Constituents stew over Roundhouse routine

Posted at: 02/22/2013 6:37 PM
Updated at: 02/22/2013 8:58 PM
By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4

Some New Mexico taxpayers are pretty fed up with the state legislature right now, after the latest fiasco over public access to committee hearings at the State Capitol.

In fact, here's one lawmakers' recipe for a fiasco: Take one red hot issue, add a couple hundred concerned citizens, schedule a committee hearing and leave everybody simmering in a hallway until you show up six hours after the scheduled start time.

That's how it went down Thursday for a hearing on a gun control bill in the House Consumer and Public Affairs Committee. People showed up at the scheduled start time - 1:30 p.m. and waited - and waited some more. The hearing finally started at 7:30 p.m - six hours after the scheduled start time..

"I mean it's a sacrifice to take time off work to come down here, but it's part of the political process," said Miles Littlefield while he waited in the hallway. "I know they're playing their game. It's what they do."

What went wrong? First the House of Representatives had a marathon floor session that went unexpectedly long. Then House democrats held a closed-door caucus meeting to scold members who bolted the party line on the budget bill - another marathon with little consideration for the people waiting upstairs.

"They're treating their constituents unfairly," said C.Q. Watkins while he waited for the meeting to start. "Both sides are here - both sides of the question, and they're showing no consideration for their constituents. They're making us all wait - pro or con or whatever."

At long last the hearing starts. The gun bill gets tabled - finis - adios.

We asked committee Chairman Rep. Eliseo Alcon Friday about the whole mess.

"Last night this happened to be one of those days," the Cibola County Democrat said. "The floor went forever. The caucus went forever. Guess where I was at one o'clock this morning? In committee - so, it's just life in the big city!"

This was just one of a half dozen committee hearings this session where people have been left standing in hallways, waiting for scant seating in small committee rooms for hearings that start hours late.

Many of them stay, but many others just give in and and go home, sick and tired of life in theso-called "big city."