Wednesday, October 24, 2007

There's Something About Bill :: Political Animals

A version of this piece appeared in this week's Santa Fe Reporter.

If dogs could vote, they might pick Bill.
By Dave Maass

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney lost the dog-lover vote back in June, when The Boston Globe reported that he’d once tied his dog’s kennel to the roof of his station wagon for a 12-hour cross-country trip. The Irish setter reportedly wet itself on the journey.

Creatures can’t vote and, as nonprofit organizations, neither People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals nor Animal Protection of New Mexico may endorse a presidential candidate. However, the Humane Society Legislative Fund can, and so far, they’re pleased with Bill.

“We don’t expect orthodoxy and we don’t expect people to be aligned with us in every aspect
,” the Fund’s president, Michael Markarian, says. "But we do look at the signals, what people have done with public policy and in their personal lives to help tell the story about their commitment to animal welfare. "

Here are the highlights of Bill’s animal rights narrative:

February 2005: Bill signs an executive order creating a Rodeo Council, citing the sport’s economic impact and “deep culture roots.” The next year, Bill approves $250,000 in rodeo facility improvements and $300,000 in scholarships to attract rodeo students to New Mexico colleges.

September 2005: Bill downs an oryx (see photo, right) with a single shot from 100 yards at Ted Turner’s ranch, according to a June 2007 Washington Post article. Bill has the antelope head mounted on a wall at the governor’s mansion beside a pair of elk horns and a stuffed wild turkey. Bill tells the Post he prefers shooting doves.

December 2006: Bill releases a $3.6 million “Animal Protection Plan,” a 10-point agenda including a $150,000 allocation to create an Animal Welfare Oversight Board and $2 million to improve animal shelters.

March 2007: Bill pushes to ban cockfighting in New Mexico. The Legislature passes it during the 2007 session, and Bill signs it into law. It’s a bit late: State Sen. Mary Jane Garcia, D-Doña Ana, had been introducing ban bills for 18 years, and New Mexico is the 49th state to pass the prohibition.

July 2007: Animal Protection of New Mexico honors Bill with its Executive Director’s Milagro Award for government-level animal advocacy.

October 2007: Bill declares Oct. 15-19 “Wolf Awareness Week.” In a press release, Bill says he believes, “as keystone predators, wolves play a critical role in maintaining balanced ecosystems.” The Center for Biological Diversity wags its tail.

1 comment:

cred said...

These instances of Richardson's "animals rights" stance illustrate one important point: Bill is appealing to potential non-New Mexico voters while ignoring rural New Mexicans (just like he has as governor).

New Mexico is not a large population state. It is not possible for a governor here to miss the pleas for relief from oppressive environmental decisions which have arisen from litigation and not-so-subtle pressures by highly-funded non-local environmental groups and which inflict a disproportionate burden on rural residents.

Richardson emphasizes diplomacy in many of his public appearances. His diplomacy seems to be of the sort that cats use: Bury the shit by scratching a little fresh smelling soil over it. Maybe a plant will grow there someday… or more likely, maybe the shit will poison the soil and kill the plants nearby. A vote for Richardson is a vote for green at the expense of an important segment of our culture.