Inside the Capitol

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

8-20 Gov's Past Beyond Belief

Syndicated Columnist
SANTA FE -- If you think Gov. Bill Richardson has done some pretty weird things the past seven years, wait until you hear what he did 40 years ago as he began his career in government.
According to Andrew Basiago, Richardson was a young staff member for a secret federal government agency called Project Pegasus. The project teleported, Star-Trek style, child test subjects from New Jersey to the grounds of the New Mexico state capitol complex in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
According to Basiago, former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, now a Taos-area resident, headed the program. All we're told about Richardson is that he took roll for the adolescent astronauts in New Jersey.
Basiago has appeared on at least one late-night national radio show telling his strange story. Evidently it was through this project that Richardson and Rumsfeld became attached to New Mexico.
Something about Project Pegasus seemed vaguely familiar to me so I googled it. It's straight out of Captain Marvel comics.
* * *
That casino Jemez Pueblo wants to build between Las Cruces and El Paso is back in the news. It seems the Barack Obama administration is taking a second look at some of the Indian gaming proposals rejected by the Bush administration.
This will make big Bill Richardson contributor Gerald Peters very happy. And it would be very bad news for Sunland Park racing owner Stan Fulton, who has gone to great lengths to keep competition out of the area.
Besides Santa Fe businessman Gerald Peters, Ruidoso Downs owner R.D. Hubbard has looked longingly at the area's big population base.
Also casting an eye on the area is the Fort Sill Apache Tribe from Oklahoma. The tribe has tried to start gambling operations at Akela, between Las Cruces and Deming.
That used to be the tribe's homeland back in the days of Geronimo before it was relocated to Florida and then Oklahoma. Don't be surprised to see the tribe make another effort.
The Fort Sill tribe isn't as tied to New Mexico, however, when it comes to the attempt by some of its members to move Geronimo's remains back to New Mexico.
* * *
When I first got into this business 23 years ago, Main Street New Mexico was just getting started. I was impressed with the program because communities around the state were so enthusiastic about its possibilities.
Back then, Ursula Boatright ran the program out of Lt. Gov. Walter Bradley's office. Now it is 25 years old and has helped create more than 2,700 new businesses and over 9,300 jobs across the state.
The program celebrated its Silver Anniversary last week with an awards banquet in Albuquerque. All 23 Main Street communities were present to see Silver City, Las Cruces, Artesia, Portales, Las Vegas, Clovis, Corrales and Nob Hill Albuquerque receive awards for outstanding efforts.
Twenty years ago the office was moved from the lieutenant governor's office to take advantage of the resources and clout of the Economic Development Department.
* * *
Think New Mexico, a results-oriented think tank is getting an early start at influencing the next administration. It is asking its members to begin trying to influence the two gubernatorial candidates to support the organization's legislation if they are elected.
Think New Mexico's three policy reforms are smaller public schools, barring political contributions from lobbyists and major government contractors and preventing the return of the food tax.
Small schools improve learning and they also happen to cost less than large schools. That seems counterintuitive but they have studies to prove it. They've also picked up support from the conservative Rio Grande Foundation based solely on the money-saving feature.
FRI, 8-20-10

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



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