Sunday, February 07, 2016

The ethically redacted truth is fundamental to democracy.

George Orwell wrote;

Sometimes the first duty of intelligent men
is the restatement of the obvious.
We have now sunk to a depth at which
the restatement of the obvious is
the first duty of intelligent men.
Sometimes, the first duty of intelligent women and men
is to restate the obvious.  And, now is that time.

  • the success of democracy depends upon the people knowing the whole truth and nothing but the ethically redacted truth about their government;
And just as obviously;
  • The people don't know that truth.
Worse, they couldn't find it if they wanted to.

Informing the democracy isn't about putting every public record in every person's hand, any more than it is about cramming every person into every public meeting.

Enabling the democracy is about placing in any person's hand, any record they ask for*.

Enabling the democracy is about letting into any meeting, any person desiring to attend*.

*subject to exceptions authorized by the people for any one of a number of good and ethical reasons.  It is the people's prerogative to determine the rules of public service; not their servants'.

The premise that the truth belongs
to politicians and public servants,
theirs to dispense to the people
as they see fit, is flawed on its face.  

It's patent nonsense.

If open government laws were being written today and from scratch, they would not include letting the fox write the rules for guarding the hen house, and they would not give the foxes ever; sole custody of the hen house, all of the chickens and all of their eggs.

There is no legitimate democratic agenda that does not move forward at the instant that the whole truth and nothing but the ethically redacted truth is immediately available to any stake or interest holder who wants to avail themselves of it.

The proximate cause of nearly every failure of government
is being covered up by the people whose corruption and or incompetence precipitated the failure.

How are we every going to fix anything if we can't find out what's wrong and who let it happen?

photo Mark Bralley

Saturday, February 06, 2016

The very worst thing any politician or public servant can do ...

... is anything they do in unnecessary secret

from the people whose money they are spending and
whose power they are wielding.

Think of transparency on a continuum between
as little as the law requires and as much as the law allows.

"As little as the law requires" can mean as little as can be gained by protracted and expensive litigation, and too often does.

"As much as the law allows" means that the people will know everything they need to know to play their part in the democracy, except for legally and ethically necessary secrecy and redaction.

Politicians and powerful public servants argue that there's a lot of ground between as little as the law requires and as much as the law allows.

The foundation upon which open government can be built cannot be one or the other, or a anyplace in between.  It can only be; as much as the law allows.

It's time to pick a side.  It's time to settle the issue;
at once, and for all.

Which seems the better foundation for government of the people, by the people and for the people?

Politicians and public servants using tax dollars
to underwrite litigation and legal weaselry
in order to hide the record of their public service
The ethically redacted truth belonging to the people.
The onus being on politicians and public servants
to prove that they're need to do something in secret,
according to the law, and according to the will of the people.
The terms of public service are the prerogative of the people.
They are not the prerogative of politicians and public servants.

You pick a side when you don't pick a side.

Your silence gives consent.

All that is necessary for the cultures of corruption and incompetence in government to continue, is for good men to do nothing.  Edmund Burke derived

Friday, February 05, 2016

Open government rests on flawed premise.

Government of, by, and for the people depends upon the people knowing what they need to know in order to govern themselves. For the most, the information they need to know in order to participate meaningfully in their government can be found in public records and public meetings.

If the people had access to all public records and all public meetings, they would know everything they need to know. They would also learn a lot of things they shouldn’t know for a lot of good and ethical reasons.

Clearly, some part of the whole truth should be kept from “the people”. Which begs the question; who decides which records and which meetings are open to inspection and attendance?

It stands to reason that someone who might have a personal interest in hiding records or in closing meetings should not be the decider. It creates an unavoidable and inescapable appearance of a conflict of interests. That appearance, as well as the appearance of impropriety, shake faith in government whether or not they are substantiated in fact.

Sole possession of the truth; sole control over public records and public meetings creates temptation.  Temptation is the real corrupter accompanying nearly absolute power.

The decisions that close public meetings and secret public records must be made impartially and according to the spirit of the law, not by politicians and public servants with conflicting interests.

Yet open government laws are based on a fundamental premise and manifestly flawed premise; the truth belongs to politicians and public servants. And, the people can access their records and attend their meetings only according to their ability to prove (in court sometimes and at huge expense) their right to see the records or attend the meetings.

A better premise; all records are public and all meetings are open to the people, unless politicians and public servants have first proved their legitimate need to secret the record or to close the meeting.

Until it is; until that fundamental change is made, (corrupt and incompetent) politicians and public servants will be enabled to hide the record of their public service from the people they serve. They will enjoy the nearly insuperable advantage of "possession", and as we know, possession is nine points of the law.

That’s another way of saying it’s a whole lot easier to hold on to something than it is to take something away from someone in court in the face of enormous budgets for litigation and legal weaselry to use to keep them secret.

Thursday, February 04, 2016

APS has no plan to address stewardship failure except to try harder

I participated in the press conference at Albuquerque High School yesterday morning.

APS' Executive Director of Communications Monica Armenta was there to orchestrate the event.

My first impression of the relationship between Armenta, the leadership of the APS, and the various media outlets who were invited, was exceedingly cordial.

One might argue excessively cordial.

At some point all the fawning over each other appears tawdry and unprofessional; blurring boundaries and creating appearances of conflicts of interest and impropriety.

The softball questions the "media" (were allowed to) ask,
are in the record and cement the perception.

All of them were paying attention when I asked (acting) Supt. Raquel Reedy;

Is there a plan to specifically address the issue of their 
"stewardship" during their spending of the $575M?
It's fair to say; the import of her answer was, no.

No, there is no specific plan* to address their stewardship challenges.  *Proof to the contrary is as simple as the articulation and presentation of their plan.

Her answer is less than satisfying.

Their plan apparently, is to be good stewards from now on and hope to have a record of better stewardship to carry into the next elections.

Nothing wrong with being better stewards from now on,
but that really doesn't get to the "stewardship" issue.

Stewardship in this context means, actual accountability to meaningful standards of conduct and competence within their public service.  Great stewardship means, honest to God accountability to the highest standards of conduct and competence.

Ayn Rand expressed it as well as any;
To fear to face an issue is to believe the worst is true.
The leadership of the APS expects to skirt the issue of the ethics, standards and accountability crisis, without ever admitting there is one.  It is their tried and true modus operandi;
  • hide the problem, while they figure out how to
  • fix it without being held accountable for creating or enabling it.
There will never be a time, a day and a place were they will hold up their (written) ethics and standards, and then report candidly, forthrightly and honestly on their (lack of) actual accountability to them*.
*For example; the APS school board has a code of ethics.
By their own By their own free admission, and by their
deliberate decision, the code is utterly unenforceable.

As for accountability to the law; the standards of conduct
that all "higher standards" are higher than, anyone who
thinks that the leadership of the APS are actually 
accountable to the law has only to look at the amount of 
money they have squandered on cost-is-no-object legal 
defenses in pursuit of admissions of "no guilt" in heinously expensive settlement agreements.

Kent Walz/Journal,

Iain Munro/KRQE,

Michelle Donaldson/KOB,

Mary Lynn Roper/KOAT,

and Pat Frisch/KKOB

all know, or remain willfully ignorant of the findings of independent auditors who have found the trifecta of public corruption and incompetence in the leadership of the APS;
  1. inadequate standards, and
  2. inadequate accountability, and
  3. inadequate record keeping
They all know, or remain willfully ignorant of the ethics, standards and accountability crisis in the leadership of the APS.

They are at best, complacent about the crisis.
They are at worst; complicit in its cover up.

Anyone of them could remove their names from my list anytime.  They have several means;
  • supply for my use instead, the name of any person more responsible than they, for the refusal to investigate and report upon credible testimony and evidence of the ethics, standards and accountability crisis in the leadership of the APS.
  • suggest any good and ethical reason whatsoever, to not investigate and report upon the crisis, candidly, forthrightly and honestly.
  • provide any evidence or testimony that would create even one iota of doubt about the validity of the allegation of an ethics, standards and accountability crisis
To date, not one of them has.  They are all still in the pretending "I can't hear you" phase of the our process.  They are hoping that their cabal will succeed in keeping truth from stake and interest holders forever.

"Hoping" is the wrong word; they are depending upon keeping the cover up and their part in it, secret, else their reputations be destroyed.

They could just throw their APS friends under the bus.
They could just investigate and report upon the ethics,
standards and accountability that characterizes the
leadership of the board and their superintendents.

They won't.  They won't because they can't expose the scandal without someone asking;
  • why didn't you expose it when first you learned about it a decade ago?
  • why didn't you report on the cover up of felony criminal misconduct in the leadership of their publicly funded private private police force?
  • why didn't you report on the squandering of operational funds on litigation and legal weaselry in an ongoing effort to keep the public records of findings in investigations of the felony criminal misconduct, hidden from public knowledge.  The findings that name the names of APS senior administrators who were involved in felony criminal misconduct and whose names were never turned over to the District Attorney's Office for prosecution.
  • why didn't you report on the denial of due process to hundreds of whistleblower complaints against administrators and school board members?
  • why didn't you report on the squandering of millions and millions of operational dollars on cost-is-no-object legal defenses in search of admissions of no guilt?
Walz, Munro, Donaldson, Roper and Frisch are betwixt a rock and a hard place.

Know that they are in that position as the proximate result of their own deliberate decisions.

They deserve no sympathy and certainly no pardon for their individual and combined failure to inform the democracy in critical times.

photos Mark Bralley
save Munro and Donaldson /their website

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

10,000 voters did not want to trust APS with more than a half a billion dollars.

They are going to be unhappy with the election results.

They are going to worry that their unwilling investment will not be invested in the interests of students.

They are going to worry that the ongoing stewardship failure of the leadership of the APS will continue unmitigated by their outrage.

Unfortunately, history leads us to believe that
however unhappy they are, they will not be so unhappy
that they will actually do anything
to protect their investment.

If only one in ten of them showed up at the school board meeting today, Wednesday, February 3rd, at 5pm, they could protect their investment by demanding an end to the stewardship failure that threatens it.

They, in that number, could actually end the ethics, standards and accountability crisis in the leadership of the APS by demanding an immediate, independent examination and review of the administrative and executive ethics, standards and accountability that protect the public interests in the public schools.

In that number, all they have to do to end the crisis
is to demand that the ethically redacted findings
of the investigations be made public as they are found.

I wish they would,
but I fear they won't.

Half a billion dollars is only going to last them five years.
Then they're going to be back again 

  • asking for another half billion,
  • in spite of their ongoing record of lack of stewardship,
  • because holding them accountable will hurt the children.

"Sponsored content" and "the news"

I have to admit that until I saw it on Joe Monahan's blog in the context of the APS school bond and mill levy election and sponsors in the local construction industry, I was entirely ignorant of the concept of sponsored content in news reporting.

A Google search found nearly 30 million hits; one of them a white paper from the American Press Institute entitled "the definition of sponsored content" link.

What struck me then, and what strikes me still, is how can "the news" include sponsored content?

It depends on the meaning of "the news".

In the context of supporting and enabling the democracy, "the news" must be the truth.  How can a news teller; a purveyor of the truth, simply turn over a part of their truth telling to "a sponsor" and not create the appearance of a conflict of interests?  ... and not sully their reputation for ethical truth telling?

The situation is further complicated by imprecise language.
Terms like media, journalists, and press as thrown around as if there were no difference between them.  There is a huge distinction.  The rights of the press are protected by the Constitution of the United States.  "Journalists" are not protected.  "The media" is not protected.

Journalists are at best, exceptional members of the press.  Journalists are journalists in no small part because they promise to abide by an agreed upon code of ethics.  They are no more "the press" because of their oath of allegiance an unenforceable code of ethics, than anyone who has not sworn obedience to the code.

A fair differentiation between the press and every other descriptor, imo, is that the primary goal of the press is to enable the democracy, period.

The press are a special class.

The framers protected the press because they recognized a critically essential element of democracy; informed voters.

Because the press are afforded such great respect and protection in the Constitution, the press are compelled to respect the democracy - or stop calling themselves "the press".

As an aside;

"The press" are men and women who become "the press" at the instant they want to be.

Voltaire expressed the underlying logic;
Man is free at the instant he wants to be.

In the instant that a wo/man becomes the press, they acquire no obligation to meet before they have a right to exercise their rights as free men and a free press.  They acquire no obligation to prove to anyone (including their government) that, that is who they have become.

The onus of proving anything at all, belongs to someone else.  It is not up to the press to prove they are the press; it is up to someone who believes that they are not the press, to prove that they are in fact not the press and entitled to First Amendment protection.
Free men and women do not have to prove that they are free before they are free.  They don't have to prove that they are free in order to exercise their human rights; one of which happens to be, the right to be the press.
I can't imagine a member of "the press" turning over any part of the telling of the news to a "sponsor", in-especially to a sponsor who is the subject of the news.

The bottom line.  All of the "news" outlets in Albuquerque are presenting sponsored content within their reporting of the news.  Their news is no longer the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.  They are allowing sponsor bias to color the truth.

Monahan is unique among the media in that he is at least obvious about his use of sponsored content in the midst of his news.  When he runs his sponsors' content, he entitles it "sponsored content" and uses italics for additional differentiation.

Not so, Editor in Chief Kent Walz and
the Journal.

I am not suggesting that Journal sponsors are actually writing the Journal reports on the bond issue and mill levy, or even specific parts therein.

I am pointing out that the reports are about the good things that can be bought, and still not one investigation and report on (the lack of) stewardship in the leadership of the APS.

Sure, the editors complain about the lack of stewardship in the APS, but they relentlessly refuse to report on the depth and breadth of the problem; the ethics, standards and accountability scandal in the leadership of the APS.

The proof of the scandal is simple and straightforward;
the abject absence of controverting evidence;
  • they cannot point to their own honest to God accountability to high enough standards of conduct to protect the public interests in the public schools.

NM Broadcast Assoc. affiliate stations', the Kabal; KRQE, KOAT, KOB TV, and KKOB radio, are running sponsored content during their "news" as well.

Walz/ the Journal, Munro/KRQE, Donaldson/KOB, Mary Lynn Roper/KOAT TV
Again, no indication that bond issue and mill levy sponsors are actually writing their scripts, but during their reporting of  the "news"; during their telling of the whole truth and nothing but the truth, they are instead, reading the company line.  Not one of them has ever been, or intends ever to be, candid, forthright and honest with their reader, viewer, listeners about the real accountability crisis in the leadership of the APS; the other election issue.

People can and will do whatever they want.
They can call themselves whatever they want.
I submit; they ought not call themselves "the press"
so long as their intention is to mislead the democracy;
creating beliefs or leaving impressions that are untrue or

It just seems so disrespectful of the reasons "the press"
were protected in the First place.

Walz and Roper photos Mark Bralley
Munro KRQE, Donaldson KOB TV

Monday, February 01, 2016

KKOB pushing the bond issue and mill levy as "news"

KKOB radio is running ads in support of the AP' bond issue and mill levy.  Nothing wrong with that; they can sell ad space to whomever they want.

The problem comes during the 'news" part of the day.  They are running a list of all the good things that can be accomplished should voters entrust the leadership of the APS with another few hundred million dollars.  Again, nothing wrong with that; what good can be done with the money is part of the reasonable discourse during the election process.

But, they never get around to the other side of the story;
the reasons why the unreformed leadership of the APS
should not be trusted with control over any more of our
power or any more of our resources.

It amounts to slanted news.  It amounts to an abomination;
in especially during an election.  In especially in a time when
democracy itself is at stake.

The "program director is one Pat Frisch.  I don't know that that equates to new director; I sought clarification in an email to same;

Mr. Frisch,

If I were unhappy with KKOB's in the midst of reporting the news, coverage of the school bond issue and mill levy election, if I thought it was more of an endorsement than even handed coverage of "the news", would you be the person I would appropriately hold responsible for the content?

grateful for your time and attention

ched macquigg
diogenes' six
Frisch did not respond.

All out effort underway to pass bond issues and mill levy

APS is doing all it can to encourage voters to entrust another $575M to their stewardship.

They're getting a lot of help.  Not surprisingly, local big project contractors and engineering architectural firms are spending a lot of money on fliers and on ads.  They stand to loose $10M a year until APS can finally pass another bond issue and mill levy.

Yesterday, New Mexico State Sen,
Michael Padilla attached his name and reputation to the passage effort by means of a robocall message.

In his message, the good senator did not mention what would he do, to address the stewardship failure that threatens the passage of bonds and mill levy in the first place.

A debate over honest to
God accountability to
meaningful standards of
conduct and competence
within public service;
Oh hell yes; sign me up!
At least when Gov. Bill Richardson encouraged bond and mill levy passage in 2006, link, in spite of an earned statewide reputation for its lack financial accountability, he promised;
Following the school election, I welcome a debate on potential solutions aimed at requiring more accountability in our schools. 
That debate never took place of course.

It likely never will, in-especially if we keeping trusting them will more money despite their lack of stewardship.

It will never end if we keep trusting them with even more money despite their abject lack of;
  1. high enough standards of conduct and competence within their public service, AND
  2. honest to God accountability to them.

photos Mark Bralley

APS can hold more elections next year

There is a certain amount of ill-logic in this morning's Journal report, link, intended to get voters out to support the APS bond issues and mill levy.

$109K a year, APS Capital Master Plan Executive Director Kizito Wijenje began by telling the Journal that "losing a bond election means you lose a year of projects."  Yet he went on to report that when voters turned down a bond issue in 2002;

“It took us until 2013 to recover from that. … It is very, very disruptive, not only financially but especially for the kids. You have a generation of kids disrupted for three, four years.”
This, though he went on to admit;
APS came back the very next year with a bond issue that passed.
That seems to conflict with his report that "a generation of kids were disrupted for three, four years".

As part of his argument, Wijenje pointed out that because the last bond issue failed; APS was compelled to spend more than a million dollars to "install a portable building".  He did not elaborate on how exactly, APS managed to pay more than a million dollars for a portable building worth more like $50,000.

APS is still to admit their stewardship failure, or to produce any plan to mitigate it.

Voting down the bond issues and mill levy remains still, the only choice if voters want to regain any semblance of control over the power and resources they entrust to the stewardship of the leadership of the APS.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Will the stewardship of the leadership of the APS ever be examined?

Though bond issue and mill levy elections are about stewardship and capital improvement, stewardship has been given short shrift in both this election and past;

"Granted, the board's stewardship is abysmal, but just think of the children (instead)! 
As upset as stake and interest holders are over the stewardship failure, most of them have no idea how bad things really are.
  • They have no idea how low many of their standards really are.
  • They have no idea how unaccountable they really are, even to the lowest standards.
Over and over again, the leadership of the APS has been able to pass bond issues and mill levies in spite of their inability to plan and to manage resources effectively and efficiently.

Ayn Rand argued;
 "To fear to face an issue to believe that the worst is true"
The simple truth is, the worst is true about the lack of stewardship in the leadership of the APS; the lack of high enough standards and the abject absence of honest enough accountability.

Whether none, one or all of the bond issues and mill levy pass, the post election question is;
Will there (ever) be an independent truth telling regarding administrative and executive ethics, standards and accountability in the APS?
The truth about stewardship and the leadership of the APS would be uncovered by an independent examination and review of administrative and executive ethics, standards and accountability.

Dismiss from your thinking, the possibility that there are ethics and standards high enough to protect the public interests in the public schools.  If there were, they would be celebrating them.

Dismiss from your thinking as well, the possibility that they can be held actually, honestly accountable to whatever ethics and standards there are.  If there were the essential element of honest to God accountability; due process, it would be self evident; they could and would point to it.

Will there ever be a study of stewardship in the leadership of the APS?

The leadership of the APS stand opposed to any examination of their ethics, standards and accountability.  They have no choice. There is not one of them, not one school board member,
not one senior administrator who is not them self;
  • incompetent, and or,
  • corrupt, or 
  • who does not have guilty knowledge of at least some who are. 
The so called "leadership" of the APS will not have their leadership examined.

The establishment's media; the Journal and the NMBA Kabal; KRQE, KOAT, and KOB TV have as great an interest in covering up the stewardship failure.  They too, would rather there not be an honest accounting of the ethics, standards and accountability that protect the public interests in the public schools. The results will be so damning that people will start wondering how it went undiscovered for so long.

Stake and interest holders will wonder why more investigative reporters than you could shake a stick at weren't able to discover the abundantly apparent?

There is abundant proof that Kent Walz and the Journal, Iain Munro and
KRQE, Michelle Donaldson and KOB, and Mary Lynn Roper and KOAT TV
 know about the ethics, standards and accountability scandal in the leadership
  of the APS, and have made a deliberate choice to not report upon it.
The explanation is simple; it wasn't that reporters weren't able to discern the scandal; it was that they weren't allowed to investigate and report upon it.

How can Walz, Munro, Donaldson and Roper now report credibly on the ethics, standards and accountability scandal in the leadership, without first reporting credibly on their failure to expose the scandal when first they became aware of it?

Walz, Roper photo Mark Bralley
Munro, KRQE, Donaldson, KOB photos