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Columns

  • First responders need protection

    Most Americans were heartened a few months ago, when Congress enacted and President Obama signed — with considerable fanfare ­— a law providing financial help for people who got sick after the fall of the World Trade Center in 2001.
    Firefighters, police officers and others involved in the massive cleanup have suffered with diseases traceable to the horrendous toxic exposures they endured.
    Special legislation was needed for the civic employees, in part because of the long time lag between the exposure and the disease.
    Statutes vary from state to state, but in general, occupational disease coverage under workers’ compensation law is limited by narrow definitions and time limits that would make it difficult to apply to these cases.

  • There’s no political glory in making hard decisions

    Sen. Bill Sapien was defending his bill to move money from higher education to early education, and the Senate Finance Committee wasn’t buying.
    “We’re all trying to skin the cat for early childhood education,” said Republican Sen. Sue Wilson Beffort.
    “The problem is,” added Democrat Sen. Jerry Ortiz y Pino, “We’re all skinning the same cat.”
    I like to make fun of political cliches, but I can also appreciate the power of a phrase, however overused, to communicate, especially in a session as charged and raw as this one.  We heard a lot about “stepping up to the plate,” “kicking the can down the road,” and balancing the budget on somebody’s back.

  • Alright, here we go again

    The news report spilled out like a cow chip throwing contest in my living room.  
    “A coalition of American and European forces launched a military campaign Saturday to drive Moammar Gadhafi from power, bombing Libyan targets by air and sea in the first phase of the largest international military effort since the Iraq war.”
    Coalition.  These days, that’s just another word for “Fight Club of the Week.”  

  • Knowing when a contractor's needed

    Do I need a contractor? Well, that depends. If you are a homeowner and want to work on your own home, you can perform that work under a Homeowner’s Permit. State law allows you to act as your own general contractor in this case by obtaining a homeowner’s permit. Under that permit you can do any general construction that you want by either performing the labor yourself or contracting out various aspects of your project.  

  • People are speaking up

    The residents of Los Alamos County made a clear statement that they are ready, willing and able to assist in the creation of a sustainable community.  
    The Town Hall held on March 5 had around 50 attendees that generated an array of innovative and actionable ideas.  While the coffee pot ran dry about half way through the event, the ideas kept flowing.

  • Dollar saved can be yours

    Those of us who have been around the block a few times will remember the last time gasoline hit $4 per gallon a new industry sprang up.
    Drivers could buy magnets to attach to fuel lines to allegedly boost a car’s gas mileage by 20 or even 30 percent.
    The devices didn’t work, but the brisk market for them reflected the pain we were feeling at the pump.
    The Rock Doc confidently predicts the current spike in gas prices will lead to yet another round of activity by the charlatans we saw last time.

  • 10 items or less and other public education failures

    You’re standing in the grocery store “10 items or less” line and the person in front of you clearly has more than 10 items in his or her basket. Do you:
    •Mumble under your breath about the injustice of it all?
    • Love them unconditionally?
    •Think, “What the *@##! They’ve got 21 items in their basket. Can’t they count?” and recognize that our public school systems are responsible for dumbing down our math skills?
    •Feel guilty about placing the blame on math teachers and realize the problem is the failure of reading teachers?
    •Set your basket down and leave?

  • State budget ripple effect

    We complain that they aren’t competent. But now we have reason to worry that there aren’t enough of them.
    Government employees, that is — specifically, the front-line regulators who are charged with keeping us safe and keeping our institutions honest. This is an effect of the looming cuts in the state budget.
    Construction inspectors are in short supply, a construction industry executive told me.
    Budget shortfalls have led several New Mexico municipalities to let go of their own inspectors because they can turn over inspection duties to the state.

  • Spaceport: Economic and education engine

    As I begin my new position as the executive director of the New Mexico Spaceport Authority, I anticipate an exciting time ahead for New Mexico as the commercial space industry grows by leaps and bounds.
    My vision for Spaceport America is to create the world’s premier commercial space-launch facility, providing first-class customer service and attracting visitors from around the world.
    We view Spaceport America as an engine to help stimulate New Mexico’s economy by creating new jobs and to motivate and inspire our students to achieve greatness in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

  • Successful roundabout example exists

    As an author published in the area of traffic safety and a former Transportation Board member, I would feel remiss in not pointing out numerous errors in Joel Williams Thursday “ViewPoint.”
    What has surprised me in the discussion of local roundabouts is the obvious, successful, example that already exists.  I was a Transportation Board member when the alternatives for the intersection at North Mesa and San Ildefonso were discussed.