I sometimes argue about democracy with a friend here at ISPAC. I say money has become such a corrupting influence on politics that voting actually doesn’t matter, because politicians don’t work for normal people any more.
I don’t really believe that, but the notion helps me enjoy a different level of reading and writing about politics. If you divorce yourself from the notion that the governor can accomplish anything productive, then she becomes like a character in a TV show.
Keith Gardner has become an awesome supporting player. The latest weird Gardner story sees him denying he grabbed a woman during the legislative session at the Roundhouse in February and told her “the bowels of hell were about to open up upon” her boss.
The woman is an analyst for Albuquerque Public Schools, and she wrote a letter to Gov. Susana Martinez “to inform you of a battery upon me by your Chief of Staff….”
The grab, writes Carrie Menapace, was “extremely threatening.”
You see what I mean? It takes a particular kind of weirdo to put his hand on a younger woman and talk about “the bowels of hell.” You’d have to think you were pretty tough – and kinda gangster – to do that.
Menapace said this confrontation was over her boss, APS Superintendent Winston Brooks, not supporting the governor’s education reform policy, which mandates holding back third graders who fail a literacy test.
Gardner denies this. If he didn’t do it, then it’s also crazy to consider someone would actually risk the wrath of the political elite in this state by lying about New Mexico’s second-in-command. Put simply, it would be nuts to make this up.
Today’s Albuquerque Journal story quotes Gardner thusly: “The only witness without any political agenda whatsoever is that video.”
Catch the hedge there? Turns out there is a witness who corroborates Menapace’s story. “He damn well did it,” said Tom Sullivan, a member of the New Mexico Superintendent’s Association who was standing nearby that day. “He is a bully, and a liar if he tries to say it didn’t happen.”
Gardner asserts Sullivan is lying because he has a political agenda against the governor. Gardner also says the tape proves he did nothing wrong. That’s ludicrous, though, because the tape is actually a collection of still images shot from a camera panning back and forth. Those images show Gardner walking right up next to Menapace, with his arm out.
The Journal says Menapace reported the incident to APS, and police officers watched the video. “Both said Monday they believe the video neither proves nor disproves the incident happened, because it was low-quality and continually panning.”
Whether he did it or not, Gardner finds himself the subject of more sleazy (though, thankfully, not sexy) political gossip. Over recent months he’s been ducking a controversy involving secretly recorded audio in which he offers a friend a state job, says he never uses state email because he doesn’t want to go to jail, and swears like a character in “Pulp Fiction.”
He is a character, just not from fiction. He’s a politician in the Roundhouse, talking and acting tough about things like the Downs Deal (a huge contract for campaign contributors) and 3rd grade retention (which many studies say actually hurts children’s growth). Meanwhile, the state’s economy continues crumbling after two years with him at the helm. (From a Bureau of Labor Statistics press release last month: “The largest over-the-year percentage decrease in employment occurred in New Mexico (-1.7 percent).”
We may as well watch these guys for entertainment purposes, because they’re not good for much else. It’ll be fun to see what Gardner has to deny next.