Civil rights invoice necessary to realize justice | Letters To Editor

In a recent editorial (“Civil Rights Act Is Not The Answer To What Ails Us,” Our View, Mar. 7) reaffirm the intent of the bill to house law 4, stopping injustice, but reject its provision for individuals to sue the district court if they believe their civil rights have been violated. That provision, along with the elimination of qualified immunity, as you suggest, would open some local governing bodies to legal settlements that could potentially bank them. They suggest spending money upfront to improve the hiring, monitoring and training processes. These are better strategies for protecting civil rights. Certainly, these and similar steps are necessary, but they should be viewed not as an alternative to widening the opportunities for individuals to file lawsuits, but as steps agencies must take to avoid having to pay for these potentially bankrupt settlements.

Since taxpayers ultimately pay the bill for such payments, this risk gives us a good reason to choose officials who not only make promises to protect the civil rights of all persons, but also implement policies and practices that serve that end. The murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd – just the latest in a long line of similar deaths – sparked widespread calls for reforms to promote racial justice. Qualified immunity has emerged as one of the major obstacles to such reform. If not overhauled, it will leave a status quo that too often has proven ineffective to achieve justice for all.

I appreciate the dedication of my colleagues and their letter to the editor (“Utility Affordability Bill shouldn’t weigh on the poorest,” March 10). However, as they said, the devil is in the details. The letter did not provide a complete picture of the merits of House Bill 206, Utility Affordability and Relief Act. This COVID-19 pandemic exposed our inadequate support system in New Mexico. Too many working families live too close to the edge.

HB 206 provides solutions to high utility bills for low income families. It provides a complete and fair way for those who have defaulted on utility bills to get their bills back in order, even if they may still have trouble paying important bills. A community grant fund is being created which we hope will receive federal funding on its way here so that each community can decide how to approach energy efficiency for low income households. It gives every New Mexican a path to having essential and affordable home appliances by 2050.

The repayment schedule for debts incurred during the supply moratorium is fair and balanced. For every month that you are in default, you are given two months to repay it. If you qualify for state aid, for every dollar you pay, you’ll get credit for that dollar so you can get back on your feet without disconnecting your utilities first. If you fail to pay for your part, the credit will be removed. Loans granted to low-income families first are repaid to the utility companies and cooperatives through federal support in the COVID relief packages and through philanthropy. Cooperatives can limit the number of people who receive loans to 1 percent of total utility bills and use part of a fee they pay to the state and apply it to the loans instead. The remaining credits for other interest payers are assessed last.

Regarding Mayor Alan Webber’s excuses for his continued misrepresentation, missteps, and misdeeds, unfortunately, it seems the good citizens of historic and beautiful Santa Fe and the people of New Mexico are the ones who are in charge of the ongoing saga of it all The confusion of statues, monuments and the resulting criminal acts of destruction caused by the mayor’s own misconduct have been misled again and again.

Was our Don Diego de Vargas really in the “safe” place as promised? Isn’t it the right time to begin the process of Don de Vargas’ return to this high-ranking organization – the Caballeros de Vargas?

Let’s not forget everyone who died during this pandemic, which is not over yet. The rush to reopen schools before teachers are fully vaccinated and have not yet reached the two weeks after vaccination is a mistake. In addition, children should be vaccinated before a full reopening occurs. It was only last week that a primary school pupil became infected with the virus while attending school using the hybrid model. We have entered the fourth and final quarter of the school year and we mainly work with distance learning. We can wait until August to move on to a full reopening.

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