2014 Writing Contest Winners

Josephine Lives!
Finding gold, if you're not careful, changes a person for the worse.

Another World
A volunteer from Virginia experiences the disturbing reality of life on the border.

The Gift Comes Full Circle
Sometimes when you cast your bread upon the waters, you don't have to wait long.

Angel Loop September
This year's best poem

The St. Ignatius Day Parade
When you need your very own saint, sometimes you have to improvise.

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Taxes, ATVs and Guns

Our readers write.


Not So Harmless

You hit the nail on the head about raising "sales taxes" (Editor's Notebook, August). There are so many ways that raising sales tax hurts, not just in the citizens' purse but in the formula of pluses and minuses that industry and business use to make location decisions. Or the cost in making vacation decisions.

Of course, it's not just the sales taxes we see going up; it is also property taxes along with other county and city fees, which in fact feel like a tax to the individual.

While on the other hand, if a person wants to search for the good of taxes, local taxes such as the tax in question will be spent locally and will benefit the local community (we hope) and can be seen being spent. (We hope).

As much as we care for our politicians, as we know them personally, it seems that being elected to a political position changes the thinking of the person and they no longer actually seek out the will and wisdom of their constituency. And of course, there may be a hidden or un-explained benefit to me and my friends and neighbors that I am not aware of and raising taxes in this way is good for me and will somehow put more money in my pocket. Taxes never have but this may be a first.

I, for one, would feel that this tax could be justifiable if I knew that the county had cleaned house and that every tax dollar they receive is received with reverence and that every effort has been made to assure that the money is spend wisely and that no bureaucrat has taken advantage of the system to benefit their own estate.

Nevertheless, we as citizens should be aware of the crisis that our country has created for itself, the citizen, by the greed that comes from spending our money without accountability and justification. What do you think when you become aware that your personal resources are being extracted by unknown people in unknown places for unknown purposes to serve no need of your own and a select few without accountability are holding the taxpayers purse strings?

Thank you, Mr. Fryxell, for your standup article.

Vic Topmiller Jr.

Chairman, Silver City-Grant County Tea Party Patriots. Taxed Enough Already



On July 10, the Grant County Commissioners voted unanimously to increase the Gross Receipts Tax (GRT) by 3/8%, the maximum allowed by law. They did this despite the overwhelming rejection of a proposed GRT increase (of 1/4%) by Grant County voters in the special election of July, 2013. The commissioners claim they increased the GRT because the State of New Mexico was eliminating the Hold Harmless payments to counties (part of legislative bill HB641, voted on at the end of the 2013 legislative session and signed by Gov. Martinez.) HB641 is a corporate tax-cut bill that reduces the corporate tax from 7.6% to 5.9%. To pay for this corporate tax cut, the state will discontinue the Hold Harmless payments to counties of over 48,000 population. But since Grant County's population is well below 48,000, the subsidy would have continued… unless the county increased their GRT, which our commissioners just did!

So, exactly what are the commissioners up to? They are using an excuse to raise taxes that is false, raising taxes against the will of the people of Grant County, and losing the state subsidy to boot! All this for a few pet projects for which the public has no input. Besides, the GRT increase will hurt the people who can least afford it: small businesses and lower-income families. The commissioners are raising our taxes to replace a state subsidy that we are losing only because they are raising our taxes. If that sounds illogical to you, then you would probably make a better commissioner than any of the ones we have!

The commissioners are doing a terrible job of serving Grant County. Our county deserves better, much better.

Jeff Boyd

Grant County



Forest Stewardship

Thanks for doing such a good job with this paper.

I just read Larry Lightner's piece about the Forest Service Travel Management Plan (TMP) decision ("Forest Firestorm," August). There are many things that could be commented on about the factual content of his statements, but what struck me deeply was how angry the guy is. His article was very insulting, and threatening to many people, including myself.

I look forward to meeting Mr. Lightner someday on the trail and to see if he can be talked down a notch or two by some facts.

In this country we are very fortunate to have all the opportunities we have for all types of recreation on our public lands. The public lands belong to all of us, not just the loudest. The Forest Service has been working on the TMP for five years, and the resulting decision will not please everyone if it were worked on for five more, which is apparently what Mr. Lightner desires (i.e. "we can delay things for an awful long time"). And why is it people get upset with "government not doing anything"!?

Thomas Dwyer

(retired Forest Service)

via email


In the August issue, Larry Lightner seems upset that only 3,334 miles within the Gila National Forest will soon remain legally open to all-terrain, off-road vehicles. A distance from Seattle to Miami is not enough, he suggests, to satisfy the needs of the ATV and ORV constituency.

Lightner takes swipes at hikers, environmentalists, and the US Forest Service in his article, implying that many such "radical" folks either "don't like" or downright "hate" the presence of such motorized vehicles in the Gila National Forest.

This tiresome "us" versus "them" bombast isn't getting us anywhere. I don't care to rehash the debate, but will call attention to two sets of stakeholders Lightner neglected to mention.

The Gila belongs to all US citizens, not simply those who live near it and use it for recreation. Public lands — including national forests, BLM lands, national monuments and national parks — are managed for the benefit of the more than 316 million Americans who do not live in New Mexico. Stewardship is on behalf of everyone, since we each hold an equal share of ownership.

The wild plants and animals on our public lands are stakeholders, too. In my opinion, consideration must be given to how human activities impact their lives. Some critters shy away from motorized vehicles — as well as hikers, hunters, fishers, equestrians and cyclists. Certain plants don't like being stepped on, run over, or forced to compete with invasive plants whose seeds are scattered by tires, hooves and feet.

We are stewards for everything that lives in the Gila, as well as its soil, water and air.

Balancing competing interests on our public lands deserves a thoughtful, rational and respectful meeting of hearts and minds. Larry Lightner does a disservice to your readers by resorting to narrow-minded vilification and name-calling.

Richard Mahler

Silver City

Gunboat Diplomacy

Thanks for your editorial "The Children's Crusade" (Editor's Notebook, August). In the 1950s I read a book written by a General Butler (USMC Retired) entitled War Is a Racket. He recited his first-hand experiences and observations of our government's gunboat diplomacy in the early 1900s. It squared very well with your observations about our activities later in history.

Over the years since, I've had the opportunity to talk with several dozen people who also recited first-hand experiences and observations. These folks were either in the Peace Corps or were long-term missionary types dealing with real Christian ministries in Latin America, Asia and Africa. They confirmed Butler's observations as still being true in the years since.

However, these activities are absent in our major news media and school history texts, so our population remains in the dark. The only reason we are not universally detested for our government and corporate ruthlessness is the presence of the other Americans in genuine, kind efforts to heal the damage our leaders so callously cause.

So thanks again for being the exception to our media norm of "report no evil if Wall Street does it"!

Charles Clements

Las Cruces



Firearms Facts

Whenever somebody (in this case Larry Lightner in "Just the Facts," Ramblin' Outdoors, August) peddles bullshit as chocolate ice cream, I have to put a halt to it. His article was nothing more than a litany of NRA talking points about claw hammers and knitting needles causing more deaths than guns so, therefore, ban knitting needles, etc. It also is a refrain from Joe the Plumber's recent spouting, which was the following: "Your dead kid doesn't trump my Second Amendment Rights."

Wow. Some sympathy there. I'll send him an invitation to the funeral.

But let's get something clear: Deaths by guns in America aren't the 8,583 as attributed in his article from his FBI source posted on a pro-gun website. There are 31,700 men, women, children, gangbangers, nurses, police officers, neighbors, bystanders, bus stop attendees, you name it. And it isn't the claptrap argument that we should "ban cooking knives," etc. as is often thrown around (from a law in Great Britain); it's that we have a love affair with violence and the instruments of violence such that we have the most gun-related deaths of any advanced democracy in the world.

Here's the data: abcnews.go.com/blogs/health/2013/09/19/u-s-has-more-guns-and-gun-deaths-than-any-other-country-study-finds. Look for yourself.

Guns and the accompanying paraphernalia are nothing more than a sexual fetish hiding behind a false principle of self-protection. We, as a nation, are not safer or saner by their presence.

Richard Earnheart

Silver City

Spoiler Alert!

I enjoyed your article on "spoilers" (Continental Divide, July).

I remember a long time ago when I walked by a theater and saw that a movie called Citizen Kane was about to start. I don't know why but I hadn't heard of the movie (maybe I did grow up under a rock). I decided to go in and buy a ticket. I had the pleasure of figuring out the movie was about Hearst and learning the meaning of "Rosebud" when I was in the theater. I had the aha moment — "I bet this movie is about William Randolph Hearst" — when Kane was building a palace.

I watched The Crying Game on its first day of release so I didn't know ahead of time its buried secret. Later I was glad I saw it before the Siskel and Ebert review came out (I had trouble keeping them straight and don't remember which one blabbed and which one scolded).

But sometimes there are disadvantages of going into a show without knowing a little about the movie. Once a cousin told me her parents saw There's Something About Mary. That movie-going experience ended up making them unhappy. As my cousin was talking I couldn't help visualize what it must have been like for my staid and conservative aunt and uncle to be sitting in the middle of a laughing and raucous audience watching what many reviewers have termed "sophomoric" humor.

Lately I have been careful when reading reviews of new movies. I will skim enough to get a broad idea of what a movie is about and who the stars and directors are, but not read any more to avoid any spoilers.

Elaine Carlson

Silver City



Let us hear from you! Write Desert Exposure Letters, PO Box 191, Silver City, NM 88062, or email letters@desertexposure.com. Letters are subject to editing for style and length (maximum 500 words, please), and must be in response to content that has appeared in our pages. Deadline for the next issue is the 18th of the month.



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