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Today's Opinions

  • Maestas: State needs robust job creation fund

    The best thing we can do for small businesses, said Steve Maestas, is to increase their revenue.
    The best way to do that is to attract big businesses – the businesses that bring new dollars into the state’s economy, making products that are sold everywhere and generating revenue from outside the state. Speaking recently to a group of small business owners, he said big businesses generate the jobs and pay the employees who support the local service economy.
    So — here comes the punch line — New Mexico needs a taxpayer-funded job creation fund with $50 million of taxpayer dollars. We already have such a fund under a law called the Local Economic Development Act, but the law needs some amendment. And with only $15 million authorized so far, the fund doesn’t have enough money to be competitive against the incentives offered by other states.
    Maestas is a co-founder and partner of Maestas and Ward commercial real estate company and Deputy Chair of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. He’s on a mission to reverse New Mexico’s dismal economic outlook, and the job creation fund is his cause.

  • Something's happening out in the country

    Television cop shows have a mantra that there is no such thing as a coincidence. In the journalist-analyst cosmos, sometimes things happen at the same time. These things, being quite different, have to be a coincidence (or are they?). But the timing creates curiosity about underlying commonalities.
    Events reported Oct. 24 and 25 suggest hunting for insights or patterns or defining opportunity might be useful. The people creating these events may see and be acting upon opportunities missed by the powers that be, buried as they are in government dependence wailing.
    All these events happened in rural New Mexico except the first, which was the detail added Oct. 24 by the Department of Workforce Solutions to the federal jobs report released a week earlier. The salient detail is that the seven counties comprising the four metro areas (Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Las Cruces and Farmington) lost 2,700 jobs between them.
    Maybe something is happening out in the country.
    Robert Goddard started testing rockets around Roswell in the 1930s. Flight-related testing and practice continue at the Roswell International Air Center where B-52s wander by for touch-and-go drills.

  • Partisan attack misdirected

    The letter by a prominent local Democrat, exemplifies several facets of today’s political climate that turns so many people off.
    The letter asserts that “Republicans” were campaigning illegally near the high school late last week and had done so previously. It also asserts citations were issued. The letter then blasts Republicans several times.
    At least, the letter writer recognized it likely “the Republican Party knew nothing about this illegal act.” Of course, the Republican Party was unaware of these unfortunate incidents. In fact, no citations were issued and the organizer was a registered Democrat.
    The event itself, a few signs placed where they should not have been, is trivial. The use of that excuse to launch misguided blanket partisan attacks distracts from the issues and candidates that we should be focusing upon. Los Alamos has a proud tradition of civil public discourse. Let’s stick to it.

    Robert Gibson
    Chair, Republican Party of Los Alamos
     

  • Behavior unbecoming

    On Oct. 28, a political savvy teacher passed the high school at 4:30 p.m. and saw some Republicans waving candidate signs on the sidewalk by the high school property. But, in addition, there were numerous large and small candidate signs stuck into the ground, which blocked visual access to Diamond Drive from Canyon Road. She was concerned and called me.
    This was the third time she had seen this action on high school property with the Republicans. Los Alamos County has strict ordinances that candidates must follow with signage. In fact, they sign an agreement before they are allowed to have any signs displayed. Although it is permissible to stand on the public sidewalk and wave signs, political signs are never allowed in the ground on school property, and that includes UNM-LA. As a teacher, she felt very strongly about this continual flagrant violation of the rules.
    I drove over with a friend to see what was actually occurring. Indeed it was just as she described. We parked our car across the street and took a picture to document the violation. I tried to nicely inform the demonstrators that it was against the county code to put signs on the school’s property.

  • Some families have politics in gene pool

    Political dynasties are a hot topic lately because of potential runs by a Bush or a Clinton. We have our share in New Mexico.
    In this election cycle, we heard most often about the King family, but other candidates (at this writing we don’t know who prevailed) grew up with politics in their Cheerios.
    Take the two men competing for state land officer.
    Incumbent Ray Powell Jr.’s father, a mechanical engineer, came to New Mexico in 1943 to work on the Manhattan Project and helped found Sandia National Laboratories. He retired in 1985, ran for governor and lost to Garrey Carruthers.
    In 1963, when all state employees were political appointees, Gov. Jack Campbell assigned Powell to develop and implement a state personnel system, which he did, with integrity and fairness. In 1988, Powell became state chairman of a Democratic Party fractured along geographical and ideological fault lines, which spawned coalition control of the Legislature. Under Powell’s leadership, Democrats won majorities, and the coalitions ended.
    When he died in 2010 at 90, columnist Jay Miller wrote, “New Mexico has lost one of its greatest public servants.”
    Powell’s opponent, Republican Aubrey L. Dunn, another junior, is the son of a legislative powerhouse.

  • Utility profit limitations at risk

     

    Well-meaning letters from charter change proponents exhibit naïveté and inexperience with public utilities, government and politics. Ed Birnbaum’s latest letter, for example, refers to a transfer rate from utilities of 5 percent established by a 1997 resolution. He is not correct. How do I know? Because I was the county councilor who wrote the 1980s ordinance requiring a 5 percent profit be added into each year’s budget for planning purposes. A 5 percent profit transfer is not guaranteed. This ordinance is found in the municipal code and has precedence over resolutions. (Sections 40-63(c)(11) and 40-63(b))

    What Birnbaum fails to realize is that the proposed new charter language not only nullifies this ordinance, but bypasses all checks and balances in the current charter. It allows future councils to take as much money as they’d like from the utilities department. This loophole is easy to explain.

  • Snarky insults rule today

     

    Before I was even a pipsqueak, a popular, no-account insult was “so’s your old man.” In my prime years as a pipsqueak, the snappy no-account insults were “you’re a chicken” and “drop dead.” 

    Today, new customs are on the loose. 

    The airwaves carry so many symptoms that insults pass for normal. The daily news may suggest the infection comes from politics, but the wider pattern says otherwise. Social media spread the habit of scorn to one culture, then the next and next.

    The insult culture is easy to find in network TV, talk shows, politics, sports and every level of school. The signs are the same whether the topic is last night’s ball game or taxes. 

  • Voters shouldn't fear experimenting

    I’m a theorist, so I have much more respect for experimental results than for theoretical arguments.
    Our county charter has worked reasonably well but includes inconsistencies with state law and limits citizen control of the utilities department by isolating it from the county council.
    I have been to charter amendment committee meetings and know and respect
    those who served. They have made careful and sensible efforts to improve the charter.
    We should do the experiment and see whether or not improvements result. It’s not as if these changes are irreversible in our strong local democracy.
    If conservative Kansas can try significant changes, surely Los Alamos County can try relatively small ones.
    Many people whom I respect and admire argue that the charter amendments will drastically alter the positive features of the current charter. I find this fearfulness and the associated scandalous characterization of our current and potential leaders to be unbecoming and see no reason for the associated predictions to be accurate.
    True, we are a suburb of Washington, D.C., but we don’t have to behave like people there do.
    I’m voting for the charter amendments and I hope you do, too.

    Terry Goldman
    Los Alamos