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Columns

  • John Pawlak: It's a waste of paint

    Newspapers and TV news shows rain dismal tidings on us every day. Cuts in educational budgets.
    Cuts in civil spending. Cuts in federal aid to community projects.  Cuts in unemployment benefits.
    Cuts in transportation spending. If you discuss anything that has to do with helping people, you’d think you’re on the set of an Ed Wood movie. Cut! Cut! For Pete’s sake, would someone please cut the camera’s power cord?
    Cutting is a national epidemic and it’s unlikely to see a light at the end of this tunnel for some time.
    That’s because they cut the budget for the electric bill and so that light went out a long time ago.
    It behooves us to curb wasteful spending, to look for ways to save a buck or two.

  • Let voters decide county spending

    The time has come to vote on the bond issue for the Leisure Pool at the Aquatic Center.
    I don’t care for the name Aquatic Center so I will use the more familiar nickname, the Blue Whale.   
    Even though it is no longer mostly blue, the name has stuck for years.
    History of the Blue Whale:
    The county received a windfall of several million dollars from gross receipts tax when the service company at Los Alamos National Laboratory was told they had to pay gross receipts tax.   
    At that time, the high school pool was on its last fins and the swim team, the swim club and the lane swimmers were going to be without a facility.   

  • Leisure pool prediction is deemed unrealistic

    I have noticed an absence of factual presentations regarding the upcoming $3 million bond election for a new leisure swimming pool, so I read the county’s feasibility study.
    The total cost of the pool will be $6.1 million, or slightly more than $2,000 per square foot of pool area.
    Although limited by land area, the designers conceived an attractive facility to compensate for the cold tomb-like qualities of the existing Olympic-size pool. However, some practical questions remain.
    The bond is $3 million, but I conclude the continuing subsidy for operating costs will make the cost of the bond look small.

  • We've lost a leprechaun

    New Mexico lost one of its most pleasant citizens recently with the death of former state Rep. Tom Foy. If ever a person could be said to always have a smile on his face, it was Tommy, or Tommie, depending on how his friends wanted to spell it.
    To my knowledge, he always spelled his name Tom but seemed to have no objection to the diminutive form. He was diminutive.
    Many thought of him as a leprechaun. But Tom didn’t need to prove he was a tough guy.
    He played football in high school and then survived the horrors of the Bataan Death March and Japanese hell ships and prison camps. Tom didn’t seem to mind talking about his war experiences and the pleasant look on his face didn’t seem to change even then.

  • She's no packaged politician

    Heather Wilson knows her stuff. One would expect that, you might think, given that she represented Albuquerque in the House of Representatives for 10 years.
    Wilson, now a candidate for the U.S. Senate to replace retiring Jeff Bingaman, speaks in depth and detail about the challenges facing the United States.
    The point here is that Wilson is not an all-surface packaged bundle of talking points. Far from it. Further, I don’t see how she can be any more bona fide as a conservative.
    Wilson speaks with passion fueled in part by experiences during the two-plus years after her time in congress ended in 2008 and announcing her Senate candidacy in March of this year.
    I spoke to Wilson in mid-October at her Spartan campaign office in Albuquerque.

  • Protests for jobs fall on deaf Republican ears

    It was hardly surprising but nonetheless disconcerting when Senate Republicans shot down President Obama’s jobs legislation last week, refusing even to let it be debated on the Senate Floor.
    New Mexico’s junior U.S. senator, Democrat Tom Udall, was plainly frustrated. “Last night,” he said, “we again saw Republican opposition and abuse of senate rules to thwart important legislation to help struggling American families and small businesses.”
    When they’re not willfully damaging the economy by threatening to put the nation in default, they’re blocking measures to improve it with job creation measures.
    Impeding economic recovery has become an ill-disguised GOP goal, it would seem.

  • Thanks for the work, now get out

    Since June, 77 state workers have seen their jobs evaporate. Civil service jobs, which
     are usually safe. Some news reports noted the governor’s earlier promises to not lay off state workers, she’s also said more often that state government is over-populated.
    As a new fiscal year approached, with stripped-down budgets, it was time to make the hard decisions.
    In September, Tourism Secretary Monique Jacobson laid off 11 people, including seven of 17 staff members at New Mexico Magazine, and another 16 at Expo New Mexico, one-third of jobs at the State Fair.

  • It could have happened...

    It was one of those foggy eerie days that rarely come in October, and little things had been going wrong all day.
    The front door had blown opened several times, I am quite sure that I had secured it when I closed it after my husband Jerry left for work.
    Then the telephone rang, and when I answered it, I could not quite hear the person on the other end, when I tried to make a phone call several hours later the phone was not working.
    I built a small fire in the fireplace in hope of shrugging off the eerie feeling, and to bring cheer into the house. It was a fruitless effort for an odd gust of wind came down the chimney, not only did the fire go out but ashes were spread across the front room.

  • 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.