues. Even the Catholic Church recognizes these rare instances.

The real perversion of this op-ed is the confusion of contraception use as a religious freedom. Using contraception has never been an integral part of the doctrine or dogma of any religion. Finally, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled correctly.

Otherwise, Catholics and other groups could be treated as a sub-class of citizens who eventually cannot participate in the public square, i.e. commerce, in the U.S.A., because of their religious beliefs.

Such a situation is certainly not what our country was founded on. Even groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union should be concerned that such a mandate would even be considered in this great nation of ours.



Dems responsible for NM’s abortion laws

I READ THE article by Amber Chavez, “Protest ABQ picked the wrong targets” (July 7). She was right. It is insane not to realize who is responsible for the holocaust of the unborn in our state.

Year after year, every pro-life bill has been tabled by a vote of three to four by our Legislature, which has been controlled by the Democrats over 60 years. That is why in New Mexico it is legal to kill the unborn child up to the very last day the child is in the womb. We are also one of the few states that pay for abortions with Medicaid money. The pro-choice groups are well funded and organized.

I am positive that Protest ABQ is passionate in its pro-life stance. My question to them would be: Are the Democrats and Gary King the answer? I do not think so. It saddens me that so many people of faith and morals continue to vote for this party that has abortion-on-demand as a part of its platform.


Santa Fe

What about all the other lovable critters?

THE PEOPLE WHO are attempting to get protection for the endangered N.M. meadow jumping mouse are missing their chance to get the people concerned to get all the other endangered species on the list.

We have been going around Albuquerque knocking on doors and asking the residents if they have seen any mosquitoes. One hundred percent of all the people that we talked to are reporting no sightings of mosquitoes.

We have traveled from San Jon to Lordsburg and from Raton to Las Cruces asking residents if they have seen any fire ants. No sightings of these lovable little creatures are reported either.

So, all you people who are trying to save the mouse should look to save all of these lovable little creatures as well. Me and my friends are going house to house looking to see if the common house fly could also be endangered. As soon as we get enough data, we will report it.



Killing of cornered cougar a cowardly act

COWARDS ALL: What kind of man does it take to kill a cornered cougar with a high-powered rifle? The same kind of man who kidnaps teenaged girls in Africa; the same kind of man who kills children in their elementary school classroom; the same kind of man who kills wolves or bald eagles from an airplane or helicopter.



Not logical to buy 350 AR-15s for APD

MAYBE SOMEONE can explain the logic of this to me. APD is buying 350 new military assault rifles for its officers. In April 2014, the Department of Justice concluded that “Based on our investigation, we have reasonable cause to believe that APD engages in a pattern or practice of use of excessive force, including deadly force, in violation of the Fourth Amendment and Section 14141.” The DOJ report went on to say that “the pattern or practice of excessive force stems from systemic deficiencies in oversight, training, and policy.”

After killing (26 people since 2010) and paying out millions of dollars in civil lawsuits – with more to come – for killing innocent people, do our city leaders really think that the APD needs additional firepower? I’m afraid that these new AR-15s will simply reinforce the attitude of some APD members that they are engaged in a war and that the citizens of this city are the enemy.

This is why so many of us have lost all trust in the judgment of our city officials and why this city is in crisis.



Is this the solution the DOJ had in mind?

I WAS DISMAYED this morning to read that APD is supplying 350 officers with assault rifles. I wonder if this is the solution that the DOJ had in mind when they questioned APD policy of allowing officers to use their personal weapons.

Is supplying a police force with a documented history of using excessive force with more powerful weapons likely to have a positive outcome? Maybe APD should ask the DOJ for guidance rather than using its own judgment in this matter.



Meth facts must outweigh ‘Bad’ fiction

YOUR FRONT PAGE headline of June 11, “Bad Is So Good,” deserves some amplification to help readers be fully aware of the difference between celebrated fiction and the grim facts.

Long-term effects of methamphetamine use include: addiction, memory loss, weight loss, impaired cognition, insomnia, anxiety, irritability, confusion, paranoia, aggression, mood disturbances, hallucinations, violent behavior, liver damage, kidney damage, lung damage, severe dental problems, cardiac and neurological damage, HIV and hepatitis.

Withdrawal symptoms are: depression, anxiety, fatigue, and intense craving for the drug. Effects during pregnancy include: increased risk of premature birth, placental abruption, fetal growth retardation, and heart and brain abnormalities.

Positive recognition is a value statement. It often leads to emulation and imitation. Hopefully, facts, awareness and reflection are more persuasive in a culture than fiction that makes bad appear good.