Inside the Capitol

Monday, September 05, 2005

9-14 Jets, DWI, Presidential Primaries and Calendars

Syndicated Columnist
SANTA FE -- The timing couldn't have been better -- or luckier. Gov. Bill Richardson's new airplane, the state's first jet, arrived in New Mexico on Sept. 1.
The following day, state General Services Department Secretary Edward Lopez announced it would become operational the following week, which it did. And what was its first mission? Ferrying hurricane relief supplies to Louisiana.
What an auspicious beginning. A mission of mercy. Lopez traveled with the plane so he could make on-the-spot decisions about further missions while the plane was in the devastated area. No dubious political junkets for this plane's first mission.
Look for the twin-engine Cessna Citation Bravo to make additional missions of mercy when it arrives back in New Mexico. It is likely also to be used by departments, such as Children, Youth and Families, to perform human interest duties.
Our governor is definitely smart enough to have played the game in the most politic way, but he got a little lucky on this one too. As they say, timing is everything.
Questions have been asked about why the state didn't buy an Eclipse aircraft, being produced in New Mexico. The answer is that Eclipse won't be ready for at least another year.
Meanwhile, Eclipse head, Vern Rayburn, says Cessna gave a huge price break to New Mexico in order to boast that Eclipse's home state bought a Cessna. Rayburn also says the plane is a good choice for New Mexico.
Another area, in which the governor can expect to get almost as much grief as on his airplane decision, is his plan to introduce legislation requiring mandatory jail sentences for first-time DWI offenders, along with a mandatory treatment program.
A good deal of grousing already is being heard that this doesn't attack the big problem. The public gets most upset when someone is killed by a drunk driver with five previous offenses, no license, no insurance and a bad driving record. Those are the people who have absolutely no respect for the law or the safety of the community.
The governor says such penalties are necessary because we must break the cycle of repeat DWI offenders, who start out early in life. That's true, but does jailing a granny who had an extra glass of sherry at her neighborhood bridge game address that problem?
The biggest problem seems to be judges, who don't lock up repeat offenders for the maximum time allowed.
Gov. Richardson has been pushing for a regional presidential primary ever since he took office in 2003. He succeeded in getting an early Democratic presidential caucus in 2004. Now, he and Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, a Republican, are working on a 2008 regional primary.
For awhile, it appeared that at least Arizona, Colorado, Montana and Wyoming might join them, but now they've given up on Colorado and Wyoming. Arizona appears to be in, so they are working hard on Montana and have brought Nevada and Idaho back into play.
They hope for at least four states, but say that even with three, it would be a success. The primary will be held early enough in February that the nominees won't already have been decided.
The way New Mexico's law is written, the parties pay for an early primary. If they want to wait until June, the state will pay. That's what happened in New Mexico and some other states in 2004, and it could happen again.
Last month, this column complained that few calendars any longer indicate V-E Day and V-J Day. I said I would very much like to buy one and give the printing company some publicity.
Earl Nelson, a retired Air Force master sergeant, from Alamogordo, has e-mailed to inform us that Bomber Legends Magazine publishes such a calendar. I went to and found several calendars ranging from $5 to $12.99. The address is 1672 Main Street, Suite E-124, Ramona, CA92065. Tel:760-788-3624.
WED, 8-14-05

JAY MILLER, 3 La Tusa, Santa Fe, NM 87505
(ph) 982-2723, (fax) 984-0982, (e-mail)



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