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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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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Flying in the Middle

I don’t like flying in the middle seat on airplanes.  I feel cramped.  But on a recent United Airlines flight from Chicago to Portland, Oregon I sat between two men and had the most fascinating trip.  Joe sat on the aisle.  He is a 70 year old college professor and psychiatrist.  He and his wife were returning home after visiting family in New York.  He was reading a book called “Lucy’s Legacy” about the importance of the discovery of an ancient skeleton named Lucy in Africa and what it tells us about mankind’s ancestors.  Chuck was sitting by the window.  He is a manufacturing engineer from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania who was heading to Washington to attend his 30 year high school reunion.  He was reading Road and Track and a manual with Yamaha motorcycle diagrams.  Being the journalist that I am I sat in the middle asking questions about this and that and the conversation eventually turned to health care. 

Joe said he was a fiscal conservative and social liberal.  He drives a BMW and is a New York Giants fan.  Chuck said he was a fiscal conservative and social conservative.  He drives a Ford F150 pick up and loves the hometown Pittsburgh Steelers.  Over the course of the conversation on health care neither of them agreed on one single thing.  Joe said we need a public option along with private insurance.  Chuck said a public option would only give benefits to those who were on welfare or who were in America illegally.  He worried that his health care insurance would be compromised with a public option as employers fled to cheaper possibilities.  Joe reminded him we had Medicare and Medicaid and those were government options.  On every point they agreed to disagree.  Neither one swayed the other one bit and it occured to me that this may be why nothing meaningful will get done in the health care debate. 

The conversation then turned to living in Alaska which both of them had done.  Chuck had lived in Ketchikan.  Joe had lived in Anchorage.  Chuck commented about how people lost jobs up there when the mill closed so the spotted owl could be preserved in the old growth forests.  He said you can’t close mills because of a spotted owl.  Joe said Chuck’s teenage son might never see any original growth in his entire lifetime.  He added that every place will look like Colorado which has been tamed.  Chuck said talking to Joe was like talking to his dad.   Joe asked Chuck what he thought about drilling in ANWR.  Chuck said bring it on.  The words bullshit and moron and 50/50 nation were thrown in (but in a nice way) and all the while I’m looking one way and the other and shaking my head wondering if we will ever make any progress if people don’t realize the truth is somewhere in between.  They couldn’t even agree on football.

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


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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