Inside the Capitol

Monday, July 16, 2007

7-20 Lady Bird, Colonels and Cockfighting


Syndicated Columnist


      SANTA FE -- Lady Bird Johnson had ties to New Mexico. Her brother, the late Tony Taylor, lived in Santa Fe and Lady Bird often drove here from central Texas.

   Her wildflower center in Austin recommends native vegetation specific to all parts of the country but New Mexico always was the example she used when talking about how she could tell where she was by looking at the wildflowers along the road.

   Mrs. Johnson also looked at other sights along our roads, such as billboards and junkyards. In 1965, she spearheaded the federal Highway Beautification Act that sought to control outdoor advertising and required junkyards to be relocated from primary highways.

   She didn't meet with great success on that effort, but at least she made America aware of the need for beautification.

   Tony and Matiana Taylor were major figures in the community for many years. He owned Santa Fe Foreign Traders and she was involved with many organizations, including the Santa Fe Opera. Lady Bird's nephew, Jack Hopkins, still lives in Santa Fe.

   Santa Feans remember Mrs. Johnson as gracious and generous with her time. Several years ago, my wife returned from a luncheon with her, arranged by Hopkins, with wonderful stories and several items of LBJ memorabilia.

   Reportedly Lyndon Johnson asked Lady Bird to marry him on their first date. I've often wondered if his attraction might have been partially because the initials of her nickname matched his. Evidently that was important to him since their children were Linda Bird and Lucy Baines and their dog was Little Beagle.

   *  *     *

   Secretary of State Mary Herrera still is catching grief for the 500 colonel-aide-de-camp certificates she issued  while filling in for Gov. Bill Richardson and Lt. Gov. Diane Denish while they both were out of state last month.

   Some perspective is in order. During my 20 years as a lobbyist, I received those certificates from most of the statewide elected officials every time a new one took office. I have a file of them somewhere but it is buried too deeply to find now that I need it.

   In my considerable stacks of business cards, however, I recently came across a card sent me by former Secretary of State Shirley Hooper, back in 1979, naming me a "Secretario Honorario" and embossed with the official state seal.

   I kept it in my wallet for many years because a friend told me when he was stopped by Juarez police and flashed his card from Hooper, the officer stepped back and saluted.

   The reality is that public officials can name any assortment of people anything they want. Spending public money to do it isn't a good idea because it is self promotion for political purposes. And maybe Herrera is the first to do it taking advantage of being acting governor.

   The most amusing certificate I ever received was from a state representative from Albuquerque's South Valley naming me a Colonel-Aide-de-Rep. If I could remember his name, I'd give him credit.

   *  *     *

   New Mexico's recently-passed ban on cockfighting was enough to totally embarrass Louisiana into not wanting to be the only state still allowing the blood sport. No sooner had New Mexico's law gone into effect on June 15 than Louisiana passed it's bill with parts of it taking effect immediately.

   In Louisiana, cockfighting was a Cajun rural tradition. Here, it was a Mexican rural tradition. It wasn't prevalent in New Mexico at all until the Mexicans won their independence in 1821.

   The main reason for the quick increase in popularity likely was due to cockfighting being the favorite sport of Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, the Mexican president off and on, mostly on, for the first 20 years of Mexico's independence.

   Santa Anna even would take his chickens with him on campaign trips to the northern part of his country. Thus, the practice spread as far north as New Mexico.

FRI, 7-20-07


JAY MILLER, 3 La Tusa, Santa Fe, NM 87505

(ph) 982-2723, (fax) 984-0982, (e-mail)



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