Letters: Readers weigh in on issues of the day

Farmington Daily Times
Letters to the Editor

Golf course drains money from vital funds

On Monday, the city of Aztec Commission will once again discuss the “Golf Course.”

To date the Commission has dumped $200,000 into the course, not counting the hours spent by city employees and equipment, to upgrade, upkeep and do maintenance on a property that provides the city no gross receipts, no utilities and no property tax.

Resources for our parks, tennis courts, highway medians, drainage, and street maintenance have gone to maintain the golf course.

The city has improved someone else’s land and facilities with only cheap green fees and used by a few people in the community.

The last money dumped into the golf course was $65,000 from the roads fund.

All over the city we have started and unfinished projects that are bleeding dollars. To name a few: North Main extension which leads to the world class Aztec Ruins, South Main bypass which leads to the old Aztec Landfill, HUB center which is sitting unfinished and unoccupied, and the O’Reilly project that is a commitment on more of the city’s finances.

Most of the money has come from the Joint Utility Fund via the “Enterprise Fund” which leaves some legality questions on these withdrawals. The city manager also has a $60,000 discretionary fund with no commission oversight.

What is this about?

To top it all off we have a deficit in our city budget. This commission can only transfer funds for a time before the monies have to be returned to the originating fund source.

When you rob Peter to pay Paul, usually the monies are not there to repay the funds. Since government entities cannot be in  a negative budget, the commissioners have to go to the people to get the monies.

Right now Aztec has the highest gross receipt tax of any entity other than resort areas (Ruidoso and Angel Fire) and the highest utilities in the Four Corners Area (we own our utilities).

Aztecans best look for a tax increase and another utility increase (last one was in January 2016) because this reckless commission and city manager has failed to cut expenses and quit these ridiculous projects in a down economy.

Come to the meeting on Monday night and have your say.

Tweeti Blancett


College aims for diverse and culturally humble healthcare

From the beginning, our mission at the Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicine has been about more than just answering our state’s severe physician shortage.

The simple fact is, our physician workforce does not resemble our state’s population. We’re tailoring our curriculum to ensure graduates can understand and relate to the diverse cultures in the Southwest. We’re also working to increase diversity in the physician workforce as a whole.

Our students will all take medical Spanish and learn about Native American healing practices. They will study special topics relevant to our region and have the opportunity to work in health clinics serving Native Nations and Pueblos.

Through our Burrell Expedited Admission Review Pathway program we encourage students from New Mexico, El Paso, southern Arizona, all American Indian and Alaskan Native tribal nations, and Chihuahua, Mexico, to apply directly to the college for admission and by-pass the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine’s application process.

We were so proud to have former U.S. Surgeon General Antonia Novello, M.D., give the keynote address at our recent "White Coat Ceremony."

During this rite of passage, new medical students receive their traditional white coats, and recite the Osteopathic Oath, vowing to adhere to ethical and professional standards. Novello is the first woman and the first Hispanic to hold the Surgeon General position. She gave the students valuable insight that she’s picked up in her 46 years in the medical field on effectively communicating with minorities and bridging cultural barriers.

Novello also gave praise to the college for admitting more Native Americans than any other osteopathic school in the country.

Our Native American students identify as members of New Mexico’s Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo and the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma. Although this may seem small, at 2 percent of the entering class, this is 10 times the number admitted to an average U.S. medical school. The college also admitted more than four times the number of Hispanic students and double the number of African American students.

We have students of Japanese, Chinese, Middle Eastern, Filipino, Tanzanian, and Nigerian descent, making the college's class one of the most diverse of any osteopathic medical school.

To welcome this diverse group of newcomers to the community, the invocations at the ceremony were offered by Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo, Christian, and Islamic spiritual leaders. A Jewish rabbi conveyed remarks of support, but was unable to attend due to the Sabbath.

The college also made history as the very first medical school to have students swear the Osteopathic Oath in not one, but three languages.

President Russell Begaye of the Navajo Nation led the students in reciting the oath in Navajo;

Dr. Jesus Guadalupe Benavides Olivera, director of the Universidad Autónoma de Chihuahua’s medical school, led the oath in Spanish; and Adrienne White-Faines, CEO of the American Osteopathic Association, led it in English.

This trailblazing ceremony is just the beginning as we at the college work towards our mission para la gente y el future. For the people and the future.

John Hummer

President, Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicine

New Mexico State University