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Thumbs - Our high country lowdown on the news`

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By Optic Editorial Board

THUMBS UP! FOCUS ON THE GRAD RATE. According to a recent report, Highlands University’s graduation rate is dismal, so a recent $100,000 grant from the Hispanic Association of Colleges and University is a welcome contribution to efforts to improve on that. As part of the grant, Highlands will be paired with a mentoring school that has successful retention and graduation strategies in place for minority students. Let’s hope it’s effective at boosting Highlands’ rates.

THUMBS UP! STATE JOBLESS RATE IMPROVING. July’s unemployment figures, released last week, show New Mexico’s jobless rate fell for the fifth straight month. — from a 8.7 percent peak earlier this year down to 6.8 percent in June to 6.7 percent in July. Compared to July 2010, about 3,500 jobs were created, though the state says that recent declines were more the result of workers leaving the labor force than an actual increase in employment.
Still, it’s much better than the national unemployment rate of 9.1 percent. For that New Mexicans can be thankful.

THUMBS DOWN! PRESIDENTIAL WEAKNESS. You would think that when the President says he wants a joint meeting of Congress to talk about a jobs plan, he’d get it when and where he wants it. But when the Speaker of the House says it’s bad timing, it’s President Obama who changes his schedule. It suggests that the White House is either inept or still cowering under its last capitulation.
Of course, President Obama can still redeem himself. He can come out with a strong jobs program next week, and when the Republicans throw up their usual roadblocks, he can come back swinging as never before. He needs to show some muscle; otherwise, “draft Hillary” signs might start emerging on the Democratic Party side.

THUMBS UP! FINALLY REMOVED. We wish Gordy Thatcher the best, and are sorry that her longtime residence on Tilden Street had to be demolished, but it’s best for all involved. The home had become a health and safety hazard, not only for Thatcher but her neighbors as well.

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AND WE QUOTE

“We’re trying to get ahead of the game right now.” — Las Vegas City Manager Tim Dodge, on a 30-day effort, beginning Tuesday, to fix up two dozen streets around town at a cost of about $1 million.