Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Roundhouse Roundup: Blue Book Blues

A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
January 6, 2011

The much-maligned, already obsolete New Mexico Blue Book 2009-2010 has hit the stands — well, the reference book is available at the Secretary of State’s Office — and it’s even more fun than I thought it would be.

I picked up a copy on Wednesday. I felt like I was nabbing a collector’s item. For one thing, there’s fewer copies available than previous editions. Only 5,000 copies were printed, compared with 15,000 in previous years.

Also, the new Blue Book has been in the news a lot more than previous volumes.

Published in the waning days of 2010, the Blue Book contains pictures of and information about all the state officers who left office at the end of the year. Outgoing Secretary of State Mary Herrera, a Democrat who was defeated by Republican Dianna Duran, was criticized by some for publishing the 367-page book, which cost $44,000 to print during the depths of a budget crisis.
But Herrera has argued that it was important to print the book, even if the information was dated shortly after it rolled off the press.

“When I took office in 2007, I continued distributing the Blue Books in stock, which included Rebecca Vigil Giron for a year,” she told me in an e-mail last year, referring to her predecessor. “It did not matter because it is the History and data that matters.”

Pictures? Did someone say pictures? Channel 13 anchorman Dick Knipfing on Tuesday quipped that the Blue Book could double as “The Mary Herrera Yearbook.” The face of the former SOS pops up everywhere, including a full-color, full-page portrait near the front of the book (which is a tradition for secretaries of state) and a full-color, full-page photo of Herrera with President Barack Obama. You’ll find her with U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis and with Prince Felipe of Spain.

I counted nine photos of Herrera so far (though in one of them her back is to the camera and in two others she’s pictured as one of dozens of SOS employees.)
Her deputy, Don Francisco Trujillo, also has plenty of pictures in the Blue Book, including one with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and a grip-and-grin shot with Vice President Joe Biden.

The section on the secretary of state is eight pages — compared to six pages for the governor. But in fairness, in the 2005-2006 edition, Vigil-Giron’s last Blue Book, the SOS also got two more pages than the governor.

And there are photos of now-departed officials like Gov. Bill Richardson, Lt. Gov. Diane Denish and Land Commissioner Pat Lyons.

In the section on the Public Regulation Commission, one might think at first glance the commission has six members instead of five. There’s a photo of former Commissioner Carol Sloan — who left office after being convicted of felony burglary and battery charges — alongside her replacement, Theresa Becenti-Aguilar. The book mentions that Sloan left office but doesn’t state why.

New Gov. Susana Martinez and new Secretary of State Duran do appear in the book. Martinez is right there on page 238, pictured with all the other district attorneys in the state. (She was the DA in Doña Ana County until last Saturday.) Her election to governor last November is mentioned as the last item in the state history section.

Duran is there on page 209 in her former role as a state senator.

This is NOT in the Blue Book
Blue notes: While the book includes the music to the state song, the state bilingual song and the state ballad, there’s not even a mention of the official state cowboy song, “Under New Mexico Skies” by Syd Masters. And there’s nothing about the state guitar (the Pimentel Sunrise guitar). Both became official in 2009.

But there is something for music fans. In the back of the book there’s a feature on the “Godfather of New Mexico Music,” Al Hurricane — who played at Herrera’s birthday party last year — as well as one on his son, Al Hurricane Jr., and singers Gonzalo and Dynette Marie.

(The photo at left is NOT in the Blue Book!)