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Today's Opinions

  • Farmington manufacturer seeks quality-management goal with help from MEP

    BY FINANCE NEW MEXICO

    Brothers Kyle and Jim Rhodes have big ambitions for the family business they’ve owned since 1970. It’s not enough that their Farmington company Process Equipment & Service Company Inc. (PESCO) has a solid reputation as a manufacturer of natural gas and oil production equipment and that the company continues to grow even as gas prices rise and fall, employing more than 300 people and serving national and international customers.

    The Rhodes brothers want to earn their place among the winners of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, which Congress established in 1987 (and named for a former Commerce Department secretary) to recognize American companies with exemplary quality-management systems.

    To that end, and to find inspiration and ideas, the co-owners send a delegation of PESCO employees each year to the Quality New Mexico Learning Summit, where recipients of the Baldrige award describe what led to their recognition. Kyle and Jim Rhodes hope to learn from these top achievers what more they can do to make PESCO a better place to work, to expand its profile in the industry and to continually improve its products.

  • New Mexico economy still drags

    Economics is known as the dismal science. It has certainly been dismal in New Mexico for a while.
    A few sobering facts were offered at the recent Data Users Conference sponsored by the UNM Bureau of Business and Economic Research. The presenter was Jeffrey Mitchell, director of the BBER. There were no big surprises, but no easy answers either.

    People are leaving New Mexico. Net outmigration (years 2011 to 2015) is more than 150 persons leaving for every 100 who move in. All our neighboring states are going in the opposite direction.

    The groups leaving are young people, young families, and seniors. Those staying are older working age adults, ages 45 to 64.

    Individuals with associate and bachelor’s degrees are leaving in the highest numbers.

    Around 1940, Mitchell said, New Mexico was number 21 in percentage of residents with a bachelor’s degree or higher.

    In the 1960s we ranked fourth highest in that category. Nationally, people are getting more education, but New Mexico is dropping in that ranking. We are currently number 39.

  • Senators’ call for National Guard helicopters a mission to save face

    By Mick Rich
    Republican candidate for U.S. Senate

    Our Democratic U.S. Senators were AWOL when President Obama stripped the New Mexico Air National Guard (NMANG) of its F-16s. Since 2010, our Air National Guard now has had no airplanes. It’s the only state that doesn’t. (Even Puerto Rico’s ANG has airplanes.)

    Now that Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson (former Republican U.S. Rep. from New Mexico) has said she is not optimistic about New Mexico regaining its F-16s, our Senators have pitched her with a lame idea: helicopter training for our NMANG’s pilots.

    The only mission apparent is their mission to save face.

    According to the Albuquerque Journal, Martin Heinrich sent a letter to Wilson suggesting that the NMANG ‘s 150th Special Operations Wing at Kirtland AFB receive 12 “legacy” HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters “to use for training, and, if necessary, use in missions.”

    That word “legacy” is key. These helicopters came into operation 35 years ago, in 1982. The few currently in use by Kirtland’s 58th Special Operations Wing will soon be sent into retirement in Arizona. The helicopter’s replacement – the HH-60W Combat Rescue Helicopter – is due to arrive at Kirtland’s 58th in 2020.

  • Letter: Aquatic center upgrades will be much appreciated

    I applaud the County Council for finally approving improvements at the aquatic center that are not directly related only to exercise or athletics. (My surprise at the voting pattern notwithstanding!)

    Some years ago, I served on a CIP citizen’s committee that explored how to use an expected GRT windfall to improve the quality of life in Los Alamos. The proposals were very similar to what the Council has recently made decisions about.

    After years of dithering, some projects were realized: the Ashley Pond Pond improvements, the
    Nature Center, WR visitor center, library, Youth Activity Center and senior center improvements, trails, ...

    But at the time, Steve Lynne very sensibly warned not to count on the best GRT scenario. The first issue to be addressed by The County and by The People, in the context of higher taxes to pay for them (which were voted down), was a set of improvements at the aquatic center: zero-entry pool, lazy river, water slide. 

    I acknowledge a selfish interest: Although too late for my own children, I hoped to treat visiting grandchildren to some of these aquatic experiences. And it’s getting late even for that.

  • Cedar Crest woman brews up business with help from nonprofit lender

    By FINANCE NEW MEXICO

    Hannah Johnson left Cedar Crest, New Mexico, to get a biology degree, and after a stint in shorebird conservation, she returned to start a coffee shop in her hometown in the eastern Sandia Mountain foothills.

    The owner of Cabra Coffee, which opened in spring 2017, started making quality coffee at college. “My first job working in the industry was when I was going to school at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma. It was just the coffee shop in the school, but we were getting coffee from a cafe in Seattle, and they would come down and train us. That’s where I first learned how to make coffee professionally.”

    During her subsequent conservation work with the piping plover at Massachusetts Audubon, Hannah found that her side job in a coffee shop brought her more joy because it offered social interaction. “I wasn’t working with anybody, … and I needed a way to make friends. The coffee shop (in Nantucket) was brand new. I realized that I knew more than anybody else there just from working at the coffee shop at my school. So I was put into the manager position, overseeing everything to do with the coffee. And that’s when I really discovered that it was something I liked doing and that I was good at.”

  • Why must Los Alamos be divided?

    BY LISA SHIN AND KATHLEENE PARKER
    Guests Editorial

    Our nation is divided. Must Los Alamos be too? Why, so often, are letters or comments at public meetings about personal attack? Perhaps we should remember Thomas Jefferson’s, “Every difference of opinion is not a difference of principle.”

    In the Dec. 1 edition of the Los Alamos Monitor, Jess Cullinan – incidentally, a prime driver in asking the school board to pass a sanctuary policy – wrote labeling “those vocal few” as seeking to “sow chaos and to sabotage” the school board’s and superintendent’s efforts to protect vulnerable students.

    But, it is that assumption – that students are even vulnerable – that is our right to question. Cullinan’s letter defines that federal immigration policy “prohibits by law” asking about immigration status and that ICE activity in schools is restricted, proof – based on Cullinan’s own information – that the Los Alamos effort is not about solving a real problem but make a political statement.

  • Throwing money at The Wall is pointless

    New Mexico’s border crossing at Columbus small but brisk.

    Tiny Columbus’s claim to fame is Pancho Villa’s raid in 1916, commemorated by a state park. Snowbirds hunker down in the campground to spend a comfortable winter. The only shopping is a Dollar Store close to the international boundary.

    Across the border, the much larger Palomas gets a steady stream of Americans shopping at the Pink Store, getting dental work done or buying cheap over-the-counter drugs.

    Border guards on both sides are friendly and professional. The atmosphere is relaxed.

    You can’t visit the border without contemplating The Wall.

    The existing wall here of 18-foot steel columns is of fairly recent vintage. I try to imagine a new wall of the prototypes on display in California and envision a tourniquet that squeezes trade and relations between the two countries.

    In October the U. S. Customs and Border Protection unveiled eight giant rectangles made of concrete or composites. If you live in Ohio, you might believe a wall of this stuff will keep us safe and hold the hordes at bay.

  • N.M. banks too small? Loan opportunities wanted

    Some banks are too small to succeed, suggests Joe Ricketts, founder of TD Ameritrade and presumably someone who knows his way around the financial world. Maybe “too small” means having assets under $10 billion, Ricketts wrote in the Oct. 30 Wall Street Journal.

    Presented with Ricketts’ observation, a senior executive of a New Mexico-based bank chuckled. He’s not talking about New Mexico, the banker said.

    Maybe Ricketts has a point. Consider: Wells Fargo Bank of San Francisco, headquartered near the Union Square shopping mecca, counts $8.5 billion of deposits in New Mexico. For the whole bank, the deposit total is around $1.3 trillion. At less than 1 percent of the company, New Mexico doesn’t make afterthought status.

    Wells’ New Mexico deposit total dropped $450 million between June 30, 2016, and June 30, 2017, according to the deposit market share report from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, a regulator. That loss is more than the total deposits of all but 15 banks doing business in New Mexico. Three of the 14 branches closed across the state during the period were Wells Fargo branches. The state had 473 branches as of June 30.