Statue bill may cause some controversy

Posted at: 03/11/2013 6:42 PM
By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4

State lawmakers want to see more statues of historic New Mexico citizens at the Capitol and other public buildings.

The House of Representatives voted unanimously to pass the Historic Statues Act, but don't hold your breath waiting to see your own statue at the Capitol or the courthouse. You would have to be dead for at least 50 years and make it onto the State Historian's honor roll to be eligible for one.

The bill now moves on to the state Senate, where lawmakers may have second thoughts. After all, statues and sculptures generate controversy in New Mexico. Seems like anytime the taxpayers pick up the tab for public art there's going to be an argument.

Remember La Jornada - the huge sculpture in Albuquerque's Old Town that honors Spain's colonizing New Mexico 400 years ago? The politically correct arguing over that project seemed to last about 400 years too!

Then there's that statue of conquistador Don Juan de Onate north of Espanola. Protesters cut off the statue's right foot back in 1998 - payback for similar atrocities Onate inflicted on two dozen Acoma pueblo warriors 400 years ago.

But lawmakers say the idea isn't to stir up trouble, it's to educate the young. So what do the young say? We talked to two teenage brothers from Corona, visiting the Capitol with their Future Farmers group.

"There's the younger kids and it helps them learn the history of some of the people that have been here," said Connor Cox, who likes the idea. His brother Cutler likes it too, but...

"I can see how that would be a good idea," said Cutler. "But at the same time we're in a tough economy and it might be a better idea to use the money elsewhere."

The statue bill doesn't set aside any money to pay for statues. That would come later. This bill would just kick the door open.