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Las Vegas Optic Newspaper Archives Mar 30 2015, Page 4

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Las Vegas Optic (Newspaper) - March 30, 2015, Las Vegas, New Mexico4 Monday, March 30, 2015 Las Vegas OPTIC The population estimates released by the U.S. Census Bureau last week are concerning for both San Miguel County and the state as a whole. Those figures reveal that from July 2013 to July 2014, San Miguel County lost an esti- mated 384 people. From April 2010 to July of 2014, our county lost an estimated 1,154 resi- dents. The Census Bureau estimates that San Miguel County’s population dipped to 28,239 in July 2014. Mora, Guadalupe and Colfax counties have also seen similar population declines. And New Mexico, as a whole, has lost 1,323 resi- dents from 2013 to 2014. The trend is concerning because state and federal funding is often tied to population. It will also hurt us in about six years when redistricting takes place. West Superintendent Gene Parson says his district is already seeing decreases in its state funding due to the drop in the number of stu- dents who have enrolled in West Las Vegas schools. There’s little doubt in our minds that peo- ple are leaving San Miguel County, northeast New Mexico and the state because good jobs are difficult to come by here. The exodus is going to continue until we figure out a way to turn the local and state economies around. It’s worth noting that there’s a national trend of people in rural areas migrating to urban areas in search of jobs and more oppor- tunities. Still, there’s too much at stake for us to simply throw up our hands and accept that our population is going to continue to decline. We need to figure out a way to provide opportunities to our residents so that they will stick around. We realize that is easier said than done, but we have to try. The effort needs to begin with a commit- ment from all stakeholders to work together to boost our area’s economy. We can no lon- ger afford the infighting that has come to define our relationships in this area. We’ve got a lot going for us in San Miguel County. Las Vegas is home to a four-year uni- versity, a community college and to the state’s only Behavioral Health Institute. That’s a great foundation for us to build on. The census figures should serve as a wake- up call to all of us. We all lose if our popula- tion continues to shrink. Serving the community since 1879 edITOrIaL Susana Martinez had better figure out how to work with Democrats or she’s going to go down in state his- tory as an ineffectual governor. Sure, she can and does point to a num- ber of accomplish- ments during her first term — balanc- ing the state budget during tough times, creating a simplified grading system for the state’s schools, and more — but I don’t think any of them are systemic in nature. They’ll have only a temporary impact on New Mexico. Contrast those issues with some- thing more long-term, such as Bill Richardson’s aggressive push for the state funds to construct Spaceport America. Like it or not, his success in getting it built, and getting Virgin Galactic in as its No. 1 tenant, thrust New Mexico into the commercial- ized space industry. It had a lasting impact on the state. And that was just Richardson’s first term. Love him or hate him, he was a governor of historic conse- quence. As for Martinez, she’ll always be remembered as the nation’s first Lati- na governor, but I see little else dur- ing her time in office so far that’s of historic value. Her balanced-budget accomplishment is required by the state constitution, so that’s a hollow boast, while her education initiatives are being stymied by lawmakers and educators alike. It even took a second term just to get her education secre- tary confirmed in the Senate. So is that the greatest accomplish- ment of the 2015 legislative session? That Hannah Skandera, after four tumultuous years on the job, finally got confirmed? Of course it’s not the biggest thing to come of the session, but judging by the failures of this ses- sion, you can’t help but wonder. This session was so unproductive that even the $264 million capital outlay bill, one of the biggest pieces of legislation to come out of every session, couldn’t get passed. Accord- ing to all the accounts I read, the governor was visibly angry when she met with reporters immediately after the session adjourned. The Sen- ate, she declared, is obstructing the process. Of course she’s right about that, but she’s wrong not to take any of the responsibility for such a dis- mal session. She contributed, by not working with the other side of the political aisle. Personally, I think Martinez has the same problem that President Obama has — an inability or an unwillingness to develop personal relationships with the opposition’s leadership. Of course I have no way of knowing this, since I’m nowhere close to the inner circle of either of these elected leaders, but what’s clear even from a distance is that neither of them seems capable of making deals that stick. For Obama, it’s those tea- party Republicans, and for Martinez, it’s the obstructionists in the New Mexico Senate. Funny how the tables can turn. In Washington, the tea-partiers are the obstructionists. In Santa Fe, it’s tra- ditional Democrats who are barring the door. Still, all’s not lost for Governor Susana. After all, she won re-election by a landslide last year, and brought with her a House majority, so she’s got considerable leverage — and three more years to exercise her options. If she’ll just take that leverage into some good-faith negotiations with her loyal opposition, maybe she’ll become a governor of consequence after all. • • • Perhaps the best thing to come out of this session had nothing to do with political divisions. In the closing days of the session, both the Senate and House unanimously passed biparti- san legislation to bring transparency to health care pricing and quality-of- care data at the state’s hospitals. As of this writing, Senate bills 323 and 474, which make hospital prices and quality-of-care indicators acces- sible to the public online, now await the governor’s signature. Assuming the governor signs this legislation — and she’d be crazy not to — it’s another accomplishment for Think New Mexico, which is making its mark on state history by maintain- ing a focus on obtainable solutions to the state’s problems. Of course, the biggest beneficiary of this legislation is New Mexico’s citizenry. We need and deserve the ability to shop around for the best and most affordable health care in the state, and soon we’ll have that ability. That might just make the 2015 ses- sion worthwhile after all. Tom McDonald is editor of the New Mexico Community News Exchange and owner-manager of Gazette Media Servic- es. He may be reached at tmcdonald@ gazettemediaservices.com. Thoughts on the passing session dIsPaTCh New MexICO TOM MCdONaLd A worrisome trend 4Optic editorials, located on the left side of this page, are the newspaper’s position on issues impacting our commu- nity, state, nation and world. They are written by members of the Optic’s Editorial Board and represent the institutional voice of the newspaper. The Editorial Board consists of Martín Salazar, editor and publisher; Art Trujillo, copy editor and columnist; and com- munity representatives Lupita Gonzales and Joseph McCaffrey. Anyone wanting to meet with the board may contact Salazar at 505-425-6796 or msalazar@lasvegasoptic.com. 4Columnists represent their own viewpoints and don’t nec- essarily reflect the views of the newspaper or the editor/publisher. Readers are welcome to submit guest columns for consideration. Please limit the submission to 750 words and send it to msalazar@ lasvegasoptic.com. 4Letters to the editor are valued and encouraged. Please consider the following points when submitting a letter for publication: • We need specific information about you. We need to know your real name and your city of residence, for publication along with your letter. Plus, we need a phone number where we can reach you, for verification purposes. Anonymous letters, and those we cannot verify, will not run. • Timely, concise letters are preferred. Because of space limita- tions, lengthy letters are difficult to place and may not run as a result. We recommend letters of less than 250 words, which are more likely to be published quicker than longer letters. Those that exceed 400 words may have to be edited down or discarded. • Letters expressing a viewpoint are best. Your opinion, concisely written, about an issue covered in the Optic is our top priority, and we will run it as soon as practical. • Stick to the issues. The letters section is intended as a community forum. Factually questionable information, personal smears and libelous charges don’t contribute to the conversation and won’t likely run. • Mil Gracias letters should be as short as possible. Long lists of thank-yous make for difficult-to-read letters, and will likely delay its publication by days or even weeks. • And finally, it’s the editor’s call. We welcome dissenting opin- ions, and we strive to run all letters submitted, but in the end it’s the Optic’s decision as to which letters will run. How to submit your letter to the editor By e-mail: msalazar@lasvegasoptic.com By fax: 505-425-1005 By mail or in person: 614 Lincoln Ave., P.O. Box 2670, Las Vegas, NM 87701 abOuT ThIs Page ——— www.lasvegasoptic.com abOuT us 614 Lincoln Avenue • Las Vegas, N.M. 87701 Phone: (505) 425-6796 • Toll Free: 1-800-767-6796 Fax: (505) 425-1005 • E-Mail: optic@lasvegasoptic.com The Las Vegas Optic is published Monday, Wednesday and Friday. ANNUAL SUBSCRIPTIONS RATES: Home Delivery in San Miguel County: $62.99 • In New Mexico: $81 “Periodical postage paid at Las Vegas, N.M. 87701” POSTMASTER: Please send address corrections to: Las Vegas OPTIC P.O. Box 2670, Las Vegas, New Mexico 87701. USPS 305-180 Editor and Publisher Martín Salazar msalazar@lasvegasoptic.com Composition Manager Maria Sanchez composing@lasvegasoptic.com Office/Circulation Coordinator Cynthia Fitch cfitch@lasvegasoptic.com

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