Editorial: We're still free to get measles

It was heartwarming and tragic all at the same time. The girl was paralyzed from the waist down, and the older siblings and parents took turns carrying her from one room to the next as the day progressed.

I sat in the living room of the ranch house, dragged along by a friend of mine who thought there was a story in the home, one that I should write about.

At the same time, local doctors were pleading with me to not write the story.

The girl had been initially diagnosed as having Guillain-Barré syndrome, but there were some people who thought it was more than just a coincidence that the girl's paralysis came shortly after she was vaccinated for polio.

I never wrote the story, convinced by one doctor that more tragedy could arise if parents concluded the polio vaccine was too dangerous for their child. I've got enough on my plate without being responsible in some small way for an outbreak of polio.

It's 25 or so years later and a lot of attention is being focused on a measles outbreak made possible by some children who have not been vaccinated. I feel for the kids, having suffered through measles, chicken pox and mumps when I was just starting school, but I can't get too upset at people who choose to not get their children vaccinated.

It's up to them, and since my kids (and grandchildren) have been vaccinated, their decision has no impact on me.

There are reasons, though, for having your kids skip the vaccines. I don't buy the argument that the vaccines are linked to autism, but I also don't believe the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine is perfectly safe for all children. The odds of a bad outcome from getting the MMR vaccine may be a million to one or higher, but don't tell me a bad outcome is impossible.

And if parents believe a bad outcome is possible for whatever reason, not having their children vaccinated is their right. Like I said, that decision has no impact on children who have been vaccinated.

And call me crazy, but my own gut feeling on this outbreak is that it started with the flood of undocumented children who poured across the southern border last year.

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Not that it has anything to do with Kingman Crossing, but only about 5 percent of the continental U.S. is developed.

OK, it does have something to do with Kingman Crossing. I like open space as much as the next guy, and there's plenty of it all around us. That being the case, why in the world would you take prime commercial property adjacent to a future interstate interchange and zone it so you can't put in businesses that will generate sales tax revenue and create jobs?

I don't know that any entity wants to buy the land and help share in the cost of an interchange. I do know there won't be any offers of financial help on the interchange from the private sector if the land on that side of I-40 can't be developed.

There are smart ways for the city to do this without having the new landowner use the 160 acres for unsavory purposes. The City Council made the right choice in starting a conversation about what Kingman Crossing could be.

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This is as good a time as any to tell this story.

A few years back, I was on a safari with Brian Williams. You may know him as the anchor at NBC News.

I was out in one of those open Jeeps one day with a group of people looking for lions. Why you do that in an open Jeep is beyond me, but I figured the guys leading the safari knew what they were doing.

We're tooling along when we hear a galloping sound. Next thing you know, this rhino is running alongside us, and right behind is Brian Williams. He's working a lasso while riding this giraffe, and suddenly he heaves the rope and somehow snags the back right foot (paw? hoof?) of this rhino.

Ol' Brian leaps from the giraffe onto the rhino, tips it over and ties three of the beast's feet together. Then he throws up his arms and I hear a woman shout, "Seven-point-two seconds. That's gotta be a record."

I turn around. The woman behind me holding the stop watch is Mariah Carey.

You probably heard Brian talk about this on the Letterman show, so it's not like I'm letting the cat out of the bag.