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Columns

  • 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.

  • A possible cure for corruption?

    Is New Mexico the most corrupt state in the nation? You’ve seen the news. It looks pretty bad. Many national organizations are interested about corruption in the states.
     On most of their rankings, New Mexico falls somewhere in the middle. The last one I saw ranked us 19th. Political corruption we hear about most often seems to occur in Illinois, New Jersey and Louisiana. But those states donít rank near the top of the corruption scale either.
     It is often little, out-of-the-way states like North Dakota or Vermont that head the corruption list. How can that be? We never hear about it.

  • Talking retiree health care

    The news from the New Mexico Retiree Health Care Authority is that things could be worse, but they are not exactly great.
    If you are one of the 22,000 state and local government and public school retirees covered for health insurance through this program, or a current employee looking to this program for your future, you might want to pay attention.
    RHCA has managed to save itself from several financial and political scrapes and survived to this point. At the moment, the program has projected solvency for the next 15 years.  Sort of.

  • Counting the bottles of beer

     The first week of April brings a welcomed break to students in our school district.  During the nearly two weeks off, they get to spend time thinking those deep thoughts that usually command a young student’s mind.  You know, things like “Uh, what do you want to do today?”
      Thinking about the present can be a daunting task, especially if you make the mistake of thinking about something that actually takes neural energy.  Why not spend that time doing something more comfortable, less complicated, more productive.  For example, how about counting to fifty thousand?