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Talk of the town

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Give the $30M Tesla money back to us

IT’S SO frustrating to see Albuquerque’s council members act like children in a candy store. They are all rushing to spend their share of the $30 million not used in the failed Tesla bid.

The council members need to stop daydreaming about spending money and join the rest of us in the real world. The $30 million is not free money, it’s money that hard-working taxpayers earned.

The money should either be returned to the taxpayers or spent on must-do projects, like replacing Albuquerque’s crumbling infrastructure. If a new economic development opportunity surfaces, the council can then vote to allocate funds based on the merits of the new opportunity.


Sandia Park

Where are Albuquerque’s public parks?

AS A NEW resident to the Albuquerque area, I was shocked to discover the lack of parks, or what I consider to be a real park.

I use parks for medicinal purposes, often going to relieve the stresses of life, i.e. to sit and read a book, or walk a pathway surrounded by trees, sunshine and green grass. I would venture to say that parks are also vital for young children and also teenagers.

Given that the educational system here in New Mexico is greatly lacking, I would think the youth of today would truly enjoy a game of basketball at a park or baseball, or any sport for that matter. The fact that there is no place for children to go is certainly sad testimony to such a beautiful region of the country.

Almost any major metropolitan area has numerous such parks, as do even smaller cities. I am not suggesting that the construction of parks will eventually lead to a complete turnaround in academic scores, or a precipitous drop in the crime rate, but I am suggesting that city planners need to pursue the idea to make Albuquerque more family friendly.



Lack of public toilets should be addressed

IT’S NOT A glamorous political issue, but public toilets do serve a basic human need.

In Albuquerque, we have very few such facilities in heavily used public areas. The burden of what should be a public service is therefore shifted to local businesses, offices and churches.

Restaurant and shop owners must decide whether to restrict their facilities to paying customers only. Parents with children in large public parks must go searching for the closest place with unlocked restrooms. At night, the options are fewer still, leaving the thousands of homeless in our city with little recourse. The few parks that do have public toilets tend to be in more distant and affluent parts of town.

City officials raise objections about possible vandalism and crime in public toilets, which are legitimate concerns. Responding to these, the city of Portland, Ore., developed a clever model – the “Portland Loo” – that is nearly vandal-proof, promotes crime prevention through environmental design and can be kept unlocked 24 hours a day. It affords privacy while allowing for easy drive-by monitoring and other cities are now installing them. It seems like a particularly appropriate design for the sunny Southwest.

This is not a Republican or a Democratic issue. It is a very human issue that impacts businesses, as well as public health and safety. It’s well past time for the city to address this as a basic public service.



A priest originated the Big Bang Theory

RE: THE CARTOON in the Journal on Nov. 1 (“The Pope and The Big Bang Theory”), your readers may find it interesting that the originator of the Big Bang Theory was Monseigneur Georges Lemaitre, a Catholic priest and collaborator of Albert Einstein during the time Einstein was formulating his general theory of relativity.

In the 1950s, Pope Pius XII suggested the theory confirmed the existence of God. Lemaitre protested this, and suggested that science and religion should be kept separate. Lemaitre is credited with significant contributions to the science of physical cosmology.



Pot decriminalization will cost us dearly

I WOULD LIKE to offer my opinion about marijuana decriminalization.

Here in the state of New Mexico, we have some of the weakest marijuana laws of all states. Now obviously this would not include states that have already legalized marijuana – Washington and Colorado. You will hear the argument that too many people are in prison for non-violent – drug – crimes. Yet if we are specifically talking about marijuana … this is not true.

As you research our state laws regarding marijuana, you will find that you need to have over 100 pounds to get any significant time – over one year in prison. Having said that, we are wasting much time and taxpayer dollars to essentially lower a $50 fine to a $25 fine. This is basically what decriminalization will do.

Although for the National Organization for Reform of Marijuana Laws and other similar organizations, this is the first step for legalizing marijuana. I think decriminalization or legalizing is a bad choice for state government because of the many repercussions – accidents, crime, drop-out rates, work-related problems, anxiety, etc. With marijuana being more accessible, all of these aforementioned problems and many more will increase.

Washington and Colorado are now enjoying an extreme profit from the sale of marijuana – glorified drug dealers. If you are able to think outside the box, you will see major costs down the road.

In closing, I pray that New Mexico citizens will make the correct choice.



Dental health therapists are ideal option

IN HIS ESSAY with the headline “Let’s expand access to dental care: charity events alone can’t solve state’s serious oral health issues” (Nov. 2), Greg Lopour, president of the New Mexico Dental Association, shares the limited vision of the NMADA.

The NMADA solution is that New Mexico needs more dentists making more money. There is a better solution, which the ADA has opposed: midlevel practitioners called “dental health therapists” who would live and work in underserved communities. It has been proven to be a safe and effective way to meet the needs of people who are currently suffering from lack of dental care.

The truth is that wealthy dentists do not want to live and raise their families in small, rural communities. The ADA’s “2010 Survey of Dental Practice: Income from the Private Practice of Dentistry,” published in June 2011, shows that more than half of independent dentists working 36 hours a week or more made over $200,000 a year. In 2009, a quarter of those in general practice made as much as $305,820 a year. In the mountain area, which includes N.M., the median income for dentists was $221,040. More money is not going to make dentists want to care for the poor, the uninsured and the rural residents of our state.

Instead of opposing dental health therapists, the ADA should support this new approach to providing high-quality basic care year round to prevent and treat pain for people who do not have access to dentists. Lopour states that “For over 100 years, the New Mexico Dental Association has been the trusted voice of oral health in New Mexico.” It is about to lose that status because its opposition to dental health therapists shows it to be just another self-serving lobby that exists to protect the wealth of a tiny minority in the state instead of promoting the health of our citizens.


Los Ranchos

Thanks to volunteers at Mission of Mercy

ON OCT. 26, I participated in a great event to help people in need. The event was called the New Mexico Mission of Mercy that was put on by the New Mexico Dental Foundation.

Patients had signed up in advance of the two-day event that was held on Oct. 24-25. Four of us had volunteered from our church, with three people working the first day beginning at 5 a.m. I worked on Sunday doing the tear down of equipment and the packing of supplies. There were 1,033 patients who received over $1.3 million worth of services, ranging from basic teeth cleaning to new dentures and crowns, and everything in between.

Our involvement began with a request for dental supplies over a year ago. My church, St. Michael’s and All Angels, has operated a food pantry for over 25 years and we give out dental supplies whenever they are available. We were given the leftover drinks and toothbrushes, which we shared with another nonprofit.

I wanted to share this story to remind all of us that there are still a lot of nice people and companies that do wonderful things to help their community at large and give of themselves to benefit people in need. I applaud the 1,300 volunteers who participated.



Progressives politicizing climate change

THANKS TO EDWARD Wallhagen for his insightful letter on the climate change issue (“Belief in Climate Change Is too Political,” Nov. 4).

Regarding his challenge to come up with “anything that industrial humankind has done that has not been detrimental to the environment,” how about developing antibiotics? Nope – these kill bacteria that are a part of the environment.

How about the development of cotton underwear? This invention has certainly improved my personal environment and has been a great boon for the world’s boll weevil population. On the other hand – these bloody weevils can be real buggers.

Electricity? Nope – too many people, including criminals, electrocuted. Looks like Wallhagen is right, virtually every aspect of civilization is “detrimental to the environment.”

Also, I totally agree with Wallhagen that the politicization of climate change is shameful. It is a shame that progressives like Wallhagen have brought this about.

Climate change is cited over and over as the justification for an entire litany of progressive political desiderata: blocking the Keystone pipeline, securing more space for “endangered” species, transferring wealth from developed to undeveloped countries, changing our diets, eliminating the use of coal, subsidizing green energy, transferring funds to favored presidential projects, providing grants for climate-change research, etc., etc.

Finally, I did find one curious point in Wallhagen’s letter. While he accuses conservatives of being reactionaries, he himself comes across as paradox: a liberal/progressive mossback who would return us to the golden days of the Stone Age, when nature was “red in tooth and claw,” as Tennyson wrote, and the red was apt to be the blood of our hominid ancestors.


El Prado

Why will the APD reforms cost $4M-$6M?

RE: “‘A NEW chapter’ for APD,” Nov. 1.

Sadly, there will be no new chapters for those killed by police. I am pessimistic about improvements in law enforcement after over a decade of participating in the debate. Police are human and, thus, resistant to change. They do not like having civilians tell them how to do their jobs and no one seems to be able to make them change.

Why should it take four to six million dollars to reform a police department? Aren’t we paying them enough already to do their jobs properly?


Santa Fe

DOJ decree may endanger police officers

I AM HOPING this (DOJ) consent decree doesn’t serve to endanger even one of our police officers.

Rest assured there will be more situations where the perpetrator instigates a dangerous confrontation and it will be a travesty if we lose a police officer because he/she hesitates to use lethal force where needed.

I think I speak for a lot of law-abiding citizens out there when I say, “Thanks, APD. We’re really glad you’re out there on our behalf.”



Berry’s retention bonus too little, too late

THE (RICHARD) BERRY administration’s idea of offering a $6,000-$12,000 retention bonus to entice senior officers to stay with APD is far too little and far too late.

Of course, this a like slamming the barn door after the horses have run out, considering the Berry administration successfully fought against pay raises for five years. Then convincing a college-educated recruit that videotaping every encounter with the public is mandatory and you have the perfect storm – no recruits and a mass exodus of experienced officers.

When you take discretion out of police work, you make an already difficult endeavor impossible. Give discretion and trust back to officers and watch the recruits bust down the doors in this difficult economic environment. Monitor every movement and statement, and watch how this affects recruiting.

To every officer with enough time to leave: Get out now and let Mayor Berry deal with the catastrophe he created. He doesn’t deserve your hard-earned experience and expertise. Other cities will be happy to have you.


Retired senior patrolman,

Albuquerque Police Department



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