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Today's Opinions

  • Black Friday blues

    Shoppers will be lining up at the crack of dawn on “Black Friday” for spectacular deals. What they don’t know is that the best bargains have already been taken — not by other shoppers, but by some of America’s largest corporations.
    Walmart, the biggest corporation in America, with revenues of almost half a trillion dollars, gets a $1 billion tax break each year on average by exploiting federal tax loopholes, according to a new report from Americans for Tax Fairness. Taxpayers, even those lined up in the early morning darkness at giant retailers like Walmart, pay the price.
    How? First, the more big corporations dodge paying their fair share of taxes, the more American families and small businesses have to make up, or else there is less money available for critical investments, such as rebuilding our crumbling roads and bridges, improving education and making college more affordable, or finding new medical cures.
    When Black Friday shoppers check the prices, they’ll never see these hidden costs of tax avoidance. But when Americans figure out what’s going on they’ll have a bad case of the Black Friday Blues.

  • New Mexico needs a thoughtful plan for the future now

    The political punditry in the aftermath of the recent elections has focused on the inevitable political maneuvering while missing an essential point: citizens are tired of the bickering and rhetoric and are desperate for real solutions to real problems.
    Much of the talk in the weeks since the election has focused on which legislators and members of Congress will gain or lose power or whether the governor will be able to more easily advance her agenda through the legislature. How will the president work with Congress? Has the country undergone a dramatic philosophical shift? Or is this change more of a footnote in the history books?
    Of course, for close observers and pundits, those questions are interesting, and sometimes even fun, to kick around. But the truth is, the answers to those questions mean nothing to the young woman in her 20s who can’t find a job that pays enough for her to live on her own, or to the 7-year-old boy starting his day hungry because he’s one of 144,000 New Mexico children living in poverty, or to the hundreds upon thousands of New Mexicans struggling to find jobs, grappling with substance abuse, or facing a bleak future because of an inadequate education.

  • How is solar energy working in freezing northeast?

    A couple of months ago, National Grid, one of Massachusetts’ two dominant utilities, announced rate increases of a “whopping” 37 percent over last year. Other regional utilities are expected to follow suit.
    Why, when natural gas prices are at historic lows that have been predicted to lower electricity rates, is the northeast facing double-digit increases? Changes have been mandated, but the replacements aren’t ready yet.
    Remember last winter’s polar vortex, when freezing weather crippled the northeast for days and put a tremendous strain on the electric supply?
    Following the near crisis, utility executives were brought into Congress to explain the situation. They revealed that the northeast was one power plant away from a blackout.
    Heading into this winter, New England has seen one big power plant close within the past year: Salem Harbor Power Station in Salem, Massachusetts — which went “dark” on June 1. Another major closure is scheduled within weeks: Vermont Yankee nuclear plant.

  • LANL campaign contributions a success

    As this year’s institutional champion for Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Employee Giving Campaign, I am proud that laboratory employees and Los Alamos National Security (LANS), LLC again have shown their support for northern New Mexico by pledging a record-breaking amount (alpha-g.ds.lanl.gov/discover/publications/connections/2014-12/giving-record-breaking-giving-campaign.php) to regional nonprofit organizations dedicated to improving our communities’ quality of life.
    Over the last seven years our employees and LANS have invested more than $20 million in nonprofit initiatives, and the Employee Giving Campaign this fall adds another almost $3.2 million. As part of a larger network of community partnerships, these contributions are meant to provide building blocks for stronger communities.
    We are committed to partnering with nonprofit projects that address short- and long-term goals. Food pantries, after-school services, eldercare, safe havens from domestic violence, animal shelters and job training, for example, can provide many with cornerstones for a brighter future.

  • Winter weather information for area schools

    As fall turns to winter, we can anticipate some days when the weather will be a challenge because of ice or snow. There will be days that we either cancel school for the entire day or delay the start of the school day by two hours. The decision about the status of the school day must be made by 5:30 a.m., so everyone who needs to be notified can get information in a timely manner.
    When a decision to cancel, delay or dismiss school early is made, all of the major network television stations and local media will be contacted. Information about the decision will be posted in a trailer that runs along the bottom of the TV screen. This information will also be available on the district website at laschools.net and through E-Alerts. Schools will also place the information on their information line and the district information line at 663-2223.
    Parents and staff wishing to receive E-Alerts are encouraged to register on the District’s website using the E-Alert button in the upper right corner of the district homepage. School status information will be sent as E-Alert notifications by email and text messages to those who have subscribed to E-Alerts. For instructions on how to subscribe to E-Alerts visit laschools.net/e-alerts.

  • Metros have the money, Portales Bank has the coolest name

    A bit more than half of New Mexicans make their home in the north-central urban area —Santa Fe and metro Albuquerque. More than half of New Mexicans’ money calls the City Different and the four-county metro home.
    Numbers follow. That’s because the topic is banking, which is about money, which is expressed using numbers.
    Specifically, the 216 branch banks in Santa Fe and metro Albuquerque accounted for 57 percent of the $28.3 billion deposited in the state’s 510 branch banks on June 30, reports the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.
    The 63 banks operating in the state have 510 offices, or “banking centers,” or whatever today is the term for “branches.” The 216 urban branches are 42 percent of the branches. The other 28 counties make do with 294 branches.
    Having fewer branches and a larger deposit total translates to more deposits per branch. In urban areas, branches average $74 million in deposits. For the rest of the state, it is $42 million per branch. The 40 branches in Lea and Eddy counties average $54 million each, an unsurprising reflection of that booming economy.
    As one gets more and more rural, branch deposit totals drop, again no surprise. The three branches in Guadalupe County share just under $39 million in deposits, about $13 million each.

  • The son also rises

    House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi caught a good many political know-it-alls back on Capitol Hill by surprise last week, when she announced that New Mexico’s 3rd District Democratic Congressman Ben Ray Luján will be the next chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
    It will be quite a jump in the congressional pecking order for Luján, who was first elected to the 3rd District seat in 2008 as the successor to Democrat Tom Udall who ran (successfully) that year for a berth in the United States Senate.
    Both men were handily reelected this year, with Udall returning to a Senate under GOP control and Luján returning to a House even more firmly dominated by an unruly cadre of Republicans hitherto prone to government shutdowns.
    So, over and above his obligations to District 3 constituents, when the new Congress convenes in January, Congressman Luján will be spending a good deal of his time gearing up for the elections of 2016, when Democrats hope to elect sufficient of their own to tame those unruly GOPers.
    To put it mildly, Luján has accepted a big challenge here. Clearly his political profile, both here at home and nationally, will be substantially elevated with this assignment.

  • Voters to Washington, Santa Fe: Do something

    After an election in which Republicans cleaned up, nobody is talking about mandates. That’s wise of them.
    There was definitely a sentiment to throw the rascals out, but that was the case in the previous election and will be again in 2016. All anybody can say for sure is that voters are angry.
    There is a kind of snarling expectation: Do something. Spare us your grandstanding and your petty little fights and solve some problems.
    Pass a bill, as the president said in his immigration speech. Funny that a guy who’s become unpopular can give voice to public sentiment, which is why nobody should feel comfortable.
    Republican political consultant Frank Luntz wrote recently in the New York Times that the “anti-Democrat wave was not the same as a pro-Republican endorsement.” What voters said was, “Washington doesn’t listen, Washington doesn’t lead and Washington doesn’t deliver.” Luntz traveled the country listening to voters this year. “And from the reddest rural towns to the bluest big cities, the sentiment is the same. People say Washington is broken and on the decline, that government no longer works for them — only for the rich and powerful.”