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Today's Opinions

  • Industrial revenue bonds offer novel approach to economic development

    Industrial revenue bonds are a form of public-private partnership — a tool that governments can use to stimulate economic development, allowing them to offer tax subsidies for new or expanding businesses that create jobs and improve communities.
    Subsidies may include a property tax exemption, a gross receipts tax deduction and compensating tax exemption if certain equipment is purchased with bond proceeds, an exemption for bond interest from New Mexico income tax and, in some cases, an exemption of bond interest from federal income tax.
    These types of bond issues have been popular as a way to help New Mexico cities and towns compete — without assuming financial liability — for capital-intensive projects by extending tax subsidies to reduce the risks and costs for a company to move here.
    New Mexico cities and counties are authorized to issue IRBs.
    To be eligible for IRB financing in New Mexico, a project must encourage manufacturers and commercial businesses to move or expand here or to promote the state’s agricultural products or natural resources.
    IRB candidates include factories, assembly plants, warehouse and distribution hubs, nonprofit enterprises, health-care services, research facilities, industrial parks and corporate offices.

  • Letter to the editor 6-11-15

    Plastic bags account for small fraction of petroleum use

    In reading John Gonzales’ Guest Column on June 4, I found unbelievable his assertion that “8 percent of all petroleum is used for the manufacture of plastic bags.”
    Online research uncovered the truth: the U.S. Energy Information Administration says 2.7 percent of the total U.S. petroleum consumption (191 million barrels) is used to make plastic, in all forms and according to American Plastic Manufacturing, 12 million barrels of oil are used to make plastic bags (or 6.3 percent of that to produce all plastics). These numbers can be confirmed from many sources.
    Hence, plastic bag production amounts to only .17 percent of our petroleum use, not the 8 percent quoted by Gonzales. That is truly a tiny fraction.
    Furthermore, among the huge variety of plastic bags made, plastic shopping bags most likely make up a small fraction of this .17 percent, although it is difficult to find a precise estimate.
    It is errors like this one that should make people highly suspicious of activists’ arguments.

  • Revenue shortfall anticipated, business wants spending

    An ugly word, “shortfall,” appears twice at the bottom of page 7 of “2015 Post-Session Review,” the Legislative Finance Committee’s report on the 2015 legislative session.
    Based on what the LFC calls “a somewhat conservative scenario for expenditure growth,” revenue is projected to be $14.6 million less than spending in the 2017 budget year (FY 17) and $3.6 million short in FY 18.
    While FY 17 is a way off — it doesn’t start for another year — the idea of less money appearing than the amount of projected spending rattles the psyche of government people. The normal government world means more money each year to provide raises, expand programs and do new stuff. Less money requires ugly choices by elected officials, even conservative ones who are especially prone to copping out of their proclaimed financial righteousness.
    The problem will be solved, if only because the state Constitution requires a balanced budget. The state keeps a reserve fund, which offers the easy place to cover the shortfall. However, the reserves will take a $153 million hit this year because of reduced revenues and unexpected spending requirements.
    For the coming budget year (FY 16) that starts July 1, state government plans to spend $6.23 billion, $7 million less than anticipated revenue.

  • Climate change opinion well meaning but inaccurate

    Joel Williams’ piece is a classic example of people with only a little information trying to convince you that all those professional climate scientists have missed his points even though they are the ones who did all the work he cites.
    Consider just one of the unsaid assumptions: that a single ice core at one place near a pole on the Earth is representative of global behavior…not!  As for recent temperature fluctuations, Williams’ graph disagrees with every one of the peer-reviewed papers — some 20 of them — in their determinations of global (not just in Europe or Greenland) temperature variations in the past. Since you presented graphs, here are a few to consider.
    The first shows that, just as planetary rotation and orbital cycles predict (so-called Malenkovitch Cycles, which govern large scale climate change over the past million or so years), the climate has been cooling down for the past 8,000 years or so as the Earth’s orientation to the sun slowly changes. And that’s why the recent unprecedentedly rapid warming is a matter of concern.
    On the graph: top is from an ice core, middle is measurement of altitude of treeline. Bottom is from stalactites in a cave.

  • Climate change opinion well meaning but inaccurate

    Joel Williams’ piece is a classic example of people with only a little information trying to convince you that all those professional climate scientists have missed his points even though they are the ones who did all the work he cites.
    Consider just one of the unsaid assumptions: that a single ice core at one place near a pole on the Earth is representative of global behavior…not!  As for recent temperature fluctuations, Williams’ graph disagrees with every one of the peer-reviewed papers — some 20 of them — in their determinations of global (not just in Europe or Greenland) temperature variations in the past. Since you presented graphs, here are a few to consider.
    The first shows that, just as planetary rotation and orbital cycles predict (so-called Malenkovitch Cycles, which govern large scale climate change over the past million or so years), the climate has been cooling down for the past 8,000 years or so as the Earth’s orientation to the sun slowly changes. And that’s why the recent unprecedentedly rapid warming is a matter of concern.
    On the graph: top is from an ice core, middle is measurement of altitude of treeline. Bottom is from stalactites in a cave.

  • Climate change opinion well meaning but inaccurate

    Joel Williams’ piece is a classic example of people with only a little information trying to convince you that all those professional climate scientists have missed his points even though they are the ones who did all the work he cites.
    Consider just one of the unsaid assumptions: that a single ice core at one place near a pole on the Earth is representative of global behavior…not!  As for recent temperature fluctuations, Williams’ graph disagrees with every one of the peer-reviewed papers — some 20 of them — in their determinations of global (not just in Europe or Greenland) temperature variations in the past. Since you presented graphs, here are a few to consider.
    The first shows that, just as planetary rotation and orbital cycles predict (so-called Malenkovitch Cycles, which govern large scale climate change over the past million or so years), the climate has been cooling down for the past 8,000 years or so as the Earth’s orientation to the sun slowly changes. And that’s why the recent unprecedentedly rapid warming is a matter of concern.
    On the graph: top is from an ice core, middle is measurement of altitude of treeline. Bottom is from stalactites in a cave.

  • A step forward on public communication

    I’m pleased to report that the County Manager’s monthly report, which provides information about county projects and performance, will become a standing agenda item on the second council meeting of each month.
    This change will give the county manager a structured opportunity to discuss high priority or time sensitive initiatives in the report, which has been distributed to council members for some time.
    Typical report topics include updates on ongoing construction projects or information about extraordinary achievements. For example, in this month’s report, there’s an update on the teen center remodel and on other major facilities projects; information about how the county is preparing for the summer tourist season; and activities at county parks and recreation facilities.
    By putting the report on the council agenda as a monthly briefing by the county manager, the public visibility of the information in the report will be elevated; and there will be a routine, recurring opportunity for council members and the public to ask specific questions about these issues.
    Additionally, it will add an important feedback loop that will help the county manager better understand concerns and perspectives from the council and the public.

  • Letters to the editor 6-9-15

     More opposition
    for plastic bag ban

    I read the guest columnist column on plastic bags, and I find it difficult to reply to nearly a yard of column inches in 250 words. I had no particular opinion one way or the other until I heard the proponents. The complete absence of content in their statements drove me to search for information and, eventually, as a result, I decided to oppose the proposal on factual grounds.
    The guest columnist article was, as usual for those supporting the proposal against plastic bags, very emotional and totally devoid of facts, or data. Mr. Gonzales calls the proposal a “green initiative” and advocates the use of “greener products.”
    In most places, such as Santa Fe, paper is used as a replacement for plastic. Unfortunately, there is a rather substantial amount of data identifying the use of paper as one of the most polluting activities on the planet. Plastic bags are far less polluting than paper bags at all stages in their life, production, shipping, use and disposal.
    The Sierra Club, whose members seem to be the most avid proponents of the bag ban proposals appears only to claim that bags produce litter, which can harm animals. No one has claimed that this is a problem in Los Alamos.