Texas Land Commissioner's thoughts on "El Paso, New Mexico"
This makes sense to somebody
By Larry Krantz - Progress Managing Editor
There are truly bizarre uses for taxpayer money.
Here's an example. It's a real press release delivered
to my e-mail inbox on Friday:
Patterson to New Mexico attorneys: Come and take it
Attempt to sue Texas called "nutty" by Texas Land
AUSTIN - Jerry Patterson, Commissioner of the Texas
General Land Office, today challenged New Mexico
senators to come to Texas and duke it out with their
Texas counterparts in response to their threats of
"I say to the New Mexico Senate what proud Texians at
Gonzales told Santa Anna in 1835: Come and take it,"
On Tuesday, according to the El Paso Times, the New
Mexico Senate voted to sue Texas over a 146-year-old
border dispute. Senators likened the threat of a
lawsuit to a "slap-fight" between neighbors. Senators
also discussed taking Texas groundwater, as well as
the entire West Texas town of El Paso.
The bill senators passed directs the state's attorney
general to sue for the return of land, as well as
compensation for mineral rights, oil and gas
royalties, property taxes and grazing privileges.
"I'll bet some Yankee attorney convinced them this was
a good idea," said Patterson, who has previously
offered to settle the dispute with a duel.
The dispute centers on more than 603,485 acres in West
Texas that New Mexico legislators complain about
losing in a flawed survey. In 1859, a surveyor
established the nation's 103rd meridian as the border
between Texas and New Mexico. But, to the benefit of
Texas, he then set the actual boundary too far west -
2.29 miles in some places, 3.77 miles in others.
Today, the Texas towns of Farwell, Texline, Bledsoe
and Bronco lie within the strip, along with a lot of
empty oil and grazing land.
The senate bill's sponsor, Sen. Shannon Robinson,
D-Albuquerque, told the El Paso Times he also disputes
the southern border of Texas. In 1850, he noted, New
Mexico lawmakers relied on the memories of
sheepherders when it came to setting the boundary.
Texas brought in several surveyors and engineers, and
a water master relied on the Texans' data when setting
the boundary where the Rio Grande was at the time.
"Since both the Texas and New Mexico Senate are
currently in session, I propose they meet in the
disputed territory to engage in a free-for-all brawl
to resolve this issue. Lord knows these boys and girls
could use the exercise," Patterson said. "This would
also get them out of town and provide a brief respite
for the rest of us. Maybe we could charge admission,
with the proceeds going to the few who come out
The New Mexico Senate is comprised of 42 senators,
while the Texas Senate consists of only 31 senators.
Regardless, Patterson expressed his confidence in the
outnumbered Texans Friday.
Texas General Land Office
It's hard to know where to come down on this issue. I
attended the University of New Mexico between 1992-97,
and lived in Carlsbad, N.M. for a short time after I
graduated while I worked at my first newspaper job.
Carlsbad, famous for its caverns, is in the southeast
corner of New Mexico, maybe 60 miles at the most from
the lower part of the Texas panhandle and its junction
with the rest of the state.
One time, I took a wrong turn in Jal, N.M. - right on
the state line - and ended up in Texas.
I felt a little silly because there was only one place
to make a turn, and I made the wrong one.
Believe me when I tell you there's not much there.
It's the kind of place where you can see the same tree
- the only tree - for miles.
I have a hard time believing New Mexico wants any more
land than it already has, especially land in that
But, I guess the mineral rights are the key.
Like most people who aren't born in Texas, I pictured
that area as "Texas."
I'm glad I was wrong, because if there's a prettier,
more affordable place to live than East Texas, I
haven't heard of it.
Is that western desert area of the state worth
It certainly was the first time, and I sincerely doubt
New Mexico, as poor as the state is, can mount much of
Still, if Texas finds itself in court, it should play
Where's Vince McMahon when you need him?