Inside the Capitol

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

12-28 Does Our Guv Need Ritaline?

Syndicated Columnist
SANTA FE -- Gov. Bill Richardson has come in for some more tacky treatment from our state's biggest newspaper.
On Sat., Dec. 17, the Albuquerque Journal ran a headline story about our "Hands-0n Governor," complete with pictures. The picture with Lt. Gov. Diane Denish appeared to signal that those hands sometimes are where they shouldn't be.
Denish says Richardson never has touched her in an improper way. But the governor was sufficiently rambunctious one day at a Bernalillo train depot groundbreaking to get the attention of a Journal photographer, who took five or ten minutes of shots.
Those photos were then shown to the lieutenant governor by an inquiring reporter and Denish was asked for reactions. She unloaded much like an exasperated big sister informing on a pesky little brother.
The governor's actions were nothing new. It is impossible that he was anything other than a hyperactive little kid, because he's a hyperactive adult. No doubt about it.
Maybe he covers that in his book. I've got to read it sometime, but since he didn't send me a review copy, I'm waiting to receive it for a gift. There's still time. My birthday is Jan. 7.
So we have a governor with a short attention span, who is easily bored. Should he see a meditation guru to help him find inner peace? That might solve the problem of his acting like a kid, or a roughhousing teenager.
But there may be advantages to a governor who is on fast-forward fulltime. We get a lot more work out of him. And we get a lot more work out of the staff with whom he comes in contact.
It all depends, of course, on whether all that activity is productive. Richardson has increased the visibility of New Mexico. His detractors insist he's interested only in his own visibility, but really, it's both.
No governor has ever started so many new projects. The big question is whether they will be good for the state. And that's what the Albuquerque Journal and all the rest of us in the business should be looking at.
Are Richardson's railroad, spaceport, pre-k initiative, immigration policy , etc. on the right track? The Journal does deserve credit for an excellent series on immigration, but that's about it.
Investigating whether he ever had a formal major league baseball offer and reporting on his boyish shenanigans when bored aren't very important compared with the many needs of this state.
It's probably true that more people are interested in whether the governor stretched the truth, told a fib or patted something he shouldn't have. The Journal is in the business of selling papers. And they sell a lot more than I do.
New Mexico has had two boyish governors in a row. Now that former Gov. Gary Johnson's terms are over, he has reverted to extreme sports and long hair. New Mexicans re-elected him and they are very likely to do the same with Richardson, so we don't seem to hold youthfulness against them.
The presidency may be a different story. When Richardson starts his quest toward Washington, anything will be fair and unpresidential demeanor certainly will be included.
One thing the Albuquerque media should be commended for is its treatment of the divorces of former Gov. Johnson and Mayor Martin Chavez. The events were reported and dropped, just as private matters should be.
Gary Johnson may be out of sight and flat on his back from a paragliding accident, but he's not completely forgotten. Jim Romero, a candidate for Santa Fe mayor, has adopted Johnson's campaign slogan "People before politics." It worked well for Johnson statewide, but he never carried Santa Fe. It will be interesting to see what the Capital City thinks of such a pledge.
We'll end this ramble with another mention of immigration. It will be thrust into the spotlight again soon when a New Your-based group puts up billboards in New Mexico, North Carolina and Wisconsin suggesting that our driver's license restrictions for immigrants aren't tough enough to prevent terrorists from getting a license.
WED, 12-28-05

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



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