Columnist debunks teddy bear scandal

By Ned Cantwell: state columnist

It’s just another example of the dirty, rotten big-circulation elite media imposing its will on the rest of the country, disdaining just plain folks like you and me. Or, maybe, it’s you and I. Whatever.

These inside-the-beltway columnists whose words bring even the most powerful to their knees trample the sensibilities of humble, hinterland hacks like your faithful columnist who tries his best to get it right.

I refer here, of course, to one Laura Vozzella, columnist for the uppity Baltimore Sun, who asserted in a recent piece that our governor, Bill Richardson, would not return the teddy bear belonging to 8-year-old Branden Murphy of Clarksville, Md.

My column reported last week on the burgeoning scandal, explaining how the little girl had sent the teddy bear to prominent officials around the country seeking post cards. Idea was, you got the bear, sent the postcard, sent the bear on to the next person on the list. The teddy’s trail ended in Santa Fe. We begged Big Bill to return the bear to the little girl.

Laura Vozzella replied to my column. I’ll never know how she got wind of it, unless maybe she read the copy I sent her.

By the way, she said, the bear has been located in Bill Richardson’s campaign office, and is on its way back to Maryland.

By the way, she said, Branden Murphy is not a little girl; Branden Murphy is a little boy.


The point is, if big-city media begin sniffing around New Mexico, we’re toast. They are going to find out jetliners climb another 3,000 feet to avoid the stink. They will learn our Official State Question has been changed from “Red or Green?” to “Outright Cash Bribe or Free Luxury Vacation?”

The Land of Enchantment isn’t about salsa, it’s about corruption. And a lot of the odor wafting through the air isn’t coming from blatant criminal activities — there are plenty of those — but from shady ethics and bureaucratic incompetence.

An appropriate State Motto might be: New Mexico — “It’s not what’s right; it’s what we can get away with.”

Why else would Congresswoman Heather Wilson use taxpayer dollars to send out regular constituent mailings that are nothing more than puff campaign pieces? Her “Keeping our Families Safe” mailing featured a large photo of Wilson, and mentioned her name a dozen times.

Her election opponent, State Attorney General Patricia Madrid, is no better. Madrid’s taxpayer-funded “Be Afraid” mailing on behalf of the AG’s office warned New Mexicans about the dangers of Internet sex crimes. She found it necessary to feature a large Madrid photo and mention her name 10 times.

It’s all legal, so it’s OK.

Outside reporters might get to wondering how smart are the regents who run our universities. You have the folks up at the University of New Mexico hiring this guy Louis Caldera whom they love for a couple of years, then don’t love, and give him a $700,000 package to go away.

New Mexico Highland University regents pull the same thing with former State Sen. Manny Aragon. They pay him a hefty salary, even a performance bonus last year, then pay him $200,000 to take a hike. All perfectly legal, but a little disturbing to New Mexico taxpayers wondering where their next tank of gas is coming from.

Don’t tell Laura Vozzella. I don’t want to mess with that lady.

Syndicated columnist Ned Cantwell prefers the cash. Contact him at: