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Texas Land Commissioner's thoughts on "El Paso, New Mexico"

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://www.jacksonvilleprogress.com/articles/2005/03/13/opinion/opinion02.txt Opinion This makes sense to somebody By Larry Krantz - Progress Managing Editor
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 13, 2005
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      http://www.jacksonvilleprogress.com/articles/2005/03/13/opinion/opinion02.txt

      Opinion


      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
      Commissioner


      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
      land-grabbing litigation.


      "I say to the New Mexico Senate what proud Texians at
      Gonzales told Santa Anna in 1835: Come and take it,"
      Patterson said.


      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
      alive."


      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.


      Jim Suydam


      Press Secretary


      Texas General Land Office


      512-463-2716


      Hmmmm ...


      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
      area.


      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
      fighting for?


      It certainly was the first time, and I sincerely doubt
      New Mexico, as poor as the state is, can mount much of
      a case.


      Still, if Texas finds itself in court, it should play
      to win.


      Where's Vince McMahon when you need him?
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