Thursday, December 22, 2005
2005: It's A Wrap: Our Final Take And A Peek Ahead, Also: One More Big Bill Story, Plus: A Merry Christmas From Your Blog
2005 is a wrap. So when your grandkids check out their New Mexico history books years from now what will they learn about the year that was? Most likely the Robert Vigil-Michael Montoya treasurer scandal will be the one story with any staying power. The most unforgettable line of the year, and perhaps in state history, came from that scandal when ex-Treasurer Montoya was quoted about the corruption: "It's how we do business in New Mexico," he asserted. Will the scandal spur our present leaders and the next generation to make that line "inoperative?" We can only hope.
Another event that may earn a footnote in those history books is the spike in oil prices and the wealth it brought to one of the poorest states in the nation. And history will surely judge whether our Governor and Legislature exercised imagination and innovation in spending that money and whether they finally began to tackle the generations old problems that have kept us at or near the bottom of the national rankings in key quality of life measures.
One of the enduring ironies of New Mexico is that it has one of the biggest savings accounts, (the huge Permanent Funds) in the nation and lately some of the largest annual surpluses. Yet, we remain mired in social and economic purgatory. Somehow New Mexico must summon the will and get at the root causes that have held us back. Our Governor and Legislature may have to gamble on jobs and education programs and other concepts that might fail and cause them some political hurt in the short run. But don't the recent riches bestowed upon our state come with an obligation to do more that just construct buildings?
Political leaders are fond of adopting slogans for the new year. How about this: "The Year of Opportunity." Wouldn't it be something if the NM history books of 2050 said 2006 was the last year we ranked last?
Big Bill's spin doctors were not quite ready to hang out their Christmas stockings late Wednesday. They were pointing out how a a baseball scout from long ago has surfaced to buttress the Guv's contention that he had every reason to believe that he was to be drafted by major league baseball. The old timer said he was authorized to offer $25k to sign up the Guv but it never came to pass because Big Bill's father wanted him to finish school.
The Guv bought himself a credibility gap when it was reported that he had never been officially drafted by major league baseball as he had stated on his resume. He's hoping the scout's recollection will bench that story in the new year.
MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY NEW YEAR
New Mexico's politics can easily exasperate the most patient soul, but when it does there is consolation that more than compensates, and it's usually not any further than your doorstep. The ever-changing skies, the desert, the mountains, the forests. Great artists swoon in their presence and spend lifetimes attempting to capture their essence. Every day New Mexico is like your first Christmas: magical, mystical and larger than life. Enjoy.
Here's my annual Christmas card to you. I'll see you back here January 3, 2006. Until then, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to New Mexicans everywhere.
(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2005
Not for reproduction without permission of the author