¿Qué Pasa, Burqueña?

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[RE: Letters, “The Real Burque,” Aug. 9-15] Never, ever meant to disrespect! I love this city, too, a lot, and have been doing my darnedest for years to oppose the over-development and rampant “marketing" that it faces. It truly breaks my heart to see what’s happening to it …

definitely on your side, Burqueña! Just having some fun, but I totally agree, it’s a very serious issue with which we all currently struggle. P.S. Where can I get my T-shirt?

Mil gracias, compañera, y sigue la lucha.

Corporate Animal Care

In Jim Scarantino’s recent column [The Real Side, “Chimps are Cool!” Aug. 2-8], for some odd reason he defended Boston-based corporation Charles River Laboratories, which makes its profits off the backs of innocent animals. He chose not to defend the interests of New Mexicans and the good things they care about, like treating animals humanely.

Last year was a big one for Charles River Laboratories. The company reported sales of more than a billion dollars. Its president was given a $650,000 bonus in addition to his $850,000 base salary. Abigail Johnson, the largest shareholder of a group owning the biggest piece of Charles River, made a Forbes list of the richest people on earth. And in New Mexico, the company continued to stave off criminal prosecution for the mistreatment of chimpanzees under its care at the Alamogordo Primate Facility (APF).

The APF contract is tiny by Charles River standards, amounting to less than a half-percent of sales. But the arrangement is attracting international attention as the company feverishly fights prosecutors who say the mishandling of animals, sometimes to the death, has been criminal rather than merely scandalous. It’s an issue that could be going to the New Mexico Supreme Court, as Charles River raises legal technicalities to the cheers of Scarantino at the
Alibi .

What Charles River did is indefensible. Charles River left gravely ill chimpanzees in the care of untrained security guards. One chimpanzee bled to death, one suffocated on his own vomit and a third almost died. Charles River was apparently trying to pinch pennies rather than using part of its annual $4.2 million contract for proper veterinary care. But it didn’t stop there. As terrible problems emerged at the Alamogordo facility, Charles River behaved like a corporate thug. It refused to cooperate with the District Attorney’s criminal investigation. According to congressional testimony, the company refused to comply with a subpoena demanding records, and then it refused to supply the records when a subpoena was issued by a grand jury. It harassed employees to ensure their silence. Employees were told there would be lie-detector tests to learn the identity of anyone providing information. And the government money kept rolling in. This is what Scarantino is flippantly defending, instead of standing up for local law enforcement and the interests of New Mexicans, federal taxpayers and moral decency.

No matter what happens in the criminal case, there will be a need for dealing with the underlying problem at APF: The chimpanzees should be taken from the custody of Charles River Laboratories and moved to a suitable sanctuary. It would be a good subject for the
Alibi to re-explore.

Go Vo-Tech

[RE: Ortiz y Pino, “Where Have All the Workers Gone?” Aug. 9-15] My brother went to a technical high school in my hometown, and I agree that it’s a good option for the less-than-college-bound student. Basically, the students had regular classes for a week, then vo-tech classes the next week. The first two years were try-out years—try this or that vocation for a quarter, then change to something else. The last two years, the student concentrated on the vocation that he/she felt was the best fit for them.

But there were some drawbacks: 1) The educational part consisted of only general subjects, and wasn’t rigorous at all; 2) A lot of minorities were steered there by middle school counselors who basically implied that they wouldn’t make it into college; 3) It’s hard to find qualified shop teachers—teaching pays a lot less than the real world (not so bad for his time, but a problem now).

I would support changing Del Norte into a vocational magnet school, its in a perfect location to absorb students from the Eastside schools, and needs the enrollment. Maybe they could use CNM to help with the staffing.

About social security money worries—yeah, there’s going to be a crisis soon. Right now, excess SS payments (somewhere around $180 billion) are used to mask the true deficit that Bush et al. have dumped upon us. We haven’t even paid for this god-awful war— well, that’s not true—the rich haven’t paid, but the working class who pay into SS have, by having their excess SS payments used to mask that cost. (So, our working class both fights in Iraq, and finances this war. Where’s Mitt’s boys? Fighting for the Mittster in Iowa! You fight the good fight, boys!)

I would support divorcing the SS payments from buying U.S. bonds, and instead loan out the money to pay for bridges and our infrastructure that the state and local governments would pay back. Student loans and low-cost housing loans could also come from SS. Make the rich chip sacrifice some capital gains by taxing foreign investments at a higher rate, and at least having an income tax on inheritance. Pay as you go, instead of pay after they (the Bushies) leave.

Letters should be sent with the writer’s name, address and daytime phone number via e-mail to letters@alibi.com. They can also be faxed to (505) 256-9651. Letters may be edited for length and clarity, and may be published in any medium; we regret that owing to the volume of correspondence we cannot reply to every letter.

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