Guilty until show innocence

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By Ralph Damiani

It was with very mixed emotions that we watched the Bill Richardson saga unfold last weekend.

There were some real positives to his leaving now and his decision to quit the process to join the Obama administration means he will stay here a bit longer.

But what bothers us the most is his statement that while he is innocent, he is quitting anyway.

That is not the way it should be.

If you are innocent of something, that false accusation should not cause you to surrender. We remember the day when you were innocent until someone proved you were guilty.

Today, all one needs to do is accuse and you are toast.

When you do that, when the simple accusation makes you run and hide, then you give the impression that you are guilty.

If an innocent man is walking down the street and the police stops him, that person does not run. The guilty man does.

That is our problem with what the governor did. His actions scream guilty.

Citing the ongoing federal investigation into how some of his political donors won a lucrative state contract, Richardson withdrew as President-elect Obama’s nominee for secretary of commerce.

So that’s where we are, accusation equals guilt today. But if you are innocent, why run? His explanation of not wanting to hurt the new administration simply does not hold water.

So, Richardson will remain governor for now.

And that means he will have to now stay and deal with the slumping economy and lower-than-expected energy prices, which have caused a $454 million shortfall in the current year’s budget.

Closing that gap will be the first order of business for lawmakers when they have to write a budget for next year.

It is only fair that Richardson be the one to deal with all this as it is largely due to his programs and spending that has put us in this mess in the first place.

So his decision to withdraw means he probably will be here for the duration of what will be a difficult legislative session, as lawmakers grapple with major budget problems.

As for predictions that Richardson will be in the Obama administration, we’ll have to hedge our bets on that one.