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GETTING DOWN TO BUSINESS

Gun doesn’t make me a bad person

I STOPPED at a local restaurant ... to have lunch and use the time to catch up on some paperwork. I asked the hostess for an out-of-theway table for the privacy since I also was expecting a phone call. I was seated at a two-top in the corner away from the crowd, but next to a couple of older women.

The women were discussing numerous topics.

But the one that caught my ear was the high rate of gun crime in the U.S. “They (criminals) can just get them (guns) online.” “People go to Mexico and ship them (guns) back to the states.”

... I was still on the phone as they got their check and got up to leave. As the more vociferous woman gathered her belongings, she dropped her scarf. I bent down and picked up her item and handed it to her. She commented to me that it was a gracious act.

I was left wondering how she would have classified me if she had known I was a Life/Endowment member of the NRA. One who has had to pass the required FBI background checks and subsequent two- and fouryear qualifications at the range for almost 12 years in order to legally possess a concealed firearm.

Had the ladies at the table next to me known they were less than 5 feet away from a loaded .45-caliber semiautomatic pistol, I doubt they would have used such a nice word to describe me. ...

One definition for “gracious” is “compassionate.” I would like to think that does describe someone willing to go through a lengthy and expensive process to legally be able to defend themselves and others.

JIM WATSON Rio Rancho

UNM needs salary cap, ‘parachute’ ban

AS THE LEGISLATURE (begins) its 2020 short session, UNM president Garrett Stokes has released the university’s list of funding priorities. They include a request for $4.3 million for athletics, an increase of $500,000 over last year’s appropriation.

Two years ago, it was revealed athletics had been running massive deficits for a decade. The president and regents were told to produce a sustainable business plan that included paying back the deficit and balancing the budget. ...

That plan failed spectacularly, and the athletic department went deeper into the red. Worse is to come, after the regents fired the football coach for another dismal season of losses and will pay him over $800,000 to leave.

The Legislature ... would be justified in denying any athletic funding, but if they decide to spend more taxpayer money for athletics, they need to include enforceable conditions.

First, the university must produce a realistic and honest business plan based on current ticket sales, donations and other earned revenues. Promises of increased sales last year were wildly off base.

New Mexico does not have a population base that is going to fill our football and basketball stadiums with paying ticketholders.

The plan must give serious consideration to downsizing, leaving the Mountain West Conference and finding a more appropriate league for football and possibly other sports ...

There must be a strict cap imposed on coaches’ salaries.

They should not be the highest-paid state employees, and there should be a ban on “golden parachutes” for any public employees who fail at their jobs. And there must be guarantees that student-athletic fees will not be raised, nor will costs be passed along to other university programs that are already struggling to provide essential instruction and services to all students.

KEN CARPENTER Albuquerque UNM retiree

‘In God We Trust’ bill is just sloganeering

I WAS 13 YEARS old when (former President Dwight) Eisenhower signed the law which referenced God in the pledge, which I had been reciting daily in school and Boy Scouts for the previous seven years.

Three months earlier, I had been called to the Torah at a bar mitzvah and had learned to put significant credence in its words of instruction ... Specifically, Exodus 20:6: “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.” In my perception, then and now, the inclusion of the phrase “under God” is little more than blasphemous vanity, which trivializes the unique and essential relationship each of us has with our deity. I will stand respectfully when others recite this pledge, but, to this day, I remain silent.

In addition, the thought that the phrase should be affixed to public buildings in the form of a poster would put an important theological belief, which many of us hold, into the realm of jingoism and sloganeering. It creates of God’s holy name what can only be described as a metaphor, and something that is fleeting or elusive. I do not believe this is so.

I applaud and support the intent to institute a greater understanding and implementation of our Founders’ ideals. However, the Founders’ (specifically Thomas Jefferson) only reference — tangential at best — to “God” or “Creator” appear in just the first two paragraphs of the Declaration of Independence, and even then the use was intended to de-legitimize the authority of the monarchy under which we were then suffering.

In the words of Benjamin Franklin, “I cannot conceive otherwise than that He, the Infinite Father, expects or requires no worship or praise from us, but that He is even infinitely above it.”

DAVID BLACHER Albuquerque

Governments aren’t doing their jobs

THE COMPLAINT about the sheriffs not doing their jobs is based on an erroneous assumption they are bound by any state or local law that violates the U.S. or N.M. Constitution, which is exactly the opposite that these highest level of law enforcement officials in their county represent.

They have the authority and responsibility to stop anyone from either enforcing unconstitutional laws like those which violate Article II, Section 6 of the N.M.

Constitution that prevent any municipality from restricting any gun possession whatsoever and has been flagrantly violated by the city of Albuquerque.

... What is of significant concern is that other agents of law enforcement are not doing their jobs. As an example, I filed a complaint with the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Education about the (alleged) Analee Maestas embezzlement of money from Albuquerque Public Schools and a charter school in which I was promised ... a full investigation, which may have involved federal funds, would be undertaken and none were, nor prosecution made that can be determined. Voting fraud and abuse of tax-exempt status of political organizations (allegedly) occur with impunity, and the Federal Election Commission and IRS do not take actions.

The city and county violate federal laws by creating the “immigrant friendly” status, which prevents ICE and other agencies from doing their missions. The city has repeatedly received money from Housing and Urban Development for upgrading Singing Arrow Park Community Center and has (apparently) never spent it for that stated and budgeted project, (which would be) a fraud upon HUD, but a complaint to HUD OIG did not result in any action to correct this corruption.

Basically, if the agencies did their responsible policing jobs, we would not have such homelessness, high taxes (and) bad crime, but as long as governments and bleeding hearts provide money to fix these problems, they will continue to exist and lower our quality of life further.

LELAND TAYLOR President, Albuquerque TEA Party

Time to invest in early childhood

EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION programs have proven to lift kids out of poverty and prepare them for success in school and in life. As a Save the Children Action Network (SCAN) volunteer and preschool teacher, I have witnessed the power of such programs firsthand and can confidently say that New Mexico needs more of these programs — currently, we are failing many of our children.

Last year, New Mexico ranked last in the nation for child well-being. While we have made significant progress in growing early childhood education programs, there is still a lot to do. Fortunately, Gov.

Michelle Lujan Grisham understands the paramount importance of these programs. Her budget for this year includes a $74 million increase in funding for early childhood services.

Unfortunately, the Legislative Finance Committee budget proposal falls significantly short of the governor’s numbers. ...

I implore members of the Legislature to think strongly about our state’s children and families and urge them to align more proportionately with the governor’s budget proposal. More funding will lead to better child well-being and brighter futures. Nothing is more important.

ADRIANA GOMEZ Albuquerque

Free college is step into socialism

THE GOVERNOR wants to give free college tuition.

Which means tax you more to pay for it. What’s next, give everyone a free house and car? Then free food. This is a giant step into socialism where you work and the government takes all your money and gives you what it thinks you need. Think about it — Is this what you want?

KEVIN PETERSON Albuquerque

Save pet lives, fund spay-neuter program

I AM URGING all New Mexico voters to call your legislators in support of Senate Bill 57, which will provide sustainable funding for a spay-neuter program for the pets of needy citizens. If you do not realize why this is urgently needed, I beg you to walk through any humane shelter or animal control facility in your area. Hundreds of healthy, adoptable animals are already begging for homes but are unlikely to find them when they have to compete against next year’s kittens and pups. Their housing, care and feeding takes an enormous chunk of city budgets, but the alternative is the slaughter of the innocents. If this disturbs you, or if you can see what great fiscal sense a statewide spay/neuter program would make, please speak to your state senator and representative.

MARIE NIDO Albuquerque

Red flag bill needs to pass this session

THANK YOU to the Journal for covering the red flag bill so well, and especially for devoting an editorial to it. The idea, however, that N.M. should back off of the bill this year because it’s a hard issue to debate ignores one glaring reality — we need it to save irreplaceable human lives. It can’t happen quickly enough for New Mexico. Red flag laws are preventing mass shootings, school shootings, and suicides in 17 other states today. Their law enforcement agencies are documenting every case where they disarm an extremely dangerous person — that means real people and communities have escaped life-altering trauma and the fate of ending up in a headline. The only way to interrupt gun violence is to resolve to stop it, and stop it now. Our gun laws will never be easy to debate.

EMILIE DE ANGELIS Albuquerque

Pot’s not medicine; leave Medicaid out

DUKE RODRIGUEZ of Ultra Health advocates “the cost of medicine should not prevent someone from receiving care and that Medicaid should pay for medical cannabis.” He needs to be reminded the U.S. Food and Drug (Administration) has “not recognized or approved the marijuana plant as being a medicine. The ingredients are not exactly the same from plant to plant.

According to the National Institute on Drug abuse, marijuana is not regulated on the manufacturing side or the dosing side. There is no way to know what kind and how much of a chemical one is getting, hence increased problems with edibles. It is considered to be an addictive depressant and can cause damage to the lungs, cardiovascular system, and brain.” Although it has proven to help in some medical needs, it is also proving to be abused.

Medicaid should not pay.

KIT ELLIOTT Albuquerque

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