Bloggy Day In Undone Town: A Santa Fe Story And Other Tales

Did you get everything on your list?

March 12, 2003 in New Mexico Politics | Comments (0)

A long time ago, before the 35-year Santa Fe real estate inflation, the beautiful east side of the city with all its historic adobe houses was defined by little neighborhood grocery stores. One of the busiest was Tito’s Market on Acequia Madre and Garcia.

Tito Griego operated the cash register himself. He was fast and had a big smile. His greeting as you stepped up to the checkout counter was always: “Did you get everything on your list?”

It was a family business, and Tito’s son Phil was a sacker. He’d carry your groceries to the car, but most customers came on foot. One was a young St. John’s College student named Jerry, Class of 1970, from Denver.

Cut to now. The neighborhood markets are gone, and new people live on Santa Fe’s east side. The former Tito’s Market is divided — a fine book store on one side and a coffee house with racks of international magazines on the other. The parking lot is hardly big enough, it sometimes seems, for all the Land Rovers.

Last week in the State Senate Rules Committee, the former sacker made the motion to recommend confirmation of the former student as a member of the State Board of Finance. State Senator Phil Griego now lives in the village of San Jose, in Senate District No. 39. His father was Republican County chairman, but Phil was a Democrat by the time he moved out of town. The Senator said he remembered Jerry from Tito’s market, and the Bill Richardson appointee in the suit at the witness stand nodded and smiled.

Jerry is Gerald Peters, owner of the biggest and richest art gallery in Santa Fe, on Paseo de Peralta just a couple of blocks from the former Tito’s Market. Gerald Peters also owns restaurants, a bank, and a large part of downtown Santa Fe. He is, by his own undisputed reckoning, Santa Fe’s largest private employer, with a direct or indirect payroll of about 600.

It looks like he got everything on his list.

State Sen. Joe Carraro, R-Albuquerque, was winding up a pitch for his bill to privatize all of New Mexico’s Interstate highway rest stops. He wants the state to turn them over to restaurant chains. “It works in the East,” he told the Senate Corporations Committee.

Suddenly anti-tobacco lobbyist Linda Siegle rushed into the hearing room. “Mr. Chairman,” she said, somewhat out of breath. “The American Cancer Society endorses this bill,” and she explained on behalf of her client that the bill would discourage smoking.

Uhm. . . Wrong bill. Siegle had seen Carraro in the witness chair and assumed he was presenting his bill to raise cigarette taxes a buck a pack. It had already been heard. She was embarrassed, but everybody understood. The New Mexico Legislature is so pressed by the session deadline that committee calendars might as well be shredded.

But, come to think of it, Carraro, known for his rhetoric, probably could make the case that his privatized rest stops would discourage smoking. Now that’s a logical stretch, but he could do it. And it’s not that far off base when you look at some of the tobacco logic going on elsewhere in the Legislature.

Take the bill to increase the cigarette tax by 70 cents a pack. About $13 million a year of the predicted new revenue would be dedicated to pay off bonds for an $80 million UNM Med School expansion. Connect the bond issue with the argument that the cigaret tax-increase will discourage purchase of cigarettes and that some of the revenue will fund anti-smoking programs. Some capitol wall-leaners see the problem here.

If the tax and the programs work, then many people will stop smoking. If significant numbers stop smoking, there goes the med school bond money. You do wonder what rating Wall Street will give the New Mexico tobacco-tax bonds. But then maybe the wise bond-rating experts know there will always be people who buy a product with a label that warns it will kill you.

Carraro’s idea about restaurants at all the rest stops was too much for the committee to digest on this trip.

Three hurried committees of the House approved on the word of a few colleagues that New Mexico needs a Naprapathy Licensing Board. Naprapathy?

Rep. Rick Miera, D-Albuquerque, sponsor of the Naprapathic Practice Act, did not have to waste much time arguing the merits of his bill before the House Appropriations and Finance Committee, in the bill’s third House hearing. A couple of the members had been visited by a naprapath, and they liked naprapathy. So the bill was approved without opposition and sent to the House floor for passage.

Some Republicans did ask, “What is it?” Well, the bill defines naprapathic practice to include “connective tissue manipulation, therapeutic and rehabilative exercise, postural counseling. . . . nutritional counseling. . . the use of heat, cold, light, water, radiant energy, electricity, sound, air and assistive devices. . . .”

Now you know. But don’t try it. You soon could be fined for practicing without a license.