In wake of trial, Dorian a breath of fresh air

By Ned Cantwell: Syndicated Columnist

Just when the Treasurer’s Office stink wafts over the capital, just when we start to think all public servants are crooked, just when we are about to turn our backs forever on self-serving Santa Fe bureaucrats, in walks Dorian.

Just in time. She is the spring rain in a desert drought. She is the freshly blossomed red rose in the thorny political patch of black hearts. She is the tender love song at a rap concert.

I know. I know. I am getting much too carried away here. Lord knows how effusive this might get if I ever met the woman. Be that as it may, I am nominating Dorian Dodson as New Mexico Heroine of the Month. Maybe the year.

Let me tell you about Dorian. She is the interim cabinet secretary for the Children, Youth and Families Department. Insiders (all columnists have “insiders,” usually someone spouting off at the coffee shop) tell us she is on the short list to permanently run that department.

The job has been open since March. Gov. Bill Richardson usually acts quickly with these appointments, but so many of his guys have turned out to have questionable histories, background checks may be getting more extensive.

Dorian seems to have the stuff. A long history in various capacities with CYFD would argue her familiarity with the department. More important, for two years she was executive director of St. Elizabeth Shelter in Santa Fe. Translation: Here is a person who has walked among the poor and understands their needs.

OK, but wait. Red rose in the political thorn patch? New Mexico Heroine of the Month? Yeah. Here’s why, and it is a simple thing. Picture this: Dorian walks into the CYFD parking lot one day and sees all these monster vehicles, Ford Exhibitions and other gas guzzlers. It occurs to her there are people in the field, staff workers who actually haul clients, driving a Ford Focus.

So, what Dodson did was take the eight cushy cars being used by CYFD execs and gave them to people in the field. Then she took the compact cars from the field and gave them to Santa Fe officials. She said the smaller cars are more than adequate to transport one or two executives to meetings.

Meanwhile, if you are in communities such as Hobbs, and Portales and Truth or Consequences, and you see CYFD field workers buzzing around in Expeditions, thank Dorian Dodson. She correctly surmised the big cars are needed by social workers who often transport kids from place to place, in some cases on inadequate rural roads.

The Santa Fe execs are fine with the program, Dorian claims. They have little choice. The “do as I do” boss gave up the Chrysler Sebring that comes with the job and drives her own car.

The Children, Youth & Families Department has long been the stepchild of a New Mexico Legislature too busy protecting the rights of the cockfighting industry to come face to face with the nitty-gritty problems of the poor. So it is no surprise 1,600 CYFD employees get in line for 252 cars, nearly 100 of them cranking along with close to 100,000 miles on the odometer. Poor people have no lobbyists.

Well, maybe one. Dorian Dodson, our New Mexico Heroine of the Month.

Ned Cantwell’s column is syndicated to 14 New Mexico newspapers. He welcomes input at: