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Today's Opinions

  • Conference to feature business opportunities in local film industry

    BY DAMON SCOTT
    Finance New Mexico

    The New Mexico film industry has been an economic bright spot for the past several years, helping businesses grow and weather the recession. After state tax incentives for the industry kicked into gear in 2003, opportunities for individuals and businesses have been continually created. And industry leaders say there’s still room for growth.

    Nick Maniatis, director of the New Mexico Film Office, said the industry is “as strong as it’s ever been,” with 2017 shaping up to be the third-consecutive year of record activity – defined by overall economic impact and job creation, among other markers.

    Maniatis and his staff are preparing for the 2017 Film & Media Industry Conference, which draws hundreds of people to sessions, panels and exhibitors. The conference, slated for Aug. 25–26 in Albuquerque, highlights the many ways individuals and businesses can be part of the growing industry.

    More than actors and crew

    Karl Kirsch of O’Malley Glass is a believer. The Albuquerque business owner said he’s worked hard to make connections with producers and crews over the years, and it’s paid off.

    Kirsch said he works with three different departments in the industry – set design, special effects and construction.

  • Letter to the Editor 8-13-17

    You can be conservative and in favor of
    improvements

    Dear Editor,
    It was a great pleasure to see Tony Fox insist that the council recognize that voting against the rec bond is not identical with voting against the rec projects. One may be fiscally conservative and still be in favor of some quality of life improvements and infrastructure development.

    And while Dr. (Lisa) Shin is indeed correct that quantification is not precise, it is certainly clear that everyone who voted for the bond is also in favor of the projects. Now if only one in 10 fiscal conservatives are nonetheless also in favor of at least some of the rec projects, a small fraction, then there is also a majority in favor of those projects.

    It is good that the CIP funds will be reviewed for how much we can already afford. However, we certainly can afford something. The improvement of Ashley (Pond) Park is an example of how much can be added to our enjoyment of Los Alamos.

  • GOP needs to get in line with debt limit

    There seem to be two kinds of Republicans: those who think that the full faith and credit of the United States can be the subject of political experimentation, and sensible ones.

    Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin fits in the latter category. He has repeatedly called upon Congress, controlled by the GOP, to pass an increase in the statutory debt limit, with no policy strings attached, so that the United States government may continue borrowing past the current, already expired ceiling of $20 trillion – and pay all of its obligations on time. The stability of the financial system, domestic and international, depends on preserving the “risk-free” status of U.S. debt, earned over centuries. A failure to raise the debt limit would imperil this status, causing a “serious problem,” as Mr. Mnuchin has put it with considerable understatement.

  • Mexico’s troubles affect the U.S.

    What happens in Mexico doesn’t stay in Mexico.

    Our southern neighbor is wrestling with an alarming surge in cartel violence, a U.S. security crackdown on its northern border and a glut of migrant refugees slipping through its back door.  All of which affects us directly or indirectly.

    The situation demands our attention and a redoubling of efforts to create sound, effective policy.

    Simply put, an unstable and unsafe Mexico isn’t good for Texas. Our economies are too entwined. Mexico is our No. 1 trade partner by far. It’s also not good for American industries that depend on lucrative trade deals and cheaper labor supplied by immigrants chasing the American dream. And it’s not good for American communities struggling with the consequences of illicit drugs flowing into cities, suburbs and rural hamlets.

    Let’s start with the uptick in homicides. There’s no way to romanticize the resurgence in cartel conflicts that are turning once-tranquil towns in Mexico into killing fields.

    The Mexican government’s war on drugs and cartels isn’t working. Mexico is on pace for its deadliest year with 12,155 murders recorded from January through June.

  • Letters to the Editor 8-9-17

    Lab Retiree Group
    recommends RFP provide for communities

    Dear Editor,
    The Laboratory Retiree Group (LRG) is a non-profit organization devoted to helping retirees from Los Alamos National Laboratory (the laboratory) stay in contact with significant issues. The LRG has about 600 members, most of whom live in northern New Mexico, though others live throughout the rest of New Mexico and the U.S.
    Last month, NNSA released a draft Request for Proposals (RFP) for a new management contract for the laboratory. NNSA invited comments on the draft RFP. The board of directors of the Laboratory Retiree Group submitted comments and recommendations to NNSA, on behalf of LRG members.
    This is a summary of those comments and recommendations. The full LRG response to NNSA is available on the LRG web site, lalrg.org. LRG has also shared these comments and recommendations with our N.M. congressional delegation.
    A major concern of LRG is that the draft RFP describes the procedure a management contractor must follow if it changes, terminates, or introduces new retirement or benefits plans. Although those would likely have a profound effect on the lives of both employees and retirees, the draft RFP has no provision for employee or retiree involvement in the decision to make such a change.

  • State’s economy may be turning around; indicators remain troubling

    Is it possible that New Mexico’s economy is finally starting to revive? If you follow the numbers in the last couple of months, you could get whiplash.

    Some major indicators are up dramatically, but they’re both heartening and concerning. Bear with me for some statistics.

    We’re finally on a good list. The U. S. Bureau of Economic Analysis recently clocked a healthy surge in gross domestic product for the first three months of 2017. New Mexico’s growth was 2.8 percent, the nation’s third highest. The leading contributor was oil and gas.

    In late July the Legislative Finance Committee brought joy to state bean counters with the news that recurring revenues in May were up 32 percent ($141 million) from May 2016.

    More good news is that gross receipts tax revenue in May was $39.3 million higher than the year before, and year-to-date it was up 6.2 percent. This means, among other things, that people are out spending money. For five months in a row, revenues have surpassed the same months in 2016.

  • Don't Splash Our Cash!

    By Lisa Shin

    President, A Better Way for LA Political Action Committee  

    On August 8, Councilors Chrobocinski and O'Leary will present “Discussion and Possible Action Relating to Proposed Changes to the Capital Improvement Program (CIP) Fund.” There will be recommended action on recreation projects for the bond election, which failed on May 23, 2017.  

    The following are my recommended actions.     

    I strongly recommend that the $13.4 million of CIP funds be used to improve existing facilities: the golf course and softball fields. The Splash Pad had an estimated cost of $720,000 with $37,000 yearly operations and maintenance costs. Through a competitive bidding process, it could be done at a significantly lower cost.  $350,000 with $20,000 yearly operations and maintenance is reasonable.

    I strongly urge the council to wait for the LANL contract to be awarded in April 2018, and our budget to be finalized, before directing our county staff to begin work on the multi-generational pool. Our financial situation could change quickly, with budget cuts and possible lay-offs. We must prioritize the needs of our community, and adjust the CIP funding expected for this project accordingly.

  • Mexican gray wolf program is travesty

    By David J. Forjan

    To the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service:

    Look, we’re all grown-ups here.  Let’s cut through all the BS.

    Every USFWS employee involved with the Mexican gray wolf recovery program has sold them out.  You’ve all sold out the Mexican gray wolves.

    Either by the “Sin of Commission” or the “Sin of Omission.” Either selling them out by direct action, like those who wrote the new recovery plan. Or selling out the Mexican gray wolves by their inaction, like not standing up or speaking up or screaming at the top of your lungs that the program has, and is continuing to, fail the wolves.

    Let’s also cut the BS about the reasons the program is failing. The real reason, the core problem, is money, power and influence. Some people who have alot of money then want power. 

    And some people with power want to influence things. Mostly to make themselves more money. In this case, that influence is also killing Mexican gray wolves. And killing them off.

    And let’s skip the pretense that this new recovery plan will succeed. It will fail for so many reasons that if it wasn’t so sad it would be laughable.