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Cross Your Fingers That Today’s the Day

It is being widely reported that today is the day that President-elect Obama will announce Governor Richardson’s selection as Secretary of Commerce [Hat tip: Heath Haussamen], and it’s not a moment too soon.

It seems that there is growing movement, already 4,000 strong, by Chinese-Americans in the Silicon Valley to stop Richardson’s appointment to Commerce Secretary:

In a move bound to create political tension between Latinos and Asian-Americans, a group of Chinese-American activists in Silicon Valley has launched a nationwide grass-roots movement to fight President-elect Barack Obama’s nomination today of Bill Richardson as commerce secretary.

The group is upset at the New Mexico governor for his handling of the nearly decade-old case of Taiwanese-American Wen Ho Lee, a former nuclear scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory. U.S. officials once suspected Lee of giving nuclear secrets to China when Richardson was President Clinton’s energy secretary.

The Chinese-Americans say they realize that challenging the nomination of Richardson, 61, the nation’s most high-profile Hispanic politician, will ruffle the Latino community, many of whose leaders felt he should have been named secretary of state instead of Sen. Hillary Clinton.

But the Chinese-American group insists that Richardson’s refusal to acknowledge making serious errors in the case makes it a moral imperative to oppose his nomination to Obama’s Cabinet. They say their criticism of Richardson has nothing to do with him being Latino but everything to do with his lack of judgment in the case.

Which raises the question, if the announcement does indeed occur today, will Governor Richardson immediately do the right thing and tender his resignation? Or, will he hold onto power in order to insert himself in political machinations of the Democratic wing of the legislature until such time as he is confirmed by the U.S. Senate?

Tales of Richardson calling senators up to his office to lobby them on the leadership battle have circulated for weeks around the Capitol and were heard by more than a few lawmakers, including Sen. Mary Kay Papen, D-Las Cruces, a Jennings supporter. Papen said Monday she heard the same thing, although she didn’t know the names of those summoned to the governor’s fourth-floor Roundhouse office.

I, for one, am really hoping the Governor Richardson does the right thing for once, and puts New Mexico first. No, it’s not because I’m concerned about the political infighting of Senate Democrats. Something much larger is at stake here:

Gov. Bill Richardson is backing a proposed overhaul of the state’s school finance formula, which will cost an additional $350 million to implement.

Richardson said Tuesday he supports the increased funding for schools but wants voters to decide how to raise the extra money, possibly through a referendum or constitutional amendment.

Uh oh, there it is, and it’s hard to miss. Okay, I added the bold emphasis. If I hadn’t, some of you might have missed it. Raid me once, shame on you. Raid me twice, shame on me. This is the first official acknolwedgement that a second raid on our Permanent Fund is on the table.

Folks, it’s only been five years since the first raid. Heck, the original changes have yet to run its course, and they’re already putting another raid on the table:

Amendment 2 would increase the annual distribution rate from the Land Grant Permanent Fund in fiscal 2004 from 4.7% to 5% of the fund’s average market value over the previous five years. The rate would increase to 5.8% starting in the 2005 fiscal year and continuing for the next eight years. The rate would then drop to 5.5% for the next four years, after which it would decrease to 5%.

The distribution rate could not exceed 5% if the five-year average market value of the fund dropped below $5.8 billion.

Legislators could set the rate at 5% at any time with a three-fifths majority of each legislative chamber.

The Land Grant Permanent Fund was established to fund education with income earned on assets, including revenue from oil and gas royalties earned on land granted to the state by the federal government when New Mexico attained statehood.

Here’s hoping the today is the Governor’s big day, and not a moment too soon.