Serving the High Plains

Articles written by Walter Rubel


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  • Gerrymandering alive and well

    Walter Rubel, Syndicated content|Jun 5, 2024

    The U.S. Supreme Court has just stripped away the final protections against gerrymandering. With a series of rulings in the 1960s, the court established that the 14th Amendment required political districts to be redrawn so that “the vote of any citizen is approximately equal in weight to that of any other citizen in the state.” The Roberts court has taken a two-step approach to dismantling those protections. In 2019, the court ruled that while gerrymandering intended to dilute the political strength of racial minorities was still a vio...

  • FTC ruling gives workers freedom

    Walter Rubel, Syndicated content|May 8, 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 commerce.” There’s an exem...

  • Capital outlay completion track record not good

    Walter Rubel, Syndicated content|Apr 10, 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 ensure that the projects...

  • Keep an eye on down-ticket races

    Walter Rubel, Syndicated content|Mar 27, 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 Arthur Smith was in...

  • 'Did you hear the one about …?'

    Walter Rubel, Syndicated content|Jan 31, 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. There’s apparentl...

  • This hot weather is no joke

    Walter Rubel, Syndicated content|Jul 26, 2023

    Boy, it sure is hot today. How hot is it? It’s so hot I bought a loaf of bread and by the time I got home it was toast. It’s so hot my grandfather’s chicken laid an omelet. It’s so hot his cows are producing evaporated milk. It’s so hot the catfish are fried by the time you reel them in. It’s so hot the Statue of Liberty disrobed. It’s so hot I went to Congress just to be around some shady characters. It’s so hot I intentionally leave the toilet seat up to get icy stares from my wife. It’s so hot my children’s crayons are now watercolors. It...

  • Congressional district in Clovis judge's hands

    Walter Rubel, Syndicated content|Jul 19, 2023

    District Judge Fred Van Soelen of Clovis has until Oct. 1 to decide if the redistricting map that allowed Democrats to wrest control of the 2nd Congressional District will still be in place for the 2024 election. Recently the state Supreme Court sent a lawsuit filed by Republicans seeking to overturn the new map back to District Court, while also giving Judge Van Soelen guidance on what he should consider in making his decision. The order instructs that “a reasonable degree” of partisan gerrymandering is permissible, so long as it’s not “egre...

  • Opinion: Advice to grads: Move ahead, slower

    Walter Rubel, Syndicated content|May 24, 2023

    My unsolicited advice for this year’s graduates is simple: Move slow and fix things. In 2014, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg coined the phrase “move fast and break things” to describe the mentality of our new 20-year-old tech-sector corporate leaders who believed all human knowledge gained over the centuries had been made obsolete by quantum computing. “The idea is that if you never break anything, you’re probably not moving fast enough,” Zuckerberg explained. He expounded on the idea during a college lecture. “A lot of times people are ju...

  • Free speech will survive Fox suit

    Walter Rubel, Syndicated content|Apr 26, 2023

    In 1981, Sally Field won a Golden Globe for her portrayal of an ambitious and reckless newspaper reporter in the film “Absence of Malice.” The reporter uses information leaked by a federal prosecutor for a front-page story wrongfully accusing the character played by Paul Newman of the murder of a union boss. The evil newspaper gets away with it because of a 1964 Supreme Court ruling. The film’s title comes from the standard set in the case of New York Times Co. v Sullivan. Former Public Safety Commissioner L.B. Sullivan successfully sued the T...

  • Mugshots may be out of date tool

    Walter Rubel, Syndicated content|Apr 12, 2023

    Do we have the right to see Donald Trump’s mug shot? Do we have the right to see anybody’s mug shot if they haven’t had their day in court yet? The second question came up during this year’s Sunshine Week event, which featured an outstanding panel of local journalists talking about crime reporting. The consensus was that, while we all have the right to view any public document, the media also has a responsibility as to what it publishes. Bob Moore, the former editor of the El Paso Times who is now heading El Paso Matters, noted that it is ofte...

  • Expectations for session were too high

    Walter Rubel, Syndicated content|Apr 5, 2023

    I had hoped that legislators would take advantage of the unprecedented $9.4 billion budget this year to begin the transition away from an economy that is dependent on oil and gas revenue, but I don’t think that was ever on the agenda. The governor had promised before the election that we would all get checks in the mail if she won, so that was a given. Legislators also passed new tax credits for the film industry, and a phased-in reduction of the gross receipts tax. Those moves will help, but seem inadequate to the challenge that everybody s...

  • Is GOP now party of peace and love?

    Walter Rubel, Syndicated content|Mar 29, 2023

    I’m not at all comfortable with my new position to the right of Republican leaders on foreign policy. As a child who grew up watching the Vietnam War on the nightly news and fearing it would still be raging when I turned 18, I have always opposed the military adventurism of Republican leaders, whether it was Richard Nixon in Vietnam and Cambodia, Ronald Reagan in Central America or George W. Bush in Iraq. We all knew our roles back then. Republican leaders saw the world as a threat to be neutralized and an economic opportunity to be e...

  • State must begin transition now

    Walter Rubel|Feb 15, 2023

    Term limits can be incredibly liberating, as former Republican Gov. Gary Johnson demonstrated when he professed his love for marijuana shortly after winning reelection in 1998. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has the twin advantages of not having to run again, and going into her second term with financial resources that are beyond the wildest dreams of her predecessors. The state exceeded revenue estimates by $3.6 billion during the last fiscal year. The proposed $9.44 billion budget now under consideration is up by $4 billion from when Bill...

  • NMSU regents in danger of repeat mistakes

    Walter Rubel, Syndicated content|Jan 11, 2023

    The last time the New Mexico State University Board of Regents set out to pick a new leader, after having unceremoniously ridded themselves of Garrey Carruthers, they had a hard time picking between the two finalists for the job. And so they hired both of them. At a combined salary of almost $1 million. Let’s hope there’s a clear frontrunner this time. The decision in 2018 to hire both Dan Arvizu, at a yearly salary of $500,000, and John Floros, at $450,000, came as a complete surprise to NMSU faculty, staff and students. Carruthers had bee...

  • New Year's Eve a lousy time for a party

    Walter Rubel, Syndicated content|Jan 4, 2023

    If we were to randomly pick a time, date and place to throw a party, I doubt many people would choose midnight on Jan. 1 outdoors. It’s way too cold. Our forecast often calls for below-freezing temperatures, though we’re usually better off than in other areas of the country. The weather forecasts for celebrating on the East Coast often see freezing rain or snow as midnight approaches on Jan. 1. And sometimes it’s worse. It was minus 24 degrees a few weeks ago in my original hometown of Denver. You just never know this time of year. Then there...

  • Continued filming of 'Rust' disrespectful

    Walter Rubel, Syndicated content|Oct 26, 2022

    I was disappointed to learn that filmmakers plan to resume production on “Rust,” and urge state regulators to keep a much closer eye on that set this time. I can’t imagine why anybody would want to see the film now, other than for morbid curiosity. Every time there is a scene where an actor pretends to get shot, viewers will know that a real person was shot and killed during filming. Cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was shot by the film’s star and producer, Alec Baldwin, who believed he was firing a prop gun loaded with blanks. Director Joel So...