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Today's Opinions

  • Looking for funds in all the wrong places

    Post-legislative session, the chatter is all about friction and gridlock because it requires looking a little harder to see the whole picture.
    In a year like this, when available money evaporated like a water hole in the desert, when uncertainty and tight budgets exacerbated differences, the debates were bound to be sharp.
    Both parties and both chambers spent a lot of time hunting for money, and because there was none in the usual places, the hunt turned to who had money and how they might be parted from it.
    That led to some well intended but labored bills.
    One was House Bill 474, by Rep. Paul Bandy, R-Aztec.
    It attempted to divert money from the Fire Protection Fund, which supports fire departments, and use it for forest and watershed restoration. Forced to choose between fire prevention and fire fighting, legislators deliberated uncomfortably and chose their fire departments.
    HB 236, by Rep. Jason Harper, R-Rio Rancho, and Sen. Carlos Cisneros, D-Questa, demanded more hard choices.

  • This year’s legislature session unlike others in the past

    Observers knew in the wake of November’s elections that the 2015 legislative session would be unlike any they’d seen in their lifetimes. For the first time in 62 years, the House of Representatives would be under Republican control.
    Despite this shift to the right, New Mexico’s Senate remained under control of Democrats. This is because the entire Senate is up every four years in presidential election years like 2016. The House, on the other hand, is up for election every two years.
    These are not your run-of-the-mill Democrats. Their Majority Leader, Michael Sanchez, is both a trial lawyer and one of the most partisan legislators in the Senate. There are a handful of moderates sprinkled throughout the body, but they rarely vote as a cohesive group or provide a counter-weight to their powerful leader.

  • The 2014 job totals revised up, February gains 15,900 jobs

    Everything that was reported during 2014 and through March 22, 2015, about job performance in New Mexico was reported correctly.
    As of 10 a.m. EST time March 23, everything previously reported was incorrect. Well, not exactly incorrect, but out of date.
    Confusing? Indeed.
    The explanation is that the 10 a.m. EST time was when the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics released the annual change of the rules for reporting the previous year’s job performance.
    This is statistical. The temptation is to chuckle and remember the old cliché about liars and statistics. The change, called “benchmarking,” happens each year.
    In a sense, it doesn’t matter. Just cleaning up the statistics.
    Except it does matter. People, businesses and government make decisions based on what they hear first. For about four years, the people decision, reflected in numbers called (negative) net migration, has been to leave nearly everywhere in New Mexico.
    The benchmarking flipped the two big themes for telling the 2014 job story in New Mexico.

  • Recap of 2015 Legislature session

    As Benjamin Franklin once wrote, “You may delay, but time will not,” and as we learned this legislative session, delaying critical votes has left New Mexico in a state of confusion and panic.
    For three years, I have served on House Appropriations and am proud of the bipartisan work we have accomplished to deliver New Mexicans a balanced and fair budget and comprehensive capital improvement legislation.
    In those three years, I have never once seen a move as destructive as the 11th hour coup by House Republicans on the capital improvement legislation. Without warning, Republicans decided to play politics with some of our most vulnerable populations and strip critical funding for our senior centers and schools throughout the state and divert that money to the Spaceport and one highway in southern New Mexico.
    This move cost New Mexico millions in economic development and capital improvement projects, as well as much-needed jobs.
    While this session ended on a costly note for New Mexicans, there were some great bipartisan actions and bills to protect our environment and fund crucial programs like CYFD and our public schools. I am proud to report that five important bills I helped carry are awaiting the governor’s signature.

  • Moving people from point A to point B

    Although Harold Morgan’s “Fixing Roads Is Better Than Building Bicycling Underpass” in last week’s Los Alamos Monitor seems more political agit-prop than analysis (referring to cyclists as a cult, and to the funding of bike facilities as the spending orgies of liberal Democrats), it’s worth, in its wake, reviewing a few things about bicycle infrastructure.
    Morgan overlooks that transportation is about moving people to where they need to go. To create an efficient system, the tool should fit the need.
    For short distances, bicycles work well as people movers. By contrast, short distance driving is not particular good for the car, the human, or the built environment. Such driving is often referred to as “severe use” as it doesn’t give the vehicle’s lubricating fluids time to heat up and drive out volatiles. For the human, sedentary lifestyles lead to a host of health problems.

  • The games governors play

    By all accounts, Governor Susana Martinez blew a gasket when the recent 60-day legislative session adjourned.
    It’s a Roundhouse tradition at the end of any session for three or four deputized lawmakers to call upon the sitting governor for the purpose of informing him/her that the clock has run out and the Legislature adjourned.
    As custom has it, civilities and handshakes routinely prevail on such occasions, although after a particularly grueling session a bit of chiding and good natured finger-wagging have been known to cap things off.
    This year, however, when the legislative delegation reached the gubernatorial offices atop the 4th Floor of the Roundhouse to pay their respects, they reportedly found Martinez in a fit of rage, hurling accusations of obstructionism and a failure to compromise at Democratic lawmakers hither and yon.
    According to one senator in the delegation, Albuquerque Democrat Gerald Ortiz y Pino, “It really had the feeling of a dictator who had been thwarted.”
    Viewed from afar, it has the feeling of a bad comedy featuring the proverbial pot looking for a kettle to call black.
    To get some perspective on this bizarre contretemps, we should remember that this was Martinez’s fifth go-round with the New Mexico Legislature.

  • Becoming a foster pet parent

    As an animal lover, you know just how hard it is to pass up that sweet puppy dogface while walking through your local shelter or rescue group. If adoption isn’t possible for you at the moment, fostering can be an amazing opportunity to provide a homeless pet with a nurturing, temporary home until they are able to find a permanent family.
    “It’s not as hard to find pets to foster as some might think,” said Susan Lobit, a veterinary technician at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences and experienced fosterer. “Checking with rescue organizations is a always good place to start.”
    Before deciding to foster a pet, there are important aspects of the job you should be aware of that many people overlook.
    “You need to understand that you are in the middle,” Lobit said. “You help the pet get healthy, rehabilitated with any social or physical problems, and teach them about life in a loving home, but then have to be ready to send them on to a forever home.”
    Lobit explains that while letting go can be difficult to do, knowing that you’ve helped make such a huge difference in an animal’s life makes the separation worthwhile.

  • Letters to the editor 3-28-15

    Councilor wants to clarify point

    In the March 25 story about a Los Alamos County Council discussion on the Manhattan Project National Historical Park (MPNHP), a comment made by another person was incorrectly attributed to me, as a review of the meeting recording (audio recording on KRSN at 42:37 mins) in the public record will show.  
    The story quoted me as saying that the county needs to “aggressively” ensure that the park’s national headquarters is located in Los Alamos and the story went on to report about all the people who disagreed with that position.  
    While I wasn’t the person who made that point, I think it’s perfectly appropriate for Los Alamos to argue that we should host the Park Headquarters, vying for the high paying federal jobs and locally-based decision authority that will go with the headquarters operations. I expect Oak Ridge and Hanford to make similar proposals, and I think our chances to land the headquarters on the merits in a fair competition are great.