• We made progress on ethics reform this year, in a roundabout way.

    An ethics commission is probably the single most important step. After years of weak excuses by legislative leadership of both parties, of ethics bills bottled up in committee, we finally got to the root of their reluctance: They feel a big target painted on their backs and the higher they are in the pecking order, the bigger the target.

  • When George W. Bush replaced Donald Rumsfeld as Secretary of Defense with Robert Gates in 2006, I was just glad that the man who didn’t fire anybody after the Abu Ghraib and Blackwater scandals was gone.

    But after three years of watching Gates operate in the bizarre world of the military-industrial complex, he’s become my latest government hero. We need more radicals like him.

    Gates has put armor on the vehicles our men and women are driving around Iraq and Afghanistan now, instead of on weapons systems for future wars that may or may not happen. 

  • Back in college, one of my classmates (let’s call him Brian) was an addict. He was hopelessly and totally addicted and there was little his parents or the doctors could do to help him. Brian couldn’t function without his daily fix and before long he was spending the majority of his day searching for others similarly addicted. Each day, Brian’s addiction got worse and eventually he stopped going to classes. His addiction ruled his life.

  • I don’t live in White Rock, but like others I pay state taxes and am, thus, a shareholder in N.M. 4.

    White Rock residents can do as they please off road, but not with the road and its right of ways. There are lots of non-White Rock residents that have a voice in this matter.

    For laboratory employees who live off the hill, White Rock is a place in the road where they can get gas and a refreshment on the way home. Having to go around in circles to do so is not what they expect nor for why they pay taxes.

  • We should have a mandatory economics class for legislators – not the inputs and outputs I slogged through at UNM but a nuts-and-bolts class on how local and state economies work.  

    This legislative session I tried to call attention to economic engines – golden geese – because when revenues drop and budget cutters look for targets, they can hinder economic recovery if they’re not careful or stoke those engines that create the jobs we need.

  • SANTA FE — Ever since I was a kid, I have wanted to experience an earthquake, a tornado and a hurricane. My mother always was embarrassed when I would mention it in polite company. My wife just ignores me. There are other things that bother her more.

  • A scientific friend I work with paid me a compliment last summer that still rings in my little head. She said the garnet earrings I had on that day looked good. It was true (I modestly admit), but that’s not what impressed me. She next asked if I had found the garnets myself.

    Now that’s the way to make geologists really appreciate you as a human being.  Give ’em credit for a good find!

  • Both the Democrats and Republicans would do well to listen to what the Tea Partiers are saying. They might seem like a group of angry people, but they have real issues. They are concerned about jobs, income, wars and sense that Washington doesn’t care about them.  They are also concerned about same sex marriage, abortion and that man in the White House.

  • I would like to respond to a long list of complaints (Monitor, Feb. 17) by one of the sponsors of two petitions that were rejected by the county council.  

    The petitions were appropriately rejected because they did not conform with a well-known principle of law governing the way questions are to be presented to voters on a ballot – i.e., no “logrolling:” Each question presented must be a single issue.

  • The question is not whether history will be debated. If history is kept, the debate may be one of substance. If history fades out, the debate will be “sound and fury.”

    Keeping history strong and healthy is the goal of the proposed Manhattan Project National Historical Park, or some form of one.

  • Until recently supercomputers were only available to scientists and high-end companies. The ability to simulate complex systems, such as new commercial aircraft, is of the utmost importance to large businesses. However, small-to-medium size businesses have been disadvantaged since they have not had access to supercomputers. And while the work done with the world’s fastest government computers was critical to our national defense, the public did not have the opportunity to access these computers to do non-defense work.

  • SANTA FE — Legislative leaders put up a fuss when Gov. Bill Richardson announced on the final day of the 2010 session that he would call them back into session six days later.

    The governor now has given them an additional six days to work out their differences before calling them back into session. March 1 is the new date.

    Several senators had said they thought a quick return was a bad idea. And they really won’t have any more information with a second six-day extension than they had at the close of the regular session.

  • Christmas is long past with most presents either broken, shoved to the back of closets or donated to the thrift shop (like that purple and orange striped lycra body suit your Aunt gave you). Well, the holidays may be over, but you can still give your kids a wonderful gift.

  • Like most legislators, I am not proud of the fact that we were unable to finalize the budget during the 30-day session.  Our budget is top priority and I am confident that we will be able to balance it during the upcoming special session.

  • I am pleased to see that the Historic Sculptures Master Plan Committee (HSMPC) has mapped out a 10-year plan for life-sized statues of historic figures to be placed around town (Monitor, Feb.17). The unified theme would be a positive result.

  • Los Alamos is an island in the sky, comparable to other island communities. One other is St. Simons Island, Georgia, a coastal barrier island with a similar population size. Los Alamos was evacuated in 2000 due to the Cerro Grande fire; St Simons was evacuated in 1999 due to Hurricane Floyd. Or rather, evacuation was attempted. As Los Alamos has N.M. 502, St. Simons has a causeway.

  • In recent appearances, President Barack Obama has suggested that it’s time for Washington to confront the intense polarization and incivility that mark our politics these days.

  • SANTA FE — The 2010 Legislature didn’t get its job done. Democratic leaders knew the unwritten rules. Begin secret negotiations between House and Senate Democratic leaders several days before the session’s end while publicly continuing to predict a train wreck.

    It didn’t work this time. Democratic leaders said they just ran out of time. But the problem, in fact, is that none of them have confronted the reality of a recession that hasn’t bottomed out. They still cling to their insistence upon extending the hurt to everyone but themselves.

  • Two heavy hitters passed from the oil and gas industry in recent weeks.

    Pete Hanagan headed the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association for 15 years until 1985. He died at age 81 in Ireland.

    The association’s other Irishman, Bob Gallagher, got his walking papers a week after Hanagan’s death. Both men hailed from Roswell, and both practiced law, but the similarities end there. In the differences between the two is a tale for our times in New Mexico.

  • I know that most people are struggling with the way things are going these days. I, for one, am struggling with the way our society views education.