Thursday, December 09, 2004
Big Bill & Hollywood Tangle Over Cockfighting, Plus; Shirley Baca: Flying High In More Ways than One
The charms of actress Pamela Anderson are not working their magic on Big Bill. Pressure from Pam and other Hollywood liberals to have the Guv back a ban on the age-old tradition of NM cockfighting has him slapping back hard. In today's New York Times (registration required) the Guv says:
"I'm officially undecided on the issue, but I don't believe it merits the attention it's received," Governor Richardson said in an interview. "Every time it's introduced it distracts from pressing issues like access to health care or drunk-driving fatalities, serious problems affecting our population."
"But it goes beyond distraction sometimes," he said. "Some of the implied threats coming from these Hollywood personalities are condescending and insulting."
Measures to ban the controversial sport have been repeatedly laid to rest in Santa Fe. Only NM and Louisiana now allow cockfighting, making us a juicy target. Another ban will be proposed next month. ABQ Mayor Chavez split with the Fourth Floor and has signed on with Hollywood. NM is just one of two states allowing cockfights. An estimated 10,000 New Mexicans train gamecocks, not many of them in the Big Duke City.
For the Guv, staying on the fence may make political sense as he runs statewide in 06'. For his national ambitions it gets a little tricky as Hollywood and animal rights groups are sure to continue to put the heat on as the Guv moves to broaden his national image.
Just when you think the world of La Politica would fall silent for the holidays NM Public Regulation Commissioner Shirley Baca comes to the rescue, getting herself busted for pot possession as she was about to board a plane at ABQ International Wednesday morning. Baby boomer Baca, 53, apparently likes her pot strong; she was busted with about an ounce and a glass pipe. Hey, what happened to rolling papers?
Shirley described herself as an occasional weed user, but denied the pot was hers. The usual political hypocrisy accompanied this bust of a state politico. Baca is an advocate of a "no tolerance" policy for drug use by state employees. That sounds familiar, doesn't it Judge Brennan and Joe Thompson?
What happens now? Well, it's not a felony. Baca could resign out of shame (is there any of that left in these parts?) or, even more unlikely, as KRQE-TV's Jessica Garate reminded us last night, Baca could be impeached by the Legislature.
The PRC has been an ethical nightmare since its inception. GOP Commissioner David King, who is facing yet another sexual harassment charge form a state employee, was quick to pile on reminding everyone of Baca's no-tolerance policy. Talk about the kettle calling the pot black!
REGULATE THE REGULATORS
The whole commission needs a rinse job. State GOP leader Ted Hobbs has been a lonely voice in calling for starting from scratch in remaking this wacky panel. If any good at call comes out of Shirley's bust, it would be for more lawmakers to sign on with Hobbs.
And in a little twist of irony, Congressman Steve Pearce reported this week that the bill honoring Joe Skeen's life of service to New Mexico was passed in the U.S. Senate and sent to the President to be signed into law. The legislation designates the Federal Building at Fifth and Richardson Avenues in Roswell as the "Joe Skeen Federal Building."
Skeen, who passed away a year ago, served 22 years in the U.S. House. It was none other than Shirley Baca who twice ran against the popular Skeen who must be having a chuckle right now, along with a vice more common to his generation: a shot of scotch (without the car keys).
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