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Today's Opinions

  • Experts say positive campaigning works

    During recent road trips, I heard two positive political ads. They’re so rare, it’s like spotting a golden eagle. The ads – in McKinley and Sandoval counties – were simple messages from the candidates, who described their backgrounds, said what they hope to accomplish and asked for the listener’s support.

    No mud, no slurs, no innuendos. I wanted to send them both a fan letter.

    We hear from political consultants that candidates go negative because it works. We’ve been told this so long, we reluctantly believe it, but it’s not true.

    In February, two researchers posted a study, “Going positive: The effects of negative and positive advertising on candidate success and voter turnout,” on the website Research & Politics. Their conclusion: “Our results suggest that it is never efficacious for candidates to run attack ads, but running positive ads can increase a candidate’s margin of victory.”

  • New Mexico tourism continues to prosper

    Santa Fe seemed full of visitors the last Friday of September. We had come to hang out with childhood friends from the very upscale Washington, D.C. suburbs. Their first New Mexico trip was a week of art and food in Santa Fe.
    Our friends rented a condo near the plaza, putting them in the national and local shift of what is called the short-term rental market. Santa Fe has limited competition by capping at 350 the number of short-term rental permits. Between individual investors offering the properties such as the one our friends found and national firms such as Airbnb, Santa Fe’s competition limit has been widely ignored. In May Santa Fe kicked the permit cap to 1,000.
    Permit holders cite unpaid lodgers taxes as one problem.
    Taos and Ruidoso have the same dilemma.
    The lodging choice of our friends and the regulatory situation show in the most recent tourism report, “The Economic Impact of Tourism in New Mexico.” The report comes from Tourism Economics of Philadelphia. It covers 2015 and is dated July 2016. The report starkly contrasts with the recent massively overblown proclamations of “economic death spiral” from the Legislature’s interim Jobs Council and its consultant, Mark Lautman of Albuquerque.

  • Getting real about elections

    You can’t rig a presidential election.
    Of all the damage in this presidential election, perhaps the worst is Donald Trump’s allegation that the election is rigged.
    Some things will probably go wrong. Bad things can happen, but they will most likely be localized and not systemic. Our unwritten national agreement is that we try to prevent them, but when they happen, we accept the results. The “peaceful transition of power” is not just a slogan. It’s what preserves our republic.
    Our elections are so decentralized that it’s logistically unimaginable that anyone could pull off a successful national conspiracy. There are too many different processes, conducted in too many separate places. Any attempted conspiracy would be exposed long before it could be achieved. I don’t think I’m being naïve in saying that.
    Our elections are run by thousands of county clerks, with officials and observers from both major parties. The machines are from different manufacturers and built without the capability to be networked, so they can’t be hacked. Most states, including New Mexico, use paper ballots in addition to machine counting.

  • How much justice can New Mexico afford?

    New people moving into the neighborhood left a loaded trailer parked in the driveway. In the night, thieves made off with the trailer but hit a speed bump too fast, lost the trailer, and sped away, leaving the trailer behind.
    Welcome to the ‘hood.
    We know New Mexico has a crime problem. In 2015, we posted the third-highest violent crime rate and second-highest property crime rate in the nation, according to the FBI.
    It’s a heated election year, and one party would like you to believe that it’s the only one that cares about crime. What we need in the Roundhouse is a thoughtful debate AFTER the election that gets at the heart of the problem, the solutions and the cost of the solutions.
    Keep in mind that in last winter’s legislative session, one of the big topics was proper staffing and pay for state corrections employees.
    Even at starvation wages for guards, the cost per inmate is $45,250 a year. So we can lock ‘em up, but with a budget still in the red, what can we afford?
    This discussion got sidetracked lately when a study done in Albuquerque concluded that a rise in the city’s crime rate directly corresponds to a reduction in jail population. This study is bound to get a lot of mileage from now until the regular legislative session in January.

  • Shrinking budget will force change on state’s higher ed

    New Mexico’s small population stretches over a big state, so we have taken higher education to the students, with 32 colleges and universities. Nearly every sizable community has a branch or an independent institution.
    For our students, who tend to be older and need to hold a job while they take classes, this is a good thing.
    But one of the bigger arguments in the recent legislative special session was how much to cut higher education. The institutions skated with relatively small cuts, but probably not for long. We’re not out of the hole, and come January, lawmakers will put everything back on the table.
    Recently, Higher Education Secretary Barbara Damron announced that the state’s system is unsustainable. Each institution has its own board, and they’re more dependent on state funding than experts say is healthy. New Mexico Junior College in Hobbs is lowest, at 20 percent, while Mesalands Community College in Tucumcari is highest, at 61 percent. The three biggest institutions get 35 to 40 percent of their funding from the state.
    As state revenues have tanked, so have enrollments, which had risen during the early part of the recession. Also, our population is shrinking as people leave the state. Graduation rates are poor (35 percent, compared with 40 percent nationally).

  • Chiles in New York, new chile book in New Mexico

    The two chile plants were big enough that the restaurant staffer carried one in each hand. He hung the plants upside down, each on a hook on the restaurant wall. Dirt clung to the roots. The chiles, each about six inches long and a pure red, were slightly shriveled. A very New Mexican image, except that the restaurant, Rafele, is in Greenwich Village in New York City. An owner of the restaurant grew the chiles on a farm upstate, I was told.
    Roasting and processing chile is another fall image, but one not seen so much outside the state.
    Since 1997 University of New Mexico alumni chapter members have gathered for group chile processing by the ton.
    I can’t imagine a ton of green chile. My images stop at a bag or two or the bushel we’ve done the past few years. My daughter’s 2016 chile image was the ten pounds that arrived in New Hampshire as a birthday present the night before she, husband and baby were set to fly to Albuquerque. But there were the chiles and process they did.
    UNM’s Washington, D.C., alumni group processed two tons of chile last year, says the alumni office. Maybe they were the bureaucrats who have fled Santa Fe for Washington the past 15 or 20 years as state government competence has eroded.
    Six other chapters gathered processing crews. Total production was six tons.

  • Money, PACs play too big a role in elections

    BY LORETTA HALL
    Guest Columnist

  • Let’s rise above partisanship to do what’s best for students

    BY SHARON STOVER
    Republican candidate for House District 43