Cockfighting not only state disgrace

By Ned Cantwell: State columnist

Her days are numbered, this 2006 regular session of the 47th Legislature. Our senators and state reps are in Santa Fe working hard, trying to figure out how to spend a $5 billion budget.

Also under consideration is a “junior budget” expected to grow to $45 million by the time everyone gets his fingers in the cookie jar.

A “junior budget.” Does this make New Mexico the first state with a budget grown so big it has kids?

This being a 30-day session, as opposed to the 60-day session held in alternative years, our legislators are doing what they are mandated to do: Spend money. In this shorter session, then, they don’t get around to focusing on issues the guy on the street really cares about.

Things like severe penalties for kids who cruise through town blasting horrible sounds from their boom boxes. Things like Wal-Mart line jumpers, the idiot with a cart full of goodies pretending he doesn’t see the sign that says 20 items only.

Things like cockfighting. Yes, New Mexico remains only one of two states refusing to make a simple statement: This is a barbaric practice, one without redeeming social benefit, and we’re not going to put up with it anymore.

To his credit, Sen. John Grubesic, a Santa Fe Dem, did introduce a memorial shining a light into the dark corners of cockfighting. Grubesic compiled an impressive list of WHEREAS, among them:

“Fighting roosters are armed with steel knives or ice pick-like gaffs; cockfighting is banned in 13 New Mexico counties and 29 municipalities; public opinion polling shows that as many as 80 percent of New Mexico voters support a statewide ban on cockfighting; dogfighting and intentional cruelty to animals are felonies in New Mexico; cockfighting encourages and breeds other activities that are illegal and classified as crimes in New Mexico, such as illegal gambling and violations of the Liquor Control Act….”

A memorial is nothing more than a non-binding bill, so cockfighting fans probably see his effort as a never-no-mind. But the senator is to be commended. He has loaded the cannon for the 2007 session when the cockfighting debate is sure to be resumed.

That said, we wondered if cockfighting should be designated New Mexico’s Official State Disgrace, joining a celebrated list of designees that have become the Official Tree, Official Insect, Official Cookie, Official Etc.

We asked our editors and those who regularly correspond with this column for their nominations for the Official New Mexico Disgrace.

One reader says he hopes the state treasurer scandal will be only the Official Passing Disgrace and that the still-standing charred remains of the prison riot a quarter century ago should win permanent disgrace honors.
Dana Bowley, boss at the El Defensor Chieftain in Socorro, opines:

“The state’s disgrace here and elsewhere is how people manage to get to double-digit DWIs and then get their next one treated as a first offense because of poor record keeping, court and MVD computers that can’t talk to each other, laziness on the part of public officials, or lawyers who manipulate the system.”

Bob Trapp, managing editor at the Rio Grande Sun in Espanola, nominates “the political payola system Gov. Snickers uses to appoint magistrate judges in Rio Arriba County.”

Gov. Snickers? Come on, Bob. Lighten up.

Ned Cantwell welcomes response at:
ncantwell@charter.net