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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 12/20/16

Can Sierra Club and Others Go into High Gear Nationally? New Mexico Cabinet Matters have Striking National Implications

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Normally, I would not regale OpEdNews readers and editors with any articles on the minute micro-workings of New Mexico state government, but now I feel impelled to do so, after reading an article by my friend Steve Terrell at the New Mexican which appeared also in the sister paper, The Taos News, an award winning weekly.

I do so because his article is illuminating and thorough, and would parallel I think the inner workings of state government in many other states, as well as tactics to oppose nominations at the state level that would normally work at national levels sometimes, if there weren't huge disparities in terms of majority vs. minority numbers, plus the inherent tendency of US Senators to tend to vote in partisan blocs, probably more than their counterparts in the various state Senates across the US.

(As an aside, I also have no problem with the present potential Trump appointment as Deputy Secretary of Education of our Secretary of Education, Hannah Skandera, whose nomination was bitterly fought out in the same NM Senate Rules Committee for five years because she was considered a "policy wonk" with no classroom experience. I broke with most of my fellow NM Democrats on this one, because I have seen how the same old same old apparatchiks and hacks in the Secretary of Education job have presided over worsening failures in Education and our status among the bottom five in the nation in terms of test scores and academic performance. How many Ph.D.'s in Education from Stanford do we see as appointees at any level in America?)

Here is Steve Terrell's article:

Cabinet members create controversies for Gov. Martinez

click here

Steve Terrell's in depth article is an excellent analysis of New Mexico Cabinet matters, a thorough job by one of New Mexico's top 3 political journalists.

I am impelled to add only one important point, something I happen to have learned a lot about, and that is the role the Sierra Club played in shooting down Harrison Schmitt's erstwhile appointment as Secretary of Energy and Minerals.

The Sierra Club of NM's targeted 3 swing vote Senators in the Rules Committee (the committee that has to pass on an appointment before it goes to the Senate Floor), and deluged them with hundreds of letters ripping up Astronaut, former US Senator, and Geologist Harrison Schmitt as a "climate change denier." That was what scuttled the nomination, in truth, when he realized that the votes were not there, and that no one had written in support of his nomination.

Maybe he thought that that his status as astronaut, Cal Tech undergrad and Harvard Ph.D., and former US Senator would carry him through, but the piles of letters from New Mexicans overwhelmed all of that (as it should in a true democracy when that many constituents take the time to write in letters). When Schmitt saw the Senate Committee votes simply weren't there, he pulled the plug on his own nomination in a face-saving objection to the required background check required of all nominees as "too partisan."

This is the kind of people power that works at state levels, and might still work at national levels in terms of Cabinet appointments. Could the Sierra Club kick it into high gear and oppose even one of the 4 prospective climate change deniers with potential Cabinet appointments thus far?

Not too likely, even if the top brass at the Sierra Club could make a quantum leap and overcome the kind of timorous and pusillanimous mousiness it exhibited throughout the primary campaign when it completely ignored the hundreds of thousands of petition signers who asked it to endorse Bernie Sanders.


So why will so many corporations even need lobbyists these coming four years? After all, they have the highest form of lobbyists in place, as CABINET MEMBERS. But still, to feed at the public trough perhaps at a level unprecedented in American history, you will need lobbyists to get even more of their ostensible share of the pie.

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