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Today's Opinions

  • LeDoux on the Hill: Books speak volumes about today’s DC climate

    Living in Washington in 2018 has almost felt like living in a book club. The fascination around Donald Trump’s presidency has overtaken the city and has a lot of residents asking how did we get here? From the lines at Starbucks, conversations on the metro, or the halls of George Washington University. There isn’t a place in the DMV where this topic isn’t being discussed. Heck, even on a tour of an apartment I did, I got sucked into a two-hour conversation about Trump just because I discussed what I did for a living. To answer these questions many in the beltway have turned to books, on the Metro, I’d see book covers with titles that attack the president.

    The two gossipy books about Trump that I still see on the subway every now and then, and by the cash register at the CVS, are, of course, Michael Wolff’s “Fire and Fury” and James Comey’s “A Higher Loyalty.”

    Apart from the Harry Potter books from my childhood and the Bibles in church, I have never seen more people in the wild reading the same book as these two books in the Washington Metro area. Even I bought into the hype, and the Wolff book lives in my kindle to this very day.

  • Election system favors political extremes, discourages moderates

    If you’re a political moderate and feel your choices in the coming election are pretty darn limited, a lot of people feel your pain.

    The recent primaries bestowed victories on women. (Hurray!) They also blessed progressives and conservatives and left moderates in the dust.

    In the much-watched Congressional District 1 race, progressive Deb Haaland trounced Damon Martinez, a moderate and former U. S. Attorney.

    For State Land Commissioner, Stephanie Garcia Richard, another progressive, surged ahead of her opponents. George Muñoz, a businessman and moderate Democrat from Gallup, ran third, but the good news is he’ll still be in the state Senate.

    In Northern New Mexico, Rep. Debbie Rodella, a moderate who served 25 years, lost to a progressive newcomer, Susan Herrera. Rodella, chair of the Business and Industry Committee, had campaign money; Herrera had volunteers and shoe leather.

    On the Public Regulation Commission, moderate Dem Sandy Jones lost to progressive Steve Fischmann, a former Las Cruces legislator. And Lynda Lovejoy lost to Theresa Becenti-Aguilar, who previously held the seat. These two races were affected in part by a backlash against an industry super PAC donations to both.

  • Trade tariffs might hurt, not help, blue-collar Americans

    The Wall Street Journal published this editorial June 12.

    More than a few conservative intellectuals have warmed to Donald Trump’s trade protectionism because it supposedly helps blue-collar Americans. But what if his tariffs do the opposite?

    Erica York at the Tax Foundation crunched some numbers recently showing that Mr. Trump’s proposal for a 25 percent tariff on imported cars, trucks and parts could eliminate half of the income gains from tax reform for millions of Americans. Those in the lowest income quintile could lose 49 percent of their tax gains. Say for ease of calculation that these folks received a $100 after-tax bonus from changes like the doubled standard deduction. After auto tariffs that would be whittled down to $51, Ms. York notes.

    The tariffs shave gains in all income brackets, but no one is hurt more than the poor and middle class. Take the fourth income quintile, or a household making at most about $70,000 a year in adjusted gross income. The Tax Foundation says auto tariffs could erase nearly 30 percent of that family’s after-tax income bump. Ditto for the third quintile, or a family earning no more than $43,000 a year.

  • School lessons for adults who want to help

    When I started as a volunteer tutor four years ago, I wondered if I had the know-how to help a first grader catch up with his peers in reading. When school ended this year, I wondered if I’d need to throw myself on top of my student in the event of an active shooter.

    The answers are yes and not yet. The program prepared us for one but not the other.  

    When I started, I, like all the other school volunteers, simply wanted to help. But I also wanted to learn because schools are much in the news, and I write about them. It’s been a fine adventure.

    I learned that one little guy who doesn’t like reading but does like sports overcame his reluctance to read when offered books about sports at his reading level. Books like these are somewhat scarce, and for Hispanic athletes, they’re nonexistent, so at times I just wrote my own stories from web information about the lives of athletes. I leave in the hard stuff like divorce and poverty because my students experience both.

  • State program helps businesses clear loan collateral gap

    Joshua Grassham recognized a novel approach to supporting small business financing when he saw one. The vice president of commercial lending at Lea County State Bank in Hobbs was the first New Mexico banker to secure a client’s loan through a new state program to help collateral-poor businesses.

    The New Mexico Economic Development Department (EDD) introduced the Credit Enhancement Program (CEP) earlier this year as a way to help businesses, especially startups, by purchasing short-term certificates of deposit that businesses can use as collateral for larger loans. 

    Grassham closed his first loan in February on behalf of a longtime customer who wanted to start his own business serving the oil and gas industry. The customer had good credit and a sound business plan, but he lacked sufficient collateral to support his startup loan. The CEP loan bridged that gap.

    Grassham has two more CEP loans in the pipeline – one for a new restaurant and the other for a senior care facility.

    Temporary support

  • Letter to the Editor 6-8-18

    Thank you to community for Dog Jog success

    Dear Editor,

    Perfect weather and sunny skies greeted the runners and walkers and their eager dogs who enjoyed themselves thoroughly at the 21st Annual Los Alamos Dog Jog on April 28, 2018. This year’s Dog Jog, organized by the Atomic City Roadrunners, the Los Alamos Dog Obedience Club, Mountain Canine Corps Search and Rescue and Pajarito K9 Search and Rescue raised $16,000 for Friends of Shelter and Companion Animals. 

    Friends of Shelter and Companion Animals (FOSCA) is a nonprofit organization that provides funding to individuals and rescue groups to spay/neuter over 500 cats and dogs each year, significantly contributing to the effort to reduce the population of unwanted pets in New Mexico.  

    We also help pet owners pay for veterinary expenses in cases of catastrophic illness or injury providing caring pet owners with an alternative to euthanasia for their pet. We are especially proud of our alliances with rescue groups in three northern New Mexico Pueblos and the Navajo Nation to reduce endemic pet overpopulation in those areas.

  • The unintended journey of a Japanese midget submarine

    In war-time New Mexico, what were crowds so eager to see that they spent $700,000 for a glimpse?

    The story begins in Japan in 1938 with the launch of that nation’s first midget submarines. They were 81 feet long, 6 feet in diameter, and armed with two torpedoes. Powered by a 600-horsepower electric motor, they had a speed of 19 to 23 knots , but at full power the sub’s battery was only good for 55 minutes.

    On Dec. 7, 1941, five of the diminutive subs joined the attack on Pearl Harbor. After riding piggyback on large subs, they launched near the harbor entrance the night before the attack. Their mission was to attack war ships and then rendezvous with the mother ships or blow themselves up next to a war ship. They began prowling before the air attack, but none of them would do any damage that day.

    One of the five, Ha-19, had a malfunctioning gyrocompass. It hit a coral reef several times and ran aground. When a U. S. ship spotted the little sub, it fired, knocking it off the reef. The sub dived, and its crew tried again to complete their mission but damage prevented them from firing one torpedo. More attacks from the now-alerted fleet caused more damage that kept Ha-19 from firing its second torpedo, and fumes overcame the crew members. The little sub drifted.

  • Lieutenant governor can make a difference

    BY BILLY GARRETT
    Lieutenant governor candidate, guest opinion

    Last October I announced my candidacy for lieutenant governor on the Democratic ticket. In the months since then I’ve been asked many times, “What does the lieutenant governor do?”

    The lieutenant governor has a complex workload based on a combination of statutory responsibilities, standing within the executive branch, and personal initiative.

    Statutory responsibilities are clear. The lieutenant governor serves as president of the Senate, sits on eight boards and commissions, and has been designated as the “Ombudsman of the People of New Mexico.” In addition, the lieutenant governor takes over as the state’s chief executive when the governor is out of state or the position becomes vacant.

    Serving as the Senate president is not the same as being an elected legislator. The Senate president does not serve on any legislative committees, introduce legislation, or vote – except to break a tie. Instead, the lieutenant governor ensures that Senate proceedings move smoothly and that all members are treated with respect. While the role can be seen as largely ceremonial, it provides a personal connection between legislators and the governor’s office that could be valuable on critical issues.