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Columns

  • Too much reliance on test scores

    There are many reasons to oppose the governor’s plan for teacher evaluation: The tests used are unreliable; the states where similar “reforms” have been implemented have not seen success; huge sums of money have been diverted from schools to publishing companies; curriculum narrows to only those things measured and measurable on a standardized test. The list is long. For teachers, one of the most devastating consequences of over-reliance on test scores is the impact on their relationship with their students.

  • When in doubt, keep riding

    Former Gov. Garrey Carruthers has been a hit on the speaker circuit with the Cowboy Code of Ethics.
    A few years ago, business schools at UNM and NMSU received grants from the Daniels Foundation to develop ethics programs. The challenge became how to convey ethical principles simply and effectively.
    Carruthers, dean of NMSU’s business school, took his inspiration from the book “Cowboy Ethics: What Wall Street Can Learn from the Code of the West,” by James P. Owen, a former Wall Streeter grown weary of corporate scandals. The solution, Owens said, was not more laws and regulations but a return to basic values. From a lifelong interest in the West, Owen wrote Cowboy Ethics.

  • Requiem for a canyon

    Recently, we walked up what’s left of Valle Canyon.  In my memory, there are three Valle Canyons — the lovely one pre-Cerro Grande ever changing, ever beautiful, every diverse, the post Cerro Grande one, still intact at least in the lower part, and now the post Las Conchas one, which has lost its entire forest and most of the canyon bottom.
    It’s hard to describe the difference.  Although Cerro Grande left the cathedral-like trees and the riparian shrubs and plants, few trees are left now, and the canyon bottom has been almost totally rearranged by the flooding (as is Frijoles Canyon only worse).  It’s hot, no shade; it’s rocky or silty, no undisturbed soil; it’s quiet, few birds.

  • Transparency still lacking

    So how are we doing on government transparency? It was a major issue during the last gubernatorial campaign. Former Gov. Bill Richardson was raked over the coals for alleged corruption in the investment of billions of state dollars in worthless securities.
    Gov. Susana Martinez promised to do much better. A year and a half into her administration the results are mixed. The governor has been criticized for slow responses to records requests and heavily redacted records. The attorney general and state auditor are looking into whether there was some type of collusion in the award of the state fair racino bid.

  • Relationship built on trust

    Mauro Nava’s seven-year relationship with microlender Accion New Mexico-Arizona-Colorado paid off when the Mexico City native and his Ukrainian-born business partner, Olena Dziuba, decided to open a health clinic to serve residents of Albuquerque’s underserved South Valley.
    Clínica la Esperanza opened in October 2011 at Bridge and Isleta boulevards with seed money from the two partners to remodel the building and a line of credit from Accion to pay bills until the business started generating revenue.
    Nava first contacted Accion in 2005 for funds to start a mobile radiography business called On-Site Radiography. Nava’s perfect payment history on past Accion loans made him a good candidate for the most recent investment.

  • Why you need a social media will

     By most estimates, over half of adult Americans haven’t written a will stating how their assets should be distributed after death. Fewer still have bothered to appoint someone to make financial and health care decisions on their behalf should they become incapacitated. And now we can add another necessary, but probably overlooked legal document: a social media will.
    That’s right, in this age of email, password-protected accounts and social media sites like Facebook and LinkedIn, the U.S. Government, of all sources, recently pointed out why it’s important for people to leave instructions for how they want their online identities handled after death.

  • Virtute et Veritatem

    Did I ever tell you about my being one of the soldiers raising the flag over Iwo Jima?  Or that I received two silver stars?  And five purple hearts for being wounded in battle multiple times?  I was awarded the US Navy Cross, the US Air Force Distinguished Flying Cross, and I received the US Marine’s Medal of Honor for throwing myself on a grenade and saving the lives of my platoon.
    Oh yeah, I also defended the Alamo, fought in the Battle of Verdun, and led the charge up San Juan Hill.
    Well, maybe I’m stretching the truth a bit.  Okay, outright lying is more like it.  But I’ve got justice on my side!
    Or more accurately, Justices.

  • Gov's plan on health insurance

    Just two days before the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the constitutionality of President Obama’s  health care law, Gov. Susana Martinez’s administration in Santa Fe announced the creation of a task force charged with developing a state health insurance exchange.
    One of the major features of that law, known as the Affordable Care Act, is that each state must institute health insurance exchanges by 2014 for the purpose of insuring a competitive insurance marketplace in the state, offering choices in health plans and assisting consumers in understanding the insurance options available to them.

  • Medicaid debate rises to forefront

    I attended a Medicaid conference in Washington, D.C. on June 27 and 28.  The non-partisan Council of State Governments organized the conference for state legislators to address ongoing growth in Medicaid costs and expected changes in Medicaid programs.  
    This is the first of two columns on Medicaid.  This column discusses the current program.  The next column will discuss Medicaid’s future in New Mexico.  The June 28 PPACA decision by the Supreme Court makes these issues even more timely and important.

  • Right to work right for state

    New Mexico, along with much of the country, still struggles to recover from a recession that began more than four years ago. While the state has benefited from the recent energy boom, states like New Mexico have struggled to cope with the employment consequences of the recession. In response, policy makers have tended to focus on fiscal policies such as tax cuts and “stimulus spending” rather than market structural solutions.