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Articles written by Walter Rubel


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  • Opinion: FTC ruling gives workers freedom

    Walter Rubel, Syndicated content|Updated May 7, 2024

    Here’s to the deep state, or, what we used to refer to as the federal government. With little fanfare, the Federal Trade Commission has leveled the playing field for millions of workers. The FTC freed an estimated 30 million employees who are now bound to their current employers through non-compete clauses. On a 3-2 vote, the commission found that the clauses are an unfair method of competition and therefore a violation of Section 5 of the FTC Act which prohibits “unfair or deceptive acts or practices in or affecting com...

  • Opinion: Implementation of mental illness rules needs care

    Walter Rubel, Syndicated content|Updated May 4, 2024

    While mental illness isn’t a crime, it’s also not a permission slip to excuse crimes. Yet that’s what happens in New Mexico once a defendant has been found by the court to be mentally incompetent to stand trial. It’s a “Get Out of Jail Free” card for future crimes. That freedom from accountability has allowed a small number of offenders to act with increasing brazenness against both property owners and police. “We deal with them all day, every day,” Las Cruces Police Chief Jeremy Story said during a recent community radio...

  • Opinion: Breaking two-party system needs a movement

    Walter Rubel, Syndicated content|Updated Apr 20, 2024

    Everybody wants to start at the top. And so, of course, the deep-pocketed investors behind the attempt to build a centrist third party under the No Labels banner started with a presidential election. And not just any presidential election, but one in which the Republican nominee is a former president who is facing 88 felony indictments in four separate cases and is vowing vengeance if he wins. Democratic voters with sour memories of Ralph Nader and Jill Stein still haunting them greeted the No Labels effort with fear and...

  • Opinion: Capital outlay completion track record not good

    Walter Rubel, Syndicated content|Updated Apr 9, 2024

    The capital outlay bill passed by the Legislature this year provides just under $290 million for 136 projects throughout the state, including $20 million for steam tunnel and electrical infrastructure upgrades at New Mexico State University. NMSU will also get $10 million for facility construction in the Creative Media Institute and $1.575 million for road improvements on the Gadsden campus. All 136 projects will be funded without any kind of ranking system to determine what our top priorities are, or vetting process to ensur...

  • Opinion: Keep an eye on down-ticket races

    Walter Rubel, Syndicated content|Updated Mar 26, 2024

    The geographic political divisions in New Mexico have become so entrenched that both parties have just stopped trying in areas of the state where the other side has the advantage. Of the 42 seats up for election in the state Senate this year, only 15 will be decided in the general election. Democrats will claim 17 seats and Republicans will win 10 without posting a yard sign, shaking a hand, making a campaign promise or kissing a baby. Democrats have apparently given up on the seat they held from 1989 to 2020 when John...

  • Opinion: Sunshine, public comment needed for open government

    Walter Rubel, Syndicated content|Updated Mar 23, 2024

    Most Americans think we have the right to attend public meetings and let our elected officials know what we think about how they’re doing. There is no such right in New Mexico. Our open meetings law requires that accommodations be made for the public to attend and listen to meetings of the city council, county commission and other government boards and commissions. But, there’s nothing that says we have the right to speak at those meetings. It’s up to each board to set its own rules. Typically, elected leaders under...

  • Opinion: Governor alone can't bring needed changes

    Walter Rubel, Syndicated content|Updated Mar 9, 2024

    After having her Bernalillo County gun ban overturned by the court, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham tried to do it the right way. She put together an impressive public safety package of proposed legislation that addressed not only guns but also bail reform, sentencing, and police pay and recruitment. If passed, it would have been a huge step toward addressing our state’s gun violence epidemic. New Mexico ranked seventh in the nation in gun deaths, according to a 2020 report by Johns Hopkins, which found that firearms were the lea...

  • Opinion: Bill will make sure political falsehoods attributed

    Walter Rubel, Syndicated content|Updated Mar 2, 2024

    In the days leading up to the primary election in New Hampshire, several voters received phone calls from a voice that sounded like and claimed to be President Joe Biden encouraging them to stay home on election day. It was the first well-publicized use of artificial intelligence in a dirty tricks political campaign, but it undoubtedly will not be the last. The New Mexico Legislature took action this session to get in front of the problem. House Bill 182, which awaits the governor’s signature, amends the Campaign Reporting A...

  • Opinion: Organ donations a gift of life for those in need of them

    Walter Rubel, Syndicated content|Updated Feb 10, 2024

    Throw my brain in a hurricane And the blind can have my eyes And the deaf can have both of my ears If they don’t mind the size. — John Prine I wasn’t blind yet when I had cornea transplant surgery in my left eye a couple of weeks ago, but I’m told that would have likely been my eventual fate. I was diagnosed with Fuchs’ dystrophy, which impacts a thin layer of cells that pump fluid to the cornea. The loss of those cells causes fluid to build up on the cornea, leading to cloudy vision and, over time, blisters that can break...

  • Opinion: 'Did you hear the one about …?'

    Walter Rubel, Syndicated content|Updated Jan 30, 2024

    I was driving through Colorado last summer when I encountered a series of electronic highway signs warning me to, “Slow the fast down.” Being a product of the Colorado school system, I was taken aback by the poor grammar and sentence construction. Then it occurred to me that “fast” was a four-letter word starting with “f” so I was supposed to think — well, you know. How edgy. Just what I want in my highway signs. Now, it’s posted alongside Interstate 25, next week it will be doing the opening set at Jimmy’s Chuckle Hut. Ther...

  • Opinion: Garcia a passionate booster for our state

    Walter Rubel, The Staff of The News|Updated Jan 20, 2024

    The New Mexico Legislature is different from anything else I’ve ever covered. Part of that is structural, with arcane rules limiting sessions to 30 or 60 days and calling for legislators to work without pay or staff. And part of it is cultural. The time limitations mean every session is a sprint to the finish, with hundreds of bills dying a quiet death when the clock strikes noon on the final day. And yet, during each day of the session official business is temporarily set aside to make time for dancers, musicians, poets a...

  • Opinion: Governor needs to identify top priorities

    Walter Rubel, Syndicated content|Updated Jan 13, 2024

    Like the salaries paid by the Los Angeles Dodgers for Japanese imports, the revenue numbers for the state are getting to be so big that it’s hard to wrap your head around them. The latest estimate projects the state will collect just under $12 billion in fiscal year 2024, which runs through June. That’s up by $2.3 billion from the past fiscal year and by $3.9 billion from two years ago. All of which means that legislators will have just under $3.6 billion in so-called “new money” this year, beyond the $9.7 billion include...

  • Opinion: Governor's agenda will be uphill battle

    Walter Rubel, Syndicated content|Updated Dec 30, 2023

    While she has not yet announced her agenda for the 30-day session of the state Legislature that starts Jan. 16, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has made it clear that gun safety will be a priority. Success will depend on her making it the priority. Lujan Grisham overstepped her bounds when she issued an emergency order in September banning guns in all public places in Bernalillo County. While gun violence is an emergency, it is one that must be addressed by the Legislature. No governor should have the unilateral powers that...

  • Opinion: Sacrifice a submarine to compensate a victim or two

    Walter Rubel, Syndicated content|Updated Dec 23, 2023

    Last summer I wrote a column praising the United States Senate for finally passing a bill to compensate those in southern New Mexico who suffered illness and death following exposure to the world’s first atomic blast at Trinity site. I ended the column with this: “That’s the good news. The bad news is that the bill now moves to the House, which seems much more interested in exploring the cocaine-fueled antics of Hunter Biden than doing anything to help the people they serve.” Now, the House has stripped funding in the def...

  • Opinion: Aggies reverse decades of futility

    Walter Rubel, Syndicated content|Updated Dec 16, 2023

    They said it couldn’t be done, and by “they” I mean me and just about everyone else who has followed the New Mexico State University football team over the years. In 2020, when the state was facing a $2 billion budget deficit and all but two games on the NMSU scheduled were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I wrote my second column calling for the Aggies to drop down to the FCS division in football. It wasn’t that I didn’t like college football or appreciate the potential benefits that come with the national exposure...

  • Opinion: Make nuclear decisions based on science

    Walter Rubel, Syndicated content|Updated Dec 9, 2023

    The risk of talking to people who are much more knowledgeable on a particular topic is that it may require a reevaluation of long-held beliefs. James Conca accurately describes himself as one of the 10 experts in the world on nuclear waste disposal. He was director of the Environmental Monitoring and Research Center for the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad from 2004 to 2010. WIPP is the nation’s only deep geologic site for nuclear waste storage. Conca has also been an affiliate scientist with Los Alamos since 2004 a...

  • Opinion: Ads shouldn't mock the frailties of aging

    Walter Rubel, Syndicated content|Updated Dec 2, 2023

    I’ll be glad when the Medicare open-enrollment period ends on Dec. 10, bringing a merciful pause to the flood of ageist television ads that saturate the airways each year at this time. The worst are produced for a business called Medicare Advantage Advisors, and feature a gray-haired woman with oversized glasses, named Martha, who, we are told, “is a bit cranky” because she heard that the open-enrollment period had started. In a voice that brings back memories of the old “Saturday Night Live” skits featuring Doug and Wendy...

  • Opinion: Vasquez bills treat ills of immigration crisis

    Walter Rubel, Syndicated content|Updated Nov 18, 2023

    A package of immigration bills introduced in Congress recently by Rep. Gabe Vasquez of Las Cruces will not address the growing crisis on our border, which is now impacting nearly all of our major cities. That’s far beyond the grasp of this Congress, which has its hands full just trying to keep a speaker in place. To be fair, even in past years with stronger leaders in charge, immigration reform has always been out of reach. Both sides would rather have the problem to campaign on than a solution that seems so simple to me. M...

  • Opinion: Admonition from 1972 still rings true

    Walter Rubel, Syndicated content|Updated Nov 11, 2023

    My simplistic, childlike worldview was changed forever a few days after the horrific murders of 11 Israeli athletes by the Palestinian group Black September during the 1972 Olympics in Munich, Germany. Two of my great loves as a kid were sports and stories. And so, I especially loved stories about sports. One of my favorites was the one about warring kings in Ancient Greece who laid down their arms and called for a temporary truce during the Olympics. That truce assured safe passage for athletes traveling to and from the...

  • Opinion: Ukraine's funding setback only temporary

    Walter Rubel, Syndicated content|Updated Oct 14, 2023

    Opponents of our support for Ukraine have started lumping in the defense of their homeland with our past wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and referring to them all as “forever wars.” Let’s break that down. The war in Afghanistan started on Oct. 7, 2001, with an invasion ordered by President George W. Bush, and ended on Aug. 26, 2021, with a withdrawal ordered by President Joe Biden. It lasted for 19 years, 10 months and 19 days, and resulted in the deaths of 2,402 American service men and women, including 13 during the withd...

  • Opinion: Is income support idea sustainable?

    Walter Rubel, Syndicated content|Updated Oct 7, 2023

    LAS CRUCES — I think we can cut to the chase regarding the city of Las Cruces survey of those participating in its guaranteed basic income pilot program. In 18 months, the responses will show that families who were given $500 a month by the government benefited in all kinds of positive ways, and nearby businesses also got a boost. Results are already in from similar surveys in different communities, and show pretty conclusively that people like free money. The city has taken $2 million of the $24 million it received from t...

  • Opinion: Bill Richardson always dreamed big

    Walter Rubel, Syndicated content|Updated Sep 16, 2023

    Bill Richardson was the most ambitious person I’ve ever met. Our first meeting was when I was a moderator for a 2002 gubernatorial debate against Republican John Sanchez and David Bacon of the Green Party. Richardson was so unconcerned with his opposition that he instead focused on Democrats in the state Legislature, warning them not to get in the way of his big tax cut. Richardson’s plan was to pass tax cuts for corporations and rich people, then advertise them on a billboard in Times Square with his face on it. Amb...

  • Opinion: Shrinking labor unions flex muscles

    Walter Rubel, Syndicated content|Updated Sep 2, 2023

    Most of our national holidays are a celebration of people and events that seem far removed. Labor Day is for us; the American worker. Our summers are bookended by three-day weekends. Memorial Day demands that we somberly remember those who died in war. Labor Day makes no demands. But we should be aware of its history. Along with celebrating workers, the holiday also recognizes the contributions made by labor unions in response to the robber barons of the 19th century who amassed obscene levels of wealth at the expense of...

  • Opinion: Even Zoom recognizes its limitations

    Walter Rubel, Syndicated content|Updated Aug 26, 2023

    My last paying gig was covering the state Legislature for its 2021 session, which was conducted entirely over Zoom to protect lawmakers and staff from the COVID-19 virus. It didn’t go well. The Roundhouse was closed to the public, and lawmakers were allowed to stay home and phone it in, via Zoom. My favorite moment was when an older legislator from a rural part of the state attempted to participate in a committee meeting from his car in the McDonald’s parking lot because it was the only place he could find an internet con...

  • Opinion: Broadband office responsible for using money wisely

    Walter Rubel, Syndicated content|Updated Aug 19, 2023

    The Communications Act of 1934 states that everyone in the United States should have access to rapid, efficient nationwide communications services, no matter where they live. A decades-long national effort was launched to bring telephone service to the most rural parts of the country. A Universal Services Fund was created, adding a new fee to our monthly bills to finance projects that wouldn’t otherwise have enough customers to be profitable. New government boards, like New Mexico’s Public Regulation Commission, were cre...

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