Sunday, March 29, 2009

"Legally" dishonest

The Albuquerque Journal's Colleen Heild has a report
in the paper this morning, link .

The gist is that ,
Speaker of the House
Ben Lujan,
has been
getting special treatment
from the NMDoT.

Anyone who has been paying any attention at all,
will not be surprised to learn that a powerful NM politician
is getting preferential treatment from state government.

Anyone who has ever tried to do anything about that scandal,
will have found that part of the special treatment is the
suppression of public records by officials in state government.

At its heart, New Mexico taxpayers pay lawyers to game
the law, against the public interests, to protect the interests
of the privileged class.

There is hardly a law that legal weaselry cannot find a way
to skirt. Particularly if the weasels are on state payroll,
enjoying virtually unlimited budgets to underwrite their

The Inspection of Public Records Act provides;
if requested public records are legitimately excepted from
surrender to the public record, the records which have been
excepted are supposed to be

  • fully identified, and
  • the specific reasons for the exception listed, and
  • the individual who denied the request, fully identified.

None of this happens of course, it's just not the way they roll.

If you are the Journal, you can afford the lawyers fees and
court costs (which can be later reimbursed under the law),
and you can sue in court for the release of the records.

If you are a run of the mill citizen however, you are screwed.

Theoretically, there are penalties for violating the law.
Heild writes;
"Less clear is what happens if a government agency
simply withholds records but does not disclose it is doing so.

New Mexico has a statute that says deliberately
concealing public records is a fourth-degree felony,
but open government advocates could not recall it
being used in connection with an IPRA request"
The same is true of the Governmental Conduct Act, link,
which requires public servants to
"discharge ethically, the high responsibilities
of public service."
When I asked the clerk of the Second Judicial District Court,
how many prosecutions there have been under that law, circa
, she said;
"None. I guess it has never been necessary."
Having a law on the books does not mean the law is,
or ever will be enforced. Because the under lying fact is,
people like Speaker of the House, Ben Lujan,
are excepted from accountability to the law,
by the very folks we pay to enforce that law.

Because they're special.

Lujan and his wife Carmen
are co-owners of the

Here seen reciting
the pledge of allegiance.

... with Liberty and
Justice for all.

Just that some get more than others.

photos Mark Bralley

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