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

Opinion

  • When will a New Mexico tribe go to pot?
    It’s likely only a question of time until a New Mexico tribe jumps into the marijuana trade, straining the always delicate relationship between our state and local governments and the “domestic dependent nations” within our borders.
    The federal government set the stage for that conflict last year, when the Department of Justice issued its “guidance” on the cultivation, sale and consumption of marijuana on tribal lands: As long as the business is properly regulated, the feds will keep hands off.
    That opened the door to a lucrative new business opportunity for the tribes at the same time gaming is becoming less profitable.
    Here in New Mexico, the tribal “net win” (the amount wagered in the casinos less the payout to lucky bettors) has declined nearly 4 percent over the past three years.
    Those numbers reflect a long-term nationwide trend. The industry has reached maturity, with little room for additional growth.
    The pot business, in contrast, is just beginning to take off. Reliable national figures are hard to come by, but by one estimate the legal marijuana industry grew by 64 percent last year, to more than $2 billion in revenues.

  • A report shows a gender pay gap at the University of New Mexico to the tune of an almost $15,000 difference between male and female professors.
    According to data from the Chronicle of Higher Education, during the 2013-2014 academic year, the average full-time female professor at UNM earned a salary of $87,417, while the average, full-time male professor made $99,855 — a difference of $12,438.
    Although the gender pay gap is smaller between men and women in the associate professor and instructor positions, male associate professors still earned approximately $2,300 more per year at the school than their female counterparts.
    Chaouki Abdallah, provost of UNM, said the numbers don’t tell the entire story.
    “The most important reason for male professors (having higher average salaries) is that there are colleges and departments with higher salaries. For example, there are more male engineering professors. The lowest paid professors are where females are a majority such as education or the arts. The other reason is that females may delay careers or promotions because of family. Males will also negotiate for more money and females generally don’t,” he said.

  • It’s so small!
    When State Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn announced that he was bringing back a pump jack to replace the sculpture in front of the State Land Office, I figured he’d bring a real workhorse. But no, the cute, colorful device installed last week is a diminutive version of the muscular equipment that keeps oil and oil revenues flowing.
    Dunn missed an opportunity.
    In 1979, when Commissioner Alex Armijo made his statement — and riled Santa Fe city officials — he planted a pump jack donated by Mobil that had produced more than 20 million barrels of oil from state trust lands.
    Both men, Armijo a Democrat and Dunn a Republican, wanted to honor the contributions of the oil industry to state coffers and educate the public about where that money comes from.
    It’s a worthy goal. Most people don’t know that the oil and gas industry has been paying for the state’s schools for decades.
    It would have been more educational to install an old piece of equipment with a history, which then would have allowed the Land Office to explain in exhibits how it worked and how the process has changed through the years.

  • If you, your partner or your family want — or need — to get out of town right now, how do you improvise a great last-minute trip without breaking the bank?
    Planning is essential. Embrace travel as a hobby — look for tricks, techniques and current online resources to keep abreast of the best last-minute deals.
    Compromises will be necessary. You’ll likely need to travel at off-peak hours (either the first flight out in the morning or the last one at night, usually on weekdays) and stay at hotels or venues off the beaten path.
    Here are some quick tips to save money on last-minute travel:
    Travel light, move fast. Traveling last-minute isn’t for the indecisive. Dedicated travelers are minimalists — they know what to pack, organize their paperwork and payment options and have the mental preparation to deal with problems and challenges along the way.
    Also, realize that last-minute travel can increase risk and other costs. If you’re planning a trip that requires travel insurance, you may not get coverage approval in time.

  • After more than three-quarters of a century, the Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im) could close its doors on June 30.
    Ex-Im was created by Executive Order in 1934 by Franklin D. Roosevelt. With the Export-Import Bank Act of 1945, Congress made Ex-Im an independent agency and required that Ex-Im be reauthorized every 4-5 years. Ex-Im’s current authorization expires at month’s end.
    Ex-Im has historically enjoyed bipartisan support. However, the need to cut spending — coupled with watchdog reporting — brings reauthorization into question.
    Under the Obama Administration, Ex-Im lending has increased 248 percent. Taxpayers now hold nearly $140 billion in Ex-Im exposure.
    The Ex-Im website states, “EXIM Bank is more critical than ever to small businesses.” However, a recent report from American Transparency (AT), the Federal Transfer Report — Export-Import Bank found that while 90 percent of Ex-Im loans do go to small businesses, 85 percent of the money goes to big business — 10 percent of the transactions get 85 percent of the money.
    The AT report, released on May 30, analyzed the $172 billion in Ex-Im loans, guarantees, and activity since 2007.
    Boeing is Ex-Im’s number one customer.

  • New Mexico’s population picture has improved.
    In the year from July 1, 2013 to July 1, 2014 six counties had more people move in than moved out. The improvement: just five counties gained from movers during the four years to 2014 from the census in 2010.
    A further cloud on any smiling about our population is that Taos and McKinley, two of the counties with a one-year move-in gain, added between them 16 people.
    The Census Bureau released the numbers in March.
    That this change in movement of New Mexicans into and out of the state could be called “improvement” is a backhanded way of saying that “dismal” is the real description.
    “Migration” is the census geek term for people moving. “International migration” means moving into or out of New Mexico to (or from) another nation. “Domestic migration” refers to another state.
    Over the four-year period, 2010-2014, just four counties had positive domestic migration — more people moving in than left for other states.
    Sandoval County attracted 3,073 people. In terms of really growing the state, I suggest Sandoval doesn’t count because the history has been that Rio Rancho, by far the largest Sandoval community, attracts hordes of people from Albuquerque, which is in the same metro area.

  • The image of a cowboy riding off into the sunset on a palomino pony after a long hard day of rescuing a damsel in distress has reached the point of a cliché.
    A cowboy’s partner will forever be his trusty horse, and as long as his horse is healthy, he can continue riding off into the sunset. But what happens when a cowboy’s horse is infected by a deadly virus? Will there be a happy ending to that story?
    West Nile virus is defined as zoonotic, which means it can be transferred between animals and humans.
    The virus is mosquito-borne and spreads through intermediate hosts like blue jays and black birds. For this reason, the virus is more common in the summer or fall when birds are migrating from the north. Both humans and horses can be infected by West Nile; however, they are both considered “dead-end” hosts, meaning they cannot transmit the disease to others.
    West Nile virus first infected horses in 1999 with a case in New York. Since then, the United States has seen more cases of West Nile in horses, as well as humans.
    The year 2012 was the most deadly for humans with 286 deaths nationwide.

  • Washington, D.C. – Congressman Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico’s Third District released the following statement recognizing the 150th anniversary of Juneteenth, the oldest known celebration commemorating the end of slavery in the United States.

    “On this day 150 years ago, Major General Gordon Granger landed at Galveston, Texas, bringing word that slavery had come to an end. While this day came two and half years after the Emancipation Proclamation, it stood as a momentous occasion that slavery was no more. Since that day, Juneteenth, as the day became known, has been a time of celebration and a time to reflect on the struggle for equality and freedom.
    As we celebrate Juneteenth, we do so with heavy hearts, mourning the tragic loss and senseless violence in Charleston, South Carolina. While this heinous crime has shaken our nation, we have seen a community shine a ray of light through this dark time by pulling together to support and comfort one another.

  • Dante, a serious rival to Shakespeare as the world’s greatest literary genius, was born in Florence, Italy, 750 years ago.
    Italy properly celebrated the birthday of its national poet (indeed he who virtually invented the modern Italian language) on May 4 and Pope Francis has encouraged Dante to be read as a “prophet of hope” and spiritual guide. And so he should be. Just as he has for three-quarters of a millennium.
    Dante’s “Divine Comedy,” written at the beginning of the 14th century during his permanent exile from Florence, is at once the crowning literary achievement of the Middle Ages, as well as the announcing angel of the Renaissance.
    Every true epic poem offers a totalizing vision of its age — its philosophy, science, theology, and history are all distilled to dramatize how humanity, the world and the divine struggle together.
    In Dante’s epic allegorical dream vision of a journey through the afterlife that devotes equal sections to Hell (“Inferno”), Purgatory (“Purgatorio”) and Heaven (“Paradiso”) one sees all that was thought and felt by Saints Augustine and Aquinas, but never so well expressed.
    Thus, Dante is the utmost medieval philosopher, theologian and poet.

  • Thanks to Gov. Susana Martinez and the New Mexico Legislature, as of June 17, New Mexico unpaid caregivers have a new resource that will now formally keep them included in the process when their loved one is admitted into a hospital.
    On April 9, Martinez signed into law the Lay Caregiver Aftercare Training bill, House Bill 139. AARP New Mexico led the effort to get this bill adopted.
    Under the law, patients can now formally designate a caregiver when they are admitted to the hospital — this can be a family member, a friend or even a neighbor. The hospital must notify the designated caregiver before the patient is discharged or transferred to another facility and provide consultation to caregivers on how to care for the patient when they return home.
    This could include explaining how to dispense medicine, give shots or dress wounds. A patient does not have to designate a caregiver.
    The tasks required of family caregivers go beyond assisting with meals, bathing and dressing. AARP New Mexico staff has heard stories from caregivers who provide much more medically involved tasks — wound care and medication management.

  • There’s an old saying about one’s literary skills: Some people have a way with words, and some do not have a way.
    I was one with not much way at all, and being a math nerd I took a perverse pride in my inability to properly connect a verb to a noun.
    Back then, it was an unstated expectation that a student who was strong in either math or English had to be feeble in the other (and I more than exceeded expectations).
    I was content to play the part of the linguistically challenged, always running from the grammar police as I squinted my modifiers, split my infinitives, and dangled my participles.
      Strangely enough, no one seemed to really care.
    When all you want to discuss is obscure theorems on spherical geometry, you quickly find yourself talking to an empty room.
    But conversing with myself had its advantages. I would only get interrupted now and then, and I never lost an argument.
    Well, almost never.
    Math is quite rigid in its adherence to rules. If you break a simple rule like dividing by zero, then up becomes down, positive becomes negative and the universe explodes.
    Math is quite unforgiving.
    English, on another hand, seems to take mistakes for granite.
    That’s an eggcorn.

  • Empowerment is the core of Mira Rubiano’s mission-driven life.
    After graduating with a degree in economics from Mount Holyoke College, the Minnesota native worked at the State Department and the World Bank, specializing in efforts to reduce poverty and increase social inclusion.
    Now she and her husband, freelance photographer Eduardo Rubiano, are taking charge of their own financial destiny by opening a yoga and fitness studio that helps clients build their energy and well-being. Santa Fe Thrive opened in the Solana Center at the end of May with a commitment “to providing inclusive, community-conscious empowerment in the spirit of holistic health and vitality.”
    “I always felt I had to tackle things at a macro level,” Rubiano said of her aid work, which included time as a Fulbright scholar teaching English in impoverished Brazilian neighborhoods. “But I kept being drawn to the individual — the empowerment of the individual — (and wanting) to let that flourish outward.”
    That self-assurance proved essential when the Rubianos began planning their business in 2014 and discovered the obstacles that fledgling entrepreneurs can face.

  • Due to recent economic realities, multi-generational living has been on the rise for many families.
    A 2014 Pew Research Center analysis showed that a record 57 million Americans, equal to a little over 18 percent of the U.S. population, lived in multi-generational family households in 2012 — double the number in 1980.
    The major driver was young adults aged 25-34. According to Pew, nearly 24 percent of these older millennials lived in multi-generational households, increased from nearly 19 percent in 2007 and 11 percent in 1980.
    It’s possible the “boomerang” family trend will remain in place for some time to come.
    For homeowner parents who may also be juggling the “sandwich” responsibilities of caring for older relatives, paying attention to the financial and behavioral details of taking in family is critical. Here are some suggestions to consider:
    Your finances come first. Operating a full house means higher utility and food costs and additional wear and tear on the property. Taking in family also shouldn’t derail a parent’s career goals or retirement planning, nor should it diminish other necessary financial objectives like maximizing savings or eliminating debt.

  • Last week our legislators did a good thing.
    During a short, business-like special session, they passed a public works bill and a package of tax incentives and directed funding to the courts and the Health Department.
    At the end of the day, Sen. John Arthur Smith, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, threw a little cold water on the euphoric proceedings. Ninety-nine municipalities supported the capital outlay bill, he said.
    “I want them to be on their guard. We can claw that back. That’s not an empty threat. They will have to act more responsibly. I have a list of how much money is out there not spent.”
    The Legislature giveth and the Legislature taketh away.
    As Smith has said before, he doesn’t play games or make idle threats. Next year, without a solid economic rebound of the state’s economy or oil and gas revenues, we can expect another tight budget. Smith’s committee and its counterpart in the House will be looking for money.
    During the regular session, last winter, State Auditor Tim Keller announced that $4.5 billion was sitting in more than 700 state accounts. Of that, $2 billion, primarily from past allocations, hadn’t been spent for infrastructure projects, including $700 million for water projects.

  • If you want to get a laugh out of some of the wonkiest policy wonks in the state, try this: The top question asked these days by tax policy people all over the country is what’s happening with taxing marijuana.
    Everybody wants to jump on that bandwagon.
    Hold off, said Scott Pattison, director of the National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO), speaking recently at a conference of the New Mexico Tax Research Institute. The news is not that exciting. Legalizing and taxing marijuana will not solve New Mexico’s revenue problems. Darn!
    And some New Mexico policy makers thought it was such a clever idea.
    The benefit of a speaker with national perspective is that he reminds us we’re not alone, we’re not that different from other states and the laws of nature and economics apply, even in the Land of Enchantment.
    According to Pattison, most states face the same critical needs and no state has enough revenue to meet them all.
    The big issues include infrastructure, education, tax cuts, revenue shortfalls, arguments about other funding mechanisms (read: marijuana tax), Medicaid and more Medicaid.
    Several states rely on oil and gas for a major part of their funding. They’re all having a hard time. Some states rely on federal spending, as New Mexico does.

  • I did not comment in the county’s forum before and see no need to do so now.
    The opinion of the vast majority of those who did comment was clear to me. Will the plaintiffs stuff the ballot box now that it has been reopened?
    Our system is supposed to be a democracy. This means that the will of the majority is to be legislated and not the will of a minority who would dictate/mandate that “their morality” and their view of the “right thing to do” be imposed on everyone.
    I have decided to “review” recent activities and make some observations.
    Shortly after the Environmental Sustainability Board (ESB) met on May 13 and the floor was opened for debate as to whether Los Alamos County should “ban or otherwise reduce the distribution of single use bags,” supporters asked the board to withdraw the option of an outright ban. Rather than banning the bag now, they would rather have Los Alamos County mandate pay-per-bag for both paper and single-use plastic, indicating that this would give everyone, environmentalists and free choice consumers alike, pretty much what we want.

  • Spending by state government during the coming budget year (fiscal 2016) on the largest categories will be about the same as during the year ending June 30.
    That’s because little additional money is expected during the new year and also because no consensus — not even a fleeting conversation — exists about any big shuffle of state priorities.
    The “2015 Post-Session Review” from the Legislative Finance Committee reports that for FY 16, appropriations from the general fund (the state’s main pot of operating money) are $2,752 million for public schools, $908 million for Medicaid, $848 million for higher education and $419 million for public safety. Everything else from the acequia and community ditch education program to the Spaceport Authority shares the rest—$1.319 billion. The figures here come from the LFC report.
    The Department of Transportation appropriation is $865 million, mostly for highways but siphoned away for many things. This money does not flow through the general fund.

  • Hillary Clinton was in New Mexico last week. Word has it that she was fundraising on behalf of her campaign for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination.
    Predictably that quest took the former First Lady/former U.S. Senator/former Secretary of State to the doorsteps of the legendary Ed Romero, who was U.S. Ambassador to Spain in the administration of Mrs. Clinton’s husband.
    Ever thereafter the ambassador has been New Mexico’s go-to Democrat other Democrats go to for blessings and big bucks after they have set about running for president.
    About a gazillion American politicians are running for president this time around and most of those included in that gazillion are registered Republicans. Only a handful of Democrats, foremost among them being Hillary Clinton, have declared their interest in the White House.
    It has made her an easy target for the slings and arrows that turned Clinton-bashing into a favorite Republican sport going back almost a quarter of a century now.
    By some readings, recent polls seem to suggest that the attacks are working.
    It overstates nothing to note that there is already a slew of wannabe Republican presidents heading for the campaign trail this year, and, to mix a couple of metaphors, each passing day seems to find another GOP hat sailing toward the ring.

  • A successful job search goes well beyond snagging the title and the paycheck. From the day you start looking until the day you’re hired, there are strategic and financial issues to consider that may be more valuable to you in the long run.
    To start, job seekers should always begin with a plan to promote themselves both in person and online, and some aspects of that process may be tax deductible.
    Keep in mind that if you are already employed, you may want to consider certain timing and legal issues that will define how and when you search. And finally, taking the job requires a close look at benefits.
    It makes sense to discuss any potential job search with a qualified financial advisor who can evaluate your current financial circumstances, as well as offer tips on how to strengthen your preparations for retirement and other goals.
    Start with market research and improving your public profile.
    A recent Jobvite study notes that Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn profiles are the ranking social media options reaching employers and for industry hiring and pay projections, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) Occupational Outlook Handbook is a wide-ranging and constantly updated online resource for that data.

  • While on the Internet, I got a pop-up Amazon ad for a “United States Flag fleece blanket.”
    Yes, for just $11, you can enjoy watching Housewives of Bayonne, New Jersey, in comfort and style by sitting on the American flag!
    June 14 is Flag Day. Established by President Woodrow Wilson in 1916, it commemorates the adoption of the U.S. flag by the Second Continental Congress in 1777.
    And what better way to demonstrate patriotism than by wearing an American flag T-shirt that sops up all that sweat as you and your friends kick around an American flag printed soccer ball?
    Patriots do love to strut their colors!
    The dictionary defines a patriot as “a person who vigorously supports their country and is prepared to defend it against enemies.” Some patriots will go to “a large popular chain store” this weekend, vigorously toting AK-47s to defend themselves against our own federal government while shopping for sales on Chinese-made products.
    Others will visit cemeteries to place flowers and American flags on the graves of fallen warriors.
    And yet others will trample the flag and burn it.