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Columns

  • A view toward workable N.M. 502 plan

    Background and history. As you may know, N.M. 502 between Central Avenue and Airport Road, presents significant obstacles and hazards to traffic flow and pedestrians. It operates at peak times with considerable congestion, particularly during the evening commute, when traffic is either crawling or stop-and-go.
     The morning commute operates below the current speed limit due to congestion. Pedestrian service is inadequate, even though some points of obvious access lie along this segment.
    Los Alamos County has proven amazingly dysfunctional in arriving at a preliminary design for this area. In a period of more than 5 years, at major expense in time and money, various proposals have been developed. I think the best of these was a 2007 agreement jointly approved by LAC and New Mexico, but that has been rejected by more recent LAC planning efforts.

  • Claims, risks shadow 'new' state revenue

    A fair amount of “new” money — $282 million — will flow to state government’s general fund during the budget year starting July 1, 2013.
    From state government economic wizards, “caution” is the word for considering uses of that money. “New money” means the difference between revenue expected during the coming budget year and current year spending.
    State revenue looks like around $5.7 billion for this budget year (FY 13) and $5.9 billion in FY 14, Legislative Finance Committee Director David Abbey, told the recent New Mexico Tax Research Institute conference in Albuquerque.
    Much of the good revenue news comes from oil and gas, said Tom Clifford, Department of Finance and Administration secretary. New technology has meant sharp increases in oil production the past few years, Abbey said.
    Caution about using the new money starts with a quarter of it — $72 million — being already claimed to replenish money used to balance the state budget in past bad years.

  • Real ID act likely to be high on agenda

    Over the past few weeks, several community members have contacted me about the REAL ID Act and a looming Jan. 15 deadline. The primary concern is that New Mexico is currently not in compliance with the REAL ID Act.
     This means New Mexicans may not be able to use their drivers’ licenses to board commercial airlines after Jan. 15. If this occurs, it could have alarming effects on our state and community. Public concern over this issue has been heightened by recent news stories and statements from public officials.
    First, let me provide some basic background information. The REAL ID Act was crafted under the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission and signed into law in 2005. It stipulates that for state issued IDs to be accepted by Federal entities, the IDs must meet several new security provisions. In accordance with the law and a 2008 Department of Homeland Security guideline on compliance, New Mexico has adopted a number of these changes.
    We are still out of compliance on a few points. The most well known area of non-compliance is a provision that permits undocumented residents to obtain a driver’s license. Residents of New Mexico can currently obtain a driver’s license without a Social Security Number if they can prove their identity with other documents.

  • Safety continues to be LAPS' top priority

    It is important for the community to know that Los Alamos cares very deeply for the safety and security of our students and staff in our schools. To help ensure this safety, school administration works closely with students and staff to be in a state of readiness by practicing a variety of emergency lockdown drills. In addition, the district works closely with Los Alamos County police, fire department, and emergency medical to be in a constant state of readiness. Nevertheless, in view of recent events in Newtown, Conn., the district will conduct a review of our current safety practices this week in an ongoing effort to be prepared for an emergency.
     Some of those reviews have already begun. Members of the Los Alamos Police Department toured Chamisa Elementary to re-familiarize themselves with the school today. I contacted Captain Randy Foster, LA Police Department, to request these walk-throughs of all schools. Captain Foster went on to share that the police will have an increased presence at school sites this week. He states there is no credible threat but his officers were interested in stopping by during the school day and during bus loading times to meet and speak with students, staff, and families.

  • Help on your credit report

    When it comes to making New Year’s resolutions, getting into good shape financially ranks right up there with losing weight and eating healthier. All three goals require discipline and planning; and, as you’ve no doubt experienced, it’s not unusual to encounter setbacks along the way.
    Don’t let losing a minor battle here or there convince you to surrender on the bigger war. You’ll probably have more success if you start out taking small steps, learning from your mistakes and gaining momentum as you go.
    Here are a few suggestions for better managing your personal finances in the New Year:
    The first step on the road to financial health is to create a budget you can live with. If you’re new to budgeting or haven’t been successful in the past, start slowly. For a few months write down every cent you spend: mortgage/rent, utilities, food, gas, medical copayments, credit card interest – the works. You’ll be surprised where you money goes.
    At the same time, compare money coming in (income) to money going out (expenses). If you’re just breaking even or losing money each month, you need to boost your income and/or aggressively trim spending. Try these strategies:  

  • U.S. must recognize how A-Bomb changed world

    SANTA FE — Our federal government has neglected to address many issues over the years. Two of them really stand out.
    The issues involve officially recognizing our nation’s development of a weapon that has changed the world and recognizing the New Mexicans who served as guinea pigs for studying the effects of an A-bomb explosion.
    Bills have been introduced to correct both. A measure to create a Manhattan Project National Park based in Los Alamos; Oak Ridge, Tennessee and Hanford, Washington passed the U.S. House in September but without the two-thirds vote necessary for the rules under which the bill was considered.
    Objections included cost, opposition to nuclear energy, opposition to the National Park Service and an attitude that either we would be celebrating our action or apologizing for our action.
    Sponsors of the bills in both houses of Congress hope to get the measure moving again before the current lame duck session is over. Sen. Jeff Bingaman, who is retiring at the end of the month, is the chief Senate sponsor. The cause will move forward without him but his clout helps.
    Proponents have come up with some new arguments and tactics. Many of the buildings at the three locations still are usable as museum sites. The cost of demolishing them is much greater than the cost of improvements and maintenance.

  • Dashing through the snow with pets

    The weather is extremely unpredictable. One day it’s 60 degrees and raining, the next it’s 80 degrees with sunshine. Winters can be even worse with unexpected cold fronts. With extremely cold temperatures, hypothermia is a possibility for dogs.
    Hypothermia, occurring in both humans and pets, is a condition characterized by abnormally low body temperatures. There are three phases of hypothermia: mild, classified as a body temperature of 90-99 degrees Fahrenheit; moderate, classified as a body temperature of 82-90 degrees Fahrenheit; and severe, classified as a body temperature of less than 82 degrees Fahrenheit. With hypothermia, the dog is no longer able to control a normal body temperature resulting in an abnormal heartbeat and difficulties breathing.
    Generally, hypothermia results from spending too much time outside in the cold. Although there is not a specific time limit for a given temperature a dog should be left outside, Dr. Stacy Eckman, lecturer at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, said time spent outside in the cold should be restricted.

  • Susana for prez in 2016? Hard to say

    It was about this time last year that political prognosticators, here and elsewhere, started to busy themselves with speculation that 2012 could prove to be a breakout year for Susana Martinez.
    We were headed into an election year, they noted. And not just any election year either.  This was the beginning of a presidential election year in which the movers and shakers of Martinez’s Republican Party were bent on defeating the incumbent Democratic president.
    At the time a whole gaggle Republicans were still in the running for their party’s presidential nomination and it was anybody’s guess who would ultimately prevail.
    But vice presidential nominees don’t run for that job. They are picked by the head of the party’s ticket. And before they are picked, they are “mentioned” by pundits and politicos, for whom speculating about potential vice presidential running mates is a quadrennial ritual.
    Thus was it that Susana Martinez, first woman to be elected governor in New Mexico, first Hispanic woman to be elected in any state, enjoyed a flurry of “mentioning” as a prospective Republican vice presidential nominee in the 2012 fall election.

  • Doomsday predictions are usually doomed to failure

    Dec. 21, 2012.  It will be the end of the world as we know it!
    Yeah, right. We should be so lucky.
    Doomsday prophets have prospered throughout the ages by feeding off end-of-the-world phobias. One of the more recent nutcases forewarning global cataclysm was Harold Camping who predicted that the world would end on May 21, 2011.
    Camping’s vision of destruction was however mathematically sound. 2011 is a prime number and is itself the sum of 11 consecutive prime numbers (with 11 likewise being prime). What better prime time for a prime disaster?
    So his chant rang out. “The world is ending! The world is ending!  Give me all your money!”
    And people did. But when the “final day” came and went without incident, Camping announced that the date had changed to Oct. 21, 2011.
    “The world is ending! The world is ending! Give me all your money!”
    And again, people did. Yeah, it’s easy to laugh at him, but that clown accumulated $75 million from his circus followers. Not bad for a small doomsday cult.
    I’ve never understood the logic behind the money part.
    With Judgment Day right around the corner, I suppose some people hope that they can buy themselves a few million years reprieve from Purgatory?

  • NASA weighs in on apocalypse debate

    SANTA FE – This is the month the world is supposed to end. Doomsday prophets have been predicting it for centuries – at least since the ancient Sumerians who thought a planet was headed toward Earth. But for some reason December 2012 has become a very popular target.
    So popular, in fact, that NASA has found it necessary to explain that the world as we know it will not end any time soon. It will not end because of the Mayan calendar, a polar shift, a meteor, a solar storm, a super nova, planetary alignment or a reversal in the rotation of the earth.
    The most popular dates for The End are Dec. 21-25. Most popular of all is Dec. 21, possibly because it also is the winter solstice. There likely are predictions for today, 12-12-12; possibly because it is the last time this century that such a duplication of numbers is possible.
    Personally I align with the group that considers such dates lucky. County clerks reported that 11-11-11 was a favorite day for obtaining marriage licenses. We’ll have extra reason to celebrate the beginning of a new year because we will have once again averted The Apocalypse.
    NASA even ventured into dangerous philosophical territory by declaring that the world has been getting along just fine for more than four billion years and that credible scientists see no threat associated with 2012.