NM Former Legislator Max Coll 1932-2014

Max Coll
SANTA FE – Max Coll, who began his bifurcated political career as a Republican in one of the most conservative areas of New Mexico and ended it as a Democrat in the most liberal, died Thursday night. He was 82 years old.

According to close friend Sen. Peter Wirth, D-Santa Fe, Coll died after suffering a major stroke last Friday night and was in Christus St.Vincent Regional Medical Center. A statement from family members is expected Friday morning

Born and raised in Roswell, Coll worked in the oil and gas industry and in the 1960s successfully ran for the state House of Representatives on a platform of slashing taxes. According to a 2013 House Memorial bill honoring him, a crew-cutted Coll handed out matchbooks during the campaign emblazoned with the slogan, “All for Coll.”
In a hint to his eventual political right-to-left transition, Coll in 1972 co-sponsored the New Mexico Equal Rights Amendment. He left the Roundhouse in 1974 to complete a law degree from the University of New Mexico and moved to northern New Mexico upon graduation.

By 1980, Coll had the itch to return to the Legislature and was elected that fall as the state rep in Santa Fe’s District 47 as a Republican. Gone was the buzz-cut, as Coll let his curly hair grow out and, in time, he even sported a stud in each ear lobe.
In 1983, Coll approached then Speaker of the House Raymond Sanchez and switched parties, becoming a Democrat.

While long priding himself as a fiscal hawk, Coll became a liberal mainstay and a strong voice for environmental concerns. Coll may have had investments in oil and gas but he had this to say to a reporter in 2010 of the relationship between the Legislature and the energy industry: “They’ve been partners with ‘em, they’ve been kissin’ them on the lips for a number of years.”

Possessing a sharp mind for state finances, Coll eventually served as chairman of the House Taxation and Revenue Committee and House Appropriations and Finance Committee and also was a longtime member of the influential Legislative Finance Committee. He worked with five governors in the course of 24 years.

Coll clashed with Democratic Gov. Bill Richardson – over what Coll felt was the executive’s attempts at consolidating Roundhouse power, among other things – and in 2004 Coll retired from politics at the age of 72.

“Max knew the rules better than anybody,” Speaker of the House W. Ken Martinez said in February of 2013 when Coll, along with his wife, Catherine Joyce-Coll, was honored on the floor of the House.

Coll and Joyce-Coll met at the Roundhouse after Joyce-Coll took a job working for Roundhouse Democrats during a legislative session.

Lovers of animals and owners of a collection of dogs and tropical birds in their home in the Santa Fe foothills, the couple helped state Sen. Wirth pass a bill in 2011 that allowed restaurants across the state to permit dogs to sit with their owners in outdoor patio areas.
The bill was signed by Republican Gov. Susana Martinez, herself a dog lover, and the Colls appeared at the signing ceremony.

In his later years, Coll met regularly with friends and political pals for luncheon dates on the Santa Fe Plaza and hosted friendly games of poker along with his wife. Coll battled diabetes and intestinal ailments but always managed to maintain a calm, almost courtly, demeanor.
“I’d complain about getting old,” he said, smiling to a friend in 2012, ”but, you know, it doesn’t do any good.”

Contact Rob Nikolewski at rnikolewski@watchdog.org and follow him on Twitter @robnikolewski

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Swickard: Be ready to help when called upon

© 2014 Michael Swickard, Ph.D. It is something we hope to avoid but at times we are thrust into emergencies. Suddenly we must act correctly and quickly. Automobile collisions come to mind since the clock is ticking because the delicate human protoplasm inside each vehicle is often injured.
     We see a plume of dust signaling one or more vehicles have left the roadway. There are just seconds to do the right things for these unfortunates. Little is written about what to do if you drive up upon an accident other than call the authorities. Many Americans just stand and watch like they are watching a television show. While they are just standing some people die who could have been saved.
     My uncle, Ralph Smith, was a Safety Engineer for the New Mexico State Highway Department as I was growing up so I was steeped in this question. My response to collisions is somewhat automatic though every crash is different.
      The first thing to do is to keep oncoming vehicles from running through the crash site. People must go quite a ways in both directions to stop oncoming traffic. Wave, shout and stop oncoming cars. It is a tragedy to be in a crash and even worse to be killed because an oncoming vehicle runs through the crash site.
      Then try to help the injured. How much? My rule is that if it seems to me I can help, I do. The first thing is to get the walking wounded to lie down out of harm’s way. Obviously get people out of vehicles that might catch on fire if you can. Naturally stop the blood flow of injuries. Further, it is vital that when emergency workers arrive that you point them to the injured needing assistance immediately.
      Finally, when the dust settles and the injured are on their way to a hospital it is helpful to give a verbal report along with your name and phone number on a piece of paper to the police. This way they can more easily reconstruct what happened both at the start of the collision and before they got there. Read full column