In the rearview

A powerful senator retires, unemployment dips and Friday the 13th

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As part of our weekly series, The Taos News dug into the newspaper’s archives to uncover the top stories of the week from 10, 25 and 50 years ago.

– 10 YEARS AGO – ‘Domenici to retire from U.S. Senate’, Oct. 11-17, 2007, by Patricia Chambers

In an emotional announcement at a press conference, Pete Domenici, New Mexico’s longtime Republican senator and champion in Congress, said he was retiring due to a progressive brain disease. “After long consideration and discussions with other doctors and my family, I concluded that it would be wrong to ask New Mexicans to support me if I could not pledge that I could ably serve another full term,” Domenici said, ending a tenure that had lasted six terms (1973-2009). 

His colleagues from the other side of the aisle praised his ability to work with Democrats on major legislation. Northern New Mexicans had been a little miffed with Domenici though the prior year, though, for not throwing his support behind an effort to protect the 101,000-acre Valle Vidal in the Carson National Forest from gas drilling, according to the story in The Taos News. In the end, he signed the legislation protecting the land from drilling, along with Rep. Heather Wilson, R-N.M., and it was signed into law by then-President George W. Bush. 

Domenici continued to work as a lawyer and consultant. He died Sept. 13, 2017, at age 85.

– 25 YEARS AGO – ‘Taos County unemployment rate dips’, Oct. 15, 1992

In October of 1992, The Taos News published a story about the unemployment rates in Taos County and how they had fallen from a high of 22 percent. Back then, though, the unemployment rate dwarfed the present one, dipping to between 14 to 16 percent in July and August of that year, according to U.S. Department of Labor statistics. The unemployment rate would continue to fall.

The unemployment rates in New Mexico reached an all-time low in 2007, ranging only from 3.5 percent to 4.4 percent, then rose again in 2008 and 2009, topping out near 8.7 percent. This was most likely due to the Great Recession, which started in December 2007. New Mexico has never really recovered and remains one of the top five poorest states, with the second highest poverty rates in the United States, according to federal and state statistics. 

Taos County’s unemployment rate in August this year hovered around 8.2 percent. 

– 50 YEARS AGO – ‘Safe reminder’, Oct. 12, 1967

Half a century ago, The Taos News posted a funny photo of then-Taos High School senior Susan Chatwin sitting inside and dwarfed by a rather large “lucky horseshoe,” all in preparation, it seems, for the potentially unlucky Friday the 13th. “She’s not particularly worried,” read the photo caption, “unless that horse comes along to claim his shoe.”

It’s that time again, with the 13th landing on a Friday this week. Since it also is two weeks before Halloween, we’re playing it safe here in the newsroom and avoiding all ladders, black cats, seances and games of Ouija. Not that we’re superstitious. But, well, you never know.

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