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Jet served a purpose

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Although never a passenger, governor got great mileage

By Sherry Robinson

There is just something about a jet…
The governor won headlines for selling the “ultimate symbol of waste and excess,” an executive jet purchased by her predecessor, for less than half its purchase price.
It was an unwise acquisition in the first place, and its fire sale during a recession is questionable, but hey, we’re talking symbols here.
As a corporate public relations person in the 1970s, it was my responsibility to explain the Lear jet purchased and used by executives of PNM, the state’s biggest utility.
Management saw it as a tool. Long before cell phones and laptops, their frequent trips east to raise money meant they were difficult to reach, and the prevailing concern was to minimize their time away.
However, the public and media saw it as an unconscionable luxury at a time rates were rising.
Even though the cost was a flyspeck in the bottom line, it just looked bad.
This kind of tunnel vision seems to be a weakness in a lot of leaders.
Former Gov. Bill Richardson’s insistence on buying the jet in 2005 over public objections may be seen as an early sign of an otherwise savvy politician’s loss of touch with the people.


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