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Columns

  • ‘Don’t-cut-me’ emails don’t help as state revenues plunge

    “Not very good,” said David Abbey, describing the state’s economy. He switched to “bad” for further descriptions of matters such as job (non)growth. 

    Abbey, executive director of the Legislative Finance Committee (LFC), was in his traditional program start slot at the annual legislative outlook conference of the New Mexico Tax Research Institute. It was five days before Christmas. 

    Not that the state’s situation was good last summer, but things deteriorated between the August consensus forecast and December. The August forecast was 1.7 percent job growth during the current budget year, FY 17, that ends June 30, 2017. Zero was the December job growth forecast. The December forecast for wage and salary growth was 0.7 percent, a quarter of the August estimate. Gross state product growth now figures at 40 percent of the August forecast.

  • Vaping industry meets resistance in Congress

    BY PAUL J. GESSING
    Rio Grande Foundation

  • The VA health care lesson

    BY BOB HAGAN
    Coffee on a Cold Morning

  • Assets In Action: Red Ribbon Week celebrates drug-free living

    If you didn’t know, this is Red Ribbon week. I hope you might take a moment to ask the children or grandchildren in your life, if school did anything for Red Ribbon week. Nationally the campaign slogan is YOLO for You Only Live Once, so do it drug free.

    While most schools try to send the message about not drinking or being drug free, almost anything healthy fits into the making healthy choices category, which should make the conversation easy to approach.

    While I love that schools attempt to send message, which I believe adds to creating a safe school climate, we need to carry the message from our homes, community organizations, churches, synagogues and more. Diet wise if I only had to make healthy choices while I was at work for 8 hours a day and then did all the bad things the other 16 hours a day, things wouldn’t work out.

    So we need to have the conversations with our kids and send the message that we as adults make healthy choices every day too. 

    Here’s what some of the data has to say about our youth. Did you know that 26 percent of our ninth through twelfth graders admit to being current drinkers? 15% of those drinkers admit to being binge drinkers and sadly there’s even a category that asks if they have had 10 drinks in one sitting.

  • Former gov. Johnson leaning anti-Trump

    New Mexico is in the spotlight with three high-profile campaign visits, but another big day looms. The Libertarian Party will choose its candidate for president at the end of May. Gary Johnson is getting national attention from the left and the right - especially from the right - as the anti-Trump. Some pundits speculate that Johnson could even draw disgruntled Bernie supporters.
    Last week our former governor notched 10 percent support in a Fox News poll. Compare that with the 1 percent Johnson polled in 2012.
    It’s within striking distance of the 15 percent he needs to be part of televised debates. He sweetened his ticket with former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld as vice president. Weld is a Republican who was popular in a blue state.
    The Libertarians will probably be the only non-mainstream party to appear on the ballot in all 50 states. Which is why their Florida convention – and Gary Johnson – will draw unprecedented scrutiny.
    All this and he looks way better without a shirt than Vladimir Putin, said blogger Emily Zanotti.

  • Seven, eight ... nine brothers in WWII

    Back during Memorial Day 2014, I wrote a piece on five brothers who served in World War II.
    I was blown-away impressed by the Bailey boys, from my neck of the woods in Western Pennsylvania, and still am. Imagine my surprise when a reader responded with a package of clippings informing me of his family, which had seven brothers in the war.
    Yes, seven.
    His name is Ted, and his parents were Stella and Walter Pietkiewicz, Polish immigrants in Pittsburgh.
    I wrote up that story, thinking no family could out-do the Pietkiewicz crew. I soon learned I was wrong. 
    That article led to a bunch of mail composed by computers and typewriters alike. One was sent by Stanley Freedman reporting the seven sons of Fanny Greco. They lived in Providence, Rhode Island.
    All served in World War II.
    Another came from Tina Link of Delphos, Ohio, who told me of her maternal grandmother, “Mrs. John Bohnlein,” as the attached September 1945 newspaper clip identified this selfless mother, who likewise lent seven sons to the cause.
    Then followed an email from Shayne Ghere informing me of Roy and Lillie Ghere.
    They parented 17 children in tiny Arcola, Ill. Seven of their boys served in World War II.

  • Disregard fear to find true human potential

    BY BOB FUSELIER
    Special to the Monitor

  • Public forums battle diversity

    “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was....”
    These famously taut lines gain new currency from time to time. Now is such a time.
    Our land is besieged with cross fire of two words, “conservative” and “liberal.” With all said, they impute every vice borne in humans. The flaws are not confined to fiscal blunders.
    All camps deploy the blunted bywords to attack everything from choices of foods and poster phrases to word meanings themselves. “Liar, liar” is the prevailing counter point.   
    Would such deeds make more sense viewed differently? A thought or two can be drawn from “ecology.” As a framework for people, consider an ecosystem.     
    An ecosystem is made stronger by diversity, which works to stabilize and sustain the whole. Species eat different foods. Species find food and water in different ways. Species move differently and face different risks and ailments.
    Environmental conditions at every level constantly change. To meet change, diversity increases the chance of life forms able to adapt and thrive.

  • How about saving the endangered hunter?

    The state Game Commission meets Aug. 27 to consider trapping cougars, hunting bears and saving wolves.
    Not on the agenda is another endangered species: the New Mexico Hunter.
    According to U.S. Fish and Wildlife, the number of hunters nationwide declined slightly over the 20 years from1991-2011, even as total population rose by nearly a quarter.
    Here in New Mexico, the number of hunting licenses issued fell about 9 percent between 2004 and 2013.
    That may be a reflection of changing demographics. As the Baby Boom enters our creaky and overweight “Golden Years,” more and more of us are reluctant to trade the comforts of the man-cave and a warm bed for the pleasure of tramping the mountains on a frosty fall morning.
    Another factor may be increasing urbanization, with more of us living in the city rather than in the small town farm-and-ranch country where hunting is traditional.
    Whatever the cause, a decline in hunting participation is bad news both for the state’s economy and the wildlife we share the land with.
    New Mexico’s 87,000 hunters spent more than $265 million on their sport in 2013 and contributed another $61 million to the state’s economy in labor, income and taxes, according to Game and Fish.

  • For critics of the Iran nuclear deal…

    For critics of the Iranian nuclear deal: I worked for years (1980-1988) at the IAEA in Vienna and a total of 15-plus years overseas in, guess what? Uranium resources, exploration, development and mining, as well as other focus areas in the nuclear fuel cycle, including nuclear waste management and decommissioning.
    To place this in context, it has been 35 years since I first sat down at a table with an Iranian counterpart. I cannot dismiss the safeguards challenges, but I believe that they are manageable.
    I’m quite familiar with the nuclear capabilities of most countries in that area, including Iran.
    Every president except Barack Obama since the Iranian hostage crisis in 1979 has been a badly misguided because you do not cut off communications with an enemy or potential enemy because it drives them deeper into a certain desperation that results in the worst outcome. Are you not familiar with the street riots against the mullahs in Teheran during the last election?
    The Iranians are ready to negotiate; their people want to reintegrate into the world society. So why tell ’em “Stuff it!?”
    Had we done that with the former Soviet Union, I think most of the world would be a cinder by now.