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

Opinion

  • New Mexico’s small population stretches over a big state, so we have taken higher education to the students, with 32 colleges and universities. Nearly every sizable community has a branch or an independent institution.
    For our students, who tend to be older and need to hold a job while they take classes, this is a good thing.
    But one of the bigger arguments in the recent legislative special session was how much to cut higher education. The institutions skated with relatively small cuts, but probably not for long. We’re not out of the hole, and come January, lawmakers will put everything back on the table.
    Recently, Higher Education Secretary Barbara Damron announced that the state’s system is unsustainable. Each institution has its own board, and they’re more dependent on state funding than experts say is healthy. New Mexico Junior College in Hobbs is lowest, at 20 percent, while Mesalands Community College in Tucumcari is highest, at 61 percent. The three biggest institutions get 35 to 40 percent of their funding from the state.
    As state revenues have tanked, so have enrollments, which had risen during the early part of the recession. Also, our population is shrinking as people leave the state. Graduation rates are poor (35 percent, compared with 40 percent nationally).

  • The two chile plants were big enough that the restaurant staffer carried one in each hand. He hung the plants upside down, each on a hook on the restaurant wall. Dirt clung to the roots. The chiles, each about six inches long and a pure red, were slightly shriveled. A very New Mexican image, except that the restaurant, Rafele, is in Greenwich Village in New York City. An owner of the restaurant grew the chiles on a farm upstate, I was told.
    Roasting and processing chile is another fall image, but one not seen so much outside the state.
    Since 1997 University of New Mexico alumni chapter members have gathered for group chile processing by the ton.
    I can’t imagine a ton of green chile. My images stop at a bag or two or the bushel we’ve done the past few years. My daughter’s 2016 chile image was the ten pounds that arrived in New Hampshire as a birthday present the night before she, husband and baby were set to fly to Albuquerque. But there were the chiles and process they did.
    UNM’s Washington, D.C., alumni group processed two tons of chile last year, says the alumni office. Maybe they were the bureaucrats who have fled Santa Fe for Washington the past 15 or 20 years as state government competence has eroded.
    Six other chapters gathered processing crews. Total production was six tons.

  • One item on your ballot this November is bail reform, an issue with so much support and study it’s a no-brainer. But House decisions muddled by campaign donations came close to killing reform in the last legislative session.
    The issue: Everyone has a right to get out of jail by paying a bond, but over time it’s given us a turnstile system in which the most dangerous criminals get out if they have the money, while many who pose no risk remain behind bars because they can’t afford bail – at a cost of $100 a day to the county.
    “We often release high-risk people who commit new crimes and hold people who are no threat to us at all,” said Supreme Court Chief Justice Charles Daniels in a talk before New Mexico Press Women. “We’re releasing boomerang thugs and packing jails with people who don’t belong there. They’ve become debtors’ prisons.”
    It explains why some of our worst crimes have been committed by people who had been in jail but bonded out.
    “How did we end up with a system where money decides who gets out?” Daniels asked.
    We inherited it. The system is so old it goes back to the earliest laws in England. The commercial bail-bond industry has grown steadily since 1900, and, judging by the number of bondsmen stationed near courthouses, is a booming business. Judge for yourself whether that growth is benign or malignant.

  • BY LORETTA HALL
    Guest Columnist

  • BY SHARON STOVER
    Republican candidate for House District 43

  • Regulatory engineering, as the forms of it evolve, ultimately will prevail in the world. For some five years, these columns have pictured ways of using current technology to do better, faster and cheaper regulating. New “smart” tools are very good at inspecting, reporting and assessing what they find.
    Farther on lies the frontier of engineering that bypasses regulation. There begins the next generation of smart tools that do better things than merely instruct.  
    Over time, such remedies will slow the growth of rules. Competing interests will begin to see that smart tools take care of problems more reliably than politicking does. In due course, it will seem normal to look for a smart tool instead of a regulation.  
    A leading example turns up in an unlikely place – today’s mining industry.
    A persistent problem in mining is the loss that results when drivers of heavy equipment fall asleep at the wheel. The same problem plagues airlines, trucking companies and all who share the road.

  • BY REP. NORA ESPINOZA
    Dist. 59, House of Representatives, Candidate for Secretary of State

  • BY MAGGIE TOULOUSE-OLIVER
    Candidate for Secretary of State

  • I am voting for county Question No. 1, to eliminate the office of sheriff in Los Alamos. I encourage everyone who believes in good government, strong public safety, and reduction of unnecessary risk, to do the same.
    Typically, a sheriff provides law enforcement in county, or rural, areas. The sheriff position in Los Alamos has no law enforcement duties, and Los Alamos has no county – only, or rural, land. All of the county land in Los Alamos is incorporated into the municipality of Los Alamos. There is not a square inch of just-county land for a sheriff in Los Alamos to stand on.
    Los Alamos became a municipal government in the 1960s. The County of Los Alamos had already been created  as a legal entity in 1949. When the Federal Government decided to no longer run Los Alamos as a Federal scientific base, in the 1960s, all of the county land was wholly incorporated into the municipality of Los Alamos.  Los Alamos remains the only city-county entity in New Mexico.
    While debating their preferred from of government, Los Alamos citizens got to choose who would provide law enforcement - a professional law enforcement agency (a police department), an elected sheriff, or both.

  • Before you bite into your next green chile cheeseburger, pause for a moment to consider the importance of that chunk of cheese, not just to the taste of your burger but to our local economy.
    With 150 dairies averaging more than 2,000 cows each, New Mexico ranks ninth in the nation for milk production and fifth for cheese. The average New Mexico dairy ships 44 million pounds of milk a year worth nearly $6 million. Much of it goes to Southwest Cheeses in Clovis, which employs 300 people to turn 3.8 billion pounds of milk into 388 million pounds of cheese annually.
    According to NMSU’s Ag Science Center, dairy is the number one agricultural employer in the state, providing 12,524 jobs paying $600 million a year in wages. In 2014, the average dairy farm worker earned $47,811, compared to the state’s average mean wage of $42,230. At $1.5 billion, dairy is about tied with beef cattle for economic impact and together the two rival the oil and gas industry.
    But while it’s a big business, it’s not a particularly lucrative one. A milk cow eats 100 pounds of hay and grain every day. In return she produces six to seven gallons of milk. Dairy farmers live on the difference between the cost of her feed and the price of her milk, usually expressed as the cost vs. price per hundredweight of milk.

  • BY D. DOWD MUSKA
    Research Director, Rio Grande Foundation

  • By BOB HAGAN

  • BY RANDY S. BARTELL & RANDI N. JOHNSON
    Montgomery & Andrews PA, Employment Law Group
    Finance New Mexico

  • Wonder why we’re poor? Here’s the type of thing that happens here.
    In 2014, the biggest thing in tourism and historic preservation was the purchase of the derelict Castañeda Hotel in Las Vegas by veteran developer Allan Affeldt, who successfully restored La Posada Hotel in Winslow, Arizona.
    The Castañeda, like much of Las Vegas, is a rundown remnant of yesteryear that’s been the object of hopes and what ifs. In 1898 it was Fred Harvey’s first hotel; it closed in 1948. This is a project only “an eccentric investor like me” would want, Affeldt says.
    In the hospitality business, you need a certain size to make the investment worthwhile.
    “The Castañeda was kind of an enticing project,” he says, but bathrooms are down the hall. To provide modern amenities, a restoration would reduce 45 rooms to 25. “It was hard to justify the investment given the size.”
    Also in 2014, Affeldt bought a second historic Las Vegas property, the Plaza Hotel, out of foreclosure. He made improvements and turned it around. (I stayed there before and after. His team worked wonders.)
    “I figured maybe by putting the two together, I could make it work,” he says. He needed New Markets Tax Credits and began negotiating with the New Mexico Finance Authority.

  • BY SEN. MICHAEL PADILLA
    New Mexico State Senate, Majority Whip

  • In the summer saga of state finances, this week brings a general look at the economy and its prospects. Our principal source is the more than 100 pages of background material provided for the Aug. 24 meeting of the Legislative Finance Committee.
    Wage jobs provide the starting point. In July, 825,300 people claimed jobs, among the lowest proportions of population in the nation. Metro Albuquerque was home to 384,500 jobs, or 47 percent of the total. Another 184,300 jobs were scattered among Santa Fe, Las Cruces and Farmington. For all the state’s distance and emptiness, 69 percent of our jobs are in the seven metro counties.
    “Employment has continued to grow at a depressed pace,” observed the LFC. For the July 2015 to July 2016 year, jobs in the state grew 1.2 percent, tied for 35th among the states. For depressing perspective, Utah’s growth was second nationally. Colorado and Arizona tied for sixth. New Mexico’s income growth is also depressed.

  • I am really tired of paying off loan sharks for other people’s debts. Aren’t you?
    You’re wondering what I’m talking about? The social cost of predatory lending.
    We’ve all heard about this, the payday loans and the car title loans, the astronomical interest rates and the low-income people who take these loans, probably not understanding they’re getting themselves into a tangle of ever-increasing borrowing and perhaps believing they have no choice.
    We haven’t heard enough about how much this is costing us as taxpayers, as donors to charities and as residents of a state where poverty depresses the standard of living for all of us.
    When a low income person spends $500 to pay off $100 loans, year after year, that affects you and me. When my taxes support that person’s access to Medicaid, I’m paying off the loan shark. When I write a check to Roadrunner Food Bank or put cans of tuna fish in a donation box, I’m paying off the loan shark again.

  • Here we are back in a sad, familiar place. We’ve lost another child to a brutal, unthinkable murder. Her face has been inside our heads since it first appeared in the newspaper, just like all the other faces of little ones lost to vile criminal acts.
    After the flowers, balloons and stuffed animals, come the hearings and task forces and inquiries and ordinances and laws and speeches.
    And then we turn to other matters until the next time, which comes too soon.
    But maybe this time we can begin the change, which starts with the truth, heard in frank testimony recently before Albuquerque city councilors and Bernalillo County commissioners.
    Sgt. Amy Dudewicz, who works in the Sheriff’s Office special victims unit, said they get more child-abuse and neglect calls than they can respond to. Two UNM pediatricians said that for every child who makes the news, hundreds more are hurt. Albuquerque police have just three child-abuse liaisons reviewing more than 900 cases a month.
    And this is in our largest city. Imagine the situation in rural areas.
    Two politicians made sense.
    U. S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham observed that we have many programs to address successive family crises.

  • The day my newspaper brought a front page report about state government’s ugly financial situation, an insert offered a small-scale government extravagance, a 32-page full-color, tabloid touting the wonders of the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish. The insert, an issue of the department’s “New Mexico Wildlife” publication placed in newspapers statewide, sported additional elements that increased the cost.
    The cover was a photograph of a hummingbird.  
    Outside the budget mess but contributing to the overall national sense of New Mexico lies the killing of 10-year-old Victoria Martens in Albuquerque. Her memorial service provided the CNN.com headline the afternoon of Aug. 28.
    Some context is needed before moving to specifics during the next week or two.
    Solvency is back as the principal focus of state government, as in, how will the state decide to be able to pay its bills? This isn’t the usual meaning of solvency, which is the question of whether the organization can pay its bills. The state will rebalance the budget. The constitution requires it.

  • Relationship figures big in six-year journey to start pet-care business
    By Finance New Mexico
    By the time they had adopted seven dogs from friends and neighbors, David and Juliana Garcia concluded that Las Cruces sorely needed a business that served animals and the people who love them.
    The couple bought a van with their savings to start a mobile grooming business for large pets. By the time they were ready to buy a second van to accommodate their growing client base, the Garcias were thinking about opening a hotel and day camp, with spa services on the side, for dogs and cats.
    In the challenging years between conception and creation of Pet Planet (http://www.petplanetcomplex.com) in 2014 — years that coincided with the deepest recession in nearly a century — the young entrepreneurs drew on their passion for animals and their financial partnership with The Loan Fund to sustain them.
    Timing is everything
    In 2008, the Garcias purchased the land on which they planned to build Pet Planet and lined up a construction loan through a traditional lender. Then the real-estate market crashed, and the bank withdrew its loan offer