Tuesday, September 01, 2015

APS, time for a tune-up?

The administration of the APS is need of a tune up.
Before it can begin administer;

  • the raising of test scores,
  • the lowering truancy,
  • the retention of good teachers
  • the graduation of more of this community’s sons and daughters, or
  • any of myriad other problems in classrooms and schools
the administration of the public schools needs to administer to itself.

Just like a car needs tuning before a race or road trip; the administration of the APS needs tuning before embarking on its next assault on ignorance.

In our next superintendent, we need a tune-up mechanic.

More than that, we need a crew chief; a synergist; a facilitator able to draw together stake and interest holders in order that they can pull on the same end of the rope.

The administration of the APS is crippled by its dark side; powerful people ignoring policies, procedures, rules and regulations.  And yes, even the law.

APS needs a supt. who can pull together the “respectable side” of the administration and together, ferret out and remove its dark side.

APS needs a superintendent with the character and the courage to establish due process for complaints over administrative incompetence, even those lodged by the least powerful and against even the most powerful.

Though there are good and decent administrators in the APS, the administration overall, is in the direst need of a role model of honest accountability to meaningful standards of conduct and competence within public service.

The administration of the APS has for years and with the school board’s at least tacit approval, promoted administrators with issues of competence and character.

A recent audit of APS’ administration found that administrative evaluations were “subjective and unrelated to promotion or step placement”.  Good ol’ boys were promoting good ol’ boys with consideration of neither character nor competence.

Ayn Rand wrote;
When your impartial attitude declares, in effect, that neither the good nor the evil may expect anything from you—whom do you betray and whom do you encourage?
APS needs a superintendent who will encourage the good
by holding the evil honestly accountable for their relentless incompetence and corruption.

If s/he allows; if we allow, incompetent and or corrupt administrators to serve publicly, whom will we encourage and whom will we betray?

It's time to let the bright side of the APS shine.
The superintendent who can enable that, will not be
found in meetings in secret.

cc. Letters to the editors

Monday, August 31, 2015

The I's are dotted; the T's are crossed, and the asses are covered

Based on the recently settled settlement;  APS Supt. Valentino resigns voluntarily and takes with him, about five months salary.  When the dust settles, taxpayers are going to be out a few hundred thousand dollars overall.

Or, since those tax dollars came from the operational fund,
students and classrooms will be out a few hundred thousand dollars.

The politicians and pubic servants who have here
squandered those few hundred thousands dollars, and
who have squandered as well, whatever trust that
stake and interest holders still might have had left in
the "leadership" of the leadership of the APS have done nothing wrong.

Art Melendres of APS/Modrall
Fortunately for all of them,
they were able to find lawyers
who are willing and able to write
the language they all need
to absolve themselves "legally"
of their guilt.

Fortunately for all of them,
there are always enough operational left to pay lawyers to help them write things like this;
12.  Nothing in this Agreement or in its execution admits wrongdoing of any kind by either party. 
Then, if you can stand it,  they all affirm at once; as if it were necessary and not already abundantly obvious;
This is a voluntary agreement, mutually entered
for the benefit of the District and Valentino.

photo Mark Bralley

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Weasel weighs in

Former School Board Member Robert "the weasel" Lucero, has found media outlets to air his umbrage at School Board Member Peggy Muller-Aragón over her protest over the over-the-top secrecy from the board.

It bears noting that Robert Lucero was on the board when they had a discussion that included their frank admission that their Code of Ethics was utterly unenforceable.

Lucero's lame suggestion;
maybe we could get the legislature to hold us accountable.
So how did that work out for your constituents, you weasel?

School board members aren't any more accountable to their Code of Ethics (or to the law for that matter) than they and you were, the day you finally admitted that school board member accountability was a sham.

... and you have the nerve to complain about another board members conduct?
cc Lucero upon posting, except that he has indicated 
previously that he would rather not hear from me ever again.

photo Mark Bralley

APS School Board utterly unaccountable to their own Code of Ethics!

Why is that headline not a Journal headline?

Why is that fact;

The APS School Board Code of Ethics
is utterly unenforceable and has been
since the day it was written
not the subject of editorial outrage?

It isn't.  Not at the Journal. 
Not at any one of KRQE, KOAT, or KOB TV.
And not in city hall.

... begging a question;
Why in hell not?

Saturday, August 29, 2015

APS School Board Code of Ethics "... avoid conflicts of interest or the appearance thereof..."

Though, by their own frank admission,
it is utterly unenforceable, the APS
Board of Education has a Code of Ethics, link.

The seventh of them reads in significant part;

"Avoid conflicts of interest 
or the appearance thereof ..."
Whether he is "legally"guilty of "nepotism" is yet to resolve.  If it is disputed, the resolve will take years and cost hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars to litigate.

With an eloquence of lawyers at his disposal, access to unlimited operational dollars, and the opportunity to spend them without (real) oversight, whatever the outcome, it will include the board president "admitting no guilt", ever, no matter what.

Whether Duran is guilty of nepotism, that he and APS Supt Luis Valentino and Duran's daughter Gabriela Blakey have created the appearance of conflicts of interest and of impropriety is self-evident.

Were it not, we wouldn't be talking about it.

The school board's code of ethics is  
by their own frank admission and abundantly obviously
utterly unenforceable.

Why wouldn't the senior-most role model in the entire APS ignore his own code of ethics - there is no consequence.

photo Mark Bralley

And now to the future of the APS

However you look at it, the future Luis Valentino's superintendency is in the hands of the elected school board.  It is their exclusive obligation.

The only influence stake and interest holders have at this point is to threaten to elect them out in some distant election they likely won't vote in anyway.

There is the opportunity for stake and interest holders to make sure that something like this will never happen again, ever.

The circumstances that enabled, enable, and will continue to enable ongoing public corruption and incompetence; APS' dark side; the good ol' boy oligarchy, has not changed in a hundred years.

There is the opportunity to change those circumstances now.  If for no other reason than that the establishments media has finally picked a side.

Heretofore, school board members and senior administrators have been accountable only to "the law".  "The law" in the case of the leadership of the APS (and powerful people everywhere) means the lowest standards of conduct acceptable to civilized human beings further debilitated by limitless spending without (real) oversight on litigation and legal weaselry*.

*Legal weaselry is using weaknesses in the law to thwart justice; historically by endless delay followed by expensive settlements containing admissions of "no guilt" for even those the them who are guilty beyond any reasonable doubt.
There is the opportunity now to see them held in the future, honestly and actually accountable to meaningful standards of conduct and competence within their public service.

APS student standards of conduct, established by the school board and enforced by their supt. and his administration amount would be a good place to start.  The board, their supt., and their administration expect students to model and promote honest accountability to the Pillars of Character Counts! link.

Good, bad or indifferent; the question is moot.  The Pillars have been the student standards since 1994 and they will continue to be the student standards until the school board establishes some other much lower ones.  The board will need to find standards low enough to allow them to restore a role modeling clause to their own standards of conduct.
In no case shall the standards of conduct for a student
be lower than the standards for their adult role models.
They will or will not find themselves actually, honestly accountable to meaningful standards of conduct and competence depending of the will of the people.

They will or will not find themselves actually, honestly accountable to a nationally recognized, accepted and respected code of ethical conduct, depending on the manifest* will of the people.
*Torch and pitchfork carrying people are going to have to show up somewhere and wrest back control over power and resources that belong to them.  The power and resources, the trust and the treasure that have been squandered belong to the people.

Control over the disposition of power and resource is given over to politicians and public servants by law.  The only safeguard the people have is the trustworthiness of people who are powerful enough to ignore the law if they want to.

Power and resources that belong fundamentally to the people are being spent against their interests and the only way to stop it is to show up some place some time and do some thing to change the standards and accountability the will apply to them from this day on.

People who wait for perfect circumstances to act, never act.  They have found the perfect excuse.  There will never be a perfect time.

There may never be a better time.

Edmund Burke argued;
All that is necessary for the triumph of evil 
is that good men do nothing.
I'm not saying those who live and work in APS' dark side are "evil".

But they are the people about whom Burke wrote his warning.
And you are who he was warning.

Stand up and be counted.

There is no equivalent gesture.

Sacrifice is the currency of commitment.
Are you committed or are you not?

Your silence gives consent.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Duran comes under fire for Valentino's poor judgment

APS School Board President Donald Duran has been asked to recuse himself from the decision whether to fire the guy who gave his daughter a great job, link.

The "legalities" have been met.  The statutes, rules, regulations, policies and procedures prohibiting nepotism in hiring and, creating the appearances of impropriety and conflicts of interest were twisted far enough to make it all "legal".

aps image
Nevertheless, now Duran finds himself feeling some heat over a problem APS Supt. Luis Valentino created when he hired the school board president's daughter, Dr. Gabriella Blakey.

What the hell, the school board president's daughter was so much better than every other candidate that Valentino had no other choice?

He should have known better.

aps image
Were we in need of another example of Luis Valentino's poor judgement, add hiring the school board president's daughter under any circumstances at all.

photo Mark Bralley

Berry has nearly 90,000 constituents in the public schools

Mayor Richard Berry's constituents include every one of this community's sons and daughters in the APS.  There are 87,500 of them, give or take.

City Councilors also have constituents in the Albuquerque Public Schools and who depend on the APS for their education.  They have about 9,666 each, by my estimation.

This while the leadership of the APS is deeply mired in an ethics, standards and accountability crisis.

Not one of the mayor or city councilors has weighed in on the crisis.  (I will not only bow to; I will welcome controverting evidence.)

Why is this scandal of no concern to the mayor and city councilors, apparently?

Ayn Rand suggested that,

to fear to face an issue 
is to believe that the worst is true.
Are the mayor and councilors throwing no stones because
they live in an ethics, standards and accountability
glass house of their own?

Update; three hours later, the Mayor was on KOB TV, link.
“I’m hopeful that they will make that decision on Monday so that we can get back to the business of educating our kids,” Berry said. “As the mayor it is imperative that we have an education system that works for our families - works for our kids."

photo Mark Bralley

Ethics; the third rail in the examination of the APS debacle

"For those of you in Rio Linda ...";

Some large train sets, like subways, have three rails.
The third rail carries enormous amounts of electricity.
Touching one can be immediately fatal.
In (APS school board) politics, a third rail is;
A dangerous area of discussion, a point at which
the mere mention of a subject result is disaster.
Ethics, standards and accountability are APS' third rail.

Ethics, for the purposes of this discussion, can mean any standards of conduct higher than the law.  All "higher" standards are "higher than the law".  The law represents the lowest standards of conduct acceptable among civilized human beings.

Why will no one talk about ethics in the leadership of the APS?  Why does the mere mention of honest to God accountability to higher standards of conduct in public service mean disaster for the school board and senior administration?

For one, there is none.  Despite what the board would have you believe, there is no accountability to higher standards of conduct for anyone in the entire leadership of the APS.  The school board's own code of ethics is, by their own admission, utterly unenforceable.

There are two reasons as far as I can reason, that politicians and public servants in the leadership of APS will not hold themselves actually and honestly accountable higher standards of conduct; standards like those they establish and enforce upon students;
1. A lack of courage; they are afraid to be held actually accountable to higher standards of conduct than the law. and or
2. A lack of character; they do not want to be held accountable to higher standards of conduct than the law.
They avoid the conversation like the plague, because they can't articulate any good and ethical justification for their lack of accountability.

Interestingly, ethics and accountability are a third rail when it comes to the establishment's media as well.  Why?
1. It could be a lack of character.  Maybe I'm telling the truth when I say Journal Editor in Chief Kent Walz and others are part of a conspiracy to cover up an ethics, standards and accountability crisis in the leadership of the APS.
2.  It could be a lack of courage.  Perhaps they are afraid to point out the ethics and accountability crisis in the leadership of the APS because light will be cast on their own ethics and accountability.
Or, there could be another reason; one I cannot imagine,
and one that not one of them, has or will articulate.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

You can't get fingerprinted if your fingers aren't here

In an odd development,
former APS Deputy Supt.
Jason Martinez claims his
fingers have been in Colorado
the whole time; he never
violated the terms of his
release on bail.

The whole time we've been paying his salary, he wasn't even here.

OK, that works for a defense of allegations that he left Colorado illegally, but not so well for the district and stake and interest holders.

APS is pretty sure his key card was used a few times, but apparently can't prove who used it.  It has been suggested that Martinez is just the kind of guy who would have someone swipe his card for him.

But who?

Update; APS School Board Member Steven Michael Quezada on this subject has tweeted;

The man is a habitual liar. Don't believe anything that man or his lawyer says
Further update; KOB TV is running videos of Martinez in town and even speaking at a school board meeting 3 weeks ago.

Valentino confirms the need for an audit(s) of APS' administration

I have been arguing for a long, long time, that there is a need for an independent audit of the administration of the APS.

Embattled APS Supt. Luis Valentino agrees.

The leader among the professional news outlets in the scandal coverage, NM Political Report, comes with an interview, link, and this from Valentino;

From day one, I’ve said we really need to revisit every single system because some of them needed a lot of work. HR was one. That’s why I wanted audits coming in the door. I think I was here one week before I realized that we needed to do that. If we had begun audits in HR, it probably ..."
The revisits of which he speaks are audits.  The systems of which he speaks are departments like Human Resources.  Some of them need a lot of work.  He figured it out in a week.

There is only one difference between the audits I propose and the ones Valentino says we need.  The findings of the audit I propose would be made public; Valentino's would remain secret from stake and interest holders forever - or until pried loose after expensive and interminable litigation.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The rehabilitation of trust in the leadership of the APS

Trust in the leadership of the APS is as low as I have ever seen it.

The online petition, link, for the dismissal of APS Supt. Luis Valentino will have more than 2,000 signatures sometime this morning.

There is no reason to believe that,
if there were an online petition for the removal of the school board, it wouldn't attract as many signatures and just as quickly.

Witness the increasing demands for the resignation of APS School Board President Don Duran.

There is widespread belief that the trust that stake and interest holders have placed in the leadership of the APS has been betrayed through incompetence and or outright corruption.

A few people, mostly radio show hosts, are asking;

what will it take to restore trust in APS leaders?

It will take nothing less than
Honest to God accountability to meaningful
standards of conduct and competence
within their public service
Swift and certain accountability for even the most powerful of them, to clear and unequivocal standards of conduct and competence.

Fortunately, there are such standards and they are immediately available to the board.  They are the standards that the board establishes and enforces upon students; APS student standards of conduct.  Since 1994, students have been expected to model and promote accountability to a nationally recognized, accepted and respected code of ethical conduct; the Pillars of Character Counts!, link.

Not only is the leadership of the APS not actually, honestly accountable to those standards (as the senior-most role models of accountability to the standards they establish and enforce), they will not go so far as to admit that that their obligations as role models even exist.

APS student standards of conduct have this to say about

When others trust us, they give us greater leeway because they feel we don’t need monitoring to assure that we’ll meet our obligations. They believe in us and hold us in higher esteem. That’s satisfying. At the same time, we must constantly live up to the expectations of others and refrain from even small lies or self-serving behavior that can quickly destroy our relationships.

Simply refraining from deception is not enough. Trustworthiness is the most complicated of the six core ethical values and concerns a variety of qualities like honesty, integrity, reliability and loyalty.

There is no more fundamental ethical value than honesty. We associate honesty with people of honor, and we admire and rely on those who are honest. But honesty is a broader concept than many may realize. It involves both communications and conduct.

Honesty in communications is expressing the truth as best we know it and not conveying it in a way likely to mislead or deceive. There are three dimensions:
  1. Truthfulness. Truthfulness is presenting the facts to the best of our knowledge. Intent is the crucial distinction between truthfulness and truth itself. Being wrong is not the same thing as lying, although honest mistakes can still damage trust insofar as they may show sloppy judgment.
  2. Sincerity. Sincerity is genuineness, being without trickery or duplicity. It precludes all acts, including half-truths, out-of-context statements, and even silence, that are intended to create beliefs or leave impressions that are untrue or misleading.
  3. Candor. In relationships involving legitimate expectations of trust, honesty may also require candor, forthrightness and frankness, imposing the obligation to volunteer information that another person needs to know.
Honesty in conduct is playing by the rules, without stealing, cheating, fraud, subterfuge and other trickery. Cheating is a particularly foul form of dishonesty because one not only seeks to deceive but to take advantage of those who are not cheating. It’s a two-fer: a violation of both trust and fairness.

Not all lies are unethical, even though all lies are dishonest. Huh? That’s right, honesty is not an inviolate principle. Occasionally, dishonesty is ethically justifiable, as when the police lie in undercover operations or when one lies to criminals or terrorists to save lives. But don’t kid yourself: occasions for ethically sanctioned lying are rare and require serving a very high purpose indeed, such as saving a life — not hitting a management-pleasing sales target or winning a game or avoiding a confrontation.

The word integrity comes from the same Latin root as "integer," or whole number. Like a whole number, a person of integrity is undivided and complete. This means that the ethical person acts according to her beliefs, not according to expediency. She is also consistent. There is no difference in the way she makes decisions from situation to situation, her principles don’t vary at work or at home, in public or alone.

Because she must know who she is and what she values, the person of integrity takes time for self-reflection, so that the events, crises and seeming necessities of the day do not determine the course of her moral life. She stays in control. She may be courteous, even charming, but she is never duplicitous. She never demeans herself with obsequious behavior toward those she thinks might do her some good. She is trusted because you know who she is: what you see is what you get.

People without integrity are called "hypocrites" or "two-faced."

Reliability (Promise-Keeping)
When we make promises or other commitments that create a legitimate basis for another person to rely upon us, we undertake special moral duties. We accept the responsibility of making all reasonable efforts to fulfill our commitments. Because promise-keeping is such an important aspect of trustworthiness, it is important to:
  • Avoid bad-faith excuses. Interpret your promises fairly and honestly. Don’t try to rationalize noncompliance.
  • Avoid unwise commitments. Before making a promise consider carefully whether you are willing and likely to keep it. Think about unknown or future events that could make it difficult, undesirable or impossible. Sometimes, all we can promise is to do our best.
  • Avoid unclear commitments. Be sure that, when you make a promise, the other person understands what you are committing to do.
Some relationships — husband-wife, employer-employee, citizen-country — create an expectation of allegiance, fidelity and devotion. Loyalty is a responsibility to promote the interests of certain people, organizations or affiliations. This duty goes beyond the normal obligation we all share to care for others.

Limitations to loyalty. Loyalty is a tricky thing. Friends, employers, co-workers and others may demand that we rank their interests above ethical considerations. But no one has the right to ask another to sacrifice ethical principles in the name of a special relationship. Indeed, one forfeits a claim of loyalty when he or she asks so high a price for maintaining the relationship.

Prioritizing loyalties. So many individuals and groups make loyalty claims on us that we must rank our loyalty obligations in some rational fashion. For example, it’s perfectly reasonable, and ethical, to look out for the interests of our children, parents and spouses even if we have to subordinate our obligations to other children, neighbors or co-workers in doing so.

Safeguarding confidential information. Loyalty requires us to keep some information confidential. When keeping a secret breaks the law or threatens others, however, we may have a responsibility to "blow the whistle."

Avoiding conflicting interests. Employees and public servants have a duty to make all professional decisions on merit, unimpeded by conflicting personal interests. They owe ultimate loyalty to the public.

photo Mark Bralley