Richardson to meet with commissioner in Los Angeles

The Associated Press

SANTA FE — Gov. Bill Richardson planned to meet Sunday in Los Angeles with Base Realignment and Closure Commission member Philip Coyle.

Hanson Scott, director of the state Office of Military Base Closing and Support, will accompany Richardson.

The governor has been trying to meet with all nine members of BRAC, the independent commission charged with reviewing the Pentagon’s May 13 recommendations for realigning the nation’s military.

Among the Pentagon’s recommendations: closing Cannon Air Force Base at Clovis. Residents of the Clovis and Portales areas, state leaders, New Mexico’s congressional delegation and others have vowed to reverse that recommendation.

The commission plans a hearing Friday in Clovis on the recommendation and other base realignment proposals in the region.

“It is critical that every BRAC commissioner hear directly about the strategic importance of Cannon to our national security and the tremendous impact closing Cannon will have on eastern New Mexico,” Richardson said Saturday. “We have a strong case and I have conveyed the facts to every commissioner I have met with.”

He met earlier with Commissioners James Hansen in Salt Lake City; Sue Ellen Turner in Santa Fe; James Bilbray in Las Vegas, Nev.; Sam Skinner in Washington, D.C.; Harold Gehman in Pensacola, Fla.; and James Hill in Miami. He has talked by telephone with the commission’s chairman, Anthony Principi.

Cannon supporters have argued that it has high military value and faces no encroachment problems. They contend the Air Force should take a planned expansion of the training range around the base into consideration.

The Air Force has been working to expand the range, and Cannon’s supporters have expressed frustration that the Pentagon did not take that into account in the analysis that led to the recommendation to close Cannon.