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Today's Opinions

  • Inflation, debt payments eat 30 percent of road funds

    Personal transportation vehicles powered by fossil fuels — cars, SUVs and pickups, that is — will be around for a long, long time.
    So will commercial trucks, which, with rail, are vital links in moving goods around the country.
    Roads will be around, too. Roads were crucial well before the combustion engine appeared. Check your Roman history. All this means we’re stuck with building and maintaining roads.
    And paying for this work.
    Governments pay for nearly all roads — federal, state and local. Yet, for years the state has been well short of having the road money it claims it needs.
    The recitation of this banal obviousness comes because the state’s political leadership has ignored the situation, a derogation of duty. Here is a summary of our sources of money.
    About $840 million will come into the Department of Transportation during fiscal 2016, the budget year starting July 1, according to “Legislating for Results: Appropriation Recommendation,” published by the Legislative Finance Committee in January. DOT requested $837.7 million; the LFC recommended $842.7 million.
    The difference, though large from the perspective of nearly all individuals, is small on the scale of things.

  • Los Alamos native to teach traditional oil painting

    There’s something exotic about painting with oils. Many artists will say that no other medium compares to working with the same medium as the great masters of old. Painting in oils is like painting with butter. Oil paint is thick and can be spread, pushed, troweled, brushed and scraped. Because it dries slowly paintings can evolve, with colors mixed on the canvas in order to create an effect.
    Artist Trevor Lucero wants to help students share in the mysteries of getting the paint to reflect their vision, to capture reflected light so realistically it delights the viewer. Although he developed this class with intermediate students in mind, he welcomes raw beginners, as well as more accomplished oil painters. Lucero say, “The amazing light of our New Mexico landscapes gives artists a great excuse to mash colors together.”
    In his class “Traditional Genres in Oil Painting” Lucero will teach how to build a painting in the traditional way: constructing an underpainting and working toward a completed image using a succession of glazes to achieve luminosity. Students will work on portraits, still lifes, or landscapes using photographs. The class meets from 5:30-8:30 p.m. Thursdays April 16-30 at the Fuller Lodge Art Center.

  • How corporate tax loopholes compromise our future

    The notion of “paying it forward” is a popular one, and while we may not think about our income taxes as a form of paying it forward, that’s exactly what we’re doing.
    The public works that we all depend upon today — roads and highways, schools and parks, telecommunications and electrical grids, even courts and prisons — were made possible in part by taxes paid by past generations. And the taxes we pay today won’t just go toward keeping these systems and infrastructure in good repair, they will also be needed to plan for our future and address unexpected issues and opportunities.
    This kind of long-term vision is the foundation upon which the United States was built.
    Our public works and infrastructure don’t just improve our quality of life, they also make our modern economy possible. Savvy American corporations understand that they depend on this infrastructure and that they bear responsibility for helping to pay for it.
    As the new report “Burning Our Bridges” (Center for Effective Government) shows, much of our nation’s infrastructure needs could be covered simply by collecting income tax on the profits that several corporations have retained overseas.

  • Letter to the editor 4-14-15

    Cloth bags are worth the effort

    I’m a bit puzzled about the sense of outrage expressed by people who’d like to keep the convenience of having “free” (Smith’s does pay for them) single-use (I know, lots of people re-use them, which is great) plastic bags.
    In 2008-2009 a group of kids in grades 4-6 (the Kinnikinnick Club) wanted to do something for the world. They researched small actions that could have a large effect and decided to ask Smith’s to encourage the use of cloth bags instead of paper or plastic.
    They gave a nice presentation to the Smith’s employees and Smith’s put up the signs you see now that say, “Did you forget your cloth bags?”  Smith’s also gave a 5-cent credit (later a green points credit) to those using cloth bags.
    Did those kids (and Smith’s) make a difference?  On March 9, 2009, the manager sent a letter telling the kids that Smith’s stores in Los Alamos and White Rock were under budget by 865,170 bags and added that that equated to “432 cases less in plastic bags making it to our land fill.”  Furthermore, Smith’s then introduced this program “throughout the entire Kroger Company.”

  • Loonies on the loose

    The “news” is too much with us.
    True, print news venues have troubles galore, have had for a long time now.
    But anything electronic — television, blogospheric, streaming, screening, online, live, recorded, you name it — positively fibrillates as it belches forth endless servings of routinely unedited rumor, claims, charges/counter-charges, pure hokum and mindless opinion masquerading as “news.”
    Last week, when a guy named Tom Cotton opined to the effect that it would be far easier simply to bomb Iran than to continue negotiations designed to forestall that country’s efforts to develop its own nuclear weapons, I became halfway persuaded that too many loonies are making too many headlines today.
    It was Cotton, a brand new Republican U.S. senator from Arkansas, who whipped out that infamous letter (co-signed by 47 other Senate Republicans) to Iran’s Ayatollah Khamenei basically warning him that the negotiations were doomed inasmuch as the GOP controls both houses of Congress.
    Cotton had been in the Senate only a matter of weeks, but the media — particularly online — snapped it all up: Cotton, his letter, his cohorts, their bomb, the whole thing. They couldn’t get enough of it.

  • Pet Talk: Tips for enjoying the outdoors with a pet

    For those who enjoy the great outdoors, camping during the springtime can be a perfect weekend getaway. However, if you don’t want to leave your four-legged friends behind while setting out on your adventure, try bringing them along.
    “Many campgrounds allow pets, with certain rules and regulations,” said Dr. Mark Stickney, clinical associate professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.
    Often, the rules regarding pets can be seen posted on their website, and if not, questions can be easily answered over the phone. However, it is not advised that you show up with your pet without prior research and consent.
    “Most rules will include things such as having your pet on a leash, making sure they are supervised at all times, and requiring proof of vaccinations,” Stickney said. “Even if they don’t require health records or vaccination certificates, it’s a good idea to bring them along just in case.”

  • A cost checklist for a getting a new furry friend

    Premium food, state-of-the-art veterinary care and creature comforts most humans would envy are now a regular part of life for many American pets.
    That’s why prospective pet owners should consider financial planning before bringing home a dog, cat or other breed of animal.
    For those considering purchasing or adopting a pet, do thorough research first about what owning that animal will cost. The wide range of products, services and advanced medical options for American pets have pushed U.S. pet industry expenditures to almost $60 billion in 2014, nearly double the amount in 2004.
    With pet ownership tripling since the 1970s according to The Humane Society of the United States, it is no surprise that advanced pet products and services at high price points are making it very easy for many pet owners to overspend.
    Prospective pet owners should begin their research with an idea of first-year costs.
    The ASPCA publishes an annual estimate for a variety of pets. Purchase and adoption costs may vary based on breed, so read as much as you can about a specific pet choice.

  • Two manufacturers share machines, expertise with outside entrepreneurs

    Any entrepreneur with a product idea or prototype can find someone to build it in New Mexico.
    Two companies that do just that for a variety of clients are Marpac, a maker of devices that secure medical tubes and collars, and TEAM Technologies Inc., which designs and fabricates products that require advanced engineering and electronics.
    Both Albuquerque companies opened their doors for New Mexico Manufacturing Day activities last fall and plan to participate again this year.

    From full service to a single stitch