By Tracy Dingmann
There might be a lesson for the Martinez administration in Leslie Linthicum’s Jan 23 “UpFront” column “Lt. Gov. Sent Work Out of New Mexico.”
Oh, not the most obvious lesson – that being, of course, that Lt. Governor John Sanchez probably shouldn’t have hired an out-of-state company to answer the phones at his company, Right Way Roofing.
Hiring an out-of-state company looks bad, especially since Gov. Susana Martinez made Lt. Governor Sanchez the face of her much-vaunted effort to help small businesses in New Mexico. Shortly after the pair was elected, she sent the Lt. Governor on a trip to all of New Mexico’s 33 counties to listen to small-business owners offer their ideas about job growth.
No, I think the real lesson might be – when a reporter calls you looking for comment on a negative story, you’d better return the call.
Because if you don’t, you could find yourself looking even worse.
After Three Days of Calling, No Reply
Linthicum, a longtime and highly-respected Journal reporter and columnist, wrote in her column that she called Lt. Governor Sanchez three days in a row, looking for comment on why he didn’t choose a New Mexico company to take his business.
He never called her back.
Which may or many not have prompted Linthicum to write this:
Sanchez, who has owned the roofing company for 28 years, resigned from his role as company president when he assumed the office of lieutenant governor. He was in Santa Fe at his new job last week. I called every day for three days asking to talk to him, but he never called me back.
His spokesman told me that, yes, Sanchez employs an answering service when the Right Way office is closed. And, no, the answering service company is not a New Mexico one.
The answer to that question apparently got lost somewhere in the new administration’s department of openness and transparency. (Emphasis mine.)
Here’s a little tip for the new Martinez administration: not bothering to return a reporter’s call is one quick way to earn his or her scrutiny - and scorn.
Not because it’s personal – but because it is a reporters job to get public officials on the record.
And it is the public official’s job to answer their questions.
Especially if the public servant in question has pledged to maintain a policy of openness, accountability and transparency to the people who elected them. Especially if that person is the Governor or the Lt. Governor of the state.
Linthicum called it out – and she’s absolutely right.
Now You See It…
Reading the paper lately, it seems like that honeymoon the Martinez administration enjoyed at the hands of the Journal is disappearing fast.
Remember this headline, from a Jan. 5 editorial?
Good times, good times.
But in the last couple of days, what have we seen from the Journal? Linthicum’s wallop of a column (from a writer who had, until now, written quite favorably about Martinez) and a characteristically snide (but dead-on) piece from fellow columnist Thom Cole, whose “UpFront” piece on Jan 22 asked why the reduction-happy Gov. Martinez doesn’t seem to think reducing her own salary is a priority.
Talking tough about transparency and accountability is easy. Actually practicing it is what’s really hard.
I hope you enjoyed the honeymoon, Governor.