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Today's Opinions

  • Which of New Mexico’s tribes will be first to test the marijuana industry?

    When will a New Mexico tribe go to pot?
    It’s likely only a question of time until a New Mexico tribe jumps into the marijuana trade, straining the always delicate relationship between our state and local governments and the “domestic dependent nations” within our borders.
    The federal government set the stage for that conflict last year, when the Department of Justice issued its “guidance” on the cultivation, sale and consumption of marijuana on tribal lands: As long as the business is properly regulated, the feds will keep hands off.
    That opened the door to a lucrative new business opportunity for the tribes at the same time gaming is becoming less profitable.
    Here in New Mexico, the tribal “net win” (the amount wagered in the casinos less the payout to lucky bettors) has declined nearly 4 percent over the past three years.
    Those numbers reflect a long-term nationwide trend. The industry has reached maturity, with little room for additional growth.
    The pot business, in contrast, is just beginning to take off. Reliable national figures are hard to come by, but by one estimate the legal marijuana industry grew by 64 percent last year, to more than $2 billion in revenues.

  • Fix UNM’s gender pay gap

    A report shows a gender pay gap at the University of New Mexico to the tune of an almost $15,000 difference between male and female professors.
    According to data from the Chronicle of Higher Education, during the 2013-2014 academic year, the average full-time female professor at UNM earned a salary of $87,417, while the average, full-time male professor made $99,855 — a difference of $12,438.
    Although the gender pay gap is smaller between men and women in the associate professor and instructor positions, male associate professors still earned approximately $2,300 more per year at the school than their female counterparts.
    Chaouki Abdallah, provost of UNM, said the numbers don’t tell the entire story.
    “The most important reason for male professors (having higher average salaries) is that there are colleges and departments with higher salaries. For example, there are more male engineering professors. The lowest paid professors are where females are a majority such as education or the arts. The other reason is that females may delay careers or promotions because of family. Males will also negotiate for more money and females generally don’t,” he said.

  • Humble pump jack is a machine with a message

    It’s so small!
    When State Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn announced that he was bringing back a pump jack to replace the sculpture in front of the State Land Office, I figured he’d bring a real workhorse. But no, the cute, colorful device installed last week is a diminutive version of the muscular equipment that keeps oil and oil revenues flowing.
    Dunn missed an opportunity.
    In 1979, when Commissioner Alex Armijo made his statement — and riled Santa Fe city officials — he planted a pump jack donated by Mobil that had produced more than 20 million barrels of oil from state trust lands.
    Both men, Armijo a Democrat and Dunn a Republican, wanted to honor the contributions of the oil industry to state coffers and educate the public about where that money comes from.
    It’s a worthy goal. Most people don’t know that the oil and gas industry has been paying for the state’s schools for decades.
    It would have been more educational to install an old piece of equipment with a history, which then would have allowed the Land Office to explain in exhibits how it worked and how the process has changed through the years.

  • Letters to the Editor 6-24-15

    Poor implication made in story

    The story “Aquatic center to reduce its hours” in the Los Alamos Monitor on June 19, 2015 strongly implies that the Rio Grande Foundation, a Libertarian think tank in Albuquerque, influenced the Los Alamos Aquatic Center budget cuts when it says, “According to the county, the decision was made to attempt to save money for the county. In the past, the Aquatic Center has been pointed to as one of the big revenue drains of Los Alamos County, that according to the Albuquerque-based Rio Grande Foundation.”
    I was surprised to read that the county was following the recommendations of the Rio Grande Foundation in Albuquerque, rather than input from locals.
    I contacted Charlie Kalogeros-Chattan, director of Community Services for Los Alamos County and she said that nothing had been said about the Rio Grande Foundation in the budget hearings. After checking with her staff Kalogeros-Chattan assured me that this information did not come from the county. Another person who was present at the hearings said she heard nothing about the Rio Grande Foundation there.

  • Ways to save money on a last-minute summer trip

    If you, your partner or your family want — or need — to get out of town right now, how do you improvise a great last-minute trip without breaking the bank?
    Planning is essential. Embrace travel as a hobby — look for tricks, techniques and current online resources to keep abreast of the best last-minute deals.
    Compromises will be necessary. You’ll likely need to travel at off-peak hours (either the first flight out in the morning or the last one at night, usually on weekdays) and stay at hotels or venues off the beaten path.
    Here are some quick tips to save money on last-minute travel:
    Travel light, move fast. Traveling last-minute isn’t for the indecisive. Dedicated travelers are minimalists — they know what to pack, organize their paperwork and payment options and have the mental preparation to deal with problems and challenges along the way.
    Also, realize that last-minute travel can increase risk and other costs. If you’re planning a trip that requires travel insurance, you may not get coverage approval in time.

  • By doing nothing, Congress sides with taxpayers, basic market principles

    After more than three-quarters of a century, the Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im) could close its doors on June 30.
    Ex-Im was created by Executive Order in 1934 by Franklin D. Roosevelt. With the Export-Import Bank Act of 1945, Congress made Ex-Im an independent agency and required that Ex-Im be reauthorized every 4-5 years. Ex-Im’s current authorization expires at month’s end.
    Ex-Im has historically enjoyed bipartisan support. However, the need to cut spending — coupled with watchdog reporting — brings reauthorization into question.
    Under the Obama Administration, Ex-Im lending has increased 248 percent. Taxpayers now hold nearly $140 billion in Ex-Im exposure.
    The Ex-Im website states, “EXIM Bank is more critical than ever to small businesses.” However, a recent report from American Transparency (AT), the Federal Transfer Report — Export-Import Bank found that while 90 percent of Ex-Im loans do go to small businesses, 85 percent of the money goes to big business — 10 percent of the transactions get 85 percent of the money.
    The AT report, released on May 30, analyzed the $172 billion in Ex-Im loans, guarantees, and activity since 2007.
    Boeing is Ex-Im’s number one customer.

  • Five counties gain from movers over four years

    New Mexico’s population picture has improved.
    In the year from July 1, 2013 to July 1, 2014 six counties had more people move in than moved out. The improvement: just five counties gained from movers during the four years to 2014 from the census in 2010.
    A further cloud on any smiling about our population is that Taos and McKinley, two of the counties with a one-year move-in gain, added between them 16 people.
    The Census Bureau released the numbers in March.
    That this change in movement of New Mexicans into and out of the state could be called “improvement” is a backhanded way of saying that “dismal” is the real description.
    “Migration” is the census geek term for people moving. “International migration” means moving into or out of New Mexico to (or from) another nation. “Domestic migration” refers to another state.
    Over the four-year period, 2010-2014, just four counties had positive domestic migration — more people moving in than left for other states.
    Sandoval County attracted 3,073 people. In terms of really growing the state, I suggest Sandoval doesn’t count because the history has been that Rio Rancho, by far the largest Sandoval community, attracts hordes of people from Albuquerque, which is in the same metro area.

  • Pet Talk: Symptoms of West Nile virus in horses

    The image of a cowboy riding off into the sunset on a palomino pony after a long hard day of rescuing a damsel in distress has reached the point of a cliché.
    A cowboy’s partner will forever be his trusty horse, and as long as his horse is healthy, he can continue riding off into the sunset. But what happens when a cowboy’s horse is infected by a deadly virus? Will there be a happy ending to that story?
    West Nile virus is defined as zoonotic, which means it can be transferred between animals and humans.
    The virus is mosquito-borne and spreads through intermediate hosts like blue jays and black birds. For this reason, the virus is more common in the summer or fall when birds are migrating from the north. Both humans and horses can be infected by West Nile; however, they are both considered “dead-end” hosts, meaning they cannot transmit the disease to others.
    West Nile virus first infected horses in 1999 with a case in New York. Since then, the United States has seen more cases of West Nile in horses, as well as humans.
    The year 2012 was the most deadly for humans with 286 deaths nationwide.