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Columns

  • Fix fireworks issue

    Were you outraged, around July 4, that there was no statewide ban on the sale of fireworks?
    You’re not alone.  
    So was almost everybody else, including several newspaper editorial writers.  
    Some legislators have tried to change the New Mexico law; while several bills in favor of public safety died in committee, the law has been amended more than once in favor of the fireworks industry.
    The dangerous conditions are not the fault of the fireworks industry, and nobody is alleging otherwise.
    In matters of this nature, special interests tend to turn the argument upside down, implying that they are being scapegoated for conditions they did not cause.
    So let’s be clear that the public is not confused about this.

  • Secure our borders now

    I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that we’ve got a problem with our borders, and it isn’t going away anytime soon — it’s only going to get worse unless we do something about it.
    Fortunately, some of the politicians from non-border states are beginning to get it.
    Sen. Mary Landrieu, a Democrat from Louisiana, recently had a tour of the border and concluded that we must provide more resources to secure our border.
    As someone who lives in a border state, has immersed myself in this issue, and has had a first-hand tour of the border in the El Paso sector, I couldn’t agree more with Sen. Landrieu.
    The federal government is clearly not doing enough to secure our borders, and, yes, we do need more resources.

  • Hope where there is none

    For us in the County of Los Alamos, the view of smoke on the horizon gives us the sense of “not again.”  
    As a resident, I have experienced the La Mesa Fire, the Dome Fire, the Oso Fire, the Cerro Grande Fire and now the Las Conchas Fire.  
    But in addition, as an ecologist for 33 years, I have studied and measured the recovery of several of these fires, especially the La Mesa Fire.
    Out of the sense of hopelessness and grief of losing trees, I have found that watching the area recover from each of these fires has given me a sense of hope and awe at nature’s intricate balance and healing.  
    We sometimes see only the loss and not the miracle of rebirth.

  • Leakage is top problem

    “Our downtown is disappearing; local businesses are struggling; local residents are shopping elsewhere; non-residents are earning incomes here and taking that money out of town; there is too much ‘leakage.’”
    Sound familiar?  Welcome to Whittier, Calif., where the leakage problem was the central issue in the 2006 city council election campaigns.
    For the past years we have heard a constant drum-beat about “leakage,” the money earned in Los Alamos, which leaves Los Alamos.  Supposedly this is problem number one.  

  • Move over, Harry

    Lord Voldemort was a threat to all that is good in the world.
    As his forces expanded and his strength grew, there seemed little hope left for the magical kingdom he sought to claim.
    But all stories have a hero and Harry Potter came to the rescue.
    We all knew that Voldemort would eventually meet his end at Harry’s hand.  After all, Harry is a true hero!
    For some others, it’s Batman. Or Iron Man. The Lone Ranger. Matt Dillon. Davy Crockett. The Shadow (and who else knows).
    We go to work, put in our nine to five (if you’re lucky), pick up a frozen pizza on the way home, and sit back to watch heroes entertain us.

  • New Mexico aviation infrastructure graded C-

    New Mexico has a seaplane base. It’s one of 61 airports open to the public, according to the 2005 Report Card on New Mexico Infrastructure from the New Mexico Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers.
    The report said our aviation infrastructure, graded C-, is ahead of the national average of D+.
    This is as it should be; with the least amount of surface water of any state, we have a seaplane base.
    Wikipedia places the base on Conchas Lake, near Tucumcari, and says it’s owned by the U.S. Corps of Engineers. This figures; the Corps messed up the New Orleans levees, but managed a seaplane base in the desert. The base brings new meaning to puddle jumping.

  • Don't let courts redistrict

    State legislators assume they’ll be back at the  Roundhouse in a couple of months for a special session devoted to redistricting New Mexico’s three U.S. House seats, along with the five seats that comprise the Public Regulation Commission and, of course, the legislature itself.
    Their target date for this late-summer conclave is Sept. 12, after Labor Day when the tourist season has waned, and hotels, motels and other accommodations will be available during their Santa Fe sojourn.
    This will be Gov. Susana Martinez’s first special session, and it is she who will set the date for the legislature to convene.
    Nor has she indicated whether that mid-September date suits her fancy.

  • Blackened land and red ink

    Clearing out old magazines last week, I came across a National Geographic (May 2010) story summarizing simply and graphically how, exactly, the 230-square-mile blast zone around Mount St. Helens is recovering.
    If life can return on this most damaged of lands, it’s encouraging for us.
    Ecologists expected most growth to begin on the margins.
    Instead, it’s recovering from the inside out. Surviving pocket gophers pushed soil to the surface, where wind-blown seeds landed and took root; perennials poked through the ash, shrubs resprouted.
    Other burrowing creatures, like toads and mice, emerged. As new plants appeared, insects returned; elk hooves broke up the crust and mixed ash and soil. It will take 50 years for a forest to reappear.

  • State revenue is up

    Reports and reality checks about the New Mexico economy bring us to survey what’s happening.
    Start with the most recent news, that revenue to state government (that means taxes paid) is running ahead of the December 2010 forecast.
    The estimated growth was eight percent through the first ten months of FY 11, the budget year that ended June 30.
    The forecast was for 6.8 percent. Estimated income to the state’s general fund, the main pot of operating money, was $4.25 billion, up a nice $313 million over the first 10 months of FY 10.
    The news came in the June issue of the Legislative Finance Committee’s monthly revenue report. See www.nmlegis.gov/lcs/lfc/lfcrevreports.aspx for the reports.

  • Who is conservative enough?

    Three years ago, four of our five-member congressional delegation gave up their seats to retirement or a run for higher office.
    An 80 percent turnover in any state’s congressional delegation is most unusual. It is almost a total loss of seniority.  
    Sen. Jeff Bingaman, with his 26 years of experience was the only seniority the delegation had.
    Four years later, New Mexico will lose Bingaman’s seniority and that of House member Martin Heinrich who is running for Bingaman’s open Senate seat.
    That will put New Mexico even farther down the seniority ladder. But it will give us two very exciting congressional races in both the primary and general elections.