Thumbs Our high country lowdown on the news - Nov. 1, 2013

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By Optic Editorial Board

The deaths last week of two Behavioral Health Institute patients who were released into the care of a local boarding home should shock everyone in this community. So far, state police aren’t saying much about the incident. Indeed, the agency apparently didn’t even deem it important enough to send out a news release about the deaths until five days later — after the Optic began asking questions about it. It’s too early to point fingers or to know whether this was anything but a tragic accident, but a full investigation is warranted. Let’s not sweep this under the rug.

At some point, most of us have probably had the impulse to tell a difficult boss to shove it, but most of us hold back because we realize that there is a better way to handle the situation. Commissioner Ron Ortega gave into the impulse in September. The now-former Highlands University employee threw a letter of suspension and keys at his boss’s face and threatened him. Ortega says he snapped because of years of bullying. To his credit, he is owning up to what he did and he even acknowledges that he should have handled it differently. Still, such behavior is unacceptable from anyone, let alone an elected official.

We applaud the Las Vegas City Schools District for hiring its own private investigators to get to the bottom of the vandalism that took place more than five months ago at Robertson High School. So far, those private investigators have identified several suspects in the case, according to Superintendent Sheryl McNellis-Martinez. Let’s hope that solid evidence is available and that law enforcement and the District Attorney’s office will follow through and finally hold those responsible accountable.

A Dumpster in the Wells Fargo parking lot rests partially on the lot while partially blocking the sidewalk on Seventh Street. The odor and discharge emitted from that large trash container is fairly innocuous in dry weather, but it reeks after rains. Clearly, organic materials go into the Dumpster, along with paper, aluminum cans and other waste. But the main problem is the leakage, which runs across the driveway and the sidewalk, eventually making its way into the nearby drain. A resident earlier pointed out this nuisance in a letter to the editor. Authorities need to address this problem soon.

“When you fire somebody, that gives them a black eye. Who wants that on their record? ... She had no reason to get rid of us.”
— Former San Miguel County DWI Program employee Diane Ortiz, who, along with Novella Montoya, was fired from her job.