Challenges of Upgrading Seem to Vary

For Las Cruces Country Club members planning is being made extremely difficult. While the golf course portion of their new home was nearly complete last summer, (photo right) the clubhouse has yet to be built due to a seemingly endless series of roadblocks put up by the City of Las Cruces.
In a couple of hours the Las Cruces City Council will have the opportunity to allow Las Cruces Country Club members to see some light at the end of their facility upgrade tunnel.
It seems almost ironic that City Councilors erected no barriers to prevent themselves from moving into a brand new modern facility earlier this year (photo above). The irony of course being that thus far the city has not felt the same sense of urgency in accommodating the opening of the LCCC golf course. Today's vote and discussions should be enlightening.

State Budget Estimate Off By $80 Million

According to state representative Lucky Varela of Santa Fe, New Mexico is facing a budget deficit of $80 million. Varela who chairs the Legislative Finance Committe overseeing the state budget says he is waiting for more detailed reports to come in. However, Varela seems convinced the state overspent. "Even after the tax increases that passed, it seems we're going to be short by about $80 million," Varela said. Read the details here:

Lots of Waiting to Play Golf

With the opening date of the new golf course north of Highway 70 being delayed by the Las Cruces City Council indefinitely, local golfers are finding long lines, slow play, and tee times before the heat of the day hard to come by. Players stack up often in the Las Cruces area, particularly on the weekends. The photo (right) shows just how packed tee boxes at Sonoma Ranch become on Saturday mornings. Below is a view of the stranded new golf course, which has been kept off limits by a bureaucratic red tape and a string of city council votes. The City Council will have another opportunity to allow the golf course to open when it votes on a "resolution" Tuesday.


Denish on Education

News New Mexico reviewed the 572 words on Diane Denish’s position page on education.
    Diane Denish (left) says the key to getting a good-paying job and achieving dreams is a quality education. Below is a summary of the Denish campaign’s major points on how she sees ways for improvement in education.
    1. Denish points to her role in the creation of the Children’s Cabinet, which she says brings together representatives from Cabinet departments, non-profit organizations and the courts to assist education.
    2. Denish is an advocate of early childhood education. She talks of the creation and expansion of a state program which provided access to quality education for more than 1,400 children. She indicates the pre-K program has received national praise for having a “significant and meaningful impact on children’s early language, literacy, and mathematical development.”
    3. Denish concedes that still too many New Mexico children are falling behind and are either not graduating with the skills they need to compete – or not graduating at all. In response, she highlights her push for the Centennial Graduates Initiative and she continues to hold graduation summits across the state. She believes these summits help students see a pathway to graduation and beyond.
    4. Denish says the fight will not end until every single child in New Mexico has the opportunity achieve his or her dreams.
    5. Denish claims to have personally spoken to thousands of New Mexico High School students and asked them to pledge to finish high school. Denish has been involved in an America's Promise Alliance Graduation Summit in New Mexico to call attention to the need to improve graduation rates statewide. The Summit convened more than 500 stakeholders including young people, educators, lawmakers, administrators, the business community, non-profits, and others to come up with ideas and action plans to address critical issues.
    6. Denish says she believes that in order for our children to be successful in school, and in the workforce, they must develop good habits of exercise and nutrition. For this reason she fought to obtain funding for a program that connects New Mexico farmers with local schools to make sure our children have fresh produce. Diane supported legislation to fund more than 200 additional physical education teachers in our schools, and led the effort to expand school-based health centers across the state. There are now 75 school-based health centers in New Mexico that ensure our children and their families have access to behavioral and physical health services.
    7. Denish says she believes that our high schools and technical schools must do more to prepare our students to compete for 21st Century jobs. She points to her efforts to expand programs at career technical centers and vocational charter high schools.
    News New Mexico sees position point # 4, “The fight will not end until every single child in New Mexico has the opportunity achieve his or her dreams,” as the best illustration of the overriding governing philosophy behind the Denish approach to education. News New Mexico would take issue with this basic premise and suggest:
1. Every single child already has the "opportunity" to achieve his or her dreams.
2. It would seem that the real fight is not for opportunities, but rather for CONTROL of the resources the state has to spend on public education.
3. Since parents (not government) have the most influence on children, parents will always have primary responsibility for encouraging their children to capitalize on their educational opportunities. The state’s attempts to take partial responsibility for parenting have created a long list of programs that waste resources.
4. The dropout rates in New Mexico indicate an astonishing percentage of children who have not been convinced by their parents to see learning and education as an opportunity worth capitalizing on.
5. After a child’s parents, classroom teachers and coaches are the next most important centers of influence on children. Empowering classroom teachers instead of designers of elaborate government programs makes the most sense as a BEST PRACTICE.
    In the end, the programs Denish highlights are mostly initiatives conceived and directed from Santa Fe. While the motives of the programs are virtuous, the premise of treating symptoms far away from parent's battle lines of educating their children has fatal flaws. Accordingly, perhaps except for providing more direct resources to vocational charter high schools and career technical learning centers, the chances of any of these programs improving the parent-child educational encouragement relationship are slim.
    This position paper emphasizes six efforts made by Denish to improve education. Most of these efforts involve some sort of state-funding and/or state government management of programs. Clearly the Denish emphasis is on a central planning approach (Santa Fe leading) to educational problem-solving. The implementation of these initiatives tends to begin with gathering up taxpayer resources in Santa Fe. Next some downstream input is collected. This is followed by the creation of bureaucratic administrative positions. Finally the programs funnel resources left over after salaries and other bureaucracy overhead have been absorbed.


Martinez on Education

The EDUCATION position paper on the Susana Martinez website is only 258 words. Below News New Mexico summarizes her ideas. Our comments are italicized.
    Martinez begins by asserting that back in 2003, the Richardson/Denish Administration raided the Permanent Fund and abolished the state school board.   While the Richardson/Denish administration certainly tapped into the Permanent Fund to increase education spending it would probably be argued by the Lt. Governor that what was done does not constitute a “raid.”
    Martinez says under Richardson/Denish education spending has gone up by over 40% and today, 40% of New Mexico students do not graduate from high school. These facts do not seem to be in dispute. The state has ramped up spending on education and the dropout rate is still woefully high.
    Martinez says she will stop simply throwing more and more money at the problem. She says we have a broken school system that is failing too many children – and she will start reforming it. Martinez thinks part of the problem lies in schools accepting mediocrity in New Mexico. She also believes schools are being bullied by special-interest groups into shying away from real changes. Martinez says she is willing to take on the establishment and fight for a system that puts children learning first, before anything else. We would agree with this assessment and suggest stripping away all state related regulations on public schools and putting the decision-making power on every issue in the hands of on site managers. Micro-managing from Santa Fe is bad policy pure and simple.
    Topping the Martinez list are the ideas of empowering parents, raising academic standards, increasing school choice, and rewarding our best teachers with higher pay. She says New Mexico must ensure education tax dollars make it into the classroom and do not get swallowed up by a massive education bureaucracy. All of these ideas have a chance to change behaviors because they modify incentives. If implemented each idea has the potential to improve education.
    As governor Martinez says she will confront truancy. “I will work to make sure New Mexico’s kids go to class. Success in life starts by simply showing up.”
    Martinez concludes with, “The measure of our success will be when New Mexico children have an opportunity to receive a quality education that allows them to chase their dreams.”
    We still believe that despite the gross mismanagement of resources above the classroom level, we have structural problems with bad parents in society. Good parenting skills tend to lead to students interested in learning. There are thousands of examples of students passing through the public schools that are well-educated. Unfortunately the system spends far too much time and money on neglected children instead of children interested in learning.

Cheating on Exams - Gone High Tech

Cheating on college exams isn't what it used to be. Cheating used to involve a crib note here and a meandering glance to someone else's paper there. These days mini cameras and text messaging is forcing college officials and test proctors to step up their methods of enforcement. Read details here: 

Ronald McKinnon - Stop Bashing China

Senator Chuck Schumer (New York) is leading the calls for a trade war with China. However, economics commentator Ronald McKinnon calls for U.S. elected officials to stop bashing our Asian neighbor. In the wake of Beijing's announcement that it will allow its currency to float higher McKinnon thinks it is time to the U.S. to address its own problems that are contributing to global economic imbalances.  Read his commentary here:

Buffett Donates $1.6 Billion

Several years ago Warren Buffett (right) recognized that he liked the way Bill and Melinda Gates (Microsoft) conducted their philanthropic activities. This year he stepped up his giving versus 2009 when he contributed $1.25 billion. The balance of the age old debate of whether capitalists like Buffett and John D. Rockefeller serve public interests or private interests seems trite. Read the details here: 

Earnings Estimates Rise - Stocks Fall

So far the thrid quarter has been a bust for U.S. stock prices. Analysts are raising earnings estimates but the federal budget deficit, estimated to be 2.3 trillion this year and next, is destroying investor confidence. Adding to the discomfort are riots in Greece in Spain by public employee union members and communists over attempts by governments to reign in spending. Read summary here:

Supreme Court justice terms should end before age clouds reason

By Jeff Jacoby, Boston Globe - In the summer of 1990, Supreme Court Justice William Brennan retired and President George H.W. Bush named US Court of Appeals Judge David Souter to succeed him. A few days later, Justice Thurgood Marshall fumed about the Souter nomination in an interview with ABC News correspondent Sam Donaldson. “When his name came down, I was listening to television,’’ Marshall said. “I called my wife and said, ‘Have I ever heard of this man?’ She said, ‘No.’ ’’ Marshall declared disdainfully that he didn’t have “the slightest idea’’ why Bush had nominated Souter. He could say nothing good about the president — in fact, he told Donaldson, “I consider him dead.’’ It was an embarrassing and unbecoming performance, and it exposed to public view what court insiders already knew: The once-formidable Marshall, then 82, was in serious decline — not only physically, but mentally. “Some people watching that interview,’’ Donaldson said when it aired, “will think that . . . he’s lost it.’’ He may not have fully “lost it,’’ but clearly Marshall was no longer a fully-engaged Supreme Court justice. He spent hours watching daytime TV and telling stories, leaving the writing of his opinions to law clerks. In his prime, Marshall had been a masterful litigator and the civil rights movement’s indispensable legal strategist. But by 1990 he seemed uninformed and disengaged," as one of Justice Lewis Powell’s clerks later wrote. Another former clerk recalled, “Marshall was no longer up to his responsibilities, or even the appearance of being up to them.’’ Read more

Why I Don’t Celebrate July 4

Sent to me by friend whose hair was on fire from this posting. Yep, it set what little is left of my hair on fire, too. Yet, I will fight for this person's ability to have free speech since when one person's speech is silenced, all free speech is harmed.

From The Progressive - By Matthew Rothschild - It’s July 4th, my least favorite holiday. And I’m not referring to the bugs, or the crowds, or the traffic on the highways. I’m talking about the mindless patriotic bubble bath we’re all supposed to soak in all weekend long. Well, not me. My heart does not beat faster at the strains of the Star Spangled Banner, much less at the sight of F-16s flying overhead to kick off the show. You see, I don’t believe in patriotism. Read more if you can stand it


Cannon AFB starts operations for CV-22 Osprey

From the Clovis New Journal - Cannon Air Force Base officials kicked off operations for the CV-22 Osprey at Cannon. The tilt-rotor Osprey, flown by the 20th Special Operations Squadron, is part of a commitment made by the Air Force to increase special operations abilities at Cannon, said Lt. Gen. Donald Wurster, Air Force Special Operation commander. “This is a historic day,” said Wurster, addressing a crowd of about 100 after flying the aircraft onto the flight line behind the podium. “The new sounds in the sky represent a new mission for Cannon.” The aircraft flown into the ceremony by Wurster and Lt. Col. Matt Smith, 20th Special Operations Squadron commander, is the first to be stationed at Cannon. Wurster said the 20th SOS is one of the most historical flying units in Air Force Special Operations Command history, having flown combat missions in WWII and now in Afghanistan and Iraq. The squadron also has a Congressional Medal of Honor history. Read more

Thomas Sowell - The Art of Playing Santa Claus

Columnist Thomas Sowell explains how the politics of borrowing and spending works. He uses the "Peanuts" cartoons and the images of jolly old Saint Nick to illustrate how it works. Read his latest thoughts here: