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Thumbs - Our high country lowdown on the news - Sept. 28, 2012

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MARTIAL ARTS IN THE RIGHT HANDS. Las Vegas Police Chief Christian Montaño personifies the respect and discipline that comes with a training in the martial arts, but his level of skill in jiu-jitsu is far greater than these humble traits. He’s world class, as his upcoming trip to Long Beach, Calif., demonstrates.
On Oct. 7, Montaño is going to  compete in the Brazilian jiu-jitsu world championship in front of thousands of admiring spectators. “It’s a great honor. I’m going there to win it,” Montaño says. And knowing our chief of police, we think he just might pull it off.

A FAIR UNION VOTE. A recent union vote by San Miguel County employees fell short last week with a 21-17 vote against unionizing. A union organizer said concerns about favoritism and unfairness had led to the vote, but apparently those concerns weren’t enough to convince the majority that a union needs to be in place to represent the county workers’ interests.
All indications are that the issue was resolved in the fairest way possible, which is how all union votes should take place. And the outcome suggests some good relationships between county workers and their bosses.

CLEANUPS CONTINUE. It’s an accomplishment of Alfonso Ortiz’s tenure as mayor — cleaning up several blighted areas around town — and it’s continuing. Enforcement officer Daniel Edwards told the City Council last week that he’s working on getting properties at 406 11th St., 1305 Eighth St. and 1020 Jackson St. cleaned up.
Such clean-up efforts are a matter of health, safety and community pride. We’re glad the city is continuing the work.

HAVING ANOTHER BALL. And speaking of accomplishments, the mayor is hosting his third straight charity ball this weekend at the Highlands University Student Center Ballroom. This year’s theme is “Celebrate the Arts” and proceeds will go to a number of local charities and civil club projects. More than $43,000 was raised at the first two balls. Here’s hoping the year’s ball is at least as successful and as much fun as the the last two.

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AND WE QUOTE

“In this case, I hope that it’s (the vote against forming a union) somewhat of a reflection on the way we treat our employees — that we treat them well. ... I wish we could pay them more; the budget just doesn’t allow for it. It was obviously a close vote. I know the administration and the commissioners didn’t take a position.”
— Nicolas Leger, San Miguel County Commission chair, who also said he is a strong supporter of unions and believes in employees’ right to organize.