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Columns

  • Clean up the racing industry

    Some people were shocked by the revelation that five New Mexico race tracks had the worst safety records in the nation.
    According to the New York Times, trainers here “illegally pump sore horses full of painkillers to mask injury” and race them; if they’re caught the penalties are minimal. In the last three years, some 3,600 horses died at state-regulated tracks nationwide. In just 13 days in 2010, nine horses died racing at Sunland Park, five were hauled away, and two jockeys were hospitalized, one in critical condition.
    The March 24 story features a photo of a dead racehorse at a Ruidoso dump, its broken front leg visible, and a video interview with Jacky Martin, a New Mexico jockey paralyzed after his horse went down.

  • Keep businesses safe from hackers

    Many business owners fear computer data breaches, but they don’t know where to start protecting themselves from information-highway robbers. Some wonder why they should spend money on sophisticated security systems when hackers can get around them. But a business doesn’t have to spend a fortune to introduce basic IT security measures that can significantly reduce its vulnerability.
    Know the enemy
    Small-business owners assume hackers only seek big money from big businesses. But hackers like small ventures because most have minimal security. Hackers likewise prey on business travelers who use unprotected mobile phones and electronic devices to send sensitive information.

  • PNM turns profitable

    Utilities have their moments.
    The Socorro Electric Co-op is working through several years of disputes and lawsuits that aren’t quite up to the low comedy standards of city officials in Santa Teresa and Columbus.
    I remember former PNM Resources Chairman Jeff Sterba doing his best Al Gore imitation at annual meetings a few years ago. Sterba’s passion for the absolute inevitability of ugly results from global warming was something to behold. Compact fluorescent light bulbs became an annual meeting souvenir.

  • A possible cure for corruption?

    Is New Mexico the most corrupt state in the nation? You’ve seen the news. It looks pretty bad. Many national organizations are interested about corruption in the states.
     On most of their rankings, New Mexico falls somewhere in the middle. The last one I saw ranked us 19th. Political corruption we hear about most often seems to occur in Illinois, New Jersey and Louisiana. But those states donít rank near the top of the corruption scale either.
     It is often little, out-of-the-way states like North Dakota or Vermont that head the corruption list. How can that be? We never hear about it.

  • Talking retiree health care

    The news from the New Mexico Retiree Health Care Authority is that things could be worse, but they are not exactly great.
    If you are one of the 22,000 state and local government and public school retirees covered for health insurance through this program, or a current employee looking to this program for your future, you might want to pay attention.
    RHCA has managed to save itself from several financial and political scrapes and survived to this point. At the moment, the program has projected solvency for the next 15 years.  Sort of.

  • Counting the bottles of beer

     The first week of April brings a welcomed break to students in our school district.  During the nearly two weeks off, they get to spend time thinking those deep thoughts that usually command a young student’s mind.  You know, things like “Uh, what do you want to do today?”
      Thinking about the present can be a daunting task, especially if you make the mistake of thinking about something that actually takes neural energy.  Why not spend that time doing something more comfortable, less complicated, more productive.  For example, how about counting to fifty thousand?

  • Some 401(k) advice

     In the past, many people stayed at one job, or at least one company, for almost their entire working lives. When they retired, they could typically count on a pension, the value of which was based on their years of service and earnings.
    But today, workers can expect to hold several different jobs in their lifetime, and to a great extent, pensions have been replaced by 401(k) plans, which place much of the funding responsibility on employees. So, assuming you will change jobs at some point, and you do have a 401(k), what should you do with it?
    Here are your basic choices:

  • How to change dumb laws

    SANTA FE — What do we do with dumb laws? There are so many on the books. Do we ignore them? Challenge them? Change them?
    The problem with changing dumb laws is that they were created to solve touchy problems So messing with them ventures into sometimes sacred territory.
    The latest example in New Mexico involves voter registration. Some yahoo with a cause registered his dog to vote. Nothing original with that stunt. We read about it in the papers every so often. The media treats it as a humorous prank. Nothing is said about consequences for the prankster or tightening of registration laws.

  • Most Town Hall recommendations say general things in general ways

    Nearly 175 New Mexicans and a couple of Texans gathered in Albuquerque recently for the 100th New Mexico First Town Hall, with the topic “Learning from our Past. Planning our future.”
    People from metro Albuquerque and Santa Fe — what I call the north-central urban area and home to half the state’s two million people — dominated the town hall. Of the 163 people listed in the participant packet, 25, or 15 percent, were from outside the north central area. Of those, six came from northeast counties working on a regional economic development approach.
    Two participants from Houston (that’s the one in Texas) must have registered late because they were not listed. The Texans work for energy companies.

  • Remembering a Civil War hero

    Over the past month, we’ve been recalling New Mexico’s role in the Civil War.
    It’s often a surprise to newcomers and even New Mexicans that we did, in fact, have Civil War battles and skirmishes here. They’re not Gettysburg, but we have battlegrounds: Mesilla, Valverde, Cubero, Albuquerque, Glorieta  and Peralta.
    And we have heroes. In the retelling, our chroniclers usually say we were rescued by Coloradoans, which isn’t entirely true. They forget Manuel Antonio Chaves. Every school child should know this name.