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The Backhanded Compliments Just Keep Coming

So, Barb from Democracy for New Mexico left a comment to yesterday’s post about Governor Richardson failing to do the right thing with regard to vacating his position, so that Lt. Governor Denish can do the job she is inevitably going to inherit:

Plus no-one in their right mind would leave their elected post before being confirmed by the Senate for a Cabinet post.

Yeah. People who care about the company/organization/state they are leading step aside all the time to make way for new leadership before their next job is in the bag. People who believe in the leadership skills of their successor are more than willing to turn over the reins. But, therein lies the problem.

Although I am more than willing to give our soon to be Governor the benefit of the doubt that she has what it takes make the tough decisions to turn around the financial pickle in which we now find ourselves, it doesn’t seem our outgoing Governor feels the same (subscription):

Both Richardson and Denish assured reporters the transition will be smooth, but said Richardson won’t cede authority until he leaves.

“On some of the major budget items, obviously I’ll make the decisions but she’s going to have a role in them,” said Richardson, who was nominated by Obama on Wednesday.

Are we witnessing an incredible display of machismo here or what? Where’s the outrage Barb? This is worth repeating:

Obviously I’ll make the decisions but she’s going to have a role in them.

Governor Richardson is talking about our soon to be top executive the way that some people talk about incapacitated family members before putting them into a retirement home.

Denish, who was joined Thursday by her husband, Herb Denish, said she intends to make decisions on whether to retain members of Richardson’s Cabinet on a case-by-case basis.

More urgent, she said, is addressing a budget shortfall that’s ballooned to more than $500 million in the past three months.

“The people of New Mexico expect us to get down to business,” Denish said.

Obviously, Lt Governor Denish understands the problem at hand – a half a billion dollar deficit. And, she’s dead right, the people of New Mexico expect her and the legislature to get down to business. I mean who are we kidding here? The Governor hasn’t been around to focus on the state for the last two years. Now, we’re supposed to believe that while he’s away “at least half the time” – his words – in Washington going through the confirmation process he’s going to be able to “get down to business.”

Although Richardson intends to call the shots while awaiting confirmation by the U.S. Senate, he said he’ll mix some of Denish’s proposals — such as implementing safeguards on payday lending — into the legislative agenda he’ll present to state lawmakers on Jan. 20.

“We’re going to have to incorporate some of her ideas on the issues she cares about in the budget,” Richardson said.

He also voiced confidence in Denish’s ability to lead the state.

WOW. Talk about your backhanded compliments. For goodness sake, “We’re going to have to incorporate some of her ideas on the issues she cares about in the budget.” Gotta love it. He has to incorporate some of her ideas. Could he be any less enthusiastic?

Let’s get real here. Denish, not Richardson, is going to have to govern when this budget comes into being in June 2009. If he had “confidence in Denish’s ability to lead the state,” she’d be taking his ideas under advisement while making budget decisions – not the other way around.

This is a all a recipe for disaster and brings us full circle back to the heart of Barb’s original comment. Whether it’s okay to just let people stay in their current job while waiting for their next gig’s contract to be signed.

Well, Barb let me tell you how this works in the real world. When you find out your current key employee is moving on, you wish them well and send them on their way. You don’t wait until their new employer has finished crossing all the t’s and dotting all the i’s because it in THE EMPLOYEE’S best interest.

Make no mistake, Governor Bill Richardson works for us, the people of New Mexico, not the other way around. We hired him. We pay him. And as his employer, it’s time for the people of New Mexico to wish Governor Richardson well, and show him the door. If we don’t, we only have ourselves to blame when our problems are compounded because we find ourselves dealing with a key employee transition right in the middle of the most important legislative session in recent history.