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Today's Opinions

  • The consequences of Susana Martinez’s decision to destroy higher education

    A few weeks ago, Susana Martinez vetoed funding for every state college and university. All of it.

    Since then, neither she nor House Republican leaders have proposed a plan to restore it. Because every public school relies on New Mexico for 30 percent-50 percent of their budgets, if not changed this decision will annihilate them.

    What does this mean for you? Plenty.Without funding, schools will either completely shut down or offer dramatically less education for much higher tuition; meaning many of our kids will have to go away for university. We will then have a less educated workforce, like engineers to design our roads, accountants for our businesses, and doctors to take care of us when we are sick.

    Furthermore, two-year schools provide technical programs for well-paid, steady careers like commercial truck drivers, welders, and X-ray techs. Those, as well as specialized classes for wind energy at Mesalands Community College in Tucumcari and aviation maintenance at ENMU-Roswell, could disappear.

    And does your child participate in a high school dual-credit course? Those are probably gone.

    The governor’s veto will obliterate jobs. Businesses start and grow where they can find people educated in areas like the ones described above; so they won’t start or grow here when those programs vanish.

  • Shaking the money tree in D.C.

    BY BOB HAGAN
    Coffee on a Cold Morning

  • Continuous improvement helps Belen manufacturer go global

    Sisneros Brothers Manufacturing embodies the entrepreneurial notion that finding the right niche can transform talent into business success.
    Avenicio Sisneros, founder of the Belen company, began as a cabinetmaker in the 1950s but shifted to making and installing sheet metal ducting for houses in 1987. With him were sons Martin, Alex and Philip.
    Demand quickly grew beyond the residential market, and the company began manufacturing and installing ductwork for larger commercial customers. By 1990, Sisneros Brothers abandoned installation altogether to focus on manufacturing custom sheet metal ductwork for a wide variety of customers.
    In 2001, the Sisneros leadership team consulted the New Mexico Manufacturing Extension Partnership (NM MEP) to get ideas about streamlining production and eliminating inefficiencies. The nonprofit organization helps businesses increase profitability and competitiveness, transforming them into lean and efficient engines of growth.
    The results of NM MEP-inspired changes impressed company principals, and Sisneros Brothers returned to NM MEP a decade later when CEO Martin Sisneros decided it was time to grow and diversify the customer base.

  • Judge Gorsuch rates applause for decisions in Indian Country

    Indian Country, surprisingly, supports the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the U. S. Supreme Court.
    The Native American Rights Fund and the National Congress of American Indians recently endorsed the nominee. NARF, in case you haven’t heard of it, has been at the forefront of Indian law for nearly a half century.
    “Judge Gorsuch has significantly more experience with Indian law cases than any other recent Supreme Court nominee,” NARF informed tribal leaders recently.
    That high praise and a number of tribal endorsements (including the Navajo Nation), have transformed Gorsuch into something of a hero among Native American rights advocates, but it may be premature.
    During his years on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals Gorsuch has participated in 39 Indian cases, of which 28 involved significant questions of Indian law.
    Out of those 28 cases, tribal interests won 16, or 57 percent, NARF said.
    The late Justice Antonin Scalia routinely opposed tribal interests, and the rest of the Supremes haven’t been receptive to tribal arguments, so Gorsuch compares favorably.
    Most important to tribes is the concept of tribal sovereignty.
    Tribal sovereignty is one of those concepts that freshman legislators and lawyers new to the Southwest trip over once.

  • What does retirement look like if you haven’t saved?

    The picture of retirement that many of us have is a post-work period filled with travel and plenty of relaxation. It’s a time when you can finally take up a new hobby, sink into the pile of books and enjoy more time with family and friends.
    The reality is that many haven’t been able to save enough money to enjoy this idealized retirement. What might their retirement look like?
    You may be working for longer than you expected. Many people undergo a period of “phased retirement” and either reduce their hours or start a new part-time job after retiring from a full-time schedule. Even those who don’t have a financial need may find that they value the activity and connections work brings to their lives. Without savings, continuing to work might not be a choice, but you can still look for fulfilling opportunities.
    Continuing within the same profession part-time or taking on related consulting work could be the most financially rewarding route, if it’s an option. Alternatives such as customer service positions with a retailer are popular among some retirees. There are also Internet-based jobs that allow you to work from home.
    Social Security could be your sole source of income. Retirees who don’t have a pension or savings and stop working may find that Social Security is their only income.

  • Algae’s best times may lie ahead

    An algae bloom, also known as an algal bloom, is but one of the ways this old, old life form makes news. An algae bloom can look like a floating green garden, a red tide or a muddy brown oil spill.
    Algae is the collective term for a large and diverse group of aquatic plants that were early ramblers on Earth. Besides a long history, algae also have a rare ability to grow fast. An algae bloom is a rapid growth in the population of algae in a local aquatic system. Depending on the algae, blooms have special colors and can do great harm to an ecosystem. The toxic effects of some algae blooms can kill fish and mammals and threaten urban water supplies. Researchers are finding ways to combat the damage from these sudden overgrowths.
    Meanwhile, other researchers are busy finding ways to get more good from the good algae, of which there are many. The oddities of algae may help fill two of the modern world’s fast growing needs – food and fuels.
    Algae were food fit for guests in ancient China. Similar discoveries were made in Japan, Hawaii and even cropped up in Ireland.
    After World War II, a taste for seaweed, or “nori,” spread to the US with
    Japanese food. As the land gets more crowded, interest grows in the possibilities of algae for food.

  • Albuquerque scores the jobs for January-to-January year

    Randomly touring the state’s job numbers is worthy if only for the ritual. Trend reminders lurk—Albuquerque’s apparent economic dominance reappearing and rural problems. Another element is the Legislature’s cut-and-paste budget that kicks the can of real change so far down the road that it produces just a distant plink as it bounces.
    Over the month from December 2016 to January 2017, the state lost 19,400 jobs, 1,300 more than the 18,100 dropped from December 2015 to January 2016. For the year just past, the state’s 900-job increase represents a slight reversal from the 1,800 jobs lost between January 2015 and January 2016.
    The January 2016 to January 2017 net job performance for New Mexico’s four metro areas was 2,300 more wage jobs. Albuquerque and Las Cruces respectively added 3,800 and 800 jobs. Farmington lost 1,800 and Santa Fe, 500. The state added a net of 900 jobs, meaning that the 26 rural counties lost 1,400 jobs (2,300 minus 900 = 1,400).
    The 6.7 percent January unemployment rate that got the headlines was seasonally adjusted. The unadjusted January rate was 7 percent. The February rate increased to 6.8 percent, again seasonally adjusted.

  • When legislators tackle big reforms, movement translates as progress

    Lawmakers this year took on some major reforms of old issues hovering over the state like turkey vultures waiting for road kill.  
    Interest groups ranging from Common Cause to the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce proclaimed progress. Maybe not as much as we hoped, but progress.
    The big reform bills were ethics, campaign finance, capital outlay, payday lending and taxes. Many were bipartisan.
    Years in the making, the ethics bill began bravely by standing up an independent ethics commission with subpoena power, protected by the Constitution. When it emerged after pummeling in various hearings, it was missing language that required complaints and hearings to be public, and the Legislature, not the law, will determine the commission’s powers and rules.
    Changes reflect legislators’ residual fear that the commission could become a political weapon.
    So voters in November 2018 will decide on a constitutional amendment creating an independent ethics commission.
    Common Cause and business groups cheered. New Mexico Ethics Watch booed, saying lawmakers gutted a strong bill.
    Kudos to Rep. Jim Dines, R-Albuquerque, who patiently listened to input and welcomed suggestions. The hearings themselves were a marvel. Instead of trying to kill the bill, lawmakers worked with Dines to fine tune the bill.