Today's News

  • 2017 State Legislature: Better vehicle mileage crimps NM’s road fund

    The New Mexican

  • State organic certification program withering from funding drought

    By Staci Matlock

    The New Mexican

    Satisfying consumer demand for organic products in New Mexico is an expanding industry, but the state program responsible for inspecting and certifying organic farms is withering financially.

    The New Mexico Organic Certification Program has grappled with a $100,000-a-year deficit since the state cut the small agency's funding in 2010 and capped the fees it could collect from more than 150 organic farmers and processors.

    Now the state Department of Agriculture is looking at options to save the program, including raising farmers' fees to cover costs, a move likely to meet with mixed reactions. But many growers and processors say they want the state program to continue rather than turning to private companies for organic certification.

    "We desperately want them to stay and think they are an integral part of organic agriculture in the state. Organics are a growing industry and need that support," said John McMullin, the farm manager at Embudo Valley Organics, which raises turkeys. "My feeling is if we had a better governor and a better Legislature, they would have been fully funding the program."

    Facing a state budget deficit, lawmakers this year and next are unlikely to restore funding, much less increase it.

  • 2017 State Legislature: House bill calling for $2M in tuition aid for preschool teachers advances

    By Robert Nott
    The New Mexican

    A measure that would provide $2 million in tuition assistance for preschool teachers to further their education advanced in the state House on Wednesday, with unanimous approval from lawmakers on the Education Committee.

    The money, which would come from the state's general fund, would help retain early childhood educators and allow them to command higher wages, said the bill's sponsors, Rep. Christine Trujillo, D-Albuquerque, and Rep. Rebecca Dow, R-Truth or Consequences.

    "This is directly tied to the quality of [the early childhood education] staff," Dow said during Wednesday's hearing on House Bill 135. She said the vast majority of educators who would benefit from the bill are women and minorities.

    A 2016 report by the U.S. departments of Education and Health and Human Services said preschool teachers in the U.S. earn an average of $28,570, far less than the average salary of a kindergarten teacher -- over $51,000 -- and less than the wages of waiters, janitors and pest-control workers.

    As a result, said Baji Rankin, executive director of the New Mexico Association for the Education of Young Children, retaining early childhood educators is a challenge.

  • Two New Mexico cities put values on display

    How do you want people to think about your community?
    If you live in Carlsbad, the nation currently knows your town through a Facebook post. If you live in Santa Fe, the nation has heard about Santa Fe’s declaration as a sanctuary city.
     In case you were abducted by aliens, Carlsbad City Councilor J. R. Doporto said on Facebook: “Just want to give a heads up to the women! You have rights! A right to cook and a right to clean. Today is Sunday and the NFL playoffs our (sic) on! I suggest you stop your b!tch!ng/protesting during this time. Because you also have a right to get slapped!”
    For that, he lost his job.
    Doporto has said he was just joking and claims his right to freedom of speech has been violated. His wife says he’s a good husband and father.
    I’m not going to rant about the post – plenty of other people have done that. My concern – and I write about this periodically – is how New Mexico is perceived on the outside.
    Doporto’s post made news all over New Mexico and, after Cox Media Group and the Huffington Post picked it up, across the nation. For a community that’s dependent in part on tourists, this isn’t healthy.

  • ABQ income rank down, Mora income up and people still leaving

    Topics this week: How many of us are there? How has our population changed? How much money do we make in each county? Population numbers come from the Census Bureau. Money numbers are from the Bureau of Economic Analysis.
    A non-federal number gets us started. Albuquerque’s population is projected to be 919,854 as of Jan. 1, 2018, up a slight 5,028, or 0.5 percent, from 914,826 to start 2017. The figures come from American City Business Journals, publisher of “Albuquerque Business First,” a weekly. Love the specificity. Also the immediacy.
    Translated, Albuquerque’s population will be flat for 2017. Presumably this is metro Albuquerque, though American City doesn’t say.
    The federal numbers folks aren’t much into projecting. They wait a while for some early figures to supply the computers. The newest federal numbers are for July 1, 2016.
    New Mexico’s population grew 687 from July 1, 2015, to July 1, 2016. That means no growth at all, maybe even a decline because the miniscule 687 is an estimate within a range. The “growth” happened only because busy New Mexicans added more babies to the population – an estimated 25,491 during the 2015-2016 year – than there were subtractions because people died. The gain was 7,692.

  • State organic certification program withering from funding drought

    The New Mexican

  • Lane closures set for this week

    Lane Closures at Diamond Drive and West Road, as well as Diamond Drive and Trinity Drive, are set for this week.
    The Los Alamos County Traffic Division will set up for lane closures at these locations today through Friday, to allow for installation of illuminated hospital signs. The work will begin at 9 a.m. and shut down for the lunch hour starting at 11:30 a.m-1:15 p.m. and end each day at 3:30 p.m.
    Drive carefully through these project zones.
    If you have any questions or concerns regarding this project, call the Traffic and Streets Division Manager, Daniel Erickson at 662-8113.

  • Future Topper Night Thursday

    Topper Freshman Academy and Los Alamos High School will host Future Topper Night for all current eighth-graders and their parents from 6-7:30 p.m. Thursday.
    This event will start in the Duane Smith Auditorium with presentations by Topper Freshman Academy, Los Alamos High School and Los Alamos Public Schools Administration.
    Following the presentations, parents and students will have an opportunity to tour E-wing and A-wing and meet teachers. Students will participate in a scavenger hunt, and receive a 2017-2018 LAHS course catalog and a Class of 2021 t-shirt.
    For more information, call the Topper Freshman Academy at 663-2537.

  • ‘Before Sunset’ romance movie to play Thursday at library

    Those who love a good conversation, or more specifically, those who love analyzing the way a conversation moves its interlocutors from cautious to intimate, should check out “Before Sunset” (2004, rated R). It will screen at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in Mesa Public Library’s upstairs meeting-room theater.
    The award-winning film is part two of a trilogy shot over the span of nearly 20 years, beginning with 1995’s “Before Sunrise” and completing with 2013’s “Before Midnight.”
    Director/screenwriter Richard Linklater’s three films follow the romance of Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy) by zooming in on three key days or nights.
    “Before Sunset” takes place nine years after the couple – he from the U.S., she from France – meets in Venice, falls in love over the course of an overnight conversation, and then (small spoiler alert) fails to reconnect at an appointed time.
    At the film’s opening, Jesse has written and published a novel based on their encounter, half-hoping  that Celine might read it and rush into his arms. His book tour has taken him to Paris, where, indeed, the two reunite, though reality keeps threatening to interfere.

  • February is full of activity in Los Alamos

    Welcome to February, a short month jam packed with activity.
    One big event to kick off the month is Super Bowl Sunday and another big reason to celebrate.
    I’d like to remind you that they DWI-Planning Council has a large committee that has decided to fund FREE bus service that day to encourage drinking drivers to stay off the road. You can find information available from Atomic City Transit.
    When the committee offered the same service for New Year’s Eve, they had 80 riders take advantage of the free service which was an 89 percent increase, so way to go.
    A special kudos to the Atomic City Transit staff that not only sign on for extra duties in some cases, but really go the extra mile, all pun intended, to see that everyone gets home safely for any reason.
    We’re so fortunate to get to live in this community. If you didn’t know, there are members that have been serving on the DWI Planning Council for more than 20 years, and engagement like this demonstrates that their time has been well served there.
    Now let’s slide gently over to cell phone use and driving. I confess I occasionally talk and drive, but recently seeing a video called, Driving Stupid, led me to realize I don’t need to really do that either.