Thursday, December 30, 2010
Chilly Reception For Susana: Bone Chilling Inaugural Day Weather, Plus: Reflections On Governor Bill Richardson; Larger Than Life Leader Ends Run
The Richardson years crawl to a close in these final days of 2010 and a very chilly reception--at least weather wise--awaits New Mexico's next Governor.
Susana Martinez has opted to have her public oath-taking held outdoors on the Santa Fe Plaza at 10 a.m. Saturday morning. The temperature at that hour is forecast to be a bone chilling 15 degrees. The wind is predicted at only 5 mph, but with those kind of temps even a very light breeze is going to mean added discomfort. The extreme weather conditions will also keep the very young and very old from attending the event. (Other Guvs have taken to the great outdoors for their swearing in only to regret it later).
If any politician had a reason to keep her inaugural speech short, Susana Martinez has it. And it will be so cold even if she shows up in a politically incorrect fur coat, it won't be held against her.
Martinez will actually be officially sworn in as our next Governor at midnight Jan 1. That ceremony will take place indoors in much cozier surroundings.
Meantime, the state Democratic Party is doing all it can to keep the political weather cool for Susana, even before she assumes power. Party Chairman Javier Gonzales gave Susana a party-pooper of an inaugural gift via this op-ed piece:
Martinez came in promising bold change, and before she's even taken the oath of office, she's backed out on promises, given plum assignments to heavy-hitting donors and flubbed her first real chance to increase transparency and accountability. Bold change indeed.
New GOP chairman Monty Newman fired back in this op-ed.
Not that Javier doesn't have some points. But we're still old school and believe the pre-inaugural party critique needs to be tempered. How about also wishing her well and offering to work with her on matters of mutual agreement?
There will be plenty of time to go to the mattresses. But for this weekend the state can unite--for however briefly--in wishing the new Governor good luck and Godspeed.
BILL'S LATE ZINGER
Big Bill has been a class act when it comes to holding off criticizing his successor, but he could not resist a little zinger as his last hours ticked away:
She needs to stop using campaign rhetoric and realize that she's now governor and has to govern," he said. "You know, the state jet business and the exempts and the budget stuff. This is time to govern, to learn about the budget and to pick good people.
The inauguration festivities get underway this evening in Susana's hometown of Las Cruces where she will host a send off gala at the Las Cruces Convention Center.
About 1,200 people are expected to greet Martinez, who'll be dressed in a black formal evening gown, at Thursday's event. They'll dance to DJ music and chow down on treats that will include beef tenderloin, roast pork, green chile mashed potatoes and carrots with champagne sauce, event planners report.
No fish on that menu? Well, we've been told we are in for a "red meat" administration.
HITTING THE EXITS
This Wednesday e-mail from Gilbert Gallegos, deputy chief of staff for communications for Big Bill, tells all you need to know about what is happening in Santa Fe:
It was a pleasure working with everyone during the past eight years. As of this evening, all e-mail accounts and cell phones in the Governor’s Office will be shut down. In the future, I can be reached at my personal e-mail address...
And this is one of the last days you will see this web site--Big Bill's. The singing of Auld Lang Syne is permitted while perusing the content--soon to be dispatched to the state archives.
And here's what Gilbert's boss was telling the Los Angeles Times this week as he prepared to give up power:
Richardson, however, said he expected his legacy to survive because Democrats still controlled the Legislature. He ticked off a list of achievements, including sometimes quixotic efforts to revive the perennially impoverished state — a muscular film program, a light-rail line linking Albuquerque and Santa Fe, a state-funded spaceport to launch tourists into orbit.
"Was I hyperactive?" Richardson said. "Yes. Did I try to do too much? No. There was a lot to do."
THE LAST LETTER
The Governor sent out his final communication to state employees via this letter. He said the administration "transformed New Mexico."
THE FINAL DAYS
You can thrown a rock at your computer screen or shake your head in bemusement, but we want to thank Governor Bill Richardson (2003-'10) for his service to New Mexico.
We didn't coin the nickname "Big Bill" back in 2003 for nothing. He earned it. His first term may well be remembered as the best in the state's 100 year history.
You can't take that away from him.
If Richardson had left after those four years he would arguably have become the first Governor to wear the moniker of "great." Alas, there was the second term with its foolishness and miscalculations of Shakespearean proportion.
Did Bill Richardson really believe in anything other than his own personal advancement? Were all decisions filtered through a narrow lens of selfishness? Or was there a set of core beliefs that guided him? After 30 years of observing him and nearly eight years of blogging--the answer for us remains an enigma. We do find that he likes people and he likes to help them, no matter the motivation.
Ultimately it is what a political leader does--not why he does it--that matters. On the large questions of our time--of any time--Richardson stands tall. His unfailing support of human and civil rights for all New Mexicans (and the world) tops the list. His ability and desire to work with people of all ethnic and cultural backgrounds stands out. It serves as an example for all future governors.
Richardson's legislative accomplishments in his first term cemented him as a larger than life figure. His failures in the second, brought about in large measure because of his larger than life appetites, reinforced that image negatively. The economic collapse, coming as it did in tandem with the pay to play investigations, also magnified his flaws. It saw him redefined as a corpulent and unsympathetic character.
The duality of Richardson is what makes certitude so elusive in rendering a final opinion on his years. There is much for the historians and future bloggers to ponder. He was important.
While it is indeed time for Bill Richardson to go, we doubt that there will soon be a time when he is forgotten.
Hasta luego, Bill.
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Reporting to you from Albuquerque, I'm Joe Monahan.
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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2010
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