Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

Help Afghan refugees coming to Santa Fe | Letters To Editor

Three of us, volunteers from First Presbyterian Church in Santa Fe, spent the afternoon helping an Afghan father assemble a bright toddler bed in the shape of a race car for his 4-year-old boy. The boy will sleep in his own bed for the first time since the family narrowly escaped from Afghanistan in August. The same day, my images of this sweet boy, safe in his bed in Santa Fe, were juxtaposed with a news segment showing children in the streets of Kabul, starving and crying for food.

I am a co-chair of one of the teams working with Lutheran Family Services Rocky Mountains to resettle Afghan families in Santa Fe. “Our” Afghan family was one of the first to be resettled here because we were able to secure a furnished three-bedroom house from owners who said, “in our hearts, we feel like we are fortunate to help any family in exceptional need. ”

Many more Afghan families are scheduled to arrive in Santa Fe over the next few months and will need help. Lutheran Family Services Rocky Mountains, the organization overseeing the relocation of Afghan allies, has an urgent need right now in Santa Fe for rental homes, apartments or casitas to house refugee families. This request for housing is for private property owners and property management organizations only.

Consider helping one of these families rebuild their lives. If you have possible housing, please contact Lutheran Family Services Rocky Mountains Northern New Mexico program Coordinator Sahar Nisar ([email protected]) and cc Kori Ann Sanchez ([email protected]).

The New Mexico Legislature and our governor are considering a bill that would enable the imprisonment of accused people while they wait trial. This is a reversal of our constitutional right to be considered innocent until proved guilty. I have first-hand experience of the harm done to innocent victim of this pernicious doctrine, long on the trash heap of history along with all the other debris of the notorious war on crime.

Voices for justice in our community must speak up and reconsider our longtime support for Democratic legislators who support this measure.

Justice Stephen Breyer replacement?

Thanks for the excellent editorial regarding dark skies, highlighting that Santa Fe will seek Dark Sky City designation (“Dark skies are another draw for New Mexico,” Our View, Jan. 24). As said in the article, this status requires lighting ordinance enforcement, citizen education about dark skies and citizen support for them. Unfortunately, my experience as a citizen is that although the city has a lighting ordinance, enforcement of and education about it are not occurring.

This has resulted in many properties having outdoor lighting fixtures that don’t meet dark sky guidelines, and these are lit all night. The lights violate the city’s ordinance because “nuisance glare onto adjacent properties or streets shall be minimized to the greatest extent practicable” and “in all cases, the average maintained footcandles at residential property lines shall be zero.”

The tragedy is that this increases our fair city’s nighttime light levels and diminishes everyone’s experience of the wonder of the night sky. Hopefully this can be changed, and people won’t have to leave the city to enjoy seeing stars and meteor showers.

It’s hard to fathom that less fortunate New Mexicans have to spend 15 percent to 30 percent of their incomes just to power their homes. That why House Bill 37, the Community Energy Efficiency Development Block Grant, should be approved. This bill would let communities and tribes aid residents who are having to choose between heating their homes and putting food on their tables. The funds would make energy efficiency upgrades, replacing energy-wasting appliances and insulating homes. As bonuses, it will create local jobs and aid the climate: Energy efficiency reduces global warming.

Also, HB 37 would let the Public Regulation Commission set low-income rates to cut costs for the 1 in 5 of us living in poverty. Its goal would be to make energy affordable for all by 2050.

HB 37 is a winning measure for many New Mexicans. Lawmakers, enjoying a budget surplus, should put some of that money to work for their less fortunate neighbors.

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