Send in the Clowns

Don't bother, they're here…

This was my year to watch New Mexico’s legislative process in action. I drive past the Capitol all the time, and I always wondered what goes on in there.

From now on, I'm keeping my eyes on the road, minding my own business. No eye contact with the Roundhouse.

Early on in the 2015 legislative session, I went to an event for conservation voters because, you know, free wine. They gave me a list of pending legislation to lobby for or against.

For instance, I was supposed to support this bill that would force senior state officials to resign if they were convicted of a felony.

Wait. Seriously? We don't already have a law like that?

"Uh, Billy the Kid, now that you've been convicted of murder here in New Mexico, will you still be coming to the office? You will? No problem! It's legal here!"

Who wouldn't support this legislation, except for officials who plan to commit felonies?

Well, the bill died in the Senate Judiciary Committee, so our state's top officials can still rob convenience stores without fear of losing their jobs.

Despite this setback, I still wanted to participate in our democratic process. Bright and early one morning, after undergoing nearly 40 minutes of training as a citizen lobbyist, I went to a House Agriculture, Water and Wildlife Committee hearing at the Capitol, to discuss a bill on the fate of New Mexico's wolves.

The hearing room was jammed. Standing room only. Over the next 90 minutes, concerned citizens made some valid points on both sides of the issue.

Unfortunately, there were also some extremely inarticulate, uninformed people there. Even more unfortunately, they were our elected legislators.

Dear lawmakers: For God's sake, please just go somewhere and exercise your precious right to commit felonies, before you can do any more damage to our wildlife!

The committee hearing's low point—and I am not making this up—came when a state representative was asked what he thought the wolf population of his county should be, and he answered, "Zero."

Many folks in the room were aghast, including some of his colleagues on the committee, who accused him of advocating the extinction of an important species.

But then, guess what? The committee voted with the wolf-eradicator!

The Sierra Club folks later printed a photo of the committee's chairwoman, wearing what they said appeared to be coyote fur boots. I really hope they were wrong about this, because I don't even know how to satirize something that callous and insensitive. I've got nothing.

That brings me to another bill, which addressed the fact that New Mexico, as I may have mentioned here once or twice before, has more animal-killing contests than any other state.

We're number one!

I'll be honest. I don't hunt. If you decide to go kill an animal because you're hungry and you can't find an Albertson's to buy some food, I guess that's your personal business.

But once you attach the words "contest" and "prizes" to this process and start piling up dead coyotes like cordwood, you stop being a hunter and start being just an asshole with a gun.

Coyote-killing contests have become such a thing in this state, they even hold them to raise money for charities. Let's all think about that. What better way to support worthy causes than through mindless slaughter of living creatures?

I guess that's where we got our state motto: "New Mexico! You Can't Embarrass Us!"

Surely, such a sensible bill passed unanimously, right?

Nope. It died in the House Agriculture Committee. You remember those aforementioned wolf-haters? Turns out, they don't give a fat crap about coyotes, either.

Say, did you know New Mexico is the only state in the country whose lawmakers get no salary? And let me tell you, they earn every penny of it!

Robert Basler’s humor column runs twice monthly in SFR. Email the author:

Letters to the Editor

Mail letters to PO Box 4910 Santa Fe, NM 87502 or email them to editor[at] Letters (no more than 200 words) should refer to specific articles in the Reporter. Letters will be edited for space and clarity.

We also welcome you to follow SFR on social media (on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter) and comment there. You can also email specific staff members from our contact page.