Letters to the editor (03/23/13)

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Trash service should be up to the citizens
Editor:
Valencia County does not provide my residence with water, sewer or fuel. I have to take care of these needs on my own.
Therefore, I do not need the county commissioners mandating which trash removal service I use. I am very happy with the service that I am currently using.
I have used Waste Management in the past and cancelled their services due to poor customer service. I do not like Waste Management, nor will I use Waste Management.
And now, the commissioners not only want to dictate what company I use, but want me to pay an additional monthly fee to help administer a service that I do not need or want, and I certainly did not request the service.
I am not sure how the commissioners arrived at the decision to award the contract to Waste Management, but it is evident that they did not give the constituents a chance to vote on this issue, and they sure didn’t have the citizen’s best interest at heart!
The contract was awarded to a company that is not even based in Valencia County.
What happens to the local trash removal services and their employees? Did the commissioners even give that thought any consideration?
I am very disappointed in our county commissioners.

Stella Creek
Los Chavez

Protect our kids from smokeless tobacco
Editor:
As an active advocate to stamp out cancer, I’ve learned that living a healthy life includes living a tobacco free lifestyle.
Tobacco companies are now advertising smokeless tobacco products to our kids. Kids who use smokeless tobacco are more likely to become cigarette smokers.
It is important that we continue to talk about the dangers of tobacco use and take measures to reduce the use of tobacco products. Every day another 1,000 kids become regular smokers — one-third of them will die prematurely as a result.
Here in New Mexico, we can help protect kids by closing a deadly tax loophole for non-cigarette tobacco products. At the present time, the largest tobacco companies in the world enjoy an enormous tax loophole in New Mexico for smokeless tobacco and other non-cigarette tobacco products.
This loophole keeps candy and fruit flavored tobacco products low priced, making them more tempting to kids. This can be changed …
Please help keep these harmful and highly addictive products a little further out of reach of New Mexico kids.

Karin A. Trujillo
American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network Member

Board member looks at district’s best interests
Editor:
I would like to publicly commend Larry Lindberg of the Belen Board of Education for his vote not to extend the contract of the current superintendent.
From Mr. Lindberg’s explanation of his vote, it is obvious that (he) has kept his focus on “academic achievement,” which of course should be the primary goal of K-12 public education. If you look at last year’s graduation rates and SBA academic results, with the exception of the “academic super stars” at the Belen Family School, the schools are failing our kids.
I would also like to commend Mr. Lindberg for a demonstration of “political courage” which is a rare commodity these days. It is in fact the duty of members of school boards to defend the best interest of taxpayers, parents, and most importantly the students.
Yet, most members of school boards quickly adapt to become a part of the public education machine and join in the circle of wagons to defend the status quo.
I recognize that in working around the good and caring individuals who serve as school administrators and staff members and getting to know them personally that it must be very difficult to hold them accountable for results.
I applaud Mr. Lindberg for the courage in upholding that accountability and maintaining the best interest of the kids in his district as his ultimate goal.

Dennis Schlessinger
Los Lunas

Mandatory testing for graduation in the state
Editor:
I recently found out about some news that I feel that other Valencia County citizens who have students in our schools should be aware of, so I wanted to write this letter to let other people know.
This year, the graduated senior class of the high schools in New Mexico will be required to pass the Standards Based Assessment test in order to receive their diplomas. Those students who do not pass the SBA with the required competency measure will be offered a certificate of completion for their efforts in high school if they do not meet the mandatory requirements for high school graduation.
There are alternative ways that a senior who has not met the SBA requirements can obtain his or her high school diploma this year, and these alternatives are posted in documents on the website of the Public Education Department.
If you are concerned about your student graduating this year, or next, with a diploma, please go to www.ped.state.nm.us/AssessmentAccountability/index.html. On it, you will find two documents explaining the current graduation process regarding required scores on the SBA or the alternative methods that a student might use in order to get a diploma.
We all need to stay informed about these issues regarding our students in the public schools. Please pass on this information to anyone who needs to know more about high school graduation in New Mexico.

Alice O. Rivera
Rio Communities