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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

"Politics at it's Worst" Guest Blog by Charlotte Rode State Fair Commissioner

Governor Martinez often uses the phrase “this is politics at its worst” when faced with opposition. As a conservative Republican, I happen to agree with her. Let me give you a few examples of how ‘politics’ is interfering with ‘good government’ in New Mexico.

During the 2010 election cycle most of us were ready for a new era in Santa Fe. Bill Richardson’s demeaning vocabulary and strong-arm tactics were wearing thin. Big campaign donors whose money bought them relevance, appointments and power were costing us millions. His appointees were forced to sign resignation letters in advance to ensure they performed as rubber stamps, advancing his agenda and rewarding friends. Despite campaigning on a promise of transparency and against corruption, the Martinez administration has us feeling like little changed in the two years since her election.

The vulgar, demeaning language used by Keith Gardner in a recording to describe his and the Governor’s feelings about Senator Jennings goes beyond any form of decency. The only reason I can imagine a close friend secretly recording your conversation would be a lack of trust. Keith is the Governor’s Chief of Staff. His job, and hers, is to hold the public trust. As quoted in an article, the Senator believes this attack was a result of his opposition to the Down’s Racino contract. In the same obscenity-laced conversation, Keith offers the Expo management position to his friend, even though hiring management at Expo is, by statute, the responsibility of the State Fair Commission. The Governor’s office has doled out all five senior management positions at Expo at an annual expense of nearly $400k and saw to it that Larry Kennedy became the Commission Chair. Mr. Kennedy is the only commissioner denied confirmation by the NM State Senate.

Martinez’s handler, Jay McCleskey stated in the Albuquerque Journal that “moving the governor’s agenda forward trumps everything” – the ends justifies the means. Does it trump ethics? In identical language, I was told the role of the State Fair Commission was to move the Governor’s agenda forward and if I disagree then I should do the right and respectable thing and resign. Where does that leave our State? If an appointed official witnesses corruption, they should resign instead of speaking out? Tom Tinnin, a well-respected Republican, served for 16 years on the State Board of Finance under four governors. He resigned over concerns with the Downs contract and said before Martinez, he “never had a governor ask him to compromise his integrity, on any level”.

They kept the RFP secret and now they’re doing the same with the enforcement of the new 25-year lease, shielding big money donors from public accountability. A year after the Downs won the award, they have yet to make significant progress towards completion. The new contract is not being upheld. They have not obtained a performance bond, shown evidence of financing or paid their utilities. The State Fair Commission is nowhere to be found. Chairman Kennedy is playing ‘hide the ball’ and hasn’t convened a meeting since June, unilaterally running the commission and completely disregarding state law. They are still operating in secret. In the past year I have been denied nearly every document I’ve requested, even after submitting a formal public records request.

Our state and our country are in desperate need of great leaders, not great politicians. Great leaders are not necessarily liked, they’re respected and effective. We have tremendous human resources in NM, let’s try engaging the talent and expertise of all who represent our diverse electorate, allowing each community to decide for themselves who best represents their needs. This all-or-nothing, seek-and-destroy mentality will not reform our state. Principled leaders will.

Charlotte Rode, State Fair Commissioner

October 31, 2012 at 04:02 PM in 2012 General Election, 2012 Legislature Races, Government, Guest Blogger, Susana Martinez, Transparency | Permalink

Comments

Always appreciate people who stand up to power, Charlotte. It takes some guts, and I thank you.

There were plenty of Democrats who did not appreciate Richardson's "style," and everyone knows what happens when people stand up.

Please keep after the truth. It matters.

Posted by: bg | Nov 1, 2012 5:55:37 PM