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Columns

  • Economic dynamics: Create jobs, lose thousands, gain few

    We speak of the “New Mexico economy” as one thing, a monolith of sorts. It is not. Nor is the U.S. economy one thing. For the nation, though, statistical constructs such as gross domestic product provide an indication.
    A new book, “GDP: A Brief but Affectionate History,” by Diane Coyle, tells the tale. The nation is big enough that the numbers mean something, however imperfect. But for New Mexico, there just aren’t enough numbers. Our population is modest (2.1 million) and dispersed.
    The conventional wisdom tries to stick with considering the state as a whole. Major exceptions exist. The north-south divide dates to well before statehood, the new “New Mexico: A History” reports. “Southern New Mexico’s resentment of northern control…. caused various abortive secession efforts…” And I thought the problem was the force field anchored between the rest stop halfway between Socorro and Truth or Consequences.

  • Term loans, credit can finance business expenses

    When a business needs to buy expensive equipment and doesn’t have the operating cash to buy it outright — or doesn’t want to commit liquid assets to such a big-ticket item — the owner will often approach a bank for financing. The same is true when a business has cash flow shortfalls because its inflows and outflows are out of sync.
    Most banks have commercial lending departments that can offer the business a loan to finance equipment purchases or cover short-term obligations. Two of the most common loan types are term loans and revolving lines of credit. An experienced commercial banker can help the business decide which loan is most appropriate for its situation.
    Term loans
    With term loans, the bank advances a specific amount of money and requires the business to pay it back over a defined period. Such a loan is typically structured with the bank contributing 75 percent of the cost and the business committing 25 percent, though the percentages can vary depending on the type of equipment being purchased.
    The bank sets the maximum repayment schedule to be slightly less than the useful life of the equipment. For example, if the business wanted a new machine that should last for seven years, the bank may offer a five-year term to ensure the loan is paid off before the collateral has zero value.

  • Saying so long to departing House members

    You’re leaving? Seeyalaterbye.
    News coverage of the 10 House members bowing out has had that quality to it. In the world of political junkies and journalism, there’s no room for sentiment.
    Instantly, speculation was rampant about who will move to what power position and how it will affect the political balance, a subject I’ll leave to those who know it better while I indulge in a little sentiment.
    Rep. Tom Taylor, former Minority Leader, will be known for his irrepressible sense of humor, a valuable commodity in the Roundhouse. House Minority Leader Don Bratton could frame the big picture, apply his engineer’s logic, and keep discussions civil.
    The long-serving Chairman of the House Appropriations and Finance Committee, Rep. Kiki Saavedra, will be remembered for soliciting Republican input into the budget process (his predecessor didn’t) and making people comfortable with the process. House Majority Leader Rick Miera was a consummate public servant with a command of facts.
    The other six include three Democrats (Edward Sandoval, Ernest Chavez and Nate Cote) and three Republicans (Anna Crook, Bill Gray and Jim White).

  • Pondering Gary King

    Front-runners don’t finish last. They may finish second in an initial trial run or straw poll. They might even come in third in a crowded field of candidates. But they simply do not finish last.
    So what is Gary King thinking?
    Just over a week ago, New Mexico’s attorney general finished dead last at the state Democratic Party’s preprimary convention where five Democrats seeking their party’s 2014 gubernatorial nomination battled it out for a place on the June 3 primary ballot.
    Despite that drubbing, two days later King let it be known that he intends to stay in the race.
    By law (if not always in practice) a candidate must emerge from one of these preprimary conventions with at least 20 percent of the delegates’ votes if he or she is to make it into his or her party’s primary election. Failing that, the candidate must go out and gather additional petition signatures to run in the primary.
    But, according to the attorney general, since he went into the Democrats’ recent convention with more than enough petition signatures to get his name on the June ballot to begin with, he’s in the race to stay.

  • Council should lower boom on unethical, illegal trappers

    Column as I see ’em …
    As someone with a keen personal interest in harvesting animals and owning firearms, I found it rather interesting that both garnered front-page headlines in our paper this week.
    The one on firearms simply made me laugh; the one on trapping left me fuming, and here’s why.
    As someone who spent a great deal of my youth trapping furbearers in Great Lakes area of New York, I was outraged to read that a family’s pet was injured, but thankfully survived after being caught in an illegally set trap.
    Trapping is viewed by most as a barbaric activity designed to inflict unspeakable horrors on animals. Were it put to a popular vote, even the most rural areas of this country would almost certainly end the practice.
    As a teenager, I trapped mainly raccoon, muskrat and red fox and tried my level best to do it as humanely as possible (there are ways to mitigate the trauma, particularly in trap selection and how they’re set), as well as to the letter of the law.
    I learned early on that people even back then weren’t too keen on trapping, and I wanted to make sure I wasn’t among those who provided reasons for those opposed to yell even louder.

  • Schmidt did positive things for community

    To Kevin Honnell, Los Alamos School Board:
    This letter has taken so long to compose because I was so angry about our school board’s treatment of Dr. Eugene Schmidt that I have needed time to be more civil. You are our representative, and having worked with you on the Barranca Mesa School Board, I have seen that you have the capacity to consider things carefully. I am therefore hoping that you will take our comments to heart and consider what we have to say.
    When we look at the last five years, we see so many positive things that have happened in the schools due to Dr. Schmidt’s leadership. We have gone from crumbling buildings to having a beautiful new high school, new middle school, and Aspen school is in the process of rebuilding. Not only the buildings have been improved, but the school grounds and curb appeal are hugely improved.

  • UNM-LA spins rezoning efforts

    I want to thank the Unviversity of New Mexico-Los Alamos Advisory Board Chairman Boerigter for his thoughtful response to our letter regarding the UNM-LA development on 9th Street. It is a masterpiece of spin.
    Contrary to the letter’s implication that UNM-LA sought and responded to neighborhood input, UNM-LA had no intention of holding neighborhood meetings, in spite of the fact that we had suggested it do that over a year ago in casual discussions about the future of its neglected apartments.
    After the rezoning request was filed and we were notified in December, I approached county planners and in a series of meetings with UNM-LA and planners persuaded UNM-LA to hold a neighborhood meeting; I personally delivered the notices to people in the neighborhood. After that meeting, UNM-LA withdrew its application.
    The application was refiled — without change — and the neighborhood was notified again, and with only a little prompting this time UNM-LA held a neighborhood meeting at which it presented a plan that was unchanged from the original. It satisfied none of the criticisms that the neighborhood had leveled at the first meeting.
    Its input having been ignored, the neighborhood response was pointed and strong.

  • Tootsie, cattle prods teach math lessons

    I was watching “Tootsie” the other day and enjoying one of my favorite scenes in which Hoffman is consoling a nurse about the abusive Dr. Van Horn.
    Tootsie says, “I think I’m going to give every nurse on this floor an electric cattle prod, and just instruct them to zap him in his badoobies.”
     It›s been a while since I took Biology, but I think the badoobies are located somewhere between the jibberstoop and the collywaffle.
     Of course, I could be confusing this with the mumplepod.
    Tootsie’s idea had real merit in the arena of mathematical conditioning.
    Humans seem to learn more quickly when the consequences of failure are physically disturbing.
    Of course, this doesn’t work if you happen to enjoy electric shock treatment in the badoobies.
    I sometimes ask my students if any of them had recently put their hand in a fire. As expected, they give me a strange look and say no. When I ask them, “Why not?” I get even stranger looks and they tell me, “Well, it would hurt!”

  • Handing out tax breaks is fun, but tax base is another story

    Pour some bubbly. Last year’s last-minute tax package, combined with existing credits, make New Mexico the lowest in manufacturing taxes in the region, according to a new study by the New Mexico Tax Research Institute.
    This is just three short years after we were the region’s highest.
    It’s handy news as Tesla looks us over for a possible plant site.
    Legislators this year passed more tax measures — that’s dandy if you’re on the receiving end, but the nonpartisan NMTRI would like to throw a little cold water in your face before you become too giddy.
    Two bills gave a hand-up to the aviation industry. I heard some of the testimony from operators in Roswell — good companies taking advantage of our weather and abundant air space. Of course, we want to cheer them on.
    HB 14, signed by the governor, removes the gross receipts tax from providers of parts or maintenance services on aircraft. HB 24 extends an existing deduction for aircraft refurbishing to the sale of those planes. A third bill adds a deduction for dialysis facilities if they’re sold to the federal government.
    Infusion therapy services also get a new deduction.

  • Several ways seniors can save some green

    We all love a good bargain, no matter what our age. But if you’re a senior citizen on a fixed income, finding discounted goods and services can mean the difference between making ends meet and going without.
    The good news is that tons of senior discounts are available — often for people as young as 50. One caveat right up front: Although many senior discounts are substantial, you sometimes can find better bargains — especially on travel-related expenses like airfare, hotels and rental cars. So always do your research first before requesting the senior rate.
    It can make a lot of sense to a lot of seniors to check out AARP.
    An AARP membership costs only $16 a year for anyone over age 50, including free membership for spouses or partners. Information can be found online at aarp.org.
    AARP’s discounts website features discounts on dozens of products and services including rental cars, hotels, restaurants, clothing and department store chains. AARP also offers an inexpensive driver safety course for drivers over 50 (members and nonmembers alike) that can lower auto insurance premiums by up to 10 percent or more.
    Popular AARP discounts include:
    • 20 percent discount on installation or upgrades to ADT home security systems.
    • 45 percent off membership to Angie’s List.