Governor kicks out base planning commissioner

Staff and wire reports

ALBUQUERQUE — Albuquerque businessman Sherman McCorkle has been dismissed from the New Mexico Military Base Planning Commission.
Gov. Bill Richardson’s office told McCorkle by telephone Wednesday that his services were no longer needed.
McCorkle helped lead a 1995 effort to save Kirtland Air Force Base from cuts.
McCorkle says the governor’s office, in dismissing him, alluded to a letter written by McCorkle and published in the Albuquerque Journal on Wednesday. The letter criticized the University of New Mexico Board of Regents’ decision to route hiring for a UNM construction project through labor unions.
“They said it had something to do with the editorial,” McCorkle, president of tech-transfer nonprofit Technology Ventures Corp., said.
Governor’s Office spokesman Gilbert Gallegos said Friday the decision to remove McCorkle had nothing to do with his letter to the editor.
“Mr. McCorkle was removed from the commission because he had very poor attendance,” Gallegos said.
Randy Harris, a Clovis banker and steering committee chairman of the base planning commission, said he’s unsure about McCorkle’s attendance.
“I don’t keep the records so I don’t know how many meetings he may have missed or not missed,” said
E.O. “Doc” Stewart, retired Clovis businessman and planning commission member who lives in Clovis, said he is unaware why Richardson relieved McCorkle of his duties.
“Mr. McCorkle is a very fine gentlemen,” Stewart said. “I know nothing of the reasons why the governor did this, but I’m sure he must have had his reasons.”
Richardson is a strong supporter of organized labor and appointed the regents who approved the union proposal.
In a letter delivered to McCorkle on Friday, Richardson thanked McCorkle for his “diligent and tireless service on the Military Base Planning Commission.”
“I hereby relieve you of your duties,” the letter said.
It gave no reason for the dismissal.
In his letter to the editor, McCorkle said that only 8 percent of construction workers in New Mexico are labor union members. Because of that, “11 of 12 workers have been effectively disenfranchised by the Regents — unless, of course, they choose to pay to work.”
One base commission member said McCorkle’s removal from the commission was in “egregious punishment,” if it was in response to the letter.
“I don’t know the reason,” said retired Lt. Gen. Leo Marquez, a member of the one-year-old commission. “If (the published letter) is the reason, then I’m very disturbed. To write an opinion piece is the right of every American citizen.”
When asked whether McCorkle had missed many meetings, Marquez responded: “I have not attended all of them so I don’t know.”
He said the group had met four or five times.
The commission was formed by the Legislature last year. Its members, who were appointed by Richardson, have been working with advocacy groups in communities such as Las Cruces, Alamogordo, Albuquerque and Clovis, where threatened base closures and realignments would have the most effect.