Letters to the editor (06/13/2012)

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National defense is in need of assistance
Editor:
Descent into chaos is a thought provoking book on the Middle East, but those words could apply to where we’re headed if our national defense capabilities are cut any further.
Last year a voice from my distant past called me … retired professor Peter Lupsha, one of my graduate school instructors at UNM.
He called to plead for me to somehow help stop cuts in defense.  “Couldn’t we cut from places where we don’t need troops to maintain our strength?” he asked.
Clearly a surprising request from a liberal Democrat (as most college professors seem to be), but  it wasn’t lost on me.  If anything, his call reinforced what I think most Americans are now becoming aware of — that, under this administration, our national defense capabilities are being dangerously reduced.
Professor Lupsha understands this, and so must every American.
Our national defense has been, for the most part, rock solid and capable since WWII. However, United States defense spending in fiscal year 010 was 19 percent of the federal budget, and only 4.7 percent  of U.S. GDP (Gross Domestic Product), and will now be reduced further because of the nation’s fiscal problems made worse by this administration’s policies.
I’ve been in a few wars in the service of this Republic, and can tell you the “strongest tribe” wins on any battlefield. Behavior between belligerent nations can be likened to middle school playground behavior — when there are bullies, standing up to them usually solves the problem.
But you have to be strong to do that.
President Ronald Reagan said it well when he said, “Of the four wars in my lifetime, none came about because the U.S. was too strong.”
The Obama administration is clearly — and naively — prepared to cut our national defense to achieve its domestic political agenda, and win an election.
This is  insane. In every armed conflict this nation has confronted, young Americans die and our adversaries don’t distinguish who they kill by our political affiliations.
Mr. Obama puts this country and all of us, at great risk by his planned cuts in our defense budget.
We need to understand the consequences, and we all need to do something about it in November.

Allen Weh
Los Ranchos de Albuquerque

Provisional ballots are being counted
Editor:
Many voters around New Mexico think the primary election is over, but there are counties where the election day tally is so close that provisional ballots may decide the winner.
The Valencia, Cibola, Socorro and McKinley counties Senate District 30 is just such a race.
Common Cause is spearheading Count Every Vote New Mexico (www.counteveryvotenm.org) a  non-partisan effort, not supporting any candidate. Our goal is to help every voter get their vote counted.
There are many reasons for casting a provisional ballot and those voters still have an opportunity to make their case to the county clerk for why their ballot should be counted.
The county clerk must notify by certified mail each voter whose provisional ballot is not counted and the reason. The notification must be sent within 10 days of the election, and the voter will have until Friday, June 22, to appeal the decision to the county clerk.
Make your vote count.

Diane Wood
Common Cause NM

Elected officials should know better
Editor:
While an elected official, eight years as a councilman and four years as mayor, one of the hardest lessons I learned was not to take public input personally.
I quickly found out that the majority of people were well-meaning and, for the most part, submitted written inquiries or came before the council to express their feelings and opinions as permitted by the U.S. Constitution.
Generally speaking, the communication was civil.  However, there were times when the discourse was extremely uncivil.
In all cases, nonetheless, I’m proud to say, all inquiries were acknowledged and answered verbally or in writing.
It is a given that elected officials will spend a lot of time in the kitchen where the heat is often intense. However, the notion that they should be in office to serve the people and that they should be able to stand the heat or get out is real!
Citizens who are thinking of running for an elected office, particularly at the local level, I believe, need to examine their conscience and determine their real reasons for seeking such offices.
Is it to languish in the glory of being an elected official, is it for the compensation, legal or illegal, or is it to serve the community?
I would hope that, more often than not, the answer is that there is a sincere desire to serve the community, to make the town, village, city, county or state a better place in which to live.
Unfortunately, more often than what the citizenry wants to believe, the reason for running is everything except a sincere desire to serve and enhance the quality of life for all by serving with or without legal compensation and doing what the majority of constituents believe, not what is in the elected official’s best interests.
Beyond being able to accept this tenet, I believe elected officials must go in with thick skins expecting to receive criticism and, occasionally, being called on the carpet for one reason or another.
Citizens are rightly inclined to present elected officials with legitimate grievances or deficiencies they see in how their government is being run. This is, after all, what a representative democracy is all about, right?
There is nothing wrong with the voices of the people being heard whether it is written or verbal as long as the communication is civil and reasonable.
And, it is only professional, humane and right for the elected official to respond to the inquiry whether or not he is in agreement or does not care for the person or the manner in which the inquiry is presented.
Sadly, I can cite three personal examples, two with state-level politicians and one at the local level, wherein the elected officials for reasons unbeknownst to me chose to ignore my inquiries.
A simple note or telephone call would have satisfied me.
Taking a complaint personally and, sometimes, sweeping the matter under the carpet and totally ignoring it is, without question, wrong! Dictators do this and more.
On the other hand, America, I believe, is still a democracy wherein citizens expect answers from their elected officials whether the official agrees or does not agree with the inquiry, the message or question being posed. One violation of this principle is one too many.
Little wonder is it that our form of governing from the local level to the national level is under attack. In too many cases it isn’t working the way founders envisioned it. The structure is sound.
It is the people who are controlling it. Too many of them have forgotten that this should, indeed, be a government by all the people, for all the people and not a self-serving form designed to enhance the well-being of the elite at the expense of the masses.
In closing, my message to elected officials and wannabes is this: examine your consciences and your morals and, once and for all, decide what your real purpose is for being an elected official or for seeking an elected office.
Don’t insult our intelligence by seeking office if you have ulterior motives and don’t stay in office if you are there only to serve yourself..

John Lopez
Bosque Farms

Appreciation goes to CCA for efforts
Editor:
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the students and the staff of the Calvary Chapel Academy here in Belen.
On Thursday, May 10, they did a service project at Eagle Park, collecting trash and cutting weeds.
The endeavor was extremely appreciated and we admire the character and values CCA is instilling in these young individuals.

Brenda Gurule
City of Belen

Hospital shouldn’t be built on river
Editor:
Another flash flood (May 23) down Camino del Llano off the West Mesa, dumping tons of water into the very catch basin where Belen city management plans to build our hospital.
As Albert Einstein said, “The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits.”
I could hope that that city-sponsored site will never get built because they’ll never obtain insurance coverage, but business and geological reality is no proof that the fools running the town won’t go ahead anyway.
Better that we all should go along with Mother Nature on this, and advertise Camino del Llano as a destination for kayakers, maybe attract some tourist dollars to Belen that way.

G.E. Nordell
Belen