By Ned Cantell: State columnist
Not until I experienced an epiphany, that sudden awareness of an important concept flooding the brain and making the body tingle, did I truly realize what one was. An epiphany: It’s a revelation, kind of like when George Bush masters a new two-syllable word. Du-buy.
My epiphany came at a public meeting where the subject of debate was whether the town’s lobbyist in Santa Fe was worth his weight in sand. My ears perked up when a councilor said the town would lose hundreds of thousands of dollars if this lobbyist were not employed.
There it was, the epiphany, the overwhelming and crushing perception that our system of government has gone totally wacko. Citizens of New Mexico pay taxes to support a city government whose leaders must hire someone to go to Santa Fe to kiss the butts of state legislators so those state legislators will give back to the citizens other taxes they sent up there in the first place.
See how it works? Tell me how that makes sense.
My epiphany renewed an interest in the whole business of lobbying. There are some 800 lobbyists registered in Santa Fe, outnumbering legislators 7 to 1. The ratio allows any given legislator the opportunity to be the dinner guest of a different lobbyist each night of the week.
You may, if you care to, go to the New Mexico State Government Web site and call up the list of lobbyists. Your humble reporter did just that, spending an afternoon clicking on the name of each lobbyist to see whom he or she represented.
Why would I do that? I do it because a journalist must mine mountains of details to unearth nuggets of truth. I do it because readers of this column have come to depend on such painstaking research. I do it because I am a really, really bored man. I’ve been in a serious funk ever since they stopped televising curling matches.
Many cities in New Mexico employ lobbyists. Most do not. Draw your own conclusions. Either the first group is wasting money, or the second group is missing an opportunity to fund pet projects.
A review of the lobbyist list reveals our lives have become way too complicated. Why, for instance, does the Roadrunner Little League need a representative in the Roundhouse? Look, here’s the ball. Hit the ball. Catch the ball. Throw the ball. This does not require legislative input.
One legislator told me it is a scandal that so many incumbent legislators have close family members registered as lobbyists, but I figure if that is a problem, the Legislature ought to go ahead and fix it.
Some organizations register lobbyists by the bunch. AARP has so many people prowling Santa Fe there’s no one left at home to play bridge. Towns all over New Mexico close their shuffleboard courts. Santa Fe County pops up so often on the lobbyist list one wonders if anyone up there does anything else but beg.
Here’s a shocker: Gov. Bill Richardson employs a lobbyist, Robert Desiderio.
Desiderio represents eight other clients, one of whom is The Second Chance. Just what The Bill is asking us to give him.
Make note. One lobbyist is Dan Joseph Pearlman of Taos. Pearlman is registered to represent “The People of New Mexico.”
Gee, I thought our state reps and senators were supposed to do that.
Ned Cantwell has plenty of time on his hands if anyone wants to hire him as a lobbyist. Contact him at: