Inside the Capitol

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

10-1 Kilmer, Block, Rose Parade and Haskins

Syndicated Columnist
SANTA FE -- We wrote recently about the buzz around New Mexico resident and screen actor Val Kilmer, who has hinted he might run for governor.
That's really all it amounts to at this point but many have picked up on it. Gov. Bill Richardson fueled interest when he ventured that he likes the idea. His staff quickly clarified that Richardson wasn't endorsing Kilmer.
Kilmer started the excitement earlier this year when he suggested that he could do a better job of being governor than Ronald Reagan or Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Now, new revelations indicate Kilmer might want to do a better job of voting before tossing his hat in the ring. It is reported that Kilmer registered to vote in Santa Fe County soon after he moved here in 1992. But he's never exercised that right to vote.
Kilmer declined to state a political party when he registered. That means he would have to run as an independent candidate. That may be just as well. Both Republicans and Democrats have some strong candidates indicating interest in the 2010 gubernatorial contest.
* * *
Jerome Block, Jr. has no doubts about his candidacy for the Public Regulation Commission. Recently, this column indicated Gov. Bill Richardson had called him in for a talk about allegations being made against him.
Block called me to say he was the one who made the appointment with Richardson and they just talked about politics in general. I rechecked my sources and Block is correct.
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New Mexico will have a float in the Rose Parade again this year. State Tourism Secretary Michael Cerletti believes it is one of the most cost effective ways to reach a large number of people in Southern California and a huge television audience.
One thing that makes the float cost effective is that it is decorated by volunteer labor. Nearly 100 New Mexicans travel at their own expense to Pasadena to work on the float and take part in parade festivities.
Some of those workers are sent by companies that help support the float and that advertise their businesses while in the Los Angeles area. Individuals or businesses interested in participating in this year's parade activities are asked to contact Tourism Department Deputy Secretary Jennifer Hoffman at 505-827-6674 or
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In my recent column of tributes to the departed, I didn't have room to include Don "The Bear" Haskins, basketball coach at UTEP for about 40 years. I rooted against him for most of my life but I had tons of respect for Haskins, as did everyone else who knew anything about him.
Haskins achieved his fame when he took a squad of no-names to the NCAA championship game in 1966 and won it against a star-studded University of Kentucky team. Pat Riley and Louie Dampier from that Kentucky team are in the NBA Hall of fame. I'm not aware of anyone on the TWC team making an NBA roster.
That game changed much. After years of being an ugly stepsister in the University of Texas system, Texas Western College suddenly became the University of Texas at El Paso.
The game also was a major factor in braking color barriers in college sports. Everyone on the court for TWC that night was black. Kentucky was all-white. The players and coaches of both teams say they never noticed. But the nation that watched on television surely did.
The story was so remarkable that Disney later made a movie called "Glory Road" about Haskins and the team. And a book by the same name arose from that.
In 1996, near the end of Haskins' career, he developed a very serious heart problem during basketball season. Top coaches from around the country left their teams to go to Haskins' bedside. One said he would throw a game if that's what it would take to get Haskins into the Hall of Fame. It wasn't necessary. Haskins did it on his own.
MON, 10-01-08

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



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