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Columns

  • Time it is a-wastin'

    Tomorrow is the end of the second week of the New Mexico Legislature’s special session on redistricting. And not much has happened.
    The first encouraging sign emerged the middle of last week when 13 of 15 Republican senators signed a bill redistricting the Senate so that no returning Republican senator gets hurt.
    That feat was accomplished soon after Sen. Kent Cravens, an Albuquerque Republican, announced that he will be leaving the Senate to become director of governmental affairs for the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association.
    Senate Democrats also have an Albuquerque member, Sen. Eric Griego, who has announced his intent to leave the Senate to run for Congress.

  • Some economic good news

    Years of writing negative things about the New Mexico economy have gotten tedious.
    Maybe I’m hallucinating, but I see a few items suggesting some economic green shoots.
    I’m sure that our eventual recovery will resemble my tomatoes this year — small and slow. That’s because we’ve been so far down so long and because the creaky national economy is our biggest economic driver.
    State jobs figures, due today, could place all my optimism in the delusion file. (Seewww.dws.state.nm.us .)
    Still … Some people want to be optimistic about the reported Albuquerque appearance, set for next year, of Dick’s Sporting Goods, the nation’s largest such firm.

  • Composting conundrum in Los Alamos County

    It’s just a hunch, but I bet everyone reading this column has driven by the intersection of East Jemez Road and West Jemez Road and caught a whiff of the county’s composting operation.  
    Depending on the day, and your past olfactory experiences, you may find the smell to be an assault on your nostrils.  
    Personally, I think it is a pleasant earthy scent that symbolizes the transformation of waste into a valued commodity. But, that seems to be a minority view.  
    The Los Alamos County Council and public in general have made it clear that the creation of a sustainable community is important, and composting is one initiative that greatly increases the sustainability of our community.  

  • Analysis grossly misportrayed

    A recent letter by Steven Gray grossly misportrayed the Los Alamos Transportation Board’s analysis of the 502 design options.  
    This letter will address some of Mr. Gray’s comments as well as represent what the board actually did in carrying out its mission to advise the Los Alamos County Council on transportation matters.
    Although Mr. Gray wrote “...(the) Transportation Board announced that they had a perfect solution to traffic on Trinity Drive — traffic circles.”

  • House Majority Whip defends sluggish redistricting pace

    From recent articles it appears that there is a concern about how legislation is moving through the House of Representatives and the Senate.  
    The comments I have heard criticize the pace at which the legislators are hearing bills and the priority on redistricting versus non-redistricting issues.  
    Let me clarify the intent of this special session and how this process unfolds.  
    First, redistricting is complicated. Not only are we considering over 20 redistricting plans with considerable discussion, legislators from areas throughout the state are meeting in smaller groups to further discuss districts within their regions.   

  • A walk through history

    The first week of this decade’s special legislative session on redistricting has been anything but exciting.
    The only action has been complaints from Democratic leaders that Gov. Susana Martinez has loaded other items onto the agenda, something no other governor has done.
    And now we have complaints from Republican lawmakers that nothing is happening so they should be considering items the governor added to the agenda.
    Interest about that argument has its limits so let’s move on to looking at some truly momentous events that occurred on this date in past years.
    On Sept. 16, 1810, Father Miguel Hidalgo delivered his Grito to the people of Delores, Mexico, calling on them to unite in overthrowing the Spanish government.

  • The Special Session: Thoughts from the House

    The special session of the New Mexico State Legislature started on Sept. 6.  
    The session was prompted by a proclamation from Gov. Susana Martinez calling the legislature into session to address the decennial requirement of redistricting, and nine other items ranging from Driver’s Licenses for non-citizens to budgetary issues.  
    On redistricting, the population of the state has grown and become more urban.  The resulting challenges are to create seventy House districts, each with a population of 29,400 people (+/- 5 percent) and reflecting the growth in urban population.   

  • Investments nurture businesses to create new employment

    As financial markets gyrate, legislators argue about the national debt ceiling, and people lose homes to foreclosure, it’s hard to believe the economy is improving.
    Few words can convince those unlucky enough to remain jobless; but numbers are beginning to tell a slightly better story, at least in New Mexico.
    The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that New Mexico made strides in improving its July jobless rate over the same month last year – second only to Nevada, a state with one of the highest unemployment rates in the country.

  • Posse Comitatus and the Constitutional Sheriff

    If you attended either of the Charter Review Committee’s hearings on the Sheriff’s Office, you could be forgiven if you were bewildered by the frequent references to the sheriff’s power to protect the constitutional rights of citizens.  
    Curious, I checked it out, and I would like to share with you what I’ve learned.
    The office of sheriff is entirely a creature of state law, and has powers and responsibilities for law enforcement and civil process that are laid out in state law and can be limited or eliminated by a home rule charter municipality/county such as Los Alamos.  

  • Anything is possible

    The master plan for this special legislative session on redistricting seems to be falling into place.
    Although surprises always are possible in the give and take between the governor and lawmakers who aren’t particularly fond of each other.
    Gov. Susana Martinez says the session can easily be over in two weeks. The legislature appropriated enough money for three weeks.
    The maximum length allowed by law is 30 days but no one would benefit by it going that long.
    The likely scenario is for lawmakers to wrap up redistricting in about two weeks and then turn their attention to the governor’s agenda for several days.
    By remaining in session, Martinez will have to act on the redistricting bills within three days.