by USDA RD state director Arthur A. Garcia
Some people remember when many rural households didn't have electricity or running water. Although those days are long gone for most, there's still lots of room for improvement. In fact, our American infrastructure used to be the envy of the world, but now it's in disrepair.
By Senator Pete Campos
From time to time, as I travel around my district and to other areas of the state, I hear criticism that the Legislature has not done enough to solve one problem or another. Take your pick: our economy, capital outlay, education, crime. The list goes on.
Silver City, NM – Last week, the Trump administration planned to deploy thousands of members of the National Guard to the Southern Border. According to recent reports by the Los Angeles Times, Secretary of Defense James Mattis has signed an order to send up to 4,000 National Guard troops to the U.S-Mexico border. Since the announcement, Governor Susanna Martinez has openly supported the effort. The orders have been met with resistance from activists and government officials alike, and Rep. Rudy Martinez (D-39) says that President Trump's actions are not necessary and that Governor Martinez should not support such a policy.
By NM Senator Howie Morales (D-Silver City, NM)
This week in classrooms across New Mexico, students from grades 3 through 11 will begin taking the standardized test known as PARCC. For the sake of our children’s futures, I am calling for this to be the last time they take the test. The results have been in for a long time: PARCC is a colossal and expensive failure for our state. The next Governor must change the state’s education policy to return to sensible assessment and teaching practices, and do away with this gold-plated experiment that has damaged our system of education.
During her tenure over the last seven years, Governor Susana Martinez and her head of Public Education, Hannah Skandera, wasted millions of dollars’ worth of state taxes on ‘The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers’ (better known by its acronym, PARCC).
GILA REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER
The purpose of a corporation is to make money for its shareholders. Corporations are not inherently good, nor are they inherently bad. As is my wont, I listened to NPR’s Morning Edition on Monday, April 9, which had a segment about a man in Fort Myers, Florida who had two CT scans done about three months apart (Google NPR and read the transcript). The first one cost less than $300 and the second one cost almost $9,000. The first one was done by a private imaging center, Summerlin; the second one was done at Gulf Coast Medical Center Hospital in Fort Myers, where most of the hospitals, including this one, and other health care facilities are owned by Lee Health Corporation. With a virtual monopoly this corporation charged what the market can bear.
Albuquerque – In making a case for her plan to resurrect the straight party voting option in New Mexico, Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver says it makes it much easier for voters of all stripes to cast a ballot. (Straight party voting allows voters to check a single box to vote for a major party's entire slate of candidates.)
"The reality of straight party voting," Toulouse Oliver said in a guest column in the Journal last week, "is that more voters will be able to participate in the voting process, and the process itself will be quicker and easier."
OK. But if Toulouse Oliver's primary goal is simply to make voting easier, and by easier she means faster, then why not just allow voters to sign a proxy handing their ballots over to the political party of their choice to vote as party officials see fit? Sure, that's a little over the top, but it's effectively what the straight party option does. So if speed is the name of the game, then that's the way to go in Toulouse Oliver's world.
But for anyone who actually cares about having an informed electorate, straight party voting is a terrible idea. Voting in this country is a sacred right and a responsibility, and it's not too much to ask voters to consider each race on the ballot. They can still vote for every Democrat or every Republican if they so choose, but they should consider each race. Individual candidates and their stances on issues matter.
It's disappointing Toulouse Oliver is trying to take New Mexico backward on this issue. The Legislature abolished straight ticket voting in 2001, the state finally stopped using it in 2012 under then-Secretary of State Dianna Duran, the first Republican in the office in decades, and the Legislature has since refused to reinstate it. Only nine states still use it – and Texas is dropping it effective in 2020.
So besides being a bad idea, there's a good argument the secretary of state doesn't have the legal authority to unilaterally revive straight party voting.
Toulouse Oliver, a Democrat, contends through a spokesman that there's nothing in state statute that would prohibit her from restoring straight party voting. The Republican Party has indicated it might pursue a court challenge if it's reinstituted.
Toulouse Oliver has said she'd like to bring it back, possibly as soon as November, although her office intends to hold public hearings before moving forward.
Critics of her plan also argue straight party voting gives an unfair advantage to major party candidates, especially Democrats, over independent candidates or those affiliated with minor parties. (Roughly 46 percent of the state's registered voters are Democrats, while about 29 percent are Republicans. The rest are Libertarians, voters affiliated with minor political parties or independents.) Straight party voting is also likely to benefit down-ballot candidates who ride the party coattails but hurt nonpartisan down-ballot races where voters don't bother to weigh in, such as judicial retention, bond questions, constitutional amendments and the like.
Bob Perls, a registered independent, former state representative and founder of New Mexico Open Primaries, argues, "Straight ticket voting is not about helping the elderly or handicapped, it is about helping the major parties and mostly in NM the Democratic Party."
"Six states have eliminated this practice in the last decade," he says. "This choice is going backwards."
Toulouse Oliver counters that anyone marking the straight party voting option would still be able to vote for a candidate belonging to a different party and have that vote count.
The bottom line here is that straight party voting primarily serves party bosses, not voters. In a Facebook-scandal world we need an informed electorate now more than ever, and reinstituting straight party voting takes us in the opposite direction.
If Toulouse Oliver is really all about making voting easier, she should shelve this plan to take New Mexico back to the bad old days of pledging allegiance to a political party and champion open primaries instead. New Mexico is one of only nine states that fully disenfranchise independent voters – this year 265,355, or 22 percent, of registered voters will not be allowed to cast a ballot in the June 5 primary for everything from governor to county sheriff.
A system that makes voting possible for more than a quarter of a million people is worth championing. A system that just makes voting easier for the benefit of a major party is not.
This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.
For 130 years, Gila Regional Medical Center (GRMC) and its predecessors have provided Grant County with trusted, quality care. The Grant County Board of Commissioners has never wavered in its commitment to ensuring our region has access to local, high-quality healthcare.
From the County Commission’s 1970 purchase of the land where GRMC sits today to the Commission’s naming and opening of the hospital in 1983, the County Commission has always worked to do the right thing for our community’s healthcare future.
You can't have it both ways
Most of these were comments heard at recent meetings or in conversations or synthesized from recent readings.
The first two were uttered by the same person. And the third one was said by a person also advocating for more wilderness areas in the Gila National Forest.
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The second is a business-centered column—Your Business Connection by the New Mexico Business Coalition. The group works to make policy in the state of New Mexico better for all businesses, large and small.
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