Delegation wants base closing details

By Staff and Wire reports

SANTA FE — The state has hired a Washington, D.C., lobbying firm and an Albuquerque consulting company to help in the effort to save Cannon Air Force Base from closing.
The base at Clovis is one of only two Air Force bases recommended by the Pentagon for closing nationwide under realignments announced earlier this month.
Gov. Bill Richardson announced Wednesday that Keystone International Inc. of Albuquerque had been hired to provide staff support and analysis.
The firm of Hyjek & Fix Inc. will lobby the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission, which can change the Pentagon’s proposals but must make its recommendations to the president by Sept. 8.
The firms were hired after a competitive bidding process.
The Clovis Committee of Fifty, which has supported Cannon for decades, hired international law firm DLA Piper to represent them in April.
According to Committee of Fifty member Chad Lydick, DLA Piper and the state-hired consultants will work together.
Hyjek & Fix Inc. will concentrate on the BRAC staff, Lydick said. DLA Piper primarily lobbies BRAC Commissioners.
“Every group has different contacts; Piper Rudnick has better access to the BRAC commission, Hyjek & Fix Inc. with the BRAC staff,” Lydick said. “They will be helping the state analyze and put forth data for the BRAC staff. We’re trying to make sure we have all the resources out there. But we’re all one team.”
New Mexico’s congressional delegation is also putting pressure on the Defense Department, charging that the agency failed to release important data and as a result is compromising the work of the BRAC Commission.
In a letter sent Wednesday to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, the delegation said the information that the department used to assess the value of the nation’s military installations is essential for the commission to do its job.
The information was supposed to be released last week.
“All parties involved deserve adequate time to review how their bases were evaluated to prepare for regional hearings that will be held in just a few weeks and to develop informed challenges to the recommendations,” the letter stated.
Sens. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., and Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., on Wednesday co-sponsored legislation that would require the Pentagon to release all documentation related to its BRAC list within seven days of the bill’s enactment or the 2005 BRAC round would be canceled.
The lobbying firm hired by the state, Hyjek & Fix, is teaming with a Washington law and lobbying firm, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, on base closing issues, according to Scott.
The former director of administration of the 1995 base closure commission works for Hyjek & Fix.
Gary Van Valin, a retired Air Force colonel and Air Force Academy graduate, is president of Keystone. He unsuccessfully sought the Democratic nomination in the 1st Congressional District in 1998.
Part of the base closing commission will hold a hearing in Clovis on June 24.
President Bush must accept or reject the commission’s recommendations in their entirety. If they are accepted, Congress can reject the recommendations in their entirety or they become final.

Freedom Newspapers Staff Writer Marlena Hartz contributed to this report.