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Columns

  • Some folks always seem to land on their feet

    Is the media piling on Jerome Block, Jr. and the Public Regulation Commission? That’s what PRC commissioner Ben Hall says. He notes that in America people are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
    Granted, a day seldom goes by without a new charge against Block making headlines. First I will note that all media are very careful to use words like alleged, charged and faces when talking about accused lawbreakers. It allows company lawyers to sleep better at night.
    There has been one recent exception. For a brief period between jobs, former state public safety chief Darren White was the crime reporter for an Albuquerque television channel.

  • Getting involved matters

    Professionals sometimes make a critical mistake in their careers: they neglect to join their industry associations.
    After investing time and money in a university education or training program, they disregard the value of continued education, advocacy and other assistance that associations provide.
    With so much at stake in these difficult times, why would anyone want to go it alone?
    Associations were created by people who saw the need for banding together to fight for common values and interests affecting their industry.
    While this is still the primary reason most people join, modern associations provide much more than they did in their early days.
    Advocacy. For some, this is the most important service an association provides.

  • Earth's fragile surface

    My friend Sharon Rogers lives in suburban Virginia.
    On Tuesday she and her husband were leaving their house to go to a late lunch when she felt something like thunder sweeping over the neighborhood.
    “I thought it was a military jet going over too low,” she told me on the telephone. “I said to myself, ‘It’s another damn general being buried in Arlington.’”
     It was no jet, but a Richter 5.9 earthquake that struck near Mineral, VA.
    Why, you may ask, should there have been an earthquake in what is supposed to be the seismically placid East Coast?
    Allow me to answer by way of an analogy.

  • Tourism secretary had a plan

    In July as the state’s forests, along with its tourism season, seemed to be going up in smoke, the industry anxiously awaited a move from Santa Fe to counter bad publicity.
    They wondered aloud if Tourism Secretary Monique Jacobson had a game plan.
    She did. Rather than calling more attention to the fires, she took another approach – the “Catch the Kid” campaign.
    Don’t expect the same old thing from Jacobson, a home-grown marketer hired away from Quaker Oats to breathe life into tourism promotion. She grew up in the business – her father’s a hotelier in Taos Ski Valley – and honed her skills out of state. Now she’s back with energy, ideas and infectious enthusiasm.

  • Texas continues to bully New Mexico

    Texas has done it to us again. The state has enjoyed bullying us ever since it came into existence. This time it involves playing by different rules for the collection on drought insurance.
    Last year, as the effects of drought became very obvious, the U.S. Department of Agriculture began touting a new drought insurance policy. Ranchers in New Mexico and Texas jumped at the opportunity.
    Sure enough, both states are experiencing the worst droughts in recorded history. Texas ranchers have received $65 million in payments. New Mexico ranchers have received $2,000 for the $1.5 million they paid in premiums.

  • Some colorful governors

    Who were New Mexico’s most off-beat governors?  My choices are Dave Cargo, Gary Johnson and Clyde Tingley.
    It isn’t difficult for most New Mexicans to remember Gary Johnson. He was governor back just the other side of Bill Richardson.  It often seemed as though Johnson was more interested in his athletic feats than in being governor.
    But Johnson did attend to business, keeping New Mexico’s budget under firm control while pushing his libertarian views of restraining government from interfering in people’s business or private lives.

  • Expect redistricting fireworks

    New Mexico’s 2011 legislative redistricting of state political boundaries promises to be unique in terms of timing, content and politics.
    September special sessions are not unusual in New Mexico but a special session beginning this early in the month is rare.
    Redistricting special sessions normally are confined to that topic plus a few non-controversial items of a truly emergency nature. Not so this year.
    Until 10 years ago, New Mexico’s decennial redistricting sessions were fairly devoid of politics. The 2001 session shows us what likely will happen this year.

  • The more things change

    It’s human nature to cling to the familiar. We look at the way things are and we are comforted by the fact that things have always been this way and they’ll always stay this way.  
    Things that cost more are always better than things that cost less. Chicken soup will always cure any illness. The Earth has always revolved around the Sun.  
    And men have always been smarter than women (just don’t tell my wife I said that.)
    Life just seems to make more sense when we ignore the simple fact that things do change.
    One of my favorite subjects of change is standard units of measure. Take the inch for example. What could be more firmly rooted in history than the common inch?

  • New food emerges

    This summer has been filled with acrimony about the federal budget, with red versus blue politicians squaring off to hurl criticisms at each other.
    For a lot of us, turning on the news has felt like an exercise in masochism.
    Imagine my pleasure, then, at going to a recent meeting where Americans from quite different walks of life were gathered to learn together about something we all need – a nutritious food supply.
    On a recent and beautiful summer morn’ without even a breath of wind, a diverse group of citizens gathered on land belonging to Washington State University.

  • PRC drowning in perpetual angst

    The current Public Regulation Commission difficulties involving Jerome Block, Jr. aren’t the first time that five-member body has been in turmoil.
    In its dozen years of existence, it has been in almost constant disorder. The PRC was created in 1998 to replace a three-member state Corporation Commission that was always in havoc.
    The solution created by the New Mexico Legislature and passed by voters was to replace the Corporation Commission and the appointed Public Utilities Commission with one elected body that would be reined in by various popular “good government” features such as public financing and a ban on campaign donations or other favors from utilities they regulate.