Intel Looses A Friend In The Sandoval County Tax Department

The Albuquerque Journal reports that the Sandoval County Manager has been fired over an Intel Tax Dispute.

Sandoval County Manager Juan Vigil was fired Friday following a property tax dispute with computer giant Intel.
As a result of resolving that dispute, the household-name international company that opened its Rio Rancho plant more than 30 years ago will have to pay property taxes for the first time this year.
County Commission Chairman Darryl Madalena hand-delivered a one-page letter to Vigil on Friday that told him to vacate his office and return all county property by 4 p.m. Monday.
Vigil did not respond to a phone message asking for comment.
Earlier this week, Vigil provided documents, which he said were unofficial, that showed the county assessed Intel’s Rio Rancho plant property at $38.2 million, with a taxable value of $12.7 million.
Jami Grindatto, Intel’s director of corporate affairs for the Southwestern U.S. said this week the company was happy to go on the county tax rolls and the county assessor is determining how much tax the company will owe.
In an interview on Friday, Madalena said the reason for firing Vigil was that the county needed to “move in a different, more positive direction.”

Update 04/19/2011: I was confused by this article on the first read. I thought they fired the County Manager becasue he didn’t want to tax Intel. It appears that the now fired county manager had completed the paperwork to proceed with taxing Intel, thus he was fired. So the new direction the commission wants to move in is the old direction, where Intel doesn’t get taxed. This firing has apparently caused a big problem for the commission to continue working.

“Move in a different, more positive direction” means corporations need to pay more taxes. This is at a time when there are rumors that Intel is looking to expand the Rio Rancho site after they announced a new Fab in Arizona and no doubt the tax situation has something to do with that (note: as an Intel employee, I only know the same rumors that are reported in the news papers). It’s also important to remember that states compete with each other and another state will be happy to make Intel a better deal.

The article goes on about how Intel has spent millions to build things like Rio Rancho High School. The article doesn’t mention that the city of Rio Rancho was an overgrown truck stop before Intel decided to employ thousands of the most highly paid positions (not including government) in the state of New Mexico. Meanwhile the Village of Corrales is trying to stop any attempt at Intel expanding because they think Intel is killing them with pollution.

Someone will email me in a panic that Intel will shut down the Rio Rancho site because of this news. I think Intel is far from making this happen. But this is not something that will encourage Intel to expand the site or make further upgrades making the long term future of the site questionable. Refer to why Tesla didn’t build a factory in Albuquerque, because California made them a better deal.

Why First Solar Built In Arizona Instead Of New Mexico Or Austin

First Solar was looking to built a factory in either Arizona, New Mexico or Austin. An azcentral.com article looks at what Arizona paid to get the factory built there.

The factory will employ 600 people in Mesa, but it signifies more than that. The facility, operated by an Arizona-based company that is a major international player in solar-panel production, will make Broome’s job of attracting more alternative-energy companies easier.

Had Arizona lost the factory to Austin or Albuquerque, it might have been impossible to attract other solar companies to Arizona, he said.

First Solar wrangled at least $51.5 million in potential incentives out of the state, county and city, bought its land at a steep discount, and – perhaps the clinching factor – scored a discount on its power bills.

“The incentive from New Mexico was staggering. It was, like, hundreds of millions of dollars,” Broome said. “New Mexico was even offering to finance the construction of the building. Texas was a good $20 million less expensive than us.”

The article mentions that they offered a discount on electricity to First Solar, a similar discount was offered to Intel to build their new factory in Chandler. It’s interesting to note that First Solar President Bruce Sohn is a former manger from the Intel Rio Rancho factory.

Durango Silverton Train Ride & Backpack Trip

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It’s not well know but the Durango Silverton train that runs from (surprise!) Durango, Colorado to Silverton, Colorado offers what they call wilderness access. Depending on the time of year the train will make stops along certain areas of the track where back backers can get off.

On 26 August 2010 I took a trip with three other friends to Durango, Colorado. We drove down US550 from Albuquerque to Durango and we spent the night in a cabin at the Lightner Creek Campground near Durango so that we could be on the Durango Silverton train at about 9am.

Just like in the days when the train was a main mode of transportation, the backpacks are loaded into the baggage car. The baggage car looked pretty rickety and at the very least needs a new paint job.

Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Baggage Car

The train dropped us off just before a bridge over the Animas river at Cascade Canyon.

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After hiking a short distance along the river we came across a newer cabin fully stocked with firewood where no one was apparently home.

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Near the cabin was a rusted out old truck.

Rusted Out Vehicle

There was an interesting old train engine that had been converted to do some sort of milling work not far from the cabin.

Train Engine Converted To a Saw Mill

My party and I ended up setting up camp near the Animus and maybe a 1/3 of a mile from the tracks in an established camping area. While some of my party thought it was pathetic that we didn’t really do much of a hike, I thought the area was great place to pitch a tent.

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While exploring, we hiked up the river for and found what was left of a building.

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While waiting for the train to pick us up, we hung out at a picnic area where the train apparently stops for large group activities.

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We did what one does while camping: eating, drinking and enjoying nature without internet access. I took about 200 photos of our trip and they can be found on a set call “Durango Silverton Train & Backpack Trip” on Flickr.

Corrales Doesn't Want Intel To Expand

Another approaching storm photo from the Intel parking lot

The Alibi summarizes the conflict between some who live in Corrales, NM and Intel in Rio Rancho, where Intel is asking for changes to it’s air permit.

It was standing room only at an Intel-facilitated meeting Monday, March 28. More than 75 people crowded into the Corrales Senior Center.

For years, residents have been saying emissions from the 4-million square-foot facility cause respiratory problems. The computer chip manufacturer’s neighbors have reported acrid-smelling air, burning eyes and noses, and what Lynne Kinis called the “Intel cough.” She and other Corrales residents are circulating a petition asking the state’s Environmental Department to deny the permit.

Intel has no immediate plans to expand, but Environmental Engineer Sarah Chavez said it’s not out of the question.

Clean Cut Touchless Paper Towel Dispenser Review

Cloth and paper towels have their uses in my kitchen. Paper towels are difficult to use because I often get too much or two little towel, or I make make a mess of the whole roll of paper towel. I have been looking at automatic dispensers and found one that I like.

One of the paper towel dispensers I considered was the enMotion Automated Motion-Activated Touchless Paper Towel Dispenser that has become common in commercial settings in the last few years, including where I work. I’ve had a chance to check them out pretty good and even if I was to ignore it’s looks, I find that the enMotion doesn’t consistently detect a hand in front of the sensor requiring multiple swipes in front the of the sensor for it to work properly.

Several years go the iTouchless Towel-Matic Automatic Sensor Paper Towel Dispenser and a more recent Towel-Matic II Came out that would be more approprate for my kitchen. Neither one has had good reviews with issues about sensing hands and how it dispenses individual towels.

Recently the Clean Cut Touchless Paper Towel Dispenser came out and seems to address the problems with the other paper towel dispensers.

Clean Cut Touchless Paper Towel Dispenser Installed In My Kitchen
Clean Cut Touchless paper towel dispenser installed in my kitchen, which is sort of under construction.

Where the enMotion and iTouchless employ a sensor which expects a hand to placed in front of it in a certian place, the Clean Cut employes a break the beam set up. Where the hand must be placed between the sensor and the beam emmiter. This is big advantage for the Clean Cut since it is easy to determine where to put your hand to activate the dispenseor and there’s no guess like the other dispensers.

The Clean Cut does not try to detect where the paper towel perforations are. It has one sensor to dispense the paper towel and another to deploy the cutter. You can make towels however long you want, but it can hold the towels enough that you can reach down and tear off a piece at the perforations if they are exposed. I found myself doing this at first until I got used to using the cutter.

Clean Cut Touchiness Paper Towel Dispenser Open For Loading
Clean Cut Touchiness Paper Towel Dispenser Open For Loading

The Clean Cut has one mounting option, it mounts horizontally under a cabinet. I would have prefered to have a vertical wall mount option. To load a roll of paper towel, there is a latch on the front in the middle. When the latch is operated the unit swings down and and the roll of paper is placed on a bar. I find the operation of the Clean Cut’s loading mechanisms to work very well and I like the design but I think it makes the whole unit bulky.

Clean Cut Touchless Paper Towel Grippers
Clean Cut Touchless Paper Towel Grippers

The towel gripper and motorized roller can grip any size or texture of paper towel. It takes no effort to load a new paper towel into the gripper, I have set the end of the paper towel into the gripper haphazardly and it still managed to grab a hold of the paper towel and dispense it.

The Clean Cut is powered by a wall transformer. There is not battery powered option. I wish the transformer was built into the device rather than having a brick attacked to the power outlet.

In conclusion I find the Clean Cut Touchless paper towel dispenser to be well designed, easy to use and I have managed not to break it. It does what it’s supposed to, dispense paper towels and is easy to load. It was expensive and the unit is bulkier and doesn’t have a lot of mounting options.

Southwest Flight 812: Plane's Roof Comes Off

If azcentral.com is playing a April Fools joke, it’s a bad one.

Southwest Flight 812 left Sky Harbor Airport around 3:25 p.m. and landed safely at Yuma Marine Corps. Air Station at 4:07 p.m., said Ian Gregor, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration.

Passenger Brenda Reese said the top of the Boeing 737 ripped open, leaving a gaping hole between 5 to 6 feet long.

Southwest is my preferred airplane and I will be very interested to hear the results of the investigation.

Southwest Flight 812 PhotoUpdate: An article from the Yuma Sun includes a good photo showing the hole. The article indicates that the Southwest plane landed at Yuma International airport. Perhaps the Marine Corps. Air Station and Air Port are one in the same.

Southwest is canceling flights to inspect planes, according to the Southwest website.

Southwest expects to cancel approximately 300 flights today to accommodate the inspections. Customers may experience sporadic delays of up to two hours on some flights today. Customers should check the status of their particular flight or rebook their trip on southwest.com before heading to the airport.

The 118 passengers on board Flight 812 have received a full refund along with an apology and two complimentary roundtrip passes on Southwest for future flights.

More on the cancelations from Azcentral.com.

Update 04/03/2011: A scary report from Reuters. An airline I actually like will be the airline I will avoid if they can’t keep their aircraft from falling apart.

National safety inspectors have found evidence of “widespread cracking” and fatigue on the fuselage of a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 that made an emergency landing in Arizona with a hole in the cabin, a government official said on Sunday.

“Was the aircraft well maintained and should it have been maintained better? That is exactly why we are here, to look at why this problem occurred,” National Transportation Safety Board Member Robert Sumwalt said at a press conference broadcast from Yuma, Arizona, via Internet streaming.