Face It, We Need A New Governor

Arizona sinks deeper every day that Rose Mofford remains in the governor's office.

In fairness to the voters of the state, Governor Mofford should announce immediately her intention to step down at her term's conclusion.

Some truths about the state's sinking condition cry out to be heard. After all, we should not have expected more from Mofford. She announced upon being sworn in that she would heal wounds. But the wounds have not healed. They are worse now.

Mofford is not really to blame. She never expected to become governor. She has no training and absolutely no aptitude for the job.

What else should we have anticipated other than a journey downward? Her lack of leadership has brought the state into a condition bordering on despair. There seems no hope that things ever will be set right.

Mofford's conception of a governor's role has reduced itself to a political parody. She is capable only of taking an occasional outing to flaunt her bizarre hairdo. And she can wave at the fans at a sporting event or tell a rude country joke to a men's club gathering. But that's the extent of her governor's equipment. We are trapped in a weird Wonderland. It is as though Arizona had fallen into the control of an aging Alice, surrounded by a cast of characters straight from the pages of Lewis Carroll.

Why be surprised it has turned out so badly?
It was the sheerest accident of history that brought this former secretary of state into the governor's office. As a result, Arizona has now been without intelligent leadership for nearly four years.

Figure it this way: Bruce Babbitt spent the final year of his term seeking the presidential nomination; Evan Mecham spent his time in office fighting with the Arizona State Legislature and the Department of Public Safety.

DPS won that battle. Now the jaunty womanizer, Ralph Milstead, former head of the DPS, sits in an office on the ninth floor of the Arizona State Capitol. Lo and behold, the man Mecham wanted to put to the torch is now one of Mofford's top advisers.

Mofford took Milstead "upstairs" with her when it became obvious he could not possibly be rehired for his DPS job by the legislature.

The mere thought that Mofford might actually run for another term is frightening.

Where would she ultimately lead this state? All she can offer is another four years of inaction by the legislature. This would be catastrophic.

If it weren't for the turmoil that surrounded Mecham's departure, the cries for Mofford's resignation would be coming from both political parties. The Republicans turned on Mecham. Is it too much to hope that the Democrats will finally urge Mofford to stand aside?

Despite the general discontent, Mofford remains on the ninth floor bumbling her way through her final days.

Frighteningly, the woman, who has established a record as Arizona's worst governor, may actually run for another term.

It's both frightening and ridiculous. Clearly, even Mofford understands her deficiencies.

This is a woman terrified of speaking in public if it means she must answer questions about her job performance. She's been in virtual hiding ever since taking office.

About all this, there is something ominous. Mofford's inability to comprehend even the simplest questions put to her is a sobering thing. Her faltering speech patterns race off into uncharted regions.

It makes one suspicious. Is Governor Mofford even mentally capable of holding the state's highest elective office?

The signs of diminished speech capacity have been increasingly apparent. You recall that soon after assuming office, she fell off the back of a stage and suffered a severe blow to the back of her head. Hospitalized for several days, she has exhibited faltering speech patterns ever since.

The very least she owes the public is to undergo a thorough physical examination, including a brain scan. The results of these tests must be made public before she formally announces her candidacy. This woman, who was given the office as a gift, owes at least that much to the voters.

I find it strange that the only recorded reaction Mofford has ever made to being elevated to the governor's chair is to mourn the loss of her privacy. Here is a woman so clearly out of her element that she should remove herself forthwith.

Is it any wonder that the legislators have become frozen and incapable of sensible action? They clearly understand the governor's lack of ability. After all her years in government, she simply doesn't know how to make a decision or to lead anyone else toward making one. Her career has been a long ride of handshaking, giggling, telling down-home jokes and collecting Kachina dolls. She is, after all, the same politician who ran the secretary of state's office for years without learning how to fill out her own electoral forms properly.

This is a woman-child who never got over toys and thus spent her entire adult life collecting Kachina dolls at state expense.

Mofford will be remembered as the governor who instituted the so-called telephone press conference. Unwilling and mentally unable to face the press corps, Mofford converses with its members on rare occasions via a telephone hookup.

This permits Mofford to sit at her desk with cue cards in her hand and her advisers at her side.

A reporter asks her a question over the phone, and Mofford reads the answer supplied by a member of her brain trust. Sometimes, an answer that requires ten seconds takes Mofford three minutes. Obviously, she even has trouble reading the cue cards.

It is incomprehensible that a sitting governor should have to retreat in fear. Mofford, after all, is not under indictment. She has merely determined she would appear ridiculous if she revealed how little she knows about her job.

The fact of the matter is that she is incapable of handling press conferences, her staff, the legislature or any key element of the governor's tasks.

During the upcoming campaign, it would be impossible for her to engage in any debates.

Does anyone remember seeing her do anything more than cut ribbons or wave to crowds at ballgames since her disastrous interview months ago with Michael Grant on Channel 8?

Grant threw the governor softballs. It was an interview in which Mofford knew every question in advance. And still, her appearance was shocking.

Mofford demonstrated she is not capable of carrying on even a simple conversation about her duties as governor.

There is something terribly wrong on the ninth floor of Arizona's State Capitol.

Who runs this state these days, anyway? Clearly, in this time of severe financial crises, racial tensions and general disenchantment with the quality of governance, it's essential we find someone who can take charge.

Since assuming office, Mofford has taken charge of nothing. We have a government run by a state legislature that I sometimes think is on the moral level of the South Vietnamese Army. Those are my moments of high regard. And we are all left with the banal question: Is there more to Rose Mofford than just hair?

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Tom Fitzpatrick

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