Misconduct shouldn’t be funded

So here’s the deal.

Does it bother you when government workers get in trouble and are placed on administrative leave with pay? You read about it all the time. You see them being led away in handcuffs on Albuquerque TV.

One of the most recent examples was the Santa Fe school bus driver creep messing with 13-year-old girls on his bus. Even though he admitted it, they immediately placed this guy on administrative leave with pay. To their credit, Santa Fe Public Schools fired him soon thereafter. His free pay time was mercifully limited. Often these public employees sit at home for weeks or months at taxpayer expense.

Okay, since I am liable to run into Gary Mitchell at the post office, I get it. You are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

So here’s the deal. From now on, when a public employee runs afoul of the law, he is placed on administrative leave with pay, the check going into an escrow account he forfeits if found guilty.

Other than the parade of medicine ads during dinner hour network news, graphically describing symptoms and side effects — most of which I suffer — what bothers me most about TV news is the teasing game played by Albuquerque newscasts. “There was a big announcement in Santa Fe today. We’ll tell you about it at 10.”

So here’s the deal. Guys, if you’ve got the story you had better tell us now because there is a good chance we’ll be nighty-night by ten and will read the story in the morning paper. So why do we need you?

Tell me this. If a bird doesn’t need a pilot, or a fish a swimming instructor, why does a lawyer need a spokesman? Have you ever met a lawyer at a loss for words? A luncheon of lawyers gaggles like a flock of geese in a barnyard. So they have to hire people to talk for them?

I read that Bernalillo DA Kari Brandenburg was bringing on KOB-TV’s Kayla Anderson as a spokesperson. Have you ever heard Ms. Brandenburg handle a TV interview? Dynamite. Paying someone to speak for Brandenburg would have been like hiring me to pinch hit for Babe Ruth.

So here’s the deal. In an unscientific survey conducted by this humble correspondent, it was discovered that 97.7 percent of cushy-job government spokesmen were taken from Albuquerque and Santa Fe media ranks. Henceforth, all spokesmen will be apportioned by state legislative districts.

Congressman Steve Pearce is after another critter, this time the Dunes Sagebrush Lizard. I have empathy for the congressman’s strategy, having made a column career poking fun at the Lesser Prairie Chicken. It made people smile and it is safe, defenders of the Lesser Prairie Chicken or Dunes Sagebrush Lizard as sparse as the desert they roam.

And, on a more serious note, for years this column ridiculed cockfighting until the state came to its senses and banned the “sport.”

I personally have never met a Dunes Sagebrush Lizard I liked and, encountering one, would probably jump atop a picnic table and go, “eeeuu!” But Pearce would quickly point out he considers his mission a little more important than breezy columns.

The congressman is dead serious in his claim that Endangered Species status for the lizard will threaten a significant number of New Mexico oil jobs. Folks like the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance are dead serious in their assertion protecting the lizard is crucial to the habitat and that Pearce cannot back up his jobs claim.

Somehow all this will get sorted out and, hopefully, both the Dunes Sagebrush Lizard and the oil industry will survive.

So here’s the deal. Why not more common animals? Why can’t we have an Endangered Species category for the Well-Heeled, Boot Scootin’, Fat-Wallet, Campaign Cash Cow?

Have a nice day.