Speaker Lujan is a gangster.
Flip Side note: The story which follows is based on what I saw with mine own eyes and heard with mine own ears, but I will admit I had to get three people to explain the politics to me and I’m still not sure I have it totally correct.
Tonight’s House of Representatives meeting ended a lot earlier than anyone expected, because Speaker of the House Ben Lujan wanted it to.
Rep. Mary Helen Garcia has an education bill Gov. Susana Martinez wants to see passed, because it will require third graders get held back if they fail mandated reading tests. This is one of our governor’s big political issues: End social promotion. Big political issues are very, very important to the governor.
A lot of Democrats, including Speaker Lujan, don’t like the bill for varying reasons. As a vote on a different bill was being taken tonight, Garcia tried to get The Speaker’s attention. “Excuse me, Mr. Speaker?” (Keep in mind, The Speaker sits in a big, elevated chair at the front of the huge House chamber, running the meetings with his gavel. The Reps all face him from their desks.)
If Lujan had acknowledged Garcia, she would have been able to introduce her bill, and it would have had to be debated and voted on.
The House majority leader, another Dem, saw what was happening and immediately called for adjournment. Speaker Lujan said something like “We have a motion for adjournment. All those in favor signify by saying ‘aye.'”
A bunch of Dems (who must have been pretty sharp to realize what was happening just then) hollered out “Aye!”
“All those opposed,” Speaker Lujan said, “signify by saying ‘nay.'”
The Republicans, and a few Democrats including Garcia (yes, she’s a Democrat) screamed much, much louder: “NAAAAAY!!!”
“The ‘ayes’ have it,” Speaker Lujan said, punctuating with a sharp gavel bang. Immediately rose passionate calls from the floor for a roll-call vote. The Speaker ignored them. He pulled the oxygen tube from his nose, stood up, and started walking out as Representatives yelled pleas for their roll-call vote.
Lujan stopped, looked around, then walked out of the room.
Hanna Skandera is the governor’s hand-picked secretary of education. She is young, ambitious and powerful – a disciple of the Bush family, come to New Mexico from Florida to advance a hard agenda that’s much better for well-connected elites than poor rural kids in cities and small towns all over our state.
She was there Tuesday night, waiting to see this bill – her baby even more than the governor’s – get passed. As stupefied Representatives shuffled out of the chamber, Skandera was huddled with a small group.
“They can play by their rules,” she said. “We’ll play by ours.”
When you play the game of thrones, you either win… or your bill to flunk slow-reading third graders dies. Game on tomorrow.