Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Las Cruces conservationist group clashes with Hidalgo County official over Mexican wolves, free speech

Darr Shannon
The ongoing debate over Mexican wolves flared up late last week, and now a Las Cruces conservation group alleges a Lordsburg-area official silenced the free speech rights of one of its employees. But Hidalgo County Commissioner Darr Shannon said she was protecting her constituency and the sanctity of the fledgling farmers market there when she sent home a representative from the Southwest Environmental Center, also known as SWEC, a Las Cruces-based nonprofit that works to protect and restore wildlife and wildlife habitat. Last Friday at the Hidalgo Farmers Market and Mercado, about 120 miles west of Las Cruces, SWEC field organizer Patricia Snyder set up an information table and petition in support of the Mexican wolf, an endangered species that has been reintroduced in the desert southwest since 1998 thanks to a controversial U.S. Fish and Wildlife program. Many of the Hidalgo Farmers Market and Mercado vendors are ranchers in the county and vehemently opposed to having more Mexican wolves in the area because of the threat to their cattle and sheep, officials said. Sensing that a conflict was brewing, John Allen called Shannon. Allen helped organize the market through his work with the New Mexico State University Cooperative Extension Office. Then Shannon kicked out Snyder. "This was not the venue for her endeavor," said Shannon in a phone interview with the Sun-News on Monday. "That should not be brought into such a wholesome thing ... I'm here to protect what the people of our county believe in." Kevin Bixby, executive director of SWEC, said Shannon's actions violated free speech rights...more

Where were Bixby & SWEC when the NM Wilderness Alliance bused in people from Santa Fe, Albuquerque & El Paso for the meeting with Secretary Jewell, and by doing so silenced the voice of many locals who weren't admitted?  Where were they when the Dona Ana County Sheriff was prevented from entering the same meeting?  Not a peep was heard from them then on free speech.  Another example of "Free Speech For Me But Not For Thee".

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