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Columns

  • Opinions from the void

     Recently, Vivienne Westwood (English fashion designer and fizzy soda expert) made headlines when she criticized First Lady Michelle Obama’s wardrobe choices.  During an interview with the New York Times, the reporter commented on how nice it is that Michelle recycles her clothes.  Westwood said, “Don’t talk about her.  It’s dreadful what she wears.”
     Alright, let’s see a show of hands.  Who gives a muroidea’s gluteus maximus what Vivienne Westwood thinks about who wears what?  Prior to reading the interview, I had never even heard of her.  I then made the mistake of Google searching to see what type of style clothing she designs.
     I’ve seen better designs on road kill.
     So what does Katy Perry think about the Pope resigning?  Does Tom Cruise have advice on how to handle urban blight?  I heard that Yo Yo Ma think it’s a good time to invest in New England real estate!
     Why are so many people insanely interested in the opinions of fashion designers, sports stars, TV celebrities, movie stars, and rock singers?  Have we de-evolved so far that we need Rosanne Barr’s guidance on what makes a good marriage?

  • Know landscape before requesting small business loan

    Many Americans long to see where their talents as inventors or craftsmen or cooks can take them.
    But businesses often struggle in their early years, and this makes some lenders wary of financing enterprises that don’t have an established track record.
    After repeated rejections from potential funders, many entrepreneurs simply give up.
    Organizations like Accion are one option for the aspiring entrepreneur who can’t secure a loan through a more traditional financial institution, such as a bank or credit union.
    But getting a loan requires some groundwork, no matter where she looks.
    The Five Cs
    Traditional lenders evaluate loan requests on the basis of the client’s character, capital, collateral, capacity and conditions – the 5 C’s of credit.
    The lender measures character by observing the client’s punctuality, organization and understanding of the size and purpose of the loan. They listen to what references say and what his credit history demonstrates about his commitment to pay off debts. They review the business plan to see how well it reflects the client’s experience, strategy and commitment.
    Existing capital is a plus for an aspiring entrepreneur and a way for the lender to assess the borrower’s personal investment in the business.

  • Immigration laws have failed

    Some might find me annoyingly literal about obeying certain laws. Take traffic.
    In residential areas I drive the 25 mph speed limit. If an arterial has a 30 mph limit, that is my speed. I stop, completely, at stop signs and before turning right on a red light.
    At higher posted speeds, morality gets situational. I fudge above 35 mph. During the time of Jimmy Carter’s idiotic 55 mph interstate speed limit, my protest was to go 95 along the six-mile divided stretch of I-25 north of exit 115.
    Thus I was disappointed to see an argument against red-light cameras saying it was bad that the cameras caught people doing the “California stop.” Too bad, I figure. It’s “the law.”
    I was appalled recently to hear a lawyer argue that no such thing as “the Law” exists. Everything about the law was technical, he claimed: the rules, the manipulation, the arguments. There was no higher moral framework.
    A retired police officer friend soothed my slightly conscience-stricken speed limit behavior by saying the broader issue is public safety, and taking the posted speed limit literally is good in congested areas. Public safety fits with the bigger ideas holding society together.

  • Maximize your disabled child's government aid

    Parents of special needs children have enough on their plates just tending to the health, educational and emotional needs of their kids — not to mention often having to cope with drastically lowered income because of reduced work hours or having to pay someone else for childcare.
    So it’s not surprising that many of these parents haven’t had time to hatch a long-term financial plan in case their kids need care after they’re not around.
    Fortunately, many government programs and community resources are available to help relieve the financial burden of parenting special needs children.
    But eligibility criteria are complicated and the application process time-consuming. Plus, if you’re not careful, you or well-meaning relatives could inadvertently disqualify your kids for future benefits by not structuring their inheritances correctly.
    Here’s a brief overview of key government assistance programs
    The Social Security Administration provides two types of disability coverage: Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Income (SSDI). Rules and eligibility requirements differ between the two programs — and benefits differ for children and adults.

  • He said, she said

     Lawmakers have earned some rest after a surprisingly productive legislative session. I will save analysis for another day and give you instead some of the flavor of the last 60 days of verbal jousting in my second annual Quotes of the Session.

    House Speaker Ken Martinez, D-Grants: “A lot of times we approach a problem from two sides and try to work it out. 

    If we define the problem together and define solutions together, there’s no need to reach across the aisle.”

    Rep. Nate Gentry, R-Albuquerque, during a discussion of the health insurance exchange: “This is the session where cats and dogs are dancing in the street, and everybody’s compromising.”

  • Lawmakers antsy about open records

    When is a member of the state Legislature not a member of the state Legislature?
    Have we a nonsense question here?
    Perhaps, but it’s a conundrum with which the Legislature grappled late in the recent session, as it crafted a resolution defining which emails dispatched or received by a legislator should be subject to provisions of the state’s Inspection of Public Records Act (IPRA).
    Enacted in 1994, IPRA is a variation on the federal Freedom of Information Act, one of many such laws throughout the country designed to foster transparency and openness in the conduct of governmental affairs by permitting citizens access to public records.
    Such laws have been pains in the butts for many elected officials who would rather not have their every action subject to public scrutiny.
    Sarah Palin ran afoul of Alaska open records act while governor of that state when she used her private email to conduct “sensitive” public business and got slapped by her state’s Supreme Court for circumventing the law.
    New Mexico’s Gov. Susana Martinez experienced similar grief after it was discovered that her administration was skirting the state’s IPRA by using private emails, whereupon the she announced that henceforth her staffers would conduct the public’s business via government email accounts.

  • Hooray for the Irish!

    SANTA FE — Happy St. Patty’s Day. May you be in heaven an hour before the devil knows you’re dead.
     Personally I don’t have a drop of Irish blood that I can find, but I’ve always enjoyed their wild and charming nature.
    And I have a newfound appreciation for them after reading “How the Irish Saved Civilization” while on vacation last April.
    No, I’m not making this up. There really is such a book. Thomas Cahill wrote it in 1995. I wasn’t aware of its existence until it appeared under my Christmas tree in 1998.
    I set it aside, figuring it to be one of those “Wit and Wisdom of Millard Fillmore” type books, which I would scan the next time I was in the mood for some silliness.
    My wife was the one who took it on our two-week Hawaiian vacation. We each read a book a day, sitting under a palm tree on our beach.
    About a week into the vacation, Jeanette said, “Jay, here’s a book you’re going to want to read.” I told her to stick it underneath my stack of unread books and I might get to it.
    As it turned out, the book was the right size to slip into my sport coat pocket for the long plane ride home. I hate west-to-east trips and figured I’d enjoy a good laugh.

  • Tax deadlines are real

     Congress could well debate the debt ceiling, tax reform and other important economic issues until the cows come home, but one thing’s for sure: If you don’t pay your income taxes – or at least file for an extension – by April 15, you could be in for a world of financial hurt.

    That’s because the IRS probably won’t give you a break on the penalties it levies on unpaid taxes unless you were the victim of a natural disaster, suffered death or serious illness in your immediate family, or experienced another catastrophic event.

    You must file your 2012 federal tax return (or request an extension) by midnight on April 15, 2013, otherwise the penalty on any taxes you owe will increase dramatically. You’ll be charged an additional 5 percent of taxes owed for each full or partial month you’re late, plus interest, up to a maximum penalty of 25 percent of the amount owed. (The interest rate currently charged is 3.22 percent.)

  • Shooting intellectual blanks

     Wahhhh!  Wahhhh!  Wahhhh!  Quick, someone call the wahhhmbulance!
     Another “misunderstood” NRA member with a 45-caliber mouth and a 14-caliber brain comes shooting out of a barrel of ignorance, whining about my not understanding his side of the firearms debate.
     But before I start slinging stones, let me first say on a very serious note that I am sickened and offended by Mr. Smith’s vile statement that if someone with a gun were to enter my classroom, I would “use the children as shields.”  
    If necessary, I would, like any other teacher in Los Alamos, throw myself in front of a volley rather than risk injury to any students.  He knows absolutely nothing about teachers.
     His idiotic statement is exactly what I would expect from a ditto-head who pridefully labels himself as a “pro-gunner pro-lifer.”
     Pro-gun pro-life?  That’s like saying pro-sewage pro-air freshener.
     I must openly admit, however, that I would consider using Mr. Smith’s head as a shield, if not for the fact that an empty shell provides no real defense against a bullet.
     Look, I see nothing wrong with law abiding citizens owning firearms.  

  • Final day of flurry

    SANTA FE — Noon today marks the beginning of the final day of the New Mexico Legislature’s 2013 regular session. New Mexico’s legislatures begin and end at noon.
    Legislative days also begin and end at noon but that timing is more flexible.
    But noon tomorrow is not flexible. Until the 1960s, lawmakers were allowed to “stop the clock” and allow time well past noon to get business finished. But the state supreme court ruled that our constitution says nothing about clock stopping and that any bills passed after noon are invalid.
    There is no law specifying the end of the 20-day period the governor has to sign or veto legislation.
    So governors play it safe and get all their bill signing done before noon of the 20th day. It doesn’t matter when he vetoes bills because they don’t go into effect anyway.
    Some governors don’t even bother vetoing bills they don’t like. Those are called pocket vetoes and don’t carry any explanation about why the governor doesn’t like the bill.
    As of the beginning of this week, lawmakers had only gotten 10 bills through both chambers and up to the governor.
    One of those bills benefitted the spaceport by limiting the liability of suppliers of parts of space crafts.