By Rob Nikolewski │ New Mexico Watchdog
SANTA FE, N.M. — The reality show “The Bachelor” is one of television’s highest-rated shows. But for Santa Fe taxpayers like Jill Meyer, the decision by the Santa Fe City Council to commit between $50,000-$100,000 to try to lure the producers of the show to the state capital is worthy of two thumbs “way down.”
“This is so stupid,” Meyer told New Mexico Watchdog. “We have so many other needs in Santa Fe.”
And a separate pile of money may come from the state.
The New Mexico Tourism Department is considering spending $50,000 of its own money to try to bring the production crew of the show, which features one bachelor choosing a potential wife from a pool of 25 women, to Santa Fe.
There have been reports the Tourism Department has already committed to the project, but Communications Director Rebecca Latham told New Mexico Watchdog on Thursday no final decision has been made.
“It’s still being discussed,” Latham said, adding, “There’s a huge potential for national media exposure.”
On Wednesday night, the city council voted 5-4 to approve a request from the Santa Fe Convention and Visitors Bureau to commit at least $50,000 and potentially spend another $50,000 to negotiate with the show’s producers, in the hopes of bringing the show to Santa Fe for one season.
Supporters point to the show’s high ratings (14.3 million viewers) as a chance to market New Mexico’s capital city to a worldwide audience.
“I don’t know that there’s anywhere else that we could ever spend $50,000 to get 14.3 million people to look at Santa Fe for an hour,” Santa Fe Mayor Javier Gonzales was quoted saying in the Santa Fe New Mexican, while joining the councilors voting to approve the spending.
The four councilors who voted against the plan didn’t see it that way.
“It’s a terrible show, awful,” said Bill Dimas.
“This is real money,” Councilor Ron Trujillo said Thursday morning. “I’m all for economic development, but I think there are better uses of taxpayer money than spending it on a soap opera. I don’t know why people watch this show … Besides, Santa Fe’s already on a national stage.”
During the debate Wednesday night, Councilor Patti Bushee, who voted for the request, answered Trujillo’s criticism by saying, “Ron, can’t you just imagine the mariachis serenading? The final rose given out on the Plaza? Can you just imagine? The promotion? All of it? The tears? The music?”
But Meyer, a seven-year resident of Santa Fe, points out there’s no guarantee the producers will choose the city, even if up to $150,000 of taxpayer money is spent.
“I know the money in the tourism budget is not necessarily allotted to fixing problems like homelessness,” Meyer said. “But I don’t think people who watch ‘The Bachelor’ will come to Santa Fe … It just seems to be a total waste of money.”
Contact Rob Nikolewski at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @robnikolewski