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Columns

  • Alexander and work comp reform

    Ben Alexander was still going strong the last time I saw him, about 10 years ago, when he sat on a panel for a retrospective on the New Mexico workers’ compensation reform of 1990.  He had been an indispensable member of the task force that labored for months hammering out a compromise to save the state’s economy.
    Alexander died in January at age 91. He is remembered for his political activism, chairmanship of numerous boards, philanthropic activity, and for always being willing to travel from his home town of Hobbs to wherever he was needed.   

  • My mouth went off

    I was sitting in the lobby of the “Innocent Little Angels Child Care Center,” waiting for my friend as he was picking up his toddler.
    Suddenly, I started cursing, spitting out a stream of obscenities that would make a sailor blush.  I did feel a bit guilty about all those crying children.
     This incident reminded me of the week before when I was visiting the “Golden Years Nursing Home.”
    There too, without warning, I suddenly blurted out a few hundred choice verbs, adjectives, and colorful metaphors.  I’m not sure why so many old people were clutching their chests.  Maybe something they ate?

  • Questioning the county

  • Stop the insanity

    The troubled economy, both here and in Europe, has dominated most people’s thoughts.
    Yet all around us are threats, with far reaching consequences to the national security of the United States, which must be dealt with….either on our terms or our enemy’s terms!
    In the simmering caldron of the Middle East, Iran’s radical Islamist leaders continue their progress toward attaining a nuclear weapon. And while they do that, unfettered by the timid foreign policy of the Obama administration, they create trouble wherever they can.
    Examples include their active support of the brutal Assad Regime in Syria which becomes a dependent surrogate that will aid and abet their ambition to control the entire Middle East, and destroy Israel.

  • Grading schools on a curve

    Candidate and current President Barack Obama recently let 10 states off the educational hook, as it were, by waiving their need to follow the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) requirements.
    Eleven states wanted out of the legislation, but one lowly state was, er, left behind.  
    Ours.
    Aside from this being another deliberate act by the Obama Administration to skirt Congress – a nasty habit that Americans are becoming enured to – a cynical person might take a look at the 10 states that got a pass and think, “Well, in an election year you’d probably want to make sure teachers and soccer moms in Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oklahoma, and Tennessee remember who grades their papers.

  • Seeking the bottom of the real estate market

    Seeking the bottom of the real estate market in New Mexico isn’t quite the fantasy of our quest for an interim committee meeting in Santa Rosa last summer. Unlike at the Blue Hole Dive Training and Santa Rosa Conference Center, signs exist in the real estate world. The signs have numbers—monthly, quarterly and annual sales figures. Some hope may exist.
    For existing home sales, a rough rule of thumb used to exist. Something like, more population means more jobs, which means more home sales.
    At best the rule is hampered by today’s reality of foreclosures, financing difficulties and  homes worth less than the amount of the mortgage, even if the owners are making the monthly mortgage payments.
    That said, let’s look around.

  • Two party system has got to go

    Mr. Pawlak was so close to “hitting the nail on the head with the hammer”, (I believe that was one of Reagan’s favorite sayings, but I may be wrong). There’s only one problem this country has that is going to be our downfall within a generation. The two party system.

  • He said, she said

    Newspapers are fond of offering you the quote of the day. Before returning, in coming weeks, to commentary on the legislative session’s big issues, I give you Quotes of the Session:
    Rep. Mimi Stewart, D-Albuquerque: “Unlike the Senate, we move quicker. They take a lot longer, and they don’t meet as often.” Comment during a meeting of the House Health and Government Affairs Committee, which Stewart chairs.
    Sen. George Muñoz, D-Gallup: “The House passes all these bills, and the Senate has to clean ‘em up.”

  • Light cast on social promotion

     What’s the secret to teaching kids to read? Many New Mexicans have been seriously pondering that question for well over a year. And even though nothing has passed the legislature, the focus on the problem is beginning to produce some good ideas. But some mysteries remain.
    The reason for this focus is the effort by Gov. Susana Martinez and Public Education Department Secretary-designate Hanna Skandera to not allow students to advance beyond the third grade level unless they read proficiently.
    The idea seemed rather extreme. The thought of 15-year-old third graders is scary. Guess who is going to be the class bully and the most disruptive student.

  • Year is up for Martinez

     A couple of months after Susana Martinez took office, I ran into an old friend who was once active in Republican party affairs and asked him whether he thought the new governor was up to the job.
    “Not yet,” he replied with a chuckle, “but give her a year and she should be.”
    My friend’s tempered response came in the wake of Martinez’s nomination of former Republican U.S. Sen. Harrison Schmitt to be her secretary of the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department.