Writers’ choices

Illustration By Rick Sealock

Politician most in need of a remedial science class

When a child breaks a thermometer, spills the tiny bead of mercury into the palm of his or her hand and rolls it around, fascinated by the metal’s cohesive properties, the school district calls in the hazmat team and shuts down the down the school, summoning frightened parents to whisk their precious children away from the toxic substance. In spite of the centuries of data about the human harm caused by mercury, the man who would be our state’s governor, Jim Gibbons, authored a “study” called “Mercury in Perspective” in which he picked the studies he liked and rejected those he didn’t in order to question the malignance of mercury and please the mining industry. Due to mercury’s malleability, it would be hard to make a tool out of mercury, but somehow Gibbons has become one.

Public servant most in need of some company

Remember the primary election? We had a glimpse of the bumper strip slogan “Suppose they gave an election and nobody came.” Poll workers signed up but didn’t show up; some of your friends and neighbors weren’t able to vote immediately. If you have a real interest in fair, well-run elections, you’ve got to go down and offer a day of your time to Dan Burk, Washoe County registrar of voters. He’s the rare public servant who seems to take his responsibilities seriously, reforming the office and bringing it into the 21st century. But he’s lonely, and he needs people who are going to do what they say they are going to do in volunteering on Election Day. Are we the only ones who wonder what type of vote is more likely to get suppressed if a poll worker doesn’t show up? How about this: people who work, but can’t request unscheduled time off; people who don’t own a car; people without a lot of money or power.