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Today's Opinions

  • The legislative life: Part-time, unpaid, fixed-length sessions? Not quite.

     Legislators go to meetings. That’s what they do.

    Legislators also get a lot of mail, both paper delivered by the postal service and email. Some of the mail, maybe much of it, is read. The proportion of read mail might be a measure of legislator diligence or engagement. 

    Our legislators are described as unpaid, part-time, citizen legislators who meet in fixed-length sessions or 30 and 60 days in alternate years. 

    None of this is quite true. 

    Though legislators get no salary, there is a $164 per diem to allegedly cover expenses during the session in Santa Fe or for other legislative business, such as interim committee meetings. The amount is laughable. Few decent hotel rooms in Santa Fe cost less than $164.

  • VAF information sessions prepare companies to apply for funding

     Early-stage businesses, or even those that are more established, often find it hard to land the right cash infusion, especially when traditional bank financing can be elusive. Under this common scenario, funding through the Venture Acceleration Fund (VAF) could be the needed boost.

    Information sessions to help businesses apply for VAF are taking place in Northern New Mexico until Feb. 9, when the application process officially opens. Applications for funding will be accepted until March 12. 

    According to Carla Rachkowski, associate director of the Regional Development Corp. (RDC), which administers the program, VAF has been key as seed financing for early-stage businesses for more than a decade. The point, she said, is to assist entrepreneurs with taking innovations to market more quickly. VAF helps them through marketing and technology development, proof-of-concept, prototyping, developing market share and product launch. Sometimes it’s used to leverage more funding.

  • Laundry pods are a reminder to talk to our kids

     This week, I would like to focus on how often we talk to our children and maybe provide some ideas of what we need to talk about.

    I confess, I was unaware of the laundry detergent pod challenge. I thought about putting the word challenge in quotes, but the selection of words should probably have the word stupidity in front of challenge.

    I knew of the fact that toddlers and perhaps small children may see these pods as colorful pieces of candy. Due to that, parents might need an extra reminder to store them safely and away from tiny hands. 

    I also heard and understood that patients experiencing dementia symptoms may also be confused by their colorful nature. There is an illness connection to that confusion, so again clearly a logical conclusion.

  • Letters to the Editor

     

    Dear Editor,

    Response to Monitor letter re NYT editorial on Iran nuclear deal

    On Sunday, Jan. 14, the Los Alamos Monitor published an editorial entitled “Iran deal did not pan out;” the actual title of this New York Times Editorial Board item is, “Unrest Shows the Iran Deal’s Value, Not its Danger.” The changed title affects the nature of the actual editorial. I wish to counter the implication of the Monitor’s title by advocating that the Iran Nuclear Deal, is incredibly good.

    The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the Iran Nuclear Deal, is far better than I ever expected. Indeed, if followed by all parties, 

     It effectively blocks all possible avenues for Iran to produce a nuclear weapon.

  • Coalition uses data to analyze criminal justice

    By Finance New Mexico 

    For years I have wondered whether our criminal justice system makes sense. 

    I think first about my own safety. Does our system make me safer? Does it prevent crime? Does it make prudent use of my tax dollars? Is it pragmatic?

    Then I think about fairness and justice. Does our system teach criminals the lesson that will prevent them from committing crimes again? Does it prevent others from committing crimes? Do tougher penalties deter criminals from offending again? What is the system doing to prepare them for when they get out?

    I want data. Rather than being driven by emotions, either of compassion or retribution, I’d like to know what actually works.

    A group called NMSAFE (nmsafe.org) has done some of this homework. 

  • Footballers shun ‘correctness’ and build ideas to fill the gap

    “Political correctness”(“P.C.”) is an infection that eats away the vitality of our democracy. The ills have spread far. Symptoms get worse while being ignored.

    A debate today about the national harms of political correctness is a debate between two afflicted organs – P.C. in the camp of the left and P.C. in the camp of the right.

    The habits of P.C. weaken discourse, which if left to fester, kills ideas. The two parties and their boosters talk less than before about policy work in Congress. Instead of crafting policy, more skills go into heckling the enemy party and its bad breed of supporters. Our times have lapsed into a rite of political correctness.

    The top news fare pulls P.C. camps toward the far poles. But, look twice. See ideas find other ideas to fill the gap between the poles. Stay alert to signs of both.

    Exhibit A: football players kneeling during the singing of the national anthem. There began a string of stories. In 2016, a mixed-race quarterback in the National Football League began kneeling during the national anthem to protest some facet(s) of race relations, as he saw it, in the U.S. The action drew some support and more players took similar steps.

    Fans took sides for and against.

  • Legislative session a prelude to November

    BY PAUL J. GESSING
    President, Rio Grande Foundation

    With tax reform taken off the agenda by New Mexico’s Democrat legislative leaders, it is clear that the 30 day session will be more about going through the motions and positioning for 2018 than about considering much-needed economic reforms. This is unfortunate because in spite of higher oil prices, New Mexico remains mired in an economic slump.

    The unemployment rate remains elevated at 6.1 percent (second-highest in the nation) and as Bruce Krasnow reported recently in the New Mexican, “the state is in the midst of its slowest population growth since statehood – and that is not likely to change.”

    One would think that given these (and many other problems) that the Legislature would be on a mission to enact as many needed reforms as possible in the coming short 30 day session. Unfortunately, the list of reforms that won’t happen is much longer than those that might be considered. Here’s a few that the Rio Grande Foundation has put forth over the years that are “off the table.”

    Aforementioned revenue-neutral reform of the gross receipts tax;

    Adoption of “Right to Work” to allow workers to choose whether to join a union or pay union dues;

  • Time to ask: ‘How is UNM athletics paying for itself and helping the university?’

     In 2017, the University of New Mexico got itself a new president, a new athletic director and a new athletic financial officer. They have their work cut out.

    UNM athletics is such a mess that former State Auditor Tim Keller called the athletics department and its fundraising arms “an ungovernable ball of organizations.” A special audit noted nearly $700,000 in missing revenues, perks for insiders, mixing of public and private money, and years of blown budgets.

    What other college sports program has drawn its own investigative journalist and a website devoted to its excesses? For about a year, Daniel Libit and his “NM Fishbowl,” instead of the usual fawning Lobo coverage, has scrutinized the program and demanded accountability. Now Libit, turning to other pursuits, calls on New Mexico journalists to stop acting like stenographers and step up to the plate. College sports should be covered like a public institution and not entertainment, he told the online NM Political Report. Students and taxpayers should hold the department to higher standards.