Letter To The Editor: Response To ‘Whiney Middle-Age White Guys’

Los Alamos

I take more than a little offense to the letter to the editor (link) submitted by Ms. Lynn Hanrahan. Though this letter might be interpreted as too personal of an attack on the views of Ms. Hanrahan, it is an objective response to her insulting stereotyping of users of county open spaces and her failure to objectively analyze risk.

First, she assumes those taking issue with the overreaction in closing all open spaces within Los Alamos County are middle-aged white guys. Not sure how she knows this to be true but guessing it is just generalization and stereotyping on her part. This is insulting and reflects poorly on her credibility. Second, she clearly feels threatened by the purported risk presented by individuals enjoying the open spaces that contribute significantly to the quality of life in Los Alamos without offering any objective evidence of said risk. I respectfully suggest this results from her abject fear of a subject area that she does not well understand.

For the record, I’m 67. Though I feel like I am still middle-aged (or less!), I am hardly whiney. I’m actually quite pragmatic and thoughtful and make decisions and voice opinions in a thoughtful manner based on objective analysis of facts. And, for the record, I am a white guy. I am not, however, whiney. Nor are those whom have written letters challenging the blanket closure of all open spaces within LA County whiney.  Those I don’t know personally I know through their participation in a variety of county venues and initiatives. All have the best interest of the county and its residents at heart and contribute on a regular basis to the well-being of Los Alamos and its residents. I don’t know Ms. Hanrahan so cannot speak to her engagement in the community in a similar manner.

Now back to the objective analysis of the facts. It appears Ms. Hanrahan is assuming those of us that recreate in the county’s open spaces engage in risky behaviors that threaten her well-being. Nothing could be further from the truth. Nonetheless, she finds it necessary to insult us in trying to make the point that she feels threatened by us. In my 40+ years as a Los Alamos resident and a frequent user of the county’s open spaces, I have never seen a mountain biker or hiker smoking a cigarette or starting a camp/warming fire in the canyons. Further, I suggest that those that do engage in such behaviors will not be thwarted by administrative closures of open spaces. Again, I don’t know Ms. Hanrahan so I don’t have a clue if she uses the county’s open spaces for recreation. I’m guessing not or she would better understand the perspectives of other letter writers.

Additional facts, as pointed out by previous letter writers, point to the blanket closure of all open spaces as an overreaction without utilizing a risk-based approach and without engagement of users of our open spaces. (If I am wrong on these assertions I challenge Chief Hughes to explain in detail how the closure decision was reached.) With all due respect to the Chief, he took the easy and expedient path forward in mandating a county-wide closure of open spaces rather than taking a more methodical, risk-based approach in determining which areas should be closed and where controls (such as prohibition of open fires) should be implemented.

Ms. Hanrahan is likely to be more threatened by the neighbor who lights his barbecue grill, which then flares and causes a house fire that then spreads to vegetation because the grill was not placed in a safe location (let me introduce you to my neighbor whose grill, placed immediately next to his house, flares up on a regular basis; two weeks ago I asked if he needed a fire extinguisher!).

Rather than writing insulting letters, I suggest Ms. Hanrahan engage in dialogue to better understand a risk-based approach to management of our county’s open spaces (and suggest Chief Hughes should do the same).


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