Weekly Wire
Weekly Alibi Muddy Roads and Cowboy Welfare

By Sue Schuurman

JANUARY 19, 1999: 

In 1959 Albuquerque's Northeast Heights looked quite different compared to today, according to the first excerpt below from The Albuquerque Tribune. Not only were the roads unpaved, they didn't even rate a layer of gravel, causing messy transportation problems. And special interest groups apparently aren't a recent invention, as is clear in the second Trib article taken from an opinion column which let readers in on roundhouse deals that benefited the state's cattle industry.

Muddy Streets Plague City's Repair Crews.

Work Does Little Good for Roads in the Heights.

"Mud and frost and not enough warm days are keeping about 70 to 80 miles of dirt streets in the Heights a mass of chuck holes and ooze.

"And Dan Garrison, assistant street superintendent, said today there is little the city can do about the situation. 'Until we get some warm weather to thaw the frost and evaporate the moisture out of the ground, we can only push the mud from one side to the other,' he said. 'We have five blades working, but they can't accomplish much.'

"The city does not have enough equipment or material to gravel the streets, Mr. Harrison added. ... Mr. Garrison (sic) said the city is blading Indian School Rd. between Carlisle and San Mateo NE, but 'all we do is create new places for more chuck holes.' ...

"Candelaria Blvd. in front of Sandia High School is already in a paving district, but won't be ready until legal work is completed, (City Manager Edmund) Engel said. He noted that many of the complaints coming into the city concerned the deplorable mud conditions around the school. There are several places where streets do not exist near schools, he said. ... "

Inside the Capital by Will Harrison

"SANTA FE--The Cattle Growers Association has set up a legislative committee of 20, every blessed one of them of the Legislature which has only 98 members altogether. With any luck at all the big group should be able to protect the cow economy of the state which was established a hundred years ago and maybe improve the situation in which they enjoy school tax exemption, cut rates on truck licenses, tax exempt gasoline, rental of state land for as little as three cents an acre, and horrible penalties on any who steal their animals.

"The cowmen in fact are not any different than the insurance hucksters and liquor merchants who participate in the Legislature with their personal interests in prime consideration, but the size of the cowboy group is a little frightening to some. With close organization the twenty could control everything in the Legislature.

"The organization has already suffered one fracture. A member, appointed without his knowledge, has quit the committee telling that he hoped to represent all the people without special consideration for the ranchers. ...

"Among the subjects that the cowboys will consider in the Legislature is a proposal to forgive a debt of some $400,000 of the sap citizens' money that was given to individual ranchers in 1956 to buy hay.

"The Supreme Court held that the give-away was illegal and the state must recover the dough unless the debts are forgiven.

"Many of the legislators on the cattlemen's committee got in on the money. It cannot be said right now which ones got it and how much because some one closed an old vault door on the records at the Statehouse and so far none has been able to open it.

"The hay money went to some of the richest and most ostentatious wealth flaunters in the state. Each of them signed up as being unable to feed the critters unless helped by the state."

--compiled by Susan Schuurman

Source: The Albuquerque Tribune;

Jan. 12, 1959


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