I’ve got a couple more notes on the taxpayer funded World Peace Conference. According to Jay Miller, there isn’t a whole lot of that peaceful easy feeling being associated with this $420,000 event:
The problem with a government-sponsored peace conference is that the state doesn’t have a position on peace so who knows what to do at a conference?
The Legislature, which appropriated $420,000 for the gathering, finally decided the focus would be peace tourism, so the Department of Tourism was given the responsibility of planning it. We’re spending a lot of money on space tourism, why not peace tourism too?
No one thought much of that idea or could do much with it. So the folks at Tourism brought in some peace professionals. Yes, there are such things.
But that didn’t set well with New Mexico’s many home-grown peace groups, which had been working on that mission for years. Why hadn’t they been involved, they asked?
Hmm, $420,000 appropriated by the Legislature, but the State Tourism Board says they are staying under the $280,000 budget. I wonder where that extra $140,000 is being spent?
And speaking of appropriations, it took a little digging, but you’ll never believe where this money came from. You see, a bill was carried by State Senator Shannon Robinson (D) for this very important peace building event, but it died. However, no worries, this is after all New Mexico, and where there is a will there is a way.
According to legislative sources, the money for this event came out of 2006 capital outlay fund. That’s right, the money that is supposed to be used for building roads and repairing schools was instead set aside in during the 2006 Legislative Session for a peace conference. You might remember that 2006 was the year in which Governor Bill Richardson vetoed much needed capital outlay for our schools.
Yet, he let $420,000 of capital outlay be earmarked for this exclusive Santa Fe party.
Maybe since Ballantines PR, the Los Angeles based boutique PR agency that is running this conference, billed it as “Building a Culture of Peace,” Governor Richardson thought it would be okay to use capital outlay. After all, it does have the word “building” in its title.