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Today's Opinions

  • Oregon protestors lost in court of public opinion

    At the first news of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge occupation, some of us wondered if it could happen here. The way it played out, that’s not likely.

    It began with Oregon ranchers Dwight Hammond Jr. and his son Steven being convicted by a jury of arson, but the sentences jumped from months to five years because of a federal anti-terrorism law passed in response to the Oklahoma City bombing. The sentences sparked a protest by ranchers and militiamen in Burns, Oregon, and a few armed protesters led by Ammon Bundy took over the nearby refuge. 

    We’ve learned more about the players. In interviews, current and former employees of the wildlife refuge describe decades of hostility and death threats from the Hammonds. 

    “They said they were going to wrap my son in barbed wire and throw him down a well. They said they knew exactly which rooms my kids slept in,” said a former director. 

  • Groups seek state override of local wage regulations

    A vast business coalition has massed behind a proposed state law that would preempt local laws. The proposal comes in the form of House Bill 211 from Rep. Jason Harper, a Rio Rancho Republican, and Sen. Mark Moores, an Albuquerque Republican.
    The Association of Commerce of Industry leads the effort with Jason Espinosa, ACI president, as the campaign’s public face.
    I presume HB 211 in part comes in response to the so-called Fair Workweek Act introduced last summer by Albuquerque City Councilors Isaac Benton and Klarissa Peña. Much tearing of hair was the Albuquerque response to the detailed regulations of the Benton-Peña proposal.
    ACI’s Jan. 26 release cited “the recent wave of local governments developing complex mandates for employers.”

  • New Mexico begins process of debating open primary law

    Last week, two Democratic members of the state House, Reps. Antonio “Moe” Maestas of Albuquerque and Stephanie Garcia Richard of Los Alamos, introduced a proposed amendment to the state Constitution making it possible for voters registered as independent to cast their ballots in state primary elections.
    Also last week Donald Trump, the bloviated New York billionaire and self-advertised “frontrunner” for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, pulled out of a Fox Cable TV “debate” with the other contenders in that race.
    Seems Trump declined to submit to questions posed of him by the moderator of that debate, Megyn Kelly, because he feels she doesn’t “respect” him. Fox News and Ms. Kelly, on the other hand, dismissed Trump’s tantrum with the suggestion that he doesn’t like difficult questions when he’s in the spotlight performing.
    You pick. My guess is both camps are probably correct.
    But Mr. Trump’s latest campaign stunt was at least a novel way to put on a show without the bother of putting on a show. It also underscores one of the chronic challenges associated with popular self-government.

  • Workshops help creatives learn business basics

    BY APRIL M. BROWN
    Marketing Director and Managing Director, WESST Enterprise Center

  • Donald Trump, National Review and the battle for the conservative mind

    The editors and writers of National Review recently did something extraordinary. They came out en masse against a Republican candidate during the primary. Their “Against Trump” symposium and accompanying “Editors introduction” offer up a barrage of attacks on Donald Trump’s surprising presidential candidacy.
    For the symposium, National Review assembled an enormously diverse group of conservative thinkers, from “movement conservatives” to more “establishment” types, to “conservatarians.” Clearly, this is no monolithic bloc. Yet there they are – an eclectic bunch of odd bedfellows making the same core argument: Donald Trump is not a conservative based on any meaningful definition of the term.

  • Maybe New Mexico is finally ready for an ethics commission

    I used to joke that my late husband was the last honest man in the New Mexico Legislature.
    He was not the last, though. Most legislators do not take illicit money or otherwise profit from their public service.  
    I have known a few legislators who, after their service was over, out of the glare of publicity, quietly went bankrupt. Their years of honest volunteer service had cost them dearly.
    New Mexico’s past reputation was that there was lots of corruption but most of it was small-time.
    We were only slightly outraged when politicians did favors for their friends. If you won a local election as a county commissioner or a school board member, your reward was jobs for needy relatives. When the other guy won, his relatives might replace yours.
    In low-income counties with few good-paying jobs, this was a way to spread the wealth.
    When an influential legislator-lawyer represented clients before boards and commissions – perhaps using bullying power to influence a licensing decision - it didn’t even make the news. When legislators vote on issues that affect their own professions, we barely notice.
    After all, we rationalize, our unpaid legislators have to make a living doing something other than legislating.
    But we have been troubled by the influence of special interests on legislation.

  • Ted and Trump take different tracks on ethanol debate

    BY MARITA NOON
    Executive Director, Energy Makes America Great, Inc.

  • Public policy institute could offer solutions

    Conferences, policy institutes and the like are useless when it comes to considering nasty problems such as the New Mexico economy, argue many people, including some action-oriented types in Albuquerque.
    They are wrong.
    The action types have recently grabbed the initiative, providing money to push specific agendas such as right to work. But this totally commendable argument for short-term specifics misses the point of considering the longer term.
    Perhaps the action types are motivated in part by the failure of talk efforts such as New Mexico First and the long-gone Business Leaders Forum at New Mexico State.
    A market for longer term, broader scope policy consideration clearly exists. The Albuquerque Business First newspaper lured 300 “business leaders” to a January conference to hear a national economist say nothing new about New Mexico, as best as I could figure from the newspaper’s stories about the conference.
    “The crowd was searching for some solutions,” one story said. None appeared.
    The annual Domenici Public Policy Conference in Las Cruces is less talk fest than listen fest with presentations from national and a few regional policy leaders. There are no coffee breaks, a serious limit on communication among people attending.