Nothing has changed
Permit me to offer a non-empirical and virtual evaluation of the new leadership doing the peoples’ business at the governor’s mansion, the Roundhouse and eateries in the capital city, Santa Fe.
Needless-to-say, other than COVID-19, some new faces and increased spending from the permanent fund, nothing has changed. The thousands spent last election to replace a group of inept legislators was an exercise in futility and, in my eyes, a waste of time and effort expended by lobbyists in behalf of their wealthy clients with self-serving interests that includes managers who run tax-funded organizations.
For example, to mention a few needy areas, education, hard-rock mining, oil and gas, health care, gambling, the lottery, ERA and PERA, abortion, the legal profession, the judicial system, the liquor industry, educational materials vendors, educational and athletic facilities designers and contractors, athletic equipment vendors, pupil transportation vendors, re-districting, elections, etc.
Thanks to Sen. Pete Campos, many of us are savvy and know the budget development and approval games legislators play. The areas mentioned above are the tip of the iceberg. Some are systems and many are sub-systems with numerous sub- systems below them, all that will starve unless the Legislature feeds them.
Many of the systems, through their lobbyists or tax-funded governmental liaisons, on an on-going basis, present client critical problems/needs that require tax dollars to survive. Forget about legislative due diligence. Just throw money at the problem/need. Accountability takes a back seat. Don’t worry about that. It’s in the plan, if there is a plan with goals, objectives, time lines and bench marks.
For their attention and efforts, lobbyists guarantee legislators they will be well-compensated with food and drink as required, and hefty contributions to their next election campaigns.
I ask you then, at the end of the day and the 60-day legislative session, where are the citizens and the state of New Mexico? Are we going to be better off? Is our state going to be better able to address the needs of young and old, Republicans, Democrats and Independents?
When the score is tallied, I believe the evaluation chart will reveal that the positive side is precarious at best and, barely above water. It will further prove that given our revenue sources and the absence of sensible watchdogs, the new leadership must continue to exercise caution, rearrange priorities as necessary and, not spend beyond our means until solid, new and old, income generators are established, proven and empirically evaluated regularly.
Federal government funds are not the key to success. Neither is the film industry or cannabis and hemp, any products that require heavy water usage.
In sum, young and old must join to protect, design and be the masters of the state’s destiny. Let us not be duped and follow the wrought national model. It only works for the select few, CA-NY.
Whitfield is a gem
After retiring as an educator, I wanted opportunities to form community relationships and get involved. I stopped at Whitfield Wildlife Conservation Area to check out the view where I saw geese and cranes in the fields and heard their cacophony.
In 2002, Whitfield had an observation area but no center or staff to provide any information or learning opportunities, guided walks for interaction with the environment other than on your own. It was self-directed.
Fast forward to 2018. Hearing about all the events at the Whitfield center, I wanted to know more after attending Earth Day events, which were inviting and impressive.
The Friends of Whitfield Wildlife Conservation Area supports VSWCD with volunteer opportunities to sustain programs and help with fundraising, educational programs and the Master Naturalist course, which I began in 2019. I joined the Friends, attended the informational meeting for the naturalist program and signed up.
I could get certification doing what I enjoyed — being outdoors, observing the natural world, plants, animals, the geography, the relationships of humans and environment specific to New Mexico as well as conservation efforts and recent research. I attended guided walks, talks with guest lecturers on butterflies, hummingbirds and migratory patterns.
In the fall, I attended the birthday party for Whitfield and thoroughly enjoyed seeing children of the area receive awards for drawings and their obvious delight in attending programs at the Whitfield Wildlife Conservation Area. Exciting growth!
I met the new educational program director and immediately began working with Allison Martin. We went to the schools and taught the lessons before student field trips to Whitfield. These visits were a favorite of mine.
It is exciting to see children learning and engaged, asking questions, giving answers to questions and seeing excitement at realizing the relationships and connections between humans, animals, the environment — our daily interaction in shared, existing and shrinking habitat and why all this occurs.
Allison is an enthusiastic, thorough organizer, connector of the painstakingly prepared lessons supported by the state standards. She instructs the lessons and provides excellent supplementary materials. The field trips to Whitfield are fun and the discovery demonstrates application of what students learn and how they can use it to restore, care for, promote and maintain the precious ecosystems we all live in together.
Due to COVID-19, the Whitfield programs were on hold, but there are excellent videos online, a slow re-entry of walks as Whitfield has reopened, talks and lectures accessed via Zoom and upcoming opportunities for support through donations, silent auctions, volunteer opportunities and invitations to connect in new ways.
The future of Whitfield, our local community, our state and the earth need to be embraced by the upcoming generation. Why? The ideals of shared values of protected ecosystems, prolonging life, water and food sources are about survival — important to all of us.
To have these, the development of conservation, protection and maintenance are the way to healthy environments. Whitfield is a gem in Valencia County with this mission and we can work together, implement new ideas and plans for connecting in new ways.
We can stop it
COVID-19 is not alive. Classic scientific criteria for being “alive” include the ability to move and reproduce.
COVID-19 does not move on its own; it may be carried on aerosolized droplets, but it does not walk. It can not reproduce on its own; it uses a cell to make copies of itself. COVID-19 can not sit in an abandoned office, growing bigger and writhing in hunger until bursting into the hallway to devour the nearest human like an invisible chupacabra.
COVID-19 is like a biological flash drive with malicious genetic code that can cause our cells harm if it connects to those cells and runs its genetic program. We would protect our laptops by keeping bad flash drives from connecting to the laptop, or by scrambling the data on the flash drive so it would not be able to run on our computer.
We have the same two means to stop COVID-19: keep the virus from connecting with our cells or scramble its genetic code so the code can not run.
Think about anything you might do to try to stop the spread of COVID-19, and it will go back to one of these two means; keep the virus away from the cell (masks, social distancing) or scramble the virus’ code (hand sanitizer). A vaccine trains the body to accomplish at least one of those two means on its own.
Because COVID-19 is not alive, we cannot kill it, but we have two ways to stop it.
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