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Today's Opinions

  • Tourism numbers show New Mexicans are enjoying state

    We’re in peak tourist season, and the number of Texas license plates and happy crowds of shoppers are a welcome sight.
    Gov. Susana Martinez traveled to several communities with the announcement that visits are up a whopping 30 percent over last year and credited the “New Mexico True” campaign.
    As reporters dug into the numbers, they found that the 30 percent was local visitation. Critics panned her announcements as Not So New Mexico True, with a few saying the numbers were bogus.
    Not exactly, but they mean different things.
    To the local economy, my lunch when passing through Española, or my recent stay in Cloudcroft provides the same lift as a lunch or stay by a Texan or Coloradoan. To the state’s economy, it’s money recycled internally, so the buck has less bang.
    Former Tourism Secretary Monique Jacobson, with every speech, urged her audience to see New Mexico.
    And the department directed several campaigns at New Mexicans.
    It’s a point well taken. If we’re not willing to be tourists in our own state, why should we expect anyone else to come here? In 2014, New Mexicans made 661,000 more in-state visits than they did in 2013, so either New Mexico True worked on us or we were “staycationing.”

  • Legislative policy dealings 2015: Alcohol to water

    Part 1 of 2

    The scope of our government is easy to forget.
    Like fire hydrants, government is in the background much of the time, doing whatever.
    Then, like a fire hydrant that doesn’t work — surprise — government can get our attention. In the broken hydrant case, the firefighters run the hoses to the hydrant in the next block, one that does work.
    Other attention getters are momentary. Last winter, Bernalillo County government bumped the gross receipts tax rate by 0.1875 percent, making the Albuquerque rate 7.1875 percent.
    I first noticed the change three weeks into July when a $32.10 ($30 plus 7 percent) became $32.16 ($30 plus 7.1875 percent). The change brought some mumbling while writing the check and slid to the shadows.
    “Highlights 2015” is the annual report about the legislative session from the Legislative Council Service, the staff to the Legislature.
    The table of contents shows 45 separate topics, some covering multiple sectors. The alphabetical list starts with alcohol and ends with water.
    The topics are policy. The Legislative Finance Committee’s annual “Post Session Review” discusses the money side.
    The regular session saw introduction of 1,755 items of legislation including 1,449 bills.

  • Closing the educational gap

    Statistical studies claim that extracurricular activities in school promote a higher rate of academic success.
    One study showed that 30.6 percent of students who participated in extracurricular activities earned a GPA of 3.0 or greater compared to 10.8 percent for students who did not participate.
    Keep in mind, though, that 87.14 percent of all statistics are purely fabricated, especially those that are presented with decimal points.
    Statistics aside, it’s just common sense that out-of-class activities promote both mental and physical health.
    Extracurricular activities help reduce behavior problems. In sports, students learn discipline and planning skills. Clubs and community organizations teach them responsibility and social inclusion.
    Students involved in activities gain higher self-esteem, more confidence and learn valuable interaction skills.
    And of course, there is a correlation between club involvement and higher academic performance. The creation of clubs and promotion of sports helps the students, helps the schools, and helps the community. It’s a win for everyone!
    But perhaps the most important benefit is it’s fun! Sometimes “fun” is more than enough reason!
    Being a teacher, I don’t want to downplay the importance of classroom studies.

  • Letters to the editor 8-5-15

    Two sides to oil story

    Marita Noon doesn’t refer to the advantages of forbidding exports of American oil.
    Aside from enhancing national security, it keeps oil prices down here, which is good for the American consumer, however difficult for oil companies.
    Since refined products may be exported, it also increases American industrial jobs by supporting keeping and building American refineries.
    Whether or not these considerations override supporting Canadian and minimizing Iranian oil exports, “you can judge for yourself.” But one should at least be honest about the various sides to the discussion.

    Terry Goldman
    Los Alamos

    Flat roofs will eventually leak

    I can’t understand why the county feels a need to keep trying to find a flat roof that doesn’t leak.
    Our house was built with a pitched roof in 1970 by Home Planning.  The original roof has been replaced twice. They have never leaked.
    I have never been to college, but I know that the county needs to stop building libraries with flat roofs.

    Camille Morrison
    White Rock

    Saturday delivery for Sunday paper?

  • Uber could upgrade their workers’ safety net for pennies

    I have a love-hate relationship with ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft.
    I love the convenience and level of service that traditional taxis don’t offer. But I hate what they portend for the future of work with their rapidly expanding business model that pretends regular workers are franchisees.
    For one thing, casting employees as entrepreneurs offloads risks, along with the security and benefits that a traditional job used to offer.
    Workers toiling in the so-called sharing economy get no paid vacation or sick leave, no company match for a 401(k) retirement plan and no employer-paid health insurance. They may benefit from greater flexibility that they need for family obligations or even some fun, but these folks are missing out on big swaths of the safety net.
    What’s more, the CEOs and investors who are driving this share of our economy can get pretty stingy when it comes to sharing the profits with those who made those profits possible.

  • Santa Fe GOP bans Trump piñatas

    I’d like to meet Ignacio Padilla one of these days.
    Padilla is the fellow who recently got booted from his post as treasurer of the Santa Fe County Republican Party for having invited folks around the local plaza to whack away at a piñata fashioned to look like the “Great Bloviator,” Donald Trump.
    What it tells us about a sizeable bloc of rank-and-file Republican voters I shudder to think, but as these lines are written a goodly number of usually reliable polls indicate Trump to be leading the race for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination.
    Yet, since announcing his bid for the Republican nomination over a month ago, the billionaire real estate mogul has systematically set himself to the task of alienating first one and then another segment of the American electorate with an abandon that takes the breath away.
    His rivals for the nomination he alternately scorns as “idiots,” “weak,” “incompetent,” “jackasses.”
    Mexican immigrants, including naturalized citizens, “bring us drugs and crime. They’re rapists,” he raged, before going on to malign the military service of John McCain, who spent five years interred as a POW in Vietnam.

  • Illumination is risky

    Light in living rooms is an ancient and basic need.
    Yet, filling this need reflects the long and shifting trials of society, business and the environment.
    In times past, cave dwellers filled their rooms with wood smoke. Today’s fluorescent light bulbs utilize mercury.
    The story line from then to now is a mini-history of the human race.
    The oil lamp, teaching of smoke and smells, was a new thing in 4500 BC. By 3000 BC, the candle was the latest and best.
    Candles use consumable wicks to control the rate that fuel is burned and thus control how much light is produced and for how long. Candles even tell time.
    As seen in many fields down through history, inventions in lighting came at a quickening pace. Is this effect driven by world population?
    A larger population brings with it more inventors and more demands for products. The world population in 4500 BC is estimated at six million, roughly like today’s Dallas-Fort Worth. By 1800, world population was near one billion.
    For more than 5,000 years, living rooms were lit by improved designs and better fuels for lamps, candles and fireplaces.
    We pick up the story again in early America, in the bloom of revolution.

  • Obama approach: Iranian oil, good; Canadian oil, bad; American oil, bad

    President Barack Obama’s confusing approach to energy encourages our enemies who shout “Death to America” as it penalizes our closest allies and even our own job creators.
    Iran’s participation in the nuclear negotiations netted a deal that allows it to resume oil exports. International sanctions have, since 2011, cut Iran’s oil exports in half and severely damaged its economy. Iran currently has about 50 million barrels of oil in storage on 28 tankers at sea.
    It is believed that it will take Iran months to bring its production back up to pre-sanction levels. The millions of barrels of oil parked offshore are indicative of their eagerness to increase exports. Once the sanctions disappear — if Congress approves the terms of the deal, Iran wants to be ready to move its oil.
    On July 17, the Financial Times (FT) reported: “The departure of a giant Iranian supertanker from the flotilla of vessels storing oil off the country’s coast has triggered speculation Tehran is moving to ramp up its crude exports.” The Starla, “a 2 million barrel vessel,” set sail — moving the oil closer to customers in Asia.