Sunday, August 17, 2014

Developments with Subjects of Past Columns

“The more things change, the more they remain the same.” Unfortunately, that's true of many subjects these Sunday columns have touched on.

I wrote in January that Governor Martinez, like NJ Governor Christie, tended to “maintain a personal vindictiveness that doesn't fade as they move up the political ladder.” And “Mark D'Antonio's presence in her old office is like an itch she can't keep from scratching.”

She continues to illustrate my point. Shortly before Independence Day a visitor remarked to D.A. Mark D'Antonio that D'Antonio's office had a great view of the Field of Dreams. A plan emerged to gather there with their families to watch the fireworks.

One evening soon afterward, Doña Ana County Commissioner Dr. David Garcia got a call at home. “Is this Dr. Garcia?” “Yes.” “Is this Commissioner Garcia?” “Yes.” Finally the woman identified herself as “your Governor.” Guv told Garcia of D'Antonio's party plan. He wondered what she wanted him do do. “Shut it down.” “But it's his office.”

Dr. G. obligingly contacted the County Manager, who issued some edict against booze in county offices. (Did the Guv always keep that office alcohol free?) Also no shooting of fireworks from the county building's roof.

Does it get any pettier than trying to prevent a fireworks-watching-party in her former office? Even if D'Antonio had been planning to serve booze, is this what oughtta be keeping our Guv up at night?

In May I wrote that we pay appallingly inadequate compensation to contract public defenders. Constitutionally, the State owes indigents a defense to criminal charges; but at current rates, a contract lawyer must either short-change his client significantly or work many unpaid hours to give that client a defense remotely equal to what a paying client would receive.

What sparked the column was lawyer Gary Mitchell's motion, filed in several criminal cases, demanding the State put up or shut up: since the Constitution says you gotta pay me to defend the accused, either do so or drop your case against him.

Sounded fair. I called Mr. Mitchell Monday to ask whether any court had yet ruled on such a motion. None had. (Judges rule at their own pace.) “Hopefully, we can get a ruling pretty quick,” Mr. Mitchell said.

In 2013 we questioned the mindless rush to spend a bunch of money putting artificial turf on the Field of Dreams. Proponents claimed you could use it for many events; but you can't – unless you cover it with an expensive wooden platform to protect it from spilled drinks and high heels, etc. Sure enough, first big concert – no one could sit on the field, and many had to be unreasonably far from the stage.

Two columns earlier this year concerned the Doña Ana Soil and Water Conservation District bond election, which failed 500-2,859. That's the result I favored; but I wrote that those of us concerned about soil and water conservation shouldn't just nod off and leave this group to spend their time opposing conservation and preservation measures, most of which have little to do with their charge. Concern about local flooding deserves serious attention.

Mea culpa. I just haven't taken the time I'd intended on this. But in writing this column I saw the group was to meet Thursday, August 14, and I resolved to attend.
Quite recently, I wrote of rattlesnakes. A few days later, taking care of a neighbor's place, the wife reached for something near a Russian Sage. Curled under the bush lay a rattler. He lazily stuck out his tongue at her. She thanked him for his serenity and gave him a wide berth thereafter.
[The column above appeared in the Las Cruces Sun-News today, Sunday, 17 August.]

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