A Soldier'S Honesty

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[Commentary, “A Soldier’s Thanksgiving,” Nov. 24-30] I haven’t been so compelled to write about a soldier’s perspective since my letter about our government’s denial of the effect of Agent Orange on Vietnam vets was published in Life Magazine‘s letters back in the late '70s. Alex Limkin’s recounting of his experiences with booby-trapped carcasses was an eye opener. He doesn’t sugarcoat the daily circumstances our soldiers find themselves in with worn out phrases of patriotism and loyalty to the cause—he tells it like it really is. I find this candor incredibly refreshing. I don’t read about the war in conventional press venues because they tout the standard party line. Americans should hear more about the reality of the Iraq situation as Limkin describes out of respect for those who are serving. We want to make up our own minds about the situation we’re embroiled in. Please write more, Alex Limkin. Your efforts are very much appreciated.

Enough Is Enough

I know that many of you were as outraged as I when the mayor recently announced his plans to purchase 70,000 manhole or storm drain covers with the city’s seal on them. The alleged price for all of them will be “not much more than the old ones”—$89.90 or about seven million dollars. But if this manhole cover estimate is like those deliberately underestimated two useless Chevy-on-a-Stick tri-centennial towers, the Segways for APD, the “wi-fi” for his nearly empty new buses and (in the mayor’s words) other “very cool” pet projects, we will end up spending two- to three-times that amount—say $20 million.

“That will be fun 100 years from now,” in the mayor’s words. Wouldn’t it be nice if our mayor and others who think the new manhole covers are such a great idea kick off this project off by buying the first dozen for their neighborhoods using their own money? Those who award Golden Fleeces would have a field day with this mayor … and those who blindly support his outrageous wasteful spending. This frivolous spending, like the many others this mayor has dreamed up, will do city residents absolutely no good. Is it another payoff to his campaign contributors or merely another blatant example of the mayor’s lack of fiscal responsibility to the citizens?

If this purchase is allowed to stand, then why not suggest that the roofs of all city buildings also be painted with the city’s tri-centennial seal so those flying overhead can marvel at the wasteful practices of our esteemed mayor. Then we could proceed with painting the roofs of all commercial buildings—starting with those in Nob Hill and Old Town, of course. Then we can do the roofs of every home in the city. Won’t that also be “cool” and make Albuquerque unique? Just when will the City Council, the responsible city employees and our fed-up residents have the guts to tell this frivolous spender of our taxes that enough is enough.

Pathetic Fear Mongering

Congratulations to Jerry Ortiz y Pino for his story [RE: Ortiz y Pino, “We Can’t Just Throw Away the Key,” Nov. 24-30] in which he exposed the fear mongering on the part of a television reporter, Channel 13, the Albuquerque Journal and others. Fear mongering always does more damage than good, and in this instance it severely damaged the rehabilitation of a young teen in the custody of the Children, Youth and Families Department. As a person who has worked with youth all his life, I know that young adolescents who have been convicted of crimes can be rehabilitated, no matter what the crime. If we have anything to fear at all in this story, it is the fear that we keep this teenager, or others, incarcerated in such a way that they are not rehabilitated by the time they are released.

Free Heat

Perhaps the most important point of the city renewable-energy initiative is the “review of residential development standards” and education.

In 1985, my husband and I put a passive-solar addition (sunroom) on a '30s-vintage south-facing Denver home under the soon-to-end federal solar tax credit. The retrofit provided 500-square-feet of new living space, heated itself, much of the main living area and, as a hybrid system with fans, much of a basement, when needed. In 1991, we purchased a Los Alamos passive-solar home with direct gain through Clerestory windows, a Trombe’ wall and thermal mass augmented by wood backup, the most comfortable home temperature-wise I’ve ever lived in. Ten months a year, we had more hot water than we could use from an active-solar water heater.

In contrast, I recently purchased a nearly new home in Rio Rancho. It has no solar features and, facing east and west, does not lend itself well to solar adaptation. I turn up the heat and still freeze on days when, if the house had been built with solar features, I could turn off the heat and be warm. That sunbathed cities in a poor state such as New Mexico, 35 years after the Arab oil embargo, have not required new developments to orient to the winter sun borders on criminal! That so few homeowners, agonizing over how to pay high utility bills, have not demanded access to such “free heat” speaks volumes as to the need for education.

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