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Opinion

  • Political pundits are talking lately about a possible run for governor by Congressman Steve Pearce. If that’s true, he has a strange way of endearing himself to New Mexico voters.
    Pearce was one of the Republicans to sign the American Healthcare Act. And while other Rs look for cover as the president’s controversies deepen, Pearce goes out on a limb to defend him.
    The current version of the House healthcare bill isn’t likely to survive the Senate makeover, but it’s instructive to look at what Pearce thinks is appropriate for us.
    The AHCA would repeal Obamacare, phase out increased federal funding for low-income people who got coverage through the 2014 Medicaid expansion. It would instead make Medicaid a cheaper block grant program. Millions of people would lose their coverage in the next ten years.
    In New Mexico that translates to more than 265,000 people of the 900,000 currently on Medicaid, according to an analysis by economist Kelly O’Donnell, of UNM’s Robert Wood Johnson Center for Health Policy. It would also affect the children, seniors and disabled people who traditionally qualified. New Mexico would have to come up with an additional $427 million a year or reduce coverage.

  • There has been a long-standing debate about the role of the sheriff in Los Alamos. The present sheriff, Marco Lucero, was elected in 2010 and re-elected in 2014, stressing the importance of the sheriff’s role in Los Alamos.  
    County Councils, not including myself, have worked to minimize that role, drastically cutting his budget and ultimately calling an election last November to eliminate the office. After a contentious campaign, our citizens voted to keep an elected sheriff. It’s time to settle this debate.  I will present at the June 6 council meeting a resolution that clearly defines the roles of the sheriff and police department, and returns a reasonable but limited set of duties to the sheriff’s office. Council and the sheriff need to come to an agreement at that meeting, so that we can all move on to the many other challenges our county faces.

  • The original resolution turned out to be a bag of worms with few people happy and most believing the other side was getting what they wanted while their side lost out. I’m told emails ran 50-50 while I observed the voices at the Council meeting ran 75 percent conservative and 25 percent liberal.
    Shame on us!
    I can remember when this country was almost all moderates and common ground could be found between Democrats and Republicans. The word liberal referred to a college with a wide range of degree programs. Conservative referred to a person preserving nature and gay meant someone was happy.
    How far we’ve separated ourselves. To bad Obama didn’t live up to his speech at the 2004 Democratic Convention. “W” Bush had run on a platform of uniting a divided America. But he just divided us more. Listening to Obama I had a great feeling we could unite again. He certainly was a great orator, “There are no red states and blue states only the United States of America! There are no liberals and conservatives we are the United States of America!”

  • BY LISA BRENNER
    A Better Way for LA PAC

  • Driving across the high plains recently, we spotted a fire stretched out across a field and thought somebody was burning weeds until we saw the fire truck speeding down the road from Fort Sumner.
    It’s that time of year when we scan the horizon, a little anxiously. Recent rains have spared us the usual bad news. As I write this, there was a small fire in the Gila National Forest and a larger fire across the line in Arizona.
    So we have the luxury of thinking about readiness, which means spending.
    In the much anticipated appropriations bill, Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich helped snag $4.2 billion for wildland fire management by the U. S. Forest Service and U. S. Interior Department. This includes $2.05 billion the agencies can use to respond to forest fires; with carryover balances, they should have enough money for expected firefighting.
    Udall got $407 million in emergency funding so the agencies don’t have to borrow from non-fire accounts. This is significant. What’s happened in the last few years is that Congress cut the Forest Service and Interior to the nub at the same time severe wildfires increased. Then the agencies had to tap funding they would have used for restoration and forest health, so preventive work didn’t get done. And that in turn leads to charges of mismanagement by the agencies.

  • BY LISA SHIN
    President of A Better Way for LA PAC

    A Better Way for LA PAC was formed by concerned citizens who propose that we expand and improve recreation in ways that are fiscally responsible and sustainable. I do not question the quality of life benefits our community would receive from the Recreation Bond. Personally, I would love to see an indoor ice-skating rink and expanded recreational facilities.
    However, I question whether this bond represents the highest and best use of our tax dollars, when there are so many competing needs. There is a better way. 

    I am talking about robust and diverse funding models which have been adopted nationwide to build and operate state-of-the-art facilities. An entrepreneurial, business-minded approach to generating revenues. Strong engagement with the private sector. Philanthropy from private citizens, businesses and charitable foundations.

    Consider the city of Hobbs, which spent four years to “stand together and redefine the term ‘public-private partnership’ where six public and private institutions came together to collaborate on a true center of recreational excellence.” The CORE is set to open in the spring of 2018.

  • My name is Greg White and this series of articles will cover three issues that the County Council hopefully will be discussing and acting on in a positive manner over the next several months. The first I’m sure they will, the next two can head off litigation. The first is a rewrite of the proposed immigrant resolution proposed by Councilor Pete Sheehey. The second is what will the council decide about the sheriff’s office. And the last is the legal status of appointing a county employee to an elected position, namely appointing the county manager as the county treasurer.
    I hope my articles will spur healthy and respectful discussion and encourage people to come to council meetings to make their voices heard, again in a civil and respectful way. Which may be best accomplished by the council changing it’s rules on public comment to allow five minutes per person as it’s hard no matter how concise you try to be to actually convey feelings in three minutes. Three minutes works for boxers, ever try boxing it’s a whole lot more tiring than it looks, but I always find myself running out of comment time about 30 seconds from finishing no matter how much I rehearse.

  • Governance is like a Shakespeare play in which the two governing parties act out human parts. Shakespeare famously heightens the drama with leading roles that carry the main action, spiced with an occasional ghost who reveals mindsets that drive the action. But today the action seems less important than the interplay of ghosts.
    The main action is the substance of politics – the policies to be evolved, discussed and enacted ... the necessary business of the people, by the people, for the people. A timely example would be rebuilding the middle class.  
    The ghost in the play is the “politicking” – phantom voices that name who let down the middle class. The action is the governance; the mindsets are drivers. Together, a play.
    Yet, almost every scene in today’s play is dominated by politicking – raising and reprising story lines to mythic proportions – to the detriment of real action on the people’s business. More skewing gets done than business. 
    And it gets worse. Although each party clearly seeks different policies, the politicking on each side mirrors the other. It is eerie.       

  • Of all the demonstrations of Americans’ political hypocrisy, what we’ve done about the slaughter of horses is right up there.
    We can thank our governor for a recent example, though she is hardly alone.
    Like other public figures, the governor shed crocodile tears a few years ago during the controversy over the possible opening of a horse slaughterhouse in Roswell. That controversy helped spark a change in federal policy that effectively banned horse slaughter in the United States.
    This year, she pocket vetoed a simple bill that would have saved a few horses. A pocket veto means she simply ignored the bill until the deadline passed.
    The bill, HB 390, said when the state livestock board has custody of a stray horse, licensed rescue organizations should get a chance to buy the horse at a modest fee before the horse is offered at auction. This would allow the rescue to get the horse at a low price rather than having to bid against other unknown buyers, possibly including “killer buyers” who would take the horse to Mexico and sell it for slaughter. The bill passed both houses handily.

  • The Boston Herald published this editorial Wednesday.

    So either “This is what winning looks like” or “Our country needs a good ‘shutdown’ in September to fix (this) mess!”
    Yes, we’re confused too. In an early morning tweet yesterday President Trump seemed so unhappy with the temporary spending deal struck by congressional Republicans to keep the government up and operating until September that he would risk a shutdown then. But by mid-day he had suddenly decided that it’s a good deal after all and “a clear win for the American people.”
    The $1.1 trillion spending package does include a $15 billion boost in military spending — half of what Trump wanted — but in the greater scheme of things not a bad deal. And it includes $1.5 billion in additional cash for border security — some of it for “fixing” existing portions of the border wall.
    As for all those proposed cuts in domestic spending, well that’s just a big nevermind. The proposed $1.2 billion cut to the National Institutes of Health? NIH got a $2 billion increase. Defunding Planned Parenthood? Nope. The Environmental Protection Agency takes a 1 percent haircut on its $8 billion budget.

  • This editorial appeared in The Los Angeles Times April 19.

    Under its last chairman, Democrat Tom Wheeler, the Federal Communications Commission dramatically ramped up its regulation of telecommunications companies, especially those that provide broadband Internet access to the home. The commission adopted rules to preserve net neutrality, limit the collection and use of data about where people go online and subsidize broadband access services, while also slapping conditions on or flat-out opposing mergers between major broadband companies.
    Although the telecom industry resisted many of these steps as heavy handed and overly restrictive, Internet users, consumer groups and scores of companies that offer content, apps and services online welcomed them as prudent limits on broadband providers who face too little competition. And they’re right about that – far too many consumers today have only one or two practical options for high-speed Internet access at their homes today.

  • BY REP. RICK LITTLE
    New Mexico House of Representatives, R-Doña Ana and Otero Counties

  • BY REP. RICK LITTLE
    New Mexico House of Representatives, R-Doña Ana and Otero Counties

  • A few weeks ago, Susana Martinez vetoed funding for every state college and university. All of it.

    Since then, neither she nor House Republican leaders have proposed a plan to restore it. Because every public school relies on New Mexico for 30 percent-50 percent of their budgets, if not changed this decision will annihilate them.

    What does this mean for you? Plenty.Without funding, schools will either completely shut down or offer dramatically less education for much higher tuition; meaning many of our kids will have to go away for university. We will then have a less educated workforce, like engineers to design our roads, accountants for our businesses, and doctors to take care of us when we are sick.

    Furthermore, two-year schools provide technical programs for well-paid, steady careers like commercial truck drivers, welders, and X-ray techs. Those, as well as specialized classes for wind energy at Mesalands Community College in Tucumcari and aviation maintenance at ENMU-Roswell, could disappear.

    And does your child participate in a high school dual-credit course? Those are probably gone.

    The governor’s veto will obliterate jobs. Businesses start and grow where they can find people educated in areas like the ones described above; so they won’t start or grow here when those programs vanish.

  • Sisneros Brothers Manufacturing embodies the entrepreneurial notion that finding the right niche can transform talent into business success.
    Avenicio Sisneros, founder of the Belen company, began as a cabinetmaker in the 1950s but shifted to making and installing sheet metal ducting for houses in 1987. With him were sons Martin, Alex and Philip.
    Demand quickly grew beyond the residential market, and the company began manufacturing and installing ductwork for larger commercial customers. By 1990, Sisneros Brothers abandoned installation altogether to focus on manufacturing custom sheet metal ductwork for a wide variety of customers.
    In 2001, the Sisneros leadership team consulted the New Mexico Manufacturing Extension Partnership (NM MEP) to get ideas about streamlining production and eliminating inefficiencies. The nonprofit organization helps businesses increase profitability and competitiveness, transforming them into lean and efficient engines of growth.
    The results of NM MEP-inspired changes impressed company principals, and Sisneros Brothers returned to NM MEP a decade later when CEO Martin Sisneros decided it was time to grow and diversify the customer base.

  • BY BOB HAGAN
    Coffee on a Cold Morning

  • The picture of retirement that many of us have is a post-work period filled with travel and plenty of relaxation. It’s a time when you can finally take up a new hobby, sink into the pile of books and enjoy more time with family and friends.
    The reality is that many haven’t been able to save enough money to enjoy this idealized retirement. What might their retirement look like?
    You may be working for longer than you expected. Many people undergo a period of “phased retirement” and either reduce their hours or start a new part-time job after retiring from a full-time schedule. Even those who don’t have a financial need may find that they value the activity and connections work brings to their lives. Without savings, continuing to work might not be a choice, but you can still look for fulfilling opportunities.
    Continuing within the same profession part-time or taking on related consulting work could be the most financially rewarding route, if it’s an option. Alternatives such as customer service positions with a retailer are popular among some retirees. There are also Internet-based jobs that allow you to work from home.
    Social Security could be your sole source of income. Retirees who don’t have a pension or savings and stop working may find that Social Security is their only income.

  • Indian Country, surprisingly, supports the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the U. S. Supreme Court.
    The Native American Rights Fund and the National Congress of American Indians recently endorsed the nominee. NARF, in case you haven’t heard of it, has been at the forefront of Indian law for nearly a half century.
    “Judge Gorsuch has significantly more experience with Indian law cases than any other recent Supreme Court nominee,” NARF informed tribal leaders recently.
    That high praise and a number of tribal endorsements (including the Navajo Nation), have transformed Gorsuch into something of a hero among Native American rights advocates, but it may be premature.
    During his years on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals Gorsuch has participated in 39 Indian cases, of which 28 involved significant questions of Indian law.
    Out of those 28 cases, tribal interests won 16, or 57 percent, NARF said.
    The late Justice Antonin Scalia routinely opposed tribal interests, and the rest of the Supremes haven’t been receptive to tribal arguments, so Gorsuch compares favorably.
    Most important to tribes is the concept of tribal sovereignty.
    Tribal sovereignty is one of those concepts that freshman legislators and lawyers new to the Southwest trip over once.

  • Randomly touring the state’s job numbers is worthy if only for the ritual. Trend reminders lurk—Albuquerque’s apparent economic dominance reappearing and rural problems. Another element is the Legislature’s cut-and-paste budget that kicks the can of real change so far down the road that it produces just a distant plink as it bounces.
    Over the month from December 2016 to January 2017, the state lost 19,400 jobs, 1,300 more than the 18,100 dropped from December 2015 to January 2016. For the year just past, the state’s 900-job increase represents a slight reversal from the 1,800 jobs lost between January 2015 and January 2016.
    The January 2016 to January 2017 net job performance for New Mexico’s four metro areas was 2,300 more wage jobs. Albuquerque and Las Cruces respectively added 3,800 and 800 jobs. Farmington lost 1,800 and Santa Fe, 500. The state added a net of 900 jobs, meaning that the 26 rural counties lost 1,400 jobs (2,300 minus 900 = 1,400).
    The 6.7 percent January unemployment rate that got the headlines was seasonally adjusted. The unadjusted January rate was 7 percent. The February rate increased to 6.8 percent, again seasonally adjusted.

  • An algae bloom, also known as an algal bloom, is but one of the ways this old, old life form makes news. An algae bloom can look like a floating green garden, a red tide or a muddy brown oil spill.
    Algae is the collective term for a large and diverse group of aquatic plants that were early ramblers on Earth. Besides a long history, algae also have a rare ability to grow fast. An algae bloom is a rapid growth in the population of algae in a local aquatic system. Depending on the algae, blooms have special colors and can do great harm to an ecosystem. The toxic effects of some algae blooms can kill fish and mammals and threaten urban water supplies. Researchers are finding ways to combat the damage from these sudden overgrowths.
    Meanwhile, other researchers are busy finding ways to get more good from the good algae, of which there are many. The oddities of algae may help fill two of the modern world’s fast growing needs – food and fuels.
    Algae were food fit for guests in ancient China. Similar discoveries were made in Japan, Hawaii and even cropped up in Ireland.
    After World War II, a taste for seaweed, or “nori,” spread to the US with
    Japanese food. As the land gets more crowded, interest grows in the possibilities of algae for food.