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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Change the terminology used in reporting

I FREQUENTLY read in the Journal that a robbery, assault, etc. went wrong when the perpetrator or the victim is injured or killed. Does this mean that the robbery went right when no one gets hurt and the robber steals something and successfully escapes? I recommend that you say exactly what happened: e.g., a robber tried to rob the smoke shop and an employee killed him. Saying the robbery went wrong begs the question. It was wrong to attempt the robbery in the first place.




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Enforce truancy laws already on the books

THE FIRST requirement of any job is to show up. The first “job” that anyone has in life is to go to school to get an education. The Albuquerque Journal’s Aug. 9 editorial asking legislators to tackle truancy is misguided. There are existing laws that simply need to be enforced. The Journal should have demanded appropriate action by APS.

What employer would tolerate repeated employee absence from work? Employers fire such employees. Why should schools encourage absence by ignoring the laws? Aren’t students and their (parents) responsible for obeying the laws?

According to the editorial, APS prefers addressing the root of the problem instead of enforcing the laws. While that humanitarian approach may seem kind and gentle, it teaches students and their parents that it’s OK to skip school – APS will promote you anyway. Education should prepare students for a responsible, productive life, but the excusing of truancy teaches the wrong lessons.

APS is teaching students they don’t need to show up for their jobs, they don’t need to learn anything and it’s OK to break the laws – there are no consequences for bad choices in life. Maybe this suggests the answer to the question “Why is New Mexico at the bottom of the list for education and employment?”



AP classes’ link to college credit varies

IN HANNA Skandara’s education column in the Aug. 5 Albuquerque Journal, the New Mexico education chief states that “Passing AP classes is a huge boost to our students and their parents because it almost always means college credit across the nation, saving time and money.”


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In reality, passing an AP class on the local level does not “almost always” translate to receiving a passing grade – 5, 4, 3 – from the College Board on the national AP test. Nor does receiving a passing grade on the national test necessarily convert to college credit, i.e. in all colleges in all curricular areas across the country. Whereas College A may accept a 4 or 3 grade, College B may not.

A more nearly accurate statement could have been “Passing a national AP test is a huge boost to our students and their parents because it almost always means consideration for credit at colleges across the nation, saving time and money.”

What might be more meaningful, legitimate statistics could relate to a) how many NM students who passed their AP classes earned passing national AP test grades and b) of those, how many students were ultimately awarded college credit – data that either should have just been released or should soon be released by the College Board.

I would pose that another valid to point to make on behalf of Advanced Placement is that AP classes are usually more rigorous that non-AP, especially when they a) follow AP curricular guidelines and b) are taught by teachers trained in Advanced Placement pedagogy. It is my understanding that it is a local school/district decision to assign a class an AP designation based on local criteria.


Retired AP teacher, test grader and member of a National AP Test Development Committee


Homeless man the only one to offer help

IN READING Leslie Linthicum’s recent poignant UpFront column about violence, homelessness and humanity, I was reminded of an incident that occurred to me about a year or so ago.

My wife Diane and I were riding our tandem bicycle down Third Street just south of Coronado Park. In crossing the railroad tracks, our front wheel was caught in the void of a missing piece of the black crossing panel. Our wheel trapped, we were spilled onto the street. I had lacerations to my face and my wife injured her foot. Approaching traffic was forced to stop as we lifted ourselves and our bicycle up to hobble out of their way and off the street.

Of several cars, no one stopped to help or ask from their window if we were OK. My bleeding face and limping wife suggested otherwise. As the cars drove on, a man came up to look after us. I saw that he had come from a group of apparently homeless men who were sitting in a building’s shade about a hundred feet from us, drinking. Wiping the blood from my face, I said we were OK and thanked him while expecting that he would ask for money. Instead, he asked repeatedly if we were all right and it seemed obvious that he didn’t want to leave us until he was sure we were. I noticed that he was Native American.

When he was convinced that we were not seriously injured and would be able to ride on, he shook my hand and returned to his friends. Riding away, we were struck by the contrast in the demonstrable humanity between the drivers and this kind “street person,” or as the Navajos would put it, this “five fingered one.”



Area farmers in denial about water reality

THE DEBATE over the use of Rio Grande water is one of those issues where I have difficulty having much sympathy with either side. I cannot completely agree with Derrick Lente’s comments regarding the efforts of the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District and area farmers in protecting the Rio Grande but, while I have little respect in general for the activities of WildEarth Guardians, their allegation that the MRGCD and its clients are wasting water is quite correct.

When farmers in other parts of New Mexico, notably the Southwest, recognized the threat posed by future water shortages, they acted upon this and began to adopt more efficient irrigation methods, such as drip irrigation.

Here in the MRGCD, farmers cling to their wasteful “traditional” practices, delivering water via open ditches and flood irrigation. Simply monitoring demand is not enough; in a hot, dry growing season, the losses by evaporation – transpiration if you prefer – can be huge.

It is clear that area farmers are in denial when you consider the recent attempt to acquire “excess” water in the river, water that wouldn’t have been there except to support the silvery minnow.

On the other hand, Lente is quite justified in his criticism of WildEarth Guardians’ choice to litigate rather than cooperate. Conversion to more efficient irrigation methods isn’t cheap; wouldn’t everyone’s time, money and effort be better spent assisting that change?

Clearly, WildEarth Guardians believe (its) lawsuit will help the silvery minnow but, if more efficient agricultural water use leads to more water in the river, would that not help as well?



Invest now to preserve our best traditions

DIANA ALBA SOULAR’s Aug. 5 article “Chile harvest ramps up in New Mexico” acknowledges ongoing concerns about the impacts of drought and heavy, steady rains causing disease problems. Strong scientific evidence shows climate change is driving prolonged hotter, drier conditions and increasing the amount of rain that falls in extreme precipitation events. In spite of the rains falling in northern New Mexico, (about 70) percent of the state is still classified as in “moderate to extreme drought.”

Fortunately, solutions exist to help increase the resiliency of our community and agricultural heritage to extreme weather events. First, we have to make available to our legislators the best scientific information about climate change and its connection to these potentially devastating impacts.

And, second, we have to make available to our communities the educational resources necessary to address current impacts and prepare for future ones. The Southwest Climate Hub at New Mexico State University, which provides farmers, ranchers and forestland (workers) with important research related to weather, drought and agriculture, is a great start.

Finally, we have to make available the financial support necessary to adapt to this “new normal” of severe drought and prepare for events like flash floods.

Our state cannot afford to ignore these worsening impacts, nor can we afford to face them alone. A national climate resiliency fund could provide the necessary relief to communities caught blind-sided by natural disasters, as well as those who have creative solutions to increase preparedness but are unable to cover the upfront costs. For example, resources would support the Elephant Butte Irrigation District’s efforts to improve water transport infrastructure to chile farmers across the valley or allow growers to install more efficient systems on their own farms.

The solutions are neither inexpensive nor easy, but green chile season really is our favorite time of year here in New Mexico and it’s well worth the investment now to preserve our traditions – and those of future chile lovers.


Union of Concerned Scientists

Los Ranchos de Albuquerque

Why leap to the ‘increase tax’ solution?

IF THERE’S A problem, raise taxes. That seems to be the logic behind two bills the city Council is considering. Both seek 1/8th of one percent of Gross Receipts Tax to fund “essential services.” One can be passed by the council; the other would appear on the November ballot. Note that Albuquerque is already the highest taxed metro area in New Mexico.

The council recently reviewed and passed a city budget that provides “essential” services and any proposed increase for specific programs should have been negotiated at that time by reducing some other budget line.

Reading into the bills, the underlying intent is to fund mental health services and capital improvements.

Clearly, mental health care is a big problem here and elsewhere, and it needs to be analyzed. But the city, county and state are already cooperatively studying mental health needs and existing funding. Increasing city taxes before we know the results of those inter-governmental studies is clearly premature. For example, taxpayers already provide (nearly $80 million) to the University of New Mexico Hospital for, among other things, mental health care – there isn’t a clear picture of how much or how well the money is spent.

For years, Albuquerque has robbed the capital fund to spend more on operations and pay. The way to correct that problem is to balance the books. Use capital money only for capital improvements.

I urge city taxpayers to read the bills (O-14-14 and P-14-5) via a search on the city website at Let your councilor know what you think – pay now for “something” or find out what the real needs are without leaping to the “increase tax” solution.



Protect your cats by keeping them inside

RE: SARA COLE’s “Cats Indoors” Letter

Thanks to Sara Cole for the important reminder for Albuquerque pet owners to keep their cats indoors. Free-roaming cats face a number of dangers outside and risk exposure to diseases like rabies and feline leukemia, and predation by larger animals like coyotes.

Too often, free-roaming cats are also the targets of extreme cruelty, torture and abuse by humans, as they were in Bowdoinham, Maine, Universal City, Texas, Richford, N.Y., and Jefferson, Wisc., just last month. An Internet search of “cat cruelty” will bring up new cases every month and the results are too horrific to describe. We can keep this from happening in Albuquerque by keeping our cats inside and out of harm’s way.

Albuquerque pet owners can protect their cats from unnecessary danger and suffering by keeping them inside, on leashes, or in safe, protected enclosures. The HEART Ordinance makes good sense for Albuquerque’s cats, and Cole’s letter makes a good case for improving the health and safety of cats in our community.



Reject regulations to curb innovative Uber

I AM A MOM, foster parent and now a driver for Uber. I never thought I would be a ridesharing driver but I absolutely love it. When my kids are in school or on the weekends, I can turn the app on and increase our family’s income. Recently, I was able to purchase a new and much-needed refrigerator for our expanding family.

I never thought I would have ever been able to be a driver because of safety reasons but, with Uber’s platform, I feel 100 percent safe. Through the Uber app, I know the rider and the rider knows me. I know their rating and they know mine. And Uber knows we are connected for a ride.

Despite this great advancement in technology, regulators at the PRC are looking to protect the old status quo by not embracing new technologies like Uber that are making a difference for me and others in our community.

I ask that any regulations that stand in the way of this growing industry are rejected. We need Uber in New Mexico. It’s good for the economy and for families like mine.