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Columns

  • Interstates offer exotic sightings

    Few of us live in the vicinity of Interstate 10 west of Las Cruces. Some notes from our drive on I-10 from Arizona back to New Mexico offer an update. Road highlights included land along I-10, a Range Rover driver, and, on I-25, a taxi and Bobby Olguin’s burgers in San Antonio.
    Along the way from Phoenix to Tucson, a flamethrower seemed the landscaping instrument of choice. The terrain transcended mere desert. The final few miles of I-10 in Arizona offered a fitting end to our visit. The road seriously needs replacement. We were pleased to re-enter New Mexico and travel a road tended by the New Mexico Department of Transportation.

  • Straight talk on the budget

    Generally, the Rio Grande Foundation focuses primarily on state and local policy issues. Nonetheless, given New Mexico’s status as one of, if not the, most reliant states on federal spending within its borders, the perilous condition of the federal budget must be of concern to all New Mexicans.
    Particularly in this political season, the tendency is for the media and politicians to ignore what then- chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, called, “The biggest threat we have to our national security is our debt.” After all, no one running for office wants to be seen as taking government benefits away from people.  

  • Water schemes, state themes

    In New Mexico, like that trick of light that makes a highway look wet when it’s not, things are not always as they seem.
    A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the State Engineer’s denial of an application to pump an ocean of water from western Catron County because it was “vague, over broad, lacked specificity, and the effects of granting it cannot reasonably be evaluated.”
    I now learn that two of the contractors, including a hydrologist who won an Ethics in Business award, have recently quit the project, and reportedly there were issues about getting paid. Apparently, the project has two sets of professionals, an arrangement that would support consensus unless the land owner is shopping for opinions.

  • Lab potential conflict should be eliminated


    Concerning your article “Watchdog group assails lab salary spike” I think LANL’s response is disingenuous. The Lab says:
    “The majority of the figure reported [i.e., the LANL Director’s $1 million annual compensation] under DOE stimulus funding guidelines is an increase in pension value. Also included are salary, life insurance, health benefits, and other total compensation,” lab spokesman Fred DeSousa said.
     “The portion of the director’s annual salary reimbursable by the government is about 35 percent of the reported figure and is comparable to previous director salaries, adjusted for inflation.”

  • Honoring a true hero

    On January 17, 1965, 1st Lt. Thurston “Turk” Griffith died in an ambush in Vietnam.  He was the first native New Mexican to be killed in combat. He was also a graduate of Los Alamos High School.  Friends that knew him stated he had a “wry, self-deprecating sense of humor.”  Sounds like a person that I would have called friend.  

  • Martinez riding high

    SANTA FE — Despite a few slips, Gov. Susana Martinez is riding high in New Mexico and national popularity polls.  Both Public Opinion Strategies and Rasmussen recent polling show Martinez with at least 60 percent popularity in recent months.
    The latest big news for our governor is her inclusion in a top-ten list compiled by Washington Post columnist Aaron Blake. His choices are evenly split between parties. Four are from the Mountain West — New Mexico, Colorado, Montana and Nevada.
    Blake says his rankings take into account all factors in determining how successful governors have been — from approval rating to difficulty of what they have attempted to do legislatively to the political bent of their states.

  • Getting a 'F' in economics

    The end of the school year is just over a month away and most students are already busy making plans for the summer.  A visit to the grandparents in Montana.  Some time on the California beach with friends.  Whitewater rafting down the Colorado River.  Perhaps a trip out to Europe to see if the Tower of Pisa is still standing?
    But for graduating seniors, the horizon beckons a new sunrise, a new horizon, a new challenge.
    College,right?
    Well, not exactly.  After the acceptance letters and college selections, the real challenge is that crinkly green stuff that colleges demand in return for an education.  What’s that called again?

  • Monthly District 43 update

    This is the second monthly column discussing a few of the concerns and issues that have come to me in New Mexico House District 43 in the past 30 days.  It is a short column intended to recognize both the diversity and community in this beautiful part of Northern New Mexico. If anyone in District 43 has state government issues (1) that are referenced in the column or (2) are not being addressed, I welcome questions or comments.

  • Tracing roots to Mexico

    Some 2010 Census numbers report where New Mexico’s Hispanics trace their origin. That Hispanics are 46 percent of New Mexicans isn’t news. Add Native Americans (9.4 percent), African Americans and Asians, and New Mexico is a majority minority state by a fair margin.
    Of our Hispanics, 62 percent in 2010 trace themselves to Mexico. The percentage was 43.1 in 2000. That’s news.
    A mere 37 percent of Hispanics are those of the northern villages who provide the conventional image of New Mexico. These folks trace themselves to Spain or simply say they are “other.”
    The census questions were: “Is this person of Hispanic, Latino or Spanish origin?” and “What is this person’s race?”

  • VP Martinez? Don’t mention it

    Presidential election years are fraught with traditions masquerading as “news” and Gov. Susana Martinez has been caught up in one of the most durable of them.
    They take many forms, these traditions, and they assert themselves at different stages in the selection of the major parties’ presidential nominees. Their persistence, however, is because political journalists attached to major news outlets dutifully resurrect them on cue every four years.
    With Mitt Romney having now nailed down the 2012 Republican nomination, we are once again at that point where the Great Mentioners of Mediadom entertain themselves with speculation about the  putative GOP nominee’s options for a vice presidential running mate.