Good Things Take Time

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As someone the State Bar has seen fit to admit, Attorney Jim Scarantino should know better than he let on in his frenetic piece, “It’s Our Money, Spend It!” [Commentary, Feb. 3-9].

After rubber-stamping the same social services contracts year after year, the Council decided to take a merit-driven, comprehensive and solutions-focused approach that would also actually include meaningful measures of success. They passed, and the mayor signed, a bill to make all such contracts subject to a competitive “RFP” (Request for Proposal) and now require that the programs funded through the new tax be evidence-based.

For his part, the mayor took the lead in convening a community-wide summit on behavioral health and the homeless designed to bring consensus on an approach that could actually make a positive difference in the lives of the severely mentally ill homeless with co-occurring disorders. The resulting broad agreement stemming from this included the decision to initiate an approach called Assertive Community Treatment (ACT), which has never been done in this state before, but which, if done properly, will take those local funds Mr. Scarantino talks about and nearly triple them by taking advantage of federal Medicaid match funds.

To date, our negotiations with the state toward gaining ACT inclusion in the State Medicaid Plan have been fruitful, and regulatory changes have been promulgated toward this end by the Human Services Department, but they are not yet final. If he were not so busy writhing like a caricature of a whip-lashed taxpayer, Mr. Scarantino might realize that this is one of the “stalled” contracts he wishes was already through the Council’s new process and out on the street being dutifully spent.

Another contract that is “held up” in the wild eyes of quick spenders is the Housing First initiative which emerged from the mayor’s summit as an essential component to the success of ACT and other programs serving the mentally ill and those with substance abuse issues.

At the summit, the mayor committed that there would be a continuous dialogue with the community stakeholders in the development of the RFPs for these programs. To date, there have been numerous meetings with providers, advocates and clients, and their input has been written into the RFPs to insure that these city-funded programs will be not only successful, but will put Albuquerque at the forefront in recovery-oriented treatment.

Clearly, a Republican like Scarantino might have his reasons for wishing to replace Mayor Chavez. But what puzzles is why he would so faithfully echo the kibitzing from declared mayoral candidate Eric Griego. As in his poorly thought out rant, one can really only speculate at motives.

But suffice it to say that we will give each of the three year contracts presently going through our RFP process the time and care they need to be done well and done right. The taxpayers who supported the quarter cent tax expected that we would turn the tide on the issues that urgently need addressing. They do not, however, expect that we should shovel money out the door willy-nilly just to get it done quickly.

If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right. That is what I have committed to deliver and that is a promise I will certainly keep.

Credit From Crybabies

With the inauguration of President Bush over, smart Americans can be assured that the country is in good hands. As for those cry baby liberals … oh well. I just want to address the fact that George Bush winning this election was the best outcome anyone could have hoped for. For starters, it is never wise to change presidents in war time and Bush is a far better president when it comes to terrorism because he can make up his mind. I can now only hope that your publication which calls itself “Fair and Balanced” can throw aside its clear liberal crap and give Bush the credit he deserves.


Editor's Note: Fox News claims to be, “Fair and Blanced,” genius. Our slogan is “Fair, Accurate and Kiss Our Pucker, Crybaby.”

Solar Solutions

[RE: “Here Comes the Sun,” Jan. 27-Feb. 2]First, my thanks to the Alibi and Tim McGivern in particular for such a detailed exposition on the potential benefits of solar energy-based electricity generation in New Mexico and the debate over the utility of subsidies to perhaps promote its adoption. Rarely, if ever, does one find so thoughtful and complete a treatment of a complex technical and political subject in any publication.

Second, a quick correction: A 15 watt cellphone charger (or any similar device) left plugged-in all of the time wastes not 13.5 kilowatt hours per year but rather 135 kilowatt hours. A good rule of thumb is that each single watt of each “phantom device” that is left plugged in doing nothing (except generating heat) will consume about 10 kilowatt hours per year. So, in the typical Albuquerque home with more than 100 watts of dust-busters, chargers, etc., 1,000 kw/hrs of electricity are wasted per year. This is about 12 percent of all of the electricity a home consumes. More to the point, it results in one metric ton of CO2 being dumped into the atmosphere to create that wasted electricity.

Ben Luce suggests that there would be little need for subsidies if everyone paid as little for their two kw/hr PV system as I did. But wait; everyone can! I just shopped around, bought “factory second” Photowatt solar panels from AAA solar ( in Albuquerque and bought my high-quality inverter from a solar supply house in California. My return on investment is better than 5 percent tax free, and completely protected against electricity price inflation. If electricity prices double tomorrow, my costs remain the same: zero.

Much better than the solar industry paying for subsidies (and the market distortions that inevitably result) is for the Legislature and the governor to pass a statute that would require local utilities to permit small renewable energy producers (like residential solar owners) to simply sell our excess energy into the California or Nevada market at premium prices in the middle of the day—when the demand is peaking and the sun is shining brightly in New Mexico. Then solar panels give (taxable) returns in excess of 10 percent. My guess is that thousands of homes would sprout panels within months, and at no cost to taxpayers. Everybody wins.

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