Thursday, October 07, 2004


As published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
Oct. 7, 2004

When Amelia Hollis Romero lost her race for a District 2 City Council race four years ago, she took it as a sign from above.

“I wanted to be on the City Council,” Romero, 65, said in a recent interview. “But God said, ‘I don’t think so, Amelia. Turn the page.’ ”
And so she did.

Not long after the 2000 council elections, Romero called up several dozen friends to discuss an idea to remedy a problem she’d come up against while campaigning.

“I’d met so many people who had such apathy and who didn’t know the issues or the policies of the city and the state,” Romero said. “I wanted to form a group to bring to our community forums they could go to and be educated.”

So Romero and her group organized a group called Voices of Santa Fe, which for the past four years has presented forums on a variety of topics.

The Eldorado Hotel has allowed the group to use one of its meeting rooms for its forums. Santa Fe Public Access Television (Comcast Cable Channel 8) has televised most of the gatherings.

Voices has organized public discussions of common political issues such as economic development, health care, forest fires and water. And it has sponsored forums on social issues not frequently discussed by politicians, such as mentoring youth and hospice for those who are dying.

And the group has held candidate forums, which sometimes produce real news. This was the case with the state Legislature candidate forum in May in which a Senate contender saw her candidacy go up in flames when she lied about having been arrested for drunken driving.

Forum tonight

It’s not likely that anything like that will happen at the Voices of Santa Fe forum tonight, which starts at 5:30 p.m. at Eldorado.

For one thing, it’s a presidential forum, so the candidates won’t be there, just local surrogates.

As is the usual practice at a Voices of Santa Fe forum, any local candidate for any office who shows will be allowed up two minutes at the podium.

Voices vice president Al Lopez — running as a Republican against Democratic state Sen. Phil Griego, but that’s another story — says local representatives will speak for Republican President Bush, Democrat John Kerry, independent Ralph Nader, the Green Party’s David Cobb and Libertarian Michael Badnarik.

Constitutional crisis

But there was no mention of the sixth presidential candidate, Michael Peroutka, the Millersville, Md., lawyer who is the nominee of the Constitution Party.

In fairness, there has been little if any visible activity of the Peroutka or the Constitution Party in these parts.

Who are these guys? According to Peroutka’s Web site, he believes Bush is just too much of a namby-pamby liberal on issues like gun control and abortion. However on the issue of the Iraq war, Peroutka is closer to Nader, calling the war “unconstitutional,” which, one supposes, is the worst thing a leader of the Constitution Party can say about anything.

Pop cultural wars:

After about the 15th pre-debate story I read characterizing the Dick Cheney-John Edwards matchup as Darth Vader versus Luke Skywalker (would this make Ted Kennedy “Yoda”?), I realized a national political cliché was being born.

How common is this metaphor? A Google on-line search Wednesday produced 2,190 hits in a search for pages with both “Dick Cheney” and “Darth Vader.” But there were only 268 hits for “John Edwards” and “Luke Skywalker.”

As for the guys at the top of the ticket, the Google search yielded an amazing 2,580 hits for “John Kerry” and “Herman Munster,” a concept popularized by the hilarious bipartisan "This Land!" parody on But there were only 895 hits for “George W. Bush” and “Alfred E. Newman.”

And for the record, there were three hits in a Google search for “Bill Richardson” and “Ralph Kramden,” but none of the three pages were actually comparing the governor with Jackie Gleason’s character on The Honeymooners.

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