Inside the Capitol

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

7-24 Blue Book Answers All Questions

Syndicated Columnist
SANTA FE � How do you ever find time to research all your columns? It's the most frequently asked question I receive about my journalistic endeavor.
If my wife is around, she usually jokes that I just make it up, but that's not true. I have plenty of readers who call me on any incorrect information. Over 40 years of working in various capacities at the Capitol, plus another 20 years of being aware of what was going on in Santa Fe give me a deep background from which to draw.
But a guy can't remember everything. So when I need to check a fact, I have a handy little book within reach that tells me nearly everything I need to know about our state. It is called the New Mexico Blue Book, a treasury of information about state and local government, past and present.
And since it's not fair for me to have all this information and not you, the Secretary of State's Office, which publishes the book every two years, makes it available free of charge to any New Mexico resident. And you don't have to come to Santa Fe to pick it up. She'll mail it to you � free of charge. Just call the Secretary of State's Office at 800-477-3632. They'll also mail it out of state, but may add a shipping charge for those requests.
So why would you want this book? It gives you a very good condensed history of our state, its fascinating geology and its economic statistics. Also included is voter information and tourist information.
It tells you about New Mexico's state seal, flag, songs, flower, tree, grass, bird, fish, animal, vegetables, gem, fossil, insect, slogan, cookie, poem, question, nickname, and the two newest additions -- the state train and the state aircraft.
The Blue Book covers the state's attractions and gives the addresses of local chambers of commerce and visitors bureaus to contact for information. It also gives addresses of media contacts throughout the state in case you want to give them information.
In addition, the Blue Book provides the information that blue books have been designed to do ever since the first annual government report was published in 17th century England. It was printed on blue paper, thus its name, and it contained a registry of all public officials, information about government agencies and how to use them. There also is a state telephone directory in case you want to contact a state agency.
Secretary of State Rebecca Vigil-Giron is especially proud of her newest edition, which will be the last of her tenure. Being the longest-serving secretary of state in New Mexico's history, Vigil-Giron has published six Blue books during her 12 years in office.
She adds new information every year at the request of people who use the book. This year's edition is the biggest yet -- 360 pages of just about everything you'd want to know about New Mexico.
At the end of the book are more than 200 questions and answers about the state. Vigil-Giron says the publication can be used as a history book�with a pop quiz at the end.
Each edition of the Blue Book contains interesting pictures, collected by editor Kathy Flynn, to separate the sections. This year's pictures are of early New Mexico pioneer families. That doesn't include Native Americans, who have their own section.
In one of my favorite features, Dr. Dan Chavez, a professor emeritus at the University of New Mexico, provides the historical lineage of New Mexico's congressional seats and of state elected offices. Chavez goes far beyond simply listing previous office holders and the dates they served. He lets us in on deaths in office, how successors were named and oddities about elections and appointments.
Think seriously about ordering this book. The new edition is hot off the press and good reading for any New Mexican.
MON, 7-24-06

JAY MILLER, 3 La Tusa, Santa Fe, NM 87505
(ph) 982-2723, (fax) 984-0982, (e-mail)



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