I just wanted to commend your paper for its excellent article by Benjamin Radford on the alleged Santa Fe courthouse ghost [Feature, “Catching the Courthouse Spirit,” Oct. 25-31].
That piece was easily one of the most exciting, enlivening things I've read in months, absolutely thrilling in its depiction of the hands-on way that an expert researcher such as Radford goes about finding the truth about a seemingly paranormal phenomenon. And that he was able to write about his findings with clarity and humor made it even better.
Please, turn that guy loose on the Southwest's unexplained whenever possible--and let your readers, myself included, reap the results.
Although it is rare, I largely agree with Ortiz y Pino’s article “Don’t Hire the Patsy” [Ortiz y Pino, Nov. 1-7] on the search for the next APS superintendent. That said, he asks some questions that need answering. He discusses what he believes to be the three archetypes APS should be looking for: a super-teacher, an executive and a Che Guevara-style revolutionary. Unfortunately, he never answers the question as to which he prefers.
It is fairly clear to anyone who watches APS for any length of time that the system needs executive leadership to become a more effective organization. Teachers have many skills, but running a billion-dollar organization is not something many teachers have done. More importantly, while a “players’ coach” may work for a successful professional football team, APS more closely resembles the struggling Miami Dolphins than it does the successful New England Patriots.
Tough love and hard decisions are needed to make APS a winner in the classroom. This means an executive with a firm hand needs to make these decisions.
Thus, what APS really needs is an executive version of Che Guevara—or better still, Margaret Thatcher—who can innovate and who is not afraid to make unpopular decisions and embrace change. Were APS simply another local business, finding someone with these skills would be a challenge. With an entrenched and insulated bureaucracy ready to fight any superintendent that steps on the wrong toes, finding a Thatcher or Guevara to run APS is a monumental challenge indeed.
Paul J. Gessing
Ungulate vs. Fangs
In response to “Where the Wild Things Aren't” [The Real Side, Oct. 25-31], I would like to divest the readership of some of Mr. Scarantino's falsehoods and reaffirm one of the truths he attests. First, the truth is that Mexican wolf reintroduction has not been successful. This is due in part to our policies that both support and hinder the wolves’ existence. Those that hinder recovery are similar to policies that helped eradicate the wolf in the first place.
With the wolf gone from the ecosystem, ungulate populations have skyrocketed and now the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is loosing an estimated $1.1 billion a year due to collisions with wildlife. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, roughly 200 people die each year because of collisions with the likes of deer and elk. The animals the wolf prefers to eat, namely the ungulate, are doing a moderate job of killing us.
I want to point out that I am also not just a citified dweller. I was in the Gila this year for five days when the Saddleback pack was present. (I carried no weapons, only a bottle of water and some lunch.) I do go and enjoy my existence in the wilderness so much that I realize the average pet owners’ dog, let alone the average person, is more dangerous to me than a wolf.
Mr. Scarantino and the Alibi should know better and recognize that we should place our fears in supported facts rather than incorrectly cited anecdotes.
Working for Wolves
Two indignant responses [Letters, “Wild Thing” and “Lobo Spirit,” Nov. 1-7] to Jim Scarantino's article published in the Alibi [The Real Side, "Where the Wild Things Aren't," Oct. 25-31] didn't quite cover all that was wrong with Mr. Scarantino's article, so I offer another. After an uplifting and successful Wolf Awareness Week, I was saddened to read Mr. Scarantino's opinions. Sure, part of wolf awareness is facing the fact that reintroduction isn't working the way it should be working, but as with any backboned campaign, wolf awareness can't stop there. If earnest college students weren't making an effort to confront and change the policies of reintroduction, then ranchers and their large network of friends, family and economic partners would remain unhappy. That doesn't even allow one to see that Mexican gray wolves have always had the right to the territory and, in fact, their predatory nature isn't only bad. These animals play an important role in maintaining biological diversity in the Southwest.
The truth of the matter is opposition to Mexican wolf reintroduction efforts in the Gila National Forest is low. Read the 2005 Responsive Management report and you'll find that only 13 percent of residents interviewed are opposed to efforts, and the survey certainly didn't have a bias toward young urban enviros. This kind of support should encourage us to make the efforts really work. If you're uninformed on this matter and would rather feel discouraged, read Jim's article and then try to make a difference.
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Star Gazing at Sandia Mountain Natural History Center
The Albuquerque Astronomical Society brings telescopes for observing the night sky. Hiking trails are open for exploring prior to the sun setting.
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