It should surprise few New Mexicans that Gov. Bill Richardson admits he goofed in handling tax legislation rejected by the state Legislature during the just-completed special session. He clearly did misjudge lawmakers’ level of cooperation.
Admitting his error is important for him if he expects to get anywhere with them when the regular session starts in January.
This is not the first time Richardson has been wrong on public policy matters. It is, in fact, at least the third high-profile mistake for our publicity-seeking, globetrotting governor whose zest for someday heading the top levels of government in Washington are obvious. He won’t get there if he can’t work well with the folks back home.
Error 2 was his recent domineering approach to two statewide education amendments. It nearly cost him a victory on one of those measures. Error 3 was the way he ignored state legislators a few months back and said he alone could divvy up to our towns millions in federal dollars that were returned to New Mexico.
There have been other public gaffes because of Richardson’s seemingly dismissive management style:
n The frequent high-speed drives and state helicopter flights to usher the governor in speedy style from appointment to appointment.
n Not doing something to shrink the $10,000-a-month water bills for the governor’s mansion while he’s preaching water conservation to our drought-stricken state.
n Hiring a $60,000-a-year personal chef, and the unnecessary growth in his staff, particularly his private bodyguards.
n The use of state credit cards for his personal choices for good cigars and coffee and the like. Why can’t he pay out of his own pocket first like most of us?
On these points the governor’s folks cry “foul” play while the rest of us cry “fowl” because the behavior smells unsavory for New Mexico’s top state official.
Richardson and his aides should realize immediately that his perceived mandate to do whatever he thought was best for New Mexicans was not that at all. The people chose him because they wanted a Bill Richardson who, more so than his Republican predecessor, Gary Johnson, would listen to others before he acted.
Instead, there is a growing sense that the Bill Richardson we got only claims to listen, then he often ignores what the rest of us think.