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Columns

  • Local T-Board at a glance

    After reading some very imaginative interpretations of what the county’s transportation board is, isn’t or should be, I feel compelled as recently elected board chair to try and dispel any misinformation about what the board is and what it is intended to be.
    The Los Alamos Transportation Board is a volunteer organization.  Like each board and commission, the job of the TB is to work with staff, review issues in the interest of the particular board, take public comment and make recommendations to council.  
    These recommendations do not have to be a reflection of public sentiment — the boards have the independence to act in what the board feels is giving its best advice.

  • Not so merry-go-round

    Razor blades are safe.  They are safe to safely use and their safe safety has been proven safe for safe use.  Safety people are safely using safety razor safety blades safely.  
    With safe safety razors, we can safely enjoy safe productive safe lives safe safe safe safe.
    Wow. Razor blades really must be safe! Welcome to Marketing 501.  
    A common technique used in presentations; repetitive repetitive repetitive reinforcement to drive drive drive into your skull the belief that something is true.  Say it enough times and it must be true.  
    And so it was with the presentation given by the California-based consulting firm at the county council meeting April 7.  

  • The language of deficit reduction

    A couple of weeks ago, after Wisconsin Republican Congressman Paul Ryan, chairman of the House Budget Committee, unveiled the GOP’s budget proposal for fiscal year 2012, New Mexico’s 3rd District Democratic Congressman Ben Ray Lujan took to the House floor with some thoughts on Ryan’s offering.
    To characterize Ryan’s budget plan as controversial is to understate the case. Still, even some of the staunchest critics--in Congress, in the media and beyond—have deigned to tip their hats to the Budget Committee chairman for his ambitious, if unrelentingly doctrinaire, approach to whittling federal spending by $4 trillion over the next ten years.

  • Martinez gets mixed grades

    Gov. Susana Martinez entered a room packed with Navajo leaders from New Mexico, her first such meeting.
    As each person spoke about needs, the governor took notes. She listened, she was gracious, and her visitors left feeling they were heard.
    I give the new governor an A for finessing the meeting alone, with no underling to take notes. Imagine her male predecessors doing that!
    Martinez has gotten through her first 100 days with a few wins, a few losses and a few questionable decisions.
    Her report card would include most of the letters, plus “needs improvement.”
    Let’s begin with the A’s. While Martinez wasn’t a commanding presence during her first legislative session, her message certainly was.

  • The glue that binds us

    We are a society of laws. We have to be. Our laws provide the glue holding us together. Laws are just the beginning. The institutions of society are the rest.
    By institutions I mean enforcement of the laws, respect for the central place of private property, effective education and a working health care system.
    On the latter, I spent time recently with my mother completing an 82-page admissions document required by the facility where she is receiving care. The waste in this document boggles the mind.
    My topics today, however, are laws that work with leavening from the delightfully named “stupid factor.”
    Abandoned mines offer continuing application of the stupid factor, especially when young men and alcohol are around.

  • Local banter out does Middle East experience

    I have just returned from three weeks in the Middle East (Egypt and Israel). Not one problem — no gun shots nor riots. Peaceful and quiet; unlike the banter over the Trinity Drive reconstruct I left in Los Alamos!
    The Egyptians were especially happy to see us and treated us like kings and queens — well, at least like the elite. Loved the way they turn three-lane highways into seven lane ones with cars going every which way when the traffic load gets heavy. Looked like they were braiding hair. Made me think of a congested two-lane Trinity Drive.
    Since I was gone, I did not attend the April 7 meeting on the Trinity Drive reconstruct. Here are a few comments I would have made.

  • N.M. 502 needs four lanes

    The two lane Trinity Drive preferred option presented by the MIG  consultants at the recent Transportation Board meeting should be ejected by our county councilors as being both unworkable in practice and way too expensive for even a town so well funded as Los  Alamos.
    Imagine the daily rush hour traffic if Trinity is narrowed down to only two lanes. According to the official traffic measurements, which were done for this study, there are routinely peak traffic rates of 1,500 vehicles/hr with some weekdays seeing 1,900 vehicles/hr during lunch hour.
    Most of this traffic is westbound in the morning and  eastbound in the afternoon rush hours while at lunch hour the traffic is  pretty evenly divided between east and west.  

  • Sharing the wealth

    Last fall, after a dismal tourist season for Red River, film crews arrived to make “This Must Be the Place.” They filled hotels and restaurants and boosted gross receipts, which saved Red River, according to Rep. Bobby Gonzales.
    Well, maybe it didn’t save the town, but “it certainly helped,” says a local business woman, who supports the industry and the incentives that keep movie makers here. “It was a big influx of cash.”
    Going into the legislative session, film incentives loomed as an issue, but the governor and the industry were both making conciliatory noises, so it was surprising to see incentives become a lightning rod. Instead of rational discussion, we got emotional bombast.

  • U.S. is not responsible for the mess in Mexico

    Like most Americans, I don’t have any idea what the administration is doing in Libya.  As a faithful liberal said recently, “Who knows what he’s thinking about Qaddafi. I do know this: Barack Obama has launched more cruise missiles and ordered more air strikes than any Nobel Peace Prize winner in history.”
    It’s more than fair to say that this administration’s foreign policy is one big shambles, a giant pinball machine-like strategy with the United States caroming from one shiny bumper to another.
    There are apparently no bumpers for Mexico. More than 7,000 miles away from Tripoli but mucho closer to you and your family, Mexico is in chaos.

  • Favorite day for politicians

    On April 3, Google’s main search page commemorated the 119th anniversary of the first documented ice cream sundae.  
    Every day commemorates something, but few things are as important as that famous misspelled confection.  
    However, I’d like to take some time discussing lesser known (and equally important) events.
    If you’re from New England, or know some fanatic from New England (but aren’t they all?) then you probably know that April 18 (third Monday in April) is “Patriots’ Day.”  Observed in Massachusetts and Maine, it commemorates the Battle of Lexington and Concord.