The New York Times apparently thinks it strange when elected officials refuse the perk of an official residence. There seems to be a growing trend of governors maintaining a private residence rather than subjecting themselves to living in the people's houses.
And in Idaho, a state that acquired a governor’s mansion only as recently as 2005 (thanks to a generous French fry magnate), no one has ever moved in, despite the six figures the state pays annually to maintain it.
Blame a desire to minimize the ever-greater scrutiny of public life, along with changing tastes and the current politics of austerity. Who wants to live in a Downton Abbey house on a Tea Party budget?
For a new governor to live in his or her own home is to maintain a modicum of privacy and control. Spending even a few nights a month in an official state residence means dodging tourists and security cameras while you’re in your bathrobe; mixing your private household budget with the public one, with any accounting error a potential scandal; and sometimes having to deal with pest and plumbing problems of biblical proportions, then begging divided legislatures and state bureaucracies to come up with the funds to fix them.
I'm a little mixed on the issue. Rick Perry landed in some bad publicity when it came to light that the state has spent over half a million dollars to put up the first family while the official residence in Texas is undergoing renovation and restoration. Governors and their families have to stay somewhere, but do we really need the types of grandiose facilities normally provided? Does the treatment of our elected officials like royalty lead to them believing they are?