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Columns

  • Retool, rethink, reshape

    Consideration of competitiveness began and ended the recent Domenici Public Policy Conference in Las Cruces.
    Norm Augustine, former Lockheed Martin CEO, began the conference. Since Lockheed manages Sandia National Laboratories, it is reasonable to figure that Augustine knows a bit about New Mexico.
    James L. Jones, retired U.S. Marine Corps four-star general and former National Security Advisor for President Obama, closed the event.
    Reports from news organizations such as the Washington Post indicated that Jones didn’t fit with established Obama advisors, giving Jones added credibility.
    First, a note on the conference. In four years it has grown into an event bringing the highest-level national policy players to New Mexico.

  • Design within context

    In the Thursday story published in the Los Alamos Monitor, “Trinity Drive Still Hot Topic,” the reporter greatly simplified my blog comments on the relative value of separated bicycle facilities vs. on-street bicycle facilities.
    There are no good “one size fits all” solutions and I would not suggest, without context specific information, what type of bicycle facility I would recommend to the county council in my capacity as a Transportation Board member or for that matter, as a private citizen.
    Readers can refer to the blog for details (www.labikes.blogspot.com.)

  • Driving the rascals out comes back to mind

    In 1992, a little organization sprang up in New Mexico called “Drive the Rascals Out,” calling on voters to vote all incumbents out of the state legislature.
    This organization appeared to have just one member – Marvin something – but it caught on with public sentiment and got plenty of news coverage and TV time.
    This was the period when “RaymondandManny” was pronounced as one word. New Mexico House Speaker Raymond Sanchez and Senate President pro-Tem  Manny Aragon were quite different in style and substance, but the word symbolized the contempt with which many New Mexicans viewed their state legislature – as incompetent, corrupt and uncouth.

  • Lessons on sharing power

    Former Gov. Gary Johnson weighed in on adding more freight to the legislative camel: Gov. Susana Martinez has a right to add whatever she wants to the legislative call, he said, and the legislature has the right to hear it or not.
    Understanding what’s going on in Santa Fe requires a swim in the undercurrents.
    Martinez hasn’t shed her prosecutor persona and treats all encounters with legislators like a courtroom battle.
    In the legislature, we have more lawyers who often forget they’re not in court, plus some hardened political players. Neither side negotiates until everybody’s bloodied.
    The legislature itself is an institution of tradition, convention and formality, not to mention statutory requirements.

  • We’re safer post 9/11

    All of us who are old enough remember exactly where we were on Sept. 11, 2001, at the moment we first learned that terrorists had taken control of commercial jetliners and crashed them into the World Trade Center in Manhattan, the Pentagon, and a field in Shanksville, Pa.
    On that day, our lives, our country, and our world fundamentally changed.
    Today, a decade later, we remember the loss of the nearly 3,000 innocent victims of the attacks, honor the firefighters, police, and many other first responders, who showed such courage and conviction on that tragic day, and take stock of the fundamental changes that have reshaped our country and improved security for all Americans.

  • Dancing with death

    Once I had a case of influenza so bad I missed close to a month of graduate school.  I ran a fever and coughed until it felt like my whole world was turned upside down.
    Because I’m a geologist, not a medical doctor, I nicknamed that bout of illness “the plague.”  But what I experienced was a walk in the park compared to the real McCoy.
    The sheer virulent power of plague is a tale of human history that’s a warning ringing across the centuries. But the story takes its most interesting turn recently, as science has been unraveling more and more mysteries of the Black Death.
    The first widespread outbreak of the plague we know about started in 541 A.D.  

  • Just A Wag 09-09-11

    Hometown pride

    Rumor has it that Dr. Greg Schneider has composed an original piece of music, in commemoration of Sept. 11.
    Schneider’s music will be performed at events in Pennsylvania, New York, Washington, D.C. and New Mexico.

    Grant recipients

    We hear that a State Farm grant to benefit Los Alamos Middle School has been awarded to the Juvenile Justice Advisory Board, Los Alamos Public Schools and Assets In Action.
    Send us your wags
    “Just a wag” features initial snippets of news heard around town.  The wags may grow to larger stories or simply remain snippets, either way this is meant to spark interest and provide food for thought.
    E-mail wags to lanews@lamonitor.com.

  • Saluting Citizenship Day

    Once a year, we stop arguing about immigration, abortion, taxing the rich, drilling national reserves, and other typical dinner conversations that usually result in throwing food and dishes at each other.
    Once a year, we turn our eyes towards those stars and stripes waving in the distance, and we remember why we’re able to argue over these things.  We have the freedom to disagree.
    Sept. 17 is “Constitution Day,” a day set aside by the U.S. Department of Education to observe and honor the history of our Constitution.  
    On Sept. 17, 1787, the final draft of the Constitution was sent to Congress. Nine months later, (June 21, 1788,) Congress ratified it. So was our country “born” on 9/17/87 or 6/21/88?  

  • Keep focus on efficiency

    Two newspaper essays I wrote this spring broached the idea of working on the regulatory process to boost its efficiency. The early responses are in.
    Support is unanimous in all sectors and comes in three colors – white, red and black.  
    White-colored support says the idea is “right on target.” Red support says, “I can tell real horror stories about inefficient regulation.”
    The black support says, “the worst of (business, government) will wreck the good idea from the start.”
    No one thinks the process is as efficient as is.

  • Rep. Jim Hall reports on Special Session

    We are now a few days into the Special Legislative Session.  Before things get really busy, I would like to update citizens of House District 43 on my experience to date and first impression as a new legislator.