DOWN — Winter is far from over, but we already are getting warnings about the potential for wildfires in late spring and summer. The area has had some recent snow, but the amounts are small and don't provide any optimism about heading off another drought year. Firefighters urge people with homes near rivers — which are the mostly likely locations for wildfires because that's where most of the fuel grows — to take steps to protect their homes. That includes clearing a 30-foot perimeter around the house and other structures. Call the county for more fire prevention tips.
UP — We were glad to see that a judge ordered the Central Consolidated School District school board to give a teacher facing termination a discharge hearing. That teacher, April Baisan, did not allow a student to leave the classroom during a lockdown after the student requested permission to go to the bathroom. The student eventually wet herself in class. The teacher said she followed school policy and was trying to contact school administrators to see if she could grant that permission. The incident happened during an unannounced drug sweep that lasted nearly two hours. The school board, in a closed session, decided not to hear Baisan's statement. Baisan took the matter to court and a district judge ordered the board to allow the discharge hearing. The matter was not debated in open session, so we don't know the reasons for the board's decision. However, on its face, denying the hearing seems unfair. Board Vice President Matthew Tso said Baisan's actions were forcing the student and her family to "relive a nightmare." We understand this was a traumatic event for that student, but we think the district would be better served by doing a thorough investigation of its lockdown policies. The teacher's union says those policies aren't clear. A district spokesman said the school was doing a review of emergency response policies, but only because an annual review is required by the state. We think that's the wrong attitude. Rather than blaming one individual, the district should be examining these policies because of this incident, including hearing from the teacher, in an attempt to ensure nothing like it ever happens again.
DOWN — We understand the motivation behind a resolution passed by the Farmington City Council this week supporting legislation that would deny the benefits of oil and gas drilling royalties to cities and counties that ban drilling. It makes some sense to cut off the benefits of resource extraction to local governments that don't allow it. Unfortunately, the resolution didn't stop there. Along with bans, it includes any regulation that "severely" restricts the industry. We agree with Mayor Tommy Roberts that such language is subjective and that the resolution should focus on bans. Roberts said he didn't lobby to change the language because its purpose was to send a message. We think it's the wrong message, however. In poor areas of New Mexico those royalties, which support community projects, can make a huge difference. In some cases, strict regulations might make sense to protect public resources. This would put a hammer over the head of any local government that dares — for just about any reason — to get in the way of the extractive industries. That's big government at its worst.