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Columns

  • Managing epidemics: an argument against blanket job cuts

    The unvaccinated woman got on a plane in London. She flew to Washington, D.C., changed planes and flew to Denver, then on to Albuquerque, and from there drove home to Santa Fe.  She had measles.  
    During the trip, she exposed other passengers from all over the world to this disease.
    Preventing an epidemic involved 70 countries and four states, and cost $1 million, according to Dr. Chad Smelser, an epidemiologist with the New Mexico Department of Health.
    A few other thought-provoking highlights from a recent presentation by Smelser:

  • Jet served a purpose

    There is just something about a jet…
    The governor won headlines for selling the “ultimate symbol of waste and excess,” an executive jet purchased by her predecessor, for less than half its purchase price.
    It was an unwise acquisition in the first place, and its fire sale during a recession is questionable, but hey, we’re talking symbols here.
    As a corporate public relations person in the 1970s, it was my responsibility to explain the Lear jet purchased and used by executives of PNM, the state’s biggest utility.
    Management saw it as a tool. Long before cell phones and laptops, their frequent trips east to raise money meant they were difficult to reach, and the prevailing concern was to minimize their time away.

  • Bullying cries for community attention

    Ours is not the perfect little town. For all the amazing reasons that make this a great place to raise kids, we must not disregard that there is bullying in our schools.
    Bullying is a form of aggression in which one or more children intentionally intimidate, harass or harm another child who is perceived as being unable to defend himself.
    There is the aggressor, the victim and the bystander. The bully usually comes from an unfortunate place that is often chaotic with poorly set boundaries and expectations. The bully is unhappy about something or does not know how to get along with other kids.

  • Mixed agendas drive county government

    What motivates the actions and decisions of our county council?
    Councils change every two years.  I served on four and worked with six others.  
    Interactions among any seven people will be different.  But common themes run through most councils.
    The first and official motivation, of course, is the best interest of the citizens the council represents and serves.  
    There will be legitimate and healthy differences of opinion over what that best interest is.  
    Elected legislators everywhere are frequently torn between doing what their constituents want (representation) and what they think best (leadership).   

  • That's entertainment!

    Whatever happened to good comedy, or drama, or mystery?  
    Did all the talented script writers have their jobs outsourced to sheep herders living in a yurt out in the Russian tundra?  
    A cursory glance at television schedules today can serve you well if you happen to need a colonoscopy test prep.
    First of all, let’s admit that we all love useless contraptions.  
    You know, like that USB-enabled combination shower head coffee filter you got for Christmas?  
    Or that solar powered meat thermometer.  And what about all the attention from women we now get ever since we started spray painting our heads with Ronco’s bald spot remover?

  • Some folks always seem to land on their feet

    Is the media piling on Jerome Block, Jr. and the Public Regulation Commission? That’s what PRC commissioner Ben Hall says. He notes that in America people are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
    Granted, a day seldom goes by without a new charge against Block making headlines. First I will note that all media are very careful to use words like alleged, charged and faces when talking about accused lawbreakers. It allows company lawyers to sleep better at night.
    There has been one recent exception. For a brief period between jobs, former state public safety chief Darren White was the crime reporter for an Albuquerque television channel.

  • Getting involved matters

    Professionals sometimes make a critical mistake in their careers: they neglect to join their industry associations.
    After investing time and money in a university education or training program, they disregard the value of continued education, advocacy and other assistance that associations provide.
    With so much at stake in these difficult times, why would anyone want to go it alone?
    Associations were created by people who saw the need for banding together to fight for common values and interests affecting their industry.
    While this is still the primary reason most people join, modern associations provide much more than they did in their early days.
    Advocacy. For some, this is the most important service an association provides.

  • Earth's fragile surface

    My friend Sharon Rogers lives in suburban Virginia.
    On Tuesday she and her husband were leaving their house to go to a late lunch when she felt something like thunder sweeping over the neighborhood.
    “I thought it was a military jet going over too low,” she told me on the telephone. “I said to myself, ‘It’s another damn general being buried in Arlington.’”
     It was no jet, but a Richter 5.9 earthquake that struck near Mineral, VA.
    Why, you may ask, should there have been an earthquake in what is supposed to be the seismically placid East Coast?
    Allow me to answer by way of an analogy.

  • Tourism secretary had a plan

    In July as the state’s forests, along with its tourism season, seemed to be going up in smoke, the industry anxiously awaited a move from Santa Fe to counter bad publicity.
    They wondered aloud if Tourism Secretary Monique Jacobson had a game plan.
    She did. Rather than calling more attention to the fires, she took another approach – the “Catch the Kid” campaign.
    Don’t expect the same old thing from Jacobson, a home-grown marketer hired away from Quaker Oats to breathe life into tourism promotion. She grew up in the business – her father’s a hotelier in Taos Ski Valley – and honed her skills out of state. Now she’s back with energy, ideas and infectious enthusiasm.

  • Texas continues to bully New Mexico

    Texas has done it to us again. The state has enjoyed bullying us ever since it came into existence. This time it involves playing by different rules for the collection on drought insurance.
    Last year, as the effects of drought became very obvious, the U.S. Department of Agriculture began touting a new drought insurance policy. Ranchers in New Mexico and Texas jumped at the opportunity.
    Sure enough, both states are experiencing the worst droughts in recorded history. Texas ranchers have received $65 million in payments. New Mexico ranchers have received $2,000 for the $1.5 million they paid in premiums.