Pave ’n’ Save
[RE: Commentary, “The Pave It or Save It Election?” Aug. 30-Sept. 5] How is it Laura Sanchez can come off sounding sexist when writing about upcoming City Council races? If I hadn’t read “Four women who never previously ran for office are seeking Council seats,” I wouldn’t have believed it.
Are there two people out of nine on the current Council, of either gender, who’ve ever run for office before being elected to their posts? I don’t think so. The only one I know of is Ken Sanchez who was a former Bernalillo County Commissioner.
But her “Pave It or Save It …” piece was polluted much more profoundly than just on the gender indictment, and it begs a fuller response.
In the course of my long professional career, I have had many clients. Having had Marty Chavez as one of them for three months a couple years ago hardly makes me some sort of appendage, as the column implies.
I’ve worked on campaigns ranging from James B. Lewis for New Mexico State Treasurer to three AMAFCA Bond Issues. And I served nonprofits from the Barrett House and the Albuquerque Rape Crisis Center to the Alliance for Albuquerque Animals to the New Mexico Jazz Workshop.
In fact, anyone who knows me knows I am a staunch advocate of safer streets and reinvestment in established neighborhoods, and I am surely not going to end up in the pocket of any City Hall faction or other.
And yet I find myself the object of nasty, misleading mudslinging in the blogosphere, in particular by people whose real agendas are masked by the fact that they don't list their real names. I'll give Laura Sanchez one thing: At least she bylined her piece. But she'd do better to get her own facts rather than relying on the junk flying around the Internet right now.
She also never bothered to interview me nor ask for my response, which I think is just plain bad and irresponsible journalism, if not biased and unfair.
For District 6 residents who are interested in the facts, I am always available to talk at my cell phone at 261-4444, by e-mail at email@example.com. You can also go to my website at www.joaniegriffinforcitycouncil.com.
Ready To Clock In
I find myself in the unenviable position of finding fault with your columnist, Jerry Ortiz y Pino, who recently penned the opinion piece, “Where Have All the Workers Gone?" [Aug. 9-15]. I usually agree with what Ortiz y Pino writes, as well as with many of his actions as a member of the State Legislature. Therefore, the glaring omission of a ready pool of workers to help solve the Social Security crisis in this country feels especially troubling.
Mr. Ortiz y Pino sites a litany of statistics and observations which have validity, such as the ever-increasing paucity of early and secondary education and increasing members of our population being incarcerated, but nowhere in his article does he mention people with disabilities. Here is a statistic that he doesn't cite. The national unemployment rate still hovers over 70 percent for people with disabilities. These numbers have not changed significantly with the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act. In all areas he speaks to, such as the poor graduation rate of New Mexico students and the shift of manufacturing jobs out of our country, people with disabilities are available to fill the jobs that require skill and ambition. There are about 300,000 people in New Mexico who declare themselves disabled, as well as seniors with disabilities who are overlooked, and it is time members of the larger community come to term with their own bias against the disabled.
He asks the question, “wouldn't it be smarter to begin reaching out to young people at ages 13, 14 or 15 ...?" How about reaching out to the kids with disabilities in the school system? How about rethinking, “No Child Left Behind,” which leaves disabled kids behind in in the dust? What about the fact that within the penal system are thousands of folks, who if tested, may have a learning disability and never had the support necessary to become productive citizens in the first place.
We are not invisible. People across the state and country are pushing back this inequity. In August 2004, Gov. Richardson announced an employment initiative that stated the goal of increasing employment opportunities for people with disabilities within state government. We have yet to hear a comprehensive plan announced regarding this initiative. Perhaps Mr. Ortiz y Pino and his fellow legislators could work on that this year. How about promoting worker and employment education and support to those who hire people with disabilities? ... Couldn't the Legislature look at providing support to local businesses to train workers to provide “natural supports" to their fellow employees, some with disabilities?
Our country is at a crossroads. Our roads and bridges are falling apart. Our people are pressed to be fearful about everything. One fear we can move aside is the fear of those who are different. Different does not mean less; it just means different. Take the time to see what people with diverse abilities offer; erase the stereotypes that meander through your heads. Try to remember what “enlightened self-interest" means and see that it is not only a question of civil rights, it is also a solution to the question, “Where have all the workers gone?" We haven't gone anywhere, Mr. Ortiz y Pino, we are right here, and we are ready to clock in for work!
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