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This will be the final column of Inside the Capitol. I hope you have enjoyed the ride as much as I have.
Jeanette and I are moving to Scottsdale, Ariz., to be closer to our son, daughter and grandchildren. Although it is time for the move, we do it with heavy hearts.
We both were born in New Mexico. The longest I have been out of the state during my 75 years was for six weeks of Air National Guard basic training in San Antonio, Texas.
At least I won’t be deprived of exciting politics. Arizona has impeached one governor and sent another to prison. Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio keeps the county correction system in constant turmoil with his summer outdoors lockups and pink underwear for everyone.
Recently, the president of the Senate stopped his car on a busy Phoenix freeway and threw all his girlfriend’s clothes out of the car. He then left her stranded at the side of the road. Republican senators soon voted him out of office. Later he resigned while being investigated by the Senate Ethics Committee. Of course, New Mexico has provided plenty of excitement during my 26 years of covering it. Gary Johnson was the most off-beat governor any state could ever have. New Mexico got to learn what a true Libertarian really was.
Johnson didn’t want regulations placed on business and he didn’t want them placed on individuals either. Lawmakers and the public were confounded when he advocated decriminalization of pot. Now he is an advocate of gay marriage.
Johnson drew a big cheer from the motorcycle crowd when he vetoed a mandatory motorcycle helmet law. But he then announced that if anyone not wearing a helmet was injured as a result, the state would not pay for any treatment. He believed in personal freedom, but also in personal responsibility, too.
Gov. Bill Richardson was an exciting guy to cover, also. With him, it was usually the size of the deal he was putting together that provided the excitement — a $200 million spaceport, a $900 million commuter train and rubbing elbows with Hollywood elite at the governor’s mansion to encourage more films being shot in New Mexico.
Then there were the Mama Lucies vs. the Cowboys in the state House and the Manny Aragon vs. Les Houston battles for control of the Senate. And Pete Domenici reigned supreme on financial matters in the U.S. Senate.
Besides his mega-projects, Gov. Richardson had a very pet project in promoting Billy the Kid. It began early in Richardson’s first year in office and ended eight years later at the stroke of midnight as he was leaving office.
The source of Richardson’s interest was never revealed, although there were several tantalizing guesses.
The “Inside the Capitol” column has been in New Mexico newspapers since the 1940s. It was begun by Santa Fe New Mexican editor Will Harrison. He continued the column after he left the New Mexican, changing its name from “At the Capitol” to “Inside the Capitol.”
Upon Harrison’s death, the column passed down through Charlie Cullen, Fred Buckles, Bob Huber, Carroll Cagle and Fred McCaffrey, who sold the rights to me in 1987,
Several years ago, I received a note from John Ackerman, of Artesia, who once headed the Public Service Company of New Mexico and then served as the professor of ethics at the University of New Mexico’s Anderson School of Management.
John said he had done a tally of how long each columnist had written this column. As of that particular day, I passed Will Harrison as the longest winded.
According to my figures, I have written somewhere in the neighborhood of 7,200 columns. In the early years, I wrote six a week. Various vision maladies have forced me back to three a week.
Although I have a thick file of notes from those who have disagreed with my columns from time to time, I hope the overall effect has been a balanced analysis from a lightly different view.
The urge to put in my two cents may never cease entirely, so I will sporadically continue my blog at insidethecapitol.blogspot.com and maybe on You Tube and such. You also may reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org and at 3 La Tusa, Santa Fe, NM 87505.
Here it finally is. Only about a week late. Didn’t realize how hard it would be.