Inside the Capitol

Thursday, September 29, 2005

10-3 Is Keeping Cannon a Mission Impossible?

Syndicated Columnist
SANTA FE -- Is keeping Cannon Air Force Base a Mission Impossible? The Clovis community, our congressional delegation and the governor are all putting on a happy face, but it will be a tough, uphill climb.
The Pentagon recommended Cannon be closed. The Base Realignment and Closing Commission amended that recommendation, downgrading Cannon to an "enclave" for the next four years, while requiring the secretary of Defense to seek other missions from all military services.
BRAC came close to keeping Cannon open, on a 4-3 vote. But five votes were required for a clear victory. Cannon supporters thought they had six votes, but late in the game a question of conflict was raised concerning two of Cannon's likely supporters on the commission, forcing them to recuse themselves.
Thus Cannon became the only air base in the nation to lose its planes and mission.
Our two U.S. senators quickly moved to amend the defense appropriations bill to require the Pentagon to carry out BRAC's recommendation. That amendment has now reached the floor of the Senate.
The remainder of the congressional delegation, Gov. Bill Richardson and the Clovis area also are aggressively seeking the new missions that will keep Cannon open.
There seems little doubt that the Pentagon will want to keep Cannon's air space, because of its size and great flying weather. That may help in the long run, but the ranchers who have to put up with the jet noise, may not be so anxious to endure it without a base.
Many analysts don't see much hope for Cannon to remain open. Since the Defense Department recommended closure, it won't be interested in looking for new missions. As soon as the planes are moved to other bases, which could be as much as a year, all but a small maintenance and guard staff will be moved out.
The Air Force will not spend a dime on maintenance projects since it already decided to close the base. Cannon will slowly deteriorate and that will be used for justification to close it on Dec. 31, 2009, say the pessimists.
If that view turns out to be correct, the effect will be worse than closing it outright, because it extends the uncertainty. And the deterioration of the base will reduce chances of finding private sector uses for the structures.
The president now has approved the BRAC recommendations and passed them on to Congress. A few see a hopeful sign that Congress may decide to junk the entire package. Many states are unhappy but Congress can't amend the BRAC recommendations. It is an up-or-down vote.
Some see hints in Congress that President Bush's proposal to put the Pentagon in charge of disasters may give Congress another excuse to kill the closure recommendations. The line between the Department of Homeland Security and the military is very fuzzy and the Pentagon's recommendations appear to further confuse the situation.
An argument can be made that this confusion should be resolved before closing and realigning bases. Others argue for waiting until the Iraq situation is resolved so we will know better what our foreign requirements will be.
Congress has 45 days to act on the BRAC recommendations after it received them from the president. That gives another month or so for a decision.
One other helpful factor may be disillusionment with previous rounds of base closings. The projected savings from those closings never materialized. In fact, the last three rounds have resulted in more expenses, rather than savings. Personnel usually weren't decreased, just moved. And those moves resulted in unbudgeted expenses.
In addition, environmental cleanup of closed bases has been much more expensive than anticipated. The Pentagon is notorious for ignoring environmental safety restrictions. Some bases are so contaminated, they will never be closed.
Ironically, Area 51, part of Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada, is the biggest nightmare, despite the fact that it doesn't even officially exist.
MON, 10-03-05

JAY MILLER, 3 La Tusa, Santa Fe, NM 87505
(ph) 982-2723, (fax) 984-0982, (e-mail)


Wednesday, September 28, 2005


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Tuesday, September 27, 2005

9-30 Fort Stanton

Syndicated Columnist
SANTA FE -- Another Lincoln County War is brewing. This time, instead of battling over Billy the Kid's bones, the fight is about building 600 residential units on historic land surrounding Fort Stanton.
Fort Stanton was established in 1855 to protect Anglo and Hispanic settlers from marauding outlaws and Apaches. It recently cerebrated its 150th anniversary.
In 1896, the fort was decommissioned as a military post, but unlike many of New Mexico's other forts, it didn't fall into decay. Other uses were found.
In 1899, it became the first Merchant Marine hospital devoted to treating tuberculosis. In 1939, it became our nation's first World War II internment camp, taking the crew of a German cruise ship, captured by the British in Havana Harbor.
In 1950, it was converted to care for the developmentally disabled. But as community care and at-home care became the accepted form of treatment, that function faded.
When Gov. Gary Johnson took office, Fort Stanton was swiftly caught up in his first round of budget cutting. Lincoln County residents were quick to remind the governor that destroying an important economic component of that part of the county was no way to treat some of the most loyal Republicans in the state.
And Gov. Johnson was quick to grasp their point. He instructed his Economic Development Department secretary, Gary Bratcher, to search for a solution in the private sector. Bratcher used the many contacts from private industry to help determine an attractive use in that sector.
He wooed Hollywood executives to buy it for a movie set but got no takers. So it was back to the public sector. A successful camp for troubled youth was established, but it didn't use much of the facility and still was a financial drain.
When Gov. Bill Richardson took office, he identified the same problems as Gary Johnson, his predecessor. So a commission was appointed to study the situation and recommend possible revenue streams to ensure the fort's restoration and future. The commission paid a consulting firm $100,000 for that study and recommendations.
The only recommendation to come from the study was development of a 600-unit residential complex that surrounds the core of the historic area. While it is true the housing and related development does not encroach on quadrangle of main buildings, it wipes out everything else nearby.
Maybe it is the only way to pay for the estimated $30 million to restore the fort and pay the annual cost of maintenance and operations. But this site is not crumbling nor has it disappeared like most other New Mexico forts.
And it has many memories. It was taken over briefly by Confederate troops during the Civil War. Col. Kit Carson took it back. Some 25 years later, it figured prominently in the Lincoln County War. By the late 1880s, Lt. "Black Jack" Pershing served two tours of duty there. And the internment of the German cruise ship crew carries many wonderful stories.
That did not all take place within the "quadrangle." It is similar to the current effort to build a casino at Gettysburg. That's right, Gettysburg. It won't encroach on the actual battlefield, but every farmhouse within miles was involved in the battle in some way.
Maybe 600 housing units and related development is the only answer, but let's investigate some others. Maybe the movie set idea can be investigated again in light of the state's new interest in the film industry.
Some are pushing for a national monument designation. Others say there is interest across the nation among groups willing to spend money on restoration and preservation.
Other alternatives must be proposed. There is too much distrust hanging over from the Billy the Kid controversy last year. At the time there were rumors that someone wanted to get rich from Billy's bones. Now, we're hearing there is a hidden agenda behind this proposal.
Hearings in the county are being conducted this week. Make sure your feeling is heard.
FRI, 9-30-05

JAY MILLER, 3 La Tusa, Santa Fe, NM 87505
(ph) 982-2723, (fax) 984-0982, (e-mail)


Monday, September 26, 2005

9-28 Treasurer's Office Scandal

Syndicated Columnist

SANTA FE -- How much will the state Treasurer's Office scandal hurt New Mexico?
Not much, as far as the state's bond rating is concerned, according to major Wall Street rating firms. We're also told that trading in state and local bond issues has been normal.
Wall Street looks well into the future and isn't affected much by short-term factors. They look at the ability of a state to repay its debt and not whether there was a scandal, according to bond rating firms. New Mexico enjoys the second highest bond rating on Wall Street -- one of the best of any states.
For the most part, the money that was allegedly extorted came from bond advisers, who reportedly could afford to share up to 75 percent of their payments with state officials and still do quite well. There have been worries, however, that trades are made too often, thereby increasing the number of commissions and fees, and that fees have been too high.
The only other positive anyone has been able to find in this embarrassing mess is that it may lead to some reform of the system. Gov. Bill Richardson says he plans to introduce "a bold anti-corruption package in the next legislative session."
Richardson didn't say whether that would be the Oct. 5 special session or the regular session next January. The announcement came two hours after he called a special session for "gas and home heating relief."
It likely can be assumed that Richardson doesn't plan to clog up the special session with anti-corruption legislation. But he may be forced to deal with the Treasurer's Office scandal in spades.
The public is not pleased with the deal worked out between the governor, attorney general and accused Treasurer Robert Vigil allowing him to "recuse" himself from having anything to do with the Treasurer's Office while still drawing his $85,000 salary.
Republican lawmakers, and probably some Democrats, want him to either resign or be impeached. The trouble with impeachment is that the Legislature has to do it and legislative leaders aren't anxious to go through that ordeal.
But if public anger and pressure continues to build, they may have to act. Vigil seems very unlikely to resign. There is no law forcing an elected official to resign before being proven guilty. Vigil still maintains his innocence. If convicted on the charges, he faces a possible 20 years in prison and a quarter-million-dollar fine.
If Vigil seeks a plea bargain, his biggest chip will be his resignation, so he's not going to use that option now.
It's just a guess, but the solution of Democrat leaders may be to avoid embarrassment by not having a special session.
A gain Richardson hopes to achieve out of this scandal is a constitutional amendment giving the governor authority to appoint the current down-ballot state elected officials.
Detractors have called Richardson the nation's most powerful governor, but he has to share executive power with numerous other elected officials. Most voters are not able to name those elected offices or their current incumbents.
Yet the governor usually ends up with the blame for any misdeeds they might commit. So why not have a single executive responsible for all state government? Our federal government has survived over 200 years with the system.
Until recently, New Mexicans have been unwilling to surrender the right to a long ballot, but then we allowed judges a modified appointive system. And now Gov. Richardson has convinced voters to take control of public schools from the elected state Board of Education.
Republican officials have suggested the state treasurer be appointed by a panel of public members. But then there is no one to answer for misdeeds of the person it appoints.
So New Mexico struggles with its tarnished image. Gov. Richardson may have even more trouble attracting new business to the state. And the public's low opinion of government will sink even lower.
WED, 9-28-05

JAY MILLER, 3 La Tusa, Santa Fe, NM 87505
(ph) 982-2723, (fax) 984-0982, (e-mail)


Thursday, September 15, 2005

9-23 Area Codes

Syndicated Columnist
SANTA FE -- A few weeks ago, I wrote about how adding a telephone area code in New Mexico isn't that big a deal because it doesn't cost much to print new business cards or stationery, computers will do it for you and it's easy to look up new area codes.
A group of Albuquerque businesses obviously disagree with me because they have formed a coalition to be sure the Duke City doesn't have to change. They say it will cost millions.
Now I get a story from a former New Mexican, living in Los Angeles, about how changing area codes can hurt a one-person business.
Richard Hannemann, a singer/songwriter/guitarist/composer, grew up in Los Alamos and moved to Los Angeles, where he stands a better chance of making a living. His chief means of getting business is to "hand out business cards like raindrops in a thunderstorm."
He has moved frequently, so says there is no point putting an address on his card. He lists his name, what he does, his Web address ( and his phone number (310-836-9408).
Hannemann says the life span of a business card is generally at least four years, so continuity is essential. He says he often gets calls from out of the blue asking if he still is in business. Recently he got two gigs from a card he handed out at a country club seven years ago.
Here's his theory. He says people collect business cards thinking they might come in handy some day. (That's me, for sure.) Every four years or so, the average individual will go through the accumulated cards and call those who remain of interest to inquire whether they still are in business. If they are, the life of the card extends another four years.
Hannemann says that if he can keep the same phone number, when he is 80 years old, "shore as shootin'" someone's going to call off a card picked up when he was 40. But of course, in Los Angeles, area codes change often.
But the phone company and government are beginning to come up with some solutions, Hannemann says. One is called a "foreign exchange." If he ever decides to move back to New Mexico, he can keep his 310 area code at a cost of about $400.
Hannemann knows that when he gets a new area code, he loses business. The phone company does provide a recording telling the new area code for a year, but after a year, he says, he loses potential business on every card he has handed out.
The small business community and the overall economy were helped a few years ago, Hannemann says, by a rollover feature that allows the transfer of a land line number to a cell phone.
And then there is the "overlay," which the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission has considered. Current numbers keep their area code. New numbers go on the new area code. If that is done, the area code no longer signifies an area. It becomes a three-digit super-exchange.
The "overlay" is Hannemann's preferred solution because it allows everyone to keep their phone numbers. But maybe New Mexicans would prefer to fight about who has to change.
And don't be surprised, Hannemann says, if someday we get three more digits added to our phone numbers.
Turning to his sociologist side, Hannemann marvels at how self contained, but with a worldwide reach, that communications technology has made us. That's a favorite subject of mine, on which I wrote a column several years ago. I'm trying to find it to run it again.
My thesis was that we have become a world of hermits, holed up in our houses, watching TV, and no longer participating in community activities and helping our fellow man.
As Hannemann puts it, Thomas Moore was wrong. We are becoming more and more little islands unto ourselves, connected to each other only by the great ocean of communication.
FRI, 9-23-05

JAY MILLER, 3 La Tusa, Santa Fe, NM 87505
(ph) 982-2723, (fax) 984-0982, (e-mail)


Wednesday, September 14, 2005

9-21 Katrina

Syndicated Columnist
SANTA FE -- A recent column blamed the plight of many New Orleans residents on an expectation of entitlement, with no spirit of independence, self sufficiency or willingness to help their neighbors.
Naturally, such comments were bound to elicit strong responses. Some said I wasn't being tough enough and forwarded opinion pieces from national publications predicting it was just the first step toward the end of America as we know it because we are a welfare state.
And I received responses calling me hard-hearted because these were the poorest of the poor who couldn't help themselves and therefore were victims of a federal government that had allowed them to live in Third World conditions and a corrupt, incompetent local government that didn't plan for disaster relief.
The most interesting response, one I hadn't heard elsewhere, came from Kim Reed-Deemer, of Las Vegas, N.M. With a background in anthropology, she was drawn to the question of why people within a given social or cultural environment make the choices they do when those choices involve great risk.
Reed-Deemer says that question has been asked by medical anthropologists regarding issues involving public health and welfare and they have application to the Katrina situation.
She contends this is primarily a family values issue and finds it inexplicable that the motives of the residents of New Orleans who did not evacuate the city prior to the hurricane are being ripped by so many on the ideological right.
Enough individual stories have emerged from the disaster, she maintains, to indicate that many able-bodied people stayed because of strong ties to family, friends, neighborhoods and even pets.
"What if your elderly dad or grandpa refuses to leave or you don't know where or what your sister and her family are doing" What if your brother or uncle was a city employee and couldn't leave, or your shut-in neighbor can't or won't go?
Do you turn away and leave knowing they're in almost certain peril, or do you hang back to see to their safety? Hang back until it may be too late for anyone?" This, she says, is a real spirit of community.
In that same column, I also agreed with U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert that it may be unwise to spend billions in taxpayer money to rebuild a city that is below sea level and below the level of Lake Ponchatrain.
I received even more responses to that one. Some readers noted that New Orleans is one of America's great, historic cities. It also is our second largest port. The Big Easy will undoubtedly be rebuilt, they said.
Many noted that Hastert, an Illinois Republican, represents an area prone to floods, that now is suffering loss of crops due to drought. Should we cut off federal funding because those disasters surely will happen again?
Or how about earthquake-prone California? We rebuilt San Francisco a century ago. Should we do it again when the really big one comes? For an enjoyable parody on Hastert now wanting to return the Louisiana Purchase to France, check
As an example of unwillingness to help neighbors, I cited a story from Biloxi, Miss., about Air Force personnel who played basketball across the street from an evacuation center.
Larry Furrow, a spokesman for White Sands Missile Range, asked me to take a second look at the story, which he found hard to believe. Certainly the current actions of the military are more than commendable.
I'm trying to track the veracity of that story. It isn't on, yet. But do look there for investigative work on much of the finger-pointing going on these days.
Although no government officials were willing to cut through red tape to provide quick aid, many private individuals and businesses began their efforts almost immediately.
Wal-Mart has been at the front of that pack. And now little Sandia Pueblo has joined the big time with a $1 million donation, plus more from its employees.
WED, 9-21-05

JAY MILLER, 3 La Tusa, Santa Fe, NM 87505
(ph) 982-2723, (fax) 984-0982, (e-mail)


Friday, September 09, 2005

9-19 Presidential Vacations

Syndicated Columnist
SANTA FE -- President Bush has received some rough treatment in the media for the frequency and length of his vacations.
And it got even tougher when Hurricane Katrina hit while he was at his ranchette in Texas. At that point, he was referred to by some as the vacationer-in-chief.
We hear that his total time out of Washington has now passed Ronald Reagan's and is closing in on the record set by Richard Nixon.
As usual, these news folks are short on history. Recorded history for them started with the beginning of their careers.
Nixon and Reagan did take a lot of time off. The public begrudged Nixon's sailing vacations with Bebe Rebozo but it didn't mind Reagan going to his California ranch. They knew he was a cowboy because they'd seen him in the movies.
The pictures of Reagan clearing brush on his ranch ran in every paper. They made him look hardy, even in his advancing years. So what were the first photo ops we saw of Bush at his country place? Clearing brush.
Making a show out of clearing brush didn't start with Reagan. He borrowed it from hale and hardy Teddy Roosevelt, when he spent the summers at his estate on Sagamore Bay, Long Island.
That's right. I said he spent summers there -- not just August as is the practice of our current president and Congress. Washington was too hot in the summer, so until air conditioning came along, presidents headed for the beach or the mountains. And few people complained.
But the champion vacationers were our founding fathers. George Washington set the standard by going home to Mount Vernon for long stays as often as he could. But the record holder for lengthy vacations is likely John Adams, our second president.
No one accused Adams of being lazy. His Calvinist outlook meant he worked full time. Messengers took work back and forth. One stretch lasted seven months. At home, Adams labored in the fields on his crops, built stone walls, cut hay and seaweed for fodder, and of course, he cut brush.
Some of our recent presidents enjoyed the Washington whirl enough that they stuck around. Clinton loved the White House. George Bush, Sr. spent some time at Kennebunkport in the summers. His official address was a hotel room in Houston, where he didn't spend much time.
Jimmy Carter liked to go home to Plains, Ga. to see his family. The press was welcome to hang around. They talked with his mother, the colorful Miss Lillian, while Jimmy played softball with the family. And of course, brother Billy always made a good story.
Lyndon Johnson loved to take reporters to the Johnson ranch. Now that was a ranch. He'd pack his guests in his car and take off at breakneck speed to show them his spread.
President Kennedy went to Hyannisport often for family gatherings and games of touch football. Reporters were welcome there too and enjoyed rubbing elbows with the rich and famous.
A military career meant President Eisenhower didn't put down roots. But he liked golf and took frequent vacations to Palm Springs and other resorts. There was some complaining about too much golf, but the American people loved Ike, the war hero, and didn't begrudge him some rest.
It was Harry Truman who may have caught the most flack for his many escapes to Key West, Florida. One story was that after the end of World War II, the president showed considerable evidence of stress from the whirlwind life he led after assuming the presidency in April 1945 with no briefings on the war. Naval doctors suggested he escape for awhile. And he loved it.
Franklin Roosevelt also was a vacationer. He went to his home at Hyde Park as often as possible. He also built a retreat he called Shangri-la, which Eisenhower renamed Camp David. And FDR spent much time at his Little White House in Warm Springs, Ga.
Presidential vacations involve work. With today's communication systems, they can stay plugged in. But President Bush gets himself in trouble for appearing not to do much more than cutting brush.
MON, 9-19-05

JAY MILLER, 3 La Tusa, Santa Fe, NM 87505
(ph) 982-2723, (fax) 984-0982, (e-mail)


Wednesday, September 07, 2005

9-16 Bureaucracy

Syndicated Columnist
SANTA FE -- "Murder by bureaucracy" is what Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussard called the governmental paralysis that is expected to result in thousands of deaths in New Orleans.
It's now evident that local, state and federal governments were restrained by regulations, lack of communication and unwillingness to relinquish power.
In the wake of the disaster that governmental inaction created, a clever item has been circling the Internet bringing a physical science explanation to the world of political science.
As the story goes, a major research institution has recently announced the discovery of the heaviest element yet known to science. The new element has been named "governmentium." It has 1 neutron, 12 deputy neutrons, 75 assistant neutrons and 224 deputy assistant neutrons, giving it an atomic weight of 312.
These 312 particles are held together by forces called morons, which are surrounded by vast quantities of lepton-like particles called peons.
Since governmentium has no protons or electrons, it is inert. However it can be detected, because it impedes every action with which it comes into contact. A minute amount of governmentium causes a reaction to take 4 days to complete, when it would normally take less than a second.
Governmentium has a normal half-life of four years. It does not decay, but instead undergoes a reorganization in which a portion of the assistant neutrons and deputy neutrons exchange places. In fact, governmentium's mass will actually increase over time since each reorganization will cause more morons to become neutrons, forming isodopes.
This characteristic of moron promotion leads some scientists to believe that governmentium is formed whenever morons reach a certain quantity in concentration. This Hypothetical quantity is referred to as "critical morass. When catalyzed with money, governmentium becomes administratium, an element that radiates just as much energy as governmentium since it has half as many peons but twice as many morons.
End of story.
Let it be said that there are many competent employees and elected officials at all levels of government. But bureaucracy usually does get in the way. It doesn't happen only in government. It is just as prevalent in private bureaucracies.
I am told that the middle management level of private bureaucracies is beginning to disappear. Middle management seems to be used primarily for communication. They attend meetings with other middle managers and report back.
Today, with computer networks making communication instant, top-level managers no longer have to depend on others to carry their messages and report back. They can now do much more of the communicating themselves, thereby speeding up action.
The general in charge of responding to the New Orleans disaster said he could have been on the scene six hours after the levees broke but it took him 34 hours to get through all the government red tape.
FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, formerly was able to communicate with any other governmental agency it needed to provide help. But under the Homeland Security Department, established by Congress and the President, all communications must go through Homeland Security and back.
All the changes after 9/11 were supposed to make our response to disaster more efficient. It appears government reorganization has made it worse. But even with all the bureaucratic obstacles that must be removed, one factor could have saved the day -- and thousands of lives.
Leadership is what was missing -- at every level. In retrospect, the 9/11 response was marvelous. The factor that was missing this time was former New York City Mayor Rudy Guiliani, who cut through red tape at all levels to do what needed to be done.
I have a strong feeling that we will be seeing more of him. He has presidential ambitions and this will help these ambitions tremendously.
FRI, 9-16-05

JAY MILLER, 3 La Tusa, Santa Fe, NM 87505
(ph) 982-2723, (fax) 984-0982, (e-mail)


Monday, September 05, 2005

9-14 Jets, DWI, Presidential Primaries and Calendars

Syndicated Columnist
SANTA FE -- The timing couldn't have been better -- or luckier. Gov. Bill Richardson's new airplane, the state's first jet, arrived in New Mexico on Sept. 1.
The following day, state General Services Department Secretary Edward Lopez announced it would become operational the following week, which it did. And what was its first mission? Ferrying hurricane relief supplies to Louisiana.
What an auspicious beginning. A mission of mercy. Lopez traveled with the plane so he could make on-the-spot decisions about further missions while the plane was in the devastated area. No dubious political junkets for this plane's first mission.
Look for the twin-engine Cessna Citation Bravo to make additional missions of mercy when it arrives back in New Mexico. It is likely also to be used by departments, such as Children, Youth and Families, to perform human interest duties.
Our governor is definitely smart enough to have played the game in the most politic way, but he got a little lucky on this one too. As they say, timing is everything.
Questions have been asked about why the state didn't buy an Eclipse aircraft, being produced in New Mexico. The answer is that Eclipse won't be ready for at least another year.
Meanwhile, Eclipse head, Vern Rayburn, says Cessna gave a huge price break to New Mexico in order to boast that Eclipse's home state bought a Cessna. Rayburn also says the plane is a good choice for New Mexico.
Another area, in which the governor can expect to get almost as much grief as on his airplane decision, is his plan to introduce legislation requiring mandatory jail sentences for first-time DWI offenders, along with a mandatory treatment program.
A good deal of grousing already is being heard that this doesn't attack the big problem. The public gets most upset when someone is killed by a drunk driver with five previous offenses, no license, no insurance and a bad driving record. Those are the people who have absolutely no respect for the law or the safety of the community.
The governor says such penalties are necessary because we must break the cycle of repeat DWI offenders, who start out early in life. That's true, but does jailing a granny who had an extra glass of sherry at her neighborhood bridge game address that problem?
The biggest problem seems to be judges, who don't lock up repeat offenders for the maximum time allowed.
Gov. Richardson has been pushing for a regional presidential primary ever since he took office in 2003. He succeeded in getting an early Democratic presidential caucus in 2004. Now, he and Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, a Republican, are working on a 2008 regional primary.
For awhile, it appeared that at least Arizona, Colorado, Montana and Wyoming might join them, but now they've given up on Colorado and Wyoming. Arizona appears to be in, so they are working hard on Montana and have brought Nevada and Idaho back into play.
They hope for at least four states, but say that even with three, it would be a success. The primary will be held early enough in February that the nominees won't already have been decided.
The way New Mexico's law is written, the parties pay for an early primary. If they want to wait until June, the state will pay. That's what happened in New Mexico and some other states in 2004, and it could happen again.
Last month, this column complained that few calendars any longer indicate V-E Day and V-J Day. I said I would very much like to buy one and give the printing company some publicity.
Earl Nelson, a retired Air Force master sergeant, from Alamogordo, has e-mailed to inform us that Bomber Legends Magazine publishes such a calendar. I went to and found several calendars ranging from $5 to $12.99. The address is 1672 Main Street, Suite E-124, Ramona, CA92065. Tel:760-788-3624.
WED, 8-14-05

JAY MILLER, 3 La Tusa, Santa Fe, NM 87505
(ph) 982-2723, (fax) 984-0982, (e-mail)


Sunday, September 04, 2005

9-12 Is All New Mexico Sacred?

Syndicated Columnist

SANTA FE -- Might all of New Mexico eventually be declared ancestral land of present day Indian tribes? That possibility arose at a recent meeting of the state Cultural Properties Review Committee.
The committee voted unanimously to table issuance of a permit for the city of Santa Fe to proceed with replacing its old convention center with a new one on the same site.
The problem is that human remains have been found at the site and representatives of pueblos north of Santa Fe think they may be ancestors. That possibility is likely enough that the committee wants the city and the pueblos to work out their differences before a permit is issued.
The state has a tribal consultation policy on the protection of sacred sites. The policy requires "a good-faith effort" to identify tribes that may have objections and assurance that those tribes are consulted.
The vague language causes further problems. Santa Fe says it has made a good-faith effort to identify tribes with objections. It says 21 notification letters were mailed to tribes in New Mexico and Arizona.
The consultation part is more difficult. Tesuque, the closest pueblo to Santa Fe, says there has been only one consultation and that was initiated by the pueblo.
The big question is whether that one consultation was sufficient and if more are needed, do they have to result in agreement? The committee did not answer that question and rejected an attempt by the Cultural Affairs Department secretary to enter the discussion.
No one is optimistic about where those talks will lead. The city says it has offered to make a formal presentation to Tesuque Pueblo, but it already is well on its way toward building the $54 million convention center.
Tesuque, and all 18 other New Mexico pueblos, adamantly oppose any further construction on the site. Despite the nearby pueblos having convention centers of their own, either in existence or in the planning stage, they say they are not opposed to the city building a convention center in a different location. Of course, that one could end up being on sacred ground too.
The state Office of Archaeological Studies, which is conducting the dig for the city, isn't hopeful either. Steve Lentz, the project manager of the civic center dig, says with Native American and Anglo relationships being what they are, he is "not terribly optimistic."
It is OAS Director Timothy Maxwell who asks the big question. "As development continues in New Mexico -- say we go to other locations and find other sites, is there nothing that can be done each time?"
Maxwell says he's not sure how archaeologists and non-Indians should approach the issue, but "it's something we've got to confront." He adds, if consultation requires that the parties reach agreement, the process "could go on forever."
It's not likely that Santa Fe will be the only New Mexico town to have to confront this issue. The pueblos at one time were spread more widely. The Apaches roamed freely over the south and Navajos throughout the north.
Last year, an Oklahoma Apache tribe announced its desire to build a casino near Deming because that was ancestral land. In 1996 Indians in Washington State successfully claimed the remains of the 9,000-year-old Kennewick Man. After eight years of court action, scientists got to study the bones.
And remember that New Mexico has evidence of human life dating back over 11,000 years at Clovis, Blackwater Draw, Folsom and probably many other locations.
The balance of economic progress with respect for another culture will always be a touchy one in New Mexico because our Indian tribes survived the European onslaught better here than those elsewhere.
New Mexico tribes understand how important economic development is to our state, so how about a little flexibility, folks? And how about showing us your archaeological studies of the land where you put your big casinos? Seems like there might be bones there too.
MON, 9-12-05

JAY MILLER, 3 La Tusa, Santa Fe, NM 87505
(ph) 982-2723, (fax) 984-0982, (e-mail)


Saturday, September 03, 2005

9-9 Hurricane Katrina

Syndicated Columnist
SANTA FE -- "Don't politicize the hurricane disaster." How many times have we heard that admonishment in recent days?
What that means is don't say anything bad about people on my side of the political fence, but I have a right to criticize people on your side because they deserve it.
Relax folks. No one is going to completely avoid assessing blame for such a horrible tragedy. Someone had to be responsible. In reality, many, many were responsible in one way or another at all levels of government. And add to that individuals who made bad decisions about evacuating.
Another reason for the rush to blame is that so many public officials deserve so much blame that they are trying to deflect as much as possible to others.
The fact is that Congress had many opportunities to provide money to strengthen the levees that broke but there were higher priorities, even for the Louisiana delegation. If strengthening those levees was so important, the state or local government could have done it.
The disaster occurred not just because of the levees, but because of over a hundred years of poor planning, loss of marshlands due to upstream diversions, damage to barrier islands, and unrestrained industrial development. All of these combined to diminish the coastal features that could have reduced the damage.
House Speaker Dennis Hastert has received much grief for a suggestion that these factors make it unwise to spend billions in federal money to rebuild a city that sits seven feet below sea level. He has been asked to apologize for destroying the hope of a city that is down.
But Hastert makes a valid point. Sure, almost everyone wants to go back to where they lived. But do the taxpayers of the nation owe them that when the likelihood of another disaster is high?
The people of New Orleans we heard on television almost all sang the same refrain. Where is the government? It should be here taking care of my problem.
Obviously disaster relief is a government responsibility and the people we saw on TV were the most needy of our society acting in a desperate situation. But the expectation of entitlement seemed to be in all their minds, with no spirit of independence, self-sufficiency or willingness to help their neighbors.
A jolting revelation of unwillingness to help neighbors occurred across the street from a shelter in Biloxi, Miss. Reporters, listening to horrific stories of death and survival, looked out to see Air Force personnel playing basketball and performing calisthenics.
When they went across the street to ask why the airmen weren't getting their exercise helping with rescue efforts, the base spokesman explained that the military has better things to do than pick up trash on the beach.
As for government officials, everyone seemed to be asleep at the switch. There was no local or state mobilization plan for New Orleans. The National Guard was not put on alert status as the storm approached. No one seemed to know that Homeland Security had to be asked to come help.
So in the mightiest nation in the world, rescue and recovery efforts were delayed longer than in a third world nation.
President Bush came in for a great amount of criticism. His supporters protested that criticizing the president was playing politics. Meanwhile the president lavished praise on two governors of states affected and had severe criticism for the other. It wasn't necessary to pull out my political almanac to figure out which parties they represented.
In New Mexico, our fast-forward governor leapt into action, deploying National Guard troops; organizing professional health volunteers; collecting diapers, baby food and formula; preparing for the arrival of refugees; collecting money and setting up an assistance hotline.
That toll-free number for New Mexicans who want to give or volunteer to help hurricane victims is 1-866-638-6819.
FRI, 9-09-05

JAY MILLER, 3 La Tusa, Santa Fe, NM 87505
(ph) 982-2723, (fax) 984-0982, (e-mail)


Friday, September 02, 2005

9-7 Liberation

Syndicated Columnist

SANTA FE -- Finally, it was time to get out of the prison camps. During the month following the Japanese surrender, the medical cases were evacuated first. Then recovery teams methodically got all former prisoners to ports of embarkation.
The wait was tough, but for many men who had spent four years away from home, three-and-one-half of that in captivity, it provided time to mentally prepare for their return.
It also gave some time to become reacquainted with the real food falling from the sky. Many had trouble keeping anything down for awhile.
The medicine drops helped too. Medicine and other supplies often were dropped in mattresses. They were thin, but luxurious compared to the slats they had slept on.
The sick and injured received plane rides to stateside hospitals, some of them for long stays. A few others who got lucky caught hops back to the United States. The rest found themselves on slow boats back home.
That wasn't such bad duty. Navy cooks were instructed to give the prisoners all they wanted to eat, at any time of day. That meant morning, noon and evening meals ran together, as some seemed never to quit eating. Many men said they gained 50 pounds or more on the trip home.
The men wanted to look better for their wives and sweethearts. The American government wanted that too. It worried about public reaction to seeing men half their normal weight returning from prison, when many Americans were upset at what they thought was our coddling of POWs.
Liberation didn't happen as quickly for the prisoners held in Manchuria, where the Russians were invading. Many of the Japanese guards were killed on the spot, but the Russians often weren't much better hosts. They were primarily interested in plundering anything they could find rather then helping their allies, the Americans, get out of there.
The ship rides were slow. Every vessel was pressed into service and some were no longer very seaworthy. Mines and typhoons slowed them down more. Some ships stopped several times in Japan, Okinawa, Guam, and even the Philippines before heading home.
The homecoming ceremonies at dockside were big events. Bands played. Crowds lined the harbors to watch the boys come home. Many wives and families were there. And some weren't. Parents had died or wives and sweethearts were no longer waiting.
Things had changed. America had made great strides during the previous four years and they hadn't been part of it. How difficult would it be to adjust? The slang bewildered them. Popular songs were new. Customs had changed. They had to get reacquainted with their country.
Most went to West Coast hospitals to be checked out for the effects of beatings, abuse, starvation and overwork. Doctors told them they likely had only about 10 years to live and wouldn't be able to father children because of the damage done to their bodies during captivity.
The bad news was taken in stride by most of them. They had become accustomed to bad news and were determined to enjoy their freedom as long as they could. And maybe they could even beat the odds one more time.
Most of them did. Among them, they can boast many, many children. Quite a few of them are still going strong 60 years later. I talked to Jack Aldrich, who sounded very hearty in Roswell recently.
Friends in Silver City tell me Tommy Foy still practices law there; Nick Chintis, despite numerous surgeries, still is as feisty as ever and Vicente Ojinaga is retired in Santa Fe.
Even though many survived the physical abuse to their bodies, some didn't survive the mental abuse well. Most had trouble adjusting to civilian life. Heavy drinking became a problem with some.
But even without the psychological services the military offers today, our guys survived amazingly well to become productive citizens of our state.
WED, 9-07-05

JAY MILLER, 3 La Tusa, Santa Fe, NM 87505
(ph) 982-2723, (fax) 984-0982, (e-mail)