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Opinion

  • Some days it just seems like an episode of the Twilight Zone. Rod Serling steps from behind a tree and begins his monologue that will take viewers on a journey to some alternate reality.

    So it was with Friday’s announcement from the Kiwanis Club that this year’s 4th of July fireworks show is on for Overlook Park in White Rock. Indeed, the day’s top story regarding the impending closure of Santa Fe National Forest due to extreme fire danger juxtaposed with the Kiwanis statement was a study in contradiction.

    On the one hand, the county council and fire chief are moving to extend the ban on fireworks for another month, yet the Kiwanis Club would appear to be exempt.

    There’s no question that just about everybody loves a good fireworks show. Fireworks on the 4th of July rank right up there with saluting the flag and a slice of mom’s apple pie. It’s part of what defines us as being uniquely American. The annual event is also the major fundraiser for Kiwanis and the club is no doubt missing the revenue generated in light of the show’s cancellation the past two years. Like all of this town’s civic clubs, the Kiwanis do good work with the bucks they take in from events like the fireworks show. But, in this instance, one has to wonder if the risks are worth the rewards.

  • Instead of squandering $50,000 for a non-local public relations firm to develop a “brand” for Los Alamos, how about if we instead donate that money to the Sheriff Posse Shack remodeling fund? If we’re looking for a good investment to bring long-term tangible benefits to our community, I think the Posse Shack is a better bet than a catchy slogan.
    Elizabeth Jones
    Los Alamos
     

  •  

    I would like to make the following comments regarding possible actions to be considered by our County Council.

    The retail stores in Los Alamos now provide a significant amount of the basic needs and desires of the community. For whatever else is desired, we go elsewhere. The council seems to be bent on providing more retail space. Is this necessary? What kind of businesses will be willing to take the risk? What have we learned from the fact that the town has lost two shoe stores, two sporting goods stores, two drug stores and several others in the recent past due to lack of demand? Many existing spaces are empty and available right now. Do we want more?

  • In case you’re a little slow to emerge from your cave after a long winter’s nap, spring has sprung in Los Alamos. 

    Leaves are back on the trees, flowers are blooming and a young man’s thoughts turn to downtown revitalization and sprucing up the look of the town… Huh?

    Well, there are things going on that give one a sense of renewed hope and optimism for the future of Los Alamos. 

    The current composition of the county council gives the sense that it may be more forward-leaning or a bit more activist in its approach to some of the nagging problems that seem to be holding the town back. 

  •  

    Valley Meat Company in Roswell has become the focal point for arguments over horse over-population in the same way ants become the focal points of bored boys with magnifying glasses. There’s more heat than light.

    In the back-and-forth chatter, I’m hearing a lot of arguments that don’t hold water. And, even if the determined Rick De Los Santos manages to open his plant, it doesn’t solve all of our horse problems. 

    The most ironic argument against a slaughterhouse for unwanted horses is that the noble animal is a western icon, a star in the Taming of the West. Somebody needs to read more history. To pioneers, the army and Indian tribes, horses were transportation. When a horse was used up, it was eaten: Meat’s meat.  

  •  

    Valley Meat Company in Roswell has become the focal point for arguments over horse over-population in the same way ants become the focal points of bored boys with magnifying glasses. There’s more heat than light.

    In the back-and-forth chatter, I’m hearing a lot of arguments that don’t hold water. And, even if the determined Rick De Los Santos manages to open his plant, it doesn’t solve all of our horse problems. 

    The most ironic argument against a slaughterhouse for unwanted horses is that the noble animal is a western icon, a star in the Taming of the West. Somebody needs to read more history. To pioneers, the army and Indian tribes, horses were transportation. When a horse was used up, it was eaten: Meat’s meat.  

  •  

    Has anyone ever told you New Mexico is the most corrupt state in the nation? I’ve heard it for years, including from an FBI agent, who investigated our financial corruption mess. 

    Since I was a kid, I remember hearing that some powerful New Mexican, maybe Dennis Chavez, as saying that if you want to get a degree in political corruption, go to Chicago. If you want to get a Master’s Degree, go to Louisiana. But if you want a doctorate, go to New Mexico. 

    If you ask people from the East Coast, they’ll probably tell you that New York and New Jersey are the most corrupt states. It just depends on where you’re from. 

  •  

    The New Mexico State University did what it probably should have done 20 years ago. It named former Governor Garrey Carruthers its president. 

    Carruthers left the governor’s office on January 1, 1991 and entered the world of business, primarily as president of Cimarron Health Care. He then went back to NMSU, where he has served a dean of the business school along with various other university jobs. 

    I got to know him well as governor, partly because of his openness. Every Monday morning he held a cabinet meeting with his department heads. Every Monday afternoon at 1:30 sharp, he held a press conference to inform the Capitol press corps what the government would be doing. He also answered every question asked. 

  •  

    Weddings have always been big business, but I was shocked to see how expensive they’ve become in the 17 years since my wife and I got married. 

    According to the annual Real Weddings Study, the average wedding in the United States now costs $28,427 and that doesn’t even count the honeymoon.

    Wait, it gets worse.

    Among the more than 17,500 surveyed brides who got married in 2012, the average amount paid for a wedding dress was $1,211. On average they also spent $204 per wedding guest and dropped $12,905 for the reception venue.

    There are many ways to rein in wedding-related costs while still having a memorable event. 

  • Now that the long-debated estate tax rules have finally been settled, let's get real: Despite all the hoopla raised, most people probably would never be impacted whether the lifetime estate tax threshold had stayed at $5.12 million or reverted to $1 million. In the end, it actually went up a bit to $5.25 million for 2013.

    Even if your estate will only be a fraction of that amount, it still pays to have a plan for distributing your assets. If your finances are in good shape, there's no reason not to start sharing the wealth while you're still around to enjoy helping others. It also doesn't hurt that you can reap significant tax advantages by distributing a portion of your assets now.

    Before you start doling out cash, however, make sure you are on track to fund your own retirement, have adequate health insurance, can pay off your mortgage and are otherwise debt-free. You wouldn't want to deplete your resources and then become a financial burden on others.

    If you can check all those boxes, consider these options:

  • Bloggers and editorial writers have examined the Legislature’s love child — the surprise, last-second, tax package that looked like both parents — and hooted about transparency and back-room deals. 

    But the tax deal was a compromise, fair and square, and it was refreshing to see legislators stop jawboning and hustle to get it done. 

    It’s now being touted as “tax reform.” It’s not, and to be clear, it doesn’t raise all boats.

    From the beginning of the session, lawmakers focused on the economy. 

    The most serious proposals boiled down to a handful. Democrats wanted a minimum wage raise, a tax incentive for TV productions (the “Breaking Bad” bill) and capital outlay. 

  • El Paso, Ciudad Juárez and Las Cruces are a region, one entity. The assertion grasps the remarkably obvious. Businesses in southern Doña Ana County and Juárez back up to one another. The Rio Grande, the nominal border between El Paso and Juárez, is often dry, posing little real barrier. Otero County and Alamogordo might be added with El Paso being the closest thing of size.

    The region is complicated. Northern New Mexico, commonly clueless about the south, might not understand this. To say the region consists of three states (Chihuahua, Texas and New Mexico) and two countries (Mexico and the United States) oversimplifies. There are counties and municipalities, water districts and basins and who knows what else.

  •  Have you ever turned on the light in a dark basement and shuddered as cockroaches scurried away? I get that same sense of revulsion whenever I hear about unscrupulous swindlers taking advantage of the victims of natural and manmade disasters.

    The Better Business Bureau has dubbed these human cockroaches “Storm Chasers” because they creep out of the woodwork after every major storm or disaster. In fact, because fraud was so widespread after Hurricane Katrina, the Department of Justice created the National Center for Disaster Fraud, a central information clearinghouse for more than 20 federal agencies where people can report suspected fraudulent activities tied to disasters of all types.

  •  

    Hardly a day passes without Tim Jennings’ name cropping up in Senate committees or floor discussions: “Sen. Jennings was working on… I was working with Sen. Jennings to…”

    The Roswell Democrat was liked and respected, yes, but his absence is a constant reminder to Senate Democrats of the bruising election cycle that took their president. Most certainly, Majority Floor Leader Michael Sanchez, another target of the governor’s blitz, is not willing to forgive and forget.

    The spirit of compromise lubricating gears in the House and (maybe) in the Governor’s Office is harder to detect in the Senate, where floor debate on some bills has been pointed and even sarcastic.

    In February, Senate Democrats shot down a Republican measure to increase use of state aircraft.

  • SANTA FE — I have written on several occasions about the misdirected wrath aimed at the National Rifle Association for enriching itself as a result of the introduction of gun control legislation in Congress and probably every state legislature. 

    The NRA was created to be the lobbying and political action arm of the gun manufacturing industry. 

    Everything it does is perfectly legal and it includes gun safety courses an other public service projects. 

    Many industries have such organizations. 

    Years ago when I was representing school employees, I was standing in line at the Secretary of State’s office to register our organization when a good friend ahead of me registered New Mexicans for Better Roads. 

    I mentioned to him that I never had heard of that organization. He replied that since the state had some surplus money that year, the word was that road improvements would be a likely recipient. 

    So highway contractors had hired him to help channel as much money as possible into the state road fund. And why not improve your image by calling the entity New Mexicans for Better Roads? It doesn’t really have any members, he said. It’s just an old trick. 

  • The U.S. tax code grows more complicated every year and currently spans thousands of pages – even government experts can’t agree exactly how long it is. So it’s not surprising that millions of Americans hire professional tax preparers to complete their returns.

    Relinquishing the onerous task of calculating your taxes to a professional may save you time and give peace of mind – they know more about tax law than you do, right? 

    But remember: You’re still legally responsible for all information on the return. 

    So if the preparer makes a mistake or intentionally defrauds the government, you’ll be on the hook for any additional taxes, interest and penalties – even possible prosecution.

    The IRS notes that although most tax return preparers are professional, honest and serve their clients well, taxpayers should use the same standards for choosing a preparer as they would for a doctor or lawyer, and be on the lookout for incompetence and criminal activity.

    There are several basic types of tax preparers: certified public accountants, IRS-designated enrolled agents, tax attorneys, storefront agents (think H&R Block) and self-employed preparers.

  •  

    Diabetes is a complicated disease that is all too common today.  This disease affects 25.8 million people in our country alone.  

    People with Diabetes don’t produce enough insulin.  This causes high levels of blood glucose, which can lead to Diabetes complications.  

    However, it is possible to control Diabetes and live well with the disease.  The Los Alamos Heart Council is pleased to provide education on this topic to our community.  

    The council is hosting its annual community seminar at 5:30 pm on Tuesday at the First Baptist Church, located at 2200 Diamond Drive.

  • Despite passing the Senate Public Affairs Committee late Tuesday evening after an overwhelmingly positive discussion, Senate Bill 18 to amend the New Mexico Food Act to require the labeling of genetically engineered (GE) food and feed was “deemed lost” after a majority of the Senate, in an extremely rare action, voted on the Senate Floor not to adopt the committee’s report.
    Under Senate rules, this stopped the bill in its tracks and cut off any further debate or public input.
    “Even though SB 18 is dead this year, it’s clear that New Mexicans want and deserve a label that tells them whether or not their food has been genetically engineered,” said the bill’s author Senator Peter Wirth (D-25 Santa Fe). “I greatly appreciate the Public Affairs Committee’s feedback and discussion around the issue of labeling GE food, as well as Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez’s leadership on this issue.
    “GE food labels are a right New Mexican consumers deserve and, while this defeat is a setback, this discussion will continue at the state and national level.”

  • The Rio Grande Foundation (along with a host of organizations that support educational choice) will participate in School Choice Week 2013, which includes a first-of-its-kind trans-continental whistle stop tour.
    The tour will stop in Albuquerque on Saturday and includes a reception at 5:30 p.m. at the Albuquerque Museum of Art and History near Old Town.
    Rio Grande Foundation president Paul Gessing will be among the speakers — a list that includes elected officials, parents and children who have benefited from school choice — on hand to explain why school choice is important.
    “It is only fitting that — 150 years after construction began on the first transcontinental railroad — supporters of educational reform embark upon a whistle stop tour on behalf of educational choice,” Gessing said.
    “After all, the transcontinental railroad opened up a continent that had previously been closed to all but a select few; school choice will open up children’s’ minds and grant educational options to all children, not just a select few who’s parents can afford educational choice.”
    The Rio Grande Foundation has, and continues to support, all forms of school choice including charter schools, education tax credits, vouchers, digital learning, and home schooling.

  •  

    It was very disturbing to read the Sunday Los Alamos Monitor, front page, above the fold.  You stooped very low to report and describe in detail a crime involving domestic violence.  I believe the news war between the local media has resulted in sleaze journalism.

    This incident could have simply been reported in Police Beat.  By naming and describing the victim in such detail the Monitor is guilty of re-victimizing the victim.  

    A victim of domestic violence (DV) is most often humiliated and shamed and you most likely made it worse.  

    There are usually many incidents of DV before the police are called.