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Columns

  • Watch the water grab case

    Newly appointed State Engineer Scott Verhines just made his first big decision, denying an application to Augustin Plains Ranch in its standoff with federal and state agencies, counties, ditch companies, environmentalists, locals, and tribes.
    It’s a case all of New Mexico should be watching.
    West of Datil in Catron County, promoters want to drill 37 wells 20 inches across and 3,500 feet deep, and pump 54,000 acre-feet of water a year for 300 years. That’s a breathtaking amount of water – enough to supply half of Albuquerque’s needs. In fact, the Rio Grande Valley would be the market.

  • Future not bleak on energy front

    Harold Morgan’s article entitled PNM turns profitable is interesting and thought provoking. It’s good news hearing that PNMis  profitable again.
    Harold aptly pointed out the technical, environmental and political difficulties when supplying enough electricity for the wants/needs of New Mexico’s population, service, manufacturing and agricultural industries. Obviously PNM and its investors deserve profits.
    Historical DOW indexes reveal that share values and profits for most major energy-producers are cyclic, rising and falling by as much as 80 percent.

  • A peep of a cottontail

    There’s an old joke about a farm boy who sneaks into the chicken coop one night and paints all the eggs different bright colors.
     The next morning when the rooster walks in, he sees all the colored eggs.  The rooster promptly storms outside the coop and kills the peacock.
    Easter is a fascinating holiday, full of tradition, folklore and calories.  Despite its religious significance, its history is entrenched in myth and ritual, the most prominent of course being a Harvey-like rabbit that sneaks into your house at night to leave chocolate and eggs for your kids.  
    Kind of like that creepy old guy up north who knows when they’re sleeping, knows when they’re awake.

  • Can’t pay your taxes?

    If you’re worried you won’t be able to pay your income taxes by this year’s April 17 filing date, don’t panic; but don’t ignore the deadline and certainly don’t wait for the IRS to reach out to you first. Acting quickly not only gives you more repayment options, it can also significantly lower penalties you might owe the government.
    By not filing your 2011 federal tax return or asking for an extension by April 17, 2012, the penalty on any taxes you owe increases dramatically  –  usually 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. But file your return/extension on time and the penalty drops tenfold to 0.5 percent.

  • More colorful characters

    SANTA FE — As part of this column’s centennial coverage, I am pleased to write about colorful legislators. I may miss a few from the early days before I arrived on the scene.
    I begin with Louise Coe, the first woman elected to the state Senate. Her political rise was not easy. Women had attained the right to vote only six years earlier. Coe went on to become president pro tem of the Senate. She is the only woman ever elected to that position.
    A strong, determined woman, Coe married into a Lincoln County ranching family that included George and Frank Coe who rode with Billy the Kid. Her husband Wilber Coe stayed home to run the Coe’s Ranch on the Ruidoso, the title of Wilbur’s autobiography.

  • Resurrection of faith

    Cancer and Faith, particularly religious faith, is a complicated and empassioned subject, one I usually steer clear of. But a recent article in the Los Angeles Times, by Lawrence Krauss, questioned what faith really is, given our ever increasing knowledge of cosmology and quantum mechanics.
    It’s a subject which is especially soul searching for cancer survivors, who are forced to address their own mortality and the meaning of their lives frequently. For some, it reaffirms their religious faith in which they find solice. For others, it reawakens years of separation from their faith as they start to understand their God’s plan. And for the rest of us it raises many unresolved questions.

  • Wilson wins pre-GOP nod

    “Short, Bald, Honest” must surely rank among the most droll political slogans ever to enliven the campaign of a candidate for the United States Senate.
    On the other hand, it obviously didn’t do Greg Sowards a lot of good with New Mexico Republican party insiders at the state GOP’s March 17 Pre-Primary Convention in Albuquerque, where over 80 percent of the delegates voted to give former-Congresswoman Heather Wilson top ballot position over Sowards in their June 5 primary election.
    Have Republicans lost their sense of humor?

  • Clean up the racing industry

    Some people were shocked by the revelation that five New Mexico race tracks had the worst safety records in the nation.
    According to the New York Times, trainers here “illegally pump sore horses full of painkillers to mask injury” and race them; if they’re caught the penalties are minimal. In the last three years, some 3,600 horses died at state-regulated tracks nationwide. In just 13 days in 2010, nine horses died racing at Sunland Park, five were hauled away, and two jockeys were hospitalized, one in critical condition.
    The March 24 story features a photo of a dead racehorse at a Ruidoso dump, its broken front leg visible, and a video interview with Jacky Martin, a New Mexico jockey paralyzed after his horse went down.

  • Keep businesses safe from hackers

    Many business owners fear computer data breaches, but they don’t know where to start protecting themselves from information-highway robbers. Some wonder why they should spend money on sophisticated security systems when hackers can get around them. But a business doesn’t have to spend a fortune to introduce basic IT security measures that can significantly reduce its vulnerability.
    Know the enemy
    Small-business owners assume hackers only seek big money from big businesses. But hackers like small ventures because most have minimal security. Hackers likewise prey on business travelers who use unprotected mobile phones and electronic devices to send sensitive information.

  • PNM turns profitable

    Utilities have their moments.
    The Socorro Electric Co-op is working through several years of disputes and lawsuits that aren’t quite up to the low comedy standards of city officials in Santa Teresa and Columbus.
    I remember former PNM Resources Chairman Jeff Sterba doing his best Al Gore imitation at annual meetings a few years ago. Sterba’s passion for the absolute inevitability of ugly results from global warming was something to behold. Compact fluorescent light bulbs became an annual meeting souvenir.