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Columns

  • Can occupiers survive without a song?

    My wife and I were watching the Country Music Awards last week when we realized that country music has gone the way of almost all other forms of music — single octave shouting, with the same words yelled over and over.
    We wondered what students do on bus trips these days. They can’t sing popular songs because there are few words and no melodies.
    Guess they just vegetate while listening to their smart phones play music.
    That led to a discussion of what all the kids, camped out in parks these days do for songs.
    We remember the 60s and all the great songs of that protest movement, recorded by top stars on top labels. It was easy to sing those.

  • Paying a political price

    From the campaign trails to state legislatures, wherever you cast your gaze in this benighted nation, you’ll likely find a bit of illegal-immigrant bashing at work.
    During their campaigns last year, two New Mexico politicos, each in her own way, played the undocumented-worker card so effectively as to help them become the highest ranking women holding public office in New Mexico today.
    Since then, the political payoffs Gov. Susana Martinez and Secretary of State Diana Duran sought from their tough-on-illegal-immigrants postures have proved modest at best.
    Twice in the past 10 months at two sessions of the legislature, Martinez failed in her efforts to repeal a law allowing illegals to apply for driver’s licenses.

  • We don’t want them to cry

    Recently I asked why my son wasn’t allowed to bring his Pokemon cards to school.
    Well, he is allowed to bring them for sharing, but not for recess or trading. This all goes along with some rule about not bringing toys outside for recess.
    I kind of understand the whole toys at recess, but I am really struggling with trading cards. In my mind I am picturing little boys huddled together in some corner of the playground in intense conversation, practicing hard-core negotiating skills.
    In picturing this scenario, the boys in question are wearing black shoes and little caps and shirts with buttons. It’s so Norman Rockwell.

  • Corporate value statements useless, perhaps harmful

    My odd experiences now include the strange exercise of an appeals hearing for state government employees. Everything favors the state. The hearing officer sits at a table facing the door. Flanking and facing the officer are two tables, one for the employee (and lawyer) and one for the bureaucrats, a lawyer and a paralegal. Spare. Empty. Surreal. Totally tilted to the state.
    Strip everything — nice words and thick employee manuals — and the room embodies a statement of ultimate values to state employees. Something like: We are all powerful; you are an insect.
    The context here — 10 reasons to not define corporate values — comes from Glenda Eoyang of Minneapolis, founding executive director of the Human Systems Dynamics Institute.

  • Saving for the future

    Halloween brought little witches and goblins and ghouls to our doors, scaring us with frightening blood stained scars, loose skin hanging from half eaten faces, and now and then even a knife impaling someone’s head.  
    One child proved to be the most frightening of all by wearing a Mitt Romney mask. I threw a bowlful of candy bars at him and pleaded, “Leave my dog alone!”
    Trick or Treat! Gimme gimme gimme candy!!! Ah, the sweet sound of young greed.
    Yes, another Halloween come and gone, another visit to the dentist to drill out cavities from ingesting all that sugar and chocolate (well, you’re lucky if there was actually any real chocolate in that stuff.)

  • Lt. Govs are a nuisance

    Here we go again. The lieutenant governor is getting in the governor’s way. They are such a nuisance. Why do we even have them?
    That, by the way, is a good question. Some states don’t have lieutenant governors. And those states do just fine.
    New Mexico governors not only are saddled with lieutenant governors, the lieutenant governors get to be full time employees if they desire.
    And why wouldn’t they want to be on the top floor of the Merry Roundhouse in the middle of all the action?
    The problem is that they don’t have anything to do except preside over the Senate when it is in session.  
    And, oh yes, take over for the governor when he or she can’t serve or is out of state.

  • Cancer detection and man’s best friend

    Dogs are loyal, playful, loving and sometimes cute as a button. It’s no wonder we love them (some of us more than others, to be sure).
    Dogs were likely one of the very first animals we humans domesticated. They’ve been sitting around our campfires for a very long time, indeed.
    We train our dogs to sit, shake and lie down. It also could be said the dogs train us to dispense kibbles, rawhide treats, and scratches behind the ears. What matters isn’t which side comes out ahead in the exchange, I like to think, but that both sides benefit from our association.

  • Sexual harassment charges aren't going away

    Sexual harassment isn’t just a complaint – it’s become a small industry of legal specialists ready to accuse or defend, plus consultants called in to educate workers.
    On the job, I’ve sat through a few of these workshops.
    Lots of people have, and yet the lawyers and consultants haven’t run out of work. And late-night comedians still have plenty of fodder.
    As Herman Cain, Republican candidate for president, fights his battles with accusers, we see new accusations against two managers at the state Workforce Solutions Department, of all places. “Multiple” women in the call center complain of unwanted physical touching, crude remarks and supervisors who ask them for dates, according to news reports.

  • State deregulation woes

    Does New Mexico have too many regulations? Gov. Susana Martinez thinks so. She campaigned for smaller government.
    Eliminating regulations is one way of making government smaller. With fewer regulations, fewer inspectors are needed to monitor and enforce the regulations. And it is easier to conduct business with fewer rules to follow.
    So Gov. Martinez appointed a Small Business Friendly Task Force.
    The group has reported on ways to eliminate regulations and reduce waste. As one might guess, the Regulation and Licensing Department and the Construction Industries Division were two of the first targets.
    Gov. Martinez has heard plenty from the construction business about the onerous regulations they face.

  • Committee chair accepts olive branch

    On Wednesday, the Los Alamos Monitor published a story on my resignation from the White Rock Master Plan Implementation Committee. This story did a reasonable job of covering the major points of the disagreement between myself and some members of the county council.
    However, I would like to elaborate on a few additional points; give my views on where the master plan goes from here; and, perhaps most important, publicly accept the olive branch that has been extended to me by Councilor Ron Selvage.