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Today's Opinions

  • 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

  • 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.

  • Letters to the Editor 6-1-18

    Sheehey recommended for state representative

    Dear Editor,
    I recommend Pete Sheehey as best qualified to serve Los Alamos County in the state Legislature.
    I support Pete for several reasons. First, he’s service oriented. He gets that serving in government means working for actual people, not simply engaging in policy debate. He knows that the job of our legislator is to achieve results that improve our community. He’s demonstrated that philosophy in the hundreds or thousands of decisions he’s made over the past decade as County Councilor and Planning and Zoning Commission member.
    Second, Pete’s extensive time in these leadership positions give him a full and timely understanding of issues that are important to many of us today. He’s put in thousands of hours serving our community and has participated in economic development, housing and public works decisions. He’s researched utilities and environmental issues. He’s heard from citizens across all demographics on the issues and opportunities that matter to them. He has served when county revenues went up and when they went down. These prior experiences make him well qualified to represent us in the Roundhouse.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Rules for predatory lenders must reflect letter, spirit of law

    An elderly woman got a small loan from a storefront lender and couldn’t understand why she could never manage to pay off the loan even though she made payments.

    Leonard Gorman, executive director of the Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission, explained the basics of principal and interest and renewal language in the loan agreement. Once she understood, she cried inconsolably.

    Last year, when the Legislature finally reformed laws governing storefront lenders – also called predatory lenders or payday lenders – there was a sense of accomplishment that they had dispatched a nagging problem after years of complaints.

    A recent hearing in Gallup made it clear there’s still work to do. Gorman blamed the lenders’ deliberately confusing communications for financial burdens on Navajos, but the small lenders trap Indian and non-Indian people alike.

    This is one reason New Mexico is poor. Thousands of people can’t get out from under these debts with their spiraling interest rates, so they don’t participate fully in the economy.

  • Letters to the Editor 5-25-18

    Yucca Mountain was safe, secure idea

    Dear Editor,
    I read with interest Sherry Robinson’s editorial, Interim nuclear waste? Not so fast in the Monitor of May 16. I wish to make the following comments.
    The NRC statement that spent fuel in cooling ponds and casks is safe and secure is correct. Such storage has been used, under construction, or considered in countries like Argentina, Finland, Germany, Russia, South Korea, Sweden and Switzerland. I designed part of an IAEA remote monitoring system for the encapsulation and storage of spent CANDU fuel at the Argentine reactor in Embalse. I’ve spent numerous hours on top of the storage casks there.
    The proposed use of Yucca Mountain was a safe and secure idea. The USA has spent over $15 billion to construct and study the site; I believe this was shown to be a perfectly reasonable solution to spent fuel storage.

  • Letters to the Editor 5-23-18

    Sheehey has qualities, personality to be member of Legislature

    Dear Editor,
    As a resident of Los Alamos for many years, I would like to express my strong support for Pete Sheehey’s candidacy for District 43 representative, New Mexico House of Representatives.
    Pete is strongly committed to fully serve in the best interests of our district and state. He is currently a member of the Los Alamos County Council, he is a recent vice-chair of the Los Alamos Planning and Zoning Commission, and he is President of the Los Alamos Committee on Arms Control and International Security.
    Pete has the experience, skills, judgment, leadership qualities and personality to be an effective good-government member of the state Legislature.

    Lewis Agnew
    Los Alamos