Inside the Capitol

Thursday, December 16, 2010

12-22 How Many Political Appointees Will Keep Jobs?

Syndicated Columnist
SANTA FE -- It is surprising how many of Gov. Bill Richardson's political appointees think they will be able to stick around for Gov. Susana Martinez's administration.
Martinez vowed often during her primary and general election campaigns to fire them all. And there was fairly general agreement that Lt. Gov. Diane Denish would have done the same to separate herself from the Richardson administration.
All of Richardson's 375 remaining political appointees were invited to a meeting two weeks ago at the State Personnel Office to receive information on how to wind up their government employment. There were nowhere near 375 employees present.
What is happening to cause this optimism? So far, I haven't heard of any transition team members giving such assurances. Are the exempt employees judging from past experience?
I haven't kept track of political appointees remaining in new administrations in the past. It hasn't been a campaign issue in the past.
It was just assumed that political appointees would be gone at the end of each administration,, especially when the party in control of the governor's office changed. Logically, those who kept their jobs didn't go out and shout about it.
Blogger Joe Monahan is guessing that only 100 of the 375 remaining Richardson appointees will be dumped. He reasons that Gov. Martinez will need the rest as her eyes and ears in the bureaucracy.
Maybe so. Most of them will need the job badly enough that they will be loyal to any boss. But not every one of them will be. The woman who talked Monica Lewinsky into going public about her affair with the president was a political appointee from the George H.W. Bush administration who was retained.
Maybe the answer is that there are not 375 Republicans in Santa Fe who need a job badly enough to go to work for the government. And not enough Republicans are willing to make the commute to Santa Fe.
I'm probably wrong on those guesses, but I'll bet your farm there are less than 100 Richardson appointees who stay. And the rest of the story is that we'll never know because such information never has been released in the past
* * *
The state tourism industry is getting serious about how it is being treated by the state Legislature. It received the biggest percentage budget cuts .of any department from the last Legislature with more cuts expected this year. In addition, the Legislature is considering moving it under the Economic Development Department .
This column often has talked about how we treat our golden eggs, most notably the federal government, oil and gas and tourism. Those are the big three and we take them for granted.
Most New Mexicans love to complain about the federal government. If regional offices and military bases pulled out of the state, we can fold up our tent. They are our biggest employer and have the biggest payroll.
Oil and gas brings in the most for our economy from the private sector and tourism is next and is the biggest private employer. But we tell the military we don't want their planes. We over-regulate oil and gas and we ignore tourism.
In 1994, Santa Fe Mayor Sam Pick was such a supporter of tourism that our city finished first in the Conde Nast international tourism poll. And we weren't even on the ballot.
A year later new Mayor Debbie Jaramillo let tourists know she didn't think much of them. We fell drastically in the Conde Nast poll even though we have been on the ballot since. We've never captured the first spot again.
This year, eight different tourist organizations have formed a coalition and put up a Web site and a social media effort to emphasize the impact of tourism on our state.
The tourism industry brings in more than $6 billion annually into our economy and generates more than $760 million in taxes.
WED, 12-22-10

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



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