Letters to the editor (06/09/12)

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Lawmakers should be held to term limits
Editor:
Even before the ink on my letter supporting Rep. Dennis Kintigh’s  (R-Roswell) term limits proposal had dried, sadly, the New Mexico House Voters and Elections Committee voted along party lines to table the measure, effectively killing it. What a travesty!
It would appear that the greatest fear Democrats hold is that if adopted by the voters as a constitutional amendment, “the constant turnover would end up shifting too much power from elected lawmakers to longtime staffers and lobbyists.”
This argument holds no water because truth be told, staffers and lobbyists already are too powerful, often calling the shots on proposals presented to lawmakers. In effect, legislation is often adopted, defeated or tabled based largely on their input.
The people depend on lawmakers to use their power as elected officials, freshmen or old-timers, to rein in the clout exercised by staffers and, particularly, lobbyists. Staffers work for them.
If they can’t understand their role versus that of lawmakers, then lawmakers need to exercise their authority and remove them. Just like lawmakers, the loss of staffers isn’t going to cause the business of state government to suffer. Everybody is expendable, including the president of the United States.
Lobbyists, the fourth arm of government, on the other hand, are slightly more difficult to control. Lawmakers, if they chose, could impose further constraints on them within reasonable boundaries that don’t violate their rights.
They are, however, reluctant to over-regulate their behavior because, after all, they do offer valuable input and because of the gifts they bear i.e. dinners, luncheons, golf rounds and more, in addition to, often, representing large voting blocks.
The weakest argument against term limits came from Rep. Ken Martinez (D-Grants), whose father, the late Walter Martinez, was speaker for many years, and who has a good shot at moving into the speaker’s slot after Lujan steps down.
He stated that “lawmakers from other states that have term limits have told him it’s a horrible idea.”
Sounds to me like more of the same garbage espoused by career politicians who enjoy the power and perks, and who are reluctant to remove their snouts from the lobbying and public troughs.
Kintigh’s proposal, in my mind, was reasonable. It called for 12-year limits on the time lawmakers could serve and would’ve weakened, to some degree, the speaker’s clout and, perhaps, in turn, clean up the “either you’re with me or against me” mentality that prevails in committee and chairmanship appointments that currently rests in the House and Senate leadership.
Instead, Democratic and Republican caucuses would appoint committee members and they, in turn, would select their own chairs. This, to me, is a much healthier way to run the business of the Legislature.
Kintigh stated that he believes 12 years is sufficient time to “become proficient at lawmaking.” As well, he feels “term limits would make legislators more accountable.
Rep. Danice Picraux (D-Albuquerque) countered by saying she thinks they are already accountable simply because they get re-elected.
I beg to differ. Contrary to this belief, in my eyes, re-election is not a true indicator of accountability. It is more an indicator of an ability to raise a lot of campaign money and to bring home the bacon, which, in this state, is based not on real needs, but rather on seniority and on not ruffling the feathers of those who have the tightest grip on the state’s purse strings.
Why do you think many communities go without? It is not because they don’t have needs and representation in Santa Fe. It is because of the games played in the allocation of our funds, regardless of the source.
As a result, I submit to you, there are many half-finished projects and “bridges to no where” in New Mexico, such as the “art work” on a ranch in Quemado, that according to Larry Barker, cost us $500,000 in a land lease agreement, and that few people have been able to enjoy.
In this case, former Gov. Richardson and his buddy down at the ranch were the main beneficiaries, not the people of New Mexico with real needs.  And, I don’t want to hear that none of the lawmakers who acted on Richardson’s budget did not know that the $500,000 request was in there.
What a crazy world we live in.  Lawmakers at the state and national levels are not held in very high regard by a majority of the people.  They have no faith or trust in them.
And, yet in New Mexico, we can’t get legislators to adopt real ethics reform or as an alternative solution, to seriously debate term limits. Even lawmakers in Washington are cognizant of their less than favorable standing with the public and are now moving to adopt legislation that would prohibit seating lawmakers from participating in insider trading as a way to garner favor.
This is too little, too late and only being done because elections are coming up but, none-the-less, a positive step. What is it going to take to get our lawmakers to understand that the people are clamoring for the restoration of the true meaning of government by the people, for all the people?
It is time to clean house on firm footing! Perhaps  Kintigh can “blast” his bill out of committee before the session closes.

John Lopez
Bosque Farms

Republicans are who are to blame for USPS
Editor:
The guest editorial in the May 12 issue by Minnesotan Reed Anfinson sounds nice and is mostly accurate, but completely avoids mentioning the source of the fake “crisis” at the U.S. Postal Service.
All that needs to happen to restore the USPS to fiscal viability is to undo the damage intentionally caused by the Republican Congress in 2006.
When the Democratic 110th Congress was elected in November of 2006, and Nancy Pelosi was chosen to be the new speaker in January, the GOP-controlled lame duck 109th Congress quickly passed several laws that were kept under the radar, snuck thru the Republican Senate, and quietly signed by Republican President George “Dubya” Bush.
One of those laws “reformed” the U.S. Postal Service by requiring that the quasi-governmental agency set aside $5 billion each year to a retirement fund until that fund had enough cash on hand to pay all expected retirement needs for the next 75 years.
Now, ya’ll really need to understand the craftiness and cruelty of the intentional disaster. The USPS was ordered by the Republican Party to set aside retirement funding for people who are not even born yet.
The Republican plan, as always, is to damage an institution — FEMA, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, national security (currently 50 percent outsourced) — then buy that institution for pennies on the dollar, and ultimately charge more for fewer services.
(Privatization is the essence of fascism. The Republican Party is fascist, and cannot tolerate efficient government programs like the Postal Service and Medicare and Social Security. The fascist Republican practice is to destroy such agencies so that they can “save” them — and make profits from “serving” the people.)
The solution to the cash flow problem at USPS is so simple that Republicans scream in horror — reverse the damage done by the Republicans.
The long-range prediction of reduced Social Security payouts in 2039 or 2045 (depending on how soon Democrats are able to build up the post-GOP Meltdown economy) is also just too simple — raise the cap on Social Security contributions from today’s $110,100 to twice that and Social Security is fully funded and stable into perpetuity.
The present “Class War” is between Republican fascists destroying the American Dream and progressives committed to restoring America’s political and economic power.
And it is sickening to realize that half the population in America — and in New Mexico and in Valencia County — are still voting with the Republican fascist destroyers.

G.E. Nordell
Belen

Respect other’s rights and beliefs
Editor:
I am concerned with some of the rhetoric about our current political situation. I hear people say that there is a war on religion and that our religious freedom is under attack.
I see our nation as one of the most religiously diverse in the world. Religions and churches are everywhere.
However, there does seem to be an effort on the part of some to redefine America as a “Christina nation.” In a meeting recently in Belen,  a speaker defined Belen as a “Catholic community.”
Even though the majority of Americans might be Christian, this does not change the fact that our founders wrote the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause to build our nation on a religiously neutral foundation.
America is friendly to religion in general, not any religion in particular, as well as to those who chose not to follow any particular religious beliefs.
In America members of any religious faith are free to follow the beliefs of that faith and even to encourage others to follow those tenets. However, to try to legislate those beliefs and morality into the laws of our nation is mixing “church and state.”
Even many Catholics do not follow the teachings of their own leaders, so it seems just plain wrong for those leaders to try to get laws passed that would require everyone to follow their church’s moral teachings.
It is questionable whether  it is legal  to use their pulpits to try to politicize their moral views.
In a recent letter to the editor, Laura Sanchez so aptly states that “Above all, Obama’s compromise (regarding contraception coverage for all women) preserves real freedom of religion. Church officials who want to control women’s bodies can keep trying. Yet the state will not collude in forcing women to risk unwanted pregnancies because of someone else’s dogma.”
The religious right will continue to use issues like this to impose their moral beliefs on the country. We need to keep specific religious dogma and morality out of our laws. That is how our country was founded.
We need to respect each person’s right to follow their conscience, the dictates of their own heart, rather than impose our beliefs on others.

George Moscona
Rio Communities

Los Lunas traffic is still a big mess
Editor:
Weekday afternoon traffic in Los Lunas should be a breeze, not a mess.
The Los Lunas Village Council, I hope, has this as their No. 1 concern. To passing cars on Interstate 25, the three access ramps for Belen look like traffic there is easy, and one ramp at Los Lunas makes traffic there of the one-horse kind.
There’s nothing like that. Somebody in the past dropped the ball on Los Lunas’s expansion. There hasn’t been serious though that the monumental traffic problem would occur in Los Lunas.
Recently, the Los Lunas Village Council approve a landscaping project for the village administration area. This project is only the beginning. I think landscaping and what-not is of a housekeeping nature.
Things like city planning, water, sewer, solid waste, etc., are what public trust usually give to village councils.
If we’re keeping house to the tune of thousands of dollars, then we must have the traffic problem under control. Right, village council?
Maybe I haven’t been keeping myself up-to-date on the action in Los Lunas. Maybe there is activity in place right now to relieve the congestion and I’ve been blind to it.
I only say that the village council’s concern about high-class appearance and organization sends the message that they’ve solved our traffic problem and are tending to other village needs.

Charlie Wilson
Los Lunas