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Columns

  • Can gov and legislature play nice this session?

    Lawmakers take their usual Friday recess. It gives the staff time to catch up with the flurry of bills introduced during opening days of the session and into binders for committee work.
    It also gives some lawmakers from the far reaches of the state an opportunity to get back home for the last time before the session ends.
    The capitol won’t be completely vacant, however. Finance committees and others will already be meeting.
    Before high speed presses became more accessible, bills were flown by private contractors to places like Portales and Roy for duplication over the long weekend.

  • Tourism ad campaign: Gasp, horror

    For cattle growers, branding has a specific meaning.
    For the rest of us, not so much. For citizen-consumers, branding, like sustainability, is a word bandied about with little attention to meaning.
    As a topic, branding gets attention these days around New Mexico because the Department of Tourism has just selected Vendor Inc. of Austin, Texas, to execute a $2 million advertising campaign “based on the brand essence” the department sees for the state, says Monique Jacobson, Taos native and tourism secretary.
    A brand is made up of a set of characteristics that, together, produce warm feelings from consumers for the thing, person, firm, whatever.

  • Give home businesses a break

    All you people who work from home, listen up. Somebody thinks you’re important.
    The governor has suggested reducing or eliminating the gross receipts tax on small businesses with a gross receipts tax liability of less than $200 a month – about half of the 80,000 businesses in the state.
    One of those businesses is mine. Wow! I was as happy to hear about a tax break as I was  to learn there are 40,000 of us out here.
    Who are we? We’re writers, consultants, bookkeepers, caterers, travel agents, website designers – you name it – and we work from home to minimize overhead.
    Critics have pointed out that if the governor’s goal is to create jobs, this slice of the private sector is least likely to do it.

  • Perturbed about Trinity Site Project

    I was very perturbed several years ago when the county decided to go ahead with the Trinity Site Project; then I had high hopes that it would simply die quietly, and now that it came back to life, I am even more perturbed.
    Let me explain my reasons why I am totally opposed to a resumption of this endeavor.
    Years ago this county created a master plan for the development of downtown Los Alamos. This plan was modified on and off, but fundamentally remained intact. Each time the basic premise remained to center the development of downtown on the intersection between Central Avenue and 15th Street.

  • Expect fireworks during session

    Expect fireworks from the 2012 Legislature even though everyone promises to be nicer.
    The thaw in relations began when Republicans, Democrats and Gov. Susana Martinez reached some agreements late in the redistricting process.
    Short 30-day legislative sessions were created for the purpose of building the following fiscal year’s budget.
    The governor and Republican lawmakers would like to see tax breaks for businesses and Democrats want to reinstate some program cuts.
    Now that the word — compromise — seems to be less onerous, a few tax cuts and a few increases in previously cut programs may be on the horizon.

  • I'm too pretty to do math

     I stocked up on supplies from Smith’s today and took advantage of Smith’s Savings Card sales.
     The total at the cash register was $101.04, but with my savings card I saved $103.54.
    So as I figure it, I actually made $2.50 ­— now that’s a real deal!
    Sadly, this type of arithmetical absurdity would be just one example of how our nation is rapidly sinking into a black hole of math.  
    Computers and calculators have replaced neural connections and many people are now chained to them in a prison of innumeracy.  
    Cash registers in fast food restaurants have pictures to help the workers figure manage (click here for burger, click here for cheese, click here for lobotomy.)

  • And a little child shall lead them

    Little kids are amenable to learning new habits – generally much more so than those of us who are set in our ways because this isn’t our first rodeo. That’s why it’s sometimes more effective to teach children health science information rather than to do outreach aimed directly at their parents.
     That’s part of the background to the Global Soap Project. It’s a project that rests on some simple science long ago worked out by biologists and medical researchers.
    The basic fact is that many types of infections are spread through contaminated water and dirty hands. Microbes can flourish in such spots, particularly sometimes in places like crowded refugee camps or in poor nations.

  • Farmers are threatened

    New legal developments related to the workers’ compensation system are affecting two important New Mexico industries – in precisely opposite ways, for precisely opposite reasons.
    Before this discussion continues, let me jump ahead to a conclusion, lest the reader assume I am a heartless, anti-worker lackey of management.
    In America, people who get hurt at work should be well and compassionately taken care of, without anybody needing to sue anybody.
    The question is whether workers’ compensation is the right delivery system.
    Some farm workers want coverage.

  • Strip mall unsustainable

    It’s human nature for judicious restraint to sometimes be supplanted by the desire to “take action.”
    Pursuit of unrealistic desires sometimes leads us to a precipice where we are finally forced to decide whether to make a potentially fatal leap or turn back.
    Our community finds itself at just such a precipice with the impending decision about the Trinity Place strip mall development.
    When we began our quest back in 2005, we were searching for a formula that would significantly diversify our retail sector, provide a suite of new and exciting shopping opportunities, greatly enhance gross receipts tax revenue, provide a community gathering place, and ensure a large, constant revenue stream for our schools.

  • Legislative Session 2012

    The 2012 legislature may be very different than the 2011 version now that Gov. Susana Martinez has a year of chief executive experience under her belt.
    Martinez appears to have learned that the adversarial approach necessarily taken by district attorneys doesn’t work when dealing with another branch of government.
    She says a number one  priority this year will be to cooperatively work with the legislature.
    The 2011 legislature had embarrassingly little to show for its efforts.
    The special session on redistricting was even worse. A surprising improvement in relations was evident when Martinez and a handful of Democratic legislators presented a bipartisan congressional redistricting proposal to the court last fall.