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Columns

  • Some lines just can't be crossed

    A few weeks back, there was some discussion in the paper about the N-word.
    Earlier this year, the NFL began formal discussions on whether the N-word should be banned, and if so what penalty should be levied against a player for using it.
    African-American Richard Sherman, football cornerback for the Seattle Seahawks, thinks banning the N-word is in itself racist. He noted, “It’s weird they’re targeting one specific word. Why wouldn’t all curse words be banned then?”
    Sherman added that when spoken by an African-American and pronounced ending in “-a”, it is not racist.  In fact, in that situation, it’s considered a term of endearment.
    Term of endearment?  Harry Carlson, another African American NFL player, but from a generation prior, disagrees. He challenged younger players who use the “-a” version to “go visit your grandfather and use it on him. See how endeared he feels!”

  • N.M. needs new ideas for job growth

    Prompted by a large decline in federal spending, New Mexicans are now engaged in a healthy and useful dialogue about how best to diversify our economy.
    Think New Mexico would like to offer two ideas that we believe could propel private sector job growth in our state — and that gubernatorial and legislative candidates from both parties should be able to embrace.
    Both ideas were advanced in Think New Mexico’s 2013 policy report, Addressing the Jobs Crisis. The first would establish a post-performance incentive that would reward companies only after they create high-paying jobs or make major capital investments. It is designed to encourage existing business to expand in New Mexico and new businesses to relocate to the state.
    Six years ago, Utah, which now ranks second in the nation for job growth, became the first state to move to an economic development strategy based on post-performance incentives.
    Utah’s post-performance incentive has led to the creation of 25,546 high-paying jobs from blue chip companies like Boeing, eBay and Proctor and Gamble. That is in addition to $5.16 billion in new capital investment and $1.62 billion in new state revenues since the incentive was established in 2008. (Several weeks ago Idaho became the second state to enact this sort of post- performance incentive).

  • Opinion: Justice still awaits family of woman slain by cop

    Just off the heels of the Albuquerque Police Department’s evaluations by the Department of Justice, the family of a woman, who was a victim of a state police officer’s excessive violence, rallied together April 11 in to get justice for a life that was cut short.
    Jeanette Anaya, 39, was driving along a Santa Fe street Nov. 7, when State Police Officer Oliver Wilson attempted to stop her for making a “wobbly” right turn. Anaya did not stop and Wilson gave pursuit. Dashboard camera show the pursuit and the police car slam into Anaya’s vehicle. Wilson then got out of his cruiser, ran along side of Anaya’s vehicle and fired 16 shots — two of them killing Anaya. There are conflicting stories on whether the passenger in Anaya’s car was injured, at least physically.
    I knew Jeanette and her family well. From what it seems to me is, she panicked for whatever reason and fled in the direction of her home. When the officer hit her car, the camera shows (at least to me) that she is still trying to get away, not run the cop over as he said.

  • Transparency: Easy to say, harder to do

    Transparency is hard. Just ask the governor, who is now learning, as her predecessors did, that one of the sacrifices of her job is privacy.
    In the latest skirmish of the transparency wars, Gov. Susana Martinez called out a Democratic lawmaker for using a legislative agency to dig dirt on a political opponent.
    Some perspective: The Slurpy hit the fan last month after the governor tried to restrict the Legislature’s two biggest watchdogs, the Legislative Finance Committee and the Legislative Education Study Committee, by requiring them to go through her chief of staff for information. A torrent of criticism from the media and both parties forced the governor to uncuff the committees.
    This happened just after Sunshine Week, a media event that reminds elected officials to keep their cards on the table and their decisions out in the open.
    Coverage of this controversy was interesting. The Albuquerque Journal, which has been so blatantly pro-Martinez as to sacrifice its credibility, blasted the administration for this move. Even red-county newspapers have noted the long fall from grace of the governor who campaigned on transparency. (To be fair, the Legislature has its own transparency blind spots, but that’s another column.)
    We’re seeing more public records challenges.

  • Reining in all prom expenses

    If you’ve got teenagers, you already know how expensive high school can be. Besides food, clothing and school supplies, a whole host of extracurricular activities are competing for a share of your wallet — even as you frantically try to save for college and your own retirement.
    One of the biggest expenses you’ll encounter is prom. Gone are the days of borrowing dad’s suit and crepe paper streamers in the school gym: Today’s proms are often more like a Hollywood premiere with limousines, designer gowns and swanky after-parties.
    I’m not kidding. According to a recent nationwide survey conducted by Visa Inc., the average U.S. family with a high school student attending the prom expects to spend $978 this year. Surprisingly, that’s down 14 percent from last year’s survey average of $1,139 per family.
    A few other interesting statistics the survey uncovered:
    • On average, parents plan to pay for about 56 percent of prom costs, with their kids picking up the remaining 44 percent.
    • Parents in lower income brackets (less than $50,000 a year) plan to spend an average of $733 — a considerable share of the family budget. Thankfully, that’s down significantly from last year’s $1,245 estimate.

  • Supremes take another whack at campaign reforms

    “This deeply flawed Supreme Court decision continues down a path that equates money with speech and corporations with people.”
    Thus did New Mexico’s United States Sen. Martin Heinrich’s react to the high court’s McCutcheon v. FEC 5-4 decision earlier this month that pounded another nail in the coffin of this nation’s campaign finance reform laws.
    Taken in tandem with the court’s 2010 ruling Citizens United (also by a 5-4 decision), practically all significant laws passed in recent years calculated to rein in the billion dollar orgy of campaign money with which corporations and big moneyed interests contrive to buy and sell influence in Congress and state Houses across the land are kaput.
    As presently composed, five of the nine members of whom the Supreme Court consists are rigidly conservative, as that term is generally construed today. That same group of five justices is routinely activist, bent on interpreting the laws they are called upon to adjudicate in ways other than originally intended and sometimes even contrary to intentions.
    It is this predilection of the current court majority that Sen. Heinrich critiques when he decries the equating of money with speech and corporations with people.

  • Poor economy makes people leave N.M.

    The worst state economy in the nation is right here in New Mexico. Albuquerqueans are very good at divorce. People are leaving the state.
    These things go together.
    Having the worst state economy means tying Kentucky for the nation’s leading wage-job loss percentage between February 2013 and February 2014, according to the Labor Market Review, the newsletter of the state Department of Workforce Solutions released April 4, late in that day after potential readers had gone home. DWS buried the news —it’s an election year, after all — leaving it at the bottom (where else?) of a table on page 16.
    We lost 0.2 percent of our wage jobs, or 1,900, over the year. Virginia was the only other state losing jobs. The losses concentrated in Albuquerque, which reported 4,500 fewer jobs, a 1.2 percent drop.
    Maybe it was newly divorced people leaving town.
    Men’s Health magazine ranked divorce propensity in 100 cities. Albuquerque placed 99th, followed only by Charleston, W.Va. Joe Queenan, described as “a humorist” by the Wall Street Journal, which hosts his column, called the bottom 10 “blighted burgs.”

  • Pet Talk: Alternatives to debarking surgery

    Debarking surgery is quite the controversy in pet news today. Is it inhumane? Do the possible risks outweigh the perceived benefits? These are viable questions to ask when considering debarking surgery to control your dog’s chronic barking. However, with April being the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month, it is also important to recognize the numerous available non-surgical alternatives that are said to be safer and even more effective by veterinarians and trainers alike.
    As decipherable from the name, debarking surgery is the act of surgically disabling your dog from producing a loud, barking sound. “Although the procedure is called ‘debarking,’ it does not result in the inability for the dog to produce any sound at all,” said Dr. Kelley Thieman, a clinical associate professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. “Instead, the dog has a muffled quality to its bark, and in time could even regain the ability to bark.”  

  • The sky is the limit

    At the end of World War II, our nation was broke. The money owed by our government exceeded the nation’s GDP (Gross Domestic Product) by 20 percent. We literally owed more than we produced in an entire year.
     And yet times were good. The nation found itself in an era of prosperity, and the National Debt was a topic of rare discussion.
     You would think that enduring a debt of $259 billion would paralyze a rational thinker. But society is oddly capable of burying concerns like this along with the tens of millions killed, and moving forward with its focus on commerce and industry.
     If people had in fact been more conscious of the debt, they may not have actually minded. For you see, the nation was growing (both in population and in power) and the National Debt was shrinking.
     Well, for a few years anyway. From 1945-1948, the National Debt declined to $252 billion. Back then, people laughed when politicians boasted of the debt’s decline, noting that a 7 percent decrease was nothing to brag about. But today having the debt shrink by 7 percent would be earth shattering news.

  • Priorities regarding energy independence

    If the goal is “energy independence,” what issues should be a priority in America?
    Recently, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) sent out a “2014 Priority Issues Survey” which contained a section on energy.
    Section VII, asks: “Which of the following will help America achieve energy independence?” It offers five options that do little to move America toward energy independence — which isn’t even a realistic goal given the fungible nature of liquid fuels. Additionally, most of the choices given on the DCCC survey actually increase energy costs for all Americans — serving as a hidden tax — but hurt those on the lower end of the socio-economic scale the most. The proposals hurt the very people the party purports to champion.
    The survey asks respondents to “check all that apply.”
    • Raising gas mileage standards for all new cars and trucks
    If it were technologically possible to build a cost-effective truck, or SUV that had the size and safety Americans want and that got 54.5 mpg, that manufacturer would have the car-buying public beating a path to its door. Every car company would love to be the one to corner that market — but it is not easy, it probably won’t be possible, and it surely won’t be cheap.