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Today's Opinions

  • Maybe New Mexico is finally ready for an ethics commission

    I used to joke that my late husband was the last honest man in the New Mexico Legislature.
    He was not the last, though. Most legislators do not take illicit money or otherwise profit from their public service.  
    I have known a few legislators who, after their service was over, out of the glare of publicity, quietly went bankrupt. Their years of honest volunteer service had cost them dearly.
    New Mexico’s past reputation was that there was lots of corruption but most of it was small-time.
    We were only slightly outraged when politicians did favors for their friends. If you won a local election as a county commissioner or a school board member, your reward was jobs for needy relatives. When the other guy won, his relatives might replace yours.
    In low-income counties with few good-paying jobs, this was a way to spread the wealth.
    When an influential legislator-lawyer represented clients before boards and commissions – perhaps using bullying power to influence a licensing decision - it didn’t even make the news. When legislators vote on issues that affect their own professions, we barely notice.
    After all, we rationalize, our unpaid legislators have to make a living doing something other than legislating.
    But we have been troubled by the influence of special interests on legislation.

  • Passing laws, avoiding traps as campaign season opens

    In 2000, the Republicans painted a target on House Speaker Raymond Sanchez, who was as much of an irritant to Republican Gov. Gary Johnson as his brother, Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez, is to this one.
    The GOP hoped to take control of the Legislature. Running against the powerful House Speaker was John Sanchez, a political newbie who didn’t appear to have a chance.
    That campaign could be a chapter in political science textbooks.
    An over-confident Raymond didn’t take his opponent seriously until it was too late. In November, John Sanchez unleashed a flood of radio ads accusing Raymond Sanchez of resisting efforts to toughen laws against sex offenders and child pornography. His campaign made phone calls and mailed letters to Raymond’s constituents asking them to call him if they think, “families have a right to know if a convicted sexual predator is living next door.”
    Raymond countered with his own radio ads saying the accusations were lies and mudslinging. He lost.
    John Sanchez’s campaign manager, by the way, was Jay McCleskey, the governor’s Rasputin (or puppeteer, critics say).

  • Public policy institute could offer solutions

    Conferences, policy institutes and the like are useless when it comes to considering nasty problems such as the New Mexico economy, argue many people, including some action-oriented types in Albuquerque.
    They are wrong.
    The action types have recently grabbed the initiative, providing money to push specific agendas such as right to work. But this totally commendable argument for short-term specifics misses the point of considering the longer term.
    Perhaps the action types are motivated in part by the failure of talk efforts such as New Mexico First and the long-gone Business Leaders Forum at New Mexico State.
    A market for longer term, broader scope policy consideration clearly exists. The Albuquerque Business First newspaper lured 300 “business leaders” to a January conference to hear a national economist say nothing new about New Mexico, as best as I could figure from the newspaper’s stories about the conference.
    “The crowd was searching for some solutions,” one story said. None appeared.
    The annual Domenici Public Policy Conference in Las Cruces is less talk fest than listen fest with presentations from national and a few regional policy leaders. There are no coffee breaks, a serious limit on communication among people attending.

  • Letter to the Editor 1-24-16

    Vote yes on schools bond

    Because we don't have our own children, we were supporters and observers of our schools system as community members and property owners, until a young nephew came to live with us and attend Los Alamos High School.  What he found was a system that had the resources not just to teach reading, writing, science, math and computer skills, but to offer music, sports, debate, and many other extracurricular programs.  All of these things helped him learn and grow in many ways, and he was well prepared for college.
    The HB33 schools bond, on which Los Alamos citizens can vote by mail no later than Jan. 26, provides money to maintain our schools and buy needed equipment and facilities.  As a County Councilor, I have consistently voted against raising the county's portion of property taxes, in part because I believe this community prefers that property taxes should go first to support our schools. Good schools benefit everyone, not just in the young lives changed for the better, but by building a prosperous community with good property values.  Please join us in voting yes for the HB33 schools bond.
    Pete Sheehey
    Los Alamos County Councilor
    Naishing Key

  • Control what you can, enjoy the benefits

    BY DR. JOSEPH HORTON
    Visions & Values

  • Shrimp farmers secure USDA grant to expand market reach

    Lemitar is pretty far from the Pacific, but Tim Ott and Abigail “Judy” Armendariz are growing shrimp native to that ocean in a climate-controlled aquaculture plant just north of Socorro.
    Their company, Southwestern Seas LLC, has been selling New Mexico-farmed white Pacific shrimp at the Santa Fe Farmers Market for about a year.
    The business partners in late November received a $49,500 value-added producer grant from USDA that they plan to use to market their unconventional “crop” to other farmers markets around the state and thus increase sales.
    High-altitude ‘ocean’
    Southwestern Seas received its first shipment of young shrimp in the summer of 2014, when Armendariz’s garage served as the nursery. The company then built a 7,000-square-foot facility and equipped it with everything needed to replicate the saline, sea-level ocean environment where these shrimp typically live.
    The shrimp farmers add oxygen to the water in the facility’s giant saltwater tanks so the shrimp can survive at an altitude of more than 4,500 feet. They keep the building’s temperature at 85 degrees and maintain an elevated humidity level.
    Biofilters and recirculators sustain water quality inside the 65,000-gallon tanks, which are replenished regularly with water from an on-site well.

  • Letters to the Editor 1-22-16

    Congrats to Larry Baca for his years as coach

    As LAHS boys track and field exits the Larry Baca-era of 30 years as coach consider: Larry has been inducted into NM Coaches Hall of Fame; his teams have won two state championships and were in contention several other years. He produced 43 individual, 13 relay state champions and five state records – four of which are current. And, his charges have set 13 of 19 event records at LAHS. Most telling of his coaching depth and consistency is that of the top 10 performances by LAHS boys in each of the 19 events, 167 of the 190 listings are his guys! (Larry is on two of these lists, javelin and shot, from his days as a Topper!)
    Larry’s teams were particularly strong on relays where they accounted for 37 of 40 listings and 13 state championships.
    Congratulations to Larry Baca and all his athletes for making the ‘Toppers a force to contend with in high school track.
    Wayne Morris
    Los Alamos

    Support HB33 for schools, community and children

    As a resident and homeowner, my property value is dependent on the quality of the schools. I support the HB33 Referendum and open enrollment.

  • State of two states are markedly different

    As it turns out, Donald Trump tweets.
    I found out about this after President Obama had wrapped up his State of the Union address last week.
    It was a good speech, actually – thoughtful, candid, truthful, hard-hitting and engaging. As most presidential State of the Union orations go, that’s a bit rare.
    Mr. Donald Trump, on the other hand, didn’t like the president’s remarks in the least. Barely had the presidential teleprompter gone black before the real estate mogul was typing out this tweet for the edification of his acolytes: “The #SOTU speech is really boring, slow lethargic – very hard to watch.”
    Then, too, since he embarked upon his quest for the Republican presidential nomination several months back an impressive body of evidence has accumulated to suggest that the only voice Donald Trump truly likes to hear is his own.
    Which probably explains why the voice of South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley was even more off-putting for Mr. Trump than Mr. Obama’s, when she began her “official” Republican response to the president’s State of the Union.