Inside the Capitol

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Guv May Get Himself in Big Trouble

SANTA FE – Gov. Bill Richardson continues to catch flak for contributions received from bidders on various state contracts. Once the problems have been revealed by the media, Richardson has returned the money “to avoid any appearance of impropriety.”
But he would be well advised to be even more careful. This is the sort of thing that got the Toney Anaya administration in trouble and resulted in some prison time for two of his staff. During the Jerry Apodaca and Anaya administrations, the FBI had an undercover agent watching their actions.
Both were Democrat governors during Republican presidential administrations. That situation again is the case and various federal agencies just might be watching Richardson, who is a bigger target than his predecessors because of his frequent mention as a future presidential candidate.
Fortunately for the governor, the heat may have been turned down in a couple areas of frequent criticism. The recent Border Governors’ Conference in Santa Fe was termed a glowing success and possibly something will come of it. But the biggest news was the presence of California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who enjoys rock star status at political gatherings.
And because of that status, Schwarzenegger had the biggest entourage, most of it a security detail. Gov. Richardson often has been criticized for his large security detail, which he claims to be necessary because of his national prominence. Ahnold did Richardson a favor by upstaging him at the conference.
Gov. Richardson caught another break last week when it was reported that President Bush’s motorcade returning from a weekend celebration at the family’s Kennebunkport summer home seemed in far too much of a hurry.
Reporters in busses following the president’s limosine said they were careening around curves on the narrow, winding back roads of Maine at upwards of 60 miles an hour. Evidently there was some concern for the safety of the families with children that had lined the roads to see the president.
Richardson always blames his high speeds on security issues. Presidential spokespersons, however, said the hurry was so people along the route would be inconvenienced as little as possible by the motorcade. When the president travels, all roads are blocked and planes are grounded or rerouted. It can get pretty ridiculous.
When the train carrying Democrat challengers, John Kerry and John Edwards moved through Albuquerque, cars legally parked at the train station were towed on orders of the Secret Service. When owners of those cars returned from their trips to find their vehicles had been towed and that they would have to find a way to get to the towing business and pay for their cars, there were some mighty upset people.
Reportedly the Albuquerque police were in charge of implementing the Secret Service orders. They would have been smart to have had those cars towed back after the Kerry train left. The police likely never thought of the inconvenience they were causing returning travelers. With all the hectic preparations for such a visit, they probably forgot about the cars once they contacted a towing company.
But that should probably be added to the large costs taxpayers shell out every time a president or presidential candidate comes to town. They seldom come by train, so it wouldn’t happen often. It is likely the towing occurred at many Kerry stops during his cross-country trip and brought the candidate much unforeseen ill will.
The best solution at this point may be for the Kerry campaign to offer reimbursement to the inconvenienced passengers. The only other solution may be to blame it on a Secret Service dirty trick concocted by a Republican administration.
But Albuquerque Mayor Martin Chavez, a Democrat, could have corrected the error with advice to his police chief to exercise a little compassion.
Kerry’s rail route from Las Vegas to Albuquerque took him across a corner of the Imus ranch, near Ribera. Imus wanted Kerry to stop and was miffed that he didn’t because of a tight schedule.


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