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Today's Opinions

  • Regular life is often about information received

    Those of us deeply involved in “consequential matters,” such as politics, the Legislature, the potential $417 million shortage for estimated Medicaid expenses, the non-performance of the state economy, sometimes need reminding that life exists outside the arenas.
    The national political overlay doesn’t help, what with Hillary Clinton’s lies, Bernie Sanders’ delusions, Donald Trump’s destructive offensiveness, the youth of the two senators and John Kasich’s decency.
    A massage therapist in Albuquerque feels doubly pressured. She finds Trump scary and fears the effect on her customers when Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry’s bus rapid transit fiasco destroys Central Avenue in front of the building where she has been for 17 years.
    A recent Sunday had, as bookends, regular life on Saturday and the governor on Monday.
    For us, regular life meant the sunny and warm Jemez Springs Cabin Fever Festival Feb. 21. Festival vendors included artisans from four pueblos – Acoma, Zia, Jemez and Taos.
    Cars lined the main street. The Bodhi Mandala Zen Center filled its grounds with cars parking at $2 each. Restaurants overflowed with people. After checking the legendary Los Ojos Bar, we ambled a few blocks south for a dandy pastrami sandwich at the Highway 4 Café.

  • Letters to the Editor 3-16-16

    Reopening of roundabout discussion would cause delays, cost money

    I was very disappointed to see at the recent Transportation Board meeting the re-opening of the NM 502 Roundabout discussion. This issue has been going on for a few years and has had a full and complete public input during that time and was considered in public meetings of the full Transportation Board and approved by the full County Council.
    The design approved was done by a major traffic-engineering firm (Ourston Engineering) and has been approved by New Mexico State Highway engineers. This design (in my humble opinion as a citizen and taxpayer) is a big improvement for NM 502 and is now funded with state and county funds. This decision has been already made and with full public input. The reopening of this discussion now is entirely unwarranted and way too much time was allowed in the recent Transportation Board meeting to roundabout opponents in promoting their views.  
    I think I would trust the professional opinions from New Mexico State Traffic professional engineers and the consulting firm, Ourston Engineering, so I have no comments on the design, which is being finalized now by the state highway department.

  • Letters to the Editor 3-13-16

    P&Z Commission invites public to Comprehensive Plan review

    During this past week, press releases, news articles, thousands of post cards, radio interview and print, electronic and radio ads have announced public meetings on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday to begin the process of public input in the coming update of the County Comprehensive Plan.
    I would like to take this opportunity to describe the function of the Comprehensive Plan in straightforward terms and invite the community to be an active part in the decision making process. Simply put, the Comprehensive Plan lays out the county’s policy and plans for land use decisions in both the Los Alamos Townsite and White Rock for the next five, 10, even 20 years.
    The current Comprehensive Plan elements are disjointed, significant portions of which were adopted in 1987. The County Charter requires and current needs demand that the Comprehensive Plan be updated to reflect current realities and provide better and more transparent guidance.

  • Loans help Atrisco continue educational, cultural mission

    BY CATHY SORENSON
    Community Development Officer, The Loan Fund
    Finance New Mexico

  • Counting to 3: Work comp and the smallest businesses

    The workers’ compensation coverage requirement in New Mexico has always been a mess. Finally somebody is paying attention to it.  
    A state Court of Appeals decision last year yanked away the exemption that protected farmers and ranchers for decades from concerning themselves with this convoluted language.  After the decision, the Workers’ Compensation Administration told them they would have to start buying workers’ comp insurance.  The state Supreme Court has temporarily stayed the requirement, pending its review of the case. But now, in case the Supreme Court doesn’t bail them out, they are grappling with it (paragraphs 52-1-6 and 52-1-7 of the statutes).     
    Most businesses with three or more employees are required to buy coverage, and that ends the discussion for them. (Construction is the exception, requiring all employers to have coverage, regardless of the number of employees.)
    But for very small businesses, the question of what constitutes “three” is a serious matter.  (My slogan: There are many ways to count to three.) So is the question of what constitutes an employee. These issues are not simple.
    Farmers and ranchers are looking to change these paragraphs. If you operate a very small business, or are employed by one, any changes will affect you.  

  • Job creation made headway in tough legislative session

    Jobs bills took a backseat to crime and budget wrangling in this legislative session, even though New Mexico has the nation’s worst unemployment. But as the smoke clears, we see some good bills emerging while others wait on the runway for next year.
    Last week, Gov. Susana Martinez signed two bills. One of her priorities was the Rapid Response Workforce Program to quickly train workers – a shortage of trained workers will keep a company from relocating. This is a challenge around the state. Endorsed by the bipartisan legislative Jobs Council, the bill passed both houses unanimously. By some miracle, legislative budgeters found $1.25 million to fund it. Kudos to the governor for championing this bill.
    A second measure signed into law allows small and mid-size communities (up to 35,000) to use local funding through the Local Economic Development Act (LEDA) for retail projects. That might not sound impressive, but in small towns, a new store is economic development, and it’s important in larger towns that lack certain kinds of shopping.
    More good news: The Tourism Department will have $300,000 more for advertising and $300,000 more for event sponsorship grants. And the public-private New Mexico Economic Development Corp. will get about $1.4 million more.

  • Letters to the Editor 3-9-16

    Round and round
    we go?

    Would you consent to costly, painful surgery that might or might not improve your health and could result in increased blockage of one of your major arteries?
    The wheels of transportation progress have turned and we’re now faced with the prospect of having our very own two-lane roundabout (RDB) built on Trinity Drive (NM 502) at Central Avenue, beginning in the Spring of 2017.
    Over the past 20 years or so, roundabout proponents have generated three large proposals. The most recent grand plan, in 2011, proposed reducing Trinity to two lanes and installing nine roundabouts. A $300K transportation study was performed by MIG, Inc., a roundabout engineering firm. After review of the study by several concerned county residents, the County Council obtained a second professional opinion that confirmed the citizens’ review: the proposed scheme would not operate as claimed by MIG, but would create a traffic nightmare. (More historical and technical details are available at wcmead.org.)

  • Incompletely told state history gets an encyclopedia

    Consideration of history in New Mexico usually stops around Socorro and the year 1900, with passing mention of Roswell for aliens, Lincoln and Billy the Kid for murder, and perhaps White Sands for the Trinity atomic bomb test in 1945.
    OK, that’s an overstatement. But a brief survey of my four-volume New Mexico history book collection finds them well short of mentions of Clovis, Hobbs, oil, Silver City and more.
    The history of New Mexico is taught in the public schools, more often than I thought. Seventh-graders get a year. State history appears in elementary school and high school. How well the history is taught could be another story.
    Thinking of our history was spurred by three comments.
    For a Smithsonian magazine article, Richard Grant is in Jones County Mississippi, “to breathe in the historical vapors…” The article is “The Raging Rebellion of Jones County.” Historical vapors are well breathed in New Mexico, too.
    In a newspaper review of a book about Romania, “Trapped by the New Iron Curtain,” Edward Lucas chides the author, Robert Kaplan, for saying, “I liked having the place to myself.” People complain about New Mexico’s growth, which has reversed the past two years, with the same whine.