Inside the Capitol

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

12-16 Centennial celebration coming quickly

122611 centennial

SANTA FE – New Mexico's centennial activities are in full swing around the state. My two columns recapping major events of New Mexico's 66 years of trying to become a state and the 100 years that followed have brought responses.
Both columns were written from information on two large posters prepared by the state Department of Cultural Affairs. The posters are designed for school classrooms.
Author-historian Dave Clary, of Roswell, reminds that New Mexico almost became a state in 1850, when the Mexican-American war ended and California became a state.
Clary and other scholars mention that President Zachary Taylor wanted statehood for the entire route to California. At the time, the New Mexico territory extended all the way from Texas to California.
But other compromises had to be made. It was a time of great controversy among the states concerning slavery and other issues. So New Mexico lost out on quick statehood in the Compromise of 1850.
I mentioned in my recap of the last 100 years that the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant was opened in 1988.That is the date WIPP was completed. It didn't receive all its clearances to open until 1998. The mistake was mine.
Albuquerque's International Balloon Fiesta was listed as having begun in 1973. A company that helps publicize the event informs us the date should be 1972. That is important information when a 20th anniversary is being planned.
The Grand Centennial Ball is being advertised prominently. It will be held on Jan. 6, our anniversary of statehood. Tickets for the Santa Fe event begin at $250.
Proceeds from the ball will benefit the newly-created Centennial Children's Legacy Fund. It is advertised as "New Mexico Governors' Initiative for the Next 100 Years."
The Fund will benefit children's activities throughout the state. It sounds similar to the New Mexico Children's Foundation created by former First Lady Alice King 20 years ago.
Tom Sharpe of the Santa Fe New Mexican came up with an interesting factoid about the centennial a few months ago. New Mexico was the 47th state admitted to the union.
The Museum of New Mexico has three of the 47-star flags that flew during the 39 days before Arizona became the 48th state. I have received a report that Alamogordo and Portales also have 47-star flags.
Technically, those flags were illegal. Sharpe says an 1818 law provides that when a new state joins the union, its star may not be added to the flag until the next July 4th.
Tomas Jaehn, head librarian at the Fray Angelico Chavez History library, says no one seemed to mind back then. Likely, no one will mind too much if we break the law just a little next month.
Such acceptance, however, was not the good fortune of Gov. Susana Martinez and a bipartisan group of legislators who had reached agreement on a map for redrawing the state's three congressional districts.
That agreement was along the lines of the least-change formats usually favored by the courts.
The controversy centers on the makeup of congressional districts 1 and 2. District 1, centered around Albuquerque, can swing either way. So naturally, both parties would like to make it lean their way just a bit.
District 2 is a different proposition. It has been solid Republican, except in the Democratic landslide year of 2008. But some Democrats see the district slowly headed their way and don't want to take any Republican precincts that District 1 Democrats would like to throw their way.
The result was that the judge went ahead and heard the presentations of all sides, meaning that the legal fees on that case will be as high as ever.
There have been no bipartisan agreements on redistricting the state House or Senate or the Public Regulation Commission. Those cases all will be heard by the same judge, culminating in early January with a judicially imposed redistricting and a legal bill running in the millions when all lawyers are paid.


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