Barack Obama had no sooner been declared the president-elect when the speculation started: Just which Coloradans would join his cabinet? The name of Federico Pena, an early supporter, was floated -- despite the fact that he's already done two turns in the cabinet, for Bill Clinton, and has more influence as a key advisor (not to mention the opportunity to earn a living here at home). Ken Salazar was rumored as a likely pick for Interior, even though he's a valuable vote in the Senate. But the choice of Bill Richardson for Commerce makes such a Salazar move less likely -- Salazar might prefer to be the first Latino on the U.S. Supreme Court, and there are certain to be openings there in the next few years.
There's still talk of Governor Bill Ritter for Energy -- the first Secretary of that department, John Love, was a Colorado governor, too -- but moving Ritter out of the Governor's Mansion wouldn't do as much to break the Democratic logjam as plucking Salazar from the Senate, since Barbara O'Brien would advance to governor. No, right now it looks like prominent Coloradans won't need to pack their bags. But meanwhile, Obama appears to be looking to our neighbor to the south, Arizona, for his Director of Homeland Security. The front-runner for that post is two-term Governor Janet Napolitano. The trouble with that is, she was no good at running Arizona.
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That's according to the new story in our sister paper, the Phoenix New Times, where Mike Lacey makes the case against Napolitano.
In Arizona, the Department of Transportation, which Napolitano oversaw, bungled billions, the largest contracts in the state's history, by hiring firms embedded with the state agency's former employees and cronies. The ballot proposition that made all this possible was financed, of course, by the very corporations that stood to benefit. The glaring favoritism in the roadway contracts precipitated expensive litigation ("Friends at Work," Sarah Fenske, June 1, 2006).
Furthermore, Homeland Security, like every government agency, is under acute budgetary pressures having little to do with malfeasance.
Facing similar revenue shortfalls in Arizona, Napolitano ducked hard choices, refused to tighten the state's belt and opted for accounting gimmicks: highway radar to raise funds with increased ticketing of motorists; future lottery money diverted to current funding gaps.
Mere corruption, greed, and the cupidity of boondoggle bookkeeping in hard times -- these are simple things to understand, if not sanction, within a state government.
But when the Valley of the Sun was in crisis, when the community was torn apart by the worst human-rights tragedy in the state's history, the central villain owed his political power to Janet Napolitano.
Read the full story at phoenixnewtimes.com.