Wednesday, September 27, 2006

APS Ethics Scandal; pick a side, cowboy up.

There is a fight going on.

On one side is the Leadership of the APS. They refuse to hold themselves honestly accountable to the same standard of conduct that applies to students. They refuse to be role models of the student standard of conduct.

On the other side there are those who believe that the Leadership of the APS should lead by their example. That they should be honestly accountable at the very least, to the student standard of conduct.

I don’t know how to use the phrase, “battle between good and evil” with out sounding histrionic. But if this is not, what is? I don’t know how much clearer the line can be drawn.

I don’t know how the stakes could higher.

There are times in life where you pretty much have to pick a side. You watch, you consider, and you find that you simply must pick a side.

The moment of truth is that time when you realize what you have to do; and then must summon the courage to do it.

Confucius wrote, "To know what is right and not to do it is the worst cowardice."

Those who wait for better circumstances to make their stand, in the end will have made no stand at all.

Climbing off the fence will always mean sacrifice. It often requires courage.

When the danger has passed, so has the opportunity to display courage. The line between heroism and cowardice is in fact, a point. It is a moment. And when the moment has passed; the same act will never be more than too little and too late.

If we truly want our children to embrace character and courage and honor, then we must show them what it looks like. Now is a moment of truth.

I confess to an admiration for the builders of Stonehenge. The admiration isn’t inspired by the moving and placing of giant stones. A greater wonder is that someone could say something that compelled so many people to help with such a monumental and seemingly impossible task.

I wish that I knew what to say to get a few hundred people to go to a school board meeting.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

APS senior administrator, APS chief of police

When APS senior administrator Michael Vigil was being arrested for aggravated drunk driving, he sought to escape accountability. He sought to contact a number of influential people, I suspect in the hope that they would use their influence to save him.

Why do you suppose, among candidates was the APS chief of police?

Why, when the media reported the story, was the name of the APS chief of police underreported?

Why is it that whenever APS fires a senior administrator, they have to give them a bunch of money? Might it have something to do with suppressing the truth about incompetence and corruption in APS?

How many APS administrators, who represented criminal and civil exposure for the District, no longer work for APS, but now have better jobs with APS vendors. I can think of two right off the top of my head.

APS Public Forum

At the beginning of the Public Forum at an APS school board meeting; the rules are read.

Among them; the board does not answer questions.

They would like to have you believe that the rules prevent them from answering questions.

They write the rules. They don’t want to answer questions.

Questions like, Will you hold yourself honestly accountable to the same standard of ethical conduct that applies to students?

APS Ethics Scandal; incompetence and corruption unchecked

Most of what is wrong with public service has to do with incompetence and corruption. More fundamentally it has to do with a system that tolerates incompetence and corruption. Corruption exists only because it can; the system allows it.

A system deliberately and intelligently designed to illuminate incompetence and corruption would likely eliminate them. The system has to be changed.

The system is not now fixed because those who have the power to fix it, don’t want it fixed. It is not in their interests.

There is only one check for incompetence and corruption; accountability. Accountability is fatal to incompetence and corruption.

The Leadership of the APS will not admit accountability to any meaningful standard of conduct.

When dodging accountability, two things happen; standards are lowered, and the complaint process is disabled.

The Leadership of APS has lowered the standard. Once accountable to a widely recognized, accepted and respective code of ethical conduct; they are now accountable to none; deliberately, methodically, and in their self interest.

They have disabled the complaint process. There is no procedure in the APS to hold an administrator or board member honestly accountable for ethical misconduct.

The record will show that they do not hold themselves accountable even to the law. When they repealed their accountability to a code of ethics; they created an opportunity for themselves; unethical litigation. A powerful law firm related to the school board by marriage, on what appears to be an unlimited budget, and willing to litigate unethically; can save board members and administrators from accountability, even to the law.

I have been making this argument for quite some time. It has been acknowledged by neither the APS Leadership nor the media. Both are problematic.

The Leadership of the APS, the board, superintendent, and Modrall, will not respond to this allegation. There is only one reason not to respond. The allegation is true. They do refuse to be held honestly accountable to any meaningful standard of conduct. Their position is indefensible.

The media will not report the story. By this I mean they will not assign a reporter to conduct an impartial investigation and then report the truth to stakeholders. This has been true even during the past two elections and will likely be true during the next.

Unfortunately, the media is the only real hope of addressing the problem. The APS axis controls the system. The system will not hold them accountable. They can be held accountable only by stakeholders.

If a thousand people attend a board meeting to insist that APS Leadership be accountable to a higher standard of conduct; those eight public servants would be compelled either to hold themselves honestly accountable to the same standard that applies to students, or resign.

If stakeholders are kept ignorant, they will never assemble in numbers large enough to effect a change. How do you get a thousand people to go to a board meeting if the media wants the truth suppressed as well?

Monday, September 25, 2006

Trust; a poor substitute for honest accountability.

One system that guarantees accountability is worth a hundred assurances that such a system is unnecessary. “…because you can trust us.”

Public service offers no guarantee that in the conduct of that service, public servants will be accountable to a meaningful standard of conduct.

The responsibility for this situation falls squarely upon the shoulders of public servants. It is they who have failed to safeguard the power entrusted to them. It is they who have created and maintain a system that enables incompetence and corruption to not only survive, but thrive.

It is the responsibility of public servants to provide for the protection of the power of the people. It was they who should have created a system that by its fundamental nature illuminates corruption and incompetence; and thereby, eliminates them.

It is ironic that in order to safeguard our power, we are compelled to give it away to individuals who have not, are not, and will not use that power to protect us from its abuse.

Perhaps our best hope to change the system is to fight back. The only other hope would be that public servants will do something that they are not now doing and that they have never done before.

The Leaders of the APS, eight pubic servants and their lawyers, refuse to accept accountability for their conduct. Their position is absolutely indefensible. Their only option is to suppress the truth.

Accountability is fatal to the abuse of power. There is only one reason to oppose accountability and that is to avoid accountability.

They can be stopped; but only by a large crowd at the next board meeting, and the next, and the next. One night, the crowd will be too large to ignore and the Leadership of the APS will find itself honestly accountable to a meaningful standard of conduct in their public service, both as role models and as the stewards of public funds.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

APS board meeting record falsified

A record is kept of meetings of the school board. It is a video tape compilation, normally from tapes from two cameras. I have been assured by Russell Reed, APS videographer, that when he edits the tapes, he combines footage in a manner that preserves the second by second history of the meeting. Were that not his own representation, it is certainly the requirement of any meaningful standard of ethical conduct.

The version of the board meeting that is being broadcast on TalNet, ch. 96, is missing some seconds; it is missing a lot of seconds. An inconvenient truth has been edited out of the historical record.

Each member of the board has been asked if they will hold themselves honestly accountable to a meaningful standard of conduct. They have been asked to hold themselves accountable to the same standard of conduct that applies to students.

Their repeated response has been, no.

In fact, when asked the question, they sit in silence; always with their eyes hidden from their constituents. They have done so five times in as many board meetings.

A constituent watching the board meeting on TV will not see the board members response to my question. Their response has been edited from history. They will not allow themselves to be held accountable to the truth. Likely; they will be successful.

I don't know if this constitutes criminal misconduct. Even if it is criminal; the Modrall Law Firm will ensure that no one is held accountable; even to the law.

Eight public servants and their lawyers are demonstrating that they can do what ever they want to do; and there’s nothing you can do about it.

Public servants are dictating the terms of their service. This is absurd.

Do the rules apply only to the little people?

Apparently so.

And where is the media?

The Trib spins the APS Ethics Scandal

Consider the eight ounce glass holding four ounces of water. The pessimist’s spin is that the glass is half empty. The optimist’s spin is that the glass is half full. Both spins are fundamentally true statements from a different perspective. And that is what legitimate spin is; a different perspective but fundamentally true.

Consider now the Tribune editors’ “spin” on APS and the Bond Issue Election.

The truth is that a small percentage of voters split 57/43 in favor of the bond. The truth is that before the election a concerted effort was made to separate the bond issue from an endorsement of APS. The truth is that a lot of voters held their noses while they voted for buildings for children. A lot of voters wanted to vote no, and did vote no, because the Leadership of APS no longer enjoys public support. This lack of confidence was precisely the reason the previous bond issue failed.

The editors’ spin; “…voters just gave the district a pretty strong vote of confidence…” “APS voters delivered a decisive mandate…”

Editorial is short for editorial opinion. It allows spin. It does not allow deliberate deception. The Tribune has refused to report the APS Ethics Scandal through two elections now. They will likely suppress the truth through another election early next year. This is not spin. This is a betrayal of public trust.

The Tribune editors deserve one big boo for their unswerving assistance to the Leadership of the APS in their effort to conceal corruption, incompetence, and ethical misconduct.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

APS Leadership and Moral Courage

For twelve years, I have tried to establish for the Leadership of the APS, honest accountability to the same standard of conduct that applies to students.

I left my Character Counts training 12 years ago, believing that Character Counts was the best shot we ever had, ever would have, to turn children into adults with character and courage and honor.

I remember feeling my heart sink, when Michael Josephson answered a question about the role of administrative leadership in promoting Character Counts. He said that is was going to have to be a grassroots effort. The subordinates were going to have to inspire the leadership to commitment.

I guess I knew then that Character Counts was destined to fail. Never the less, I spent twelve years trying to get the Leadership of the APS to model and promote the Pillars of Character Counts.

That specific phrase used to be in the standards of conduct for the leadership. At one time they were actually expected to model and promote the Pillars of Character Counts; the same expectation that applied to students.

Now they are not. They removed that expectation from the standard of conduct to which they are held accountable.

Now every adult telling a child that their character depends on holding themselves accountable to a higher standard; models hypocrisy. They are not themselves, accountable to a higher standard of conduct. They expect more from the child than they expect from themselves.

History teaches us that no younger generation has ever met the standards of their parents generation. Invariably though, they live up to the example that is set for them.

Every generation expects the next generation to be the first to hold itself honestly accountable to a higher standard of conduct. It hasn’t worked, it doesn’t work, it will never work.

For five board meetings in a row, I have stood up at public forum and asked the Leadership of the APS to hold themselves honestly accountable to the same standard that applies to students. At each of those meetings I prepared a handout that explaining the problem and asking for support.

Still I am standing alone. Is there not a single administrator in APS that is willing to stand up and hold themselves accountable to the standard that they enforce upon students?

Is there not a single Character Counts advocate who will stand up for what they believe in?

Not a single teacher; or parent, or community member?

Not a single voter? Not only are they refusing accountability as role models for students; they are refusing accountability as stewards of public money.

Why won’t anyone stand up?

“All that is necessary for evil to prevail in the world, is for good men to do nothing” burke

Friday, September 22, 2006

APS should clean house…

… wrote Joline Gutierrez Krueger of the Trib. APS has “homework” was the Journal’s pathetic stab at the issue.

The thrust of Krueger’s article was that APS should clean house before the next bond election; or face the possibility of losing. The premise is sound. It begs the question; will they?

There is an old saw that says, where there is smoke, there is fire. I cannot recall an honest opinion of the APS, which did not acknowledge the widespread belief that the culture of APS Leadership tolerates incompetence, corruption, and dodging accountability.

Right now, the Leadership of APS refuses, on the record, to be held accountable for their conduct. Five times in as many board meetings, they have refused to hold themselves honestly accountable for their conduct. This is not smoke; this is fire.

Why should they? People do the “right” thing for one of two reasons: virtue and self-interest.

Will APS clean house because it is the right thing to do? If there were that virtue in the Leadership of APS, the house wouldn’t be this dirty. The truth would not need to be hidden. Honest accountability would not be being rejected.

Will the Leaders of the APS clean house in their own self interest? If a clean house were in their self interest, the house would not be dirty. If the truth supported their interests, they would be telling it. If they were willing to be held accountable, they would answer yes, when they are asked:

Will you hold yourself honestly accountable to the same standard of conduct that applies to student?

Five times they have sat in silence rather than answer the question. This is not smoke, this is fire.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

APS: “Breaking the faith” still on the table.

The APS axis, eight people and their lawyers, sit a top a vast empire. There are at least a few people on the west side, who believe the best interests of their community would be served by a division of that empire.

The counter attack to preserve the empire includes the following threat: If you split from the District, you will leave your share of the bond money here. You will pay increased property taxes, but you will receive none of the money.

Paula Maes said, “Where are they going to get the money?” “They’re not thinking straight.”

According to this morning’s Journal, Modrall lawyer, Art Melendrez said, the board is not “legally” required to use the money raised Tuesday for West Side schools.

Again according to the Journal, Melendrez was able to recognize that changing the plan “would probably be viewed as breaking the faith” … with voters.

Gee, do ya think?

You will notice that he did cover the collective butt though; he said “probably”. Nobody really knows for sure. Right?

For the record, if the Leadership of APS were honestly accountable to a meaningful standard of conduct, breaking the faith would no longer be on the table. It would never have been placed on the table.

APS sleight of hand.

Before the school bond issue election; voters were assured by pretty much everyone that, the election was about kids/buildings, it was not about APS Leadership.

Now that the bond issue has passed, 57% of a frighteningly low turnout has apparently endorsed APS Leadership as well.

The Journal, this morning, quotes APS School Board President, Character Counts Leadership Council President, New Mexico Broadcasters Association President, and Modrall Law’s First Lady, Paula Maes.

“If the bond had failed, I think, the mayor would have had a lot better ground to stand on because he would have said, ‘Look, the community doesn’t trust APS to manage this huge amount of money.’ “ Maes said, “It’s going to be harder for him to say that now.”

Now, after the avalanche of community support for eight people, not one of whom will hold themselves accountable even to the student standard of conduct.

The problem is global, APS is only one example.

The single worst problem in public service is incompetence and corruption. Both of which exist because we have failed to provide for honest accountability to a meaningful standard of conduct.

The axis of the school board, administration, and Modrall, fundamentally public servants all, is standing squarely against any form of honest accountability to a meaningful standard of conduct.

If eight people and their lawyers can carry off creating an exception for themselves; who exactly do you think ever will be held accountable, in their public service, to a meaningful standard of conduct? On whom will you launch the first real challenge to abusive power?

There is no precedent. Where are there public servants who are held immediately and unequivocally accountable for their conduct as they wield the power of the people; power on loan to them; power entrusted to them?

If not them, then who?

If not now, then when?

If not you, then who?

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

So, I guess asking you to resign is out of the question?

For the fifth time in as many board meetings, the APS board and administration refused to answer the question.

As stewards of 351 million dollars, and as the role models for 98,000 of our sons and daughters, will you hold yourself honestly accountable to the same standard of ethical conduct that applies to students?

For the fifth time they sat in silence until my time expired.

The answer is no, folks. The answer is no.

So I asked them if they would resign; the answer was no.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Kill the head; kill the roots?

Some problems are reasonably likened to a snake; the appropriate solution delivered to the head. There are problems like weeds whose solution is applied to the roots.

Such is the problem of incompetence and corruption in public service. It will do no good to kill or replace the head. It must be attacked at its roots.

The greatest irony in the “power of the people” is that the people are not in charge of its use. They can only wield their power through intermediaries. The root of incompetence and corruption in public service is the failure of the people to provide for immediate and absolute accountability for those intermediaries.

The people allow the terms of public service to be determined by the (public) servant. It is absurd.

Systemic incompetence and corruption will not be eliminated by those whose existence depends on a system that tolerates incompetence and corruption.

Everitt alone is reason enough…

Phill Casaus, Albuquerque Tribune Editor, writes, “Everitt alone is reason enough to vote for the $351 million bond issue…” He is a voter, and that is his absolute prerogative.

Other voters might feel differently. And they are every bit as entitled to allow their decision to depend on that single aspect; or upon other aspects of the issue.

In his commentary, Casaus can mention or not, any aspect of the issue that moves him. On every other page of the paper, he has an obligation to mention every aspect of the issue. Voters rely upon the media in order to cast informed ballots. They trust the media for an impartial and unbiased presentation of the truth.

The media like everyone else telling half the truth; is being entirely deceptive.

There are voters who are legitimately concerned that money appropriated to APS will be wasted. The fact that the board and superintendent steadfastly refuse to be held honestly accountable to a code of ethics, speaks to the concern that the money will not be spent ethically. It is an “issue” in this election.

The APS Axis of the Board, Administration, and Modrall, has decided that voters will not contemplate issues of corruption and incompetence in their consideration of the bond issue. The decision is entirely consistent with their need to suppress the truth.

Inconsistent, is the media’s decision to support that decision. It is inconsistent with their obligation to inform voters fully and fairly.

This ball needs to be kicked on to the field before the election. Voters have a right to know.

This is a case on point for the need for ethical reform in public service.

What is ethical reform if it is not accountability to the truth? Suppressing the truth is not illegal; but it is unethical.

When and where will ethical reform begin, if not here and now?

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Just say no.

Winston Churchill said that, if there is no solution, there is no problem.

We have no problem with corrupt and incompetent public service. That, which causes individuals to surrender to temptation, is human nature. “Better humans” is not a solution.

The underlying problem, for which there is a solution, is that the system tolerates, enables, maybe promotes, corruption and incompetence. The solution is to impose a system that is unfriendly to corruption and incompetence. To the extent we can accomplish that, corruption and incompetence are proportionally exposed and deterred.

The first ethical use of power is to ensure that that power cannot be abused, ever.

Clearly we cannot fix the “system”. But there is a weak spot, an Achilles’ heel.

Once the hypothesis is proved, that the people can take their power back when their power is being abused, a precedent is established. If the school board can be held honestly accountable to a meaningful standard, why not the city council, or the legislature?

Who defines the terms of public service, the public or the servant?

Standing in the way are eight people (seven elected, one appointed) and their lawyers.

They are on the record refusing to be held honestly accountable even to the standard to which they still hold students accountable.

Voters want accountability to a higher standard, the servants do not. The servant’s position is indefensible; except by exercising their power to table the discussion.

Corruption exists only because it can.

All we have to do is stand up and say no.

Next Wednesday, the 2oth, 5:00 pm, APS board room.

Lt. Governor Diane Denish joins APS apologists.

On the radio this morning, we are assured by Ms. Denish that none of the APS Bond Issue money will go (directly) into the pockets of APS Administrators in salaries.

Red herring. (from the practice of drawing a red herring across a trail to confuse hunting dogs: something that distracts attention from the real issue). It has never been suggested that there was any connection between the school bond and salaries.

The herring was dragged in front of us to take our eye off the ball. Can these people can be trusted with our money? The issue is whether we trust APS Leadership as stewards of a third of a billion dollars. How can it not be an issue?

Governor Richardson referred in his recent op-ed, to a “persuasive” “argument” that these eight individuals have “a long history of dodging accountability when it comes to managing (their) finances and modernizing schools.”

How is this not an election issue?

It is not an issue, because the board/administration/Modrall axis says so. They have decided that voters will not contemplate the character of the board and administration as they decide whether or not their money is safe and destined for appropriate use.

APS Leaders have decided that they will not be held honestly accountable to any meaningful standard of conduct.

They can’t be touched. They are public servants and they are using the power entrusted to them to save themselves from accountability. Our power, in their hands, makes them too powerful to be held accountable to the even to the law.

This is diametrically opposite to the notion of public servants as “servants”. A notion that I suspect is as old as our republic.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Character Counts. It's a declarative sentence.

"Character Counts" is a declarative sentence. Mostly you see it with an exclamation mark. Character counts a lot.

Or does it? Cheaters never win! Or do they? A persuasive argument could be made that character doesn’t count; at least not as much as money, or power. If character counted, character would be omnipresent.

Character counts sometimes. Character counts with some people.

Most people would agree I think, we are better off as a civilization if we successfully encourage our children to value character; theirs and in others.

If that is really our interest, then we have to stop rejecting the standard which we expect children to embrace.

Younger generations have always fallen short of parents’ standards. Rarely have they fallen short of their parents’ example. It seems like every generation expects the next generation to be the first to hold them selves accountable to a higher standard.

Character is taught by example. It is taught only by example. Our children will not make sacrifices that we will not make ourselves. Why should they; because we tell them to? Hypocrisy is a poor teacher. “Example has more followers than reason.” Bovee

If we really want our children to embrace character and courage and honor; then we must as well. They have to see us leading by our example.

Any standard worthy of their allegiance is worthy of our own. We have to show them what it looks like to hold one’s self accountable to a standard of conduct. We cannot do that except by holding ourselves honestly accountable to a standard of conduct.

So far we have shown them only that we are willing to be held accountable to the law; a standard so low that one who fails to meet it might be caged. And, if you ask me, we doing a damn poor job of showing children that we are accountable even to the law.

At some point we must accept the responsibility of role models and live up to the obligations that that implies.

A worthy candidate or cause should be able to garner votes by illuminating the truth.

To the extent that votes must be earned by deception, whether by omission or commission; mustn’t the candidate or cause admit to unworthiness commensurate to the magnitude of the deception?

It is three days before the vote on the school bond issue.

In theory, the bond vote represents the expressed will of an informed community. In theory, voters will have discussed and debated all of the essential issues; and then based on their understanding of the truth; they will express their will at the polls.

In practice, voters are really not that well informed; they don’t know the whole truth. If that situation exists because the voter is lethargic; it is acceptable (on some level). If the situation exists because of a deliberate and methodical effort to dis-inform voters; it is not acceptable. It is perverse.

Because of a deliberate and methodical effort to suppress the truth; voters will not know the whole truth about the would be stewards of 351M dollars. That is unacceptable. The issue is germane to the approval of a bond issue. We cannot represent a belief and faith in democracy, and at once support its perversion.

The test is simple. Imagine the policy or philosophy, that allows this issue to be deliberately and methodically suppressed; and yet protects the practice of democracy on issues about which we feel differently. Talk about slippery slopes.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

How bad do you want it?

Do you want (your) children to grow up to embrace a higher standard of conduct?

If yes, then you have no choice but to model that standard for them. Some one has to show them what it looks like.

It seems as though the younger generation has always fallen short of the standards set by their parents. But they almost never fall short of the example set by their parents.

If we really want our children to hold themselves accountable to a higher standard; we will have to lead by our example.

Children completing Character Counts class used to get a tee shirt that on its front and back read;

Stand up for what you believe in
even if you are standing alone.

During a child’s moment of truth, they should never find themselves alone. There should be an adult behind them offering encouragement and support; an adult beside them sharing the load; and an adult in front of them leading by their example.

It seems silly to try to write about the role modeling and other important things; when so many others have said it so well.

Aphorisms; you either love them or hate them. I hope you appreciate some of the ones I reflect on.

"To educate a person in mind and not in morals is to educate a menace to society." Theodore Roosevelt

"Don't worry that children never listen to you. Worry that they are always watching you." Fulghum

"Children need models rather than critics." Joubert

“The question for the child is not ‘Do I want to be good?’ but ‘Whom do I want to be like?’ ” Bettelheim

“Example has more followers than reason.” Bovee

"Why are we surprised when fig trees bear figs?" Titzel

"If we want our children to possess the traits of character we most admire, we need to teach them what those traits are and why they deserve both admiration and allegiance. Children must learn to identify the forms and content of those traits." Bennett
"The formation of character in young people is educationally a different task from and a prior task to, the discussion of the great, difficult ethical controversies of the day." Bennett

"It is strangely absurd to suppose that a million of human beings, collected together, are not under the same moral laws which bind each of them separately." Thomas Jefferson

"To see what is right and not to do it is cowardice." Confucius

"Great occasions do not make heroes or cowards; they simply unveil them to the eyes. Silently and imperceptibly, as we wake or sleep, we grow strong or we grow weak, and at last some crisis shows us what we have become." Brooke Foss Westcott

"All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing." Edmund Burke

"The sad truth is that most evil is done by people who never make up their minds to be good or evil." Arendt

"Most people are good only so long as they believe others to be so." Friedrich Hebbel

"No one ever became extremely wicked suddenly." Juvenal,

[Because power corrupts] “Society’s demands for moral authority and character increase as the importance of the position increases.” John Adams

"If we lived in a state where virtue was profitable, common sense would make us saintly. But since we see that avarice, anger, pride and stupidity commonly profit far beyond charity, modesty, justice and thought, perhaps we must stand fast a little, even at the risk of being heroes." A Man For All Seasons

“The people have a right, an indisputable, unalienable, indefeasible, divine right to that most dreaded and envied kind of knowledge – I mean of the character and conduct of their rulers.” John Adams

"Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power." Abraham Lincoln

“I am only one, but still, I am one. I cannot do everything but I can do something. And, because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do what I can.” Edward Everett Hale

“We cannot do everything at once, but we can do something at once.” Calvin Coolidge

The New Mexico Inspection of Public Records Act

The NMIPRA requires public servants to surrender the truth (in so far as that truth is represented in the form of public records); even against their will.

Under the NMIPRA, I have asked for records (contact information) in order to inform stakeholders about the Ethics Scandal in APS. They have a right to know the truth.

I have asked for contact information for; administrators, teachers, students, parent groups; the community. I have asked for contact information for individual members of the Character Counts Leadership Council.

The Leaders of APS will not surrender the truth.

This allegation is substantiated by current public records. The evidence is incontrovertible.

But the point is moot. They won't surrender those records either. It isn't in their interest. obey the law.

They are breaking the law with impunity.

The Board/Administration/Modrall axis is too powerful to be held accountable to the law.

It is so powerful that it can suppress the truth.

It is powerful enough even to keep the truth out of the news. Through two elections.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

“one can give without caring; but one cannot care without giving”

And one cannot care and not pick a side and cowboy up.

There are those who will and will not be accountable to a higher standard. Pick a side. Cowboy up.

Open letter to APS teachers.

You know that if students were more respectful and responsible good citizens, trustworthy, caring and fair; test scores would go up. No (fewer anyway) child would be left behind.

Before APS Leaders stopped asking the question, every year a majority of teachers indicated that classroom disruptions interfered with education.

To fix that problem, we can; ignore/deny it or we can specifically address it. We can address it with an approach around the value of character, like Character Counts; or we can use some other model.

I know of no significantly better model. The District has already endorsed Character Counts; there is at least a toe in the door.

The choice is really; ignore/deny or try modeling Character Counts.

Your board and senior leadership have excepted themselves (and you) from honest accountability to the Pillars of Character Counts. They refuse to be held accountable as role models of Character Counts.

Which pretty much does it for the credibility of Character Counts in APS.

Paula Maes, the School Board President, is the President of the Character Counts Leadership Council. But she and the board and the superintendent will not be held accountable to the same standard to which they hold students accountable.

The Director of the APS Character Counts has betrayed Character Counts. Carole Smith has kept the truth from those who trusted her. And Toby Herrera, and DeeDee Stroud; all of them are senior APS administrators.

The new Employee Standards of Conduct apply to you. Every employee is painted with the same brush.

”…in no case shall the standard for an adult be lower than the standard for students…”

In your name that phrase, and that expectation are no longer part of the standard against which your character will be measured.

The phrase was removed by the senior leadership in order that they could no longer be held accountable to a code of ethical conduct.

The APS Ethics Scandal will be exposed only if those who are willing to stand up and be counted in support of Character Counts, and decency, and courage, and honor; actually stand up to be counted.

At every school board meeting until we have leadership that is honestly accountable to higher standard of conduct.

Please copy this letter to other teachers.

Thank you for your time and attention.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Negative campaigns; or not?

That question begs the question; who decided on that premise?

The servant rode the master.

A servant does not define the terms of servitude.

Why are the public servants defining the terms of public service?

The consensus among voters will determine what a campaign looks like.

When was it decided, by whom was it decided, that you could ask for someone’s vote and never look them in the eye?

Candidates will stand and deliver on any legitimate question or defend their refusal.


Sez who?

In the next election, will the servant again mount the master? Looks like.

APS Ethics Scandal Still Unrefuted

Despite ample opportunity to refute allegations of ethical and criminal misconduct, the record will show none.

My web log will absolutely tell the truth. I will stand in defense of my allegations in any venue.

Bond Outcome Too Important to Let Voters Decide.

If the vote on the bond issue read:

Loan a third of a billion dollars to eight people; not one of whom will be held accountable to a higher standard (than the law).

Would voters cast their votes differently?

Governor Richardson referred in his recent op-ed, to a “persuasive” “argument” that these eight individuals have “a long history of dodging accountability when it comes to managing (their) finances and modernizing schools.”

Is this an election issue? Should voters talk about this before they vote? Will they? Do they have a right to?

People trust the media to give them the information they need to vote intelligently. Many absolutely rely upon the media to help them understand the truth. The obligation of the media to report the truth is much like APS Leaders commitment to Model and Promote the Pillars of Character Counts. It looks good on letterhead, is the stuff of great speeches; but, it's not really enforceable.

I was told by an editor (or news director, I don’t remember) that corruption in APS is old news and people don’t want to hear about it anymore. An editor told me that if I could get a petition with 600 signatures of people who cared about the APS ethics scandal; she might consider assigning a reporter. I don’t think that there is any question as to newsworthiness. The decision not to report the truth is manifest abuse of power. It is a betrayal of trust.

The media in this town know the truth; the community doesn’t. And powerful people are so hooked up that, no one can do anything about it; especially one old shop teacher.

You won’t read the truth about the APS Ethics Scandal in the papers, you won’t see it on the news, but you can find it at Diogenes’six.

Monday, September 11, 2006

APS’s Praetorian Guard (the School Police)

From their own website: (This quote does not fairly represent its context.)

The primary focus is directed toward assisting the school principal ...

But it does fairly represent the function of the school police. If your interest is in escaping accountability; it works to have the police working for you. There is a reason that when Michael Vigil was arrested for aggravated drunk driving; he asked that Gil Lovato (the chief of police) be allowed to come to his rescue.

It’s all about controlling the truth.

When I asked Gil Lovato if the preatorian guard was certified or accredited by any outside organization; he said "no".

Have you ever noticed that APS can’t fire a senior administrator without giving them a quarter of a million or so when they leave? Ever wondered why?

Immunity for felony misconduct

My expose of the APS Ethics Scandal often includes the phrase; …unresolved allegations of ethical and criminal misconduct, including felony criminal misconduct.

The point is not so much that the allegations go unresolved as it is; the Leadership of APS represents a culture of ignoring rules and escaping accountability.

When the Council of Great City Schools did an independent audit of APS, they wrote about the evaluation system that the Leadership use for each other. They wrote …evaluations are subjective and unrelated to promotion or step placement. Does that sound like a system that ensures that the most capable administrators will be in charge of spending a third of a BILLION dollars?

There are allegations, mine, of ethical and criminal misconduct. Were all participants accountable to a code of ethics; those allegations would see a principled resolution. A principled resolution guarantees that the whole truth is considered by a competent and impartial third party. And that that consideration is guided by a set of agreed upon principles; in this case the Pillars of Character Counts.

There is only one reason to avoid a principled resolution; it is to avoid the exposure of the truth. Principled resolution of my complaints has been my consistent demand. Opposition to a principled resolution has been the only response by APS Leaders by and through its legal arm, the Modrall Firm.

There is substantial and irrefutable proof. That it is irrefutable is established by the fact that the record shows that not one allegation has been refuted (on the record, sworn testimony or admitted evidence). The proof of that statement exists in the form of public records.

Public records are accessible under the New Mexico Inspection of Public Records. According to the law, all one has to do is ask Rigo Chavez, APS Custodian of Public Records, for the opportunity to inspect and/or copy the records.

They sit in a box, neatly organized and available for immediate surrender; at least that is the intent of law.

Anyone can ask for them, but just try to get the Leadership of APS to surrender them.

There is a body of lawyers, specialists in Juris Mustelidae Mustela who stand between the intent of law and accountability to that intent (by powerful people). They will appear in cases like this; and they will deny your rights under the law.

Is this the example that we want to set for principals, teachers and 100,000 of our sons and daughters?

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Character Counts Leadership Council betrayed?

By way of background; Character Counts represents a widely recognized, accepted and respected code of ethics. It is the standard to which students in APS are held accountable. In my opinion, it is by far the most promising approach to children who we hope will come to embrace character and courage and honor.

It is also a network of organizations from locals to a national site. It is worth a google.

• The Character Counts Leadership Council is the local.
• There is also a Character Counts Office in APS; headed by one Carole Smith.
• Paula Maes, the School Board President, is also the President of the Leadership Council.
• As it pertains to (the lack of) attention by the media, Paula Maes is the President of the New Mexico Broadcasters Association.
• Paula Maes husband is the President of APS’s legal arm; the Modrall Law Firm.

As part of my strategy to address the APS Ethics Scandal, I have been trying to get people of gravitas to stand up and be counted in opposition to the efforts of the Leaders of APS.

I have tried to approach the Character Counts Leadership Council. It is difficult because the APS site where their contact information would be proudly displayed; displays only a bankrupt excuse for its absence.

I believe that APS Leaders have violated the New Mexico Inspection of Public Records Act, in their failure to provide contact information for the members of the Council. They have also failed to provide information to contact administrators; and teachers, and students, and their parents.

There are several people who know that I want to tell the Council the truth. And they sit on the Council. What have they shared with the Council? Do Council members know that their President, Paula Maes, refuses to be held honestly accountable to the Pillars of Character Counts? Do they know that APS Leaders have all excepted themselves from accountability to the Pillars of Character Counts?

That they know; is important. Character Counts recognizes the stakeholder right to autonomous decision making. They have a right to the truth. They have a right to decide for themselves whether they will ignore the APS Ethics Scandal, or will they stand up and be counted? They are being denied the right to make that decision by those who are suppressing the truth.

According to Character Counts doctrine:

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.

It would seem that council members, who know the truth, have some obligation to tell it.

Unless of course, there is no legitimate expectation of trust.

Sincerity: if you can fake it, you've got it made. Daniel Schorr

There is something especially obnoxious about betraying trust among people who place such high value upon it.

Their names are Paula Maes, Carole Smith, Toby Herrera, Dee Dee Stoud, and Lisa Breeden. In an odd irony, Lisa Breeden works for one of the founding fathers of Character Counts, Senator Pete Domenici.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Governor Richardson reminds us we're buying buildings.

He would like us to focus on the fact that APS desperately needs some money. He asks us to ignore the issues of

• Waste on, “bureaucratic red tape.”
• APS’s “…long history of dodging accountability…”
• “…ill will across the state.”,
• Legislative and community “…distrust of APS…”
• “…a lack of leadership…”

He reassures us that, “Following the election, I welcome a debate on potential solutions aimed at requiring more accountability in our schools.” As in “…giving Albuquerque’s Mayor some control over the city’s schools.”

I feel better already.

The problem is corruption and incompetence. The solution is honest accountability. By their own representation, the Leadership of APS will not hold themselves honestly accountable even to the standard they hold for students. And we are just supposed to ignore it. And early next year, when we approve another 125 million dollars and elect board members; will we just have to ignore it then as well?

How unimportant is trust when we’re talking about trusting people with a third of a billion dollars and no accountability?

Lower taxes your taxes

If we eliminate incompetence and corruption, by insisting on honest accountability in public service; our taxes will go down. Or I’ll eat a bug.

APS Administrators Guilty knowledge?

For the most this pertains to administrators in that they have the power and others don’t.

They can be divided into at least two groups. There are those who are incompetent and/or corrupt. And there are those who are neither incompetent nor corrupt; yet have guilty knowledge of the corruption and incompetence.

Guilty knowledge means you could have done something, you should have done something; but you didn’t. It means that there is nothing honorable or courageous, or even acceptable, about not doing the right thing.

In so far as incompetence and corruption are part of the District’s culture, it would be difficult to represent that you never, ever saw it.

I would grant the possibility, that there could be administrators who could look you in the eye and represent that they are so clueless that they could not see the truth.

Fortunately, there are also those who can show a record of the times that they have stood up for what they believed in; at some personal sacrifice.

Sometimes on specific issues, there is a group who are simply out of the loop.

There are those who really do not know that the Leadership of APS is excepting itself from honest accountability even to the student standard. Maybe, if they knew the truth, they would be outraged. Maybe Character Counts is a hill worth dying on.

They would stand for their students, and their parents, and their teachers. They would stand up for what they believe in, even if they stand alone.

The Leadership of APS has deliberately interfered with my efforts to contact administrators, teachers, students and parents.

This is a case on point. APS Leaders are not breaking the law when they deny autonomous decision making to stakeholders. It is an ethical concept. They cannot be held accountable for conduct which is legal, but never the less reprehensible. They cannot be held accountable because by their own decision, they are no longer accountable for ethical misconduct.

It worth noting that no credible explanation has been offered for the media’s failure to inform voters and their community about the APS Ethics Scandal.

The Chamber supports Character Counts. Not!

The Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce, in the person of Teri Cole, knew about the APS Ethics Scandal as early as early as June of this year.

I see no evidence that they have done anything but help to cover it up.

In my effort to address the APS Ethics Scandal, a betrayal of the Principles of Character Counts, leadership, and trust; I tried to contact the Character Counts Leadership Council. APS has denied my requess for the information that I need to contact its members.

I went to the Chamber of Commerce because they claim to support Character Counts.

From the Chamber's website:

Partnering with the local Character Counts! Leadership Council, the Chamber promotes the implementation of formal plans to advance Character Counts! in workplaces throughout the metro area.

(like the Albuquerque Public Schools main office?)

Teri Cole was informed of the nature, depth and breadth of the scandal. I think that she owes Chamber of Commerce members, the Character Counts Leadership Council, and the community, an explanation of her apparently inappropriate response. Teri Cole, if she claims to be a “believer” in the Pillars of Character Counts, had a responsibility to stand up and defend Character Counts and the community against the scandalous behavior of the Leadership of APS.

Now she needs to stand up and tell us why she did not.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Albuquerque's news media can report credibly on the APS Ethics Scandal

only after they report credibly on their failure to report on the APS Ethics Scandal.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

who defines the terms of public service; the public or the public servant?

the public.

The problem is not the solution; it will not self correct.

The problem is corruption

It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it. Upton Sinclair

Similarly you cannot expect a man to end corruption if his existence depends on corruption.

Einstein said that you cannot solve a problem on the same level it was created. This problem was created, and is maintained by the highest levels of public servants. There is only one higher level; the public.

The public as the servant’s master may seem incongruous with the current situation; where in the public servants ride the public like a donkey.

It is not that the power is not ours; because it is. It is simply that we allow ourselves to be mounted by our servant.

The power needs to be taken back. It will not be taken back in a face to face confrontation between powerful and powerless individuals. The outcome of that pairing is as obvious as it is inevitable.

However a large number of powerless people in the face of one powerful person can wrest their power back.

There is available a large number of people who are motivated but powerless. They are powerless because each stands before a different door; feckless. There is no power in small numbers.

Somehow we must gather in front of the same door. We should do it; but in front of which door?

The first win is the most important. It will prove that a win is possible. It will be the example to point to.

May I suggest that we break down the flimsiest door first? Even a weak door will prove the hypothesis.

There exists; a very flimsy door. A small group of relatively unimportant, but elected, public servants has placed itself in an indefensible position. Despite the fact that they are the senior role models for 100,000 of our sons and daughters, and despite the fact that they would have us trust them with a half a BILLION dollars; they refuse to be held honestly accountable to a widely recognized, accepted and respected code of ethics.

Four times, in public, on the record, on videotape and witnessed by reporters from two large newspapers.
I am only one man. I have knocked on their door four times with no effect.

Perhaps if someone followed me to the podium; and there asked the Albuquerque Public Schools Board of Education and Administrative Superintendent; “Will you hold yourself honestly accountable to the student standard of conduct; the Pillars of Character Counts?” they might answer. Doubtful.

Two knocks I think will not break down the door; nor four; nor twenty; maybe not a hundred. But there is a tipping point; and on that evening everything will change. It will be demonstrated that power can be wrest back from corrupt public servants; even against their will.

And on the next evening we will go the city council and ask, “Are you willing to hold yourself honestly accountable to a code of ethics?”; like the School Board? And then we go to the Mayor’s office, and the legislature, and the Governor. We’ll take our state back.

Your sacrifice will include showing up for about an hour, 5:00 until 6:00 every first and third Wednesday evening until we win; or give up.

You can stand up for what you believe in simply by standing there to be counted. Perhaps you will be compelled to sign up for the public forum, walk up and ask, “Are you willing to hold yourself honestly accountable to the same standard as students?”

Corruption exists only because it can. It exists only because we allow it to exist. No one, no one is going to fix it but us. We will do it; or it will not be done.

Bring someone else. Bring your child. If they are to grow to embrace character and courage and honor; someone has to show them what it looks like.