BY STEPHEN LEDOUX
The question of how to handle the Reel Deal theater has made it around the block several times now, most recently in the articles in the Los Alamos Daily Post by Rebecca Li and by Ron Moses. As indicated or implied by their views (shared by many, young and old like them) traditional approaches to the question remain unsuccessful in providing answers.
That kind of conundrum has faced most local governments many times, and the answer may reside in breaking some relatively new ground, something that the members of this community—given the proximity of a national lab—do regularly. That reality should make us more open to possibilities that might scare less experienced communities and their local governments.
The main possibility of which I speak is for the county to buy, own, and operate the theater in ways similar to the way the county would serve other needs of county residents such as swimming pools or ice rinks. The county may even have to run the theater at a little loss to ensure that this service remains for all the young and old in the county that have paid industry–standard amounts to use it in the past and will continue to do so.
Local citizens broadly support, with their tax dollars, many similar county facilities and services, and they would likely willingly include the theater. Any loss in operating the theater probably would be minuscule compared to the size of the county budget. And some will complain loudly—possibly even on “principle”—that such activity is not the job of government. But does any law of nature, humans, or God say it can’t happen? No. This county can continue to lead others in matters like these that affect so much of the local population.
In times like these—which are not going away any too quickly—the usual economic arrangements are not working and not likely to work (e.g., a private business running the theater or public/private partnership doing so). So let’s not lose facilities or opportunities to serve the documented needs of residents by failing to do what’s necessary even if it is non–standard.
Let your County Councilors know of your support (firstname.lastname@example.org and ~CountyCouncil@lacnm.us). They have the power to set a good example and even break appropriate new ground in local government being adequately responsive to its citizens’ needs.
Stephen Ledoux is a local author, and Professor Emeritus of Behaviorology (the natural science of behavior), State University of New York