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Talk of the town

Medicaid expansion a good deal for NM

AS A RECENT article (“Medicaid expansion could boost economy,” June 21) by the Journal’s Winthrop Quigley pointed out, the need for health coverage among low-income people living in New Mexico was greatly underestimated, meaning many more residents are benefiting from the security of coverage than was initially expected.

The Journal’s Editorial Board noted (“Medicaid bill shows NM needs payment plan, jobs,” June 21) that this will soon become an issue for the state budget and that increasing jobs will get people off of Medicaid rolls. The great irony: Medicaid is driving the boom in health care sector, which added 5,000 jobs last year alone, according to the Department of Workforce Solutions. That’s 53 percent of all job growth.

Gov. (Susana) Martinez and the state Legislature should be commended for expanding Medicaid in New Mexico. Now they must continue to support the program as it improves our economy and the lives of hundreds of thousands of people in our state.

COLIN BAILLIO

Health Action New Mexico

Albuquerque

Time to update outdated general plan

THE CONTROVERSY surrounding the El Rio apartment complex development highlights the need to review and update the city’s 16-year-old general plan. A lot has changed, and with developers looking to implement infill development, we are treading relatively new ground. In light of this, the Planning Commission in February recommended denial for the request to rezone from R-1 to R-29; this was prudent.

If approved, this project will set a precedent which may be used to justify future high-density developments that may not fit with the character of a neighborhood, or overload inadequate infrastructure not designed to support such a large, sudden influx of population. It is incumbent upon our representatives to do their homework and come up with viable solutions and a workable General Plan before plowing forward with developments that may end up doing more harm than good in the long haul.

LAWRENCE IMPRESCIA

Santa Fe

Renewable energy tax credit a bad idea

AS A SOLAR panel owner, I agree with Rep. Larry Scott (“Subsidizing solar power is unwise policy,” June 21) that the state renewable energy tax credit is a bad idea.

I bought solar panels last year as a hedge against rising utility rates driven by government environmental mandates. As Rep. Scott outlines, rate hikes are inevitable when utilities must build two power plants to do the work of one.

The most dramatic example is Germany, where an aggressive program to eliminate fossil fuels has jacked up electricity prices by 60 percent in five years. The recent rate increase request by PNM shows New Mexico is headed in the same direction.

I am fortunate because I could afford the major investment needed to take advantage of solar tax incentives. If my government is dumb enough to offer free money, I’m smart enough to take it.

The irony is that the politicians who claim to represent the middle class are taking tax dollars from my less fortunate neighbors to subsidize my solar panels. They’re sticking it to these folks a second time by pushing environmental policies that will raise utility rates.

The 30 percent federal tax credit gives people who can afford solar panels ample incentive to purchase them. The 10 percent state tax credit is frosting on the cake. If New Mexico wants to subsidize a green energy agenda, it will make more sense to offer low-income residents a tax credit on their rising electricity bills.

State regulators also should permit utilities to change their pricing models by unbundling the costs of electricity usage and access to the power grid. Charging solar panel owners like me a monthly access fee is fairer than shifting all the cost to less affluent ratepayers.

If my conversion to solar helps the environment a teeny bit, that’s fine. But I can’t be smug about it because my solar panels were manufactured in China in a factory powered by coal.

JAMES A. MCCLURE

Albuquerque

Give bus riders a break on ticket prices

THE CURRENT proposal for increasing bus usage by changing Central Avenue drastically is a very bad idea. Anything that makes life harder for drivers and merchants alike is a very bad idea.

Here is my suggestion for a good idea that could increase bus usage. Take the millions of dollars proposed to change Central Avenue and give it to bus users. If you ride the bus to an Isotopes game, you get a dollar off your ticket. If you ride the bus Downtown you get a dollar off your theater ticket, or a dollar off the show at the Kimo. Take your family to the zoo on the bus and get money off the price of admission. Ride to Old Town? Get the merchants involved, get something off a purchase. Or how about “Rider Of The Day?” Some lucky driver every day gets $50! Or $100!

And while you are at it, take the tacky ads off the buses. They make our streets look cheap. Who wants to sit in a moving billboard? Have a “Decorate A Bus” contest! We’re supposed to be an art destination city, right?

CARYL MCHARNEY

Albuquerque

Pope speaks out for a better world

THE ENCYCLICAL written and presented by Pope Francis (last) week has been marked as not only a historical event for the Catholic Church, but also a historical event for anyone concerned about the direction in which our Mother Earth and all of her beautiful creatures are destined unless we humans make changes in our behavior.

As the Pope so eloquently stated: “The natural environment is a collective good, the patrimony of all humanity and the responsibility of everyone. If we make something our own, it is only to administer it for the good of all. If we do not, we burden our consciences with the weight of having denied the existence of others.”

I truly love my Pope. He has given my faith a breath of fresh air. Anyone who chooses the name of Francis is a lover of the earth and of all of its creatures.

Regardless of what one’s orientation is in regard to faith, Pope Francis has stepped forward asking us to come together as one to work toward the betterment of the Earth.

VICTORIA REGINA

Albuquerque

Pope smokes out the ethically challenged

IT’S GOOD THAT the Pope is commenting on ethical and moral concerns touched by businesses in society. It is interesting to see which persons and organizations are concerned by his comments.

Perhaps such concerns should prompt us to reexamine the issues of corporate personhood. It seems the Supreme Court assumed the corporate “person” was inherently good, when its only responsibility is to be profitable. It would be comforting, if in addition to being profitable, one could imagine corporations asking who will be harmed, who will be helped by proposed business actions? Of course it would be even better if corporations acted on the answers to those two questions in some enlightened ways.

Some may say corporations do such questioning and decision-making as a matter of practice. That seems unlikely since one can see frequent examples of harmful business actions that do not consider items that are considered “externalities” to the corporation.

Here we have a great opportunity for the well compensated CEO’s, C-level executives and corporate boards to walk paths to profitability with a conscience. That would be corporate personhood with a serious aspect of humanity and social responsibility. Wouldn’t that be better?

TED TRUSKE

Albuquerque

A tale of one city and two permits

A COMPANY that sold tickets involving a “ginormous” water slide doesn’t have a permit, or water, but the company gets an expedited permit and 20,000 gallons of water in a day and a half and everyone is happy.

A black man trying to build a home has a permit, has another permit and then doesn’t have a permit. For four years, his and his son’s life are made significantly hellish in a uniquely Kafkaesque way. He’s pretty much financially ruined. Then finally, with no explanation, the city spits out a permit.

In both cases, mistakes were made. In one case, the city bends over backward to help clear away the hurdles that resulted from the mistakes. In the other case, the city digs in its heels and behaves like a jerk.

What’s wrong with this picture? What does this say about the administration of our city?

MARK STEELE

Albuquerque

Post signs on the dangers of hot cars

TO PREVENT the tragedies that occurred last year when children and pets were left in closed vehicles in hot weather, I’m asking stores, offices and other businesses to place a sign on their entrances to remind people of the danger.

The ASPCA has one that you may download from aspca.org. Or just write out your own sign to let your customers know that when it’s a mere 80 degrees outside, a car will become a staggering 114 degrees in less than 30 minutes. Cracking a window an inch or so will not stop overheating. Shade offers little protection and moves as time passes.

A simple sign just might alert someone to the danger and save a life.

LIN ROBINSON

Bernalillo

Teacher worth goes beyond test scores

LET’S PRETEND you are a doctor. You have been given 28 patients all with varying health problems from the common cold to cancer. You are told you must treat them all with the same medicine. How good a doctor you are will be based on how many recover.

It doesn’t matter that some of them also suffer from things you have no control over, i.e. food, shelter, environmental stress and mental capabilities. It doesn’t matter that some doctors have a majority of patients with the common cold and others have a majority of patients with severe diseases. Your worth is based only on a percentage of recovery.

Is that fair? Absolutely not. But it’s exactly what happens to a teacher every year. She is given a group of students with varying needs and abilities. She must feed them all the same curriculum. Her worth is determined by how many students raise their test scores.

A gifted student goes from the 95 percent to the 97 percent. Oops, sorry, only a 2 percent gain – teacher ineffective. A child in special education is reading three grade levels below his age, but must take the same test all other students take when the teacher knows his percentages will not be up to par.

The two weeks spent taking the test could be much better spent actually teaching the child. The teacher already knows he is not up to grade level or he wouldn’t be in special education.

No teacher objects to a fair evaluation, but having one’s worth as a teacher based too heavily on test scores is just not accurate or fair.

SUSAN MCGRATH

Albuquerque

Keep welfare of all Americans in mind

I WAS SO happy to read Doug Price’s letter detailing the pro-life beliefs and agenda of many Democrats. It tells me that more and more people are coming to understand that abortion kills human beings.

What Price seems to believe, however, is that conservatives do not support policies that provide for protection of life at all stages. We wholeheartedly do but we also worry about what will happen to those who are wholly dependent on the government for their daily needs if the government goes broke, which it is in danger of doing if we keep piling on the national debt.

If we continue to put into office people who are not fiscally responsible, those very people that Price rightly says need support will go under. And how can any Democrat or Republican who claims to be pro-life vote for anyone who supports abortion at any stage even after 20 weeks – when babies feel pain?

I think we need to thoroughly vet candidates for public office and elect those who have all Americans’ welfare at heart, born or unborn.

MARY A. LOMBARDO

Albuquerque


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