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Today's Opinions

  • Letters to the Editor 1-7-18

    County in deep fiscal trouble

    Dear Editor,
    Unfortunately Mr. Pete Sheehey seems to have a gross misunderstanding of the shape of LA County fiscally. We are in deep trouble running a debt twice the legal limit and on top of that at least $71 million in the red!

    This is all available for anyone to read on the county website in the last audit done after the fiscal year 2016 ended. As it’s rather hard to find and it’s a rather long report mostly taken from figures the county supplied and broken down into small sections it can be tedious reading and hard to put together.

    You find it by going to Los Alamos County Administrative Services, Finance and Budgets, Reports and Budgets button, Fiscal Year Reports and Budgets,

    Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports, Incorporated County of Los Alamos FY2016 CAFR button.

    On page 196 you see the summation of debts and on pages 179 and 180 the summations of all available moneys including reserves and all moneys spent.

    The bottom line is Los Alamos County is broke and bankrupt  to the tune of over $100 million!

    Greg White
    Los Alamos

  • Legislative session a prelude to November

    BY PAUL J. GESSING
    President, Rio Grande Foundation

    With tax reform taken off the agenda by New Mexico’s Democrat legislative leaders, it is clear that the 30 day session will be more about going through the motions and positioning for 2018 than about considering much-needed economic reforms. This is unfortunate because in spite of higher oil prices, New Mexico remains mired in an economic slump.

    The unemployment rate remains elevated at 6.1 percent (second-highest in the nation) and as Bruce Krasnow reported recently in the New Mexican, “the state is in the midst of its slowest population growth since statehood – and that is not likely to change.”

    One would think that given these (and many other problems) that the Legislature would be on a mission to enact as many needed reforms as possible in the coming short 30 day session. Unfortunately, the list of reforms that won’t happen is much longer than those that might be considered. Here’s a few that the Rio Grande Foundation has put forth over the years that are “off the table.”

    Aforementioned revenue-neutral reform of the gross receipts tax;

    Adoption of “Right to Work” to allow workers to choose whether to join a union or pay union dues;

  • Footballers shun ‘correctness’ and build ideas to fill the gap

    “Political correctness”(“P.C.”) is an infection that eats away the vitality of our democracy. The ills have spread far. Symptoms get worse while being ignored.

    A debate today about the national harms of political correctness is a debate between two afflicted organs – P.C. in the camp of the left and P.C. in the camp of the right.

    The habits of P.C. weaken discourse, which if left to fester, kills ideas. The two parties and their boosters talk less than before about policy work in Congress. Instead of crafting policy, more skills go into heckling the enemy party and its bad breed of supporters. Our times have lapsed into a rite of political correctness.

    The top news fare pulls P.C. camps toward the far poles. But, look twice. See ideas find other ideas to fill the gap between the poles. Stay alert to signs of both.

    Exhibit A: football players kneeling during the singing of the national anthem. There began a string of stories. In 2016, a mixed-race quarterback in the National Football League began kneeling during the national anthem to protest some facet(s) of race relations, as he saw it, in the U.S. The action drew some support and more players took similar steps.

    Fans took sides for and against.

  • Save for the lean years  

    BY LISA SHIN
    Guest Editorial

    Recently, one of my patients told me, “They should have saved for the lean years” as we discussed the possible change in LANL management and GRT revenues. She was referring to the Biblical account of Joseph and his rise to power from slavery.

    Pharaoh dreamed of  seven fat cows, devoured by seven starving cows. Then he dreamed of seven ripe, healthy sheaves of wheat, devoured by seven dead, dry ones.   Joseph correctly predicted the meaning of the Pharaoh’s dreams.

    “Immediately ahead are seven years of great abundance in all the land of Egypt. After them will come seven years of famine and all the abundance in the land of Egypt will be forgotten. As the land is ravaged by famine, no trace of the abundance will be left in the land…And let Pharoah take steps to appoint overseers over the land, and organize by taking a fifth part of the land’s produce in the seven years of plenty....Let that food be a reserve for the land for the seven years of famine which will come upon the land of Egypt, so that the land may not perish in the famine.”

    The principle is simple: save during the plenteous years to be ready for the lean years.

  • Time to ask: ‘How is UNM athletics paying for itself and helping the university?’

     In 2017, the University of New Mexico got itself a new president, a new athletic director and a new athletic financial officer. They have their work cut out.

    UNM athletics is such a mess that former State Auditor Tim Keller called the athletics department and its fundraising arms “an ungovernable ball of organizations.” A special audit noted nearly $700,000 in missing revenues, perks for insiders, mixing of public and private money, and years of blown budgets.

    What other college sports program has drawn its own investigative journalist and a website devoted to its excesses? For about a year, Daniel Libit and his “NM Fishbowl,” instead of the usual fawning Lobo coverage, has scrutinized the program and demanded accountability. Now Libit, turning to other pursuits, calls on New Mexico journalists to stop acting like stenographers and step up to the plate. College sports should be covered like a public institution and not entertainment, he told the online NM Political Report. Students and taxpayers should hold the department to higher standards.

  • Nobody gains by hiding the truth

    The Washington Post published this editorial on the Department of Health and Human services instructing some of its divisions to avoid certain words or phrases in official documents that are being drafted for next year’s budget:

    Words are power. Whether used to twist or reveal, language matters, especially that used by the people who govern a nation devoted to free speech. This is why it was such a shock to hear the Department of Health and Human Services instruct some of its divisions, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to avoid using certain words or phrases in official documents being drafted for next year’s budget. It sounds like thought police at work.

    If that judgment seems harsh, consider what happens in China, where thought police really exist. China routinely censors articles containing politically sensitive words such as “Taiwan,” ‘’Tibet” and “cultural revolution” from publications because it does not want its people to think about them. Writing about democracy could lead to trouble in Belarus, Cuba or Vietnam, too. In Russia, words that refer to gays positively can trigger a penalty. In Saudi Arabia, a blogger, Raif Badawi, sits in jail for his online appeal for a more liberal and secular society.

  • WESST wraps banner year; new programs expected in 2018

    BY DAMON SCOTT
    Finance New Mexico

    WESST, the statewide nonprofit best known for consulting and training programs that support entrepreneurs and small businesses, hit a milestone in 2017: It made its largest loan ever.  WESST loaned $150,000 to Dinéland Protection Services Inc. of Fruitland to help the company launch the security services it provides to the Navajo coal mine on the Navajo Nation.

    While the bulk of WESST’s services focus on one-on-one consulting and deep-dive business workshops, WESST also wants to make sure its clients have the funds needed to grow their businesses. Kim Blueher, vice president of lending at WESST, said the loan program is about 10 percent of the overall services they offer, but it makes a significant impact.

    “A lot of people think money is going to fix their problems,” said Blueher. “They come in the door or call thinking they want and need a loan. But we look at their situation and do a more holistic analysis. Many times, they aren’t ready for a loan. We work to prepare them a little better,” she said.

  • Letters to the Editor 12-22-17

    A bit of nit picking

    Dear Editor,
    I think that the term “windfall” is not appropriate to describe the gross receipts taxes paid by LANL contractors. Merriam-Webster defines “windfall” as:

    • Something (such as a tree or fruit) blown down by the wind;

    • An unexpected, unearned, or sudden gain or advantage.

    The term is not correct for two reasons. First, the term refers to a “one-time” event. Once all the apples are off the tree you can expect no more apples to fall. The citizens of Los Alamos should expect that LANL contractors will continue paying gross receipts taxes. Second, the term “unearned” does not apply to the taxes paid by LANL contractors. In the ‘70s, the legislature “reformed” the tax structure in New Mexico. In general, funding for basic governmental services (roads, police, fire, recreation, etc.) went from property taxes to gross receipts taxes (mostly from retail sales). In general, property taxes were to fund capital improvements.