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Columns

  • Martinez testing her powers

    Perhaps it is inexperience. Or perhaps she’s simply insensitive to the give and take required in a system of state government where the authority to govern is apportioned between three separate branches of government, legislative, executive and judicial.
    Whatever it is, New Mexico’s neophyte Gov. Susana Martinez’s use of the line-item veto to accomplish legislative ends she sought but failed to achieve at the 2011 legislature has key state lawmakers on both sides of the aisle talking about hauling her into court for exceeding her authority under the state Constitution.
    There have been a number of instances where her veto practices have struck seasoned observers as constitutionally dubious.

  • NM eases through financial crisis

    State government has gotten through its financial crisis reasonably intact. Revenue is showing some growth. There may be a little money left after the 2013 session of the Legislature. Huge challenges loom.
    This was the overall message from David Abbey, director of the Legislative Finance Committee, to the conference of the New Mexico Tax Research Institute. Abbey spoke in Santa Fe May 12 to about 75 of the state’s tax and policy professionals

  • Be prepared if 'The Big One' hits

    As events in Japan this past March showed us, Big Ones really do happen. Richter 9 is about as large as they come, an event so enormous it takes away the breath of even a geologist like myself.
    It’s no comfort to think that quakes of that same general size are likely along the western boundaries of the Lower 48 and also in the region where Missouri, Kentucky and Tennessee come together. In short, major quakes here in the U.S. simply must be expected.  
    And there are other “big ones,” too. As we’ve seen this spring, tornadoes and flooding are most unfortunately a natural part of our world. And electrical outages sometimes shape the man-made landscape in which we live.

  • Insurance that doesn't insure

    We New Mexicans dearly love to take advantage of one another’s ignorance. It’s how many of us make a living.
    Title insurance, for example.  You are required to purchase title insurance when you buy a house. Since you probably buy a house once or twice in your lifetime, it’s understandable that you are not an expert on the legalities.
    You’re probably relying on your real estate agent and the other professionals who are supposed to be acting in your interest.  
    You may have thought that you were buying an insurance policy that would, well, insure you.

  • Don't let wild cats get comfy

    A decade or so ago, when my children were toddlers, a neighbor asked me why I let  my children play in our backyard on Walnut Canyon.
    She felt they were in grave danger of being attacked by mountain lions.
    I had already lived and hiked in Los Alamos for a long time by then so I told her that i believed the benefits of outdoor play were greater than the risk.
    A year or two later, there was a story in the news about a jogger in California who was mauled by a mountain lion.

  • Small cuts - big consequences

    A pretty young woman in a Harley Davidson tank top is describing to me in fine, enthusiastic detail the history of White Oaks, the one-time mining town and now satellite community of Carrizozo. She’s holding forth in the No Scum Allowed Saloon, where she works.
    “I just love working in White Oaks, because the history is all around us,” she said.
    I wanted to hug her. As it happened, a friend and I were returning from the annual meeting of the Historical Society of New Mexico held this year in Ruidoso.
    Looking at its graying membership, I had wondered who will carry the torch – who will care about history?

  • Council decision questioned

    If you’ve got it, flaunt it. Another incredibly bad decision from council on the Los Alamos Municipal Building.  At a time when most state agencies are struggling for funding, including the schools, the council decides to spend $25MM+ on a huge municipal building, at the same time replacing tax-generating apartments with parking.  It’s hard to see how this decision could have negatively impacted more people  and organizations.

  • So we want a mayor...

    It was an interesting piece in the Los Alamos Monitor on the machinations of the Charter Review Committee “that doesn’t want a mayor but would prefer a super county council chairman.”  This looks like a “weak mayor” form of government but would not subject the position to a vote of the people.  The mayor would be a strong council chair who would be chosen for us by the council.
    This sounds a bit elitist and it may well be since the CRC consists of former council chairmen and longtime members of county boards and commissions. This type of position would be beholden to the council members and not directly to the electorate.

  • Waste commitment needed

    About five years ago, I was introduced to the concept of an “energy corridor,” more of an “energy circle” in truth, centering on Hobbs and including Eddy County and Texas communities such as Andrews and Midland.
    Much has happened since. An example is the bold, three-dimensional signs at the Hobbs city limits. Corporate lodging has appeared. North of the Marriott Fairfield is a large apartment development, addressing the desperate housing shortage of 2006.
    “EnergyPlex” has become a Lea County trademark.

  • Living life on a different clock

     It’s obvious that miners focus on the highest concentration of gold or copper they can find. And geologists like me are always on the lookout for unusually high concentrations of metals in veins and rocks.
    We go where the best stuff is, and make a living helping to bring it to where it’s used in everything from the lead and zinc in your car battery to gold crowns for your teeth.  
    I know the geological perspective about resources pretty well. But recently I had the chance to think about how some very different actors approach the question of the raw materials they need.