Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Roundhouse Roundup: The State Government Name Game

A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
August 26, 2010

Another reporter, one new to New Mexico, asked me Wednesday which state agency was responsible for unemployment checks. My first reaction was to say “the Labor Department,” but then realized that’s not what they call it these days. It took me a couple of seconds to remember that the department formerly known as “Labor” is now known as “Workforce Solutions.”

A high-ranking employee of said department once told me that he wishes it would go back to the old name. People tend to think “Workforce Solutions” is some kind of private agency, not a state government department.

Labor isn’t the only creature of state government that got a nomenclatural makeover during Bill Richardson’s administration.

Our state fair is a great state fair, but the state agency responsible for it is now called “Expo New Mexico.” I had to look at the Frequently Asked Questions section of the agency’s website because I’d forgotten whether “Expo New Mexico” refers to the annual Albuquerque event in September, the grounds on which it takes place, the government agency, or all or any of the above.

Then there’s the Corrections Department. No change there, but back in 2008, a prison reform task force created by the governor recommended changing the name of the Department of Corrections to the “Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections.” Somehow that change didn’t get off the ground.

Too bad. Surely changing the name would make state prisons far more humane and effective — just like the U.S. brought about peace by changing the name of the War Department to the Department of Defense.

Whether Diane Denish or Susana Martinez ultimately wins the governorship in November, there’s bound to be a certain amount of dismantling of the Richardson era, for better or worse. The two candidates can argue endlessly about what’s the baby and what’s the bathwater.

But I hope both of them consider changing back Workforce Solutions, Expo New Mexico, and probably some I’ve overlooked, to their original, simple names.

Best political tweets of the day: Adam Kokesh of Santa Fe lost to Tom Mullins of Farmington for the Republican nomination for the 3rd Congressional District seat. But the young, libertarian ex-Marine still is interesting to follow on Twitter and Facebook.
Adam Kokesh
Lately he’s been weighing in on the “ground zero Mosque” controversy. And, as was the case during the primary campaign, Kokesh cannot be described as a generic Republican.

On Wednesday, he wrote, “I hereby convert to Islam! But don’t worry, I’ll only be like most Americans about their religions. I won’t really believe everything my religion says, I’ll primarily use it to judge other people, and I’ll only go to a mosque a few times a year.”

Later in the day he wrote, “As a Muslim Jewish American War Veteran, I think the churches at ground zero are an offense to Muslims (and Jews) killed on 9/11 and should be torn down immediately. However, the strip clubs can stay. I want to know what 72 virgins will look like.”

(The best comment he got for this on Facebook was from a woman who asked, “Virgins at strip clubs?”)

How does Kokesh really feel about the issue? Last week on Facebook he wrote, “Eventually, society will look back on those who are protesting the building of a mosque near ‘Ground Zero’ the same way that we look back on the Klan today.”

Kokesh hosts a radio talk show, Adam vs. The Man, at 3 p.m. on KIVA, an Albuquerque station, 1550 AM, and streaming on the Web .