Inside the Capitol

Thursday, February 08, 2007

2-12 Few Celeb Sightings at Capitol

Syndicated Columnist

SANTA FE -- We haven't seen many celebrities around the Legislature this year.
In the past, cockfighting has brought in a few big names but this year, the strategy changed. Gov. Bill Richardson weighed in for the ban and he seems to be all the celebrity needed to get the measure passed and signed.
One of last year's celebrities, who appeared in opposition to a ban, was veteran actor Wilfred Brimley, who has starred in an ad for diabetic supplies the past several years.
What was Brimley doing pushing his ideas on New Mexicans? It turns out he is one of us. He has a ranch up in Miami, in the foothills of the Carson National Forest in northeastern New Mexico.
But Brimley has been absent this year, along with Pamela Anderson and other advocates of a cockfighting ban.
Also absent have been Sir Richard Branson and Victoria Principal who were here last year promoting a big state appropriation for Spaceport America.
Who knows, maybe they'll show up down in Las Cruces for the quarter-cent gross receipts tax vote in early April. That money would go for a local matching fund to augment the state appropriation and to demonstrate local support.
If the measure passes in Dona Ana County, look to see similar votes in Sierra and Otero counties. No one has been very clear about what happens if voters don't approve the local increase.
Shirley MacLaine and Marsha Mason often have come down from their spreads in the Abiquiu area to promote film projects. But most of those have become law in the last few years and New Mexico is busy becoming a film giant.
Albuquerqueans are quite proud of their huge studio near the airport. But Rep. Janice Arnold-Jones, who used to be in the film business in California, says the studio's location in a flight path is likely to spell its demise.
Maybe Brian Urlacher will show up. Now that Da Bears are finished with the Super Bowl, he should have some extra time. He isn't a publicity seeker but he's a huge fan and supporter of his home state.
Gov. Richardson recognized Urlacher's many accomplishments and contributions to our state by declaring Super Sunday, February 4, Brian Urlacher Day in New Mexico.
I asked the governor if Urlacher is going to return the favor by helping with his presidential campaign. He said he didn't know but that Brian already had helped him with a fundraiser.
One celebrity who won't be making an appearance is former Ambassador Joe Wilson who jumped into the national spotlight when his wife, Valerie Plame, was exposed as a CIA agent. The couple is planning a move to Santa Fe soon.
Wilson was scheduled to address the House Agriculture and Water Resources Committee on Feb. 6, along with his Santa Fe business partner Howard Cohen about funds available through the National Drought Information System, under a bill introduced by Sen. Pete Domenici.
The state GOP heard of Wilson's appearance and sent an urgent e-mail informing its supporters of Wilson's appearance and alerting them that "all those who value honesty in government are encouraged to attend these hearings and make your voice heard."
What in the world that was supposed to mean, I don't know. But maybe Wilson did. He announced he wouldn't attend.
Wilson's testimony was scheduled just as the prosecution was bring its case to a close in the trial of Scooter Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff. It may be that Wilson wanted or needed to stay in Washington for that since the case revolved around Libby's outing of his wife, a covert CIA agent.
Another person with New Mexico ties also is involved in that trial. Ari Fleischer, a former press secretary for Sen. Domenici, was White House spokesman at the time. He says Libby told him about Plame before Libby says he had ever heard of her.
MON, 2-12-07

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



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