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Columns

  • 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.

  • Real estate markets still lag

    Aztec has New Mexico’s most affordable four-bedroom, two-bath homes. In real estate lingo, “most affordable” means “cheapest.”
    Four-bedroom, two-bath homes cost an average of $178,850 in Aztec. Nationally there are 527 real estate markets with cheaper, er, more affordable homes.
    The nation’s lowest priced four-bedroom, two-bath homes are in Niagara Falls, N.Y., where the price is $60,820. All these homes are single-family detached homes, as opposed to condominiums or townhouses. As shorthand, I’ll call them FB/2B homes.

  • Government service in tough times

    In a certain office of New Mexico government, a friend tells me, three clerical assistants work with a group of professionals. One clerk is competent and hardworking.  
    The other two are incompetent and unreliable. All the professionals try to snag the good employee for their projects.
    She works much harder than her peers but is paid the same.  
    Eventually she will get tired of this and will either stop working so hard or find another job.
    Another professional in state government describes her frustrations with management. She has to travel around the state to do her job, but because of budget constraints she’s not allowed to stay overnight.

  • Video games aren’t so bad after all

    Next time you’re tempted to lecture your kids about wasting too much time on video games, first check out which games they’re playing – it turns out they may actually be learning important life lessons.
    Much research has been done on whether online games and other interactive educational tools can teach people how to make better decisions regarding personal finances, including an exciting new study called “Improving American’s Financial Literacy: Educational Tools at Work,” by Lisa A. Donnini, PhD, KayAnn Miller and Kitch Walker.

  • Why make a criminal case out of it

    How is the state Department of Public Safety going to find the time and money to investigate the 64,000 possible cases of voter fraud referred to it by New Mexico Secretary of State Dianna Duran?
    With state budgets being slashed by the last several legislative sessions, doesn’t it seem logical that the state police Special Investigations Division has more important cases to handle?
    For years, Republicans have worried that Democrats win elections by cheating.
    The cheating involves disappearing ballots, ballot boxes that suddenly appear when they are needed or long lines of voters at the polls, with a dollar bill or half-pint of whiskey in their pockets.

  • The art of publicity

    Professional publicists recommend press releases to deliver business news to the media for broadcast to potential customers.
    Publicity of this kind is free and can often be done by a business owner or someone who works for her company.
    If the media publish the story, the business stands to gain the goodwill of existing customers and attract new ones.
    The result can be increased sales at a cost of only the time it takes to write and distribute the release.
    But the average newsroom receives hundreds of e-mails and faxes every day, only a fraction of which are published.
    Competition for print space and airtime means press releases need to be creative, factual and informative.

  • Anthony Casino far from sure thing

    The Jemez casino at Anthony doesn’t look nearly as sure today as it did a month ago when the Bureau of Indian Affairs issued a very rosy draft environmental impact study of the proposal.
    Evidently the draft was prepared by the Jemez Pueblo for the BIA’s consideration. The negative side of the proposal was not mentioned. But now it is coming out.
    The Jemez Pueblo wants to build a casino at Anthony, south of Las Cruces to attract the large population in the El Paso and Juarez area, which don’t have casinos.
    Jemez has the misfortune of not being located on a major highway. So it has petitioned the BIA to allow it to locate a casino on land it would purchase almost 300 miles to the south.