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Today's Opinions

  • N.M. banks too small? Loan opportunities wanted

    Some banks are too small to succeed, suggests Joe Ricketts, founder of TD Ameritrade and presumably someone who knows his way around the financial world. Maybe “too small” means having assets under $10 billion, Ricketts wrote in the Oct. 30 Wall Street Journal.

    Presented with Ricketts’ observation, a senior executive of a New Mexico-based bank chuckled. He’s not talking about New Mexico, the banker said.

    Maybe Ricketts has a point. Consider: Wells Fargo Bank of San Francisco, headquartered near the Union Square shopping mecca, counts $8.5 billion of deposits in New Mexico. For the whole bank, the deposit total is around $1.3 trillion. At less than 1 percent of the company, New Mexico doesn’t make afterthought status.

    Wells’ New Mexico deposit total dropped $450 million between June 30, 2016, and June 30, 2017, according to the deposit market share report from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, a regulator. That loss is more than the total deposits of all but 15 banks doing business in New Mexico. Three of the 14 branches closed across the state during the period were Wells Fargo branches. The state had 473 branches as of June 30.

  • Businesses unsettled by DACA uncertainty

    FINANCE NEW MEXICO

    Barring congressional intervention, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program is ending, and DACA recipients — or “Dreamers” — are subject to deportation when their work permits expire if they didn’t get an extension before the Oct. 5 deadline.

    The demise of the program has created uncertainty among employers who are required to fire DACA recipients the day after their permits expire but risk discrimination charges if they act too soon to terminate — or even identify — DACA recipients on their payrolls.

    Companies risk fines for employing ineligible workers. They’re also advised to prepare carefully for this sudden change in circumstances for up to 800,000 young people whose parents brought them into the United States without proper documentation when they were children.

    A delicate question

    All employees, regardless of their citizenship status, must fill out an I-9 form and provide multiple forms of identification to verify their eligibility to work in the United States. Noncitizen workers carry papers that authorize them to work here temporarily; the paperwork includes a code that specifies the basis for the permit, but employers are discouraged from using the code to identify DACA recipients.

  • If sanctuary school, then kiss $8 million goodbye!

    BY LISA SHIN
    Guest Editorial

    On August 29, 2017, our County Council unanimously passed a proclamation honoring the contributions of immigrants. Compared to the earlier version in April, specific language was removed, its tone was softened, and a more strident “resolution” was changed to a “proclamation,” which did not require a vote. Although Councilor O’Leary called it a “milquetoast,” “weak half measure of timid support,” Councilor Maggiore recognized “that the original was a little inflammatory, a little reactionary to what just transpired on the national scene...” “We’re not actually trying to create new laws or turn the county into a sanctuary county,” because we would be “fools to do that.” Councilor Sheehey, remarked “I see this as a statement of values. I have no intention of trying to push our county into some kind of a legal battle about sanctuary cities.”

  • So-called monuments review was much ado about much ado

    The dreaded national monument review stirred up the dust and is now disappearing.
    In April the administration called for a review of 27 national monuments, including two in New Mexico and two nearby in Utah, to examine “another egregious use of federal power,” as the president put it. After many protests and photos of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke on horseback, what’s happened is: Not much.
    The blowback was hotter than Zinke and the administration anticipated; public comments, overwhelmingly in support, topped 2.3 million. New Mexicans submitted the largest number of comments per capita (97,000). Supporters went all out to demonstrate that these monuments weren’t just an environmental fantasy – they were created after long study and public hearings, and all but Utah’s monuments enjoyed broad public support.
    From the beginning, it was obvious that the main target was the 1.35 million-acre Bears Ears National Monument in southeastern Utah, established by President Obama at the end of his term. The two buttes that give Bear’s Ears its name lie just north of the Navajo Reservation.

  • Virginia victory a referendum on President Trump

    The Roanoke Times on Democrats’ victory in Virginia serving as a referendum on President Donald Trump:

    Donald Trump lost Tuesday. Bigly.

    He wasn’t on the ballot in Virginia but make no mistake, he’s the reason the race turned out like it did.

    In a normal year, Democrat Ralph Northam would not have won as easily as he did.

    In a normal year, Northam may not have won at all.

    Four years ago, Terry McAuliffe won with just under 48 percent of the vote in a three-way race. Even then, the McAuliffe barely scraped by against Ken Cuccinelli, a polarizing figure who turned off many moderate voters.

    This time around, Republican Ed Gillespie was as mainstream a Republican as you’d find. He seemed well-positioned to win back the suburban moderates who first defected from Cuccinelli and then recoiled from Trump a year ago. And yet none of that seemed to matter, not with Virginia voters feeling the way they do about Trump. They didn’t vote for Trump a year ago and in exit polls Tuesday they made it clear they liked him even less. In the only poll that matters – the one held at the ballot box – voters went for Democrats in a way that seems impossible to explain except as a reaction to Trump.

  • Bergdahl decision erodes military culture

    The Wall Street Journal on U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl’s sentence and the U.S. Navy’s report on ships’ collisions with civilian vessels:

    The military is one of the few institutions that Americans still hold in high esteem, but that should never be taken for granted. Two events late last week suggest that even the military’s culture of high performance can be eroded without constant attention.

    The first was a military judge’s decision to let off U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl with a slap on the wrist for desertion in Afghanistan in 2009. After a court martial, Army Colonel Jeffery Nance recommended that Bergdahl be dishonorably discharged, demoted to private and forfeit $10,000 in pay. Prosecutors had sought 14 years in prison.

    Bergdahl was captured by the Taliban and held prisoner for nearly five years, a terrible ordeal to be sure. But those most outraged by the wrist slap are other members of the armed services who fear the damage to military discipline. Bergdahl deserted on the battlefield in a forward post – the worst betrayal you can make against your fellow soldiers save for fragging them with friendly fire.

  • Op-Ed: Legislators Favor Special Interests over Public Interests

    By Aubrey Dunn, Commissioner of Public Lands

    In an effort to protect one of our country’s largest and most important sources of drinking water, I adopted a policy earlier this year to curtail usage of drinking water from the Ogallala aquifer for oil and gas production, specifically the process of hydraulic fracturing.

    I remain a proponent of hydraulic fracturing for the advances it has allowed in energy development in New Mexico and the increased revenue that it has helped to bring to our state; however, as it relates to the use of our state’s natural resources, I believe in responsible conservation.  

    Subsequently, I have been sued by a State Land Office permittee who has made millions of dollars selling drinking water for oil and gas related activities and I have been publicly vilified by some members of the New Mexico State Legislature.

    The Ogallala is a shallow water table aquifer located beneath the Great Plains with portions in eight states, including eastern New Mexico, and provides nearly all the fresh water for residential, industrial and agricultural use.

  • Honoring veterans through business support

    BY FINANCE NEW MEXICO

    New Mexico is home to more than 160,000 veterans, and about half of them are under the age of 65. For those former service members interested in operating businesses, state and federal agencies can help with business formation, certification and contract acquisition that levels the playing field for vets that have spent their careers out of the private sector.

    Veterans come to the private-sector workforce with a lot to offer, including advanced training in specialized fields such as logistics, security, information technology, personnel management and administration. They understand the complexities of doing business with the U.S. government and the importance of following instructions and protocol.

    They appreciate the need for teamwork and leadership, and they work well under pressure. In other words, veterans have the skills needed to start and manage a business.

    Veteran-specific help

    The Office of Veterans Business Development is the advocacy arm of the U.S. government for veterans in business. Besides acting as an ombudsman, the OVBD provides oversight of federal procurement programs for veteran-owned and service-disabled-veteran-owned small businesses.