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Today's Opinions

  • Pearce declares for governor, says ‘new leadership’ needed

    With the July 10 announcement by Congressman Steve Pearce that he is running for governor, the field of substantive candidates seems complete.
    Before going further, one point of context should be specified; I like Steve Pearce. I met him about 20 years ago during his two-term apprenticeship as a legislator from Hobbs. I found him smart and personable. He asked good questions. Since then, he has shown himself to be firmly committed to ideas and prone to the occasional grand gesture.
    One question for Pearce won’t disappear. It’s whether he can win a statewide general election. He won a statewide Republican U. S. Senate primary in 2008 when he beat then Congresswoman Heather Wilson, hardly a trivial opponent, for the privilege of getting soundly beaten by Democrat and now Sen. Tom Udall.
    Wilson, who beat a series of nonentities while she was in Congress (incumbency helps) lost a second Senate race to a formidable opponent, Martin Heinrich.
    Pearce’s ideas form a second question. Call him a staunch conservative. For sure he will be toast if he only presents voters the standard list of right-wing talking points. He will also be toast if he allows Democrats to cast him as a conservative caricature.

  • A compromise on the LA sheriff’s office

    BY PETE SHEEHEY
    Los Alamos County Councilor

    The County Council will consider the role of the Sheriff in Los Alamos in a Special Session Wednesday, July 26 at 6 pm at the LA Municipal Building.  After a contentious campaign, Los Alamos voted last November to keep an elected Sheriff.

    I believe a majority on Council now accepts that our citizens want a functional Sheriff’s Office. I am proposing a Resolution (losalamosnm.us/UserFiles/Servers/Server_6435726/File/20170726_Resolution%2017-08_Sheriff.pdf) to return a reasonable set of duties to the Sheriff’s Office.  This resolution is a compromise that acknowledges the wishes of the majority to preserve a functional elected sheriff’s office, while respecting the concerns of those who voted to eliminate the office.  

  • Fake Indian jewelry by the thousands threaten New Mexico artisans

    Last summer, at the Santo Domingo Pueblo arts and crafts fair, I bought a carved wooden bear from a seller who said he was from Jemez Pueblo. He was sitting with fetish carvers from Zuni Pueblo. Imagine my surprise when I saw a shelf full of the same carved bears across the border in Mexico.

    Recently, U. S. Sen. Tom Udall held field hearings on the issue of counterfeit Native American art. His goal was to hear from artists, experts and law enforcement officials about changes needed in the Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990 to better protect both artists and buyers.

    This is not a trivial problem. In the past year, we’ve seen multiple indictments stemming from a federal investigation.

    The quantity of fake Indian jewelry pouring in from Asia is truly staggering. It’s risen to a level (one number used in the hearing was 80 percent ) that will kill our jewelry industry if we let it.

    I was surprised to learn some years ago that New Mexico’s jewelry industry is the fifth or sixth largest in the country.

  • Making manufacturers: Events aim to inspire next-generation workers

    By Sandy Nelson
    For Finance New Mexico

    Young people can be hard to impress, but students from Albuquerque’s Academy of Trades and Technology (ATTHS) charter school were visibly stoked by a tour of Rader Awning during 2016 Manufacturing Day events.

    Before-and-after shots of the 15 ATTHS students who visited the factory where Rader manufactures awnings, shade panels and fabric products illustrate what can happen when young adults get a close look at the world of manufacturing: a transformation from bored detachment to delighted engagement.

    It’s the kind of transformation that inspires New Mexico Manufacturing Extension Partnership (NM MEP), the organizers and sponsors of local Manufacturing Day, to focus on introducing a fresh generation to careers in advanced manufacturing.

    Closing the gap

  • Bipartisan, creative, thoughtful D.C. group provides NM insights

    As governor, Bill Richardson had ideas. He gave us commissions for this and that. There was something about a national football league franchise. Somewhere. He gave us the spaceport and the commuter railroad, both heavily subsidized by taxpayers—me and thee. An added bonus from the railroad is the opportunity for people to die along the tracks.

    Just about all of our so-called leaders have ideas about sunsets and little else.

    There are some people with real ideas in Washington, D.C., of all places. Ideas of substance, not the sniping about the failed policies of Gov. X or Sen. Y.

    The two-year-old Economic Innovation Group (eig.org) seems to have mixed people from across the various spectra.

    The website headline is, “Empowering entrepreneurs and investors to forge a more dynamic U.S. economy.” EIG calls itself “a bipartisan public policy organization, ​founded in 2013, ​combining innovative research and data-driven advocacy to address America’s most pressing economic challenges.”

    Notice that it says “bipartisan” rather than “non-partisan.” New Mexico could learn from EIG.

    The distinction recognizes that factions—parties—won’t go away.

  • Save on your summer road trip adventure

    By Nathaniel Sillin

    Are you packing up your car and hitting the road this summer? You’re not alone. According to a survey conducted by AAA, road trips are the most popular type of vacation for families in the U.S. in 2017. In fact, 10 percent more families are expected to take road trips this year than last.

    From driving to the tip of Cape Cod, to seeing the Great Lakes all the way to a drive through the Yosemite Valley in California, there are limitless ways to explore on the road.

    Whether you’re going to visit family or taking off on an epic adventure, a road trip can be a great way to make travel about the journey rather than the destination.

    Before you hit the road, make sure your car can handle the trip. Before you pack up your car, it’s a good idea to take your car to a mechanic and ensure that it’s ready for the drive. Having your car inspected and serviced by a mechanic before a road trip can be a worthwhile investment that could both save you money and prevent an untimely breakdown.

    Looking into a rental car is an alternative you may want to consider if you’re hoping to avoid wear and tear that might depreciate your car’s value. Consider your options carefully and choose what makes most financial sense for you.

  • More logging means less firefighting

    By Bob Hagan

    Along the road from Reserve into the Gila National Forest, you drive for miles through a dismal landscape of blackened stumps, thousands of dead trees standing like a surreal forest of telephone poles.

    Five years ago this summer, the Whitewater-Baldy Fire swept through more than 465 square miles of the Gila. Ignited by lightning strikes, fanned by high winds and fueled by a tinder-dry mixture of ponderosa, piñon and juniper, the conflagration defied the efforts of more than 1,200 firefighters for more than a month before it was finally brought under control.

    It was New Mexico’s worst wildfire, so far. Counting the loss of timber, damage to watersheds and ongoing stabilization and burned area rehabilitation work, the final bill was around $100 million.

    The good news is that nature is stubbornly resilient. While there are still ugly drifts of black ash in the gullies, there is green on the slopes. Fire, we are constantly reminded, is a necessary part of the forest ecosystem. But looking over the thousands of acres of charred logs littering the landscape, it’s worth asking whether we would not have been better off cutting those trees ourselves rather than waiting for nature to take its course.

  • The real value of our public lands

    By James Jimenez

    Camping is one of this nation’s great equalizers. Whether you camp with the latest, most expensive gear, or you hang a tarp and sleep in the bed of a pickup truck, there is a camping style to fit most every budget. It continues to be, for many families, one of the cheapest ways to vacation and enjoy the great outdoors. Camping is becoming an equalizer in a different way, as more and more racial and ethnic minorities are pitching tents.

    A recent survey showed that of the one million U.S. households that went camping for the first time in 2016, nearly 40 percent were either Hispanic (13 percent), African American (12 percent) or Asian American (14 percent). Non-white campers now comprise more than a quarter of all campers—an increase of more than 100 percent since 2012. Much of this shift is due to millennials, who make up a growing share—now 38 percent—of households that are active campers, according to the survey.