Thursday, January 27, 2005


As published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
January 27, 2004

A sergeant-at-arms stopped freshman Sen. Jack Ryan, R-Albuquerque, from entering the floor of the House on Monday to hear a speech by U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce, R-N.M., made before a joint session of the House and Senate.

At first, Ryan assumed he was being stopped because the sergeant-at-arms didn't recognize him. After all, there are several new faces among the legislators this year.

But that wasn't the problem. Ryan was in violation of a rule he knew nothing about.

He was wearing a bolo tie.

No, the House hasn't hired former Santa Fe Police Chief Don Grady - who made national headlines in 1995 when he forbid plain-clothes officers from wearing bolos.

The House Dress Code requires all males on the floor of the House to wear jackets and regular ties. No bolos, chief Sergeant-At-Arms Gilbert Lopez told me this week.

"The Senate allows bolos, but the House doesn't," Lopez said. "It's been that way since I've been here." Lopez said he's worked for the House for 15 years.

The rule is ironic considering that in 1987 the state Legislature named the bolo the "official state tie or neckwear of New Mexico" in a memorial that declared that those who wear bolos "shall be welcomed at all events or occasions when the wearing of a tie is considered if not mandatory, then at least appropriate."

Of course, a memorial has no force of law. Curiously, the "official state tie" is not listed in the same section of state law that lists the official state bird, state animal, state reptile, state cookie, etc.

Bolos, of course, are common on state officials. Gov. Bill Richardson has been known to occasionally sport a bolo.

Ryan, who was wearing a conventional tie Wednesday, said when he initially was stopped, the sergeant-at-arms tried to help him find a tie that would be allowed. "I finally borrowed one from a (bill) analyst," he said.

Soon after the incident, Ryan said he was approached by leaders of both parties in the Senate, who told him it was wrong for him to have been denied entrance to the House.

"It was a misunderstanding," Lopez said. "Senators who come in for joint sessions will be allowed to wear bolo ties."

However, if it's not a joint session, visiting senators going into the House will have to wear a regular tie, he said. "We've got some ties we can lend them."

(For the record: The scorpion tie pictured above is not the one Ryan was wearing.)

In the lobby: Former state Sen. Roman Maes might have lost the Democratic primary to freshman Sen. John Grubesic, D-Santa Fe, last year, but that didn't keep him away from the Roundhouse for long.

According to the Secretary of State's web site, Maes, former chairman of the Senate Corporations and Transportation Committee, is now a registered lobbyist for Microsoft, Valor Communications, St. Vincent Hospital and Santa Fe County.

Maes joins a long list of lawmakers who have joined the ranks of lobbyists. Other recently departed legislators seen around the Roundhouse lately are former Senate President pro-tem Richard Romero and former Rep. Joe Thompson.

The University of New Mexico announced that Democrat Romero and Republican Thompson would be lobbying for the school. But the Secretary of State's web site lists Romero's clients as Arena Management and Construction and Isleta Pueblo, while Thompson's only client listed is Jemez Pueblo.

Balls of Fire: Forty-five years ago this Sunday, a band of high school kids from Raton appeared on American Bandstand. This was The Fireballs, who would become even more famous in a few years when their song Sugar Shack hit No. 1 on the charts. It was the top-selling single of 1962.

The Fireballs are still around and includes two original members - guitarist George Tomsco and bassist Stan Lark. Rep. Hector Balderas, D-Wagon Mound, has introduced House Joint Memorial 19, which would declare Sunday "The Fireballs Day" in New Mexico.

"It's a pleasure to introduce this because they're from my district," Balderas said. Asked if he was a Fireballs fan, the 30ish lawmaker said, "They were in their prime before I was born."

Unfortunately there are no current plans to have The Fireballs play at the Legislature - though Tomsco last week was in the Rotunda, playing behind playwright/actor Charles Pike performing his play Elephant Murmurs, which concerns the "lost years" of Bill Richardson.

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