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Columns

  • Troubled PRC in need of a big makeover

    How is the best way to pick our leaders? It is a problem every democracy wrestles with. In our country, we try it two different ways.
    At the federal level, we elect a president and he chooses everyone else. If one of them messes up, the president is responsible so the appointee usually is gone quickly. The result is a team effort.
    At the state level, voters choose a governor, secretary of state, attorney general, auditor, treasurer, land commissioner and five corporation commissioners.
    If one of them messes up, that person is responsible. The governor usually is not well acquainted with the individual. Few voters are acquainted with the individual either. They likely voted based on party line.

  • We are failing children

    When Gov. Martinez came into office back in January, among her top priorities was to turn New Mexico’s failing educational system around.
    To say that it is “failing” sounds harsh, but it describes reality.
    The problem is that, having had two opportunities to move towards fixing the problem, the legislature has thrown up roadblock after roadblock in a (so-far successful) attempt to keep the status quo in place.
    First, the problem: According to the “Diplomas Count 2011” report from the Education Research Center, New Mexico’s real graduation rate is 57.1 percent.

  • Take your best shot

    When I was a youngster in the 1960s, I had all the shots little kids went through back in the day.
    And because I’m a klutz and regularly hurt myself outdoors, I’ve periodically had my tetanus immunity updated. A few years ago I underwent a series of shots for rabies after having a scary adventure with an ill coyote.
    Last summer I got the shingles vaccine when my assistant was suffering from a shingles outbreak.
    And to round it all out, tonight after work I’ll be getting the influenza vaccine for this season’s strains of flu virus.
    My long history of receiving vaccinations – even including the potent shots given for rabies – has not caused me more than temporary discomfort.

  • Tired campaign data

    In 2010, when then U.S. Rep. Harry Teague was running for re-election against Steve Pearce, I checked his campaign website, looking for a position statement on a certain issue.
    I couldn’t get past the front page. To get into the site, the reader had to sign in and provide an e-mail address.
    What? A candidate for public office won’t let an undecided voter look at his position statements?
    I checked again recently.  The “Harry for Congress 2010” website is still online, and you can now click a “skip” button and go to the site without signing in.
    The site doesn’t appear to have been updated since the 2010 election. It looks like a 2010 campaign office frozen in time – but now you can see it.

  • Exercise caution with sports, energy drinks

    This article may not be popular with approximately 100 percent of the adolescents I know.
    To get right to the point, a rigorous review of the medical literature over a nine-year period resulted in a recent policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics, which stated that caffeine and other stimulants have no place in the diets of children and adolescents.
    Sports drinks and energy drinks are big business worldwide. They are aggressively marketed towards children and adolescents, often for a variety of inappropriate uses.
    A separate study showed that many teens did not know the difference between these two types of drinks, yet they are clearly not the same product.

  • Harold Morgan: If it sounds too good...

    There are promoters — people pushing substantive projects with capital in the bank. Then there are promoters.
    I grew up around the latter kind with the smoke, the mirrors, the hustle and the hot checks. I remember one attempt to build a stock issue around a $350 copper lease.
    In economic development, hopes and dreams play big roles.
    So headlines about the latest “next big things” should bring caution.
    As context for big announcements, complaints float that Gov. Susana Martinez has done little to produce jobs in New Mexico. True enough, I think.
    But the other truth is that governors can do little to “jump start” an economy.

  • Solyndra isn't the whole story

    In the utility room of a wealthy homeowner was a Rube Goldberg-like solar system, impossibly complex. It wasn’t working. In the 1970s, it was my first solar story.
    We’ve come a long way, baby. Now they work, and the biggest obstacle – cost – is going away. Good ol’ American know-how would have risen to the challenge, eventually, but the Chinese beat us to the punch.  

  • Analyze your benefits

    Admit it: You probably spend more time comparison shopping online than reviewing your annual benefits enrollment materials.
    That’s a big mistake because the money you could save by choosing the right employee benefits package probably far exceeds any savings you could get on a big-screen TV.
    For example, many people don’t sign up for an extremely valuable benefit – flexible spending accounts (FSAs).
    If your employer offers them, FSAs let you pay for eligible out-of-pocket health care and/or dependent care expenses on a pre-tax basis – that is, before federal, state and Social Security taxes are deducted from your paycheck.

  • Time to restructure

    As Jerome Block Jr. joins the roster of bad boys and girls forced to leave the state’s Public Regulation Commission, let’s look back and see how we got here.
    In 1996 voters passed a constitutional amendment to combine the State Corporation Commission, whose three members were elected on a statewide basis, and the Public Utility Commission, whose three members were appointed.
    It would be replaced by the Public Regulation Commission, whose five members would be elected by district.
    This super-agency would regulate utilities, phone companies, water and sewer systems, insurance, pipelines, and tow-truck operators.

  • It gets better

    They say death is the great equalizer. We all feel pretty much the same after we die.
    And when a loved one dies, the living all suffer the same pain of loss. And so it was for my friend when Bill died.  
    My friend was inconsolable and there was little anyone could do to ease the torment in his heart. Bill had died of AIDS and Mark was his friend, his life mate, his lover. But not his husband.
    As Tina Turner sang, what’s love got to do with it?
    Mark and Bill had lived together in a loving relationship for more than 20 years (far longer than most heterosexual marriages I know.)  
    The disease that took Bill’s life had been contracted by an infected blood supply, not by infidelity or promiscuity.