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Today's Opinions

  • Competent, open-minded manager can fix CYFD

    Since the governor surprised us with her announcement that Tourism Secretary Monique Jacobson will move over to the beleaguered Children Youth and Families Department, we’ve heard some pointed objections.
    Namely, what does Jacobson know about child abuse?
    Point taken. Personally, I regret the loss of the energetic, personable Jacobson from our tourism efforts.
    That said, this reshuffling could work. But it’s a qualified “could.”
    Since young Omaree Varela broke our hearts last year, we’ve learned a lot about CYFD: chronic understaffing, overworked and underpaid social workers, mismanagement from top to bottom, and poor communications with police.
    Former and current workers described salaries lower than other government workers, constant turnover in staff because of poor management, a cliquish atmosphere in which promotions and even office furniture depended on who you know.
    According to the Legislative Council Service, the time needed to complete an investigation increased from 58.2 days in 2008 to 86.4 days in 2012.
    One organization’s study, released in March, found:
    CYFD investigators receive a few months’ training. Other states in the region require six months’ training before they receive their first case.

  • The rare place where renewable energy advocates and environmentalists agree

    We all expect to pay a price for missing deadlines, but not the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
    For the past two years, the EPA has failed to meet the deadline under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), requiring the agency to tell refiners how much ethanol to blend into gasoline.
    In November 2013, the EPA did make an attempt to announce the proposed 2014 blend levels — which by then were already months past the legally mandated deadline. The EPA set the proposed 2014 standard to a level lower than 2013s, even though the law requires increasing amounts.
    Ethanol producers, who were expecting the usual uptick, loudly opposed the reduction. They made so much noise, the EPA agreed to reconsider. To date, the 2014 standards have not yet been announced.
    Then, in November 2014, the EPA announced it would make a decision in 2015 on how much ethanol refiners had to add to gasoline in 2014.
    Congress enacted the RFS in 2005 and revised it in 2007 —which also provided incentives to America’s fledgling ethanol industry. At the time, gasoline demand was rising to an all-time high and oil imports comprised more than 58 percent of U.S. oil consumption.
    Then the world changed.
    The U.S. economy plunged into its worst recession ever, unemployment soared, and gasoline demand fell sharply.

  • New Mexico Dems in birthday suits

    I didn’t realize that there’s a “reality” TV series called “Dating Naked” until last weekend, when I came across mention of it in a review of the new book “How to be a Victorian.”
    “Living, as we do,” the reviewer mused, “in a culture so vulgar as to barely yawn” at television programs like “Dating Naked,” It’s little wonder that people glamorize the Victorian era of yore.
    There probably isn’t a single mover-and-shaker in New Mexico’s Democratic Party these days who gives a hoot about the Victorians, but if the November election was any kind of effort at courtship a lot of them emerged from the encounter stripped down to their political skivvies if not of their birthday suits.
    Any realistic stock-taking of the terrain on which they currently stand makes it abundantly clear that they are in “deep dodo,” to filch a phrase popularized some years back by former President George H.W. Bush.
    At the state level, their party is basically leaderless and has been for some time and will be for some time to come.

  • To PRC, urge PNM to invest in New Mexico

    I am a residential solar installer working in Albuquerque for Positive Energy Solar.
    I humbly request that you reject both PNM’s proposed power replacement plan for the San Juan Generating Station and the proposed rate case on economic, public health and environmental grounds to make way for clean, renewable energies in the Land of Enchantment.
    In its 2013 Commission Code of Conduct (Res. No. 01-03-13), the commission resolved to “treat the office of commissioner as a public trust by using the powers of the office solely for the benefit of the public rather than for any personal benefit.”
    Spending a combined $576 million on gas, coal, nuclear energy purchases and generating capacity does not serve the best interests of the public. Similarly, a dramatic rate increase falling disproportionately on residential customers has no benefit for the vast majority of New Mexicans. Contrarily, it bodes well for PNM’s investors, who received an 8.1 percent dividend increase on Dec. 9.
    Instead of draining dividends out of New Mexico, PNM should invest in its state.
    The company’s PR folks deem their plan as the “most cost-effective option for customers out of thousands analyzed for cost, risk and reliability.”

  • Smith plans gas tax ‘message bill’

    The headlines and presenter observations from the New Mexico Tax Research Legislative Outlook Conference provide a brief indication of economic and tax matters coming in the 2015 legislative session. The conference was Dec. 16 in Albuquerque.
    Tom Clifford, secretary of the Department of Finance and Administration: Part of the severance tax bonding capacity will be earmarked for highways in the southeast.
    Charles Sallee, deputy director of the Legislative Finance Committee: Medicaid pays for 70 percent of the births in New Mexico. A quarter of the children entering kindergarten in high poverty schools are unable to identify one letter. Eighty percent of children are behind on the day they enter kindergarten. The problem with children who are behind is not ethnicity; it is poverty.
    Gary Tonjes, president of Albuquerque Economic Development: He supports the increase from $15 million to $50 million that is proposed for the Local Economic Development Act by the Jobs Council interim legislative committee. The money serves as a job closing fund from which state government provides capital for business expansion.
    “As a result (of the previous increase to $15 million), deals are happening. We are far more competitive,” Tonjes said.

  • Letter to the editor 1-4-15

    Thanks to county workers
    Before I even dragged myself out of bed on New Year’s morning, I heard the snowplow go by on my street. I have also heard that the dedicated county workers who provided this valuable service were advised to restrict their previous night New Year’s Eve celebrations in order to be prepared for the call that would come so early.
    I thank them for both their service and their related self-abnegation.

    Terry Goldman
    Los Alamos
     

  • Return on investment begins at the drawing board

    Businesses invest lots of human and capital resources into marketing, asset purchases and outreach. Their goal, of course, is to generate the best return on every dollar spent, every hour worked and every keystroke made.
    Return on investment, or ROI, measures how much money or other tangible benefits the business makes on every investment.
    For example, if a business invests in a modern computer system to expand its reach and improve its service to Internet shoppers, the return on investment would measure how many new customers it gained and how much these newcomers spent. These gains would be analyzed in relation to the amount of the investment.
    ROI should be considered for every business investment, and various formulas can be used.
    Classic formulas
    and variations
    To calculate the classic ROI formula, the prospective business investor divides the cost of the investment into the estimated benefit or gain — the returns after costs are subtracted.
    The equation, expressed as a percentage, looks like this: Percent ROI = (Gains – Cost) / Cost.
    It seems straightforward and simple: A negative number equals a poor ROI, while a positive one suggests a good investment — and the higher the positive number the better the investment potential.

  • See what became of the pit rule


    It is only a paper moon sailing over a cardboard sea …”
    These vintage lyrics chronicle the human condition. The words ring true in matters as normal and dramatic as the circus and political theatrics.
    Theatrics held the spotlight for years in the saga of New Mexico’s rule for safeguarding the soil and water while drilling wells to produce oil and gas. The rule sought to have drilling leave less waste on the land.
    The saga was recaptured in short form in a mid-2013 story in the Carlsbad Current-Argus. The news report read in part: “The Oil Conservation Commission approved the so-called pit rule Thursday, following testimony and deliberations that spanned more than a year. The regulations govern how producers handle drilling mud and other waste in pits, buried tanks, sumps and closed-loop systems.
    “The industry had argued that regulations adopted in 2008 and 2009 pushed producers from the state, costing New Mexico jobs and revenue. They petitioned in 2011 for the regulations to be amended.”
    The first step toward a rule is sufficient years of technical work. A leader in that work was a retiree from Los Alamos National Laboratory, Dr. Don Neeper, representing New Mexico Citizens for Clean Air & Water.