Today's Opinions

  • Just a Wag 06-24-11

    Business leaders get toughened up

    A group of eight local business owners, managers and members of the Los alamos Chamber of Commerce spent all week at a “Business Bootcamp” in Denver.
    The bootcamp is designed to provide participants with  intensive workshops led by successful entrepreneurs and experts.

    Send us your wags

    “Just a wag” features initial snippets of news heard around town.  
    The wags may grow to larger stories or simply remain snippets, either way this is meant to spark interest and provide food for thought.
    E-mail wags to lanews@lamonitor.com.

  • State employee roles decreasing

    Last fall, both gubernatorial candidates promised state employees “no furloughs and no layoffs.”
    We could be pretty sure there would be no furloughs. The furloughs in 2010 were wildly unpopular and, more importantly, they were a budget-cutting tool of Gov. Bill Richardson. Both candidates were running away from him.
    At the conclusion of the 2011 legislature, Gov. Susana Martinez and legislative leaders proclaimed the budget that was adopted would require no furloughs and no layoffs.
    But layoffs already have begun. They sometimes are called reductions in force, or RIFs, but the results are the same.
    On June 10, 44 state employees were told to clean out their desks. They will be paid through the end of the month.

  • Economic Development 101

    It’s another beautiful day in the Land of Enchantment.
    This is the way Bob Hoffman, the Dean of Economic Development in New Mexico, opened all his meetings.
    If your skies aren’t blue, and your view of the horizon is hazy with wild-fire smoke, you might not agree, but Bob would convince you that beneath the smaze (yes, that’s a word), it’s still beautiful.
    Bob Hoffman, who created jobs across the state at times when it seemed impossible, has passed on, but his words are still gold.
    Bob had a passion for New Mexico almost from the moment he arrived at Holloman Air Force Base in 1950. His early career in radio broadcast and marketing gave him sales skills; that and his enthusiasm made him a force of nature.

  • Helping a billion bovines

    You and I have our challenges and some real worries, too. There are bills to pay and doctors to visit, to say nothing of mulling over those strange sounds coming from the rear of the car.
    But I confess, I thought the life of a cow was rather placid. Eating and sleeping, I would have guessed, pretty much summed up the existence of the more than one billion bovines that share the planet with us.
    But as I’ve recently learned, both beef cattle and dairy cows often have trouble just catching their breath.

  • Government contracting: A new path to revenue?

    In times of economic upheaval when private sector output slows, government contracts may mean the difference between running a company at profit rather than loss.
    The Procurement Technical Assistance Program, set up by the New Mexico Small Business Development Network in 2009, is a non-profit organization that helps small businesses obtain government contracts.
    PTAP counselors provide seminars and help clients identify government contract opportunities. Most PTAP services are provided free of charge. The federal- and state-funded organization has helped more than 600 New Mexico clients obtain over $70 million in government contracts.

  • Local schools need community's help

    On June 14, during the lunch break from my employer-funded MATLAB training course I attended a Kiwanis meeting.  
    There I heard Dr. Gene Schmidt, LAPS superintendent and John Wolfe, LAPS business manager, describe the school’s budgeting process.  
    Next year’s program budget will be about $700,000 less than last year’s and the schools have had to make some serious cuts!   
    For example, over the last few years the amount available for professional development has shrunk by more than $150,000.
    Our teachers have not had a pay raise for four years. In fact, because of increased deductions for retirement and benefits, their take home pay has actually shrunk.

  • Real estate markets still lag

    Aztec has New Mexico’s most affordable four-bedroom, two-bath homes. In real estate lingo, “most affordable” means “cheapest.”
    Four-bedroom, two-bath homes cost an average of $178,850 in Aztec. Nationally there are 527 real estate markets with cheaper, er, more affordable homes.
    The nation’s lowest priced four-bedroom, two-bath homes are in Niagara Falls, N.Y., where the price is $60,820. All these homes are single-family detached homes, as opposed to condominiums or townhouses. As shorthand, I’ll call them FB/2B homes.

  • Government service in tough times

    In a certain office of New Mexico government, a friend tells me, three clerical assistants work with a group of professionals. One clerk is competent and hardworking.  
    The other two are incompetent and unreliable. All the professionals try to snag the good employee for their projects.
    She works much harder than her peers but is paid the same.  
    Eventually she will get tired of this and will either stop working so hard or find another job.
    Another professional in state government describes her frustrations with management. She has to travel around the state to do her job, but because of budget constraints she’s not allowed to stay overnight.