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Today's Opinions

  • New banking: Coping with big-guy regulations

    Banks used to be the business center of smaller communities. Churches took care of religion. The café across from the courthouse handled politics. Crossover existed. Bankers attended church. Churches did banking. Everyone got coffee.
    Those were the days of yore.
    As of June 30, the two biggest of our 63 banks, the local versions of Wells Fargo and Bank of America, both little pieces of much bigger institutions, controlled nearly 40 percent of the New Mexico deposits. The numbers come from the FDIC, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.
    The portion of deposits held by banks with more than 5 percent of the state’s total has dropped. In 2000, Wells, B of A and First Security (which bought First National in 1993) claimed 45.6 percent of the deposits.
    Another clue to banking change lies in B of A’s main New Mexico office in Albuquerque. The lobby has places for nine tellers, “stations” as bankers call them. On May 30 five of the stations had computers with four of those five staffed during the noon hour.
    Those unneeded teller stations may have something to do with the disappearance of another “old banking” practice. The story from an Albuquerque businessman illustrates.

  • Pet Talk: Biting off more than they can chew

    As doting pet owners, we find our dogs’ eager and curious natures utterly irresistible. After all, who can say no those puppy-dog eyes when you open up a bag of new dog treats? However, this endearing characteristic often leads to biting off more of the bone than they can chew. Literally.
    “Fortunately, dogs do not ‘choke’ as often, meaning that they don’t get things lodged in their throat causing them not to be able to breathe,” said Dr. James Barr, assistant professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. “Most commonly, they swallow things that are too big to pass and end up stuck in the esophagus, stomach, or intestines.”  
    Although bones and other dog treats typically don’t cause any harm, many dogs will try to swallow them whole. What looks like a bone that will last all week to you may be a quick, after dinner snack to them.
    “The most common thing that causes actual choking are dog treats like rawhides that can be swallowed,” Barr said. “Bones and rawhides to a dog that chews them well pose little threat, but dogs that want to quickly ingest their treats are the ones most likely to get things stuck in their throat. Though it’s too big to swallow, they try anyway.”

  • Letters to the editor

    Boy Scouts to accept
    donations for food bank
    Your local Letter Carriers (NALC-4112) and the Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts and Venture Scouts of Los Alamos County are geared up to help LA Cares Food Bank by collecting, sorting and storing your donations of food and supplies during the Fall Community Food Drive on Nov. 22.
    Did you know that there are dozens of families, many with young children or elderly, who need help to put enough nutritious food on the table every day? So what can you do to help?
    Remember to fill a bag or box with non-perishable food and supplies and leave it by your mailbox by 10 a.m. on Saturday Nov. 22. Soon your letter carrier or a boy scout or adult scout leader will pick it up and take it to be sorted and stored by LA Cares. LA Cares relies on these donations for their monthly distributions.
    Is your cupboard as bare as Old Mother Hubbard’s? Then visit your local Smith’s Food and Drug Center in Los Alamos or White Rock where a cub scout will be waiting to accept your donations on Nov. 22 only. If you’re out of town during the food drive, then you can leave non-perishable donations year-round at the Aquatic Center or the Los Alamos County Social Services at 1505 15th St. during regular business hours.
    Need ideas on what to donate? Here are some suggestions:

  • BPU should respect rooftop energy production PART 1

    This is part 1 of 2

    For the past 10 years, local and national trends have been that the price of solar has been sharply declining while cost and risks associated with coal and other fossil fuels are going up as evidenced by closure of half of the San Juan generating facility and a wave of divestiture.
    State and Federal incentives for homeowners and businesses adopting solar energy, including tax credits that can amount to a significant portion of the upfront solar investment have also been a significant driving force behind the rapid adoption of solar.
    In a state that is widely recognized as a natural leader for solar energy, it is stunning that the Los Alamos Board of Public Utilities (BPU) is proposing to slap its residents who operate solar systems with a steep monthly fee of $12/month. At best, this fee is seen as the Department of Public Utilities (DPU) attempt to recover the costs of distribution service. At worst, it penalizes Los Alamos County residents with a fee that does next to nothing to offset DPU operating costs and discourages other homeowners wishing to adopt renewable energy.

  • From the battlefield to the oilfield, it is all about employing veterans

    Nearly 2 million men and women served in America’s defense during the Global War on Terror. As troops return home, they face a new fight: finding a job in a highly competitive market.
    Most served in the Middle East, risking their lives for America, and ensuring an uninterrupted energy supply. They believe in the greatness of America.
    Their experiences in the military make them ideal employees for America’s oil-and-gas industry. Many companies have seen the value veterans bring to their organization and are actively recruiting veterans.
    The U.S. oil-and-gas industry has added millions of jobs in the past few years and expects to add more and more — especially with the new energy-friendly Republican-controlled Congress. Just the Keystone pipeline — which is now likely to be built — will employ thousands. Increased access to reserves on federal lands will demand more personnel. But finding potential hires that fit the needs of the energy industry in the general labor pool is difficult as they lack discipline, the ability to work in a team and, often, can’t pass a drug test. Here the fit for the veteran becomes obvious.

  • And so it begins

    Forty-two days. Six long painful torture-filled weeks.
    Forty-two days until I’m able to turn on the radio or the television set without having my eardrums suffering the waterboarding-style torment of tinny Christmas music!
    I own a stopwatch that can measure time in tenths of a second, but that’s not enough granularity to capture the speed in which stores switch from Halloween decor to Christmas decor. Kiddies weren’t even able to finish saying “Trick or Treat” before the seasonal aisle was cleared of HFCS infused chocolates and replaced by tacky trinkets to adorn dead pine trees.
    Thanksgiving is celebrated about a month after Halloween, but Christmas rules the day after all the ghosts and goblins and zombies have gone home to consume a mountain of sugar.
    Speaking of sugar, can anyone explain the love affair this country has with candy corn? Seriously, is it theoretically possible to make something more vile than candy corn? Who actually eats that stuff?

  • Region should invest in clean energy

    Times have changed since solar and wind power first became available. Across the country, the cost of coal is going up, and the price of clean energy — like wind and solar — is coming down. Employment trends are changing, too.
    Today, more workers are employed in the clean energy industry than in coal mining nationwide. Since 2012, New Mexico’s solar industry has added nearly 1,000 new jobs. Almost 2,000 New Mexicans now work in our state’s growing solar economy.
    As owner of a local solar company, I’ve seen the remarkable transition to clean energy take root in our region. Solar electricity costs less than grid energy, and home and business owners are taking advantage of the opportunity to fix their energy costs for the long run.
    We’ve added 30 employees in the past year to keep up with demand. It is a really exciting time.
    In our region and throughout the United States, communities are moving away from dirty, expensive coal and toward the growing clean energy industry.
    These trends are why I was so shocked to learn that instead of investing in new technologies and growing industries, PNM and Los Alamos County Department of Public Utilities propose to double down on dirty coal and lock ratepayers into a future of expensive, outdated coal-fired power.

  • Venture Acceleration Fund helps Native-owned businesses

    Native-owned businesses in northern New Mexico are eligible for grants of up to $25,000 to spend on specialized services that will help them increase revenues and create jobs.
    One business, Than Povi Gallery, was awarded a Native American Venture Acceleration Fund grant in February 2014 to develop a marketing plan and ad campaign for the business, which moved in 2013 from San Ildefonso Pueblo to a site north of Santa Fe on U.S. 84/285. That move was partially enabled by a NAVAF grant in 2013, co-owner Elmer Torres said, and resulted in “a lot more foot traffic.”
    Torres and his wife, Deborah, both members of the pueblo, eventually hope to move their gallery to downtown Santa Fe so the many artists they represent can get greater exposure. In the meantime, though, their current location allows them to sell to a broader market. “We try to make (artworks) affordable for people in the local area,” Torres said.