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Opinion

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    Manufacturing businesses that want to know how their performance stacks up against industry standards have a new tool to make that measurement — and it’s available at no cost.

    The Manufacturing Performance Institute, in conjunction with the American Small Manufacturers Coalition and the New Mexico Manufacturing Extension Partnership, created the Next Generation Manufacturing Assessment Tool after surveying thousands of United States manufacturers in 2009, 2011 and 2013. 

    The biennial survey asks manufacturers what strategic benchmarks they use to measure their efficiency and effectiveness in six critical areas: human resources, supply-chain management, sustainability, process improvement, innovation and global engagement. The tool based on this survey allows manufacturers of all kinds to see how they compare with world-class industry practices and standards by comparing their responses to those of thousands of other top manufacturers. 

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    Parents, if this is your first time at the back-to-school rodeo, let me share a few lessons my wife and I have learned the hard way. Chances are you’ll be spending the next few weeks filling out piles of pre-enrollment paperwork, lining up carpools and, of course, taking the dreaded shopping excursions for clothes and school supplies.

    If you’re a first-timer or simply need a back-to-school refresher course, here are a few suggestions that can help you save time, money and sanity:

    Get organized. Maintain a correspondence file from your kid’s school for things like registration requirements, report cards, permission slips, required vaccinations, school policies, teacher and parent contact information, etc. Ask whether the school has a website, online calendar, or email list you can join. Also, create a family master calendar.

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    School Board takes no action on merit pay 

    Parents and students in this school district deserve good teachers who are well paid.  Consequently, it is disappointing that our school district is not participating in the New Mexico Public Education Department’s (NMPED) Incentive Pay Pilot (ped.state.nm.us/ped/RFPDocs/).

    A statement in a Los Alamos Monitor story (July 10) about the Incentive Pay Pilot Program incorrectly implies that NMPED will control and administer this pilot. 

    However, the Incentive Pay Pilot Application itself states that it is up to each participating school district to design an incentive pay model. If the application is accepted, funding is provided by NMPED.

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    It doesn’t take much to be smeared as an isolationist by leading Republicans. Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who appears to be running for president again, and former vice president Dick Cheney — not to mention Sen. John McCain, Gov. Chris Christie and other members of the GOP establishment — can always be counted on to drag out that insult whenever they sense a threat from anyone not as hawkish as they are. 

    If they thought that 30,000 U.S. troops should be sent somewhere, and someone recommended sending only 10,000, we could count on Perry, Cheney, et al., to condemn the other person as an appeasing isolationist.

    Let’s be clear: Someone who simply doesn’t want Americans draw into foreign conflicts is not an isolationist. The proper word is “noninterventionist.” “Isolationism” suggests withdrawal from the world. But noninterventionists don’t seek that. 

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    Getting a small loan license in New Mexico is a cinch. Just pay a $1,500 fee to the Department of Regulation and Licensing, show you have $30,000 in capital and a reasonably clean criminal record and you are in. There were 656 small loan operators in the state at the close of 2013.

    The powers that come with a license are astonishing. Outside of a very narrow product area technically defined as Payday Loans, licensees can charge any interest rate over any period of time with almost any loan terms they choose on amounts of $2,500 or less. Small lenders routinely burden unsophisticated borrowers with interest rates of anywhere between 200-600 percent and sometimes more than 1,000 percent. In the process, they often point to the license on their wall claiming their products are “state approved.” That license is, in fact, their license to steal.

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    Once again, the Confederate flag is in the news. Washington and Lee University recently announced it would take down the Confederate flags, which had been displayed next to the university’s statue of Robert E. Lee.

    Twelve African American law students protested the display as being “hate symbols representative of slavery and racism.”

    Supporters of displaying the flag countered that “the Confederate flag honors freedom-loving Americans who fought against Northern tyranny” and that removing the flag “besmirched Lee’s military honor.”

    You do have to respect freedom-loving people who owned slaves. I suppose they’re also proud that the university owned about 80 slaves who were used to build dormitories in the early 1800s.

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    Need prescription for success for N.M.’s kids

    As a physician, I know that when you have a cure for an ailment, you use it. You don’t waste time, because you know that delay only makes the condition worse. New Mexico has a problem. We’re at the bottom of nearly every indicator of child well being.

    We know what works and we’re actually giving the right medicine to a few lucky kids. But most are not getting the cure, even though we know it works and we have the resources to get it to them.

    Kids need more than health care. They need a comprehensive set of services that promote healthy development. High-quality early care and education is the prescription. Services like home visiting reduce the incidence of child abuse, increase the time between subsequent births, and improve parental involvement in their children’s educations. 

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    The nation’s bitter dispute over climate change drags public discourse to new extremes of futility. Worse yet, the hostile views of man-made climate change expand into a kindred dispute about the tools of science itself. 

    The fray sharpens three key observations: 

    • Each side says the opposing side is afraid to answer questions about weak points in its case.      

    • Each side says its foe distorts how science advances by constant questioning.  

    • Each side says its foe’s energy ambitions corrupt its science.

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    July 4, 1776 gave birth to perhaps the most revolutionary political document in the history of civilization, submitted by men who proclaimed, “with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.” 

    Pretty heavy stuff for a group of heroes who knew that their actions exposed them all to charges of treason, for which the penalty was swift and sure execution at the hands of the colonial masters whose authority they defied.

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    Another 4th of July? Didn’t we just have one last year?

    Yeah, it’s time again to watch your 12-year-old kid march in the town’s parade, make red white and blue cupcakes for a party, turn the TV to any of the 500 war movies playing on Encore, fire up the grill and show your patriotism by eating enough food to feed a family of six.

    And to truly demonstrate an undying love for America, hang a flag outside and set off some fireworks!

    What could be more true-blue American than blowing things up?

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    The Y helps people with financial aid

    Reviewing applications for financial aid is truly a humbling experience.

    I communicate with each by email or telephone, and all of them share their overwhelming relief, appreciation, joy, and gratitude because the Y’s assistance has helped them, their family or children. At our Y, this is more than 200 people helped; 72 kids in camp and afterschool care, and 140 people of all ages in healthy programs.

    Donors do important work. They help children access safe, supervised childcare so parents can work. I receive at least one scholarship application a day now as we are enrolling for Camp and After School.

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    For harried parents, the definition of true panic is realizing in April that you forgot to enroll your kids for summer day camp and now all the slots are filled. Cut to: as the school year ends, you’re feverishly trying to find adequate daycare because neither of you can take time off work to watch the kids.

    I know of one such couple; with any luck you’re more organized than they were. In fact, bonus points if you thought ahead and signed up during last fall’s open enrollment for a dependent care flexible spending account (FSA), which allows you to pay for childcare using pretax dollars.

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    Renee Frank is perfectly positioned to demonstrate that sustainable practices can improve a business’s bottom line and its “upper line” — its appeal to customers who want to do business with green companies.

    Frank is a real estate agent and a certified “ecobroker” — the leader of Steinborn and Associates’ Smart Living Team and a founding member of the Las Cruces Green Chamber of Commerce.

    Her job is to help clients choose wisely where and how they’ll live in a new home. Her mission is to help other entrepreneurs realize how quickly they’ll recover the costs of incorporating energy-efficient and sustainable features and practices by generating savings and attracting customers.

    All about orientation

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    One of the wonders of the political world was the late Gov. Bruce King. When he worked a room, no hand went unshaken and he remembered everybody’s name.

    Now that his son Gary, the Democratic candidate for governor, is the target of a fire hose of ugly ads, I can’t help but wonder what Bruce would do.

    In his autobiography, “Cowboy in the Roundhouse: A Political Life” (as told to Charles Poling), King described his campaigns and his campaign philosophy. Reading it now makes you pine for those gentler, kinder times.

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    Capital spending is supposed to be for stuff that lasts a while. We have a special affection for senior centers and borrow money against property tax receipts to pay for senior things. The technical terminology here is issuing and selling general obligation bonds subject to voter approval. Issuing the bonds will cost about $2 million. 

    The three smallest dollar amounts approved for seniors by this year’s Legislature are $500 for “other equipment” at the Ena Mitchell Senior and Wellness Center in Lordsburg, $570 for meals equipment for the Vaughn Senior Center and $840 for “other equipment” at the Mora Senior Center. 

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    When Chris Christie was re-elected governor of New Jersey last year, news reports mentioned that he received a majority of Hispanic votes, a fact considered noteworthy for a Republican in that state. Gov. Susana Martinez had spent time in New Jersey campaigning for him. Even if the national pundits didn’t say so, there was an implication that Martinez’s presence contributed to his victory.

    A couple of months ago, I happened to see a TV interview with Rick Perry, outgoing governor of Texas. Perry said he will be campaigning for the Republican candidate who is running to succeed him. And, he added gratuitously, he’ll be campaigning for Martinez in New Mexico.   

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    With the July 4 holiday come celebrations and outdoor activities that can be fun for people, but sometimes harmful for our pets. Here are some tips to keep this day an enjoyable and safe holiday for the whole family, Fido included. 

    “Fireworks can frighten dogs and cause them to escape and become injured,” said Dr. James Barr, assistant professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. “Make sure your pet is supervised during the day and nighttime hours as well.” The best idea is to keep dogs, particularly those with noise phobias, away from the commotion if at all possible. 

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    Happy 238th Birthday, America! It’s also the birthday of the Federal Freedom of Information Act, which appropriately was born on the Fourth of July in 1966. We hope all Americans — Republicans, Democrats and Independents — will observe this day by remembering the values that unite rather than divide us. 

    We authors of this editorial — a Democrat and a Republican — disagree on many issues, but we find common ground on the importance of transparency in government-one of the major principles upon which our country was founded several generations ago.

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    Baha’i Faith

    For information, email losalamosla@gmail.com. For general information, call the Baha’i Faith phone at 1-800-228-6483.

    Bethlehem Lutheran

    Bethlehem Evangelical Lutheran Church, a member of the ELCA, is located at 2390 North Road, 662-5151; see a map at bethluth.com.  Summer worship, at 9 a.m., runs from mid-May through mid-August. Fellowship with refreshments following the service at 10:15 a.m. The preaching is biblical, the music is lively, children are welcome and abundant, and a well-staffed nursery is provided.  All are welcome! Come join the Family!

    Bryce Ave. Presbyterian

    The church is located at 3333 Bryce Ave. The Rev. Henry Fernandez preaches, bapca.org, info@bapca.org. For information, call 672-3364.

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    In the world of business, it can be hard to distinguish between a goal and an objective, but the distinction is more than a matter of semantics. When discussing corporate strategy, the difference is critical.

    While both are tools that business owners can use to compare where they are with where they want to be, goals represent that distant accomplishment and objectives are mile markers along the way. Goals can be as hazy as an image on the desert horizon, but an objective is fixed and measureable; it follows a series of steps or a timeline.

    Goals are broad in scope and vision. Objectives are precise tasks that need to be completed for the goal to be achieved.

    Concrete and abstract