Kudos to Milan Simonich for presenting a clear-eyed vision as to what the soda tax election is all about. (“Gonzales’ track record main hurdle facing soda tax proposal,” Ringside Seat, April 10). The special election is about whether Mayor Javier Gonzales and City Hall are competent enough to spend more than $7 million a year on early childhood education, a program in which the city has zero experience. As Simonich notes, if the city seems incapable of running such basic city functions as street repair, how can a voter trust it in this new endeavor?
As Simonich’s column implies, the upcoming election is not about expressing the liberal values that most Santa Fe voters love. Rather, it is about whether the city can be trusted to run a cost-effective early childhood education program. On the basis of the evidence, it can’t.
Caring for forests
The U.S. Forest Service has announced that this month, during nesting season, it intends to burn 850 acres of the Santa Fe Watershed, four miles east of Santa Fe. That’s 1 1/3 square miles of forest, full of nesting birds, breeding wildlife and their young at this time of year. The Forest Service will ignite the forest by dropping incendiary devices from helicopters. Does anyone care? Go to www.OnceAForest.org and come to our monthly meetings.
Don’t change us
A new term, “Big Soda,” has entered the lexicon. I received in the mail a big glossy flier from “Big Soda” debasing what it over-broadly and misleadingly calls the current city proposal to tax sodas and sugary drinks — “a tax on beverages.”
Although it is full of Trumpspeak and fails to grasp the true issue, I agree with the conclusion the flier asks us to reach. A free electorate and free market should be left to determine for itself what is to be consumed. Why waste legislative effort on unconstitutionally impinging the people’s very dietary behavior? How can the state regulate or coax us as far as what we goldarn want to eat? This is taxation as social engineering.
Follow the money
I am looking forward to voting for a sugar-sweetened tax to support early childhood educations for all families in Santa Fe. If federal and state governments won’t do it, we can do it in Santa Fe. I’m a teacher. My first experience as an educator was volunteering in a pre-K to learn about kids and parenting when my daughter was 1 year old. What I learned was a significant contribution to building a healthy family.
I hope my vote makes it possible for every family’s educational needs to be met. When I hear opponents of pre-K say that the Coke distributor gives lots of money to schools, my guess is, in exchange, they get to display huge Coke ads at Santa Fe High School. If that’s the case, the company’s motivation is marketing, and its operators are contributing to health risks of their target population.
Gov. Susana Martinez vetoed House Bill 442, which would have brought the statewide minimum wage to $9.25 an hour, and Senate Bill 386, which would have raised it to $9 an hour. She listened to the “… New Mexico business community” who “traveled from all over the state to express concern to legislators about the large proposed increase.” If the governor is so concerned about hardships on families, why did she not listen to teachers when they came from all over the district, crowded the Roundhouse and expressed so eloquently not to cut the education budget?
I am writing to support the Kaune Kids Campaign that United Way of Santa Fe County has undertaken. This campaign will result in high-quality, early learning opportunities for infants, toddlers and pre-K all-day, all-year. As a mother raising children in Santa Fe (albeit 20 years ago) I personally understand the limited quantity and expense of quality early learning opportunities in Santa Fe. The United Way Early Learning Center at Kaune Elementary School will help this important need for our community. Every child deserves a great start.
Does Gov. Susana Martinez have oppositional/defiant disorder? This diagnosis is often applied to wayward adolescents who in fact might be mislabeled as they are often appropriately testing authority, or are creative kids who are critical thinkers. But the governor is an adult, neither creative nor a critical thinker. She seems to assert authority simply for the sake of doing so like the toddler’s automatic “no” when asked to do something reasonable just because she can. Martinez vetoed an increase in minimum wage, she killed the hemp bill, and then there was her latest dangerous series of spiteful vetoes disadvantaging Natives, conservation, criminal justice, universities and anything progressive. Is she taking inspiration from the Trump administration’s sociopathic lack of empathy for anyone who is not wealthy? Most likely, she will continue to stamp her foot and adamantly say “no” whenever she can. That could get a teenager detention, but no such constraints are available for our wayward governor. We’re stuck.
Ellen J. Shabshai Fox, LISW