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Columns

  • Primaries tough on all

    New Mexico’s primary election is among the last scheduled in the nation.
    On June 5, we will be joined by California, Montana, New Jersey and South Dakota in holding what is described as a “consolidated” presidential and state primary.  North Dakota will hold Democratic caucuses on the same day. The only primary after that will be Utah on June 26.  This is according to the calendar provided by the National Council of State Legislatures.
    If you are a Republican and wanted to have your say in the selection of a presidential nominee, you’re out of luck. Personally, I am relieved that New Mexico bypassed the nastiness that occurred in other states. The advertising battles will be awful enough in the fall.

  • State will have new look

    SANTA FE —The 2012 election will produce many new faces for New Mexicans. Half our senatorial delegation will change, along with at least a third of our House members.
    Obviously that’s not a lot of faces and some of them we have seen elsewhere. But New Mexicans are not accustomed to changing their congressional delegation very often. It is one reason our state receives much more than its share of federal money.  
    New Mexico currently is going through a transition caused by the retirements of two senators with a combined 66 years in Congress. Starting over won’t be fun but we enjoyed a long ride on the gravy train of federal projects.

  • Visiting with elected officials is not lobbying

    In defense of lobbyists, almost all of them anyway, I respond to a story at NMpolitics.net about the Republican candidates in the new state Senate District 7, which includes Clovis on the south and all of Union County to the north.
    One candidate, Angie Spears, is backed by Gov. Susana Martinez. The other, Pat Woods, has given money to—gasp—Democrats and has made some bumbling comments linking the money and “lobbying.” Woods has his own endorsements, including that of former long-time state Rep. Hoyt Pattison.
    In the story, Heath Haussamen of NMpolitics.net says, “Pat Woods’ statements about campaign contributions and lobbying raise ethical questions about his prior activities in Santa Fe.”

  • Prepare your kids for summer job expenses

    High school and college students hoping to find temporary jobs may be in for a tough time this summer – once again – as they compete with older, more experienced workers in a still-struggling economy. But if your kid is fortunate enough to find work, there are a few things he or she – and you – should know about the economic and tax ramifications of temporary employment:
    Payroll deductions. If this is their first job, warn your kids about common payroll deductions that can take a big bite out of take-home pay. Common culprits include state and federal income taxes, Social Security and Medicare (FICA), health and unemployment insurance, uniforms and union dues.

  • Stemming the tide of muck

    Two years ago, in its Citizens United decision, the Supreme Court opened the floodgate for corporations, unions and other groups to spend as much as they want on “electioneering communications,” provided they’re independent of candidates.
    That begat the super PAC, which can raise and spend a vault of money, provided it’s “independent.”
    Left-leaning columnist E. J. Dionne saw the decision as part of “a larger initiative by moneyed conservatives to rig the electoral system against their opponents,” and most expected those opponents to be Democrats.

  • Working beyond classroom

    John Pawlak said a mouthful a couple weeks ago, but he usually does.  I want to add to his teacher appreciation column.
     Recently, and it was during teacher appreciation week, a student asked me if one needed a college degree to be a teacher.  A while back a student asked me if math teachers get paid more than P.E. teachers- because math is harder than P.E.  
    My son has graciously pointed out to me that teaching is at the bottom of the professional totem pole and Foreign Language teachers, that would be me, are at the bottom of the bottom.  I ignore him a lot.

  • Our View: Council should rethink ice rink investment

    The Los Alamos County Council should be applauded for its decisive action Wednesday in the approval of eight capital improvement projects. With one notable exception, the council has committed your tax dollars to work on undertakings that should indeed yield some quality of life improvements.

    The one project that should have been excluded is the ice rink. Expending $1.5 million to rehab that facility is a pig in a poke. The rink is in an atrocious location, too far removed from town. At best, it should become a place for training and practice.

  • Driving home a point

    I was only 12 years old, but I remember sitting in the car with my father, listening to soft music, enjoying the fragrant scent of flowers, and wondering who was in that coffin.  It was a “drive-through funeral” and my father (like many other curious drivers) stopped to see if it was really true.
    Well, yes, a funeral home had set up a drive-through area so that people could drive up, spend some time looking at the body in the window, and enjoy the pleasant ambiance piped out to the car.
    Today, you can drive-through at the bank.  You can drive-through for a cup of joe.  There are drive-through pharmacies, restaurants, laundromats, prayer vigils, postal services, car washes, grocery pickup, and even marriage chapels.

  • State finances seem all right

    At one point in the rock opera “Tommy” by The Who, someone says, “I think it’s alright, yes I think it’s alright.”
    Alright seems the status for the state’s financial condition, I concluded after financial officials reported to the recent annual conference of the New Mexico Tax Research Institute.
    This year’s session of the Legislature was successful, said Charles Sallee, deputy director of the Legislative Finance Committee.

  • Avoid rude rental car surprises

    I’m usually a pretty savvy traveler, but a recent car rental mishap reminded me that even when you take every precaution, things still can go awry.
    While planning a family vacation to Panama, I searched online for rental cars. One lower-cost rental car agency I’d never used before offered a significantly lower rate than the others. Ignoring the little voice in my head, I decided to try them.