This time, the scandal over office furniture pits one branch of the government against another. The Governor of New Mexico is in a pitched battle with the judiciary to see who gets access to state government funds for office furnishings. The governor’s office just spent about $48,000 on chairs for employee work stations, waiting areas, and meeting rooms. That may sound like a lot, but it comes to less then $260 per chair for the 185 chairs needed. The state received a very substantial discount (as much as 65% off the MSRP) and a lifetime warranty on the chairs. Some of the existing chairs were almost 20 years old – well past what most people would consider a useful lifespan. Even so, any seating that was still in usable condition was sold at auction or redistributed to other agencies. All in all, it sounds like a pretty responsible and well-negotiated deal for purchasing new furniture and disposing of the old.
What’s the problem? The governor doesn’t want state funds used for furnishing the new courthouse for the district court. The county actually paid for the cost of building the new courthouse. But since the district court is part of the state judiciary, the argument is that ongoing operating costs (including office furniture) should be paid for by the state. Until the matter is resolved, the 60 million dollar courthouse may sit empty!