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Columns

  • 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.

  • Sheriffs Office may be eliminated

    In recent weeks, it has come to light that some members of the Los Alamos County Council would like to pursue modifications to the city-county charter to do away with the position of Los Alamos County Sheriff.   
    The motives behind such a move are unclear.  
    The County Sheriffs Office has received written notification of this action.  Thus far, we have not seen a publicized announcement of the council’s intentions in this matter.  
    The county sheriff is an elected position. If the council decides to move forward, one would hope that it is done through a referendum and voted upon by the general public.  
    This editorial is to alert voters and help educate the public.

  • Just a Wag 06-24-11

    Business leaders get toughened up

    A group of eight local business owners, managers and members of the Los alamos Chamber of Commerce spent all week at a “Business Bootcamp” in Denver.
    The bootcamp is designed to provide participants with  intensive workshops led by successful entrepreneurs and experts.

    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.

  • State employee roles decreasing

    Last fall, both gubernatorial candidates promised state employees “no furloughs and no layoffs.”
    We could be pretty sure there would be no furloughs. The furloughs in 2010 were wildly unpopular and, more importantly, they were a budget-cutting tool of Gov. Bill Richardson. Both candidates were running away from him.
    At the conclusion of the 2011 legislature, Gov. Susana Martinez and legislative leaders proclaimed the budget that was adopted would require no furloughs and no layoffs.
    But layoffs already have begun. They sometimes are called reductions in force, or RIFs, but the results are the same.
    On June 10, 44 state employees were told to clean out their desks. They will be paid through the end of the month.

  • Economic Development 101

    It’s another beautiful day in the Land of Enchantment.
    This is the way Bob Hoffman, the Dean of Economic Development in New Mexico, opened all his meetings.
    If your skies aren’t blue, and your view of the horizon is hazy with wild-fire smoke, you might not agree, but Bob would convince you that beneath the smaze (yes, that’s a word), it’s still beautiful.
    Bob Hoffman, who created jobs across the state at times when it seemed impossible, has passed on, but his words are still gold.
    Bob had a passion for New Mexico almost from the moment he arrived at Holloman Air Force Base in 1950. His early career in radio broadcast and marketing gave him sales skills; that and his enthusiasm made him a force of nature.

  • Helping a billion bovines

    You and I have our challenges and some real worries, too. There are bills to pay and doctors to visit, to say nothing of mulling over those strange sounds coming from the rear of the car.
    But I confess, I thought the life of a cow was rather placid. Eating and sleeping, I would have guessed, pretty much summed up the existence of the more than one billion bovines that share the planet with us.
    But as I’ve recently learned, both beef cattle and dairy cows often have trouble just catching their breath.