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Today's Opinions

  • Gas Company, customers will benefit from TECO acquisition

    There has been relatively little publicity about the application pending before the Public Regulation Commission (PRC) for TECO Energy to acquire New Mexico Gas Company.
    However, approving the application, which has been pending since July 9, 2013, will bring many benefits to the state.
    TECO Energy, based in Tampa, Fla., is a large utility holding company with more than $7 billion in assets and a strong credit rating. It has been in the utility business for more than a century and has an exemplary record of providing excellent gas service and a reputation for safety practices that has earned it recognition for excellence by the American Gas Association. TECO has been a driving force in Florida in leading economic development efforts and intends to do the same in New Mexico, which could contribute significantly to our economic recovery.
    TECO has been successful in helping businesses convert to natural gas vehicles that if its successes can be replicated here, would be a boon for New Mexico’s economy and environment. Natural gas vehicles are a new focus for the Farmington area, which is rich in this plentiful resource. This could be an incredible opportunity to further this industry while jumpstarting the Four Corners’ area economy.

  • EDD update: Bits, pieces, old theaters

    Anyone thinking that the state Economic Development Department has much significant to do with developing the economy should promptly drop the notion. The standard rhetoric aside, such thinking is an illusion.
    Start with there being a whole separate department devoted to tourism, a fair piece of the economy.
    Someone not knowing the name of the department but curious about the state might find the state website, newmexico.gov, the “official state portal.” A bit of looking at the site would lead to the lower left corner and a headline, “business resources,” with six subheads including “business assistance, economic development, job training incentives program.” I clicked on all six subheads, but connected with just two. My 2008 vintage MacBook Pro just wasn’t good enough.
    Newmexico.gov had several topic headlines flashing by. One pitched, as an upcoming event, the 2012 state centennial. Carpe ayer? Boxes in the middle posed questions. “Are you a visitor? Are you a business? And, best of all, “Are you a citizen?” offering a guide to living in New Mexico. Non-citizens don’t count, apparently.

  • Doctor shortage and federal policy

    Why is there such a serious shortage of doctors in New Mexico?
    A bit of good news: The basic cause is not anything inherently wrong with New Mexico. It’s tied up in the complications of medical regulations and funding.
    A group of speakers from New Mexico Health Resources Inc. recently described the background of this situation and what they are doing about it. NMHR is a nonprofit dedicated to recruiting and retaining physicians in New Mexico, especially underserved areas. The speakers were Jerry Richardson, executive director; Kevin McMullan, health professional recruiter; and Dr. Frank Hesse, a founder and former board member of NMHR who is also former chair of the now-moribund New Mexico Health Policy Commission.
    The undersupply of doctors nationwide, they said, traces to a federal commission called the Council on Graduate Medical Education. This commission was founded in the 1930s, when the nation had an oversupply of doctors. A quota was established for the number of medical residents. Today, the training of medical residents is largely subsidized by Medicare. The quota sets the number of residents in each teaching hospital that Medicare will support. It also sets the allocation among specialties.

  • Expelling the myths of fixing a pet

     

    Today’s widespread animal overpopulation is a direct effect of the failure of many pet owners to spay or neuter their pets. With myths such as behavioral changes and health complications resulting from the procedure circulating, it can be difficult to tell if spaying/neutering is the right choice for Fido or Fluffy. In order to save millions of homeless animals’ lives, as well as keep your animal in the best health possible, these myths should be put to rest once and for all.

  • Steampunk stilettos

     

    The dictionary defines “culture” as an anthropological manifestation of human intellectual achievement, which is collectively assigned value and meaning.

    Wow, that’s impressive! Who knew that Boy George named his group “Culture Club” after an intellectual manifestation?

    Our world is like a big vat of yogurt chock full of culture; curdled governments, fermented values, sour foreign relations, and sometimes a little granola-flavored tradition thrown in to add texture.

    But that’s just the surface of human culture. Peel away the veneer of acceptable standards, and much like ripping the bark off a fallen rotting tree trunk, you’ll find a mass of insects busily living out their lives in another world.

  • State spurs job-saving development

    Roswell officials knew the city needed a new railroad spur if it hoped to save jobs in local industries dependent on rail shipping and to stimulate job creation in emerging industries. Occasional derailments underscored the risk of using the old Burlington Northern tracks, which didn’t meet the weight and gauge requirements of modern railroad cars.
    But building industrial infrastructure is expensive — more than the city, the railroad, or the rail-dependent businesses could afford on their own.
    So the city launched a public-private partnership to upgrade and modernize the rail spur in a way that benefits the entire community and allows more public access to the privately owned tracks.
    Empowered by New Mexico’s Local Economic Development Act (LEDA) and the availability of funds appropriated to the New Mexico Economic Development Department for the LEDA-Capital Outlay program, the city submitted an application requesting $100,000 for the project and matched that amount with city funds. It also engaged Xcel Energy and Southwestern Railroad to contribute $70,000 in labor to repair and expand the city’s tracks.
    The result is a modernized facility that city officials are confident will raise Roswell’s profile as a regional hub for rail shipping.

  • Boys, Girls State benefit students

    Senate Bill 169 has passed both houses of the legislature and is now on its way to the governor’s desk.
    Last year, the governor pocket vetoed this same bill.
    We need to make the governor aware of the benefits that our boys and girls can derive from this legislation.
    We need to contact her in every way possible to get our message to her, write a letter, send an email, send a fax, use letters to the editor, write a news article, contact “talk radio,” or make a phone call to the governor’s office.
    Here are some of the reasons for the governor to sign this legislation into law.
    Citizens are woefully ignorant of how our government works.
    • People do not have an idea of what kind of government we have.
    •  Civics is not taught in New Mexico as a singular classroom unit. It is scattered in social studies over 13-year grade levels and pieces.
    • The American Legion is an organization of military veterans that are concerned about the lack of interest in government. Hence, the programs to inform and teach young men and women the essentials of our form of government. Boys State and Girls State are sponsored by the American Legion and the American Legion Auxiliary to provide training and experience in how government is operated and how we govern ourselves.

  • Transferring funds overseas just got safer

    If you’re among the millions of United States residents who each year send tens of billions of dollars to family, friends or foreign businesses overseas, here’s good news: The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau recently instituted new rules governing international electronic money transfers to better protect consumers against hidden fees and improve dispute resolution policies.
    CFPB was given oversight over international money transfers as part of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010. Up until then, federal consumer protection rules did not apply to most “remittance transfers,” whose exchange rates, processing fees and taxes often vary widely and can be hard to decipher.
    Here’s an overview of the new remittance transfer rules:
    In general, most foreign money transfers for more than $15 sent by money transmitters (like Western Union and MoneyGram), banks, credit unions and other financial services companies that consistently send more than 100 international money transfers annually are covered.