.....Advertisement.....
.....Advertisement.....

Opinion

  • Maria-Alicia Cordova cares about her business and the community it serves. Besides offering manicures, haircuts and other personal-care services at Al’s Styling Salon in Belen, Cordova serves on the board of the Belen MainStreet Partnership — a community effort to improve the appearance and economic vitality of the city’s downtown.
     Small Business Saturday — the Saturday after Thanksgiving — draws attention to the important role that Cordova and other independent merchants in New Mexico play in the local, state and national economy.
     “Belen has always been good to my business,” Cordova said of the venture her father started 57 years ago. “My father raised our family on salon work.”
    When communities embrace small businesses, it proves that people can thrive in small towns, she said. “Communities are sustained by local businesses — they anchor a community.”
    Business owners like Cordova are the core constituents of the New Mexico MainStreet program, an initiative of the New Mexico Economic Development Department. The MainStreet program, which started in 1985, is reviving the state’s traditional business districts through investments in infrastructure and amenities that bring new businesses and jobs back to distressed downtowns.

  • Nov. 15 is the date open enrollment is available for individual healthcare plans offered through the Healthcare.gov site, your respective health insurance marketplace (healthcare.gov/medicaid-chip/eligibility/) or independent agents in your community.
    If you’re working for a company that provides your health insurance, chances are your open enrollment period has already begun. The SHOP insurance marketplace, open to small businesses and nonprofits with 50 or fewer full-time employees, also begins taking online applications Nov. 15.
    If you buy your own personal or family coverage, don’t wait until Nov. 15 to start planning your 2015 coverage decisions — do it now.
    Here are six things you should know to get started:
    1. Timing is tight. Last year’s health insurance enrollment process lasted six months. This year, it’s only three — Nov. 15 to February 15. You may be able to enroll outside of those dates if you’re facing a major life change like a divorce, birth of a child or marriage; otherwise, that’s your window.

  • Did Susana Martinez’s campaign strategists influence the selection of her opponent? Did the Martinez machine want Gary King to be the Democratic nominee for governor?
    Brian Sanderoff thinks so.
    That was one of several points Sanderoff made in a recent talk about the forces at work in this year’s election. Despite how we prefer to think of ourselves, in many ways we voters are the captives of trends, from ethnic preferences to the unpopularity of sixth-year presidents.
    Sanderoff is president of Research and Polling and a respected analyst of New Mexico politics.
    In the Democratic primary, we recall, there were five candidates, three Hispanic and two Anglo. The Martinez campaign ran TV commercials during the primary against candidate Alan Webber. The intention, said Sanderoff, was to draw Anglo votes from Webber, which would tend to shift to King. With Hispanic voters divided, that would put King on top.  
    King, Sanderoff explained, would be the easiest candidate to beat because he has the longest public record. He has served eight years as attorney general and 10 years in the Legislature. That enabled the Martinez opposition researchers to find negative gems like the building in Moriarty that has no doubt become the best-known lease in state history.

  • As Republican legislators update goals in light of their newly won House majority, right-to-work is waking from a long slumber.
    Right-to-work laws prohibit union membership as a condition of employment. Republicans and the business community have long believed right-to-work would be good for economic development — a signal that the state is business friendly. Unions, Democrats and advocates for working people have always said that weakened unions would mean lower wages and deteriorating working conditions.
    Right-to-work has come up repeatedly, but hasn’t been a big issue for decades. In 1978, it was so hot that Bruce King almost lost his election to Joe Skeen. As governor, King vetoed right-to-work in 1979. When that veto was challenged, the state Supreme Court upheld its legality.
    For a sneak preview of the debate to come, look at the legislative session of 1981, when a gaggle of right-to-work supporters took office. One was Sen. Mickey Barnett, R-Portales, who introduced a right-to-work bill.
    House Minority Leader Hoyt Pattison, R-Clovis, argued: “The fact is, the people of our state and our nation don’t like to be told that they have to do something.” They don’t like to be told they have to pay dues to hold a job, especially when dues are used to support political candidates.

  • As Republican legislators update goals in light of their newly won House majority, right-to-work is waking from a long slumber.
    Right-to-work laws prohibit union membership as a condition of employment. Republicans and the business community have long believed right-to-work would be good for economic development — a signal that the state is business friendly. Unions, Democrats and advocates for working people have always said that weakened unions would mean lower wages and deteriorating working conditions.
    Right-to-work has come up repeatedly, but hasn’t been a big issue for decades. In 1978, it was so hot that Bruce King almost lost his election to Joe Skeen. As governor, King vetoed right-to-work in 1979. When that veto was challenged, the state Supreme Court upheld its legality.
    For a sneak preview of the debate to come, look at the legislative session of 1981, when a gaggle of right-to-work supporters took office. One was Sen. Mickey Barnett, R-Portales, who introduced a right-to-work bill.
    House Minority Leader Hoyt Pattison, R-Clovis, argued: “The fact is, the people of our state and our nation don’t like to be told that they have to do something.” They don’t like to be told they have to pay dues to hold a job, especially when dues are used to support political candidates.

  • This is part 2 of 2

    The Department of Public Utilities (DPU) has put on hold plans for a new 1 MW solar array for Los Alamos County, and there has been slow and inadequate movement in the adoption of solar PV for new and existing Los Alamos County buildings.  
    A full 8.2MWh (megawatt hour) battery storage system is already in place — as described in the county’s “Los Alamos Smart Community” publication, one that would provide stable, clean power at a rate of 25 to 50 percent on a residential neighborhood of 1,600 homes. This technology has not been utilized to its full potential yet, and it seems that the DPU is willing to put up an air of being progressive and “smart” while actually moving in the opposite direction.
    According to Department of Public Utilities (DPU) Manager Tim Glasco, solar power generated from Los Alamos County residents is “a completely uncontrolled source of power coming into our system that we don’t know when it’s going to come in, we don’t know how much is going to come in, and that wreaks havoc with the quality of power, with the scheduling of power, with reliability.”

  • 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.

  • 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.”

  • 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:

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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?

  •  

    Understanding what peace means

    In the theater, the overture is the moment when everything begins. It gently directs our attention to the stage. It helps us willingly suspend disbelief and enter the world of possibility. The overture says, “Hush, pay attention, something wonderful is about to happen.”

    On Oct. 27, the White House released a letter (full text posted at thecommunity.com) that created in me almost exactly that feeling of wonder and anticipation. Perhaps this feeling is even better because this possibility is very real. What if now is the time when we can end, peacefully and permanently, the awful practices of “extraordinary rendition” and “enhanced interrogation techniques?”

  •  

    Let me to first state the obvious. Veterans Day is for those who return from war. Memorial Day is for those who have not survived. Two days to remind us in a multitude of ways how to remember and also act. Our veterans need us now.

    On Veterans Day, it’s one day to think hard. What do we contemplate when we launch into war? Do we plan for the seemingly endless painful plight of veterans — their families, friends and communities?

  •  

    Well-meaning letters from charter change proponents exhibit naïveté and inexperience with public utilities, government and politics. Ed Birnbaum’s latest letter, for example, refers to a transfer rate from utilities of 5 percent established by a 1997 resolution. He is not correct. How do I know? Because I was the county councilor who wrote the 1980s ordinance requiring a 5 percent profit be added into each year’s budget for planning purposes. A 5 percent profit transfer is not guaranteed. This ordinance is found in the municipal code and has precedence over resolutions. (Sections 40-63(c)(11) and 40-63(b))

    What Birnbaum fails to realize is that the proposed new charter language not only nullifies this ordinance, but bypasses all checks and balances in the current charter. It allows future councils to take as much money as they’d like from the utilities department. This loophole is easy to explain.

  •  

    Before I was even a pipsqueak, a popular, no-account insult was “so’s your old man.” In my prime years as a pipsqueak, the snappy no-account insults were “you’re a chicken” and “drop dead.” 

    Today, new customs are on the loose. 

    The airwaves carry so many symptoms that insults pass for normal. The daily news may suggest the infection comes from politics, but the wider pattern says otherwise. Social media spread the habit of scorn to one culture, then the next and next.

    The insult culture is easy to find in network TV, talk shows, politics, sports and every level of school. The signs are the same whether the topic is last night’s ball game or taxes. 

  •  

    Spanish-speaking people have been part of New Mexico’s workforce for hundreds of years. But the dramatic growth of this population — driven largely by immigration — and the anticipated growth well into the future underscore the urgency of culturally tailored workplace safety training. 

    The Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries has consistently shown higher workplace fatality rates for Hispanic workers than for workers from other racial or ethnic groups, and these rates are highest among Spanish speakers born outside the U.S. Hispanic workers also suffer higher rates of nonfatal occupational injury and illness.

    One reason for this is that many Hispanics work in higher-risk industries and occupations, including agriculture, construction, petroleum and gas extraction. But manufacturing and food processing also attract many entry-level workers — including recent immigrants.

  •    If you’re currently enrolled in Medicare, what you do or don’t do over the next few weeks could determine whether you can secure the best, most affordable coverage next year. Here’s why:

    Medicare Part D prescription plans frequently change premiums, drug formularies, deductibles and copayment amounts for specific drugs from year to year. Medicare Advantage plans often make similar changes; plus doctors, hospitals and pharmacies may drop out of their preferred provider networks.

    Thus, by simply choosing the same options for 2015 without investigating alternatives, you could wind up paying hundreds or thousands of dollars more for similar healthcare services.

  •  

    Defeat Constitutional Amendment No. 5

    Constitutional Amendment No. 5 is a sleeper that might well pass because it is not easy to understand. 

    It allows investment of the Land Grant Permanent Fund without the protection of the Prudent Man Rule that has governed the State Investment Council (SIC) management of the fund and served us well since statehood. 

    This rule states that one would make investments of trust money as one would for their own portfolio with essentially minimum risk. The proposal removes this rule and substitutes a new rule that would give the SIC (under the Uniform Prudent Investor Act (UPIA) the leeway to legally make risky investments. 

  •  

    This is an open letter to all the dogs out there, who have the unmitigated audacity to think it’s OK to be a dog. Being a human, I can tell you quite authoritatively that it is most definitely not OK to be a dog!

    Or a cat. Or a yak. Or a dung beetle. Or anything organic that doesn’t pay taxes!

    First of all, dogs bark. We humans never bark (at least not without good cause). We yell. We scream. We screech, bellow, shout, wail, howl, whine, shriek and clamor. Oh yeah, and we love reading our thesaurus.

    But we don’t bark.