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Columns

  • Government service in tough times

    In a certain office of New Mexico government, a friend tells me, three clerical assistants work with a group of professionals. One clerk is competent and hardworking.  
    The other two are incompetent and unreliable. All the professionals try to snag the good employee for their projects.
    She works much harder than her peers but is paid the same.  
    Eventually she will get tired of this and will either stop working so hard or find another job.
    Another professional in state government describes her frustrations with management. She has to travel around the state to do her job, but because of budget constraints she’s not allowed to stay overnight.

  • Video games aren’t so bad after all

    Next time you’re tempted to lecture your kids about wasting too much time on video games, first check out which games they’re playing – it turns out they may actually be learning important life lessons.
    Much research has been done on whether online games and other interactive educational tools can teach people how to make better decisions regarding personal finances, including an exciting new study called “Improving American’s Financial Literacy: Educational Tools at Work,” by Lisa A. Donnini, PhD, KayAnn Miller and Kitch Walker.

  • Why make a criminal case out of it

    How is the state Department of Public Safety going to find the time and money to investigate the 64,000 possible cases of voter fraud referred to it by New Mexico Secretary of State Dianna Duran?
    With state budgets being slashed by the last several legislative sessions, doesn’t it seem logical that the state police Special Investigations Division has more important cases to handle?
    For years, Republicans have worried that Democrats win elections by cheating.
    The cheating involves disappearing ballots, ballot boxes that suddenly appear when they are needed or long lines of voters at the polls, with a dollar bill or half-pint of whiskey in their pockets.

  • The art of publicity

    Professional publicists recommend press releases to deliver business news to the media for broadcast to potential customers.
    Publicity of this kind is free and can often be done by a business owner or someone who works for her company.
    If the media publish the story, the business stands to gain the goodwill of existing customers and attract new ones.
    The result can be increased sales at a cost of only the time it takes to write and distribute the release.
    But the average newsroom receives hundreds of e-mails and faxes every day, only a fraction of which are published.
    Competition for print space and airtime means press releases need to be creative, factual and informative.

  • Anthony Casino far from sure thing

    The Jemez casino at Anthony doesn’t look nearly as sure today as it did a month ago when the Bureau of Indian Affairs issued a very rosy draft environmental impact study of the proposal.
    Evidently the draft was prepared by the Jemez Pueblo for the BIA’s consideration. The negative side of the proposal was not mentioned. But now it is coming out.
    The Jemez Pueblo wants to build a casino at Anthony, south of Las Cruces to attract the large population in the El Paso and Juarez area, which don’t have casinos.
    Jemez has the misfortune of not being located on a major highway. So it has petitioned the BIA to allow it to locate a casino on land it would purchase almost 300 miles to the south.

  • Legislature's work covers rules for pasture gates, alcohol, school day

    Other than spending money, much of the work of our Legislature involves creating new rules or tinkering, changing this or that little thing.
    For example, the penalty for leaving a pasture gate open, potentially allowing livestock to escape, used to be $5 to $10. Now the fine ranges from $250 to $1,000, thanks to House Bill 391, one of two animal and livestock bills to pass the 2011 session of Legislature and survive Gov. Susana Martinez’s veto pen.
    The new gate non-closure fine is mentioned in the Highlights report issued last month by the Legislative Council Service. The report emphasizes policy changes.

  • Chewing the fat about gum

    Two young adults sit alone, staring into each other’s eyes.  They move closer.  Closer.  
    A smile slowly forms on their faces and the man reaches into his pocket to take out a packet designed especially for this occasion.  
    But it’s empty!  His smile quickly morphs into panic.  He rushes to the pharmacy, but it’s closed.  He needs that packet.  His girlfriend won’t wait forever.  What is he to do?
    And then he sees a friend in a nearby steamed up car, knocks on the window, and his friend gives him what he needs.  

  • Actions speak volumes

    Things are obviously not peaches and cream between Republican Gov. Susana Martinez and her Republican Lt. Gov. John Sanchez.
    You’ll recall that following their election last November, the then governor-elect trundled into Santa Fe to begin the process of setting up her incoming administration.
    Simultaneously, she cut the lieutenant governor-elect out of that process by dispatching him on a jaunt around the state to find out what business folks thought needed to be done to improve the state’s economy.
    It smelled fishy at the time and it still does.

  • Albuquerque merits pondered

    The Democratic U.S. senate primary is likely to be as hard fought and negative as the GOP primary. The two races have much in common.
    Both contests feature a U.S. house member or former member, representing Albuquerque, against an opponent who has won a statewide election.
    In the GOP primary, former Rep. Heather Wilson and Lt. Gov. John Sanchez do battle.
    In the Democratic primary, Rep. Martin Heinrich and state Auditor Hector Balderas face off.
    Wilson represented Albuquerque for more than 10 years, never losing  an election. She left her seat and unsuccessfully ran statewide in the 2008 GOP senate primary to replace Sen. Pete Domenici.

  • Bigger budget cuts for state executive offices

    A good number of state department executive offices took a larger percentage budget cut in this year’s legislative session than did the activity the office directs. This sends a good signal; the executives suffer more than the workers.
    The insight, presented in the continuing quest for better understanding of what state government does, comes from the Legislative Finance Committee’s “2011 Post-Session Review.” See www.nmlegis.gov/lcs/lfc/lfcfiscal.aspx.