Former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson has just announced that he will be donating his papers to the University of Texas at Austin. While this might seem to be an incredible insult to New Mexico, it turns out that it was just an innocent mistake.
Bill evidently thought that Austin was part of New Mexico. Remember, this is the same governor who set a record for absenteeism from his official state duties—no mean feat when you consider that a few of our former governors returned back east to fight in the Civil War. Bill was absent from the state for a different kind of fight—he spent a lot of time running for President in 2008. You are excused if you don’t remember that he was a candidate. To quote Joe Pesci, a.k.a Vinny Gambini, “Youse were serious about dat?”
For the first six months of 2007, Richardson spent more time in Iowa, New Hampshire, or Wisconsin than he did in the state of New Mexico. Few in the Land of Enchantment missed him--probably because we saw him on television so often. Each of five years, he rode a float in the annual Rose Bowl Parade emblazoned with a huge sign: “BILL RICHARDSON!” On a Post-it note near the back bumper, the sign continued: “….says visit new mexico.” In total, the five floats cost the state over a million dollars.
This small confusion with geography was obvious while Bill was governor and would explain why, while governor, Bill had the state buy a jet for him to use while traveling around the state. Now, New Mexico is not that large geographically, but such a plane might be quite useful for traveling to places like Iowa, New Hampshire, or even New York.
Perhaps Bill used the plane to examine the large billboards the state had put up in places like Times Square, where Bill's smiling face (no less than three-stories tall) urged people to visit the state...Or maybe urged them to consider voting for him? The taxpayers of New Mexico were sure getting a bargain for their tax money. (And beautifying New York with New Mexico scenery!) Come to think of it, didn’t Governor Bill order every Department of Motor Vehicles office in the state to have his portrait on the wall? I wonder what happened to all those portraits.
At the University of Texas, the newly-gifted Richardson papers will be part of the Dolph Briscoe Library and Hair Salon, where they will be part of a prestigious collection. Bill Richardson was proud to announce that his papers will be housed right alongside the papers of Willie Nelson (pictured to the right).
Evidently, none of the universities in New Mexico expressed much interest in his papers after learning that he had already finished coloring them.
Still, no one can argue that BR didn't leave his own distinctive mark on New Mexico. Who can forget the money he spent putting talking urinal cakes in the restrooms of the state's bars? When...'activated' these devices not only urged the...'patrons' not to drive drunk but to remember 'their future was in their hands'.
That last line was Bill's way of saying that he was the only one allowed to screw New Mexico.
Equally unforgettable is Bill's silly and hideously expensive creation, , the Spaceport. Governor Richardson promised that this project would propel New Mexico into the future, would bring jobs and wealth, and would revitalize our sagging economy. He not only promised this, he campaigned on the issue. So the state raised taxes, created a special sales tax, and has--to date--spent over $200 million on a Buck-Rogers-in-the-desert scheme that has done absolutely nothing. Hell, we can't even use the silly project as a half-assed airport since it was built far from any community and is located so close to the White Sands Missile Range that it is in a restricted air space. Oops!
Despite the fact that the Spaceport is an obvious failure, the citizens of New Mexico are still paying taxes for it--and will for some time to come. All of this wouldn't rankle so much if it weren’t for the irritating fact that today, Bill Richardson is being paid by the state of California to help develop, and sell, yet another Spaceport--this one in the Mojave Desert. Perhaps Bill thinks that California is part of New Mexico, too!
No--the state of New Mexico will not soon forget Governor Bill! This state will remember how cash transfers from the Permanent Fund were used to pay for a ballooning budget. And how monies from the state retirement fund were invested with Bernie Madoff. And how the federal investigations of numerous 'Pay to Play' allegations were quickly dropped for political reasons shortly after President Obama took office.
The universities of New Mexico will do just fine without Bill's papers. It is actually a rather small price to pay to finally be done with Bill. For many here, there was always a niggling fear that Bill just might return to the state and run for the Senate or something. His last act of disloyalty should finally put that fear to rest.
Perhaps, however, we need to warn the rest of the country to watch Bill carefully! There are a few early warning signs that can tip you off when Bill is getting ready for a fresh campaign: First, he shaves off that mustache, and then he suddenly loses weight like a leper on a pogo stick. Between elections, Bill likes to eat and while he was governor--despite this being a state so poor that one in five of the citizens collects food stamps (New Mexico is second only to Mississippi in family assistance usage)--Bill had two chefs on the state payroll at the governor's mansion.
If a skinny and clean-shaven Bill Richardson suddenly shows up in your neighborhood--put your hand over your wallet and hang on! You're about to get a Spaceport.