Lord Save Us From The Demon Rum (And Also Fred)

The source of evil explained in one press release!

“I ask you in the name of the Lord to help put whiskey out of New Mexico. . . I have a boy and a girl to be protected and a husband . . . And the saloon men have every thing their own way and if we do not do something I do not know what will become of us.”

So said Minnie B. Owens of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union in a plea to delegates to the New Mexico statehood constitutional convention, 1911.

The saloon men and the WCTU are still with us in spirit.

Consider the case of Fred O’Cheskey, lobbyist for the state’s big Coors distributor, Maloof Co., and Linda Siegle,lobbyist for the American Heart Association and the American Cancer Society.

O’Cheskey is a mild mannered second-level manager who has been in and out of New Mexico government for 30 years, depending upon which Democrat was governor.

Siegle, a generation younger, is a public interest politician whose Santa Fe constituents keep electing her to the community college board.

On Oct. 14 she put out a news release that said: “Today at the final meeting of the Blue Ribbon Tax Reform Commission, policy making sunk to a new low. Less than one hour after the Commission voted in favor of increasing the alcohol tax, the alcohol industry lobbyist, Fred O’Cheskey, strode into the room and immediately the Speaker of the House (Ben Lujan) called for a reconsideration of the alcohol tax vote.” The tax was defeated.

Siegle said in the release: “It is cases like this that give the legislative and policy-making process a bad reputation. . . . It doesn’t take much imagination to speculate what happened between the initial vote and the recall.”
Ol’ Fred took the hit quietly. It is not his nature to respond to personal attacks, even when they depend more upon imagination than reality.

Newcomers to the New Mexico Legislature apparently don’t know that Lujan owned a liquor store for years. It was his financial and political base.
And they are mistaken if they think O’Cheskey is the kingpin of the liquor lobbyists. There are others, with influence beyond Siegle’s wildest imagination, who have devoted their entire careers to protecting the wholesale and retail liquor interests.

One of them was overheard bragging on a cell phone in the hall after the reconsideration, saying he brought about the vote change with a couple of hand signals, I have been told. Not that Lujan would need any direction.

O’Cheskey, with his obvious conflict of interest as liquor lobbyist (although relatively new at the job) and commission drafting temp, was the obvious demon. How did we all miss this?

Now that the demon O’Cheskey has been exposed in a ray of light from New Mexico angels against the nation’s leading killers, we can expect the legislative system to be free of evil.

Now we know why the New Mexico Senate adjourned suddenly and went home rather than face a vote on Bill Richardson’s tax bill, with it’s big increase in the beer tax:

Obviously O’Cheskey strode into the Senate gallery!