Transition of power musing

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Competence sought in cabinet members

As the gubernatorial transition from Bill Richardson to Susana Martinez moves forward, a few observations appear appropriate.
One suggestion has come to the IdeasForNewMexico@swcp.com e-mail address unveiled in my last column. It’s a good one and is exactly the sort of problem, well known to people on the ground, that doesn’t trickle to the netherworld of the transition.
Isabelle Montoya and a colleague wanted to open an outpatient speech therapy clinic in Farmington. To accept Medicare and Medicaid patients, they had to be licensed as what is called a “limited medical clinic.” Getting the license required extensive remodeling of their 1,300-square-foot building, including $10,000 of plumbing work. State officials told Montoya that potential providers walk away “many, many times” because of the regulations.
The situation of Montoya and her colleague is a perfect example of mindless regulation reducing productivity and stifling creativity. For the full tale see www.capitolreportnm.blogspot.com.
Gov. Elect Martinez has selected committees to find department secretaries, commonly three per committee.
The transition personnel I know tend to be hugely talented, starting with former U.S. Rep. Heather Wilson as the overall transition chief. Former state Rep. Brian Moore of Clayton, the transition policy director, spent years on the Legislative Finance Committee and brings detailed knowledge of the budget. The LFC prepares a full budget, as does the executive branch. While one might reasonably question the duplication, the LFC has been the one the past few years fighting the Richardson administration’s spendthrift nature.
I hope the transition committees seek competence. Don’t just cover the political base. Get someone who knows something about the subject and offers some management skill. Do not give us ex-publishing executives (Richardson’s economic development secretary), former TV newsmen (Richardson’s labor secretary), or radio station executives (Carruthers’s economic development secretary).
Republicans scored an eight-seat gain in the New Mexico House – amazing considering only 33 seats had contested races. The leap brings Republicans to levels not seen in decades. In the House the Republicans are no longer spectators, observes minority leader Rep. Tom Taylor (R-Farmington).
Consolidating the gains becomes the next challenge. Albuquerque-based blogger Joe Monahan, who spoke Nov. 8 to Albuquerque Press Women, believes Republicans will lose seats in 2012. Challenged, Monahan backed away from the forecast.
Certainly, if the Republicans follow their do-nothing precedent, established in the 1980s and continued into the 2000s, the gains will be frittered away. The do-nothing approach followed big gains in 1978 and 1980.
The Rs need an incumbency program immediately with full time staff to support the new and existing legislators.
The purpose of an incumbency program is to help elected officials communicate with the district and provide constituent service so effectively as to scare away future opposition.
Starting by the spring of 2011, the Rs also need a staffed candidate recruitment and training program. Another ingredient for Republicans is party-building work from Susana Martinez. Gary Johnson ignored such tasks. It showed.
For the future, Diane Denish, the Democratic candidate for governor, is sticking around the public policy conversation. In a Nov. 11 e-mail to supporters, she said, “I want you to stay in touch with me on my Facebook page (www.facebook.com/dianedenish). Please send me your messages and comments and I’ll keep you informed about issues facing New Mexico families and let you know what I’ve been up to.”
Finally, here is a second request to share what state government has been up to recently to waste your time, your money and drive you crazy. Let me know via an e-mail to IdeasForNewMexico@swcp.com. I’ll publicize the results. With the administration’s recent budget revelations, Gov.-elect Martinez and transition policy chief Brian Moore need all the help they can get.

Harold Morgan/ New Mexico Progress