In our civics classes (remember those?) at Santa Fe High School, we learned that there are two basic types of municipal government: city manager and strong mayor. In the city manager model, a full-time executive is hired by the City Council to run the nuts and bolts of the city, while a part-time elected mayor, paid or unpaid, does ceremonial duties and acts as the face of the city.
Here in Santa Fe, we now have the blessings of both. Mayor Alan Webber is a full-time, well-paid head of city government, but he also has a full-time, well-paid city manager. Both seem to be able to hire full-time, well-paid chiefs of staff, plus, we suppose, secretaries, aides, gofers and other perks of office. Every time we pick up the paper, we see that they are getting raises.
City Hall is in the building where I sat in my civics class — possibly in one of the rooms now occupied by some of the many “managers” now getting paid to do anything but clean streets, repair potholes, keep the water flowing and other dreary chores that we taxpayers expect from the government of a rather small city. I, for one, will vote next time for more workers and fewer managers.
Metaphorical vs. literal
Columnist Milan Simonich has a knack for setting readers on fire from time to time, but so far as I know, he has never actually taken a match to any of us. Similarly, when retired Army Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton of VoteVets wrote, “My father took Donald Trump’s place in Vietnam … ,” it seems to me he was speaking metaphorically rather than literally. But true to his incendiary style, Simonich calls Eaton a liar for writing those words.
Bad form, Mr. Simonich, not just for mischaracterizing what Gen. Eaton was saying, but mostly for going on to hotly equate Eaton’s and VoteVets’ political criticisms of President Trump with the latter’s incessant and well-documented use of nonmetaphorical falsehoods and made-up “facts.” Apples and oranges, Mr. Simonich, if you follow.
retired foreign service officer
Hope or despair?
The Aug. 10 New Mexican’s headlines include: “Members of Congress freely work on boards of corporations,” “Prepare for life on hotter planet,” “Judge orders plane with deported asylum applicants to turn around.” This list could could go on and on. My conclusion is this. Keep writing letters. Keep signing petitions. Call your members of Congress. Attend protest rallies. Do what is right, and most of all, vote. Maybe there is a light at the end of the tunnel, but only if we keep up the pressure to keep up kindness and crush the current cruelty.
Kudos to Alan Gilbert, conductor, and to the musicians of the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival. In the middle of the concert Monday evening, the power went out. The emergency lighting in the Lensic Performing Arts Center came on. After a short pause, Gilbert announced that the musicians would move closer to the edge of the stage to read the music from the lighting above, and the concert would go on. It was marvelous. Without noise from the air conditioning and without need of electronic amplification, mezzo-soprano Michelle DeYoung continued exactly where she had been interrupted, and we heard Mahler’s “Das Lied von der Erde” as it was meant to be performed.
Recently, my wife and I were at a red light at the intersection of Cerrillos Road and Zafarano Drive when our car died. It was midday, hot; traffic was heavy, and other drivers understandably were not happy with us. Luckily, Santa Fe police Officers Rebecca Hilderbrandt and Jill Feaster happened by, took charge and pushed our defunct Jeep into a nearby Starbucks. These two ladies saved a bad situation from getting worse, and we are grateful to them and the Santa Fe Police Department.
Elizabeth and Michael Hendrick