Today's Opinions

  • WESST wraps banner year; new programs expected in 2018

    Finance New Mexico

    WESST, the statewide nonprofit best known for consulting and training programs that support entrepreneurs and small businesses, hit a milestone in 2017: It made its largest loan ever.  WESST loaned $150,000 to Dinéland Protection Services Inc. of Fruitland to help the company launch the security services it provides to the Navajo coal mine on the Navajo Nation.

    While the bulk of WESST’s services focus on one-on-one consulting and deep-dive business workshops, WESST also wants to make sure its clients have the funds needed to grow their businesses. Kim Blueher, vice president of lending at WESST, said the loan program is about 10 percent of the overall services they offer, but it makes a significant impact.

    “A lot of people think money is going to fix their problems,” said Blueher. “They come in the door or call thinking they want and need a loan. But we look at their situation and do a more holistic analysis. Many times, they aren’t ready for a loan. We work to prepare them a little better,” she said.

  • Letters to the Editor 12-22-17

    A bit of nit picking

    Dear Editor,
    I think that the term “windfall” is not appropriate to describe the gross receipts taxes paid by LANL contractors. Merriam-Webster defines “windfall” as:

    • Something (such as a tree or fruit) blown down by the wind;

    • An unexpected, unearned, or sudden gain or advantage.

    The term is not correct for two reasons. First, the term refers to a “one-time” event. Once all the apples are off the tree you can expect no more apples to fall. The citizens of Los Alamos should expect that LANL contractors will continue paying gross receipts taxes. Second, the term “unearned” does not apply to the taxes paid by LANL contractors. In the ‘70s, the legislature “reformed” the tax structure in New Mexico. In general, funding for basic governmental services (roads, police, fire, recreation, etc.) went from property taxes to gross receipts taxes (mostly from retail sales). In general, property taxes were to fund capital improvements.

  • Trump’s national security strategy clearly presented

    The Japan News published this editorial Dec. 20 on the National Security Strategy President Donald Trump’s administration unveiled.

    To counter China and Russia, both of which are attempting to coercively reshape the post-war international order, the United States will reinforce its military power and strengthen ties with its allies, thus promoting peace and stability. It is significant that such a pertinent strategy has been clearly presented.

    The U.S. administration under President Donald Trump unveiled its National Security Strategy. It will serve as the basic principle for the administration’s foreign and security policies. It is said to be the first time for the security strategy to have been formulated by any administration in its first year in the White House. It is expected to bring about such effects as eliminating, to a certain extent, concern over the unpredictable words and deeds of Trump.

  • Farmington manufacturer seeks quality-management goal with help from MEP


    Brothers Kyle and Jim Rhodes have big ambitions for the family business they’ve owned since 1970. It’s not enough that their Farmington company Process Equipment & Service Company Inc. (PESCO) has a solid reputation as a manufacturer of natural gas and oil production equipment and that the company continues to grow even as gas prices rise and fall, employing more than 300 people and serving national and international customers.

    The Rhodes brothers want to earn their place among the winners of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, which Congress established in 1987 (and named for a former Commerce Department secretary) to recognize American companies with exemplary quality-management systems.

    To that end, and to find inspiration and ideas, the co-owners send a delegation of PESCO employees each year to the Quality New Mexico Learning Summit, where recipients of the Baldrige award describe what led to their recognition. Kyle and Jim Rhodes hope to learn from these top achievers what more they can do to make PESCO a better place to work, to expand its profile in the industry and to continually improve its products.

  • Regulatory pendulum swings again in FCC’s net neutrality decision

    The trouble with regulation is what I call the Rule of One, as in, there’s always one. It applies to the regulated and to the regulators.

    Regardless of the industry, most of the regulated do their best to operate within the rules, but there’s always at least one company abusing the process, the consumer, the environment or its own employees. Once the abuses come to light, regulators come down on everybody, and no good deed goes unpunished.

    On the other side of the fence, most regulators try to be conscientious but fair and don’t assume that every entity they oversee is up to no good. But there’s always one who doesn’t wear the mantle of authority well or applies the rules in ways lawmakers never intended. Often they have no idea what the impact of their actions will be.

    I’ve reported on this see-saw for years and heard horror stories on both sides. It’s the reason we swing back and forth between lax and intrusive regulation. Now you can hear it in the arguments for and against net neutrality. And, of course, it’s political. Republicans favor less regulation; Democrats want more.

    Last week that the Federal Communications Commission abandoned net neutrality rules debated for more than a decade in favor of what FCC Chairman Ajit Pai calls a regulatory “light touch.”

  • Letter: Aquatic center upgrades will be much appreciated

    I applaud the County Council for finally approving improvements at the aquatic center that are not directly related only to exercise or athletics. (My surprise at the voting pattern notwithstanding!)

    Some years ago, I served on a CIP citizen’s committee that explored how to use an expected GRT windfall to improve the quality of life in Los Alamos. The proposals were very similar to what the Council has recently made decisions about.

    After years of dithering, some projects were realized: the Ashley Pond Pond improvements, the
    Nature Center, WR visitor center, library, Youth Activity Center and senior center improvements, trails, ...

    But at the time, Steve Lynne very sensibly warned not to count on the best GRT scenario. The first issue to be addressed by The County and by The People, in the context of higher taxes to pay for them (which were voted down), was a set of improvements at the aquatic center: zero-entry pool, lazy river, water slide. 

    I acknowledge a selfish interest: Although too late for my own children, I hoped to treat visiting grandchildren to some of these aquatic experiences. And it’s getting late even for that.

  • Senators’ call for National Guard helicopters a mission to save face

    By Mick Rich
    Republican candidate for U.S. Senate

    Our Democratic U.S. Senators were AWOL when President Obama stripped the New Mexico Air National Guard (NMANG) of its F-16s. Since 2010, our Air National Guard now has had no airplanes. It’s the only state that doesn’t. (Even Puerto Rico’s ANG has airplanes.)

    Now that Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson (former Republican U.S. Rep. from New Mexico) has said she is not optimistic about New Mexico regaining its F-16s, our Senators have pitched her with a lame idea: helicopter training for our NMANG’s pilots.

    The only mission apparent is their mission to save face.

    According to the Albuquerque Journal, Martin Heinrich sent a letter to Wilson suggesting that the NMANG ‘s 150th Special Operations Wing at Kirtland AFB receive 12 “legacy” HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters “to use for training, and, if necessary, use in missions.”

    That word “legacy” is key. These helicopters came into operation 35 years ago, in 1982. The few currently in use by Kirtland’s 58th Special Operations Wing will soon be sent into retirement in Arizona. The helicopter’s replacement – the HH-60W Combat Rescue Helicopter – is due to arrive at Kirtland’s 58th in 2020.

  • New Mexico economy still drags

    Economics is known as the dismal science. It has certainly been dismal in New Mexico for a while.
    A few sobering facts were offered at the recent Data Users Conference sponsored by the UNM Bureau of Business and Economic Research. The presenter was Jeffrey Mitchell, director of the BBER. There were no big surprises, but no easy answers either.

    People are leaving New Mexico. Net outmigration (years 2011 to 2015) is more than 150 persons leaving for every 100 who move in. All our neighboring states are going in the opposite direction.

    The groups leaving are young people, young families, and seniors. Those staying are older working age adults, ages 45 to 64.

    Individuals with associate and bachelor’s degrees are leaving in the highest numbers.

    Around 1940, Mitchell said, New Mexico was number 21 in percentage of residents with a bachelor’s degree or higher.

    In the 1960s we ranked fourth highest in that category. Nationally, people are getting more education, but New Mexico is dropping in that ranking. We are currently number 39.