Today's Opinions

  • Keystone XL decision is about Obama’s position on the world stage

    Executive Director, Energy Makes America Great

  • Advancing the ideas of regulatory engineering

    In the dark before dawn on Oct. 27, a longtime  friend of mine and I headed out from Los Alamos to catch a flight to Southern  California.
    My colleague is a three-term regent at California Lutheran University. In this capacity, he has brought a passel of insights, gathered in his career at Los Alamos National Laboratory, to be considered more widely at this 56-year-old private university in Thousand  Oaks, north of Los Angeles. The school aims to gain learning by doing, or applying facts to find answers.
    Our visit had a single purpose. We sought to advance the ideas of regulatory engineering that spring up as we look around and see the technical progress in fields on every hand. Over the last four years, a dozen of my columns here have explored the stream of smart tools and capabilities that work better, faster and cheaper in many fields.
    The peculiar question I ask is: Why not apply the same tools to make regulation also work better, faster and cheaper?  Up-to-date techniques that are little used in regulating include research and development (R&D), systems analysis,  actuarial science, data mining, drones, on-board diagnostics and the “Internet of Things.” These tools create still more prospects for regulatory engineering, a name coined in my columns.

  • Big money invades big races and small

    When the Dianna Duran scandal made headlines, I asked a different question.
    What was she doing with all that money in the first place, I asked?
    How does the secretary of state’s race generate hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions? Who is doing all that contributing, and what do those contributors want? Even though Duran has resigned, the question remains. Increasingly, this issue affects political races at every level.   
    According to the secretary of state’s own website, in 2014 candidate Dianna Duran received $356,208.08 in contributions and spent $359,073.20. What for?  
    I called Viki Harrison of Common Cause. She was so excited to talk about this, she practically jumped through the phone. Harrison echoed my concern that big money has invaded New Mexico politics, and it’s causing a serious shift in the whole way we do our political business. Harrison cited the 2012 state Senate race between Tim Jennings and Cliff Pirtle as a turning point.

  • ‘Complete streets’ allow fewer vehicles

    Complete streets have room for fewer vehicles. That statement seems an oxymoron to me, too. The explanation is that “complete streets” is a technical term, a term of art, if you will, with a parent organization, Smart Growth America (smartgrowthamerica.org), and a director, Geoffrey Anderson, who is an alumnus of the Smart Growth Program at the Environment Protection Agency, the guys who did so well by us with the Animas River.
    The concept means fewer lanes with the remaining lanes narrower than we’re used to. This past spring, we tried narrower lanes on the Interstate as we entered downtown Philadelphia. Seriously scary.
    The complete-streets pitch came in an Oct. 5 presentation to the legislative Transportation Infrastructure Revenue Subcommittee. Two city councilors, Isaac Benton from Albuquerque and Carmichael Dominguez from Santa Fe, led the show, according to the committee’s agenda. I found the presentation on the transportation committee’s section under interim committees on the Legislature’s website. Find the streets group at completestreetsnm.org. Find the good guys, those interested in freedom and mobility, at the American Dream Coalition, americandreamcoalition.org.

  • Shaking out myths of earthquakes and hydraulic fracturing

    Executive Director for Energy Makes America Great

  • Arthur Miller at 100

    Visions and Values

  • Vision for administration appears at ACI meeting

    Something like a vision has crept from the technocratic veneer of the Martinez administration. This is not the grand morally uplifting poetry preferred here. But it will have to do, given that the administration’s big picture, so far as I have figured it out, has been the major and appropriate crusade with public education and tinkering at the edges of the tax system.
    The environment for the unveiling came courtesy of the Association of Commerce and Industry, which invited Scott Darnell, the governor’s deputy chief of staff, to be the luncheon speaker at ACI’s fall policy summit in Albuquerque. Darnell’s job is policy oversight for a big piece of state government.
    The full disclosure here is that Darnell and I have been close enough neighbors to occupy the same ward table at Republican meetings, back when I attended such things. Then Darnell went to graduate school at Harvard, Martinez became governor and the rest, as they say….

  • Recognizing a concussion needs to be part of training

    During a brutal game with the Aggies, UNM football star Clarence Heald suffered a concussion that knocked him cold. He got up and played, semiconscious, to the end of the game, when he took another blow to the head and was unconscious for half an hour.
    It was 1906. UNM’s slogan at the time: “Do or die.”
    Today, we know that young Clarence probably paid for those injuries the rest of his life with dizziness, slurred speech, difficulty focusing or depression, among other things.
    We’ve learned a lot about brain injuries and sports in New Mexico.
    UNM’s Brain Safe Project, which began in 2013, uses MRIs (magnetic resonance imaging) taken over time to study the long-term effects of brain concussions on student athletes. By 2014, it had the world’s largest database of student athletes and concussions. Some of its subjects had already looked at the images, decided not to press their luck, and stopped playing.
    State law prescribes brain-injury protocols for school sports, including training for coaches, and the New Mexico Activities Association provides clear information about concussions to parents and students on its website.
    So we’re more aware and better informed, but we’re not quite there yet.