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Today's Opinions

  • Letters to the Editor 12-22-17

    A bit of nit picking

    Dear Editor,
    I think that the term “windfall” is not appropriate to describe the gross receipts taxes paid by LANL contractors. Merriam-Webster defines “windfall” as:

    • Something (such as a tree or fruit) blown down by the wind;

    • An unexpected, unearned, or sudden gain or advantage.

    The term is not correct for two reasons. First, the term refers to a “one-time” event. Once all the apples are off the tree you can expect no more apples to fall. The citizens of Los Alamos should expect that LANL contractors will continue paying gross receipts taxes. Second, the term “unearned” does not apply to the taxes paid by LANL contractors. In the ‘70s, the legislature “reformed” the tax structure in New Mexico. In general, funding for basic governmental services (roads, police, fire, recreation, etc.) went from property taxes to gross receipts taxes (mostly from retail sales). In general, property taxes were to fund capital improvements.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Letter to the Editor 12-13-17

    Have charter school
    organizers, parents tried to improve LAMS?

    Dear Editor,
    I was surprised to read about the effort to organize a Polaris Public Charter School for sixth- to eighth-graders in Los Alamos. I am asking and, this is something I do not know, if the organizers and parents have tried working to improve Los Alamos Middle School, LAMS.  
    I worked for many years at the high school when Mike Johnson, the current principal at LAMS, was there. I do not think one could find a more competent, caring, hard-working administrator.  I believe that he would always be interested in ideas (even radically different ones) to improve the education for our children at the middle school.  
    As a teacher at the high school, I was always aware that the success of Los Alamos schools was in many ways a direct result of the parental interest in education.
    The parents convey this message to their children in innumerable ways and the children then come to school ready to learn because they understand it is important, even during the years when children seem not to be listening to their parents.   I would love to see this considerable effort and parental interest work toward improving the middle school that all ready exists.  
    Julie Wangler
    Los Alamos

  • 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.”

  • Letter to the Editor 12-10-17

    Statement was changed

    Dear Editor,
    Let’s get facts straight. Mr. Richardson recently totally changed my statements at the school board meeting and in my last letter to the editor. Please see the minutes of the School Board meeting, or better watch it on video, as well as read my letter in the Nov. 19 edition of the LA Monitor to see I fiercely defended the children.
    I find it detestable that someone would deliberately use children to misrepresent in order to advance their own political agenda. This includes the school board, teachers and parents who pass resolutions stating what is already protected by federal law rather than address the repeatedly stated reason for the resolution which is bullying!
    Each school board members’ comments and letter to the editor have given one reason for the need for a resolution, that Latino and Hispanic students are being repeatedly targeted for bullying by apparently white students calling them names and threatening them with deportation. Why is this bullying not being addressed? Why are our children not being taught to respect others? Why are they not disciplined or suspended for bullying?
    Every child and teenager deserves to have an education AND to feel SAFE while getting it !!! I was bullied in elementary and middle school so I know first hand what it’s like.