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Know the West

Babbitt takes a fall

  At Petroglyph National Monument in Albuquerque, Jan. 21, Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt tripped on a rock and fell on his face, requiring several stitches on his head at a local hospital. Barely an hour later, he was back at the monument, telling the press that he was ready to negotiate with Albuquerque Mayor Martin Chavez over the proposed six-lane road called Paseo del Norte through the petroglyphs (HCN, 11/1/93). Babbitt said he is willing to consider all options for the road, including running Paseo through the monument - the first time anyone from Interior has been remotely receptive to the idea. Business interests were pleased. "He wasn't like the National Park Service - every time we met with them it was no, hell no," said Bob Hoffman, director of the Economic Forum. Some environmentalists kept a stiff upper lip; others were mortified. "What's Babbitt going to do? Hand them the keys to the bulldozers?" asked David Simon of the National Parks and Conservation Association. A few days later, the Albuquerque Tribune editorialized over Babbitt's fall. The secretary "ought to consider that somebody - or some spirit - was trying to tell him something."