Nosotros y Ellos
[RE: Feature, “Dear Gabachos,” May 4-10]
Thank you so much for creating a healthy dialogue between “us” and “them”! After—ah, let's see—25 years here in New Mexico, it’s so refreshing to see the word “Mexican” written in print and on the front page! Ay ay ay! Being from Califas, I'm proud to know that it took a fellow UCLA Grad/Mexicano to get this out. There is so much to write about. My cousin and I have been in therapy for years, ad nauseum, over this pinche shit!
Keep up the great work. Much success to you.
Hope During a Crisis
Thank you for “Losing It” [Feature, April 20-26], describing the mental health crisis in New Mexico. As one of APD’s Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) detectives I need to make one correction and give some clarification. Mayor Chavez’ summit on mental health and homelessness resulted in a number of positive initiatives including APD’s Crisis Outreach and Support Team (COAST) and initiatives to address homelessness, but APD’s CIT program has been around for about 10 years. Thank you for reporting the hope in the midst of the doom and gloom.
CIT includes about 100 specially trained and dedicated CIT officers and four CIT detectives who respond to people in crisis, some with mental illness. Regardless of budget cuts and lack of services, police must respond and intervene to keep citizens safe. We must utilize available tools; no time for wishing and hoping for more money or services. Currently, people who meet the criteria for dangerousness are taken to hospitals for “forced” inpatient treatment. Some become stabilized, get released, then refuse to comply with their prescribed outpatient treatment. Without treatment, some become dangerous again. Family members and police are painfully aware of the pattern. Currently all police can do is wait until the behavior becomes dangerous again. Kendra’s Law would be an additional tool to try to break this cycle, providing a less restrictive, less expensive option. Mentally ill people who receive regular outpatient treatment have less dangerous behaviors, less need for “forced” treatment and fewer calls for police.
This issue will never truly touch the lives of most people. Most doctors will never have to order “forced” treatment. Most families will never have to call 911 for a dangerous mentally ill loved one. Most mentally ill people will never experience their illness to the extent that would make them a candidate for Assisted Outpatient Treatment. It is truly rare. It is a fact some mentally ill people suffer disturbing delusions or hallucinations which they cannot distinguish as part of their illness. We further stigmatize the mentally ill by insisting all mentally ill people can simply “choose” treatment. For some it is not a matter of choice. We should not leave behind those who cannot make informed decisions and choices due to their illness.
Kendra’s Law was never meant to be the solution to the mental health care crisis. We should not attempt to reform mental health care in New Mexico with this one law. We should find real solutions to the mental health care crisis. Meanwhile, Kendra’s Law is one real solution to one specific problem; people whose untreated mental illness causes them to become dangerous. Kendra’s Law just might give these mentally ill people an opportunity to improve the quality of their lives and keep them, their families and the community safer.
Detective Liz Thomson
APD Crisis Intervention Team
RE: ¡Ask a Mexican!, “Special Música Edition,” April 27-May 3]
Regarding the mention of the Ronca Gloriosa (whelps, shouts, gritos) that the writer refers to in Mexican ballads:
I don't know if the Aztecs, or other Amerindians had the equivalent in their folk music, as I don't know a thing about Aztec or other Amerindian folk music, but in Spain, and most notably the Celtic regions of Spain, there is a custom of peppering their songs with said Ronca Gloriosa, only it's called Aturuxo (ah-tooh-rooh-hoh) over there. Now, seeing that Spain had a modest role/influence in Mexican history since 1519 or so, there is a chance that said custom could have come from Spain, which, by the way attributes these "whelps" to its Celtic heritage (Galicia/Asturias), which also seems reasonable, as the bagpipe has been a regional instrument in these provinces since pre-Roman times.
Let Them Pay
[RE: Ortiz y Pino, “A Bulging Butter Bin,” May 4-10]
Although Jerry Ortiz y Pino certainly has a valid point that scarcity budgeting insulates politicians from making tough decisions, his prescription for even bigger spending in Santa Fe would be unwise and ineffective. First and foremost, spending has risen significantly in recent years—General Fund spending will grow by more than 8.7 percent between the 2006 and 2007 fiscal years—so, despite ample revenue, it would indeed be foolish to go on an even more massive spending spree. One could certainly argue, of course, that the state's priorities are a bit skewed. In fact, spending on items like the Rail Runner, film industry subsidies and the spaceport are undeniably for the benefit of the wealthy. Rather than increased spending on welfare payments and new programs for the poor and working classes, it would be wiser to let the rich pay for their trains, movies and interplanetary travel, while letting the poor keep more of their own money.
Of course, this brings me to my final point, which is that the best way to use New Mexico's excess revenues to help the poor would be to reduce the onerous gross receipts tax rate or to temporarily suspend the state's gas tax. Both of these taxes disproportionately affect lower-income residents of the state and reducing (or temporarily eliminating them) would put money back into the pockets of average citizens rather than government officials. New Mexico is awash in oil and gas revenues, but it is still a poor state. Government programs don't create wealth—people do. Give the money back to the people!
Paul J. Gessing
President, Rio Grande Foundation
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