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Today's Opinions

  • The true gentleman

    The recent report of Sigma Alpha Epsilon’s video-recording its members chanting a racist song wasn’t really what I would call news.
    A bunch of college boys sing proudly and loudly using the N-word in celebration of their promise to exclude blacks from membership in their club?
    “There will never be a n----r at SAE.  You can hang him from a tree, but he’ll never sign with me!”
    That’s not news. Making fun of others to exclude them from one’s clique is an old and proud American tradition. And you don’t mess with tradition!
    Like many people, I was disgusted when viewing the video, saddened to see how little has changed in so many years. And like many, I cheered when the chant-leaders were expelled and the fraternity was kicked off campus.
    The SAE Fraternity Manual declares SAE as “The Singing Fraternity,” boasting that it has “many songs that our members should learn.”
    I’m guessing that the members might want to take that out of their manual now.
    The fraternity’s motto is “The True Gentleman,” and its mission statement defines this as “the man whose conduct proceeds from good will and an acute sense of propriety,” adding “one who thinks of the rights and feelings of others.”

  • Lawmakers plug on despite hot times in the Roundhouse

    Legislative sessions often leave the tracks during the final days, but last week was weird even by those standards.
    There was the usual House snipping that the Senate isn’t hearing their bills and more than the usual strain between parties. Rumors of retaliation floated in the stale air. Personal slights or bad behavior provoked demands for apologies.
    Tensions escalated until a University of New Mexico regent’s confirmation exploded in mid-air. When a long-serving senator resigned abruptly a day later, it was almost anti-climactic.
    Through it all, they kept working. The process pauses but doesn’t stop. All that blather in bloggerdom about the “do-nothing legislature” just ain’t so.
    The regent showdown had been brewing for days.
    The governor nominated former District Attorney Matthew Chandler as UNM regent. The Senate Rules Committee approved the nomination, then asked that its record be expunged and hauled Chandler back in.
    If lots of raised eyebrows had a sound, we could have heard a whoosh.
    The three-way face-off among Chandler, Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez, and Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto (all lawyers) shocked even veteran political reporters. Gone were the accustomed niceties observed in the Legislature, replaced by accusations flung back and forth.

  • Lottery bill is a bad gamble for students

    Responsible parents would never gamble with their child’s college savings account.
    Yet that is precisely what the New Mexico Lottery is proposing to do with the Lottery Scholarship, which serves as the college fund for many New Mexico students from low- and middle-income families.
    The New Mexico Lottery is attempting to pass Senate Bill 355, which would eliminate the requirement that a minimum of 30 percent of lottery revenues be dedicated to the scholarship fund. This requirement was enacted in 2007, based on a proposal by Think New Mexico.
    Prior to that time, there was no minimum percentage that the lottery had to deliver to the scholarship fund. The lottery was required to dedicate at least 50 percent of revenues to prizes, but once that requirement was met, the lottery paid its operating costs and sent whatever was left over to the scholarship fund.
    As a result, scholarships received an average of only 23.76 percent of lottery revenues a year from 1997-2007.
    Fortunately, the legislature enacted the 30 percent requirement, and it has resulted in an additional $9 million a year going to the scholarship fund.

  • Letter to the editor 3-18-15

    Superintendent Schmidt
    addresses PARCC concerns

    On March 11, a group of Los Alamos High School students met for half an hour after school in the Los Alamos High School lobby to provide information to the public about their concerns for next week’s state test, called the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers.
    PARCC, as it is known to students and staff, replaces previous years’ Standards Based Assessment.
    This marks the first year of the PARCC test, which is a part of the New Mexico state graduation requirements. While there are alternatives ways to demonstrate proficiency, high school students must first attempt achieving proficiency on the PARCC test before alternative demonstrations of competency are allowed.
    In addition, the newly introduced PARCC test presents an opportunity for students to demonstrate their understanding of the New Mexico Common Core State Standards, as well as demonstrate readiness for college and careers. Students at the information forum met with their high school peers, staff, school administration and some community members to share concerns about the upcoming PARCC tests.
    Several themes emerged from my one-on-one and small group conversations with students, including:

  • The Richardson papers go to Texas

    Bill Richardson’s decision to donate his accumulated papers to the University of Texas at Austin’s Dolph Briscoe Center for American History has raised eyebrows and ruffled feathers in certain quadrants of New Mexico politics.
    Which only stands to reason. Richardson’s political career began in the early 1980s with his election to the U.S House of Representatives from the state’s 3rd Congressional District and culminated, so to speak, in 2002 when he was elected to the first of his two terms as governor of New Mexico.
    Along the way he rose to a position of leadership in Congress, served as President Bill Clinton’s Ambassador to the United Nations and as U.S. Energy Secretary in the Clinton administration.
    Throughout it all, Richardson gained a national reputation and a measure of celebrity as a gifted diplomatic trouble-shooter and negotiator called upon by Democratic and Republican presidents alike to aid in the release of American hostages in such countries as North Korea, Sudan and Iraq.
    Indeed, such was Richardson’s reputation for diplomatic wizardry that just days after taking his first oath of office as governor, a delegation of North Korean emissaries appeared on his doorstep in Santa Fe seeking his counsel on their dealings in Washington.

  • Get a handle on gross receipts tax if doing business in New Mexico

    Anyone who operates a business in New Mexico is familiar with the gross receipts tax, or GRT — a tax not on sales but on companies and people who do business here.
    Unlike a sales tax, the GRT is imposed on the seller of property or services. It is not a tax the seller collects from the buyer and delivers to the state; it’s due even if the seller doesn’t charge the buyer.
    The tax is imposed on the gross receipts of businesses or people who sell property, perform services, lease or license property or license a franchise in New Mexico. The same goes for those who sell research and development services performed outside New Mexico when the resulting product is initially used here.
    “Gross receipts” are the total amount of money or other consideration received from the activities covered in the tax law. They include sales of property handled on consignment and commissions received.  
    But they exclude GRT billed to the buyer, as that would constitute taxing a tax. Also excluded are cash discounts; taxes imposed by a Native American tribe or pueblo that is exempt from New Mexico GRT; interest or other types of time-price differentials; or amounts received solely on behalf of another in a disclosed-agency capacity — like an in-state florist who fulfills an order placed with an out-of-state company.

  • Pet Talk: Tips for traveling with furry family members

    With spring break upon us, and summer vacations right around the corner, it’s time to start planning your much-needed getaways. Whichever destination you choose, having your pet by your side makes it even more enjoyable. However, there are some important things to consider before letting your furry family member tag along.
    “The first thing you want to do before you go on a big trip with your pet is to go on a short trip with your pet,” said Dr. Mark Stickney, clinical associate professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. “Drive around and make sure that they don’t get too nervous or car sick while they’re in the vehicle.”
    If you notice that Fido is an anxious traveler, but still need to bring him along, consult your veterinarian about motion sickness medication or tranquilizers to help make the ride more comfortable.

  • Economic developers need vision, new energy


    Economic development” gets much conversation in the policy realm. Occasions range from chamber of commerce meetings to political campaigns and legislative hearings.
    But what, really, is all that conversation about? The perspective here comes from years of hanging out with economic developers and listening to the economic policy conversations.
    To do economic development is to meddle with an economy, be it a community, a county or region or even a state.
    Those of us tilting against meddling on the grounds that freedom, choice and competition provide better results are correct, but perhaps irrelevant.
    Conservatives meddle.
    The example as I write comes from all but one of the potential Republican presidential candidates swearing fealty to the ethanol industry in Iowa. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz provided the exception.
    When properly and narrowly defined, the idea of economic development is to add organizations to what is called the “basic” economy of the area. The organization can be private or public.
    Only when there appears the possibility of a government organization adding itself to a community is the acceptability of a government organization admitted.