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Columns

  • Winter weather information for area schools

    As fall turns to winter, we can anticipate some days when the weather will be a challenge because of ice or snow. There will be days that we either cancel school for the entire day or delay the start of the school day by two hours. The decision about the status of the school day must be made by 5:30 a.m., so everyone who needs to be notified can get information in a timely manner.
    When a decision to cancel, delay or dismiss school early is made, all of the major network television stations and local media will be contacted. Information about the decision will be posted in a trailer that runs along the bottom of the TV screen. This information will also be available on the district website at laschools.net and through E-Alerts. Schools will also place the information on their information line and the district information line at 663-2223.
    Parents and staff wishing to receive E-Alerts are encouraged to register on the District’s website using the E-Alert button in the upper right corner of the district homepage. School status information will be sent as E-Alert notifications by email and text messages to those who have subscribed to E-Alerts. For instructions on how to subscribe to E-Alerts visit laschools.net/e-alerts.

  • Metros have the money, Portales Bank has the coolest name

    A bit more than half of New Mexicans make their home in the north-central urban area —Santa Fe and metro Albuquerque. More than half of New Mexicans’ money calls the City Different and the four-county metro home.
    Numbers follow. That’s because the topic is banking, which is about money, which is expressed using numbers.
    Specifically, the 216 branch banks in Santa Fe and metro Albuquerque accounted for 57 percent of the $28.3 billion deposited in the state’s 510 branch banks on June 30, reports the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.
    The 63 banks operating in the state have 510 offices, or “banking centers,” or whatever today is the term for “branches.” The 216 urban branches are 42 percent of the branches. The other 28 counties make do with 294 branches.
    Having fewer branches and a larger deposit total translates to more deposits per branch. In urban areas, branches average $74 million in deposits. For the rest of the state, it is $42 million per branch. The 40 branches in Lea and Eddy counties average $54 million each, an unsurprising reflection of that booming economy.
    As one gets more and more rural, branch deposit totals drop, again no surprise. The three branches in Guadalupe County share just under $39 million in deposits, about $13 million each.

  • The son also rises

    House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi caught a good many political know-it-alls back on Capitol Hill by surprise last week, when she announced that New Mexico’s 3rd District Democratic Congressman Ben Ray Luján will be the next chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
    It will be quite a jump in the congressional pecking order for Luján, who was first elected to the 3rd District seat in 2008 as the successor to Democrat Tom Udall who ran (successfully) that year for a berth in the United States Senate.
    Both men were handily reelected this year, with Udall returning to a Senate under GOP control and Luján returning to a House even more firmly dominated by an unruly cadre of Republicans hitherto prone to government shutdowns.
    So, over and above his obligations to District 3 constituents, when the new Congress convenes in January, Congressman Luján will be spending a good deal of his time gearing up for the elections of 2016, when Democrats hope to elect sufficient of their own to tame those unruly GOPers.
    To put it mildly, Luján has accepted a big challenge here. Clearly his political profile, both here at home and nationally, will be substantially elevated with this assignment.

  • Voters to Washington, Santa Fe: Do something

    After an election in which Republicans cleaned up, nobody is talking about mandates. That’s wise of them.
    There was definitely a sentiment to throw the rascals out, but that was the case in the previous election and will be again in 2016. All anybody can say for sure is that voters are angry.
    There is a kind of snarling expectation: Do something. Spare us your grandstanding and your petty little fights and solve some problems.
    Pass a bill, as the president said in his immigration speech. Funny that a guy who’s become unpopular can give voice to public sentiment, which is why nobody should feel comfortable.
    Republican political consultant Frank Luntz wrote recently in the New York Times that the “anti-Democrat wave was not the same as a pro-Republican endorsement.” What voters said was, “Washington doesn’t listen, Washington doesn’t lead and Washington doesn’t deliver.” Luntz traveled the country listening to voters this year. “And from the reddest rural towns to the bluest big cities, the sentiment is the same. People say Washington is broken and on the decline, that government no longer works for them — only for the rich and powerful.”

  • Region should invest in clean energy

    Times have changed since solar and wind power first became available. Across the country, the cost of coal is going up, and the price of clean energy — like wind and solar — is coming down. Employment trends are changing, too.
    Today, more workers are employed in the clean energy industry than in coal mining nationwide. Since 2012, New Mexico’s solar industry has added nearly 1,000 new jobs. Almost 2,000 New Mexicans now work in our state’s growing solar economy.
    As owner of a local solar company, I’ve seen the remarkable transition to clean energy take root in our region. Solar electricity costs less than grid energy, and home and business owners are taking advantage of the opportunity to fix their energy costs for the long run.
    We’ve added 30 employees in the past year to keep up with demand. It is a really exciting time.
    In our region and throughout the United States, communities are moving away from dirty, expensive coal and toward the growing clean energy industry.
    These trends are why I was so shocked to learn that instead of investing in new technologies and growing industries, PNM and Los Alamos County Department of Public Utilities propose to double down on dirty coal and lock ratepayers into a future of expensive, outdated coal-fired power.

  • Venture Acceleration Fund helps Native-owned businesses

    Native-owned businesses in northern New Mexico are eligible for grants of up to $25,000 to spend on specialized services that will help them increase revenues and create jobs.
    One business, Than Povi Gallery, was awarded a Native American Venture Acceleration Fund grant in February 2014 to develop a marketing plan and ad campaign for the business, which moved in 2013 from San Ildefonso Pueblo to a site north of Santa Fe on U.S. 84/285. That move was partially enabled by a NAVAF grant in 2013, co-owner Elmer Torres said, and resulted in “a lot more foot traffic.”
    Torres and his wife, Deborah, both members of the pueblo, eventually hope to move their gallery to downtown Santa Fe so the many artists they represent can get greater exposure. In the meantime, though, their current location allows them to sell to a broader market. “We try to make (artworks) affordable for people in the local area,” Torres said.

  • Are extended warranties worth the cost?

    Are these costly add-ons worth the expense or simply a sucker bet intended to boost the seller’s bottom line? It depends on whom you ask.
    According to consumer watchdog organizations like the Federal Trade Commission and Consumer Reports, extended warranties and service contracts often don’t make strong financial sense. However, some people find extended warranties reassuring, especially for large purchases with electronic components that can go awry and are expensive to repair or are easily broken.
    Before you buy an extended warranty, do your research and consider these points:
    • Does it overlap with the manufacturer’s warranty? Don’t pay twice for duplicate coverage.
    • Many credit cards automatically extend the manufacturer’s warranty for up to a year on purchases — for free.
    • Before purchasing, check the company’s track record with your state’s Department of Insurance, the Better Business Bureau and independent reviewers like Angie’s List.
    • Service contracts might not cover specific product parts or repairs. If the terms don’t list a part or function as specifically covered, assume it’s not.

  • DPU must accommodate present, future residents

    We are one of the 36 households or businesses in Los Alamos that have purchased solar panels to generate electricity. Recently, the Los Alamos Department of Public Utilities (DPU) has put out information suggesting that electricity generated by the County’s solar panel owners provides miniscule benefits to the community while unfairly burdening other customers. One Board of Public Utilities member was quoted in the Los Alamos Monitor as saying that being carbon neutral is not in the best interest of the ratepayers.
    We disagree completely with this statement. Everyone sees the trees dying around us. Partly this has been caused by the drought, and partly by the trees struggling to deal with rising temperatures during the drought. Our local climate scientists believe that most of our trees will be dead by 2050. By 2099, Los Alamos will have the temperatures that Albuquerque has now. We may be living exponentially, but we will be doing it indoors with air conditioning and outdoors with no trees and no ski area.

  • Remember N.M.'s last Republican speaker?

    New Mexico and Texas were fighting over water. Wildcatters were busy in southeastern New Mexico, while uranium drilling was under way near Grants. And Albuquerque passed a strong new civil rights ordinance.
    This was New Mexico in 1952, when voters liked Ike so much that they tilted Republican in a presidential election for the first time since 1928. They re-elected Republican Gov. Ed Mechem and sent Republicans to the state House of Representatives in record numbers. A Raton rancher became the first Republican Speaker of the House since 1929.
    After a similar sweep this month, a Republican speaker will take the gavel for the first time since 1953, so it’s time to remember Alvin Stockton.
    In 1869, Stockton’s grandparents acquired four square miles around the stage station they operated on the Santa Fe Trail from Lucien Maxwell. Stockton grew up on the family ranch and got an accounting degree from Denver University.
    Elected to the House in 1951, he served four years, becoming an authority on New Mexico’s tax system. It was once said, “If you really need to get something done on behalf of agriculture in the state Legislature, you go to Alvin Stockton.” As speaker, he was so well regarded that members passed a resolution commending him for leadership and impartiality.

  • The people survive campaign spending

    An hour passed from our 3:05 p.m. polling place entrance until we left. The line of voters ahead of us had about 55 people. It was quiet. People chatted. One set of parents, new to the neighborhood and slightly nonplussed by the length of the line, tended their toddler.
    All of us were at the end of the process of campaigns spending a great of money to get our attention on behalf of a particular candidate. I read that a couple of legislative races crossed the $100,000 mark in spending by each candidate. Yet no one seemed addled or discombobulated by the spending. No one walked around the polling line mumbling, “Thank God, it’s over.”
    No doubt, calls for further regulation of campaign spending will continue from the do-gooders on the left (and a few on the right) who think that good behavior can be regulated into being. These people hate money and believe that people such as the firefighter in line behind me are too stupid to sort through messages and make a decision.
    Our Sen. Tom Udall is one of the leaders in this approach with his scary proposed amendment to the Constitution.