Doh! - Bernanke - Extending Tax Cuts Maintains Stimulus

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said extending the tax cuts passed during former President George W. Bush’s administration would help strengthen a U.S. economy still in need of stimulus. “In the short term I would believe that we ought to maintain a reasonable degree of fiscal support, stimulus for the economy,” Bernanke said today in testimony before the House Financial Services Committee. “There are many ways to do that. This is one way.” Read more:

Larry Elder - Old Battles

Is the NAACP demanding that it not be taken seriously? The civil rights group passed a resolution condemning "bigotry within" the limited-government/constitutionalist Tea Party movement, as if there is any large group without idiots -- and, in this case, inconsequential ones at that. Read more:

Del Hanson - The Screwed-Up Marathon Race

Strange things happen when you mix and match sports. Imagine combining soccer and basketball. I can hear it now. “There’s a header into the corner. A player hit’s the floor. There’s a red card on Le Bron. The forward lines up a shot between defenders. There’s the kick. The basketball soars toward the hoop, and Gooooooooooaaaaaaaaaaaal!” Weird.
Or, equally bizarre, what if the International Olympic Committee, in order to inject change for change’s sake, decided to alter the traditional marathon race to a series of all-out sprints. A competitive sports mile is 1760 yards, or four trips around a 440 yard track. Twenty-six miles is 45,760 yards. A distance runner is trained to pace him or herself, speeding up, slowing down, taking into consideration the lay of the land and the condition of the course, for the entire journey. There is a great deal of strategy to go along with amazing conditioning in a marathon race. It has been the ultimate test of endurance since the ill-fated Greek messenger delivered his note and dropped dead. So what if the IOC suddenly decided to make the marathon race a series of 457 100 yard dashes instead? Well, it doesn’t take a sports genius to realize that the result would be disaster, both for the sport and for the competitors.
Education is a marathon. It is also a grueling twenty-six mile race, sometimes slow, sometimes fast, and a true test of endurance, both mental and physical. It is run on a thirteen year track, replete with hills and valleys and uneven surfaces. Since Congress passed the No Child Left Behind legislation in 2002, “expert” consultants have tried to turn education into a series of all-out sprints, pasted and spliced together to stretch over the course. Start. Stop. Gather data. Start. Stop. Gather more data. Compare disjoint and unrelated sets of numbers and draw conclusions. Punish. Sprint. Twist and bend competitors to meet, not their needs, but the needs of the consulting companies. Most importantly, announce to the world that the competitors are failures. Repeatedly.
I talk to teachers a lot. I work with the Golden Apple Foundation in selecting the top teachers in the state. In determining the finalists, we talk to parents, students, colleagues of the applicant, principals, and the teacher, herself. We make on-site visits to elementary, middle, and high schools from Raton to Lordsburg and from Eunice to Shiprock. By visiting actual schools and talking to actual teachers, one can gauge the pulse of education in ways that a cursory review of statistical information cannot, and probably even more reliably than listening to talk radio or reading an editorial or talking to a neighbor (said in ironic jest). Try as we may, we are attempting to turn education into a series of stop and go sprints. It doesn’t work that way.
Almost every situation in education has its analogue in the classroom. It is education, after all. When one embarks on a school year teaching little second graders, squirrelly seventh graders, or know-it-all sophomores, one does so knowing you make progress by iteration. It is by inches, not by quantum lurches. It accumulates. It is agonizingly slow, but over time, a reluctant learner will “get” factoring. Eventually, the light bulb will appear above heads in class and the five paragraph essay will finally make sense. Over several days and drawing upon material covered previously, students can understand special relativity in physics, but it isn’t an all-out sprint for 30 intensive minutes. A student learns to read after hours of incredible patience on the part of a dedicated first grade teacher teaching the bright child with a learning disability that affects spatial relationships on the printed page.
Students don’t learn at the same rate. Parents move their families from school to school, often to stay one step ahead of the creditors or, in the case of single parent families, in search of affordable housing. Classes are often packed with 24 or 25 second graders, with up to half having IEPs, or Individual Education Plans mandated by special education law. Lessons are scripted. There is little time or opportunity for an elementary teacher to adapt lessons to her particular clientele or needs. It’s not a quick sprint to the finish line.
Still, self-appointed “experts” urge standardization and “fidelity” to programs that crush students into the same round peg. We are attempting to make education a series of frantic dashes instead of recognizing it for the marathon that it is. Education was a marathon in “good old” days and it’s a marathon now. High stakes testing based on 100 yard dashes doesn’t work. Who has the courage and authority to stop the insanity? I suspect no one.

US Senate committee OKs wilderness bill

From NM - by Heath Haussamen - Members of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee gave unanimous approval today to a bill that would designate hundreds of thousands of acres in Doña Ana County as wilderness. With that approval from 13 Democrats and 10 Republicans, the Organ Mountains – Desert Peaks Wilderness Act now heads to the Senate floor for a vote. “Our state has been trying since the Reagan administration to establish wilderness areas in Doña Ana County,” said Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M. and one of two sponsors of the bill. “I’m pleased the bill was cleared by the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and that it is now ready for approval by the full Senate.” Wilderness proponents are trotting out a number of people to praise today’s committee vote. “Today’s vote shows that collaboration and consensus building pays off,” Las Cruces City Councilor Gill Sorg said in a news release. “Senator Bingaman should be commended for reaching out, listening to concerns, and making changes to his legislation to make it as strong as possible.” Read more

Tough times for auto thieves - Albuquerque still in top 10

By Marilyn Lewis MSN Money - Question: What do newspaper editors and car thieves have in common? Answer: dead-end careers. Car thefts across the U.S. are dropping fast. And not just by a little. Most (83%) of the country's 366 urban areas reported fewer thefts in 2009 than the year before, continuing a trend that began in 1991. By the FBI's preliminary estimate, auto theft reports were down by almost 20% last year from 2008. How dramatic is this trend? To get an idea, let's take a look at the metro areas on which the "Grand Theft Auto" franchise was modeled. In these places, car thievery was a growth enterprise not long ago. Now it's practically in a recession. Read more

DeWayne Walker - on NewsNM at 8:00am Thursday

Head football coach DeWayne joins Jim and Michael at 8:00am Thursday morning on News New Mexico to talk about the upcoming season. For biographical information on Coach Walker click here:
Aggies 2010 Football Schedule
Sat, Sep 11 San Diego State - Home 6:00 p.m. Sat, Sep 18 UTEP at El Paso, Texas 7:05 p.m. Sat, Sep 25 Kansas at Lawrence, Kan. 5:00 p.m. Sat, Oct 02 Boise State - Home 6:00 p.m. Sat, Oct 09 New Mexico - Home 6:00 p.m. Sat, Oct 16 Fresno State * at Fresno, Calif. 8:00 p.m. Sat, Oct 23 Idaho * at Moscow, Idaho 3:00 p.m. Sat, Oct 30 San Jose State - Homecoming 2:00 p.m. Sat, Nov 06 Utah State * at Logan, Utah 1:00 p.m. Sat, Nov 13 Louisiana Tech * Las Cruces, N.M. 4:00 p.m. Sat, Nov 20 Nevada * at Reno, Nev. 2:05 p.m. Sat, Nov 27 Hawai'i * Las Cruces, N.M. 1:00 p.m.

NM Revenues Weaken, More State Budget Cuts Loom

    It looks like more state budget cuts are on the way from Santa Fe. With stalled road building projects in Las Cruces not adding to the tax base and other economic slowdowns around the state it looks like legislators and the governor are going to have to swing the budget axe........again. Read more here:

Are We Too Dumb to be Allowed at a Wal-Mart?

From 2005 we found this column by Rich Lowry (left)...........A new documentary, Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price trashes the much-maligned discount retailer. What the company’s executives are now encountering is the high cost of progress. The political reaction against Wal-Mart is the latest iteration of the fear and loathing that greets any major innovation in American retailing. A new paper from the Competitive Enterprise Institute details the long history of resistance to retail advances. In the late 19th century, the advent of department stores caused outrage. The same reaction met the rise of mail-order catalogs, which were burned in public at the behest of local retailers. The rise of chain stores in the 1920s also inflamed local merchants, who claimed that they threatened "the future of the children." Read more:


China's Car Dealers Cut Prices, Hand Out IPods

China’s appetite for cars has slowed and Zhu Dongwei, an auto salesman in the central Chinese city of Zhengzhou, is doing all he can to whet it. Customers at Zhu’s General Motors Co. dealership get a 14 percent discount, a refund of sales tax and a chance to win a free iPod if they buy a 41,800 yuan ($6,170) Matiz compact car. Read more here:

Wal-Mart Cracks Chicago

Wal-Mart Stores Inc.’s divide-and- conquer strategy prevailed in Chicago by pitting construction workers against employees who will stock shelves and ring registers. The biggest U.S. retailer reached a deal with the building trades union two weeks before the city council unanimously approved Chicago’s second store. Those workers will erect all Wal-Mart facilities in northern Illinois during the next three years, according to a labor agreement signed by Patrick Hamilton, Wal-Mart’s vice president of construction. Read more here:

Jim Harbison - City Park Wisdom

Guest Columnist Jim Harbison asks:  Where is the wisdom for more City Parks?
At the July 12th City Council work session they spent most of the meeting discussing city parks development funding. Director Brian Denmark said the current $800 per lot impact fees is insufficient to develop new parks. He also pointed that once the park is developed the City becomes responsible for its maintenance and upkeep. Councilor Small acknowledged that the current impact fee system has not been fair to the developers or residents. Furthermore, impact fees, by law, cannot be used for maintenance.
    Herein lies part of the problem. The City has no direct funding for parks maintenance. The Facilities Department has to compete with all the other City departments and is apparently unable to secure sufficient funding to maintain the current parks. Additionally, the current impact fee structure is inadequate to develop the parks as initially planned. Many, including Desert Trails Park have not been developed beyond phase 1 due to lack of funds.
    The City Council in all of their infinite wisdom has mandated that developers “donate” a parcel of land with each development for a public park. In addition the city charges each new home owner within that subdivision $800 for the development of this park. Currently here are no standards established by the City as to the size of the park or what type of park it will be. The size seems to be determined by how much leverage the Council believes it has over the developer in the approval process for the development.

    The City Facilities Department has difficulty in maintaining the current City parks which number more than 100. How many parks do we need, especially when we cannot maintain those we currently have? What are some options for the “demand” for neighborhood parks cited by our current City Council?
    Mr Denmark offered several options. One would be to increase the impact fee to $2000 per lot to cover the current cost levels. That certainly would have a negative impact on affordable housing. Another is to require the developer to construct the park as park of the subdivision and then turn over the completed park to the City. This would, theoretically, eliminate the need for the park impact fee. Another option offered was to change the direction from small neighborhood pocket parks to large regional parks (Premier Park). It still does not resolve the ongoing maintenance cost issue.
    I would offer another option. Most of the new developments have created home owner associations that collect dues to maintain common areas. Why can’t new parks in their developments be their responsibility? This should definitely be their responsibility in any gated community. If parks are that important to the development of their subdivision why isn’t it part of their homeowners association?

    Councilor Thomas continued to stress her goal that walking trails and bike paths should be created to link the existing parks together before we develop more parks.
    I would suggest that we stop City mandated development of these small pocket parks and focus our limited funding on adequately maintaining and developing our existing park system. Significant improvements can be made to Burn Lake, and Young Park and Meerscheidt Park could benefit from additional upgrades and maintenance. These parks offer greater recreational opportunities and reach more people that the small neighborhood parks. They represent a more efficient use of our limited tax dollars.

    The Council will hold a joint work session for 8/26/10 and want input from the realtors, BIA, and the public on fee increases. I would encourage everyone to attend and offer their suggestions on this issue.


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Margaret Carlson - I Was Snookered

Like the White House and the NAACP, I was snookered. When I saw the video footage of Shirley Sherrod, Georgia’s rural development director for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, I leapt to the conclusion that she’d committed a firing offense. For admitting she gave less aid to a farmer because he was white, off with Sherrod’s head! I shouldn’t have been so credulous. Like many in the media, I now appreciate how sensitive I am to being labeled a liberal bigot if I don’t hurry to condemn cases of reverse racism: black people in positions of authority, like Sherrod, who seem less than color-blind in dispensing help. Read more here: