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Today's Opinions

  • Is there a future for New Mexico ethanol?

    By BOB HAGAN

  • State snubs economic development project in rural New Mexico

    Wonder why we’re poor? Here’s the type of thing that happens here.
    In 2014, the biggest thing in tourism and historic preservation was the purchase of the derelict Castañeda Hotel in Las Vegas by veteran developer Allan Affeldt, who successfully restored La Posada Hotel in Winslow, Arizona.
    The Castañeda, like much of Las Vegas, is a rundown remnant of yesteryear that’s been the object of hopes and what ifs. In 1898 it was Fred Harvey’s first hotel; it closed in 1948. This is a project only “an eccentric investor like me” would want, Affeldt says.
    In the hospitality business, you need a certain size to make the investment worthwhile.
    “The Castañeda was kind of an enticing project,” he says, but bathrooms are down the hall. To provide modern amenities, a restoration would reduce 45 rooms to 25. “It was hard to justify the investment given the size.”
    Also in 2014, Affeldt bought a second historic Las Vegas property, the Plaza Hotel, out of foreclosure. He made improvements and turned it around. (I stayed there before and after. His team worked wonders.)
    “I figured maybe by putting the two together, I could make it work,” he says. He needed New Markets Tax Credits and began negotiating with the New Mexico Finance Authority.

  • How to find the right financial advisor

    BY NATHAN SILLIN
    Practical Money

  • Innovation comes from entrepreneurs, major corporations, children

    Countries become more prosperous by producing and selling more stuff. One approach is having more people produce the same amount for each person. This might apply in New Mexico where a low proportion of our population works. Just hire more people.
    Using technology to have each person produce more is better. Or combine old ideas into a new application, the technique of Vasari21 (vasari21.com), a Taos-based website launched by Ann Landi, a four-year Taos resident transplanted from New York City. Landi has been a freelance writer for publications including the Wall Street Journal and ArtNews.
    Vasari21, is an online publication directed at artists, not art consumers. “There’s nothing like it,” she says. With decades of contacts at the top of the art world and with the internet, Landi is able to operate from Taos.
    Topics include how artists make their way, why critics act the way they do, and talking to a gallery.
    So far, so good, she says. Vasari21 has “a very low bounce rate.”
    Landi has learned that means people stick around the site for a while instead of clicking away in a few seconds.
    Major corporate innovation came recently to my Gillette brand shaving cream, made by Proctor and Gamble. The shaving cream cap has been a 2.5 inch diameter, two-inch-high plastic item.

  • We fill budget holes instead of creating a dynamic economy

    David Abbey, the longtime director of the Legislative Finance Committee, has said the state is running on fumes, and he’s not one to exaggerate.
    Because the recession hangs on and oil and gas prices dropped, tax revenues were down for 11 months of the last fiscal year by a whopping $543.3 million. Even though legislators cut budgets and swept spare change from every possible corner during the last session, we’re now spending money we don’t have.
    That might be a fine American tradition, but it’s illegal. The federal government can run deficits; New Mexico state government can’t.
    So Democrats, now joined by some Republicans, want a special session, but the governor is waiting for numbers from the entire year – as if one month’s revenues will make a difference – before calling a special session.
    Nobody likes a special session, especially during an election year, when the inevitable ugly decisions could affect votes.
    But the longer they wait, the worse it gets. They’ve used cash reserves to plug the hole, so the account hovers at 1 percent of state spending, or $63 million, down from $319.8 million last year. Good governance calls for higher balances.

  • Ingenuity is our best hope for the future

    “Cardboard” is a versatile concept. A “cardboard” person is thoroughly unattractive—flat, stiff, dull and banal. By contrast, real cardboard is a marvel – efficient, sturdy, useful and adaptable.
    “Cardboard box” is a generic name for boxes of all uses and sizes made from paper-like materials. Think of cereal boxes, juice boxes, a box of candy, brown boxes that store archives, shipping boxes and the “shoebox,” that cache of humble treasures.
    It is no small truth that kids take to the empty box as eagerly as they play with the grand toy that came in the box. What else makes so fine a fort, a lion house and a big bass drum? So strong is the cardboard box’s appeal as a child’s plaything that in 2005 a cardboard box was added to the National Toy Hall of Fame. It is true.
    The cardboard box drove us to reuse stuff long before it was a strategy. Cardboard was well suited for recycling long before recycling was thought about. The gods of yore may have helped more than we know.
    In the 1870s, corrugated cardboard hit the market and began to replace wooden shipping crates. The term “tree hugger” was used in India as long ago as 1730. The term was reborn in the 1960s and is popular today as an honor or an insult in natural resource conflicts.  

  • Pot will get us through times of no money

    I’ve seen dozens of economic development schemes over the years. Some were visionary, others simply delusional. Almost all involved tapping the taxpayers to benefit a handful of politically savvy lobbyists and their clients.
    I can count the number of winners on one hand. New Mexico wine, which scarcely existed 30 years ago, is now a $60 million business expanding at 10 to 15 percent a year. Beer has grown from 25 craft breweries five years ago to 45 today with an estimated $340 million in economic impact.
    Both succeeded without government subsidies and in the teeth of Prohibition-era laws and bureaucratic inertia. Real businesses flourish not by rent-seeking in Santa Fe or Washington to get the government to underwrite their costs and mandate customers to purchase their product, but by producing something consumers actually want to buy.
    If the Drug War has taught us anything over the past 40 years, it’s that people want to buy marijuana.
    Since Colorado’s first pot shop opened two years ago, that state’s legal recreational market has grown from zero to nearly $600 million last year and may top $1 billion this year. The state rakes in more than a quarter of that with a hefty 27.9 percent levy on sales.

  • 10 Tips for Becoming a Knowledgeable Renter  

    On the hunt for a new apartment? A move can be an exciting opportunity to explore a new area or meet new people. However, competitive rental markets can make it difficult to find a desirable place on a budget.
    Keep these ten tips in mind to manage the process like a pro. They’ll help you stand out from the crowd, get a good deal, enjoy the neighborhood and manage your rights and responsibilities as a renter.
    1. Talk to Other Tenants. Speak with current or past renters to get a sense for the building and landlord. Ask about the neighborhood, noise, timeliness with repairs and any other pressing questions. Consider looking for online reviews of the landlord as well, and research the neighborhood.
    2. Upgrade Your Application. Go beyond the basic application requirements and include pictures, references, credit reports and a short bio about yourself and whoever else may be moving in. Try to catch the landlord’s eye and show that you’ll take care of the property. You can order a free credit report from each bureau (Equifax, TransUnion and Experian) once every 12 months at AnnualCreditReport.com.