It is common knowledge that among the 50 US states, last place is in most metrics, held by hapless Mississippi. It is less known that the next-to-last position economically, educationally and in other ways, is often assigned to New Mexico.
New Mexico is, like Mississippi, a poor state, It has few residents, inferior schools and not much else but some Federal labs and military sites though its oil patch has found some new life with new technology. It does have one Intel semiconductor factory, making chips on their way toward obsolescence. Its official shrub, the pinon pine, provides a lot of pinon nuts in season, but so does Nevada. It prides itself on its green chile crop but that market is not large. The state was run by Republican mining and ranching interests a while ago, but the Democrats have been largely in charge for quite a some time, though Governors have alternated. And unlike California, Arizona, Nevada and Texas, it has remained historically Hispanic since Spanish explorers conquered the local Indians. Their descendants (Yes, they intermarried; there was nobody else …) run the place yet, mostly. Old Mexico and New share some things; one of the reasons for New Mexican poverty and some backwardness.
We noted a story today in the Albuquerque Journal concerning water. In New Mexico, a desert, water is serious business, or perhaps it should be: serious politics. There is in the already dammed and aqueducted state, a now-you-see-it-now-you-don’t stream called (with some humor) the Gila River. “River” in the New Mexican high desert takes on a meaning often puzzling to Eastern visitors. But we digress …
The state’s water has long been appropriated, negotiated and parceled out by courts and other politicians. However, the search for public money that can be grabbed is perennial. Some creative thinker saw (Never let a crisis go to waste) California’s present and New Mexico’s recent drought as opportunity. It is now proposed that the Gila River (which does have –some– water in it on occasion.) be converted to dams, reservoirs and water storage facilities for a mere (doubtless underestimated) $100 million. That’s not “mere” in New Mexico. The proposal lies before the N.M. Interstate Stream Commission, that must pass or reject its feasibility. Here, it gets interesting, N.M. style.
Numbers of folk say that the periodic wetness of the Rio Gila is way insufficient to justify all that concrete and related expense. Others, perhaps salivating at garnering some percentage of the largesse, differ loudly. Opponents have signed a former head of the Stream commission to help shoot down the (per their view) boondoggle.
So the former stream boss requested the water data being used by the Commission to make its $100 M decision, so that it could be evaluated. And the State of New Mexico, always standing up for its citizens’ welfare, refused. The new view of the Stream Commission is that its former head may not be qualified to understand the data he’s requesting. It might confuse him.
We don’t know what the Commission decision will be, but if the Albuquerque Journal continues running such reports about it, it seems likely to come out differently than perhaps originally intended. But maybe not, it is New Mexico. When we want your opinion, we’ll give it to you …
All this is mainly in … well, we can’t call it a backwater exactly given it’s a desert, but it’s in a “who cares” sort of place. It’s so unimportant that few even know how crooked it is. But most folks observing this scene know that the state is misbehaving by depriving citizens of the reasons for a $100 M decision using their money.
What is even more interesting, is the similar decisions in Washington involving much larger expenditures, that attract even less interest from citizens. We seem too busy with NFL scandals, Mrs. O’s school lunches and ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
Interesting … The little Albuquerque Journal is doing its job … whatever happened to NBC, the New York Times et al? And aren’t the journalism schools at the leading universities supposed to have some responsibility?
If you’re a citizen, who’s got your back, anymore?