Billboard is divisive


The billboard outside of CEMCO regarding Heaven and Hell, remains divisive and disheartening.

This is especially so in view of the recent news reports regarding the deplorable conditions in detention facilities for migrant families. Reports now reference lack of the most basic bathroom facilities, no toiletries, clean clothing and thoughtless minimal meals.

This culture of “us versus them,” is insidious and is being promoted by our current government administration. It is changing the very ethos of this nation. How is it possible the children and families continue to be separated?

How can we, as a nation, be so inhumane to cause psychological damage to these children and babies? How can we ignore their fear, pain and discomfort as some are sleeping on concrete floors with only a mylar blanket?

To the owners of this billboard, you have addressed your beliefs for several years, but please know this sign is entirely ironic in a town named Belen (Bethlehem).

Since it is named for the birthplace of Jesus, who was all inclusive and welcoming and told us to love our neighbor as ourselves, couldn’t you consider a change in the sign to “Peace on Earth, good will towards men”?

Gloria Ortiz

Los Lunas

Time to take down sign


Wondering why Valencia County has to continue to endure one person’s religiosity, gloom and doom predictions and political statements for everyone to see on a daily basis while traveling on I-25?

Negative billboards and shameless displays of hate have been callously hoisted on travelers passing Belen for more than 10 years now by one business owner. His compound and billboards cast a shadow on our beautiful valley below, in more ways than one.

These signs unfairly taint our community and make a double nasty impression of danger and feverish religiosity. If Belen wants to attract people, it would make sense to be welcoming and positive and not close-minded, defiant of the law or threatening to newcomers, as displayed by these tawdry signs.

His latest sign uses the designation of “we” even though the statement is his alone. Shouldn’t he put his name on his creation and use “I” instead of “we?” “We” falsely indicates that the population agrees with his vow to break the law and follow some sheriffs from other counties who displayed contempt for proposed gun safety laws that were passed earlier this year.

The sign gives the impression that people in our community value guns over other people’s rights to live nonviolently.

Two new gun safety laws went into effect on July 1. Thankfully, Sheriff Vigil never waffled on her vow to follow each and every law, as she swore to do, and it remains to be seen whether the other sheriffs will comply or continue to cherry-pick the laws they will uphold, virtually turning their backs on victims of domestic violence and murder and inviting lawsuits for the taxpayers to pay out. Meanwhile, this garish billboard tells everyone “we” won’t follow the laws.

As we know, women with children and elderly parents are most likely to be threatened, maimed, and murdered, overwhelmingly by gun violence, by their husbands and domestic partners when they are trying to leave them. The new law gives these potential victims a better chance to get away unharmed, saving countless lives by reducing the risk of gun violence. The abuser’s guns are simply not accessible to him during that potentially volatile time period and are eventually returned once everyone has moved on.

This life-saving process has been working in 28 other states, and now in ours. Wouldn’t we appreciate seeing this positive message on a billboard overlooking our beautiful valley?

I may be wrong, but I think positive signage leads to positive results. Negative signs are never conducive to growth. Insulting and defiant billboards for all to see begs two questions: Does one person have the right to speak for all of us here, and do people want to live someplace where they have to endure this negativity?

I look forward to the day that we don’t have people openly defying the law, mocking or ignoring suffering, clamoring to protect things over people, or pushing their religious views on us. Hijacking our communities by putting up negative billboards is wrong. We all need to live in harmony.

I invite the owner of these signs to take them down and just advertise his business, not his beliefs. I also invite county officials to review our sign ordinances, for the good of all of us who live in Valencia County.

Michelle Ethridge

Los Lunas

Voting is the solution


Sometimes in politics there are limited options. Take, for example, the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Rucho v. Common Cause.

Democrats in North Carolina and Republicans in Maryland brought a federal lawsuit over “partisan gerrymandering” — the other party drawing electoral district lines to favor the majority party.

Gerrymandering has been with us for a long time. The term itself is said to have arisen after Massachusetts Gov. Elbridge Gerry favored an electoral map so convoluted it resembled a salamander — or “Gerry”mander.

People don’t like partisan gerrymandering. The Supreme Court majority noted that “Excessive partisanship in districting leads to results that reasonably seem unjust.” That doesn’t mean the federal courts are the place to deal with it.

The court decided “partisan gerrymandering claims present political questions.” Federal courts do not hear cases that raise political questions. You can’t even bring the case to federal court.

That may sound unfair, but it’s actually a good idea. Drawing political district lines is, well – political. Will you have confidence in the impartiality of federal courts if they overrule electoral maps because they are “too Republican” or “too Democrat?”

That doesn’t mean we have to settle for partisan gerrymandering. Political parties do not have a right to vote; we do.

After the national census next year, the New Mexico Legislature will redraw our electoral map. They will choose the map, but we will choose them.

The solution to political gerrymandering lies in the local voting booth. Vote wisely, my friends.

Jonathan Gardner

Los Lunas

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