Getting the names right — it’s complicated
Last week journalists around the state, as well as others on the Governor’s Office mailing list, received an email that left many of us scratching our heads.
You know the governor: Michelle Grisham … or is it Michelle Lujan-Grisham … or maybe Michelle Luján-Grisham.
No, stupid, it’s Michelle Lujan Grisham: Three names, no hyphen, no accent mark.
But everyone knew her as “Nancy.” (Sorry. As a Beatles fan, I couldn’t resist.)
I know and everyone in our newsroom knows the governor’s name already, but apparently a lot of folks don’t. Apparently, enough people are getting it wrong that one of the governor’s public information officers decided to send an email explaining how to get it right.
But the email from Nora Meyers Sackett (no hyphen, no accent mark) didn’t just give us the proper spelling and style for Lujan Grisham, but for several Cabinet secretaries as well.
And unlike the governor’s name, there were several officials here with whom I’m unfamiliar — and I might have gotten a name wrong. For instance I didn’t realize that the new secretary of the New Mexico Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management recently got married and is now known as Jackie Lindsey instead of Jackie White. So in some respects, this email actually was useful.
Most of the names on this list were women, who, like Lujan Grisham, go by three names.
Other women on this list were Tax & Revenue Secretary Stephanie Schardin Clarke; Aging and Long-Term Services Secretary Alice Liu McCoy (or just “McCoy” on second reference); interim Corrections Secretary Alisha Tafoya Lucero; Cultural Affairs Secretary Debra Garcia y Griego; Olivia Padilla-Jackson, who is secretary of Finance & Administration; and Sarah Cottrell Propst, the secretary of Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources. I have no problem with Cottrell Propst’s name, but as I’ve written before, that department needs to shorten its name.
There were two men on the list. One was the director of the Office of African American Affairs, William Scott Carreathers, for whom it’s OK to drop the “William,” even on first reference. The other was the Human Services Department secretary, a physician who wants to be known as “Secretary David Scrase, M.D.”
One of my conservative friends, syndicated columnist Harold Morgan, got the email.
“Am I missing the point here?” he asked me in an email. “My instant reaction to the gov’s style sheet was that it was nonsense [I used another word]. I have never seen anything like this. OK, I am old. The sheet tells me that she is touchy about her name. My reaction is that she should never admit that. It shows weakness and invites mocking.”
He’s not wrong there. I think of members of the Democratic Party who get upset when Republicans refer to the “Democrat” Party. Dems keep complaining about that, to which GOP leaders and activists respond by using “Democrat Party” over and over again, which I think is their way of saying, “Nanny nanny boo boo.”
Morgan did admit he’s “a bit touchy” about his name because for years people called him “Howard Morgan,” which was the name of the longtime TV weatherman.
And, for the record, I get frustrated not by people writing my name incorrectly, but mispronouncing it. Here’s the deal, my last name rhymes with “barrel.” I used to fantasize about marrying “the lovely Carol Merrill,” the model who helped Monty Hall on Let’s Make a Deal. I wanted to make her “the lovely Carol Merrill Terrell.”
So I can understand if people getting her name wrong has irked Lujan Grisham — if indeed, it’s she who’s irked. Maybe it’s just a pet peeve of Meyers Sackett, who recently tweeted, “Is there any way I could be clearer about the fact that it’s Governor LUJAN Grisham? I genuinely want to know. I feel like it’s very clear? On social media, on the website, if you Google it.”
Meyers Sackett’s email didn’t mention how her boss feels about people referring to her as “MLG,” which I’ve done before in this column. Being that I grew up seeing “JFK,” “RFK” and “LBJ” in the headlines, I like the fact it’s becoming a trend at least in New Mexico in recent years with “MLG,” “SGR” (Land Commissioner Stephanie Garcia Richard) and “MTO” (Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver). I’ve even seen MTO’s U.S. Senate primary opponent Ben Ray Luján referred to as “BRL.”
So I don’t care if you call me “SWT.” Just don’t mispronounce the T.