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Today's Opinions

  • Medical marijuana program should come before legalized recreational use

    Returning from a long drive through Marijuanaland, also known as Colorado, I can report that there is no massive transformation. No potheads loitering in the streets. And citizens are still earnestly debating the subject.
    Proponents of legalized cannabis in New Mexico weave tales of vast riches from tax revenues, but it’s not entirely working out that way.
    Colorado’s law has a local option provision, so each county gets to decide whether it wants marijuana dispensaries. Some counties have voted it down, and others have yet to vote.
    As for tax revenues, a youthful source told me the taxes are so high it’s cheaper to buy it on the street. Recreational users pay a 2.9 percent state sales tax, a 10 percent special marijuana sales tax and a 15 percent retail excise tax.
    Because it’s legal to grow six plants, 40 percent goes untaxed, according to the Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division. The projected $48 million in marijuana taxes for the fiscal year ending in June withered to $12 million.
    One of my friends complains that Mary Jane’s tax revenues can only be used to build schools — the excise tax’s first $40 million is earmarked for school construction — but some communities don’t need to build a school. They need to improve the schools they have.

  • Credit 101 for the college freshman

    To parents with a freshman entering college this fall: You’re probably expecting to shell out major bucks for tuition, room and board and a million other necessities over the next few years. But before you send your kid off, make sure you share one gift likely to steer him or her along the road to financial security — a sound understanding of how credit works.
    You probably learned the hard way yourself that young adults encounter many unfamiliar expenses — and temptations — upon entering college or the workforce. So it’s important to help your kids avoid early financial missteps that could damage their credit for years to come.
    The first step in managing personal finances is mastering the basic checking account and debit card. A few tips you can pass along:
    • Look for a bank or credit union that charges no monthly usage fee, requires no minimum balance and has conveniently located ATMs so you don’t rack up foreign ATM charges.
    • Enter all transactions in a check register or in a budgeting tool like Mint.com and review your account online at least weekly to verify when deposits, checks, purchases and automatic payments have cleared.

  • Pecos league completes fourth year of independent baseball

    Professional baseball continues in New Mexico through Labor Day with the Triple-A Albuquerque Isotopes and spillover into the lower Mesilla Valley from the first-year El Paso Chihuahuas, also a Triple-A team.
    New Mexico had other baseball, organized and professional, during the summer of 2014 and it is that effort that this column pauses from all the state government matters of recent weeks to honor and applaud.
    Wait. The question might come from much of the state, “What other baseball?”
    Answer: The Pecos League of Professional Clubs.
    If the Pecos League seems a little obscure, that’s because in the grand world of baseball, it is. The Pecos League is one of eight independent baseball leagues. “Independent” means not tied to major league baseball, unlike the 20 leagues Wikipedia tells us are “affiliated.”
    Since I paid any attention to this as a kid 55 years ago or so, the old Triple-A, Double-A, A, B, C and D structure has turned into Triple-A, Double-A, High-A, Low-A, Short Season A, Advanced Rookie, Rookie and the Arizona Fall League.
    The Madison (Wisconsin) Mallards of the Northwoods League is the only one of the many minor league teams with which I have the slightest acquaintance other than the Albuquerque Isotopes.

  • Seducing Independents

    Early this year Gallup pollsters released a survey showing fully 42 percent of American voters either “lean,” or are registered as Independents.
    Only 31 percent of those responding to the poll said they are registered Democrats. Even fewer, 25 percent, were registered Republicans.
    Much has been made of these numbers.
    Some political onlookers find it ironic that members of Congress from a political party with only a quarter of nation’s registered voters are consistently able to block key legislation to the point of nearly shutting down the government. Others wondered how, in congressional elections two years ago, a mere 25 percent of registered voters managed to get enough of their fellow Republicans elected so as to have an outright majority in the U.S. House capable of blocking such legislation — especially since analyses of 2012 election returns reveal that fully 1.1 million more voters nationally cast their ballots for Democratic congressional candidates than Republican candidates?
    Questions of that sort vex politicians and strategists in both parties and the answers vary. Some say Republicans are more apt to vote than Democrats, and that may be the case — especially in off-year elections.

  • Facts about water in Los Alamos

    Third of a series

  • Even better shopping through math

    John Dienes’ suggestions using the TSP (Traveling Salesman Problem) and the Held-Karp algorithm are interesting, but they are only unproven theories which ignore the fact that Smith’s Marketplace is operated by Master Marketers using us as experimental animals in a giant maze.
    They are using the 2(MM+ DC=GS) X CM with the proven polynomial factor showing that, with Master Marketing, the Distance Covered increases the number of products seen, thus producing Greater Sales, times the number of customers traveling the Maze, of course.
    You will notice that the partitions, shelves, interior wine store with its guardian knight, plus the fruit and deli delights are positioned at odd angles to increase the traveling time through the Maze. Eye candy, (look at the clothing and china displays), incites sales.
    The solution to the shopping problem is therefore 2(PMP+KB)= EE2 where PMP signifies Practice Makes Perfect plus Knowledge of Bargains equals double Enjoyment and Exercise! One must use repeat visits to learn the Maze locations, resist the eye candy, knowing we are being manipulated, but enjoying the bargains such as the 50 cent ice cream cone, (which is half the price of one at the Golden Arches), and the beautiful view as you eat it at an umbrella table on the canyon-side patio.

  • Right-To-Work laws

    Mixed in with Paul Gessing’s op-ed in Wednesday’s Los Alamos Monitor regarding whether it is good policy to offer $500 million to Tesla, a policy which people of all political persuasions may question, were statements about how “right-to-work” was not “anti-union” and that lowering “corporate taxes” to zero would be a great idea.
    Let’s be clear about right-to-work laws. They sound reasonable, but they are definitely “ANTI-union,” because as federal labor law currently reads, all employees at a business receive the same benefits obtained under a union contract, whether they belong to the union or not. The result is that under right-to-work laws some employees will receive the benefits of a union contract without joining the union or paying dues.
    With fewer workers in the union and fewer resources from dues, the union has less bargaining power, reducing the ability of the union to obtain the best contract, ultimately lowering employee wages and other benefits, and increasing the owners’ profits.

  • Water solutions at an affordable cost

    Second of a series
    One of the major issues in this town is water: do we have enough to keep this a green community, at an affordable cost?
    Contamination Threats and Mitigation
    Laboratory operations since the 1940s resulted in a wide array of chemical releases, often in effluent discharged from wastewater treatment facilities. Many millions of dollars have been spent to monitor and remediate the environmental contamination caused.
    Reactive contaminants, including plutonium and other radionuclides, tend to adhere to solid surfaces, so they usually have not moved very far in groundwater. In fact, wastewater effluent (now treated to strict standards to prevent further contamination) is used to irrigate vegetation holding soil in place to keep previously deposited surface contamination from spreading.
    Non-reactive contaminants, including hexavalent chromium, tritium, nitrate and explosives components perchlorate and RDX, have traveled farther in our groundwater, in some cases reaching portions of our aquifer. The presence of these contaminants above naturally occurring levels has not been detected in our water supply wells, but unless carefully monitored and properly remediated, they could threaten our water supply.