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Richardson and the commerce department

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By Ralph Damiani

Well, Gov. Richardson is going to become an “economic diplomat” in President-elect Barack Obama’s administration – whatever that means.

He plans to step down as governor after being confirmed by the U.S. Senate. That could be late January to early February. Or in the middle of the 2009 Legislature’s session.

Oh well, more work for Diane Denish, who will become New Mexico’s first female governor.

Obama said of Richardson, “With his breath and depth of experience in public life, Gov. Richardson is uniquely suited for this role as a leading economic diplomat for America.”

Hmmm, but not as good as other folks – folks who on paper are far less qualified – got the jobs he wanted.

Richardson wanted to be president. But that slipped away.

Richardson wanted to be vice president. But that went away.

Richardson wanted to be secretary of state. But that was given away.

A job he should have gotten.

So Richardson took what was given him – commerce secretary.

You may be like me, wondering just what is the commerce secretary and what does he do?

Well, the job is defined as:

The United States Secretary of Commerce is the head of the United States Department of Commerce and is concerned with business and industry. The department states its mission to be “to foster, promote, and develop the foreign and domestic commerce.”

Until 1913 there was one Secretary of Commerce and Labor, uniting this department with the Department of Labor, which is now headed by a separate Secretary of Labor.

The Office of the Secretary contains a Deputy Secretary of Commerce, a Chief of Staff, a Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy, an Assistant Secretary for Commerce and Intergovernmental Affairs, a Chief Financial Officer and Assistant Secretary for Administration, a Chief Information Officer, a General Counsel, an Inspector General, an Office of Business Liaison, an Office of Policy and Strategic Planning, an Office of Public Affairs, an Office of White House Liaison, and an International IPR Enforcement Coordinator.

The Commerce Department is responsible for a wide range of business, trade and economic interests. The agency’s operations include the Census Bureau and the National Weather Service.

Does that clear it up for anyone?

And here’s a quiz: anyone know who the current secretary is?

Anyway, this must be a bitter pill for Richardson.

Instead of dealing with tough international issues as secretary of state or such, he’ll be managing the weather service.

Ouch.

But there he was with Obama at the news conference where his appointment was announced.

It was nice of Richardson to say, “New Mexico, I will never forget you and I will forever be grateful.”

That was quite a statement. I guess we can gather that he is going away forever, there is nothing left to get from here.

Well, Obama’s inauguration occurs on the same day the Legislature convenes for a 60-day session and Richardson said he will deliver his State of the State speech on the opening day of the Legislature.

Denish, a Democrat, will take over for the remainder of Richardson’s term, which runs through 2010.

When Denish does becomes governor, she will appoint someone to fill the lieutenant governor’s vacancy.

And, Richardson will be the first New Mexico governor to resign midterm since Republican Edwin Mechem stepped down on Nov. 30, 1962. Mechem’s lieutenant governor succeeded him and appointed Mechem to a vacant seat in the U.S. Senate.

Oh, the Current Secretary of Commerce is Carlos Gutierrez.

Remember

Today, Sunday, Dec. 7, is many things. It is the 341st day of the year, for one.

But what it should be remembered for is what happened in 1941.

That was the day the United States was pulled into World War II as Imperial Japan attacked the U.S. Pacific Fleet and its defending Army air forces and Marine air forces at Pearl Harbor.

Thousands died that day and many more would die in the ensuing years before the war ended.

It is a day that should be remembered, as should the sacrifice and courage of the thousands who fought and died for our freedom.