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Columns

  • Tips for buying pet toys

    Tennis balls, Frisbees, rawhides, and Kongs. Dog toys line the shelves of multiple aisles at pet stores. With all of the choices, which toys should or shouldn’t you buy for man’s best friend?
    Dr. Mark Stickney, Clinical Associate Professor and Director of General Surgery Services at Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, said that when first giving your dog toys, buy a variety of toys to see what the animal prefers.
     “They are going to have a toy preference the same way that children have toy preferences,” he said. “Once you determine their favorites, you can adjust your selection and your budget accordingly for the toys that entertain your pet.”
    To help guide your purchases, Stickney said it’s important to make sure the toy is made of nontoxic material and the appropriate size toy for the animal. A five-pound Yorkie, for example, will not be able to use an extra-large Kong toy made for a Rotweiller. Kong toys, he added, are one of his favorite brands because it keeps the pets busy by challenging them to get a treat out of the small hole of the toy.

  • GOP works to attract Hispanic vote

    SANTA FE – OK, so here’s the latest national plan to woo Hispanics into the GOP. Showcasing Latino top officials such as Govs. Susana Martinez and Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio didn’t help much in the 2012 elections.
    So the latest plan is to create a super-PAC. Republicans are good at those. The idea isn’t to buy Hispanic votes. Hispanics are too honorable for that. It’s for buying congressional votes. That is usually pretty easy.
    The biggest fear of moderate Republican members of Congress is getting “primaried” by the tea party and other right wing organizations. It happened in 2010 and 2012 and lists of Republicans who might stray from the fold already are being made for the 2014 GOP primary elections.
    The new super-PAC, to be called Republicans for Immigration Reform, is intended to begin repairing the political damage left by years of anti-illegal immigrant rhetoric.
    The organizers are former George W. Bush Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez and Washington lawyer Charlie Spies. Ironically, Spies was a co-founder of the pro-Mitt Romney super-PAC Restore our Future, which aired ads during this year’s GOP presidential primaries accusing some of Romney’s rivals of being too liberal on immigration.

  • State keeps struggling with disappointment

    SANTA FE – New Mexico’s once-famed Spaceport America, the only purpose-built spaceport in the world, has lost its luster. No longer does it have two of the planet’s best pitchmen, Sir Richardson Branson and Gov. Bill Richardson, promoting it.
    Richardson is gone and Branson is entertaining offers from other states and nations. The United Arab Emirates has purchased a big chunk of Virgin Galactic and has an agreement to build a spaceport in that country.
    Meanwhile New Mexico has a new governor who began her term saying private money should finance the remainder of the spaceport and now has warmed to the point she is saying she would like to take a space ride and she will sign any future appropriations the Legislature passes.
    But Gov. Susana Martinez is not out promoting our spaceport to aerospace companies around the nation and world. The only proposal she really has put a hip into is an effort to deny driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants.
    Martinez has gone all out with that effort, including spending PAC money and getting involved in legislative races. She says it will make us safer but it certainly doesn’t attract jobs or improve our lagging economy.

  • Udall right in middle of filibuster reform

    Reform of the U.S. Senate’s infamous filibuster rule could well be the first order of business when the nation’s 113th Congress convenes on the third day of the new year, 2013.
    At least that is what Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has been saying and it should be welcome news to New Mexico’s Democratic Sen. Tom Udall, a leading proponent of filibuster reform.
    Almost two years ago, on Jan. 5, 2011, Udall went to the Senate floor with a series of proposals to alter that chamber’s antiquated rules of procedure, including the filibuster.
    “Here in the Senate,” he said, “open, honest debate has been replaced with secret backroom deals and partisan gridlock…up-or-down votes, sometimes even debate on important issues, have been unreasonably delayed or blocked entirely at the whim of a single senator.”
    Udall’s proposed reforms two years ago were co-sponsored by Udall, Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) but they came to naught after Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) shook hands in a “gentlemen’s agreement” that Senate Republicans would not abuse the filibuster.

  • A small glimmer of hope

    A little bitty glimmer of light exists somewhere in the dark tunnel of the New Mexico economy. The tiny flicker is in construction, of all sectors. This word comes from economist Alison Felix of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.
    Felix tracks New Mexico from the KC Fed’s Denver office. She came to Albuquerque the day after the election as part of the occasional KC Fed economic outlook and update road show. The star was Felix’s overall boss, Esther George, KC Fed president and CEO since October 2011.
    Back in the tunnel, our economic situation remains ugly with a 1.3 percent drop in wage jobs from September 2011 to September 2012. That performance ranked 49th nationally with West Virginia taking Mississippi’s role and finishing last. Nationally, wage jobs grew 1.4 percent in the year from the second quarter of 2011 to 2012, Felix said.
    For real personal income growth, we place 48th with a 0.4 percent increase for the period. The anemic increase puts New Mexico’s personal income over the prerecession level of 2008.
    Felix discussed the entire state. See http://www.kc.frb.org/publicat/speeches/2012-Felix-NMEconForum-11-07.pdf.

  • Last-minute ways to trim your taxes

    From now until New Year’s is probably when you have the least amount of time to spare on mundane financial bookkeeping tasks. But if you can dedicate a few minutes to review your benefits and tax paperwork, you might be able to shave hundreds – or even thousands – of dollars off your 2012 taxes.
    Here are a few suggestions:
    If you haven’t already maxed out on contributions, ask your employer if you can make a catch-up contribution to your 401(k), 403(b) or 457 plan before year’s end. Most people can contribute up to $17,000 in 2012 (a $500 increase over 2011), plus an additional $5,500 if they’re over 50.
    If you contribute on a pretax basis, your taxable income is reduced, which in turn lowers your taxes. At a minimum, if your employer offers matching contributions (essentially, free money), be sure to contribute at least enough to take full advantage of the match.

  • Saving grand old ladies

    Every community has old buildings that deserve some TLC, and those of us who value historic preservation hope somebody will come along and restore these grand old ladies.

    It happens, just often enough to give us hope. Jim Harris and his properties around the Lovington town square come to mind. So does the Sierra Grande Lodge in T or C.

    But I wouldn’t have given the Murray Hotel in Silver City much of a chance. Its size alone would have been daunting – a concrete hulk five stories high and a block long with 100 rooms. And if that didn’t discourage a redeveloper, its condition would have.

    Debbie Seibel, former manager of Silver City’s Main Street project, used to give tours of the Murray to outside experts.

    For years, it had harbored pigeons, strays and vagrants. You had to look hard to see its original charm. At one point, the city contemplated tearing it down, but found that the structure was so sturdy, imploding it would damage surrounding buildings.

    A local Realtor said in 2000, “Nobody is going to ride into town on a white horse and save us on this building.”

  • GOP needs to adjust more than tone

    The words “adjust” and “tone” recently came from Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio in a discussion of the Republican defeat.

    Considering the few African Americans, Hispanics and young people voting Republican, Portman said, “This is a party that needs to adjust. Some of it is policy. A lot of it is tone.”

    Portman weaseled on the rape comments from Senate candidates. (See www.capitolreport.blogspot.com for the sources of the comments here.) National (liberal) media got the blame from Republican guru Karl Rove for the rape comment outrage. “Offensive comments about rape by GOP Senate candidates in Missouri and Indiana gave the media an excuse to put social issues at the election’s center in a way that badly hurt the entire party…,” he wrote. So the outrage was manufactured? Oh, come now.

    Here’s a different observation about GOP attitudes toward women. “The GOP continues to provide evidence to women that the GOP hates them and does not respect their rights and abilities (unless they wear a burka and follow a respectful distance behind or are willing to work for less pay).”

  • Commitment to lean manufacturing

     When David Smith, owner of Taycar Enterprises in Albuquerque, phased out the use of paper in his sheet metal fabrication and assembly plant, it pushed some office workers beyond their hard-copy comfort zones.
    Going paper-free was just one part of Smith’s efforts to bring the principles of lean manufacturing to the business his father started in 1983, but it was harder than the changes he instituted to make his job shop operate more efficiently. Now the business stores all its records electronically and conducts all its correspondence by email.
    Smith got involved with lean manufacturing about seven years ago after he heard that another manufacturer in his industry was attending workshops run by the New Mexico Manufacturing Extension Partnership. Smith attended a workshop and has since sent every permanent employee at least once for training in lean manufacturing principles.
    What it is
    The New Mexico MEP is part of a nationwide network of nonprofit centers. Its mission is to help managers and core workers at New Mexico companies understand and apply the principles of lean manufacturing through workshops and on-site training and analysis.

  • Driving while intexicated

     DWI, Driving While Intexticated.  This cute buzzphrase is becoming more and more popular as more and more people are driving into more and more trees while texting their friends.
     But driving under the influence of phone is no joke.  Visiting the morgue to identify the body of your child underscores the somber reality of cell phone usage while driving.  Studies show that simply using a cell phone while driving impairs one’s ability as much as having had four bottles of beer. And texting while driving is far more dangerous.
     One of the more interesting studies comes from a most definitely-not academic oriented organization, Car and Driver.  They conducted their own road test to see the effects of texting.  Their results were “sobering” to say the least.  Their drivers performed better while drunk than they did while texting.
     Earlier this year, Chance Bothe, a college student, became the posterboy for the dangers of texting when he drove off a cliff seconds after texting “I need to quit texting.”  Miraculously, he survived, but sustained brain injuries and broke nearly every bone in his body.