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Today's Opinions

  • Are new corporations  bigger bad wolves?

    The name “Big Bad Wolf” rings scary alarms in voters’ heads. The left and the right reply to fears with fears about big corporations, a big army, big unions, big government and big donors to big campaigns. Metaphors of politics picture Big Bad Wolves dressed in sheep’s clothing or lying in Grandma’s bed. Small wonder that big corporations incite voters to cry, “Grandma, what big teeth you have.”

    Big corporations indeed need a thorough look to figure them out. Big companies have grown through the centuries and brought society hoped-for benefits and unwanted side effects.

    The first Industrial Revolution began in the 1760s in Britain, evolved through the 1840s and came later to the US.

    Many histories come to mind. People produced copper, steel, oil and aluminum and, with them, crafted faster reapers, tractors, cars, trucks and airplanes, later on with radios in them and radars at airports. With these products, people grew and shipped better produce at good prices for more people. Jobs grew. Corporations grew – Big Farming, Big Finance, Big Pharma.

  • Los Alamos Middle School’s ‘D’ Grade from an Education Czar

    BY LISA SHIN
    Republican candidate for NM House of Representatives, Dist. 43

    The Los Alamos Public Schools rank among the best in our State, if not our Nation, when it comes to student reading and math proficiency. This, of course, is the natural result of our highly skilled and educated workforce.

    Los Alamos has one of the country’s highest concentrations of Ph.D.s. Our community puts a high priority on education, and it shows. So why then, did our Middle School, receive a D grade last year? At the League of Women Voters’ event earlier this month, Dr. Kurt Steinhaus explained. Even though our students demonstrated a high 83 percent academic proficiency, it was down from a 85% proficiency the previous year. Another school in New Mexico demonstrated a 14 percent proficiency, but received an “A” grade because it was up from a 7 percent proficiency the previous year. A school in Artesia was a National Blue Ribbon School one year, a prestigious designation for high achievement, but received a D grade.

  • Why I care about education and health care

    BY PETE SHEEHEY
    Los Alamos County Councilor, Democratic candidate for NM House of Representatives, Dist. 43

    I have written about the importance of scientists like myself playing a role in government. I will work to make sure that facts and sound science are included in lawmaking. I was honored recently that the National Education Association-New Mexico has recommended my candidacy, because I also feel strongly that good affordable public education and health care for all are the keys to a strong society and economy.

    My life experience has taught me this. I grew up in a working class family. My parents were well-read, intelligent people, but were only able to get a year or two of college because of the Great Depression and World War II. From an early age, they took my sisters and me to the public library and encouraged our curiosity, so we looked forward to starting school.

    We had access to good affordable public education, and this served us well. One sister became a librarian, the other an English and Creative Writing teacher.  

  • What you didn’t want to know about the Land Grant Permanent Fund

    We’ve all heard the arguments about early childhood education as the solution to pull New Mexico out of poverty. The state’s Land Grant Permanent Fund is targeted as a way to pay for it.

    Not so fast. The devil is in the details. 

    What follows is the kind of policy wonkish recitation that sends people tiptoeing out of the room. This explanation comes from former State Land Commissioner Ray Powell, who knows because he’s watched lawmakers and others sneak out the back door.

    The Permanent Fund is not one big pot of money that we can dip into any way we choose. The money is all spoken for. Changing the distribution requires a state constitutional amendment and approval by Congress.

    Our state trust lands were established with a checkerboard pattern, six squares by six, a total of 36 squares each representing a square mile. The pattern was applied all over the state. In each checkerboard, four squares – none touching each other -- were given to the state. 

    These tracts are scattered everywhere. On the Land Office map (on the website, look for LandStatus11x17) they appear as lots of tiny pale blue squares and larger clumps where tracts are consolidated.

    Each tract is earmarked for a specific beneficiary. And so is the revenue from that tract.

  • Internet purchases challenge local budgets

    BY HOLLY BRADSHAW-EAKES
    Finance New Mexico

    As budget-conscious consumers increasingly opt for the convenience and economy of online shopping, states like New Mexico are ramping up pressure on internet-based retailers to collect and remit the taxes states need to provide essential services.

    While Amazon.com recently agreed to charge New Mexico consumers the state portion of the gross receipts tax (GRT), more change is needed to erase what states see as an unfair advantage for online retailers over local merchants who are required to collect and remit the entire combination of state and local taxes.

    New Mexico consumers, for example, can still avoid paying the state GRT when buying from a third-party vendor on the Amazon marketplace platform. And they don’t pay local option taxes that communities levy to subsidize local needs. For example, a Santa Fean who buys a book from Amazon pays 5.125 percent of the purchase price to cover state taxes, but she won’t be assessed the additional 3.3125 percent in local taxes to support city services.

    Local governments have few options to correct this imbalance, but states are taking action.

    Fighting for fairness

  • Nominating petitions: Outdated path to the ballot

    BY REP. ALONZO BALDONADO
    New Mexico House of Representatives, Dist.  8

    The pathway to the ballot in New Mexico starts with a nominating petition.  Every other year in the late fall and winter, voters are approached by well-meaning volunteers armed with clipboards asking, “Excuse me ma’am, are you registered to vote?” and “Are you a Democrat or Republican?” in the hope of collecting enough valid signatures to qualify their candidate for the election.

    All candidates must submit these forms, including incumbents. It never fails that a potential candidate or two will have minor technical issues with their forms. Sometimes it is a missed middle initial. Or perhaps the district number was left off of a page.

    Cue the lawsuits! Partisan interests rush to district court to file complaints for the removal of the opposition from the ballot with the goal of clearing the field for their preferred candidate.

    This legal gambit can create an easy path to office for the remaining candidate, but is this how we want elections to be decided? Is this how our democratic process should work?

  • #MeToo complicates workplace interactions with men and women

    In my husband’s workplace, years ago, a woman who was clueless about appropriate professional attire showed up day after day in tube tops. Men in the office begged female co-workers to take her aside and ask her to stop wearing the clingy apparel because it was distracting. Maybe for the wearer, that was the point. Nobody worked up the courage to speak, so her daily display continued.

    (Laugh if you want at Hillary’s pantsuits, but for women of a certain age, the pantsuit solved a lot of problems.)

    The tube top episode shows that most men in the workplace are decent people, and men and women work together just fine as long as everybody observes common sense codes of behavior. It’s something to remember as we navigate the turbulent waters of #MeToo.

    After taking down some big players in entertainment, politics and media, the MeToo movement has paused. I’m hearing two parallel debates. A few brave feminists are starting to question the treatment of men in some of these cases – not all piggish behavior is equal – and some men, especially older men, are feeling uncomfortable and unsure of themselves in workplace interactions.  

  • State population gains a little but people are still leaving

     
    The grey of population loss travels the East Side from Lea County to Colfax and the West from San Juan County to Hidalgo. In between is a light thread of slight population gain along the Rio Grande. 

    Overall, New Mexico’s population grew by 2,638 for the 2016-2017 year. The 1.1 percent increase brought us to 2,088,070 New Mexicans, a gain of 23,463 since 2010, the year of the last census. Bernalillo (+14,241) and Sandoval (+10,929) counties, two of metro Albuquerque’s four counties, more than accounted for the state’s seven-year population gain with 25,166 more people. 

    Doña Ana County (+6,357) and Santa Fe (+4,533) together added fewer people than did Sandoval County. Together these four counties grew by 36,056 over seven years. The 26 rural counties plus metro Farmington (San Juan County) together lost 59,519 people. That’s like eliminating Eddy County (56,997) population and making up most of the rest by dumping DeBaca County (1,829).