Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Mackay: To be heard, remember how to listen

Few things are more frustrating than having to repeat yourself because the person you are speaking to isn't listening. It wastes time - and time, as we all know, is money.

Perhaps a little further up the annoyance scale is the exchange, I hesitate to call it a conversation, in which both parties are so determined to get their own points across that they have little regard for what the other is saying. When everyone is talking at the same time, or planning their next remarks instead of listening and responding, the result is never positive. It demonstrates a real lack of respect for the speaker and the message.

As I've said so many times before, we have two ears and one mouth, which I interpret as a clue that we should listen twice as much as we talk.

My friend Bob Dilenschneider, CEO of the Dilenschneider Group in New York City, who makes his living helping corporations communicate globally, is very concerned about the "lost art" of listening.

"Sadly, the current state of the nation's political discourse underscores how much has been forgotten or neglected about the art of listening," he wrote to me. "We feel the need to cast a light on this topic because of the rising din in public and private discourse - and the fading prospect the decibel level will ratchet lower.

"Everyone seems to be shouting, declaiming and clamoring; few appear to be listening. The chasm between hearing and truly listening grows ever wide. What has followed, inevitably, is anger, misunderstanding, frustration and, too often, gridlock and dysfunctional government," he said.

Dilenschneider attributes a good part of the problem to the age in which we live: "The problem is pervasive in modern society. Many of us don't listen because we're too busy talking, texting, blogging and using Twitter and Facebook. . . . Because most people have gotten used to talking without listening to their adversaries, and even their allies, this tendency to transmit rather than receive has become the hallmark of the cyber-era."

Is this a dismissal of the importance of social media? Hardly. We love the freedom, the flexibility and the efficiency.

But when the result is a lost ability to effectively communicate because we can't define the tone of the communication or don't agree with the sender, our listening skills go into lockdown mode. With the competition for an audience so fierce, the messages get louder and louder. Is anyone listening?

I would submit that to get people to listen to you, you must first demonstrate that you are a good listener. Learning - or relearning - good listening skills starts with a few basic concepts, which Dilenschneider shared with me. With his permission, I will share them with you.

- Avoid passing judgment. I agree with him that we are often so eager to make our own point that we stop listening to others' points of view. I have found that if I listen carefully, there are often many points of agreement. Even more often, I learn something new that enables me to reconsider or reinforce my opinion.

- Be patient. He warns against interrupting. Let the other party finish before you jump in. When you violate this rule, you run the risk of making the speaker defensive and inadvertently give permission for others to interrupt you.

- Pay attention. How simple is this idea - and how often is this advice ignored. He reminds us that noisy restaurants or street corners are tough places to hold a discussion. I would add the cellphone and other gadgets that are constant attention-grabbers to the list of distractions.

- Ask. If you are confused about what is being said, just ask for clarification. What you thought you heard might not be what the speaker meant. Allow the speaker to explain.

- Listen at different levels. Be aware of body language. Words don't always tell the whole story. Actions often do speak louder than words.

Will improved listening skills solve every problem? Of course not. But you will solve one problem right up-front: establishing a level of respect that will set the tone for the rest of the discussion.

Mackay's Moral: If you want to be heard, you must know how to listen.

by Harvey Mackay June 27, 2011

Mackay: To be heard, remember how to listen

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Gay-marriage backers: N.Y. vote packs clout

NEW YORK - Many obstacles still lie ahead for supporters of same-sex marriage, and eventually, they will need Congress or the Supreme Court to embrace their goal. For the moment, though, they are jubilantly channeling the lyrics of "New York, New York."

"Now that we've made it here, we'll make it everywhere," said prominent activist Evan Wolfson, who took up the cause of marriage equality as a law student three decades ago.

With a historic vote by its Legislature late Friday, New York became the sixth - and by far the most populous - state to legalize same-sex marriage since Massachusetts led the way, under court order, in 2004.

With the new law, which takes effect after 30 days, the number of Americans in same-sex-marriage states more than doubles. New York's population of 19 million surpasses the combined total of Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire and Iowa, plus the District of Columbia.

The outcome - a product of intensive lobbying by Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo - will have nationwide repercussions. Activists hope the New York vote will help convince judges and politicians across the country, including a hesitant President Barack Obama, that support of same-sex marriage is now a mainstream viewpoint and a winning political stance.

"New York sends the message that marriage equality across the country is a question of 'when,' not 'if,' " said Fred Sainz, a vice president of the Human Rights Campaign.

Wolfson, president of the advocacy group Freedom to Marry, said the goal is attainable by 2020, or sooner, "if we do the work and keep making the case."

The work - as envisioned by leading activists - is a three-pronged strategy unfolding at the state level, in dealings with Congress and the Obama administration, and in the courts, where several challenges to the federal ban on gay marriage are pending.

"This will be a big boost to our efforts nationally," said Richard Socarides, a former Clinton White House adviser on gay rights. "It will help in the pending court cases to show that more states are adopting same-sex marriage, and it will help in the court of public opinion."

The New York bill cleared the Republican-controlled Senate by a 33-29 margin, thanks to crucial support from four GOP senators who joined all but one Democrat in voting yes. The Democrat-led Assembly, which previously approved the bill, passed the Senate's stronger religious exemptions in the measure, and Cuomo swiftly signed it into law.

Gay-rights activists have been heaping praise on Cuomo for leading the push for the bill, seizing on an issue that many politicians of both parties have skirted.

Yet the Senate vote marked the first time a Republican-controlled legislative chamber in any state has supported same-sex marriage.

For those engaged in the marriage debate nationally, recent months have been a political roller-coaster.

Bills to legalize same-sex marriage failed in Maryland and Rhode Island despite gay-rights activists' high hopes.

However, Illinois, Hawaii and Delaware approved civil unions, joining five other states - California, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon and Washington - that provide gay couples with extensive marriage-like rights.

Adding those eight states to the six that allow gay marriage, more than 35 percent of Americans now live in states where gay couples can effectively attain the rights and responsibilities of marriage. Just 11 years ago, no states offered such rights.

For now, gay couples cannot get married in 44 states, and 30 of them have taken the extra step of passing constitutional amendments banning gay marriage. Minnesota's Republican-controlled Legislature has placed such an amendment on the 2012 ballot.

Brian Brown, president of the conservative National Organization for Marriage, vowed to seek the defeat of the New York Republicans who helped the marriage bill pass. He also predicted victory for the amendment to ban gay marriage next year in Minnesota and said this would belie the claims that the same-sex marriage campaign will inevitably prevail nationwide.

"We've won every free, fair vote of the people," Brown said Saturday. "Backroom deals in Albany are not an indication of what people in this country think about marriage."

Efforts may surface in some states to repeal the existing marriage bans, but the prospect of dismantling all of them on a state-by-state basis is dim. In Mississippi, for example, a ban won support of 86 percent of the voters in 2004.

Thus, looking long term, gay-marriage advocates see nationwide victory coming in one of two ways - either congressional legislation or a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that would require all states to recognize same-sex marriages.

"The way you do that is creating a critical mass of states and a critical mass of public opinion - some combination that will encourage Congress and the Supreme Court," Wolfson said. "By winning New York, we add tremendous energy to the national conversation that grows the majority."

Shorter term, gay-rights activists and their allies in Congress would like to repeal the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which denies federal recognition to same-sex marriages. The act is being challenged in several court cases, and Obama ordered his administration in February to stop defending the law on the grounds it is unconstitutional.

Democrats in Congress have introduced a bill to repeal the law, while the Republican leadership in the House has pledged to defend it.

Obama, when elected, said he supported broadening rights for gay couples but opposed legalizing same-sex marriage. More recently, he has said his position is "evolving," and he asked gay activists at a New York City fundraiser Thursday for patience.

Nonetheless, frustrations are mounting. Freedom to Marry says more than 112,000 people have signed its "Say, 'I Do' " appeal to the president, and gay-marriage supporters have launched an #Evolve- Already campaign on Twitter.

"We hope that, through this public pressure, we'll be able to move the president to understand that he's falling behind the majority of Americans who see marriage equality as a key civil right," said Robin McGehee of the advocacy group Get- Equal.

Several recent opinion polls - by Gallup and the Associated Press, among others - have shown that a majority of Americans now approve of same-sex marriage, which a decade ago lagged below 40 percent in terms of support. Particularly strong backing for gay marriage among young people, who've grown up watching gay-friendly films and TV programs, has prompted many analysts across the political spectrum to suggest the trend is irreversible.

Some conservatives, however, say the opinion polls are belied in the voting booth, and they point to the steady stream of approvals of state-level bans on same-sex marriage.

"The opposition has created an illusion of momentum but not a real base of support or track record of victory in the courts," said Brian Raum, senior counsel with the conservative Alliance Defense Fund.

Mary Bonauto would disagree. An attorney with Boston-based Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, she has spent two decades battling for legal recognition of same-sex relationships. She helped win the landmark court rulings that led to civil unions in Vermont in 2000 and same-sex marriage in Massachusetts in 2004.

Even in the 1990s, she recalled thinking the cause eventually would prevail nationwide.

"I could see attitudes change," she said. "Eventually we have to have one standard of justice in this country and establish that sexual orientation is not a basis for discrimination."

She recalled setbacks just a few years ago in New York - a 2006 U.S. Court of Appeals ruling that there was no constitutional right to same-sex marriage in the state, and the defeat of a same-sex marriage bill in the state Senate in 2009.

"The switch this time tells us there's a lot of momentum pointing toward marriage equality," Bonauto said.

Vermont lawyer Beth Robinson, counsel for Gov. Peter Shumlin, worked with Bonauto in the late 1990s on the case that led to the state's pioneering civil-union law. She expects the move toward nationwide same-sex marriage will be bumpy but inexorable.

by David Crary Associated Press - Jun. 26, 2011 12:00 AM

Gay-marriage backers: N.Y. vote packs clout

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Education briefs: 3 win illustration honors

Breaking the Mold

Fountain Hills High School student Savannah Nangle won fifth place in the illustration category of the 2011 Josten's Photo Contest for her entry titled "Breaking the Mold."

Three students from Fountain Hills High School won honors in the illustration category of the 2011 Josten's Photo Contest.

The three were among 114 winners selected from more than 6,000 entries nationwide.

The winners are:

- Savannah Nangle, fifth place for "Breaking the Mold."

- Katie Myhr, honorable mention for "Maddie Madness."

- David Nagel, honorable mention for "Typograph."

Gateway Academy wins award

Gateway Academy has been designated as a "school of excellence" by the National Association of Special Education Teachers.

Gateway, a private K-12 school in Scottsdale for students with high-functioning autism and Asperger's syndrome, received the designation after the academy met rigorous professional criteria and demonstrated dedication, commitment and achievement in the special-education field.

The association designates 52 schools nationwide for the honor. The Arizona Centers for Comprehensive Education and Life Skills, with campuses in Phoenix and Tempe, is the only other Arizona school to win the designation.

Coronado student attends LEAD

Sean Thompson, a Navajo and junior at Coronado High School, has been chosen by the Native American Finance Officers Association as the recipient of a scholarship to attend the LEAD Summer Business Institute at Stanford University this summer.

The LEAD program chooses 30 high-achieving Native American, African American, Hispanic American and Asian American students who are in their junior year. They get exposure to the business world through a three-week residential experience at a business school and college campus. They learn various business disciplines through classroom study, group projects, guest speakers and hands-on projects. Cultural and recreational activities are also included.

The Stanford LEAD program is based on a business plan competition sponsored by Apple.

Last summer, Coronado student Leticia Rangel attended the Summer Business Institute at Dartmouth University.

Therapist attending workshop

Lynne Hebert-Remson, a speech therapist with the Scottsdale Unified School District, was one of 20 speech-language pathologists nationwide chosen to attend an intensive workshop on stuttering therapy this summer.

Hebert-Remson is participating in a workshop in Portland, Ore., co-sponsored by the Stuttering Foundation and Portland State University.

The Stuttering Foundation estimates that more than 3 million Americans stutter. While there are no miracle cures, a qualified speech-language pathologist can help children and adults make significant progress toward speaking fluently.

The Arizona Republic Jun. 23, 2011 02:37 PM

Education briefs: 3 win illustration honors

Monday, June 20, 2011

Mackay: Everyone is born with creativity

Paul was majoring in zoology at college. One semester he took a course in the study of birds (ornithology). For the final exam, Paul studied until he had the textbook nearly memorized. He knew his class notes backward and forward.

He was eager to take the exam, certain of getting a good grade.

The morning of the exam, Paul took a seat in the front row of the big auditorium where the class was held. More than 100 students were in the class with him. On a table at the front was a row of 10 stuffed birds, each one with a sack covering its body so that only the legs were visible.

The professor announced, "For this test, which counts for 80 percent of your final grade, I want you to identify each bird up here by its legs, and then discuss its species, natural habitat and mating patterns. You may begin."

Paul stared at the birds. All the legs looked the same to him. After spending half the exam period in growing frustration as he tried to determine which bird was which, he picked up his exam and threw it on the professor's desk.

"This is ridiculous!" he shouted. "I studied the textbook and my notes all night, and now you're asking me to name these birds by looking at their legs? Forget it!"

The professor picked up the exam booklet and saw that it was blank. "What's your name, young man?"

With that, Paul yanked one leg of his pants up. "Why don't you tell me?"

Paul's response probably didn't earn him a passing grade, although I must admit, I admire his creativity!

"Creativity is a great motivator because it makes people interested in what they are doing. Creativity gives hope that there can be a worthwhile idea," said English psychologist Edward de Bono. "Creativity gives the possibility of some sort of achievement to everyone. Creativity makes life more interesting."

Everyone is born with the ability to be creative, but some people seem to lose it as they grow older, whereas others are better at accessing their creativity throughout their lives. Studies show that there is no correlation between IQ and creativity.

Here's how to regain or retain your creative spark:

- Be aware of what's going on around you. A scientist needs to analyze all available facts and every bit of research. Stay on top of current business trends. Learn from other people's ideas and mistakes.

- Explore. Examine all of your options and alternatives, no matter how far-fetched they may seem at first. Don't rule anything out as you look for solutions and new approaches.

- Be courageous. You've got to be fearless and not worry about what others may think. Don't try to be like everyone else. Take your own approach, whatever you're doing. Prepare to accept some criticism but don't take it personally.

- Rely on your instincts. As you assimilate the information around you and assess the possibilities, factor in your instincts to come up with creative solutions. As legendary film director Frank Capra said, "A hunch is creativity trying to tell you something."

- Assess your options. Sort your ideas into categories, and rank them. Try combining ideas, and eliminate any that don't fit what you're looking for.

- Be realistic. Step back and evaluate how your idea or solution is likely to play out in the real world. Look at the upside, but consider the downside as well. Not all great ideas will work, but they may lead to other solutions.

- Stick with it. You need to be persistent if you want to achieve anything significant. A novel takes a long time to write; a successful business may take years to build. Keep a detailed picture of the intended result in your mind to help you stay focused and move forward.

- Be patient. You can't hurry creativity, so take time to ponder your ideas. Sit back and take time to think things over. That's usually how the best ideas bloom.

- Evaluate the results. At the end of the process, ask yourself: Has my vision been realized? Learn from what works and what fails, so you can move on to your next project.

Creativity isn't just a process. It's a value. If you value success, get creative!

Mackay's Moral: It takes only a little spark to ignite a great fire.

by Harvey Mackay June 20, 2011

Mackay: Everyone is born with creativity

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Medical-marijuana dispensary application put on hold in PV

The Paradise Valley Town Council has agreed to postpone considering an application for a medical-marijuana dispensary.

Representatives of Mountain View Medical Center will bring back the application for a special-use permit on Sept. 8.

Jordan Rose of the Rose Law Group, which represents the medical center, asked for a continuance because the Arizona Department of Health Services has suspended the medical-marijuana dispensary program upon advice from state Attorney General Tom Horne.

The state filed the suit last month to determine whether the citizen-passed law legalizing medical marijuana in Arizona conflicts with federal drug laws.

"Until that is resolved, it doesn't make sense to go forward with a use permit because it's not possible right now to legally open a dispensary," Rose said. "Should the courts reinstate the program, it may take on a new face to accommodate whatever the legal opinion says, and the stipulations accompanying the amendment may once again need to be adjusted as a result."


The applicant has requested to operate a 2,000-square-foot medical-marijuana dispensary at a medical complex on the southeastern corner of Tatum and Shea boulevards. The operation would employ about seven people and sell smokeable and infused products, such as edible food items, pills, lotions and tonics, to qualifying patients.


In March, representatives of Mountain View Medical Center submitted the permit application. In April, the Planning Commission recommended council approval. But the council granted a continuance so the applicant could meet with residents near the medical center who had concerns.


The town is reviewing one other special-use permit application for a medical-marijuana dispensary, in the Lincoln Plaza Medical Center, 7125 E. Lincoln Drive. It is on the Planning Commission's Tuesday agenda.

by Philip Haldiman The Arizona Republic Jun. 16, 2011 10:50 AM

Medical-marijuana dispensary application put on hold in PV

Mackay: Use elevator speech to sell message

If you were given a 180-second opportunity to change your business forever, would you be prepared to do it on a moment's notice? You would if you learn about the elevator speech as defined by Terri Sjodin in her new book, "Small Message, Big Impact."

The book's subtitle, "How to Put the Power of the Elevator Speech to Work for You," gets right to the point: the three minutes or so that you have to introduce your product or service to a potential customer.

In meet-and-greet situations, we have a unique opportunity to start a business relationship. Knowing how to use those few minutes to your best advantage is a skill that is essential to getting to the next level. Are you prepared for this challenge?

Terri Sjodin just became your best friend. "Small Message, Big Impact" is an extremely practical guide that is clearly written and packed full of terrific examples.

I've known Sjodin for a long time, and I am a big fan of her work. As a professional speaker, I can vouch for the wisdom she shares. The way she presents the information makes it easy to absorb. In fact, each of the chapters becomes an elevator speech on its own, because she takes just the right amount of time to get the ideas across.

Sjodin defines the elevator speech this way: "A brief presentation that introduces a product, service, philosophy or an idea. The name suggests the notion that the message should be delivered in the time span of an elevator ride, up to about three minutes. Its general purpose is to intrigue and inspire a listener to want to hear more of the presenter's complete proposition in the near future."

Working with that time constraint, you begin to realize that every word is significant. You can't ramble or veer off message, or your presentation loses focus and becomes small talk. That's where the value of her advice is most apparent: getting to the point without getting stuck on the details.

"Your goal is to be both informative and persuasive, pairing rock-solid information with compelling arguments," Sjodin says. "If you are too informative, nothing happens. If you are too aggressive, nothing happens. Find a balance and you'll see results."

Drawing on the work of professor Alan Monroe, Sjodin works through the steps of Monroe's Motivated Sequence, which describes the normal sequence of human thinking: attention, need, satisfaction, visualization and action. She translates this scholarly work into language that anyone can understand and apply to their specific situation.

Once you understand what the listener needs, the product becomes much easier to craft. With useful examples and step-by-step outlines, she takes the mystery out of what makes an effective message and how to best use those precious three minutes.

Really outstanding speakers typically meet three benchmarks, she says.

1) Case - "They have built solid persuasive cases, employing clean, logical arguments and evidence to support their message."

2) Creativity - "Their illustrations of the talking points are really creative. They have blended thoughtful analysis and storyboarding to craft intriguing and interesting messages."

3) Delivery - "They present their messages in their own authentic voices. There's no boring professional mode; they aren't canned Stepford people. Their presentation style is genuine, and people sense the truth in their delivery."

Sjodin offers the 10 basic steps to developing an elevator speech and provides an outline worksheet that can be adapted for any situation. You couldn't ask for a better how-to. She's taken the guesswork out of preparing the presentation.

She emphasizes the importance of practice and evaluating your performance. She includes a thorough speech evaluation form that allows readers to assess their progress and effectiveness.

The creative approach Sjodin takes sets her book apart from so many other advice books. Borrowing from MIT meteorologist Edward Lorenz, she starts with "the butterfly effect," the notion that a massive storm might have its roots in the faraway flapping of a tiny butterfly's wings.

"Assume that one tiny presentation at the outset of your journey could ultimately result in the fruition of your short- and long-term plans," she says, "and the magic of the Elevator Speech Effect can begin to generate a positive ripple effect forward. The motivation you use to put yourself out there is the potential to attain your goals and dreams."

Mackay's Moral: A great elevator speech can take you all the way to the top.

by Harvey Mackay June 13, 2011

Mackay: Use elevator speech to sell message

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Seniors' medical-pot collective stirs debate in community

LAGUNA WOODS, Calif. - Joe Schwartz is a 90-year-old great-grandfather of three who enjoys a few puffs of pot each night before he crawls into bed in the Southern California retirement community he calls home.

The World War II veteran smokes the drug to alleviate debilitating nausea and is one of about 150 seniors on this 18,000-person gated campus who belongs to a thriving - and controversial - medical-marijuana collective, operating in the middle of one of the largest retirement communities in the U.S.

The fledgling collective mirrors a nationwide trend as more senior citizens turn to marijuana, legal or not, to ease the aches and pains of aging. But in Laguna Woods Village, in the heart of one of the most conservative and wealthiest counties in California, the marijuana-smoking seniors have stirred up a heated debate with their collective, attracting a crackdown from within the self-governed community.

Many members of the 2-year-old collective keep a low profile, but others grow seedlings on their patios and set up workshops to show other seniors how to turn the marijuana leaves into tea, milk and a vapor that can be inhaled.

The most recent project involves getting collective members to plant 40 seeds from experimental varieties of marijuana that are high in a compound said to have anti-inflammatory properties best suited for elderly ailments. The tiny plastic vials, each with 10 seeds, are stamped with names like "Sour Tsunami."

Under California law, people with a variety of conditions, from migraines to cancer, can get a written doctor's recommendation for medical marijuana and join a pot collective to get what they need or grow their own supply. All the members of Laguna Woods Village's collective are legal users under state law, but the drug is still banned under federal law.

Lonnie Painter, the collective's president and perhaps most activist member, worries daily about his high-profile position within the community of pot users. The 65-year-old grandfather supplements painkillers with marijuana tea for osteoarthritis and keeps marijuana-collective applications on a desk in the living room, a few feet from the Lego bricks his grandson plays with on his visits.

"We've got people who don't like it here, they don't like marijuana and they still have that 'communism' and 'perversion' and 'killer weed' attitude," said Painter. "What I get more worried about is myself getting put in jail. If you were just a patient you'd be safe, but if you are active and involved in any way in making it available for others, the federal government can come and scoop you up."

In the first two years of the collective's life, however, Painter and other members have had more trouble from their fellow residents than from the government.

When things first got under way, Painter and three others were growing about two dozen plants in the Laguna Woods Village community garden.

But the Golden Rain Foundation, the all-volunteer board that governs the community, cracked down and prohibited the cultivation of marijuana on all Laguna Woods Village property. The vote followed the report of the theft of two marijuana plants, tangerines and a rake and shovel from the community garden, according to meeting minutes of the Community Activities Committee's Garden Center Advisory Group.

The foundation adopted the policy late last year after a lengthy legal review.

"We thought that it was not proper. It sets a precedent. Our gardens are for flowers and vegetables, and that's all, and it's been that way since 1964 or 1965 when this was started," said Howard Feichtmann, who was chairman of the advisory group.

Those with medical-marijuana recommendations can still grow a small personal supply in their homes.

Susan Margolis, who sat on the Garden Center Advisory Group, said the debate has divided people along generational lines in a community where the average age is 78 but new residents can move in at 55.

"This did stir up a lot of feelings," said Margolis, 67, who said those opposed to the public pot plots had valid safety concerns. "There are a lot of people that have never used marijuana and there are younger people who have used marijuana who say, 'Come on now, this is just ridiculous.' "

After the vote, the collective had to rip its plants out and has struggled to produce the pot it needs.

At first, the senior citizens tried to run their own grow site by creating a greenhouse in a rented facility off-site, but they lost thousands of dollars of crop when someone plugged a grow light into the wrong outlet, giving the plants 24 hours of light a day during the critical flowering period instead of 12 hours. Then, they gave seedlings to a grower operating a greenhouse in Los Angeles, but the place was busted by police, and the plants were confiscated and destroyed.

Now, a collective member recently started growing for the group in two off-site greenhouses whose location Painter and others declined to provide. The all-organic supply is distributed to members on a sliding scale, from $35 an ounce to about $200 an ounce based on ability to pay and need. Many members grow their legal limit on private patios or in space-age-looking indoor tents.

Schwartz is among those who grow in their private homes.

"I'm not very good at it, but it grows nicely," said Schwartz, who is also recovering from a mild stroke. "Look, whether it's a legal thing or not a legal thing, it helps you."

by Gillian Flaccus Associated Press Jun. 12, 2011 12:00 AM

Seniors' medical-pot collective stirs debate in community

Medical marijuana and driving high

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DENVER (AP) - The surge of medical marijuana use in Colorado has started another debate in the state Legislature: What constitutes driving while high?

Lawmakers are considering setting a DUI blood-content threshold for marijuana that would make Colorado one of three states with such a provision in statute — and one of the most liberal, according to Rep. Claire Levy, one of the bill's sponsors.

Under the proposal, drivers who test positive for 5 nanograms or more of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, would be considered too impaired to drive if the substance is present in their blood at the time they're pulled over or within two hours.

Levy, a Democrat from Boulder, said she's gotten resistance from medical marijuana advocates who fear it will restrict patients from using the drug.

"What I've tried to assure the patient advocates is that we're not talking about sobriety checkpoints, we're not talking about dragnets and massive stops," she said. "They're not going to be stopped if they're driving appropriately."

While it's already illegal to drive while impaired by drugs, states have taken different approaches to the issue. Twelve states, including Arizona, Michigan, Illinois, Iowa, and Rhode Island, have a zero-tolerance policy for driving with any presence of an illegal substance, said Anne Teigen, policy specialist at the National Conference of State Legislatures. Minnesota has the same policy but exempts marijuana.

Ohio and Nevada, which are among the 16 states that allows medical marijuana, have a 2 nanogram THC limit for driving. Pennsylvania has a 5 nanogram limit, but that's a state Health Department guideline, which can be introduced in driving violation cases, Teigen said.

Don Christensen, the executive director of the County Sheriffs of Colorado, which supports the 5 nanogram THC blood-content benchmark, said he thinks it's a fair way for law enforcement and the public to know how much marijuana you can consume while legally being able to drive — just as there's a limit with alcohol.

"I think it's fair to tell them the rules to be played by," he said.

Pot activists, including the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, say they hope marijuana DUIs are not based solely on the amount of the drug that is found in someone's system, but rather on the totality of the case, such as how the person was driving and other observations an officer makes.

They argue that medical users of the drug may have higher tolerance levels which would allow them to drive or still have trace levels of THC long after they've smoked the drug. Some also worry that medical users may be unfairly targeted.

"My only concern is that, because medical marijuana is controversial, that we're entering a new phase of not racial profiling but medical profiling," said Sean McAllister, an attorney at Denver's Cannabis Law Center. McAllister was on a state panel that recommended the 5-nanogram standard, which he said is a fair judge of impairment for most users.

Not all marijuana advocates agree.

"We're concerned the nanogram limit is too low because most medical marijuana patients are going to have higher levels in their bloodstream because of their continued use of medical cannabis," said Laura Kriho, a spokeswoman with the Cannabis Therapy Institute in Colorado.

Rep. Mark Waller, a Republican who is sponsoring House Bill 1261 with Rep. Levy, said their proposal is meant to set a THC-blood level at which someone is presumed to be too impaired to drive.

"It's a rebuttable presumption, though," said Waller, adding that drivers won't be automatically guilty of a DUI and will still get a chance to argue their case.

The bill is yet to come before a committee for a hearing, but Levy said she's already getting a lot of comments from medical marijuana users.

"I'm getting a lot of pushback, a lot of concern that this will hinder the ability of medical marijuana patients to make use of their medicine," Levy said. She said the bill is about safety, not targeting people who use pot for medical purposes.

"I'm very supportive of medicinal use of marijuana," Levy said. "You just can't allow people to be driving when they're high."

by Ivan Moreno wwlp.com February 20, 2011

Medical marijuana and driving high

Firing over medical pot OK'd

OLYMPIA, Wash. - Medical-marijuana patients can be fired from their jobs in Washington state even if they use the drug only outside the workplace, the Washington Supreme Court ruled Thursday.

Justices said in their 8-1 decision that state law does not provide any employment protections for medical-marijuana users and does not require companies to accommodate those patients.

The ruling stems from a 2007 lawsuit by a woman who was fired from TeleTech Customer Care Management in 2006 after her pre-employment drug screen came back positive. She had told the company she was an authorized medical-marijuana patient, but the company's drug policy did not make an exception for medical marijuana.

The woman is listed in court papers as Jane Roe to protect her identity.

State law makes only one reference to the workplace, saying that employers are not required to accommodate the use of medical marijuana on site. The woman argued that the law's wording implicitly requires employers to accommodate use outside the workplace.

Justices disagreed, saying in the majority opinion that "the language of (the law) is unambiguous - it does not regulate the conduct of a private employer or protect an employee from being discharged because of authorized medical-marijuana use."

Justice Tom Chambers dissented, writing that it was unfortunate that Teletech's drug-screening policy doesn't take into consideration where the medical marijuana was used, whether it affects the employee's job performance or whether the company could accommodate an employee's medical use.

He said the case shows that legislators need to review the law.

"To that end, I urge the Legislature to thoughtfully review and improve the act," Chambers wrote.

The case largely became a dispute over the intentions of voters who approved medical marijuana more than a decade ago.

Jim Shore, an attorney who argued the case on behalf of TeleTech, said the measure was always intended to provide qualified medical-marijuana users and health-care providers with a legal defense from criminal prosecution. He said it was never intended to provide workplace rights and said Thursday's ruling makes that clear.

"It's absolutely the correct ruling and one that benefits the employer community," he said.

Alison Holcomb, drug-policy director at the ACLU of Washington, took an opposing view. Holcomb thinks voters clearly intended for medical-marijuana patients to be treated like any other patients with debilitating medical conditions.

Holcomb said the ruling underscored the need for a broader overhaul of marijuana laws. She said the ACLU is in the early stages of helping develop an initiative for the 2012 ballot that would legalize marijuana in the state.

"Washington is a great place to be pursuing that type of measure," Holcomb said. "Our voters support it."

by Mike Baker Associated Press Jun. 10, 2011 12:00 AM

Firing over medical pot OK'd

Scottsdale OKs medical-pot permits for 6 applicants

Overlooking legal matters at the state and federal level, the Scottsdale City Council this week granted permits to six applicants seeking to open medical-marijuana dispensaries and cultivation sites in Scottsdale.

The state recently halted the dispensary-application process after filing a lawsuit in federal court to determine whether Arizona's medical-marijuana law conflicts with federal drug statutes.

State rejects pot dispensary application in Scottsdale

Will Humble, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services, said the state will not process dispensary applications until a federal judge rules on the issue.

DISPENSARIES: The City Council voted 4-2 Tuesday to award conditional-use permits to six applicants seeking to open a cultivation facility and/or a dispensary. They are the Kush Clinic, 8729 E. Manzanita Drive; Arizona Natural Selections, 8132 N. 87th Place; MMRX, 15475 N. Greenway-Hayden Loop, Suite C-22; Serenity, 14666 N. 74th St.; Terramedica Natural Pharmaceuticals, 15735 N. 83rd Way; and Organic Medical Group, 7825 E. Redfield Road.

IN FAVOR: Mayor Jim Lane and Council members Lisa Borowsky, Suzanne Klapp and Ron McCullagh voted to issue the permits. Continuing the process will ensure the city complies with the law if and when the legal issues are resolved, Lane said. He is "not a proponent of marijuana usage," but "there is no harm done in us continuing the process." Attorney Court Rich of the Rose Law Group said it could be a violation of state law to vote down or continue the permits to a later date.

DISSENTERS: Vice Mayor Bob Littlefield and Councilman Dennis Robbins voted against the permits. Councilwoman Linda Milhaven was absent. Littlefield thought the city should wait to see how the law shakes out. "I think there is plenty of ambiguity," he said. Robbins questioned whether the conditional uses would be compatible in the area.

WHAT'S NEXT: Though the process to accept dispensary applications is on hold, the Department of Health Services is allowed to award licenses to as many as 126 dispensaries across Arizona, including two in Scottsdale. A lottery could determine what applicant receives the dispensary license. The state will continue to issue user-ID cards for medical-marijuana.

by Beth Duckett The Arizona Republic Jun. 11, 2011 07:19 AM

Scottsdale OKs medical-pot permits for 6 applicants

Discount on China trade trip ends soon

The deadline for early-bird pricing is approaching for those interested in being part of a trade delegation to China.

The Arizona Technology Council and the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry are planning the trip for Sept. 14-24.

Topics that will be covered include manufacturing, technology, academia, law and a general overview of international business. The trip is open to members and non-members of both organizations.

Sponsored by Snell & Wilmer, the delegation will travel to Shanghai, Chengdu, Hong Kong, Shenzhen and Macau. This trip will include meetings with governmental and business leaders in China as well as an in-depth exploration of Chinese culture.

Discount pricing for those who register early ends June 17. The price of the trip for chamber and council members is $3,550 and $4,050 for non-members. It's an additional $1,500 for a one-person single room. Those who attend are invited to apply for complimentary Gold Key Matching Service from the U.S. Export Assistance Center. Normally provided for a fee, the service will be awarded to selected companies at the discretion of the U.S. Commercial Service.

Everyone who attends the trip and is interested in the program will be evaluated. If there is a match, attendees will have custom appointments set up for them with appropriate agents, distributors, representatives and/or end-users of their particular product or service. They will be in addition to the appointments that the council and the chamber are setting up.

There is no formal application for the Gold Key Matching Service, but attendees should indicate their interest when signing up for the trip.

For more information, call 480-467-8251.

The Arizona Republic Jun. 9, 2011 12:00 AM

Discount on China trade trip ends soon

Mackay: HR people don't deserve their bad rap

A big stack of my mail comes from frustrated people who have tried very hard to find jobs without success. With the slow economic recovery, it's still mighty tough out there.

As I researched my last book, "Use Your Head To Get Your Foot in the Door: Job Search Secrets No One Else Will Tell You," I frequently heard concerns from people who were upset at human-resources departments. One person said that of the more than 300 resumes he has sent out for jobs for which he was qualified, he has heard from only 17, positive or negative. He was hoping for some better feedback so he could improve his employment odds.

HR people don't deserve the bad rap. Let me shed a little light on the subject. First, you have to realize that human resources is not a profit center and because of that, they will often be short staffed. When cuts occur, human resources is among the first to be hit.

For example, here at MackayMitchell Envelope Co., we have one HR manager to service our three plants. Our company recently received 900 applications for one position. And that was through e-mail alone. There were hundreds of applications sent through the mail as well.

Being an envelope guy, it pains me to say this but my advice is to always e-mail your resume. You will seldom get a response if you mail your resume. Don't sabotage your chances, because the amount of paperwork that is handled by human resources is astounding.

Be aware that big companies have software that scans resumes for key words, so use language that computes. Use keywords in your resume that tie in with the requirements of the position. You may need to tailor your resume for each job. Be specific and clear about your credentials. Don't send out resumes blindly. Write to make sense to both the software and a human reader. At some point you will need to win the hearts and minds of real human beings.

Always try to differentiate yourself. Don't be boring. Don't be predictable. Don't be just another candidate. Stand out. Be different. Use a little creativity.

Your resume has one purpose: to win an interview. Focus on the employer's needs, not yours.

If you are fortunate enough to get a job interview, pay attention to how your resume is read and physically handled by an interviewer.

- If the description of a phase of your career or some other section of your resume is constantly being questioned, you almost certainly need to improve the statement. Listen carefully. It's not enough to know that something is troubling people. You need to find out what in particular is bothering them.

- Do readers find it hard to follow the organization of your resume? Are they constantly jumping between pages or paragraphs when they read it?

- Do interviewers find the language hard to penetrate? In an interview, are you constantly being asked to restate what you are saying? In particular, do they take your description of a position and restate it in terminology that's more mainstream?

- Is the information clearly laid out and presented in an appealing and inviting way?

If you lose out in a search, find out as much as you can about the person who won the job. Perhaps HR staff or a recruiter will be willing to share the qualifications of the successful candidate.

The great dilemma is that you are unlikely to find out you have a poor resume because, if it's bad, you won't get an interview in the first place.

In addition, in these times HR staffs are overwhelmed with requests from people who are just looking for jobs to meet unemployment requirements. HR personnel want serious candidates who meet the job criteria.

Remember too that HR departments have many other functions besides screening and hiring candidates. They must also focus on benefits management, staffing issues, compliance with state and federal rules, among other duties.

My No. 1 piece of advice is to try to find the person doing the hiring in the company and contact him or her. You will still have to eventually go through HR, but if you can get someone to shepherd your application/resume, you have a much better chance of landing the job.

Mackay's Moral: The purpose of your resume is to enable you to resume work.

by Harvey Mackay June 6, 2011

Mackay: HR people don't deserve their bad rap

Sunday, June 5, 2011

It's a Dog's Life: Photographs by William Wegman from the Polaroid Collection

William Wegman, Rolleramer, 1987, Polaroid 20x24 Polacolor film. © William Wegman, Courtesy the Polaroid Collections.

It's a Dog's Life: Photographs by William Wegman from the Polaroid Collection

Try to build important partnerships

My client was a straight shooter who laid it all out there in our first meeting with the potential business partner. "I'm telling you the way it is," he said. "And I'm not holding back, because that's the way I am. If you like it, we can create a very profitable partnership and transform this industry. If you don't, I'm very happy just walking away."

Five months later, the deal closed and everyone was excited about moving forward. So how can you increase the likelihood of negotiating similarly good business partnerships?

- Share critical information and interests liberally.

My client's open-book approach was crucial in exploring whether the parties enjoyed mutual goals, interests and needs to justify working closely together. As important, our counterparts adopted a similarly liberal information-sharing approach, which allowed both parties to check each other out before making a firm commitment.

During this due diligence, the parties analyzed the synergies in their businesses, markets, financials, technologies and systems. But they also explored how their cultures, personalities, personnel and styles meshed. These latter issues are especially critical in partnership negotiations.

- Take the initiative and negotiate future roles and rules.

I'm often asked how detailed to get involving the partners' roles and responsibilities. I usually recommend more detail rather than less. Although you can't deal with everything, addressing the ground rules governing the relationship often forces the parties to really uncover what's important to each and how and under what circumstances they want to work together.

It's also often advantageous to internally brainstorm potential roles and rules with your colleagues, outline the major points, and then share it with your potential partner as a working draft. Taking the initiative and presenting a first offer here will likely set your partner's expectations and increase the likelihood they will perceive it as fair.

And present it as a draft, which should also include items you can concede. It's important that your partner provides input into it and that you demonstrate some give-and-take in this process.

- Justify your moves with independent standards.

Also support your moves with objective standards like market value, precedent, tradition, costs, efficiency and expert opinions. Why? Because using such standards depersonalizes the negotiation, strengthens relationships and grounds your moves with independent, credible justifications - not just what you believe is fair.

For instance, one issue in many partnerships involves the parties' revenue split. How do you negotiate what everyone will perceive as fair? Find how others in your industry have addressed this (what the market says is fair). And talk to expert consultants in your field to see what they recommend. Instead of just proposing a certain split, explain why it makes sense given the parties' time and money and intellectual contributions.

- Focus on the relationship.

Perhaps the most important touchstone is to focus on the long-term relationship. Consider how all your moves will impact the relationship.

In fact, use this negotiation as a trial run for the partnership itself. The way you interact and deal with your potential partner, and they way they deal with you, will signal how well your partnership will work.

by Marty Latz Arizona Republic - Jun. 2, 2011 12:00 AM

Try to build important partnerships

Medical-marijuana superstore opens in Phoenix

It may not have been the grand opening he'd hoped for, but Dhar Mann says his Phoenix marijuana superstore will be a boon to first-time pot growers.

Mann opened his third weGrow store Wednesday - twice the size of his two California locations at 21,000 square feet - amid legal uncertainty about Arizona's voter-approved medical-pot law.

A federal lawsuit filed last week by Gov. Jan Brewer has halted the monthlong marijuana-dispensary-application process, which was to have started Wednesday. Mann said he expected to cater to large-scale cultivation operations that served dispensaries but instead will focus on folks setting up grow rooms and gardens at home.

"Now it's more about serving the patients so that they can grow their own medicine," he said. "Arizona is a state where there's high demand and very little information."

State health director Will Humble turned away the first dispensary applicants Wednesday, setting the stage for a possible legal challenge or administrative appeal based on the state's failure to implement the law.

Humble said dispensary applications won't be processed at least until a federal judge rules whether Arizona's new law conflicts with federal statutes banning marijuana.

About 4,000 Arizonans have state identification cards that permit them to use marijuana to treat a debilitating medical condition. State law allows people who live more than 25 miles from a dispensary to grow up to 12 plants for their personal use, and it allows a designated caregiver to grow marijuana for up to five people. Patients must indicate on their application that they plan to grow marijuana.

In addition to hydroponic supplies and other growing paraphernalia, Mann's store at 29th Avenue and Thomas Road features an adjacent clinic where people can get marijuana recommendations after submitting medical records and seeing a doctor.

A medical recommendation is required for a state-issued patient-identification card.

Medical-marijuana superstore opens in Phoenix

Medical-pot dispensary applications to be denied

State health Director Will Humble was putting the finishing touches Tuesday on the letter he will give to prospective medical-marijuana dispensary owners when he declines their applications.

Though Humble and his staff have spent months preparing for today's start of the dispensary application process, the federal lawsuit filed Friday by Gov. Jan Brewer has put the kibosh on it.

"We'll explain to them that we're unable to accept applications right now and thank them for their efforts," he said. "At least they'll have something when they leave to document that they tried."

The first letter likely will be handed to attorney Ryan Hurley and his clients, who plan to try filing a dispensary application this morning at the state Department of Health Services' headquarters and be turned away. Hurley said getting denied will set the stage for a lawsuit against the state for failing to implement the provisions of the voter-approved medical-marijuana law.

Humble is a plaintiff in the federal lawsuit, which seeks a declaratory judgment to determine if the new law conflicts with federal drug statutes and whether compliance with Arizona's voter-approved medical-pot law shields state employees, patients, dispensary owners and others from federal prosecution.

The state was to accept dispensary applications throughout the month of June and issue up to 126 permits by August. But Humble put the process on hold Friday, saying the court filing and advice from the Attorney General's Office made it legally dicey. The health department continues to accept applications for caregiver and patient ID cards as required under the law.

Hurley and his clients will not have an official application to submit, even though state rules require it, because Humble never posted one on the health department's website.

Attorney Lisa Hauser, who wrote Proposition 203 and represents several would-be dispensary owners, said she doesn't need to be turned away from Humble to take legal action. She said some of her clients may choose to file suit against the state for "failure to perform its duties under the act."

The federal lawsuit names U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke as defendants, along with voters who supported the ballot measure, patients and would-be dispensary owners. It contends that letters sent over the past several months by federal prosecutors have cast doubt on the legality of Arizona's law and the liability of state employees and others who abide by it. Arizona is among 16 states with medical-marijuana laws and all of them conflict with federal law, which outlaws the cultivation, sale and use of pot.

Dr. Nicholas Flores, a Scottsdale oncologist and potential dispensary medical director, said he agreed to be a defendant in the lawsuit because he believes patients deserve clarity on the issue. Federal prosecutors have said they won't prosecute patients but could go after growers and sellers.

"I'd like to see some kind of resolution for my patients," he said. "I'm tired of watching my 70-year-old patients try to figure out how to score an ounce in an alley."

by Mary K. Reinhart The Arizona Republic Jun. 1, 2011 12:00 AM

Medical-pot dispensary applications to be denied

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