Another edition of ‘Monuments to Me’ — this time in Taos
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It’s a long-running string of incidents compiled here at Capitol Report New Mexico – something we’ve dubbed “Monuments to Me,” which is the practice of naming public buildings in New Mexico after sitting politicians.
We have another example to report, this one in Taos, where the county commissioners there have voted to name three buildings that are part of the Taos County’s new municipal complex after individual members of the commission.
“I think it’s appropriate,” commissioner Joe Mike Durán said at the Sept. 18 meeting, as reported by the Taos News. “This commission has gone through a lot and I think we should be recognized for the next 40 years that these buildings are going to be here.”
The decision has a number of Taoseños ticked off.
“Do they want to be known as self-preening idiots,” Taos resident Marilyn Hoff told KOAT-TV, which estimated the cost of the signage at between $6,000-$8,000 to county taxpayers.
“These commissioners are not doing anything in the interest of the community to begin with,” resident Jeanne Green told KOAT. “It’s just appalling, really.”
Since there are five members on the commission and three buildings in question, how to determine who would get their names on them? By drawing straws.
“Whoever gets the bigger stick, that one building is named after that guy. And the other two [buildings] will have two names,” said Durán, who serves as the commission’s chairman, at a Sept. 18 meeting.
Citizens’ anger has affected at least one member of the commission, Daniel Barrone, who’s changed his mind, telling KOAT-TV this is not a good use of taxpayer dollars.
At least one commissioner says he’s calling for another vote on the issue.
Some of the other examples we’ve come across of sitting public officials having buildings named after them here in New Mexico?
*Rep. Sheryl Williams Stapleton (D-Albuquerque) getting the African American Performing Arts Center in Albuquerque rededicated in her name in 2008 at a news conference by then-Gov. Bill Richardson
*Speaker of the House Ben Luján (D-Nambé) having a gymnasium named after him at Pojoaque High School in 1993 — where in the 2010 Democratic primary, voters in the area who wanted to vote for challenger Carl Trujillo had to go to the Ben Luján Gymnasium to cast their ballots
*Rep. Andy Nuñez (I-Hatch) has a Health Department clinic in Hatch named after him
*Longtime Sen. Pete Domenici, a Republican, had the US Courthouse in Albuquerque named after him in 1998, well before he stepped down from the US Senate
*State Sen. Howie Morales (D-Silver City) has a baseball field named after him in Bayard
In the last two legislative sessions, state Sen. Mark Boitano (R-Albuquerque) cited our stories and introduced bills to ban the practice but the bill never got out of committee in 2011 or in 2012. Sen. Boitano is stepping down at the end of this year. We’ll see if any other Roundhouse lawmaker picks up the torch.
The Taos News posted audio of the Taos County Commission officials talking about naming buildings after themselves. Click here to listen to it.
And click here to see Alana Greenfogel’s story on KOAT-TV.