Beware, Gary Your Stash of Goodwill Might Be Toast

  Beware, Gary Your Stash of Goodwill Might Be Toast

Posted by FoM on January 13, 2001 at 17:11:56 PT
By Kate Nelson  
Source: Albuquerque Tribune 

Is Governor No ready to become Governor You Betcha?   Maybe -- if Gary Johnson truly wants to claim a legislative victory that rises to the stature of a legacy.   He won't get it with private-school vouchers; that proposal is shark bait as long as Democrats control both chambers of the Legislature. And he'll only get a shred of it with tax cuts. Democrats agree the state can afford to lighten up on taxpayers, but they disagree with Johnson on whether the break should go to lower, middle or upper earners. 
  Neither one of those is an issue that the Republican naysayer is likely to bleed and die for anyway. What Johnson really wants is a victory that draws the national spotlight. And his best bet for getting it is by reforming our approach to illegal drug use.   From shadow conventions to Sunday TV talk shows, from nudie magazines to a keynote speech at NORML's upcoming national convention, Johnson has become a media darling for his drug-legalization stance.   Roundhouse insiders say that's the issue he's staking the session on. But as it stands, the odds are stacked against him.   "The likelihood of his drug-reform plan surviving the session intact is not high," House Majority Leader Danice Picraux of Albuquerque said.   There are enough reasons for that to fill up a mongo bong. For starters, Johnson spent six years antagonizing legislators of both parties with his veto-happy, agenda-light governance (including, curiously enough, an aversion to any drug-rehabilitation bill that landed on his desk). Then he spouted off ill-conceived legalization ideas that galvanized an immediate opposition. Candidates in last fall's elections loudly decried what they considered the idiocy of ending the drug war. Even the supposedly permissive Democratic Party ran campaigns against Republicans it perceived as being soft on drugs.   All of which is too bad, now that a task force created by Johnson has produced a reasonable set of reforms that don't legalize drugs but do inject common sense into how we handle offenders. Some of them admirably track the Democrats' desire to focus on rehabilitation rather than incarceration. So why the pessimistic prognosis?   Because Johnson's coming a little late to the treatment table, and although his intentions are good, his hands are empty.   "The first sentence out of his mouth ought to be, 'I have a plan for extensive drug rehabilitation and we are committing this many dollars over this amount of time and we're selecting these people to go first,'" Picraux said. "Then you'd have a drug rehab program. . . .   "He's been vetoing money for rehab programs and he doesn't have enough money now in various health programs. That's a disconnect to say he'd really support it."   Even if he did produce rehab details, Picraux said, the plan is a tough sell.   "There's a sense -- and it's strong in northern New Mexico -- that heroin and, now, crack cocaine are destroying the fabric of life."   Still, she said, "I'd love to talk to the governor about it."   Sen. Cisco McSorley, an Albuquerque Democrat who served on the task force, said he feels good about the plan's chances because the governor has stated a willingness to do just that -- talk with legislators for the first time in his two-year term. That he also endorsed a task force report underscores his newfound political savvy. After all, Johnson once called task forces "the black hole" of public policy.   But when it comes time to round up a consensus to clinch the deal, Johnson may rue his efforts to aid the re-election defeat of House Speaker Raymond Sanchez last year.   "Republicans have cut off the major statesman in New Mexico and gubernatorial politics," McSorley said. "Getting anything passed that will require huge amounts of compromise and consensus building has been cut off at the knees. This is a time when the governor is going to miss Raymond."   Which means, in the end, that Johnson may have won an electoral battle, but it could cost him the legacy of his dreams.      Nelson, a member of The Tribune's editorial board, has written about New Mexico politics since 1989. Her column runs on Saturdays. Call her at 823-3691 or send e-mail to: knelson abqtrib.comSource: Albuquerque Tribune (NM)Author: Kate NelsonPublished: January 13, 2001Copyright: 2001 The Albuquerque TribuneAddress: P.O. Drawer T, 7777 Jefferson NE, Albuquerque, NM 87109Contact: letters abqtrib.comWebsite: Articles & Web Sites:NORML Gary Johnson's Home Page To Pursue Changes in Drug Policy Bill Would Legalize Small Amounts of Pot Articles - Governor Gary Johnson 

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Comment #1 posted by JR Bob Dobbs on January 14, 2001 at 05:43:56 PT
Alcohol destroys lives too
>>"There's a sense -- and it's strong in northern New Mexico -- that heroin and, now, crack cocaine are destroying the fabric of life."  Is it really the chemicals which are destroying the fabric of life, or is it the prohibition? There's a lot of alcoholics destroying their lives right now - but they don't have to spend all day looking for a fix. The liquour dealer doesn't charge a 300% markup, so the alcohol addict is less likely to steal to support the habit. 
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