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Today's Opinions

  • 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.

  • Passing laws, avoiding traps as campaign season opens

    In 2000, the Republicans painted a target on House Speaker Raymond Sanchez, who was as much of an irritant to Republican Gov. Gary Johnson as his brother, Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez, is to this one.
    The GOP hoped to take control of the Legislature. Running against the powerful House Speaker was John Sanchez, a political newbie who didn’t appear to have a chance.
    That campaign could be a chapter in political science textbooks.
    An over-confident Raymond didn’t take his opponent seriously until it was too late. In November, John Sanchez unleashed a flood of radio ads accusing Raymond Sanchez of resisting efforts to toughen laws against sex offenders and child pornography. His campaign made phone calls and mailed letters to Raymond’s constituents asking them to call him if they think, “families have a right to know if a convicted sexual predator is living next door.”
    Raymond countered with his own radio ads saying the accusations were lies and mudslinging. He lost.
    John Sanchez’s campaign manager, by the way, was Jay McCleskey, the governor’s Rasputin (or puppeteer, critics say).

  • Shrimp farmers secure USDA grant to expand market reach

    Lemitar is pretty far from the Pacific, but Tim Ott and Abigail “Judy” Armendariz are growing shrimp native to that ocean in a climate-controlled aquaculture plant just north of Socorro.
    Their company, Southwestern Seas LLC, has been selling New Mexico-farmed white Pacific shrimp at the Santa Fe Farmers Market for about a year.
    The business partners in late November received a $49,500 value-added producer grant from USDA that they plan to use to market their unconventional “crop” to other farmers markets around the state and thus increase sales.
    High-altitude ‘ocean’
    Southwestern Seas received its first shipment of young shrimp in the summer of 2014, when Armendariz’s garage served as the nursery. The company then built a 7,000-square-foot facility and equipped it with everything needed to replicate the saline, sea-level ocean environment where these shrimp typically live.
    The shrimp farmers add oxygen to the water in the facility’s giant saltwater tanks so the shrimp can survive at an altitude of more than 4,500 feet. They keep the building’s temperature at 85 degrees and maintain an elevated humidity level.
    Biofilters and recirculators sustain water quality inside the 65,000-gallon tanks, which are replenished regularly with water from an on-site well.

  • Control what you can, enjoy the benefits

    BY DR. JOSEPH HORTON
    Visions & Values

  • State of two states are markedly different

    As it turns out, Donald Trump tweets.
    I found out about this after President Obama had wrapped up his State of the Union address last week.
    It was a good speech, actually – thoughtful, candid, truthful, hard-hitting and engaging. As most presidential State of the Union orations go, that’s a bit rare.
    Mr. Donald Trump, on the other hand, didn’t like the president’s remarks in the least. Barely had the presidential teleprompter gone black before the real estate mogul was typing out this tweet for the edification of his acolytes: “The #SOTU speech is really boring, slow lethargic – very hard to watch.”
    Then, too, since he embarked upon his quest for the Republican presidential nomination several months back an impressive body of evidence has accumulated to suggest that the only voice Donald Trump truly likes to hear is his own.
    Which probably explains why the voice of South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley was even more off-putting for Mr. Trump than Mr. Obama’s, when she began her “official” Republican response to the president’s State of the Union.     

  • Session looks to be nasty; life goes on

    The legislative session looks to be nasty, Steve Terrell, political writer for The New Mexican newspaper, told Albuquerque Press Women a week before Tuesday’s session start. The big difference between 2015 and 2016 is that this year’s gathering will shorter, mostly focused on finances.
    But as to contemplation of fundamental reforms for our floundering state, much less action, uh, no. The exception is the continuing tax crusade by Republicans Rep. Jason Harper of Rio Rancho and Sen. Bill Sharer of Farmington.
    Outside the legislative bubble, the world continues with people not working, government investing in businesses, an athletic discussion and world-class research.
    Nationally the labor force participation rate was 62.6 percent in December, a near-record low. That’s the proportion of people either working or looking for work. The rate has dropped for five years.
    The rate was 57 percent for New Mexico in November, says the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. No doubt we were affected by all the commonly cited factors, from aging population (retiring Baby Boomers) to welfare systems, with little push to find work. Indeed, as unemployment benefits increase, the value of work goes down. Casey Mulligan of the University of Chicago works on these topics.

  • Jobs Council’s brainstorming may seed future development

    Adversaries are already squaring off over hot-button issues in the legislative session that begins Jan. 19, so it might surprise you that there’s an oasis of agreement.
    That’s the legislative Jobs Council. The agreement is due to ground rules that required unanimous decisions. Right off the bat, it eliminated pointless debates over issues that will never see a consensus.
    The Jobs Council is three years old. It’s the brainchild of former House Speaker Ken Martinez, who envisioned a nonpartisan forum where legislators, community leaders, business people and economic developers could hammer out ideas.
    That’s what happened.
    Guided by veteran economic developer Mark Lautman, the council began with meetings in every county and every Council of Government district. Participants at this grassroots level were asked, probably for the first time: How many jobs do you need? How many jobs do you think you can create? What economic sectors are most likely to provide those jobs? What obstacles do you face in creating jobs?
    The data from these exercises has been lovingly charted by council helpers.

  • Big Brother vs. the Little Sisters

    The Obama administration’s lack of understanding of the spiritual depth and commitment of private religious charities is shocking. The callousness of the federal effort to compel a noble Catholic religious order — the Little Sisters of the Poor — to forsake its faith commitments shows the depth of the intolerance of the behemoth secular state under President Barack Obama.

    The story is one of courageousness on the part of the nuns of this religious order. Founded in France in 1839, the Little Sisters of the Poor has spread to many other countries, including the United States, with the charitable goal of giving aid and comfort to the poor. The sisters take the normal vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, but also add hospitality, which they extend to some of the “least of those in our midst.”

    In March, the nuns will continue their long battle against the federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and its head, Sylvia Burwell, when the sisters and their lawyers come before the Supreme Court.