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Columns

  • Options to save Medicaid

    Everybody wants to save Medicaid.
    It’s the goal of Human Services Secretary Sidonie Squier and advocacy groups like Health Action New Mexico.
    But how they go about it sounds like a TV doctor show, with surgeons squabbling over a patient lying open on the table.
    A new study suggests savings in the program that covers the poor and disabled, without cutting.
    First, the numbers: One in four New Mexicans relies on Medicaid.
    In 2014, thanks to the president’s Affordable Care Act, the state could see 130,000 to 175,000 new enrollees, which will cost $330 million to $660 million more.
    However, the federal government will pay all of that cost for the first three years and 90 percent after that.

  • Two decades in the making

    For the last 20 years, local resident Fredrica Smith has been championing changes at the Larry R. Walkup Aquatic Center so that it could be a multi-functional facility — better suited to meet the needs of all residents and across all generations — not just those wishing to swim exercise laps or join in competitive swim meets.  
    If you’ve been to the aquatic center, you know that the pool is not well suited for small children.
    Not long after the pool opened, and well before Los Alamos National Security (LANS) began paying gross receipts taxes to Los Alamos County, Fredrica and a group of supporters established a private fund and looked at several options to construct a leisure pool.

  • Doing more with less on the road today

    Between the debt-ceiling kerfuffle and Hurricane Irene, you may have missed two bits of summertime news that will be important for what we drive in the coming years.
    First, President Barack Obama announced that the administration and automakers had reached a deal to double the fuel economy of our national fleet of cars starting in model year 2017 and reaching the goal by 2025.
    Right now, cars and light trucks, light trucks include what I call my “little old lady SUV,” get an average of 27 mpg.
    By 2025, those same vehicles are to average an impressive 54.5 mpg.
    The second bit of news came a little later but was equally interesting.

  • 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.