Sunday, May 25, 2014

“New Mexico A History” More Than Imperfect

In my recent column about government dependence, “imperfect” was the description for “New Mexico A History” (by Joseph P. Sanchez, Robert Spude and Art Gomez, University of Oklahoma Press,, 2013). I was being nice.
The book provided for my column purposes a useful if occasionally confusing description of the careers of Mayor / Governor Clyde Tingly and Sen. Dennis Chvez. As a small example, I got Chavez’ date of death from Wikipedia. For non-readers of the column, the point was that we have been chasing the government dollar in New Mexico just about forever, so the present whining about “government dependence” becomes even more that just—whining.
In “New Mexico A History,” there are no footnotes and no bibliography. A historian friend says this is a major no-no for history books.
The first situation (page 195) gaining my attention in a negative way probably had to do with the infamous “unamendables” clause. I say probably because the authors did not use that well recognized phrase (by New Mexico constitution nerds), but writing about creating the constitution, they said, “Equally important to Hispanics was a clause that made it nearly impossible to amend the constitution.”
With regard to our much-amended constitution, that’s simply not true. However it is not clear that the sentence applies to the entire constitution. Sloppy at best. What were the OU Press editors?
Sentences scream for footnotes.
They talk about the “Clovis subdivision” rail line without being clear where that is. Then, “The Clovis subdivision remains the busiest line in the Western Hemisphere to this day.” Oh? Who says?
They seem confused about when Intel came to Rio Rancho, which was 1981. I wrote about it at the time. Consider, “Rio Rancho, home to Intel and other notable high tech firms, doubled in size during this period.” The dates in this paragraph identifying “this period” were 1950 to 1970. Rio Rancho hardly existed in 1970 and for sure was not incorporated, so getting population figures would have been a chore.
The Hyatt in downtown Albuquerque is alleged to have been there in 1970. Not true. It was 1990.
About half of page 326 goes to the Pegasus Global Holdings project that was a promotion all the way and, so far as I know, has not yet happened. Of the project, Wikipedia says, “Construction was scheduled to start in June 2012, but was cancelled in July 2012. Pegasus Global Holdings' decision to build the city arose from their own testing needs. As of August 2013, the project appeared dead.”
Politics joined inaccuracy with inclusion of the criticism of Intel’s water use that developed after Intel’s huge expansion in the early 1990s. (The expansion wasn’t mentioned, just the water use criticism.) No mention appeared of Intel’s work to reduce it water use. (I was in some of those meetings.) In the water use discussion (or whatever it was), Hewlett-Packard, which came to Rio Rancho in 2009 with a customer service center (a call center in other words), was taken together with Intel which appeared 28 years earlier.
There is more. All in all, very annoying.

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