Mon, Jun 28, 2004
Plans On Buying $4 Million Turboprop
How would you like $4 million to buy a new airplane?
Yeah, same here. But that's the budget New Mexico Governor Bill
Richardson has to work with as his administration goes shopping to
replace their 1966 Aero Commander (file photo of type, below).
"Basically it’s a safety issue," said state transportation
department spokesman S.U. Mahesh. "This is a wise decision to
replace an old airplane."
But it's not quite as simple as that. The planned purchase has
come under the watchful eyes of state legislators. Several
lawmakers at a committee meeting in Silver City (NM) earlier this
month raised questions about the purchase of a new aircraft. So
they wrote a letter to the New Mexico Department of Finance and
Administration, asking for more information.
"Initially when we heard about the
purchase, we had questions in terms of the urgency of the
purchase," said Rep. Luciano "Lucky" Varela, a Santa Fe Democrat.
He co-authored the letter along with committee chairman Ben
Altamirano, a Democratic state senator from Silver City. The letter
was dated June 10th.
"Committee members generally expressed support for the purchase
of the aircraft; however, a number of concerns were raised," said
But by the end of last week, Varela said committee members
decided New Mexico should go ahead with the purchase of a used
turboprop to fly Richardson and other leading state officials from
place to place.
The bottom line seemed to be a concern about liability. "We
don’t want to get into the situation of something happening
to passengers in [the old] state airplane," said Varela.
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