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Columns

  • Much may happen behind scenes

    Susana-PAC has been formed to help elect courageous state and local leaders committed to the types of reforms that will move New Mexico forward.
    We were all rather surprised when former Gov. Bill Richardson kept his political action committee going strong even after he won his second term as governor and dropped out of the race for the Democratic presidential nomination.
    But now Gov. Susana Martinez has taken the idea a step further. First she used leftover PAC money from her campaign to buy radio ads and make robocalls to promote her legislative agenda.
    Now she has created a second PAC to help fund state and local candidates who agree with her issues. What are those issues?

  • Germany takes first big step toward renewables

    Everybody remembers where they were the day of JFK’s assassination and the day the towers fell in New York City.
    Some of us also remember where we were in March 1979 when the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant suffered mechanical failures.
    At the first news, a PNM coworker and I dashed down the street to read the reports clacking out of an Associated Press teletype machine. PNM was and still is part owner of a nuclear power plant.
    The furor decimated the nuclear industry with plant cancellations and new regulatory hurdles, and it was particularly painful for New Mexico. Grants, the uranium capital, slipped from boom to bust as mine after mine closed until they were all shuttered.

  • Death by mushrooms

    It’s a classic plot device of murder mysteries: an evil killer slips poisonous mushrooms into the frying pan of an unsuspecting victim who dies an agonizing death.
    But in real life, poisonous fungi typically sicken and occasionally kill people for quite different reasons.
    Recently I learned a lot about what can go wrong in the world of mushrooms from Dr. Denis Benjamin, a medical doctor who is also a fungi and poison expert.
    As the weather improves over so much of the nation, this seems like a good time to review how you can avoid having yourself or members of your family join the ranks of those who eat the wrong mushrooms.

  • What’s government really supposed to do?

    Some things are outside the proper scope of government. That much is clear to me.
    But like what? Specific examples are easy. At the federal level, there are ethanol subsidies, nearly everything that happens in the bedroom and specification of the graphics for street signs in neighborhoods. For the latter, see my post at www.capitolreportnm.com.
    At the state level, I’ve been making suggestions for a couple of years in the largely unsuccessful hope of inspiring what is now the Martinez administration. One is closing, for cost reasons, the El Camino Real International Heritage Center, located four miles off Interstate 25 in the middle of nowhere.

  • Take action right now

    A fellow who thought of himself as a political reformer approached a friend of mine, a former legislator, one January to ask for support for a large group that planned to visit to the Roundhouse during the legislative session.  
    “Whom do you plan to talk to?” my friend asked.  
    “Everyone,” the man replied.   
    “What do you plan to talk about?” my friend asked.  
    “Everything.”  
    In other words, advocacy for general principles, not specific bills.
    Whoops! Bad plan, bad timing. The gentleman was wasting his time and proposed to waste other people’s time as well.

  • Politicians eye higher office

    For more than eight years, the executive has been running for something else.
    Those were the approximate words of Republican state Senator Clint Harden as he fretted over the entry of Lt. Gov. John Sanchez into the GOP race for the U.S. Senate.
    Harden thinks Sanchez should resign because of his important role in the redistricting process. The lieutenant governor presides over the senate and breaks tie votes.
    Harden says Sanchez will be distracted from his duties. If Sanchez were to resign, the state would be without a lieutenant governor. The duty of presiding over the senate would be assumed by the president pro tempore, who is Sen. Tim Jennings, a Democrat.

  • Media impact on children and teens

    This may not surprise most people: children and teenagers in the U.S. spend more time engaged with various forms of media than any other single activity except sleeping.
    A recent study of 2,000 youth aged eight to 18, found that they spend on average seven hours with media each day. The “media” referred to includes TV, movies, video and computer games, the Internet, music lyrics and videos, magazines, books, advertisements and, yes, even the newspaper you hold in your hand.

  • How towns promoted themselves back in the day

    When a friend gave me a stack of old New Mexico Magazines, I dove in.
    The articles were entertaining enough, but the ads were the real attention grabbers. After World War II, communities didn’t have many ways to promote themselves, so they touted their charms in the pages of the state’s magazine.
    Some wanted tourists: “Ruidoso, where outdoor fun follows the seasons around the year.”
    Others wanted residents: “Roswell, New Mexico, A Good Place to Visit – A Better Place to Live” and “Hobbs, The City with an Assured Future.”

  • Kids today: Idongedit

    Idongedit. It’s my students’ favorite word. You have to let it drip out of your mouth when you say it. Idongedit. And when you say it, it helps if you slowly tilt your head sideways, then look upwards and stare at the ceiling.  
    Anyway, that seems to be the correct protocol.
    It’s been a while since I’ve spewed out a tirade about the declining math skills in our country.  
    With the school year behind us, I thought now would be as good as time as any to rant (as if I need a special time to do that?).
    Okay, so now here’s one of my standard “somewhat related” stories.  

  • Developing the economy is more than recruiting

    We whine about being a federal colony, but, by God, protect those federal laboratories.
    Such ideas are what masquerades for deep thinking about the New Mexico economy.
    Recent presentations from Gov. Susana Martinez and Jon Barela, secretary of the Economic Development Department, have considered economic development.
    From both, the only specific was recruiting companies to the state.
    Recruiting is good and necessary, but for that to be the only topic massively misses the point.
    Recruiting companies, which is what “economic development” is about, is just part of developing the economy.
    Further, recruiting companies only matters at the margin for New Mexico’s 870,000 (or so) employees.