Tag Archives: Reno

Smoke Adds To Global Warming

Morning smoke haze over Reno, Nevada caused by California King fire

September morning smoke haze over Reno, Nevada caused by California King fire

Seventy-eight percent of the Earth’s atmosphere is nitrogen, and twenty-one percent is oxygen. Both of these gases do not absorb infrared radiation. The heat from the Sun passes through nitrogen and oxygen. When scientists refer to global warming they are not talking about the two gases that make up 99% of our atmosphere.

Global warming is what happens in one percent of the atmosphere. Carbon, water vapor, and other trace gases/particles absorb infrared radiation from the Sun, and from solar infrared radiation that.is reflected off the Earth’s surface. One percent of our air holds the balance between continuity of our climate and rapid variances.

Some are proud of their role in causing devastating environmental change.

Some are proud of their role in causing devastating environmental change.

This summer one of my friends, Dr. Narayan Adhikari, completed his doctoral theses. He studied the rate of infrared absorption in the atmosphere by using instruments that regularly measured the air over various locations in northern Nevada. His research included two significant events that impacted the air quality in the Reno, Nevada area. One event was a dust storm in June of last year and the other was smoke from the Rim fire in California in August of 2013.

Both of these events gave him the opportunity to measure the impact of infrared absorption when the atmosphere has a dramatic increase in amount of aerosol particulates. The results of his studies indicate a significant increase in heating of the atmosphere by infrared absorption during such events. 

This debunks the idea that clouds, smoke, and other ‘sun-blocking’ events might help cool the atmosphere. Smoke from fires, such as the King fire currently burning in California will trap more heat and cause increased global warming.

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Filed under About Reno, Ethics, Green, Health, Politics, Science, solar, Universities

Reno, Nevada: Dead City Walking

The centerpiece of Reno's future

The centerpiece of Reno’s future

What makes Reno, Nevada unique? Here are some of the wrong answers:

  • Mountains – Plenty of cities the size of Reno are next to, or in mountains.
  • Outdoor Recreation — Again, there are no shortages of cities near outdoor recreation.
  • Arts — Many cities have art festivals, and most art festivals have more professional (paid) artists, but Reno relies mostly on artists working for free.
  • Gaming — Absolutely the most non-unique thing about Reno

Reno is Dying
The question about Reno’s uniqueness is critical to the survival of Reno. Over fifty years ago Reno discovered tourism and that vaulted a small desert town into easy money and big growth. The city learned that when people make their money elsewhere and spend it in Reno, the economy of Reno booms.

But for the last decade Reno has lost its uniqueness. Gaming is something you can do at the nearest Indian Casino. If you want to party and see gaudy construction lit up like game show on LSD, then go to Las Vegas. Reno is nothing when it comes to gaming.

Reno’s is Unique
The one thing that Reno has that no other city has is hotel room per capita. Nevada has one hotel room for every 14 residents, and Reno’s ratio equals or exceeds that average. Reno is a city designed for conventions. The problem is how to get convention organizers to consider Reno as a great convention town.

What won’t work is to keep gaming as the attraction. That industry is poison. It demands that the convention goer stay on the property and gamble, which defeats all the other great attractions that might attract repeat business, and American business people do not want to pay for their employees to go and party. The best thing that could happen in Reno is for gaming to be made illegal.

The other challenge is to get all the properties to work as one. That doesn’t happen that often. One property can shoot the city’s bid for a convention down by not cooperating.

However, if Reno can let go of gaming and focus on the big picture, it could be made into the premier convention town.

That’s a big ‘If.’

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Filed under About Reno, Branding, Business, Crime, Customer Relations, Customer Service, Government, Management Practices, Opinion, Politics, Pride, Public Image, Public Relations, Re-Imagine!, Recreation, The Tipping Point, Travel

Image by Paul Kiser

Image by Paul Kiser

Rock Wall on Sierra Street in Reno, Nee-va-da

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February 10, 2014 · 11:05 PM

Starbucks Menu Makeover Launches in Reno

Following the successful introduction of San Francisco’s La Boulange pastries in other cities, the Reno-area Starbucks will introduce the new menu on Tuesday, January 28, 2014.

The upper pastry case is where the most visible changes will occur

The upper pastry case is where the most visible changes will occur  (Starbucks at 7th & Keystone in Reno, NV, USA)

The food items are a continuation of Starbucks effort to expand its product offerings beyond coffee and tea beverages. Many of the pastries currently offered can still be found, although some have been transformed into mini-loaves (A.K.A. Loaf Cakes) rather than slices of large loaves.

The introduction of Savory Squares combines the lightness of a pastry around a omelet-type center (Ham & Cheese, Tomato & Cheese, and Wheat Spinach.) Starbucks will continue to offer the Breakfast Sandwiches, oatmeal, and items found below the pastry case, but this partnership with La Boulange will take the next step in offering specialty food to compliment its speciality beverages.

For more information on the new menu, click here to visit the Starbucks website.

(This article was not solicited, nor was any compensation offered in payment for it.)

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Filed under About Reno, Branding, Business, Customer Relations, Customer Service, Health, Management Practices, Public Image, Public Relations

Nevada Middle School Shooting Made Worse By Absent and Inept Public Relations Management

On October 21st a 12 year-old Nevada boy brought a gun to his school, killed a teacher, shot two other students, then killed himself. The shooting left families devastated in a continuing saga of gun-related school incidents. Sadly, the crisis was intensified and prolonged by the failure of the local authorities to use standard and best practices in managing public relations. At times it seemed that there was a vacuum in media management. At other times it seemed that government officials from China had been employed to handle community relations.

Sparks Middle School - A tragedy made worse

Sparks Middle School – A tragedy made worse

In any crisis situation there is panic followed by confusion, rumors, and fear. The first goal is to resolve the immediate crisis. In most situations this will involve turning over control of the facilities and situation to law enforcement and other first responders.

However, the second goal of an organization in a crisis is to reduce the confusion, rumors, and fears. This process must start as quickly as possible, and sometimes it must be done before the crisis is under control by first responders.

In the Nevada incident, parents throughout the Reno community¹ were aware of an active shooter on a local school campus within minutes of the 7:15 AM shooting incident. There were 20 to 30 eyewitnesses when the teenager shot a teacher, who then reportedly went into the school and killed himself . It was all over within a few minutes. 

(¹The shooting occurred in Sparks, Nevada, a suburb of Reno.)

In the first hours following the shooting some rumors persisted that police were looking for the suspect; however, it is likely that law enforcement on the scene knew within ten to fifteen minutes that shooter was dead. With the suspect dead, the priorities of the first responders were to render assistance to the wounded, secure the students and school, secure the crime scene, and gather information.

Children became the official source of the shooting

Children became the official information source of the shooting

At least eight different sources were quoted in the first few hours after the shooting. This would indicate that the Washoe County School District and the various law enforcement agencies responding did not select a skilled spokesperson to manage the post-shooting situation. At 7:42 AM, less than 30 minutes after the shooting, the Reno Gazette Journal reported the following:

  • A shooting had occurred at Sparks Middle School
  • A police spokesperson had confirmed that the shooter was ‘neutralized’
  • Police were looking for the suspect
  • The school was on lockdown
  • The students had been evacuated

It shouldn’t be a surprise that the information coming from the crime scene in the first hour of the incident will be in conflict; however, the role of the primary spokesperson is to rapidly identify rumors and incorrect facts and address them. Two hours after the shooting a press conference was held. This was the opportunity for local authorities to reduce anxiety, confusion, and fear by detailing critical information. By answering as many of the basic questions (who, what, where, when, why, how) as possible the public could be reassured that despite the tragedy, authorities knew what happened and had the situation under control. After the press conference the Reno Gazette Journal reported:

“Authorities released few details about a shooting at about 7:15 a.m. at Sparks Middle School during a 9:15 a.m. press conference.”

If the families of the dead and wounded had not been notified then it would not have been appropriate to release the names; however, authorities wouldn’t even confirm whether teachers or students had been shot. Students began reporting what happened to the media and with no cooperation from local authorities, the families were contacted. That is the symptom of absent or inept media management.

Forcing Children To Be Spokespeople
Within minutes after the shooting word spread, not just within the local community, but around the world. Instantly parents, grandparents, relatives, and friends of school-age children began asking questions. What school? Was anyone killed? How many were shot? Who was killed or injured? Was it over? Why did it happen? Is my child/grandchild safe?

By withholding the details the local authorities did not withhold the story they just lost management of it. Without an official source for information the witnesses, in this case, mostly children, became the official spokesperson. To make the blunders of the first day worse, suburban police and city officials refused to release the name of the shooter for three days, citing that his name did not appear on any ‘report.’ 

The Public’s Right To Know Not the Correct Issue
Local media was incensed by the stonewalling of the authorities to release the name; however, this was more than an issue of the public’s Right to Know. The stated reason by authorities to withhold the shooter’s name was to protect the family, the failure to release this information put more focus on the shooter’s family to confirm or deny the rumors that were rampant within the community.

A skilled spokesperson would have understood this and worked to ensure that the information was appropriately released while also urging the media to respect the family’s need to grieve. 

Who Owns Information?
In the 20th century mass communication came with a catch. Access to information could be controlled. The public knew what the government, public relations staff, editors, and news directors wanted us to know. That changed with the Internet and Social Media. Information is fluid and it will flow through any conduit it can find. Information desired by the public will find the quickest path and anyone who believes they can stop the flow of it is only diverting it through another source. A spokesperson can and should be the quickest path for facts and information because it will reduce the fear, confusion and rumors.

The mishandling of the crisis in Nevada should serve as a lesson as to why a skilled, experienced crisis manager and spokesperson should be a part of every organization. No tragedy should be made worse by inept local authorities.

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Filed under About Reno, Communication, Crime, Crisis Management, Ethics, Government, Information Technology, Internet, Management Practices, Opinion, Print Media, Public Relations, Social Interactive Media (SIM), Social Media Relations, Traditional Media, Violence in the Workplace

Standardized Testing is Not the Solution in American Education

Most of the political discussions about America’s failing education system do two things. First, they blame someone, usually the teachers, and second, they seek simple-minded solutions that assume all children are developmentally equal and live in the same socioeconomic environment.

If education were only about what can be scored on a test, then we don’t need teachers, we need mind programmers

No Child Left Behind was based on the belief that a standard test would be the ultimate measure of a student’s success or failure. The assumption was that if student’s scores on a standardized test failed to achieve established goals then we could all blame the teachers and administrative staff, then punish them. The concept assumed that a student’s base level abilities, and parental support was irrelevant. No Child Left Behind was an idea that applied a corporate-like measurement system, which often fails in a business environment, and forced public schools to leave education behind in pursuit of goals that reduced students to do or die numbers.

The failure of No Child Left Behind is so spectacular that after a decade the program began, over two-thirds of the States are ranked at a “D” or “F” in the quality of education by StudentsFirst.org Report Card

Standardized tests assume that every child is an X, but in reality they are A to Z

Standardized tests assume that every child is an X, but in reality they can be A to Z

One of the major failures of the program was the institutionalizing of testing standards that encouraged teachers to focus on teaching their students how to successfully take the tests, but not to understand the material. The program ultimately forced out many excellent teachers that rejected the absurdity of No Child Left Behind, which is ironic because the goal was to force out less effective teachers. The result has been that school after school has failed to produce the results desired leaving America with a generation of students who are even less prepared for adult life.

Nevada’s Washoe County School District (WCSD) is typical of many school districts across the United States. For the 2010-11 school year the standardized tests indicated that an average of 85% of the high school students (9th-12th grades) met or exceeded the established standards for reading, writing, and math. Those scores would indicate that 85% of the students are prepared to move on from high school.

However, of the 1,600 Washoe County School District graduates that attended Nevada state-run universities, almost half (48%) of them required remedial classes to bring them up to college entrance-level work. The standardized tests are designed to measure competency; however, even though the scores indicate the students are prepared, almost 1 out of 2 need to take classes to address educational deficiencies.

Some might say this just confirms the inadequacy of public schools; however, if that were true the standardized tests should reflect those failures and they do not. It is the inadequacy of the standardized test to measure educational performance or lack of performance.  

Standardized tests can be an effective tool in education, but they are just one tool. If we truly want to improve the educational performance of America’s students we must stop holding a knife to the throat of teachers and schools and stop using simple-minded measurements of academic performance to determine whether they live or die. A teacher can’t be held accountable for a parent that doesn’t believe in homework, therefore causing the student to be behind the rest of her/his class. It’s time we began supporting the teachers who have years of training and experience in education, rather than applying failed business models that destroy public education.

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Filed under College, Education, Ethics, Government, Higher Education, Opinion, parenting, Politics, Universities

Why Job Creators Aren’t

Job Creators in Nevada

Willard Mitt Romney and other conservatives try to promote the idea that private businesses are desperate to create jobs if only the government will let them; however, in May Romney gave a wink to the idea that Job Creators might be holding back millions of jobs to artificially stifle job growth to favor conservative candidates in the upcoming election. At the same time conservative businessmen are threatening their employees with layoffs if President Obama is elected.

Are Job Creators the victim of the federal government, or are conservatives trying to manipulate the citizens in order to make themselves wealthier?

Protest outside The Venetian during Republican debates

Nevada has led the country in high unemployment during this recession and has been increasing in July and August (now 12.1%.) Reno, Nevada was ranked the worst city in the nation to find a job. Yet, last week the conservative TaxFoundation.org ranked the Silver State #3 in its 2013 Business Tax Climate for the second year in a row because of its business friendly tax structure.

Since taxes are not holding business back from creating jobs, why is Nevada the Rodney Dangerfield of American employment?

PROFITS, ALWAYS PROFITS
The answer lies with the problems low unemployment cause for businesses. Low unemployment pressures employers (Job Creators) to offer higher wages and better benefits to attract and keep employees. High unemployment means employers can control the job market, which means higher profits. There is no reason for major Nevada employers like casinos to desire a change in the current employment environment.

This is probably why Nevada ‘Job Creators’ like Sheldon Adelson of The Venetian in Las Vegas are spending millions of dollars in support of conservative candidates who will make them wealthier rather than spend the money creating jobs.

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Filed under About Reno, Business, Employee Retention, Ethics, Government, Government Regulation, Management Practices, Opinion, Politics, Public Relations, Taxes