By Kevin Wilson: PNT Managing Editor
When Orlando Ortega is asked about the upcoming meeting regarding Cannon Air Force Base’s place on the Base Realignments and Closures list, his standard response is, “Which one?”
From steering committees to letter-writing committees to finance committees to Washington committees, Portales’ mayor said that numerous meetings have taken place in the days before and after last Friday’s announcement that Cannon was recommended for closure.
Add one more meeting to the list, set for 4 p.m. today at City Hall. The meeting’s focus is to create a mutual aid agreement to align the abilities and resources of four entities — Roosevelt County, Portales, Curry County and Clovis.
The announcement comes on the heels of news that the nine-member BRAC commission is tentatively scheduled to hold a June 24 hearing at Marshall Junior High in Clovis.
“If a potentially impacted community feels (the Department of Defense) deviated from the selection criteria, the regional hearings will provide these stakeholders with an opportunity to be involved in the information-gathering process and present to the commission how and why the DoD proposals are flawed or should be changed,” BRAC Commission Chairman Anthony Principi said in a statement.
To accomplish that purpose, local officials feel that combining resources with Clovis will make the cities and counties more effective and eliminate the process of duplicating actions.
“We’ve been meeting and talking the last couple of days on how to finance data and experts and reports … to convince (the commission) to get Cannon off the list,” Portales City Manager Debi Lee said.
For example, Ortega said that the legal firm Piper Rudnick was hired by Clovis’ Committee of 50 to lobby on Cannon’s behalf. Under a mutual aid agreement, Portales could also use the services of Piper Rudnick and use its resources to help bolster the firm’s lobbying efforts.
“It really allows us to expedite the use of these resources,” Ortega said. “It allows us to use the financial resources in the manner we need to use them.”
Ortega insisted, however, that a mutual aid agreement would not require the Portales entities to follow the Clovis entities on a plan they wouldn’t benefit from, and vice versa.
“We’re not donating to another entity. Every entity is going to manage their own financial resources,” Ortega said. “We’re not writing a check to the City of Clovis or anything like that. We’re going to be handling the resources (as separate entities).”
Ortega said he was pleased with the Portales attendance at Monday’s meeting at the Clovis-Carver Public Library, and that kind of support needs to continue.
“We need to continue our efforts every day,” Ortega said. “We need to do everything we can in our power to turn this recommendation around and take Cannon off the list.”