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Today's Opinions

  • Public art is tool for economic, community development

    Public art has been a force for economic development in New Mexico at least since the Great Depression, when the federal government paid hundreds of unemployed artists to create murals, sculpture and other artworks that grace federal buildings to this day. 

    Nearly a century later, many New Mexico cities are using public art projects to promote economic vitality by creating a foundation for community identity, centralizing disparate neighborhoods with a collective vision and attracting the attention of businesses that value culturally vibrant communities. One of those cities is Rio Rancho.

    “Public art speaks to our culture and how we value the places we live in,” said Daniel Chamberlain, an architect with FBT Architects and chairman of Rio Rancho’s volunteer Arts Commission. “It is a wonderful negotiator of vision. It’s a quality-of-life driver.”

    The payback can be enormous, Chamberlain said, even if it’s hard to measure. 

    Committed to the arts

  • 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.”

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Letters to the Editor 11-2-16

    LA MainStreet says thank you to community

    On behalf of Los Alamos MainStreet and the Los Alamos Commerce and Development Corporation (LACDC), we would like to specially thank the businesses and sponsors that supported Halloweekend and Trick-or-Treat on MainStreet. The good weather helped bring a record-breaking 5,000 people into downtown Los Alamos for Trick-or-Treat on MainStreet last Friday evening. We so appreciate the businesses that opened their doors to the public and bought candy for children and their families.
    A special thank you to our sponsors, Los Alamos National Bank, Los Alamos Medical Center and Smith’s Marketplace and our partners Los Alamos County, Central Park Square, Los Alamos Creative District and LACDC staff. Without your support, we could not put on this event. Equally important, thank you to the organizations that provided supporting events within Halloweekend including, but not limited to, Bradbury Science Museum, YMCA, Arts Council, Balloonists Elizabeth & Mike Walker, Mary Urban, Pet Pangaea, Survive LA and Dance Arts Los Alamos.

  • Letters to the Editor 10-28-16

    District attorney candidate Serna involved in case
    dismissal

    Marco Serna (D), 1st Judicial District Candidate for district attorney, is at the center of a storm. Sandoval County Deputy District Attorney Barbara Romo blames Serna, who was Assistant district attorney in the 13th Judicial District, for not filing a key piece of appeal paperwork, the victim’s testimony, leading to the dismissal of a brutal domestic violence case.
    Serna claims: “I didn’t draft the appeal and I didn’t sign the appeal and I didn’t attend any hearings... Nor was I involved in any of the appeal.”
    The victim’s attorney claims Serna was “actively involved with the matter from the beginning,” and that Serna attended high school with the alleged perpetrator and took classes from the perpetrator’s mother.
    A district attorney represents the state, pursuing justice while giving victims a voice. Can we get the facts? Either clear Serna’s name, or identify him to the voters as someone responsible for criminal charges against a friend since high school being dropped.
    • Costello, Brittany, Domestic violence case against former APD officer dismissed, kob.com/albuquerque-news/domestic-violence-case-against-former-apd-officer-dismissed-patrick-ficke/4140981/, May 17, 2016.

  • 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.

  • Continuing education is part of Prosperity Project

     Worried about the election?

    Worried about the not-so-creeping dogmas of control, dependence and redistribution driving the thinking of the so-called “progressives?” Worried about the $350,000 dumped into New Mexico local races during September and October by the Washington, D.C.-based Patriot Majority Democratic political action committee? Worried that the sources of that money were American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees ($250,000) and the Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund ($100,000)?

    Wondering if your fellow employees at your organization might find value in issue information but also reluctant to step into the back-and-forth nastiness characterizing campaigns these days, especially because stepping into campaign nastiness would get in the way of your organization’s mission of doing the work and profitably serving the customers?

    Communicating with employees about policy and political matters is completely appropriate, observed Jim Gerlach, CEO of BIPAC of Washington, D.C. After all, Gerlach said during his June visit to Santa Fe, everyone else communicates about all sorts of issues.