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Talk of the town

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Social order about more than police

I FOUND RUBEN Navarrette’s article, “Cop killings threaten the social order,” (Jan. 2) to be of concern. He conveys his perspective as the son of a police officer and his distress at the killing of the police in New York City very well.

His points are well taken, but I wanted to ask him what he thinks happens to the social order when individuals – particularly black men – are killed and wounded by police at a much higher rate than the white population. And incarcerated. And profiled.

When Henry Louis Gates, an African-American Harvard scholar, was arrested … for trying to get into his own house in Cambridge, Mass.; when Cornel West, an ordained minister and scholar, now at Princeton, was stopped on the highway and ridiculed by the state trooper when he tried to explain who he is.

There is no doubt that police are in a dangerous profession in which their lives are often on the line and sometimes taken; black men and women are also in danger on a daily basis from being thought suspicious and guilty because of the color of their skin.

This issue, ironically, is not a black or white one: it is subtle and complex, with issues with both the police and the black community as well as protesters young and old, here and abroad.

Our social order has been broken for quite some time, and until we take responsibility for our shortcomings and failures as well as our strengths, it will remain so. Pitting ourselves against one another will only deepen the divide. We need to come together, reflect carefully and deeply, and rebuild that order so that all citizens, civilians and police, blacks and whites, can feel safe and have their rights respected.



Who’s guilty: the gun or the shooter?

FORMER NEW YORK City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, billionaire and bodyguard-laden gun control advocate, promised to spend millions … to push his anti-gun agenda. Could some of that money already be seeping in? The New Mexico Legislature doesn’t convene till Jan. 20, yet State Rep. Miguel Garcia, D-Albuquerque, has already pre-filed House Bill 44, legislation that will criminalize non-dealer firearm transfers, taking steps towards a total ban on private gun sales, even between family members.

Strange how the death of two NYPD officers is the result of a crazed madman, yet Newtown, Conn., and Aurora, Colo., are portrayed as the result of the evil gun. Which is it?

I, for one, as a law-abiding gun owner, will sell my house and move out of any state that attempts to alter my Second Amendment rights through misguided legislation.


La Mesa

Maybe the how-to targets wrong folks

DOES ANYONE feel safer and more secure now that the (Albuquerque) Police Department has posted a YouTube video teaching citizens how to respond to police during an interaction?

If APD really wants me to feel safer during police interactions, they need to post a YouTube video teaching police how to behave when they interact with me.



True citizenship starts at home

IT REMAINS TO be seen if the recent demonstrations, often violent, throughout our country in protest to the force some police have used when confronted by supposedly innocent citizens will have any real value in the future resolution of the dispute.

Nothing is gained by the destruction and looting of the businesses and property of innocent people by individuals who are nothing more than thugs and criminals, regardless of race, ethnicity, social or economic status, or any other metric that can be applied to them.

However, there is one lesson that can be drawn from the terrible events thus far: There may be some “bad” policemen, but there are simply no “good” criminals.

I think the solution must begin within the community itself in the form of strengthening family ties and values, making sure the children get the education they need and deserve, the assumption of parental responsibility for raising the children in homes where both the mother and father are an integral part of the family structure, refusing to let the gangs rule, and the drugs they sell, that lead to the cancer that will eventually destroy the basic fabric of the community, and finally, teaching the children to respect and obey the laws and the police who are there to enforce them.

The laws and the enforcement of the laws are necessary for a society to function properly for all citizens. Without police to provide basic law and order, society will quickly dissolve into anarchy and lawlessness.

I think police officers are underpaid for the dangers they face on a daily basis just doing their job. The vast majority are good and honest individuals. I simply appreciate their service.



How about lapel cams for legislators?

POLICE LAPEL CAMS have been advocated by some as a consistent means of monitoring law enforcement, especially in actions deemed questionable.

So this prompts me to ask: Why is there not a call for those same lapel cams on legislators, especially at the federal level?

I think it would enable constituents to keep real-time track of what is going on without the processed dollars of a public relations consultant screening.

It would be interesting to hear the reasons from D.C. on why they could not. It would also let us know who is trying to be under the radar. Are they above the same law and standards we hold to our police? Oh, I’m sure any attempt would hit the label of “national security.”

So, what the heck, the same people who impose the “Patriot Act” should be available under the same lens and scrutiny they demand of others. There could always be “provisions” to screen security, but something tells me that dog won’t fetch. There will be excuses, but I dare anyone to ask.

I believe lawmakers’ actions at work are not above the same scrutiny as law enforcement.



Right-to-work reasoning lacks merit

I WAS FASCINATED to read Sen. Sander Rue’s reasoning regarding his Senate Bill 93 (“‘Right-to-work’ legislation targets mandatory union fees,” Dec. 30) on revising the public employee bargaining act to forbid automatic withdrawal of union dues. The Journal article quotes him as saying, “For the state to be a party to that sort of thing and to provide that service to the unions is absolutely wrong.” The article goes on to explain that “Rue also said he believes that the practice of withdrawing fees and paying them to public employees unions violates a clause of the state constitution that prohibits government from donating to private interests, in this case the service of collecting dues.”

First of all, the money being withdrawn belongs to the union members selecting this service – it does not belong to the government. With automated payrolls and technology, the cost to the state and other public entities amounts to nothing.

Secondly, and even more insidious than the obvious motive of SB 93 in attempting to reduce the influence of unions, Sen. Rue’s reasoning would mean that all payroll deductions to private interests would immediately have to cease, should the bill pass. That would mean the end of payroll deductions to United Way of New Mexico and its associated worthy causes, to all the private health insurers to whom payroll deductions go and to all the other currently existing kinds of payroll deductions benefiting private individuals and entities.

Responsible citizens, organizations and legislators should firmly oppose Senate Bill 93.



Positive news stories welcomed

I AM ALWAYS glad to see “good news” articles in the Journal. I’ve especially appreciated the well-written series by Donna Olmstead about former addicts who have turned their lives around.

What an inspiration!



Saudi Arabia sticks it to U.S., others

WOW, HOW unexpected. Oil has dropped over 50 percent, with no end in sight. Maybe Saudi Arabia got tired of a bully in its partner the United States?

The way Saudi Arabia and OPEC talks, oil is for sure to go at least to $40 a barrel, if not cheaper. As a poor person, I have to thank the prince for sticking it to the American and Russian oil producers, two countries that went out of their way to flood the market with oil for personal greed and profit, creating ecological disasters their wealth will never pay for cleaning up.

When it comes time to have a decent minimum wage and more opportunities for the poor with better jobs, the oil industry does little more than line its pockets, leaving but a few rewards for those willing to uproot their lives in the pursuit of eating while poisoning our communities land. For this, it is no wonder people like me are laughing at all the tycoons that will go broke and have to find a new way to exploit the world.

Cheap oil prices surely will be the damnation of a disastrous pipeline that will never be built because a prince in Saudi Arabia is standing up against an industry that cares only about their own self-interests.

Who cares why Saudi Arabia wants to put oil producers out of business and end an American boom that 99 percent of the people here never made a cent of money from. The only thing I care about is being able to eat, and if a prince of an Arab country is the unlikely hero of the poor, so be it.

I doubt anyone can justify going to war over oil now, nor do we have to argue about building a useless pipeline.


Rio Rancho

Name-calling is not acceptable rebuttal

LAST WEEK IN SpeakUp! there were two violently anti-environmental submissions. They contained six sentences, one of which was totally false, one was a rhetorical question, and four amounted to name-calling.

The only sentence of substance claimed that “we have millions of miles of pipelines and railroads that carry oil and gasoline without incident.”

On pipelines alone, a Wall Street Journal review found that there were 1,400 pipeline spills and accidents in the U.S. in 2010-2013 – 350 per year, and four of every five pipeline accidents are discovered by local residents, not the companies that own the pipelines.

As far as I can determine, there’s a little over 300,000 miles of major natural gas pipelines, with another 1.8 million miles of lines that come off those and deliver to cities. There are only about 100,000 miles of gathering and distribution pipelines for oil.

Unfortunately, that’s the only sentence of the six that can be fact-checked, because all the rest are name-calling or extremely obvious exaggeration. For example, I consider myself an environmentalist, but I don’t think we should go live in caves, just that we should be a bit more careful with our surroundings.

Another sentence claims environmentalists have used “falsified science and pagan Gaia mysticism.” Wow. Science and mysticism.

If you want to rebut the arguments of environmentalists, you might try:

a) Getting your facts straight, and

b) Actually giving reasons for your views, not resorting to name-calling and nonsensical claims.



Shoot coyotes with cameras, not rifles

IT’S TIME FOR our New Mexico legislators to step up the plate and ban the indiscriminate slaughter of coyotes. I’m a native New Mexican raised in a family of hunters/gun owners. Not one ethical hunter I know approves of these contests which are a blight and embarrassment to our state.

It’s one thing to kill a known offender responsible for depredation, but to wipe out large numbers of predators for fun and prizes is inexcusable. An overpopulation of rabbits and other animals that compete for forage with cattle and sheep should be more of a concern to ranchers than the occasional coyote attack. Domestic dogs are a far greater threat to humans, pets and livestock.

There are far greater numbers of people who enjoy our public lands for hiking, show-shoeing, biking, and photography than there are of those who enjoy the mass carnage of these killing contests. Public safety should be of great concern during these contests as well. If these contest participants want to practice their “calling” skills, why don’t they call in coyotes for photographers and others who enjoy seeing these animals in the wild? They could award prizes for those who call in the most coyotes, bobcats, etc. for viewing instead of calling them to their death.

New Mexico is anything but the Land of Enchantment for our predators and those who enjoy sightings – shooting only with cameras rather than high-powered rifles.