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Today's Opinions

  • Don't forfeit past tax refunds

    Does this sound familiar? A few years back your yearly earnings were pretty low so you figured you wouldn’t owe any income tax. Thus, when April 15 rolled around the following year you didn’t bother filing a tax return, knowing you wouldn’t be penalized.
    Big mistake.
    Even if your income fell below the threshold at which you’d owe anything, chances are taxes were deducted from your paycheck throughout the year. (Check your year-end W-2 form). If so, you probably left a sizeable tax refund on the table.
    And you wouldn’t be alone. The IRS estimates that each year close to a million people don’t bother filing federal tax returns, thereby forfeiting around $1 billion in refunds they were due — refunds that average several hundred dollars apiece.
    Here’s the good news: The IRS generally gives you a three-year window to go back and file a past year’s tax return if you want to claim an unpaid refund. For example, to collect a refund for 2010 you have until April 15, to file a 2010 return. After that, the money becomes the property of the U.S. Treasury.

  • Youth mentoring takes hold in Los Alamos

    Many youth face seemingly adult problems growing up today in our fast-paced world. Familial and social problems such as custody disputes, loss of a parent, living in foster care, or witnessing substance abuse in the home can be difficult situations for any child.
    Although Los Alamos is widely recognized as being an affluent area, many of these same problems occur here. Everyday pressures many children face are exacerbated by the expectation they need to keep up with their peers academically. Social challenges cause youth to experience despair and feeling they are not important.
    Often times a child simply needs a caring adult to listen to their fears and demonstrate that everybody has problems but nobody should face their issues alone. Through mentoring, youth are able to move from risk to resiliency.
    The Family YMCA in Los Alamos is answering the need for mentors in the Reach & Rise™ mentoring program. Reach & Rise is a therapeutic mentoring program which trains mentors to use counseling techniques to support children who otherwise would be lacking enough caring supports in their life.
    Currently, Reach & Rise is recruiting volunteers to mentor children in the Los Alamos area with the first trainings beginning in May.

  • Economic dynamics: Create jobs, lose thousands, gain few

    We speak of the “New Mexico economy” as one thing, a monolith of sorts. It is not. Nor is the U.S. economy one thing. For the nation, though, statistical constructs such as gross domestic product provide an indication.
    A new book, “GDP: A Brief but Affectionate History,” by Diane Coyle, tells the tale. The nation is big enough that the numbers mean something, however imperfect. But for New Mexico, there just aren’t enough numbers. Our population is modest (2.1 million) and dispersed.
    The conventional wisdom tries to stick with considering the state as a whole. Major exceptions exist. The north-south divide dates to well before statehood, the new “New Mexico: A History” reports. “Southern New Mexico’s resentment of northern control…. caused various abortive secession efforts…” And I thought the problem was the force field anchored between the rest stop halfway between Socorro and Truth or Consequences.

  • Term loans, credit can finance business expenses

    When a business needs to buy expensive equipment and doesn’t have the operating cash to buy it outright — or doesn’t want to commit liquid assets to such a big-ticket item — the owner will often approach a bank for financing. The same is true when a business has cash flow shortfalls because its inflows and outflows are out of sync.
    Most banks have commercial lending departments that can offer the business a loan to finance equipment purchases or cover short-term obligations. Two of the most common loan types are term loans and revolving lines of credit. An experienced commercial banker can help the business decide which loan is most appropriate for its situation.
    Term loans
    With term loans, the bank advances a specific amount of money and requires the business to pay it back over a defined period. Such a loan is typically structured with the bank contributing 75 percent of the cost and the business committing 25 percent, though the percentages can vary depending on the type of equipment being purchased.
    The bank sets the maximum repayment schedule to be slightly less than the useful life of the equipment. For example, if the business wanted a new machine that should last for seven years, the bank may offer a five-year term to ensure the loan is paid off before the collateral has zero value.

  • Saying so long to departing House members

    You’re leaving? Seeyalaterbye.
    News coverage of the 10 House members bowing out has had that quality to it. In the world of political junkies and journalism, there’s no room for sentiment.
    Instantly, speculation was rampant about who will move to what power position and how it will affect the political balance, a subject I’ll leave to those who know it better while I indulge in a little sentiment.
    Rep. Tom Taylor, former Minority Leader, will be known for his irrepressible sense of humor, a valuable commodity in the Roundhouse. House Minority Leader Don Bratton could frame the big picture, apply his engineer’s logic, and keep discussions civil.
    The long-serving Chairman of the House Appropriations and Finance Committee, Rep. Kiki Saavedra, will be remembered for soliciting Republican input into the budget process (his predecessor didn’t) and making people comfortable with the process. House Majority Leader Rick Miera was a consummate public servant with a command of facts.
    The other six include three Democrats (Edward Sandoval, Ernest Chavez and Nate Cote) and three Republicans (Anna Crook, Bill Gray and Jim White).

  • Pondering Gary King

    Front-runners don’t finish last. They may finish second in an initial trial run or straw poll. They might even come in third in a crowded field of candidates. But they simply do not finish last.
    So what is Gary King thinking?
    Just over a week ago, New Mexico’s attorney general finished dead last at the state Democratic Party’s preprimary convention where five Democrats seeking their party’s 2014 gubernatorial nomination battled it out for a place on the June 3 primary ballot.
    Despite that drubbing, two days later King let it be known that he intends to stay in the race.
    By law (if not always in practice) a candidate must emerge from one of these preprimary conventions with at least 20 percent of the delegates’ votes if he or she is to make it into his or her party’s primary election. Failing that, the candidate must go out and gather additional petition signatures to run in the primary.
    But, according to the attorney general, since he went into the Democrats’ recent convention with more than enough petition signatures to get his name on the June ballot to begin with, he’s in the race to stay.

  • Council should lower boom on unethical, illegal trappers

    Column as I see ’em …
    As someone with a keen personal interest in harvesting animals and owning firearms, I found it rather interesting that both garnered front-page headlines in our paper this week.
    The one on firearms simply made me laugh; the one on trapping left me fuming, and here’s why.
    As someone who spent a great deal of my youth trapping furbearers in Great Lakes area of New York, I was outraged to read that a family’s pet was injured, but thankfully survived after being caught in an illegally set trap.
    Trapping is viewed by most as a barbaric activity designed to inflict unspeakable horrors on animals. Were it put to a popular vote, even the most rural areas of this country would almost certainly end the practice.
    As a teenager, I trapped mainly raccoon, muskrat and red fox and tried my level best to do it as humanely as possible (there are ways to mitigate the trauma, particularly in trap selection and how they’re set), as well as to the letter of the law.
    I learned early on that people even back then weren’t too keen on trapping, and I wanted to make sure I wasn’t among those who provided reasons for those opposed to yell even louder.

  • Schmidt did positive things for community

    To Kevin Honnell, Los Alamos School Board:
    This letter has taken so long to compose because I was so angry about our school board’s treatment of Dr. Eugene Schmidt that I have needed time to be more civil. You are our representative, and having worked with you on the Barranca Mesa School Board, I have seen that you have the capacity to consider things carefully. I am therefore hoping that you will take our comments to heart and consider what we have to say.
    When we look at the last five years, we see so many positive things that have happened in the schools due to Dr. Schmidt’s leadership. We have gone from crumbling buildings to having a beautiful new high school, new middle school, and Aspen school is in the process of rebuilding. Not only the buildings have been improved, but the school grounds and curb appeal are hugely improved.