Thursday, February 06, 2014

Meeting stacked against opponents of national monument

by Jim Harbison

Those of us who attended the recent public information session on Senate Bill 1805, the Organ Mountains Desert Peaks Monument, conducted by Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich, were able to see an example of the classic "stacking the deck" against the opposition. Seven of the invited panelists were in favor of the monument and four were opposed. The outcome was predetermined...

The public announcement that our senators would be conducting this faux public meeting was withheld until Wednesday, approximately 48 hours before the scheduled meeting. Thursday the Udall and Heinrich staff's sent out emails establishing rules designed to silence any opposition to their bill. There would not be any opportunity for "questions and answers" but the public, by way of a lottery, would be ALLOWED to speak for one minute.

No signs, posters, or handouts would be allowed in the meeting and there was to be no applause, cheering or booing. There were handouts and maps supporting their bill but none were allowed for the Pearce bill. Understanding the tactics of stacking the deck, it was not surprising that the Wilderness Alliance was prepared and allowed to provided large 4-inch stickers in support of the Udall-Heinrich proposal prior to entering the building. This immediately identified and divided the audience.

The New Mexico Wilderness Alliance, which was a large financial contributor to the campaigns of Udall and Heinrich, bussed out-of-town environmental carpetbaggers from Santa Fe, Albuquerque, Silver City and El Paso to fill the audience. Many of those who wanted to attend the meeting were turned away because of these carpetbaggers when the room capacity was reached. This included Sheriff Todd Garrison, Sheriff Captain Craig Buckingham and Richard Aguilar, president of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, all who oppose SB 1805. I wonder how many other Las Crucens who wanted to learn about this proposal or express their opinion one way or the other were refused entrance.

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