Wednesday, April 29, 2009


"See, Mr. Gitts, most people never have to face the fact that, at the right time and the right place, they're capable of...anything! "

- John Huston (as Noah Cross) in Chinatown (1974)
A couple of evenings ago I was watching Keith Olbermann go way too deep into the nuances of waterboarding in the context of the Bush Office of Legal Counsel memos. I got tired of the immense effort being made to somehow distinguish the differences between waterboarding with a medical professional present and without. I started asking out loud if there wasn't something else Olbermann could focus that fine intellect and rapier wit on that would have a more tangible benefit for us citizens.

As it happens, voices as diverse as The Daily Sentinel and Garrison Keillor seem to be sharing this sentiment, and many published opinions carry with it a recurring theme; that too many resources and media attention would be directed at the inevitable hearings, indictments, and trials surrounding those who did indeed engage in torture at the behest of their government.
Keillor said it best:
"When I hear Democrats talk about "holding them responsible," I smell the sour righteousness of the victorious lording it over the vanquished. The guy they really want to put on trial is the old brush-cutter of Crawford, or else the old grouse hunter of Wyoming. They're the guys who signed off on those memos authorizing torture. The buck stopped at their desks."
Our limited resources should be effectively managed by directing them toward fixing the problem permanently, instead of engaging in high-profile prosecutions that amount to putting out spot fires while the central conflagration continues to burn unabated. As the Sentinel's editorial today pointed out very succinctly:
"One can dispute whether the United States should engage in some of these techniques, and many do. We have long argued that if Congress wants to prohibit waterboarding and other techniques, it can pass a law doing so. President Bush vetoed legislation containing such prohibitions last year, but Obama won’t."
Their editorial goes on to portray those engaging in the legal legerdemain that eventually determined that waterboarding was not torture as "struggling to determine what was legal and what was not under the imprecise language of then-existing federal law".

I don't buy that for a minute. I believe that the word came down to explore and utilize whatever means available to extract the information from those detained, and find a way to justify it under the law of man. The quotation at the top of this post drives my thinking in this regard.

That being said, should we be wasting time and human energy on targeting individual offenses, or working hard to eliminate the central facilitator of their moral affliction?

If we as a nation are truly committed to not engaging in torture or anything approaching it, then we need to codify that commitment so that it is clear and unambiguous.
Then we should
move on.

We should also refuse to be complicit in the attempts of others to extract what they perceive as "justice" from those who currently reside within our borders. I'm referring to the case of one John Demjanjuk.

I've followed this case loosely for several years. I believe that there is sufficient reasonable doubt as to whether or not the man did any of the things he is accused of, and at age 89 I agree with his family's contention that to deport him overseas once again to face trial would amount to torture.

One way or another, by the hand of Man or of God, he will meet that God in relatively short order, and those of us who share a belief in that God must have faith that he will then be judged in accordance with whatever his actions were.
Leave him be.

If we truly portend to be "One Nation Under God", then we should be listening and taking heed when His Word directs us to follow a certain path, regardless of how inconvenient that path may be to our earthly goals. This familiar passage from Matthew sums it up pretty well for me:

Matthew 6:14-15 (New International Version)

14For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

Have a good day.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Prom Night 2009

Christopher Tomlinson - The Daily Sentinel

Saturday evening was rather blustery and unsettled, as evidenced by the photo above. By the time that my son, his date and the group of kids they went with to Grand Junction High School's prom had assembled, the wind was gusting significantly, and a dirt-infused rain was trying to work its way across the valley.

The kids all looked great, but I of course focused on Evan and his date, Morgan. They made for a very cute couple, which may sound trite considering it's Prom Night, but there was something different about these two. They genuinely looked interested in each other, not just the spectacle of the event. They seemed to complement each other very well.

After the kids were on their way, I went down to KAFM to take in two events at The Radio Room. One was the opening of an exhibit by members of The Art Quilt Association (AQuA).

I was really looking forward to the show, and it didn't disappoint. There are some extraordinary artists in our area, and it was a privilege to see so many excellent examples in one place. The website includes pictures of pieces by many of AQuA's members.

The staff of KAFM has shown their expertise and versatility in making the Radio Room a quality, versatile venue for art exhibition, concerts, lectures, film, and other community gatherings. The station has leveraged this resource rather well.

The timing of the quilt show unintentionally coincides with some controversy about quilting in recent news items. Seems that Quilter's Home Magazine has featured more controversial art quilts that have challenged the status quo of the hobby in the minds of many, both in and out of the quilting community. Publisher Mark Lipinski is making waves with a unique take on the hobby that is exciting both quilters and fans of the art form.

While you won't see anything as provocative at this show as what's in the magazine, it is nonetheless worth stopping by if you're in town on your lunch break. The exhibit is open from 11-1, weekdays through May and June.

After the quilt show opening, the Radio Room transformed into a concert venue for singer/songwriter Gigi Love. Ms. Love has an excellent singing voice, and writes some very good music. She had an excellent electric guitar player accompanying her acoustic playing as well.

As good as Ms. Love's performance was, it seemed hampered by some difficulties trying to get her guitar in tune, and get it to stay there. I'm wondering if a significant reduction in barometric pressure as a result of the passage of a nasty cold front, occurring between her sound check and the actual performance, could have been a contributing factor. Ahh, springtime in Western Colorado..

Evan made it home in one piece the next morning, and said he had a good time. I was in bed by midnight, and could say the same thing. Rather than musing about transitions and waxing nostalgic, I'll leave it at that. Those of you with teenage kids know what I mean.

Hope the rest of your week is a good one.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Homeland Insecurity

Initially, I thought of posting just about the ongoing "controversy" surrounding U.S Dept. of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. I thought up the cutesy title in about two seconds, then started to realize that it meant a lot more to me today than just a few humorous comments about the distraction du jour.

It's been an unsettled last couple of days. I've been annoyed by several things. My girlfriend Leslie, who I talk to every day, seems restless and uneasy as well. It might have something to do with the early spate of warm weather here in GJ and in Pittsburgh, where it got up to 88 today and will be about the same through the weekend. Perfect hockey weather in the Burgh.

We are getting a respite in Grand Junction, with rain in the forecast just in time for my son's Senior Prom later today. This spring has been a nasty one for respiratory irritation, possibly secondary to seasonal allergies that really haven't affected me here as badly as they did back east, that is until this year.

What is not helping with this is the place where I work. I develop a nice hacking cough there after about three hours in my work area, especially if there is a lot of foot traffic. I think that this stirs up more airborne particulates from the carpet, which by anyone's recollection hasn't been cleaned in a couple of years.

I did my part, and took this up with my boss and the Employee Health office. We'll see what happens. In the meantime, the sniffles are creeping in on me even in the house at 2:30 in the morning. I may have to resort to giving Claritin a try for the first time.

Last night after work I told Evan I'd take him wherever he'd like for dinner, and he said he wanted sushi. I'm not a fan personally, but Suehiro on Main Street delivers good food and decent service for a good price, and has stuff I like as well.

It was a very good meal, even if the ambiance was a little more challenging than usual. Seems that last night was the re-scheduled Bret Michaels concert at the Mesa Theater, across Main Street from the restaurant. Along the streets and in the restaurant were a generational cross-section of 80's hair metal fans, along with some of the younger generation attracted to the singer by his dating show on VH1, Rock of Love. As for me, any mention of Poison, Warrant, or Whitesnake and I'm changing the channel or running in the opposite direction. Luckily, my kid likes Bay Area hip-hop and The Clash. To each his own...

My son is very thoughtful and articulate, even if we disagree on more than a few things. It's going to be an interesting time watching him graduate in a couple of weeks. I have some family coming out, and it will be nice, but I feel that his mother should be here. She took better care of herself than I ever have, and loved that boy so much. She, her parents, and others that played a large role in his life will be watching from Heaven, of that I'm sure.

With this rite of passage comes a transition period in my life as well. I committed myself primarily to my son after I left the 9-1-1 center last year. My work at the hospital has occasionally proven to be a challenge to that commitment, and it's now time to re-evaluate and prepare for the next phase of my life. That's not a comforting thought, as I am a lot of times driven by ego, and the ego craves certainty. I'll just leave off with something I read on Facebook that describes a part of my situation:
"The reason that ego and love are not compatible comes down to this: you cannot take your ego into the unknown, where love wants to lead. If you follow love, your life will become uncertain, and the ego craves certainty."
Oh yeah, almost forgot...

Those Republicans, especially those locally, should take comfort from the fact that they now have someone that they might comfortably refer to as "Janet from another planet'.

To her credit, Ms. Napolitano is making some sense at times, particularly about the
Real ID fiasco.

The Obama administration properly dismissed the Republican 'indignation' as just posturing.

I don't fault Ms. Napolitano for her staff's eagerness to get out a report before it could be vetted from a political standpoint. As Governor of Arizona, Ms. Napolitano probably didn't see that many left-wing extremists, but had to work with someone who might just pass muster for inclusion into that report of hers; the Sheriff of Maricopa County.

Have a great weekend.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Columbine - Perspective and Tolerance

Ten years ago yesterday, I was working at the 9-1-1 center. Even as professionals who were trained and experienced enough to expect the unexpected, the Columbine massacre put a lot of us back on our heels, trying to assess the objective details of the incident; the whats and hows, how many victims, how many suspects, who was in Command, how information was being managed.

Over the years I've collected a lot of reports from the various agencies that either played a direct role in managing the incident, or acted in a review capacity. Their findings, and the actions taken on a collective basis by the various arms of government (including public education), make up the bulk of my interest and knowledge base in this and other similar tragedies.

I really didn't have much concern or interest about why the two young men would engage in such violent contempt toward their fellow human beings. However, I recently picked up Denver freelance journalist Dave Cullen's book on the massacre, and have been intrigued by the first couple of chapters, much of which incorporates the journal entries and letters of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold.

While many seem unwilling to draw any more public attention to the killers or their motivations (Oprah Winfrey being the most noteworthy), I'm still undecided on how much of this is necessary to try to understand perhaps what is beyond our comprehension or capabilities. I guess I'll just see what the book looks like beyond Chapter 2. If it becomes too melodramatic or psychoanalytical, I'm putting it down. I believe that some things are not meant for us to understand.

The only other perspective that I think is relevant amid the cacophony of reporting and personal accounts is as a parent, public safety professional, and civil liberties advocate. From these vantage points, changes made in the wake of Columbine have been a mixed bag in terms of both effectiveness and intent.

The Sentinel's reporting in Sunday's edition focused on events that occurred locally after Columbine, and the response of government and local school officials to both events. Additional mention was made of "zero-tolerance" policies, extensive security measures, and comprehensive emergency planning and response efforts that have been ramped up as well.

Some of these efforts have resulted in the prevention of potentially tragic occurrences, such as the 2004 Fruita Middle School "hit list" incident involving five students, one of whom brought a gun to the school. Not reported in Sunday's account was how this particular incident illustrated the need for consistency in the application of policies and due diligence; at least one of the involved students was the child of a law enforcement officer.

In contrast to the above example is the establishment of a network of School Resource Officers among several local law enforcement agencies, along with the hiring of a full-time Safety Coordinator at District 51. This dedicated group of officers, while having a positive impact on the
mitigation of a number of issues, has also enabled District 51 to develop the means to keep many incidents off of the radar of the media or parental community, by instructing staff to contact their Resource Officer instead of the county's central dispatch to report incidents, even if that officer may not be on campus.

I believe that this practice puts a misplaced priority on maintaining secrecy over effective management of the incident, while creating a double standard for public safety system access and the potential for confusion in true emergency situations.

The slippery slope of "zero tolerance" has not reared its ugly head here as much as it has elsewhere. The Sentinel's editorial this morning cites a rather grievous example of the potential for abuse of these policies by over-zealous school personnel. Hopefully the Supreme Court will recognize this, by affirming the female student's 4th Amendment right not to be strip-searched for Ibuprofen.

Zero tolerance for weapons, or any representation thereof, would seem to make sense on the surface, until you consider the case of the honor student in the Cherry Creek School District south of Denver, who was expelled in February for having three fake wooden rifles used by her drill team in her car on school property.

The school district responded to the significant public and professional outcry by saying that they were only following the state law that requires an expulsion. Fortunately, a Republican State Senator has introduced a revision to this law which will apply the expulsion requirement to actual firearms only.

Despite some of the interesting commentary from the school Principals interviewed by the Sentinel, it is becoming readily apparent from a number of perspectives that zero tolerance equals zero common sense. I expect that continued efforts at allowing discretion in some of these areas will be put forth and enacted.

At the same time, I hope that greater emphasis will be placed on transparency and consistency in the reporting and management of incidents that occur on our school campuses. As parents, neighbors, and taxpayers, we deserve to know what kind of environment we are sending our children into, what kinds of issues are being dealt with that impact our neighborhoods, and what kind of organizational effectiveness our tax dollars are paying for.

As my only child prepares to leave the public school system, I'm thankful for the dedicated staff of teachers and administrators that made his school experience a (mostly) safe one. I look forward to continuing improvement in communication between administrators, citizens, public safety, and the media in its varying forms.

In a focus area where there are so many stakeholders and so many varying agendas and priorities, the better we are able to communicate and understand, the safer we will be.

Have a safe and blessed week ahead.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

In Praise of Dispatchers

Dispatch "Dis*patch"\, n.

1. The act of sending a message or messenger in haste or on important business.

2. Any sending away; dismissal; riddance.
To the utter dispatch of all their most beloved comforts. --Milton.

3. The finishing up of a business; speedy performance, as of business; prompt execution; diligence; haste.
Serious business, craving quick dispatch. --Shakespeare.

4. A message sent with speed; especially, an important official letter sent from one public officer to another; -- often used in the plural; as, a messenger has arrived with dispatches for the American minister; naval or military dispatches.

- Webster's Unabridged Dictionary

You'll have to excuse me for tooting the horn of my own profession for just one day.
I'm called to recognize those on who we as a society rely to safely and effectively coordinate critical resources, no matter what types of resources they may be.

This week marked National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week, which was established back in the early 90's to recognize the contributions of those who toil in relative obscurity and 'interesting' work environments, through political and cultural quagmires, and with uncooperative and often hostile citizens (and sometimes responders), to get the right help to where it's needed.

I've been doing this sort of thing for over 25 years. The fundamentals of the profession really haven't changed much, even though just about everything else has - right up to what they call those who do this job. As you can see from the definitions above, the emphasis of the word was on speed and haste. Now the emphasis is on the tools and skills used, with unwieldy, PC-sounding titles like "Telecommunicator" or "Communications Specialist". They sound more professional, but still don't do justice to the skill sets required.

The last time I was called a "Dispatcher" was while working at Life Flight in Pittsburgh. Around 1990 our job titles were abruptly changed to "Air Medical Communications Specialist" after the FAA objected to the use of the title "Dispatcher" in an aviation-related position without being licensed by the FAA as a "Dispatcher".

It turns out that such a position has a lot of responsibilities for flight planning, routing, and calculating such things as fuel loads and weight and balance. They also maintain contact with commercial aircraft while in the air to advise of changes in weather, or to communicate other information on behalf of the airline they're working for. Another name for this job responsibility is "Flight Superintendent".

Coordinating resources at this level is an awesome responsibility, just as dealing with a sometimes frantic general public can be, to go along with Law Enforcement, Fire, EMS, Public Works, and Human Services personnel, all whose demeanor can approach a similar level at times.

As time passes, and the priorities and challenges of this life change, I've been buoyed by the quality of the young people who have challenged themselves to get past the long screening process and lengthy training program, and continue to carry themselves in an honorable and professional manner. You know who you are.

One big difference in many parts of the United States is in how Telecommunicators are generally regarded and trained. This is something that has improved in the years that I've been in Colorado, but there are still many places in this country where those who serve as the critical link between citizens and public safety professionals are regarded as no more than clerical staff. Their agencies receive the same priorities with regard to funding. In fact, over the years some legislatures in other states have seen fit to attempt to raid 9-1-1 surcharge funds, in the same way that Colorado dallied with tapping a worker's compensation fund. Politicians and priorities, hmmm....

Grand Junction and other areas in Colorado have an excellent public safety communications system, from the Technology through the Processes all the way to the People. While that doesn't mean that there isn't room for improvement in many areas, it does mean that there are responsive, professional people on the other end of the line, ready to address just about any situation thrown at them.

The reported difficulties in finding the kind of people who can accomplish this on a consistent basis is also that much more of a validation that they are an equal part of the team that protects lives and property in Mesa County.

I've dispatched with a walkie-talkie, cell phone, and clipboard in the passenger seat of a car, in closet-sized rooms with dust bunnies the size of cats, in rental office trailers with borrowed carpets to try to improve the acoustics, in the basement of an old train station, in a large, well-equipped truck that incorporated many of my own design ideas, and in the Emergency Operations Center for a major metropolitan area.

Now I'm back in a hospital in a windowless room, but maybe there's a chance for some light on the subject. Perhaps it's time for me to take "Dispatching" to a different level. Who knows where I'll end up?

This coming week includes some tough anniversaries in our recent history as a state and a nation. More about that later. May your week ahead be a peaceful one.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Amazon and Smart Mobs

"Way back" in 2002, the techno-social-futurist Howard Rheingold penned a book called Smart Mobs: The Next Social Revolution. The book's main focus was on the then-nascent technologies of text messaging and wireless Internet connectivity, how it had been leveraged in places where mobile phone proliferation was significantly greater than in the US (Japan and Finland), and the potential for social mobility and change rising from this instant and mobile measure of interactive connectivity. I tore through the book in about 3 days back then, and my copy is littered with post-it bookmarks, highlighted passages, and margin notes.

Now that Wi-Fi Internet service has proliferated into homes and businesses across the country and the world, and organization through text messaging and social networking services are creating unique and powerful ways of mobilizing people, opinion, and resources, Mr. Rheingold's predictions about the power of this technology are coming to fruition in ways that are exciting to some and scary to others.

The flash mob phenomenon, while impressive in its ability to assemble seemingly random and disparate groups for things like pillow fights and performance art, has started to do some serious growing up in the last week or so.

Last week, removed from it's sales-ranking based search system numerous book titles that could be termed adult-themed. These included several gay and lesbian romance novels, erotica, and other books in similar genres. One author and blogger who complained to Amazon about this received an email reply that the removal of his gay-themed novel from sales rankings was "in consideration of our entire customer base".


Since Amazon's search system selects items in its inventory based on this sales ranking as well as the customer's search query string, these types of books may not have been displayed as available for sale, or have been so far down in the results as to have been likely ignored by shoppers. One blog secured several screenshots illustrating the problem, while calling for a boycott of Amazon until the practice was ended.

In conjunction with consternation in the blogosphere, someone subscribing to the social networking site Twitter began notifying others and encouraging collective action through the twitter "hashtag" #amazonfail. Over the Easter weekend, this tag was present in more "tweets" than any other tag, including #Jesus. While that is unfortunate, it illustrates in no uncertain terms the ability of these types of services to notify and mobilize thousands with little effort.

Amazon took notice, and with their PR department on its heels during Easter weekend issued what appeared to me a hastily-assembled media release lamenting the problem as the result of a "glitch" that would be fixed as soon as possible. Many Twitter-ers are sensing that Amazon's response is a bit disingenuous, which has resulted in a new hashtag, #glitchmyass.

It doesn't matter what happened. What matters here is that the use of social networking and related activism sent a corporate giant reeling and into serious 'spin and protect' mode. This is even more ironic when you consider that Twitter is owned in part by several venture capital firms, including one operated by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.

As we've seen in other applications in the commercial, political, and activist arenas, the social revolution that Howard Rheingold predicted earlier this decade is upon us. My personal take is that these types of new and innovative technologies benefit those with innovative, open and creative approaches to life and living.

That's why regardless of how much social networking is used to garner support for causes such as today's Tea Parties, those with a mind inclined toward eliciting collective support for the common good will have the edge in using these technologies. Those with closed minds just won't see it.

Have a good night.

Graveyard Scatterbrain

I emerged Monday from what was a quiet, almost laconic Easter weekend (save for the excitement of watching golf, as contradictory as that may sound) into two nights of graveyard shift at the hospital. To follow the first night shift that I've worked in over two years was a session at the radio station Tuesday morning with 23 second graders, eager to record their Words.

After that came lunch with my co-producer, followed by a trip to the accountant to get my taxes, sign and mail the necessary paperwork, then head back to the house. By this time I was on autopilot to the bed for about 2 1/2 hours of sleep before getting up to do my second night shift.

I survived that surprisingly well, but today requires me to be up and active, mostly in the afternoon, and I hope that my circadian rhythms are up to the challenge. The night shift has made my Internet and computer-induced ADD all the worse, and as a result a few choice tidbits have been flitting their way in and out of my head. I'm going to try and list all of them before something else gets in the way of proper cognition, like the Penguins game tonight.

Give me a minute....

Friday, April 10, 2009

'Sexting' - Sinister or Just Stupid?

About a year and a half ago my son had a call come up on his cell phone. With this lovely device you can associate a photo with a particular caller or group of callers. When I saw the photo of the naked female torso on his phone, I was immediately concerned and alarmed; was that someone he knew? Why did he have it on his phone?

After eliciting an explanation and expressing my extreme displeasure, the picture disappeared from his phone. While the person that exposed themselves for their cell phone was unidentifiable from the picture, it was undoubtedly circulated to several other people. Why would someone do something like that?

As time has passed others have had occasion to ask the same question of teenagers, both famous and not, and the reaction from the so-called responsible adult segment of our society has been as varied as there are political systems at work in our 50 states.

Our always-at-the-ready-to-pounce-on-anything-remotely-resembling-anything-sexual news media has brought forth numerous examples of kids taking pictures of themselves in various states of undress for boy/girlfriends, and finding that the ubiquitous, pervasive, and permanent nature of the Internet, combined with human error, indifference, and in some cases cruelty, has proliferated these images wayyy beyond the intended audience.

The reaction from said media, parents, other teens, and the criminal justice system has been all over the place. This has ranged from the to-be-expected ridicule from a lot of insensitive kids to a well-publicized suicide resulting from this.

As is commonplace when technology and its' uses race ahead of common sense attempts to regulate it, the response from many law enforcement agencies and prosecutors has been ham-handed and less than appropriate. This week's court case involving a Pennsylvania DA (surprise) threatening child pornography charges against three girls who circulated provocative pictures of themselves is an example. There are several other cases out there, including one from Florida where the boy who sent a nude picture of his girlfriend to others (after she sent it to him) may have to register as a sex offender.

Many people are asking if the punishment fits the crime here. Others go as far as to ask if there is a crime being committed if the images are taken and disseminated with the full knowledge and consent of the participants. Still others wonder if this is largely an unwarranted intrusion by government into the parent-child relationship. Lots of so-called experts with more time and clearer heads than mine have weighed in expertly on this subject. You can read their assessments here, here, and here.

I decided to mull over all of this from a parent's perspective, and tried to come up with something meaningful to say to my child that would hopefully stick. So here goes:

The first time that someone you love chooses to share their body with you will hopefully be something that you can happily carry with you the rest of your days on this earth. You won't need a picture to remind you; it will be an indelible imprint on your memory, a sweet something written with a purple Sharpie on the inside cover of your favorite book.

That sweet something is best when it stays with just the two of you. To make it something more than the profound statement of love and trust that it should be cheapens both the experience and those who shared it. Keep this close to your heart, for when your heart feels close to someone else.

May you have a blessed and safe Easter weekend.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Council Candidate Follow-Up

Today was municipal election day in the City of Grand Junction. It seemed to be a rather low-key affair in comparison to the last election. Aside from the obvious differences, conducting an election solely by mail may have something to do with that.

Even though the stakes don't appear to be as high as in November, there were still 4 council seats to be decided, which constitutes a majority. While there doesn't appear to be an organized slate or bloc of candidates which could conceivably control Council if elected, there did seem to be a somewhat refreshing difference of opinions that created some meaningful choice in some districts and the one "at-large" seat that was contested.

One month ago I posted a recap of issues pertaining to Public Safety, with the stated intent of posing these issues to as many Council candidates as I could reach, to elicit any opinion they might have on these issues.

I sent an e-mail that included that earlier post to every Council candidate with the exception of Bill Pitts and Ken Sublett, who I could not locate e-mail addresses for. Here is a brief overview of what I got back:

Bonnie Beckstein, Sam Susuras, and Tom Kenyon did not reply.

Roland Cole replied with a question as to who I was, and if we had met. I replied to him with a brief bio, and stated that to my knowledge we had not previously met. I received no further replies from him afterward.

Reford Theobold replied, and basically referred me to his website, specifically his position on new Public Safety infrastructure. Mr. Theobold's website is comprehensive in scope, and contains many well-written position statements. The experienced Mr. Theobold also received local media endorsements, as did Mr. Cole. A lot of good it seemed to do them.

While it's true that Mr. Theobold was a Council member when the last economic downturn hit Grand Junction, it's also true that he was a Council member when the Persigo Agreement was signed with Mesa County. He may have proven his mettle in helping to manage adversity, but what about growth, especially when that growth may continue unabated despite the likelihood of reduced revenues? I guess we won't know, at least until he runs again.

The most comprehensive and fruitful response came from incumbent (and unopposed) candidate Teresa Coons:
Hi John --

I would be happy to sit down with you and discuss your concerns and issues. Without going into great detail in this message, I would say that most of the things that you mention in your points below are actually taking place, albeit maybe not in a manner that makes these collaborations obvious to the general public. For example, the public safety functions throughout Mesa County (police, fire, and all-hazards emergency management) are approached very collaboratively by all of the emergency services agencies within Mesa County. There are a number of formal contractual and informal agreements among all of the agencies within the county. There have, in fact, been a number of major emergencies over the past few years where the collaborative operations of these agencies were clearly evident. Having served for the past 6 years on the Mesa County Board of Health, for the past 4 years on City Council, and serving as the City Council representative on the Meth Task Force, the Offenders Management Task Force and the Pandemic Flu Preparedness Task Force, I have been able to witness the inside operations of the emergency agencies within our county, and the relationships among them. I might also add that the Police Chief has established a Citizen's Advisory Board, and Grand Junction police, fire, and utilities personnel (among others) participate very actively on the County's Emergency Management committees, which are convened by the County Emergency Manager, and include participation from key personnel from the other incorporated municipalities within the County.

Teresa Coons

Ms. Coons made an effort to answer my concerns by lining up behind the efforts already being taken by local public safety agencies to work together and communicate. I agree with some of her assertions, but some of my concerns remained unaddressed. These efforts do occur, and they do result in some extraordinary joint operations in highly adverse conditions. I hope to be able to sit down with her sometime soon.

One other thing that came out of Ms. Coons' reply was that she copied it to City Manager Laurie Kadrich. Ms. Kadrich then copied that email to the other candidates, asking that she be given the first opportunity to speak with myself and others about the concerns I have brought forward.
I meet with her later this week.

Congratulations are in order to Bonnie Beckstein, Teresa Coons, Tom Kenyon, and Bill Pitts on their election to Council. It stands to be an interesting year ahead, right off the bat. I'm looking forward to see how the Comprehensive Plan, along with the obvious needs of Public Safety, will be addressed by this Council in ways that are in the best interest of the City that put them in office. 25 years from now is important, but pales in comparison to the needs of the community over the term of these new Council members.

Tomorrow is another day of work, as well as a day of reflection, remembrance, and continuing to look forward to a future both uncertain and full of possibilities perhaps not even thought of yet.

Take care.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

April Follow-Up

Happy April!

March certainly went out like a lion around here, topped off by God's nasty April Fool's joke on Powderhorn Resort, by dumping what may be upwards of 2 to 3 feet of snow there the week after their closure for the season.

Powderhorn is one of only four resorts in Colorado that have closed for the season thus far. Sounds like the management needs to work a little flexibility planning in, should this kind of late season snow be repeated in the coming years.

As a season pass purchaser, I expect the resort to make the most out of the existing conditions and potential customer demand, and keep those lifts running as long as practical. While the resort might contend that's exactly what they did, this will take some convincing for me to understand the factors involved.

The blog on the resort website says that skiers are welcome on the hill. My son and his friends were planning to making their way up to the area sometime today, and will probably hit the Forest Service sledding hill, also known as "Old Powderhorn", about a mile up Grand Mesa from the ski resort. That's about 4 cheeseburgers, fries and Mountain Dews that Powderhorn didn't sell today.


Jay Cutler made his departure from Denver in a rather quick fashion. I didn't know that he grew up in Indiana, so he'll be pretty close to some family and friends. They can hopefully help him nurse his bruises the first time he gets planted in the Frozen Tundra of Lambeau Field in January.

As it happens, the Bears will be in Denver on August 30th for a pre-season tilt with the Broncos. That might be a Bronco game worth watching, if just for the crowd reaction.


I spent the latter part of this week at the Western Colorado All Hazards Conference. This was an excellent gathering of experts and educators in the fields of public safety and emergency preparedness. I took a two-day Incident Command class that included attendees from county and city administrators to public health nurses to meteorologists from as far away as Lake City.

There were lunchtime presenters each of the four days of the conference. The ones I saw were pretty interesting. The Sentinel provided coverage of one presentation by two of the public safety managers that responded to the Virginia Tech shootings.

Gene Kinsey took some time in his blog to criticize some of the points made by the presenters, specifically with an emphasis toward relying on oneself for protection, along with some of the efforts to permit concealed-carry permits and weapons on college campuses and elsewhere.

Gene endeavored to connect the resolution of the recent mass shooting in Carthage, North Carolina as an example of the potential impact of one armed officer on the severity of the incident and number of casualties. He augmented his assertions with a post today that took into account yesterday's tragedy in Binghamton, New York.

I'm not sure that I agree with that concept, but Gene brought some interesting points to bear. As I didn't attend this particular presentation, I'll give the presenters the benefit of the doubt that significant parts of their presentation may not have been properly represented in the Sentinel's account.

On a related note, my condolences and prayers go out to the families and colleagues of the three Pittsburgh Police officers slain earlier today.


My post on Google Street View last week generated more traffic, from all around the world, than I've had in several months. This is primarily due to the Google Blog post that I linked to listing my post on the site.

Apparently, the European perspective of Street View varies significantly, witness the occupants of a small English Village who formed a human chain across a road to block the Google Street View vehicle from photographing any more of their town. Something tells me this isn't the end of this issue.

To be continued..