DOWN -- In these tight economic times raising taxes, even for a good cause, is hard to take. Raising taxes by accident is completely unacceptable. The amount of a recently announced gross receipts tax hike in San Juan County is relatively small -- a little more than 6 cents per $100 spent. But that's not the point. County officials had found a responsible way to make up for lost revenue by taking a share of a tax directed to the San Juan Regional Medical Center. That tax created more revenue than anticipated and the hospital, which approved of the plan, already had paid off its projects. In February, commissioners received a letter approving the plan from Demesia Padilla, the New Mexico Taxation and Revenue Department cabinet secretary. Then, in August, Padilla sent a curiously worded letter stating that the commission was "misinformed in my previous correspondence." The tax revenue had to stay with the hospital, which means county residents will make up the difference, at least until commissioners can vote in July to remove the additional tax burden. We wonder if others are paying for Padilla's misinformation.
UP -- Snow covers the high peaks in nearby Colorado and we already are dreaming of carving turns in fresh powder. Summer monsoons brought enough rain to temporarily wash away thoughts of a persistent drought that is likely to return. Deep snowpack this winter and the right conditions for the spring melt would continue our streak of good luck with Mother Nature. But that white winter wonderland also provides an unrivaled playground. If the flakes start flying soon, we could see an early opening of ski resorts and backcountry trails. We encourage everyone to get out and enjoy this healthy pursuit.
DOWN -- We have yet another case of a person entrusted with fiscal responsibility who is accused of violating that trust. Anita Johnston was arrested this week on suspicion of embezzling about $80,000 from a Farmington church. According to a sheriff's office news release Johnston admitted to the crime when investigators searched her home and told them she had "no excuse for what she did." Although some will focus on the fact that the money was allegedly taken from a church, we find the fact that she was the church's bookkeeper even more disturbing. Ethical behavior is a basic component of a civilized society and it sometimes seems in short supply these days.
DOWN -- We haven't taken a position on the Navajo Nation's consideration of a plan to purchase the Navajo Mine. The reasons in favor are obvious. BHP Billiton says it will close the mine in a few years if the tribe does not buy it. Between the mine and the Four Corners Power Plant, which gets all its fuel from the mine, that could mean a loss of more than 800 jobs with good pay and benefits. But there are other looming issues that include legacy cleanup costs and the future of coal as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency moves forward with regulations meant to reduce air pollution. Dine CARES, a group opposing the purchase, missed an opportunity to inform a debate on those issues when it did not show up to a Shiprock Chapter meeting this week. We believe tribal members should have information from all angles so they can make informed decisions on this very important matter.