Born to Be
It was a Sunday morning, somewhere back in the mid-late eighties.
The phone rang.
And it was Ann Richards.
She wanted to talk about a business investment.
I had known Ann since the early 70s when I knew her husband better.
At the time, I really needed another investor in this project, and having the Treasurer of the State of Texas as one of your partners seemed like a really good idea. Plus, most of us knew or at least hoped that Ann might get the nod to address the Democratic National Convention that coming year.
After discussing numbers and returns, I had to offer the truth about the deal as I saw it.
"Ann, I would love to have you as a partner, but I don't see how it will help you in your run for Governor, and it could become a problem."
"That's what my finance chairman said", she said.
And so my chance to raise some badly needed capital through a stellar partner went into that big blue book of untold stories that generally stays put on that dusty shelf of memory.
Just in the last month or so, Texas surpassed California in the amount of installed windpower. And make no mistake about it, Ann Richards is a big reason. She allowed the creation of the State of Texas Energy Partnership which ultimately recommended a Sustainable Energy Development Council to be created. She appointed one of the most progressive and forward thinking Public Utility Commissioners in the history of such things to be a co-chair of the newly formed SEDC.
It was this SEDC, along with the help and urging of her long time confidant at the Land Office, who gave windpower and renewables in general a place at the table with oil, and gas, and coal, and utility companies.
And now Texas has more windpower than any other state, and there is a lot more to come.
Once, while we were dealing with a particularly uncomfortable issue on the Texas Energy Planning Partnership, the Governor's Energy Advisor shared Ann's response with me to his discussion of the challenges inherent in the issue. Ann, who was well aware of the problem said,
"Yes, this is certainly becoming a dent in my tranquility."
When I heard of Ann's passing yesterday on NPR, I remembered those words.
As the day wore on, I grew weary of the same old "Poor George quote" that ran on the networks, generally after 6 or 7 other leads. But Amy Goodman at Democracy Now ran an excerpt from Ann's dinner speech at the 50th anniversary of the Texas Observer a couple of years ago, and it caught the essense of the humour and wit and intelligence of this First Woman of Texas.
Ann Richards probably had 5,000 maybe 100,000 people that she knew better than she knew me, so there are at least that many more personal stories out there. But Molly Ivins was probably one of her closest, and her piece today shows it.
But yesterday, as I did my run, I found a tear falling down my cheek.
As it dropped down to the rushing rubber of the turning treadmill,
I couldn't help but think that this could well be the last time that
I shed a tear for an elected leader.
All of us are born to be something.
Ann was born to be Governor.
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