From the Big (and Small) Screen to Real Life

http://www.governing.com/cityaccelerator/blog/from-the-big-and-small-screen-to-real-life.html

New Orleans, Los Angeles and Albuquerque round out the seven cities vying for a spot in the second cohort of the City Accelerator. Each has its own unique and rich history; each faces significant challenges; and each feels familiar because of the stories they have helped to tell in the movies and TV. But the stories of the cities themselves are as compelling as any you have seen on a screen…

Albuquerque

However, despite the positive exposure, Albuquerque faces significant challenges. A 2012 report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and the Economic Policy Institute found that New Mexico had the highest income gap between the richest households and low- and middle-income households.

A subsequent press release from the group New Mexico Voices for Children quotes Research Director Gerry Bradley as saying, “Underlying extreme inequality in New Mexico are serious problems in the state’s job market. New Mexico has an array of jobs: excellent jobs, good jobs, poor jobs and no jobs. The excellent jobs are in the national labs and at Intel; the good jobs are in health care, manufacturing and education; the bad jobs are the poverty level jobs in hotels, restaurants and call centers; and the ‘no jobs’ are because the demand for labor in New Mexico is very weak for workers with low levels of education.”

Intel?  Dude, Intel will be gone from New Mexico within the next year or two, if that.  And because of all the budget cuts at the federal level, the national labs are also hurting.  Health care is a growing industry, but that’s because of Obamacare — and that increase in employment for this sector will soon flatten out.  Education?  Teachers in New Mexico are unhappy, and they don’t make very much money either.  The city’s police department needs people, but no one wants to work there — their reputation couldn’t be worse.

If New Mexicans refuse to look at this state’s problems in a real and accurate way, things will just continue to get worse.

Meanwhile, Governor Martinez is focused on running for national office in 2016, and the rest of this state’s government doesn’t know what to do to make things better.  Seriously, there are no new ideas anywhere, except Republicans want to give businesses even more tax breaks and take away driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants.

I think we should become a state where people would like to retire — kinda like Florida, but less expensive and better (especially after we legalize cannabis).

The Big Change Coming to Mental Health

http://www.governing.com/topics/health-human-services/the-big-change-coming-to-mental-health.html

The National Institute of Mental Health has unveiled a five-year strategic plan emphasizing research it hopes will ultimately give clinicians a better understanding of what mental illness looks like inside the brain — before a patient shows outward symptoms.

The plan signals investment to figure out the genes associated with mental illness, develop new treatments based on those findings, make sure research findings are eventually implemented into practice and find brain patterns for a range of disorders…

“They’re looking for a perfect indicator before intervention, but is anyone noticing what’s going on with mammograms and other imperfect early indicators that work well enough, but have flaws? Elevated cholesterol levels don’t necessarily mean you’ll have a heart attack,” and the same will be true for mental illness, said William McFarlane, director at the Center for Psychiatric Research at the Maine Medical Center in Portland, Maine.

Will the brains of patients who suffer from, say, bipolar disorder, really look the same?  Be similar enough to define early indicators?  Somehow, I doubt it.

Florida Could Have For-Profit Mental Health Services

http://www.governing.com/topics/health-human-services/can-florida-now-have-proprietary-mental-health.html

The goal is to provide more performance-based payment of services, but the idea has drawn mixed reviews from mental health advocates. On one hand, they welcome the long-overdue update of the state’s mental health delivery system. On the other, they question how a chronically underfunded system could have room for big companies to make profits…

The idea of privatizing mental health services was first proposed by Gov. Rick Scott, who included it in the proposed proviso language of his 2015-16 budget. Among the companies that could qualify to bid on the projects are some of the largest contributors to the governor’s campaign…