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Today's Opinions

  • Mexico’s troubles affect the U.S.

    What happens in Mexico doesn’t stay in Mexico.

    Our southern neighbor is wrestling with an alarming surge in cartel violence, a U.S. security crackdown on its northern border and a glut of migrant refugees slipping through its back door.  All of which affects us directly or indirectly.

    The situation demands our attention and a redoubling of efforts to create sound, effective policy.

    Simply put, an unstable and unsafe Mexico isn’t good for Texas. Our economies are too entwined. Mexico is our No. 1 trade partner by far. It’s also not good for American industries that depend on lucrative trade deals and cheaper labor supplied by immigrants chasing the American dream. And it’s not good for American communities struggling with the consequences of illicit drugs flowing into cities, suburbs and rural hamlets.

    Let’s start with the uptick in homicides. There’s no way to romanticize the resurgence in cartel conflicts that are turning once-tranquil towns in Mexico into killing fields.

    The Mexican government’s war on drugs and cartels isn’t working. Mexico is on pace for its deadliest year with 12,155 murders recorded from January through June.

  • Letters to the Editor 8-9-17

    Lab Retiree Group
    recommends RFP provide for communities

    Dear Editor,
    The Laboratory Retiree Group (LRG) is a non-profit organization devoted to helping retirees from Los Alamos National Laboratory (the laboratory) stay in contact with significant issues. The LRG has about 600 members, most of whom live in northern New Mexico, though others live throughout the rest of New Mexico and the U.S.
    Last month, NNSA released a draft Request for Proposals (RFP) for a new management contract for the laboratory. NNSA invited comments on the draft RFP. The board of directors of the Laboratory Retiree Group submitted comments and recommendations to NNSA, on behalf of LRG members.
    This is a summary of those comments and recommendations. The full LRG response to NNSA is available on the LRG web site, lalrg.org. LRG has also shared these comments and recommendations with our N.M. congressional delegation.
    A major concern of LRG is that the draft RFP describes the procedure a management contractor must follow if it changes, terminates, or introduces new retirement or benefits plans. Although those would likely have a profound effect on the lives of both employees and retirees, the draft RFP has no provision for employee or retiree involvement in the decision to make such a change.

  • State’s economy may be turning around; indicators remain troubling

    Is it possible that New Mexico’s economy is finally starting to revive? If you follow the numbers in the last couple of months, you could get whiplash.

    Some major indicators are up dramatically, but they’re both heartening and concerning. Bear with me for some statistics.

    We’re finally on a good list. The U. S. Bureau of Economic Analysis recently clocked a healthy surge in gross domestic product for the first three months of 2017. New Mexico’s growth was 2.8 percent, the nation’s third highest. The leading contributor was oil and gas.

    In late July the Legislative Finance Committee brought joy to state bean counters with the news that recurring revenues in May were up 32 percent ($141 million) from May 2016.

    More good news is that gross receipts tax revenue in May was $39.3 million higher than the year before, and year-to-date it was up 6.2 percent. This means, among other things, that people are out spending money. For five months in a row, revenues have surpassed the same months in 2016.

  • Don't Splash Our Cash!

    By Lisa Shin

    President, A Better Way for LA Political Action Committee  

    On August 8, Councilors Chrobocinski and O'Leary will present “Discussion and Possible Action Relating to Proposed Changes to the Capital Improvement Program (CIP) Fund.” There will be recommended action on recreation projects for the bond election, which failed on May 23, 2017.  

    The following are my recommended actions.     

    I strongly recommend that the $13.4 million of CIP funds be used to improve existing facilities: the golf course and softball fields. The Splash Pad had an estimated cost of $720,000 with $37,000 yearly operations and maintenance costs. Through a competitive bidding process, it could be done at a significantly lower cost.  $350,000 with $20,000 yearly operations and maintenance is reasonable.

    I strongly urge the council to wait for the LANL contract to be awarded in April 2018, and our budget to be finalized, before directing our county staff to begin work on the multi-generational pool. Our financial situation could change quickly, with budget cuts and possible lay-offs. We must prioritize the needs of our community, and adjust the CIP funding expected for this project accordingly.

  • Mexican gray wolf program is travesty

    By David J. Forjan

    To the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service:

    Look, we’re all grown-ups here.  Let’s cut through all the BS.

    Every USFWS employee involved with the Mexican gray wolf recovery program has sold them out.  You’ve all sold out the Mexican gray wolves.

    Either by the “Sin of Commission” or the “Sin of Omission.” Either selling them out by direct action, like those who wrote the new recovery plan. Or selling out the Mexican gray wolves by their inaction, like not standing up or speaking up or screaming at the top of your lungs that the program has, and is continuing to, fail the wolves.

    Let’s also cut the BS about the reasons the program is failing. The real reason, the core problem, is money, power and influence. Some people who have alot of money then want power. 

    And some people with power want to influence things. Mostly to make themselves more money. In this case, that influence is also killing Mexican gray wolves. And killing them off.

    And let’s skip the pretense that this new recovery plan will succeed. It will fail for so many reasons that if it wasn’t so sad it would be laughable.

  • NM buried in known unknowns; policy organization could help

    A few people truly worry about New Mexico’s long term. But they don’t know what to do. These isolated individuals emerged in the past few weeks in Farmington, Roswell, Las Cruces and Albuquerque from conversations with nearly 40 people who ought to be thought leaders in the state.

    The individuals cover the state’s precious demographics, though most conversations have been with old White guys. But then I am an old White guy.

    For recent conversations, the question has been whether the individual gets in discussions and/or is thinking about the long term for New Mexico. A few answered, “Yes.” Ah, but what to do.

    I used to ask what the individual saw for New Mexico. That question generated the conventional wisdom: too much government, Central New Mexico Community College is doing good stuff.

    The Albuquerque-Denver comparison has resurfaced. This is not especially useful. Denver is the major leagues (think Broncos, Rockies, Nuggets, Avalanche). Albuquerque is AAA. Compare Albuquerque with Tucson, Des Moines, Omaha.

    Typical “future” thinking amounts to citing New Mexico’s position on “all the lists” and wailing.

    Defining the problem is what we have not done. A position on a list says only a little.

  • Democrats need to offer real solutions

    BY REP. BILL MCCAMLEY
    New Mexico House of Representatives, Dist. 33

    Resist.

    For many of us scared and angry about our current president, it’s become a mantra for a good reason. Protecting basic health care, opposing turning our schools over to corporations, and defending America’s credibility worldwide are all vital to our future.

    But it is not enough. Recently, 52 percent of Americans polled only define Democrats by our work to fight Trump. If we are going to really change communities for the better, and regain people’s trust, we have to be proactive and bold in pushing for real change. What does that mean?

    While unemployment is low and the stock market continues to rise thanks to President Obama’s work after the Great Recession, wages have stayed flat. So while the average CEO now makes 335 times that of the average worker, most people feel like no matter how hard they work the best they can do is keep pace on a treadmill. And if working families have any problem, like unexpected health bills or a major house/car problem, that treadmill kicks them right off.

  • Farmington seeks softer landing from power plant cuts

    The nation’s lowest average residential electric bill comes to New Mexico’s homeowners. Who’d a thunk?
    The rates rank 20th nationally, but we use less electricity, the 11th lowest amount. Combine the factors and the average monthly bill becomes the lowest.
    This is a federal number, coming from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, courtesy of our Public Regulation Commission. Four PRCers, led by Sandy Jones, commission chair, had a long session July 19 in Farmington with the Legislative Finance Committee and the Revenue Stabilization and Tax Policy Committee at the BP Center for Energy Education at San Juan College. The session ran an hour and 25 minutes beyond the scheduled hour.
    The electric bill item, obscure but of interest to all New Mexicans, appeared in an out of the way place making it difficult for the information to circulate. This is an old problem. New Mexico’s large size means a lot of out of sight and out of mind. Even the Center for Energy Education, a gorgeous white building located about four blocks from the main campus, shares the out of sight problem.