Walking wouldn’t hurt governor’s rep

By Ned Cantwell: State Columnist

There we were, just the two of us, relaxing comfortably on the patio, the mountain range serving as a majestic backdrop, the wood-burning patio stove cutting the chill of a late Santa Fe fall evening.

“Here, have another Biscochito,” Gov. Richardson said, offering a plateful of the dainty state cookie.

“Oh, I couldn’t,” I said. “But I wouldn’t mind having one of those super-sized Snickers bars.”

“No can do, ” he said, “only got four left and they need to last me until morning.”

The governor got down to business.

“Look, I asked you to come here tonight because you have a great feel for public opinion and this Rio Grande Sun expose is giving me fits.”

The governor was referring to an investigative report in the Espanola newspaper that focused on Big Bill’s frequent flier plan. The story researched flight records that reveal the governor used state airplanes 113 times in three years, and that the minimum cost to taxpayers is $810 per flight hour.

“I know, Mr. Governor, I saw the story. That part about revving up the state jet for a 10-minute flight to Los Alamos and then having your Lincoln Navigator waiting over there to ferry you around? That hurt.”

“Bob Trapp has been a pain in the butt ever since he founded that paper back in the ’50s,” Richardson said. “Why can’t he just hire some folks who want to go cover the school board meeting and then go home? Why are they always poking and probing and looking under rugs?”

“I know, I know. And his kid who is running the paper now? Just like the old man, governor. He’s got this news boss, John Foster, who hires these bright, aggressive youngsters who want to commit serious journalism. I ran into a bunch of them recently at the Tamaya Resort. It was scary.”

I explained that rather than hike from the parking lot to the lobby, I flagged a passing maintenance cart. “That reporter, Laura Onstot, who did the number on your miles-plus program? I think she snapped a picture of me with her cell phone. This Michael Gisick kid wrote down my license number. Looks like they are investigating my travel habits. I fully intend to leave my truck parked and ride my bicycle to the post office from now on.”

“Yeah,” Richardson mused, “but you don’t have Gary Johnson breathing down your neck.”

“Good point,” I agreed. “Johnson didn’t do you any favors by calling your use of the state plane ‘egregious.’ I’m not certain exactly what that means, but I am pretty sure it ain’t good.”

“Johnson’s a wingnut,” Richardson exploded. “He would probably cross-country ski to Los Alamos and then run around the streets half-naked. Don’t talk to me any more about Gary Johnson.”

“Nonetheless, you’ve got yourself an image problem,” I told Big Bill. “Seems to me you need to take up walking. Walk to the Circle K. Walk to Wal-Mart. Walk to the office. Make sure there are plenty of photogs around. You’re good at that game.”

“That does it,” Richardson barked. “Give me back that Biscochito. You’re done here. How can I possibly find time for WALKING if I am RUNNING for president? Whoops! Don’t you dare print that!”

Just then the telephone ring startled me from deep slumber. It was Billy Sparks, the governor’s press guy. “If you’re even thinking there might be a column in the Rio Grande Sun report, you’d better think again!”

Someone must have been dreaming.

Ned Cantwell can be contacted at: ncantwell@charter.net