San Miguel County officials have imposed Level III fire restrictions, and for good reason. The area is dry as a bone and getting dryer with each gust of wind, and it’s difficult to imagine things getting better anytime soon (though we do hope for a super-moist monsoon season).
Level III restrictions prohibit campfires, white gas stoves, open fires, controlled burning, charcoal grills, fireworks and, in certain circumstances, outdoor smoking. Moreover, all-terrain vehicles without spark arrestors and motorcycles and vehicles with catalytic converters are restricted only to maintained roadways. We urge all citizens to comply with these restrictions. Not to do so could mean serious consequences, from hefty fines or even jail time to starting the next catastrophic wildfire.
Evidence of the tender circumstances can be found in a recent report than volunteer firefighters were called out to 16 fires in less than a month and a half. That in itself is ample justification to impose the burn ban.
Meanwhile, Las Vegas remains in Stage IV water restrictions, which means that outdoor watering and at-home car washing is prohibited in response to the continuing drought. That too is fully justified by the circumstances.
Both the city and the county are wise to clamp down, and not just with warnings. Under the circumstances, citations should be issued.
A short article in last week’s edition of Newsweek magazine got us to thinking about a couple of recent San Miguel County verdicts in favor of plaintiffs suing doctors and hospitals. In one, the jury awarded $10.3 million to a deceased man from Raton after finding Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center negligent during his 2006 stay. In the other, the jury found in favor of a Raton woman and leveled a $9 million judgment against three physicians.
The Newsweek essay, by former Sen. Bill Bradley, proposed the establishment of health courts, which would include special judges advised by neutral experts. Bradley argues that the courts would be in a better position to make fair judgments, expedite awards and reduce the expensive and unnecessary “defensive medicine” techniques employed these days.
Hmm, we wonder if area hospitals would be open to this new approach. After these last two judgments, you would certainly think so.