Vicky Collins Online

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Denver Public Schools Takes a Stand

My husband, Darrell, was beside himself.  What’s up with this?  We have a son about to enter the Denver Public Schools and here they are banning employees from travelling to Arizona because of opposition to the new immigration law.  He was fuming.  Don’t they have more important things to worry about (like higher graduation rates?)  He even called KHOW’s Caplis and Silverman radio show to vent.  I tried to rationalize the decision.  Perhaps they didn’t want their employees to be harassed or racially profiled, or they were being considerate of their large Hispanic population, or it was a pre-emptive strike because Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott McInnis was already threatening to do something similar in Colorado if elected.  It may be a misguided protest, I told him, but the Denver Public Schools took a stand for human rights.  My husband, on the other hand, felt that by standing up in this way, DPS was supporting illegal immigration.  And what business was it of the Denver Public Schools anyway?  It’s an Arizona law.  The majority of Arizonans support it.  He continues to be apoplectic. 

I certainly can appreciate his frustration and Arizona’s too.  The state has become a revolving door for illegal immigrants.  But as difficult as it may be, in my opinion it is the federal government that should be coming up with a policy for dealing with this, not individual states.  Perhaps the best thing that came of Arizona’s law is that it reminded President Obama and Congress of how urgent this problem has become and of the fact that the states have lost hope that the federal government will ever deal with the situation.  Comprehensive immigration reform has gone to the back burner and even if it suddenly becomes a priority, which is doubtful because mid-term elections are coming up and this is so fractious, Republicans and Democrats will drag the country through another agonizing process even as we heal from the health care debate and illegal immigrants stream across the border.  Unless the federal government mobilizes soon states will take matters into their own hands.  And so will Denver Public Schools which, in my husband’s opinion, should be worrying about education.

For more information on Vicky Collins visit http://teletrendstv.com.

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Kara’s Tea Party: Am I Missing Something Here?

Eddie is one of my very closest friends.  We have known each other since we were teenagers and knew of each other even longer.  Our fathers were best friends and Polish immigrants who met in London following World War II and came to America on the Queen Mary together.  When I lived in Connecticut and Eddie was in New York we hung out together every other weekend.  We attended each others weddings.  We love each others spouses and parents and the relationship between our families is continuing now for a third generation.  When I travel to New York I stay with Eddie and if he ever would go west of New Jersey I would roll out the red carpet for him in Denver.  Eddie and his wife, Mary, have raised two incredible kids and I hope my children will be as worldly and successful.  I am blessed to have Eddie and his family in my life.   

As close as Eddie and I are, we are on completely different wavelengths politically.  He is very conservative and admires Sarah Palin.  I am very liberal and support Barack Obama.  We love to debate and adore each other despite our points of view.  So I shouldn’t have been surprised when he sent me a message on Facebook saying “My daughter is KICK-ASS.”  He was proud because Kara attended a Tea Party Rally in Washington D.C. and made an impromptu speech.  She talked about the dollar and how it is losing its meaning because it is no longer earned but rather allocated (she said stolen) through government programs which we are taxed to support.  Kara standing up for the populist Tea Party and shouting out for fiscal responsibility has shaken me.  Until now it has been easy for me to ignore the protesters because they look nothing like me.  I cringe when I hear Sarah Palin’s braying and  see people who remind me of my father-in-law who lives in small town Iowa when I scan the crowds.  If Kara is jumping on the bandwagon it’s time to pay attention.  I need to ask if I’m missing something here?

Another good friend who also shook his head over my politics used to tell me “If you’re young and you’re Republican you have no heart.  If you’re old and you’re a Democrat you have no head.”  So what was Kara doing at a Tea Party Rally?  I’m not certain I can dismiss this movement anymore as a bunch of Republican extremists.  If the message is making sense to smart college educated kids like Kara then perhaps the Tea Party is gaining the kind of traction that will make a difference at the polls in November.  I hope other liberals like me who look at the Tea Party as a movement that clutters the airwaves with hate speak and reaches out to the disenfranchised few and their birther friends, ask themselves if they’re missing something too.  And when they start getting uncomfortable like I am now, when they start realizing that maybe this is a party to be reckoned with, then maybe they can stand up like Kara did and make some noise.

To learn more about Vicky Collins visit http://teletrendstv.com.


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Health Care Reform and Leadership

The debate over health care reform is not over.  Even with the House vote and significant legislation approved, the merits and process will be hashed and rehashed for years, and certainly, vociferously, until November when mid-term elections decide the fate of many in Congress who went one way or the other.  We haven’t heard the last of the Tea Party and Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck but I think that when people go to the polls in November they will consider that the Democrats actually got something done in Washington.  I was starting to wonder if it was possible.  The nastiness and fear tactics have been so discouraging.  This was an ugly process and there were many compromises.  It’s not the bill President Obama or anyone really hoped for but we have reform and it’s better than defending the status quo which was leaving so many on the sidelines.  At the 11th hour, with the finish line in sight, we had Republicans saying this is not the time, we should be concentrating on jobs and the economy.  They are right about many other priorities in this country, but why wouldn’t we finish what we started, especially when we were so close?  Why wouldn’t we push through the difficulties and get the job done?  Why wouldn’t we do as Americans do and lead?  It takes courage to make tough decisions.  It takes balls to stare down opposition and try to do the right thing.  Why would the Republicans let themselves be so marginalized while they stood on ideology?  By refusing to collaborate they are standing in the way (or rather being pushed out of the way) when meaningful progress needs to be made.  The health care reform that was passed was not radical and many experts believe it will be embraced by the public as they learn more about it.  Hopefully the electorate will keep this in mind when it’s time for them to vote their conscience.  I’m sure many Democratic legislators lost sleep over their vote but they didn’t cave in and they made important changes in a broken system that were long overdue.  They voted with common sense.  They pushed through the fear.  We can debate the merits of the health care reform bill until we’re blue in the face and gasping for oxygen.  But I’m breathing easier this morning.  Finally, someone is leading in Washington. 

For more information on Vicky Collins visit http://teletrendstv.com.


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Africans on Obama

NOTE: THIS IS A REPRINT OF A BLOG FROM 11/27/2008 FOLLOWING BARACK OBAMA’S ELECTION.  IT STILL RINGS TRUE AS HE PAYS HIS FIRST POST-PRESIDENTIAL VISIT TO ACCRA, GHANA IN WEST AFRICA WITH FIRST LADY MICHELLE AND DAUGHTERS SASHA AND MALIA OBAMA.

Our Ugandan driver picked us up from the airport in Entebbe on November 9.  We were barely down the road before he asked us who we voted for in the election.  He wanted to talk about Barack Obama.  He wanted to tell us about the parties all over Kampala on the night Obama was elected.  They were still going on days after the election to celebrate the achievement of this native son and brother.

As soon as people in Kampala learned we were Americans they wanted to engage in a discussion about our President-Elect.  In the slums a man we met pumped the air with his fist and called out “Obama.”  We asked him what his thoughts were about him.  “He is African.  He is my brother.”  In mom’s arms nearby was a baby named Obama, a very popular name for African children right now.  People wore Obama buttons, Obama t-shirts, Obama on their sleeves. 

A video called “The Biography of Barack Obama” was on the market and news headlines screamed of his victory and how he would end poverty in Uganda and make this African nation the number one priority of his administration.  There was even a newspaper column with 50 fun facts about Obama including the food he likes to eat, the television shows he enjoys and the fact that he failed to fulfill his promise to Michelle and give up smoking.  People were so giddy that one worried they would be disappointed by the crush of expectations on this man who many viewed as a savior.

Others were a little more thoughtful in their assessments.  Mr. Kayondo looked forward to a man who hopefully would dialogue and help end wars.  Damien, a Nigerian professor who now teaches at a university in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, said his triumph meant that Africans and African Americans for that matter could no longer make excuses and act as though they are limited by white society.  Joseph and a young woman we met at an African market just said “let’s wait and see.”

For all the excitement this Presidency has brought to America, there is an equal amount of enthusiasm in east African nations like Uganda and Kenya.  In those countries, they slog along with leaders who are corrupt and siphon off money for themselves instead of fixing roads and fighting poverty.  But for now attention has turned to Barack Obama.  He may be the next President of the United States but he is their President too.

For more information on Vicky Collins visit http://teletrendstv.com


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New Focus on the Family

Time will tell but this sure seems like a refreshing shift at Focus on the Family.  Jim Daly, who has risen from a hellish past, replaces Dr. James Dobson at the helm of the conservative Christian organization based in Colorado Springs and vows to be a different kind of leader.  Instead of being dogmatic “it’s more about having a conversation with people.”  He admires Barack Obama, wants to focus on the positive and says “lets shove off the rhetoric and get together on practical matters.”  There’s hope in that kind of thinking.  Here’s more on Jim Daly from Electa Draper of The Denver Post. 

http://www.denverpost.com/ci_12581442

For more information on Vicky Collins visit http://teletrendstv.com.


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Trend Setting Iowa

My husband is from Iowa.  His parents live in a town of about 10,000 called Storm Lake in the Northwest corner of the state.  I’ve been going back and forth for many years.  The Iowa I used to see was a conservative, set in its ways kind of place that didn’t really welcome change.  But my view is shifting dramatically.  Iowa voters were prescient with their early support of Barack Obama.  I’ve found citizens working hard to co-exist with the new Hispanic populations that are flocking there to work in the meat packing plants.  And now the Iowa Supreme Court has ruled that denying gay marriage violates constitutional rights to equal protection.  More and more Iowa is becoming a bellweather for the nation when it comes to social change and civil rights.

I mentioned how proud I was of Iowa and it’s progressive shift the other night at dinner and the table fell silent.  But Maureen Dowd in her New York Times column “Demi in Des Moines” (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/12/opinion/12dowd.html?ref=opinion) isn’t silent at all.  She writes about how California used to be the nation’s trend setter but not anymore.  “Once the West Coast glowed with prosperity and was the harbinger of hip new things.  Now it’s in the grip of recession and repression.  California’s cool has been stolen by, of all places, Iowa.  White bread, corn fed, understated Iowa… now it’s flyover country that’s starting high-flying trends.”   Maybe this land dominated by reason and common sense is helping America come to its senses.  

Of course the fight is not over in the states that allow gay marriage or those that are considering it.  There are many galvanizing to oppose even the slightest momentum.  But they may not be able to stop the cascade of citizens and courts calling for fairness.  In presidential politics it is often said “as Iowa goes, so goes the nation.”  Will it hold true on the issue of gay marriage as well?  In it’s article “The Meaning of Iowa’s Gay Marriage Decision” (http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1889534-2,00.html) Time Magazine pointed out, “There might even be good news in the Iowa decision for gays in California, where activists are fearfully awaiting the justices’ ruling on Prop 8, which is likely to be issued in coming weeks. The Iowa decision cited the California case eight times and borrowed its reasoning again and again. That kind of homage from a sister court — and one that, like California’s, has a long history of breakthrough civil rights decisions — may strengthen the resolve of the majority in the Golden State and turn aside the narrow vote of the people.”

The tide may not be changing yet on gay marriage but it certainly is a sea change when conservative states like Iowa separate church and state then blow by California and New York in recognizing that the constitution really did intend equal protection for all.  Maybe the same citizens that voted for a new world order with Barack Obama are starting to weary of a country marked by divisiveness.  Or maybe with so many economic woes people realize there are much bigger things to worry about than same sex marriages by loving couples.  It might even be a boost for Iowa’s economy as gay couples move to the state which, along with its New England counterparts, is starting to brim with inclusiveness.  The ringing of the bell in little old Iowa is clanging loud and clear across the country.  Unanimous.  Affirmed:  All Justices Concur.

For more information on Vicky Collins visit http://teletrendstv.com.  Also look for the report on Hispanic Immigration in Iowa on the page entitled Stories and Links.


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Twitter to the Chief

President Barack Obama & Vice-President Joe Biden

President Barack Obama & Vice-President Joe Biden

President Obama came to Denver today to sign the economic stimulus bill.  He chose the Mile High City because it is on the cutting edge of green technologies he believes will take America into the future.  I attended because I am producing a story on the impact of the economy on public hospitals.  Stimulus dollars are going to provide relief for health care too.  The story is slated to air on HDNet’s World Report (http://hd.net) on March 24.  I was in the crowd as a producer of a documentary length story for television, as a photographer, a blogger and for the first time, a twitterer. 

It was a powerful convergence of journalism and social networking.  I was doing what journalists do, taking down facts and quotes for my larger story, but I was also taking photos for my blog and twittering in between.  Within seconds of sending out tweets I had people texting me to tell me they were following my posts.  When I returned home I saw that my blog had three times as many hits as usual.  A month from now a 30 minute story about how the economic crisis is driving public hospitals into insolvency will air but today I broadcasted 140 word stories (@vickycollins)  and was excited to discover that there was an audience for those too.

For more information about Vicky Collins visit http://teletrendstv.com


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Patriotism

I wish my dad had lived to see this day.  Edward Jan Collins was the child of Jewish parents who died in the Holocaust, the brother of siblings scattered by war, the father of children born in America to a better life.  As we prepare to inaugurate a new President, our first African American President, he would have been amazed at how far this country has come.  My father was born in Poland.  He came here through Ellis Island.  He loved the country he adopted.  He was very proud to be an American citizen.  He even flew the flag on Independence Day and Presidents Day.  I must say I never really felt his zeal.  I even remarked when I eulogized him in 1995 that he was far more patriotic than I was.  But then I didn’t escape a childhood of tyranny and oppression.   Perhaps I have taken America and all that it gives me for granted.

On Sunday, while listening to Bruce Springsteen and Pete Seeger singing “This Land Is Your Land” on HBO, with tears streaming down my cheeks, I felt a welling of patriotism that I can’t ever recall.  I felt hopeful and inspired.  I was proud to be an American and so excited about the possibilities and opportunites that lie ahead.  I can’t even imagine how this time in history feels for all the people who’ve felt disenfranchised over the years by the color of their skin, their religion, their sexual orientation or their disabilities.  It was so gratifying to see America in all its rich diversity come together to celebrate this pivotal moment.  All singing with one voice, all under the gaze of Abraham Lincoln and the beaming smile of Barack Obama, all taking in the lessons of the past while looking forward to a brighter future.  My dad would have been blown away.

For more information on Vicky Collins visit http://teletrendstv.com


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Africans on Obama

Our Ugandan driver picked us up from the airport in Entebbe on November 9.  We were barely down the road before he asked us who we voted for in the election.  He wanted to talk about Barack Obama.  He wanted to tell us about the parties all over Kampala on the night Obama was elected.  They were still going on days after the election to celebrate the achievement of this native son and brother.

As soon as people in Kampala learned we were Americans they wanted to engage in a discussion about our President-Elect.  In the slums a man we met pumped the air with his fist and called out “Obama.”  We asked him what his thoughts were about him.  “He is African.  He is my brother.”  In mom’s arms nearby was a baby named Obama, a very popular name for African children right now.  People wore Obama buttons, Obama t-shirts, Obama on their sleeves. 

A video called “The Biography of Barack Obama” was on the market and news headlines screamed of his victory and how he would end poverty in Uganda and make this African nation the number one priority of his administration.  There was even a newspaper column with 50 fun facts about Obama including the food he likes to eat, the television shows he enjoys and the fact that he failed to fulfill his promise to Michelle and give up smoking.  People were so giddy that one worried they would be disappointed by the crush of expectations on this man who many viewed as a savior.

Others were a little more thoughtful in their assessments.  Mr. Kayondo looked forward to a man who hopefully would dialogue and help end wars.  Damien, a Nigerian professor who now teaches at a university in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, said his triumph meant that Africans and African Americans for that matter could no longer make excuses and act as though they are limited by white society.  Joseph and a young woman we met at an African market just said “let’s wait and see.”

For all the excitement this Presidency has brought to America, there is an equal amount of enthusiasm in east African nations like Uganda and Kenya.  In those countries, they slog along with leaders who are corrupt and siphon off money for themselves instead of fixing roads and fighting poverty.  But for now attention has turned to Barack Obama.  He may be the next President of the United States but he is their President too.

For more information on Vicky Collins visit http://teletrendstv.com


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Shelter Dogs

My children and I were at an impasse. Our yellow lab, Rosie, died this summer, and after an appropriate period of mourning and reflection, we decided to get a new dog. Initially I wanted another Shetland Sheepdog. My first dog, Buddy, was a Sheltie and he set the bar for all dogs to come. The kids wanted a Bulldog. To them, Bulldogs are sexy and rap stars and Michael Phelps have Bulldogs. They were not going to get a girly dog like a Sheltie and I refused to get a dog that looked like a prizefighter so we headed for the Humane Society.

Sydney, our first shelter dog

Sydney, our first shelter dog

Several years ago after our other Sheltie, Charlie, died we decided to rescue a dog. We had never done it before and felt it was the right thing to do. We came home with Sydney, an Australian cattle dog mix who is the most well adjusted dog we ever had. She is not neurotic. She is smart and easy going. She barks when there is a reason and seems to brim with gratitude that she was picked for our family. OK. She’s a bit timid of strangers and other dogs but that’s the Aussie cattle dog in her.

Ka$h, our new shelter dog

Ka$h, our new shelter dog

This time a chow/shepherd cross picked us. My son, Kyle, named her Ka$h and once again we have a delightful member of our family who is sweet and mellow. Slowly but surely she is learning you don’t pee on the rug, growl or love with sharp little teeth. She is not pushy and cocks her head with her floppy little ears. She has wriggled into our hearts and Sydney is warming up to her too. We have two bright, cheerful dogs and they are bringing great joy to our family. I believe that homes are happier with pound puppies in them.

I say all this because I really hope President-Elect Obama gets a shelter dog for his daughters. It would be a brilliant choice and an easy decision as he embarks on a job that will be full of tough ones. On Thursday, November 6, after Barack Obama told his daughters in front of the entire world that he would let them bring a puppy to the White House, USA Today ran a full page ad by Pedigree Dog Food. It featured a shaggy little mutt looking out with sad but hopeful eyes and it read:

Dear President-elect Obama,

We’d love to help you fulfill your first campaign promise. We are thrilled that you are celebrating your victory by adopting a dog into your family. We think you’ll find that shelter dogs are among the most loyal, loving and special dogs in the world. And no dog is more in need of a little hope. You can find a great dog and learn more about responsible adoption at www.DogsRule.com.

The ad was so touching it brought a tear to my eye. Wouldn’t it be something if a dog from the pound ended up as top dog in the U.S? Wouldn’t it be amazing if a little mutt became the new American idol? Hopefully a shelter dog is in Sasha and Malia’s future. I think the Obama daughters would find just the companion they are looking for. At his first press conference Barack Obama pointed to himself as being a bit of a mutt.  It’s a perfect choice.  I’m campaigning for a shelter dog on the White House lawn.

For more information about Vicky Collins visit http://teletrendstv.com