Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The law against telling the truth.

Scott Stiegler just argued that according to the law, UNM cannot tell the whole truth as they now know it.

The amount of truth to be told, can be expressed on a continuum;

On one end; the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. On the other end; don't get caught telling a lie.

telling the truth __________________ not telling a lie.

Right now, they are arguing that the point is on the far right
in obedience to the "law".

truth ___________________________ X_ no truth

Ethically, if they were ethically bound, the point would move
to the far left.

the ethically redacted truth _X_____________ no truth

There is no law against telling the ethically redacted truth.

Paul Krebs on KKOB.

UNM Athletic Director Paul Krebs was on the radio tonight.

Today's version is, Head Football Coach Michael Locksley
has begun a transparent process by which he will be held
honestly accountable for his admitted misconduct.

Krebs insinuated that the version that has been made public
is not accurate. He suggested that we have only heard the
victim's version. He would not elaborate.

When asked to defend his, at the time, final decision regarding
the consequences for clocking an assistant coach, Krebs
dodged the question. Instead of answering it, he repeated that
the process that is now underway will get the job done right.

Good ol' boy misdirection, imho.

Paul Krebs needs to be held accountable for his part
here to fore, in this whole process,
no matter how it is finally adjudicated.

It will be interesting to see the public records. Ideally, when
the due process is done, Paul Krebs will simply surrender
to public knowledge, the ethically redacted public record.

Scott Stiegler just announced, 8:20 pm, the University
is disputing that a "punch" was thrown.

Apparently,
the assistant coach had slammed his face into Locksley's fist.

Government as good as it gets.

Political veteran VB Price has written an insightful post on the NMI, link. It is fair to say, the man has probably forgotten more than I will ever known about mayoral politics here in River City.

That said, I am compelled to take issue. He wrote;

"Now we need a visionary politician brave and smart enough to help us think about how we’re going to cope with the realities of the future hard times ahead."
and I disagree.

I would argue that there is vision enough in the community, that we do not need more, And that there are those in the community smart enough to do the thinking about future hard times, that we don't need even one person more. I would argue that there is no paucity of good ideas or skill sets readily at hand, only that the city government does not make use of them. If government were as good as it could get, as efficient, as effective, as responsive to the will of the people as it could get,

we could have Bozo the Clown, wikilink, for mayor and it wouldn't make a bit of difference.


We have a mayor with everything we need in a mayor except, he doesn't have both the will and the ability to actually clean up city government.



There is not a legitimate agenda for the city that does not
move forward on the day we elect a mayor who will fight for
transparent accountability to meaningful standards of
conduct and competence, for politicians and public servants
in city government.

I am surprised that nowhere in his piece, did VB Price point
to public corruption, its costs, or its solution.




photo Mark Bralley

The mayors race is non-partisan.

Right, and a pint of Haagen Dazs serves four.

I hope that all of those who have complained out loud
Richard Berry has gotten help from the NMRP, will complain
as loudly, Marty Chavez has gotten help from Howard Dean.

All of which begs at least one question;
Why do we continue to pretend it is a non-partisan election?

Balderas lodges complaint, doesn't name names.

NM State Auditor Hector Balderas has complained to the citizens of New Mexico, a billion of their tax dollars are "at risk" in a state government known nationally for its fundamental corruption and incompetence, link.

He did not name the quasi-governmental agencies that are behind on their audits. Some of them many years behind on audits of over a billion dollars.

What was the first question that entered your mind when you heard Balderas report that a billion tax dollars were at risk?

Don't you want to see the list of the quasi-governmental institutions who are not handing in audits on time?

Please accept as a sign of your lack of control over power and
resources that are fundamentally your own, that
when you ask a legitimate question about the public interests
and about their public service, politicians and public servants
can look you in the eye and say, no comment.
Or, not even look you in the eyes at all.

The first legitimate exercise of power is to protect that power
from abuse.

It is not our responsibility to hold our government accountable
for their abuse of power, it is the responsibility of government
to hold itself accountable for the abuse of power.

For pennies, every tax dollar that is spent by our government
could be forensically audited. It is a matter only of hiring enough auditors.

That and getting lawmakers to appropriate enough money to end the culture of corruption at once and for all.

The Legislature of the State of New Mexico steadfastly refuses to give to the Office of the State Auditor, enough power and resources to make it impossibly difficult to hide public corruption and incompetence.

The Legislature of the State of New Mexico steadfastly refuses to give to the Office of the Attorney General, enough power and resources to make it impossibly difficult to escape accountability for public corruption and incompetence.

The Legislature of the State of New Mexico steadfastly refuses to give to the Office of the Secretary of State, enough power and resources to make it impossibly difficult to unduly affect the outcome of elections.

It's not the way they roll.

Instead, they build highway interchanges next to their property, link.

They have gotten away with it and,
they will continue to get away with it because

the Citizens of the State of New Mexico steadfastly refuse to march on the Roundhouse and demand the end of the culture of corruption and incompetence in state government at once and, for all.




photos Mark Bralley


Update; Heath Haussamen has provided a link to the named quasi-governmental agencies that are late. He also reported this afternoon, that Balderas had supplied the list of 91 to the Legislative Finance Committee when he spoke to them Tuesday.

Michael Locksley, role model. Or, Michael Locksley, role model?

Clearly, UNM's $750K per year, Head Football Coach Michael Locksley is a role model.

Role model;

a person whose behavior, example, or success is or
can be emulated by others, esp. by younger people.
When he clocked his assistant coach, he was a role model of "unacceptable" behavior.

When he "apologized" while hemming and hawing about the meaning of the word "punched", he was a role model of "unacceptable" behavior.

Yesterday, when he accepted responsibility and apologized without reservation, he was a role model of admirable behavior. One who does something wrong (within reason) and accepts responsibility, is role modeling good behavior. We don't remember George Washington for chopping down a cherry tree (bad) but rather, for stepping up to the consequences (good).

There are those who would now hold Locksley accountable as a role model. Reasonable, except that when you start digging, I expect you will find inadequate definitions of role modeling, and inadequate policies and procedures for enforcing whatever policies and procedures there are. I expect, further, that you will find that "powerful" people cannot actually be held accountable for even the most egregiously bad role modeling.

As an educator, I place a huge emphasis on the impact of role modeling. And I wish that sometime, somewhere, we will sit down and talk about the responsibilities of role models, and accountability as role models, openly and honestly.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Negative campaigning works, why?

Ask anyone, they will tell you that negative campaigning works.

Negative campaigning does not mean offering straightforward
criticism of a candidate, their conduct, their competence, or
their record. While any of those might be a negative, telling
the truth; candidly, forthrightly and honestly, is not negative
campaigning.

Pointing to the fact that Marty Chavez has had 12 years to
end the cronyism and corruption in City Hall is negative, as
far as Chavez is concerned, but is not dishonest, nor misleading, nor is it "negative campaigning".

In contrast, Marty Chavez' criticism of RJ Berry's vote on
the state budget last year. Chavez points to Berry's support
of "the largest budget in state history", one that is now $400M
in the red.

Chavez is trying to paint Berry as a profligate spender.
The simple truth is that he is not, and anyone implying that
he is, is being dishonest in an effort to deliberately mislead voters.

Most state budgets are "the largest in history". The cost of
living, even for government, goes up every year. Further,
this budget is in the red for a lot of reasons, some of which
were unpredictable.

To imply, to try to get others to believe, that a vote for
Berry is a vote for record budgets and record deficits
is simply dishonest.

As further example, Chavez' repeated boast that he has
"balanced city budgets". He would have people assume he
"fought" for a balanced city budget against others who would
have had deficit spending instead. In truth, city budgets must
be balanced according to the law. Chavez could have been
the worst mayor ever, and city budgets would still have been balanced.


Sorely, Chavez' negative campaigning,
his fundamental willingness to deceive
and deliberately mislead voters,
will ultimately get him votes, not cost him.

It defies reason.




photo Mark Bralley

Chavez burned big time by Berry's response.

According to the Journal, negative campaigning shifted into
high gear when Marty Chavez, in a news release, criticized
the Berry campaign for renting office space from RJ Berry's
business.

Berry offered that the only reason he was paying himself rent was to not run afoul of campaign financing rules about donations.

Berry had addressed the issue before it became an issue by donating the rent he received to charity; a practice he began before the slimy attack was even contemplated.



This speaks directly to Marty Chavez' (lack of) character and, hopefully, will not be missed or misunderstood by undecided voters.




photos Mark Bralley

The sparring continues over graduation rates.

The Journal reports, link, that the sparring continues in the
effort to place the blame for the release of "inaccurate"
graduation rates for New Mexico high schools. Districts
argue that they had corrections in the hands of the NMPED
in time to be included in the calculations which were published
in August. The NMPED says they did not.

I am surprised that there is no record one way or the other.
Perhaps somebody should start keeping one.

NMPED Secretary Veronica Garcia is changing her tune a bit; she's already passed the problem and looking at the future.

"The bottom line is we still have a graduation problem. Even with the increase in graduation rates, we have a problem statewide," she said. "Our sense of urgency needs to continue."

In "good ol' boy" speak, that is normally a signal of guilt and a need to redirect the discussion. "Oops, my bad. Now let's talk about the future."

The Journal reports that a number of districts statewide,
will see higher rates than formerly announced by the NMPED.

The Journal is no longer reporting that APS' graduation rate
went up at least in some part, due to their decision to drop
a number of demonstrably "at risk" students from the
calculations.

The Journal reports that Rose-Ann McKernan, Executive Director of Instruction and Accountability at APS said,
"The change in the graduation rate does not reflect a significant difference in the number of graduating students, but rather in the overall number of students tracked.
... many students should not have been counted because they were not first-time ninth-graders."
Perhaps all of the other districts in the state that will see
higher graduation rates than formerly released, have also
seen their rates climb as the result of identifying students
who have already failed to pass the ninth grade, and then
removing them from the calculation of ninth graders who
will not graduate.

APS has offered no explanation or defense for dropping
students at risk (of not graduating) from the calculations
of the risk of students not graduating.

I suspect that any other district that used this methodology
to raise their graduation rates will have the same response.

As opposed to answering legitimate questions about the public interests, candidly, forthrightly and honestly.




photo Mark Bralley

APS' CEC Nursing Program rocks!

25 students, the entire graduating class, passed the
National Council for Licensure Exam for Practical Nurses
on the first taking of the test.

The feat has not been accomplished in ten years.
The national average for first try passage is 85%.

Kudos to students and staff.

I would suggest that this speaks to the effectiveness of
letting students study a subject, they want to study.

It has been observed, if you want to see a man's true character, play a round of golf with him.

Mayoral candidates will not be golfing this week, but they will be facing a test of their character. The temptation to take cheap shots, massage the truth, and tell outright lies, will reach a crescendo this week, the last week before the election.

Brace yourself for negative campaigning. When times are good, and the golf ball rests on the fairway with a straight shot to the green, the players are civil, polite, carefully honest.

Now one ball is in the rough, the cup is almost out of reach.
And Marty Chavez true character is starting to shine like the
rising sun. He is folding under the strain. His latest anti-Berry
ads feature such egregious distortions of truth, that one
wonders how voters can simply ignore such egregious
distortions of the truth. They speak to Chavez' character,
he approves each ad.

Voters should not ignore the character manifest this week.
This is the week where adversity tempts candidates character
to weaken, prompting them to lose control.

Voters will watch it happen; they should not ignore the
implications.

Santa Fe Ethics Board apparently is not.

There is trouble on Santa Fe's Ethics and Campaign Review Board, link. In the seat of corruption in the state, there are complaints from and the resignation of, a board member.

The lesson to be learned; ethics boards, commissions, or any other body charged with fielding complaints and then their adjudication needs to be transparent. Otherwise it will suffer from the same corrupt practices that it is supposed to curtail.

Monday, September 28, 2009

If Chavez gets points, then Berry does too.

David Alire Garcia, link, is much worked up over some photographic legerdemain that Mayoral Candidate Richard Berry appears to be using to deliberately mislead voters about Marty Chavez' actual age.

score 1 .......... Chavez

But if you do the math on Garcia's argument, you will have to concede that Chavez went from;"

... a much younger Mayor Martin Chavez... (with) dark
hair and a lot of it,
to,
a 1993 mayoral portrait in which Chavez is already a grey-haired mayor.
in the time between the "late 80s" and 1993.

Must have been a hell of a few years.

Either that, or in the late 80s, Chavez was using some photographic legerdemain to deliberately mislead voters about Marty Chavez' actual age; making him appear younger than he really was.

score 1 ......... Berry


Now if only someone were keeping score on the number of ethics scandals that have occurred on Chavez' watch. And about how little accountability there really is. And about how little progress Chavez has really made in ending the corruption in City Hall. And about Chavez dropping the ball on the Ethics in Public Service Act allowing it to die from his neglect.

I would invite the press to keep their eyes on the ball.

Post Script;



This would be an example of photographic legerdemain to make Marty Chavez look as corrupt as he really is.



This would be an example of photographic legerdemain to make Marty Chavez look like a guy on the witness stand during his ethics trial over ABQPAC, with no real good answer for the ethics question he had just been asked.



This would be an example of photographic legerdemain to make Marty Chavez look like a guy whose been mayor for 12 years. I would invite you to compare it with the photo that Chavez would like voters to consider, link.


This would be an example of photographic legerdemain to make Marty Chavez look like a beaver, for throwing Mark Bralley off a press bus and for numerous subsequent violations of Bralley's first amendment rights as a member of the free press.




photo Mark Bralley

RJ Berry's tax returns, who cares?

Candidates for mayor, are not required by the law to surrender their private tax records for public examination. If there were any good reason to require that surrender, the law would have been rewritten to that end. It has not.

Marty Chavez is not claiming any dirt in Berry's record. He has not suggested that even a thorough public examination of Berry's private papers, would reveal any issue of significance. Yet he wants to make a big deal of Berry's refusal to surrender his records, even though Berry's refusal is completely justifiable.

I can understand why Chavez wants to move in this direction. He can play on people's fundamental mistrust of politicians and deliberately create a specious argument defaming Berry.

I cannot understand why the "media", in particular the blogosphere, would want to make a big deal out of Berry's refusal. They are of course, free to place emphasis upon, and then write about any issue they want. But why this one? And why this one when there are so many other more important issues to place their emphasis upon, so many other more important issues to write about on their websites.

There is reason to pause I think, when these writers completely ignore 12 years of scandals in the Chavez administrations; the ABQPAC conviction, the airport observation deck scandal, the Bode videotapes of a shakedown in progress, the audit of Mountain West Golfscapes audit, link, or any one of a number of ethical maybe even criminal acts involving Marty Chavez, to write instead about Berry's principled stand on his and his family's right to privacy.

Chavez is yet to offer even one word in explanation, defense, or even in acknowledgment of the revelations of the MWG audit. His crony's nephew's landscaping company screwed taxpayers and made out like a bandit, and it is all documented in black and white in the audit. Chavez' Municipal Development Department could not have been more incompetent in its management of those contracts, and Chavez is getting a bye from the "media" who instead would like to make a mountain out of a molehill over Berry's tax returns.

I would feel better about their concern over Berry's complete compliance with than the law, if the media expressed any concern at all over Chavez' repeated and ongoing non-compliance with the spirit of the law, and the corruption and cronyism in City Hall.

The man is exercising a constitutionally protected human right.
How can the "media" be on the wrong side of that issue? and be
giving "good counsel" on any other.




photos Mark Bralley

Marty Chavez' Balls not for public viewing.

There is a guest column in the Journal this morning, link.
The writer wonders what has happened with $750K generated
by ticket sales to the annual Mayor's Balls.

A local grant writer wants in on the action, but it turns out
to be a very exclusive club. In response to requests for the
public records on proceeds and grants, she claims to have
received the following response;

"There is no record of who makes funding decisions or how; there is no way to apply for this money; there are no audits; no record of donors, expenses or contributions. It is not a nonprofit nor is it an official government entity. It is a checking account. An aide and a city accountant can sign on the account."
I'm sure that this is all "perfectly legal", but it really looks bad.
Even if you could secret this information "legally", why would
you want to? What kind of charity hides the truth about who
it benefits?

Why is Marty Chavez hiding his balls? Seriously.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

APS' voila math on graduation statistics.

Imagine the you have a group of X number of ninth graders.
Four, maybe five or more years later, you count heads of "graduates".

You divide the small number by the large, multiply times 100, and you have the percentage of APS ninth graders who "graduate".

That is the essence of the calculation.

Example, using imaginary numbers;

Let's say that APS has a group of 1000 ninth graders, and
at graduation there are only 480. APS' graduation rate would
be 48%, as reported.

Now if you ask that same group of 1000 ninth graders to raise
their hand if they have already flunked the ninth grade,
238.1
of them will raise their hands and then, apparently,
be asked to leave the calculation of graduation percentage.

The Journal reports that Rose-Ann McKernan, Executive Director of Instruction and Accountability at APS said,
"The change in the graduation rate does not reflect a significant difference in the number of graduating students, but rather in the overall number of students tracked.
... many students should not have been counted because they were not first-time ninth-graders."

Four years later, you still have 480 graduates, but you get to divide by 761.9 students instead of 1000.

Voila, your graduation rate is now "actually" 63%.

Makes perfect sense except for the part where they get to take the kids least likely to graduate out of their calculation of ninth graders who will likely graduate.

Voila?

The media influence on polling.

The Journal recently commissioned a poll of voters, on the
importance of certain issues to them.

I have neither the energy nor the interest to do the research,
but I would wager that there is a correlation between the polling results and the previous two weeks of media emphasis.

It stands to reason then, if the media spent two weeks emphasizing the costs of public corruption and incompetence, a subsequent poll would reveal a shift in voter priorities.

Not only is the Journal not emphasizing public corruption and incompetence, they are refusing to even investigate and report upon credible allegations of an ethics and accountability scandal in the leadership of the APS.

Apparently, s/he who controls the media, controls the election.

Do we even know who that is?

Whose fist pounds the table at Journal Center last? when
the decision is made to ignore the ethics and accountability
scandal in the APS, even just weeks before a $650M
bond issue election.

Journal editors, ignore public corruption, endorse Chavez.

Good and bad news for Mayor Marty Chavez in the Journal
this morning, link, link.

On the good news for Chavez side; the editors have endorsed him. The editors caution voters against changing horses in mid-stream. They would have voters ignore the public corruption in City Hall, and re-elect their guy; Chavez.

The most nonsensical part of their endorsement for Chavez read;

He not only accepted an ethics reprimand in 2001 over
ABQPAC — a campaign fundraising arm that helped pay
his expenses with cash from city contractors and others
who had a stake in city issues; he became a vocal advocate
for open government and ethics reform.
He "accepted" the reprimand like a convict accepts a prison
sentence; not so much "accepts" as, what other choice did he
have? He was clearly behaving unethically and got caught, link.

Does anyone really believe that he could behave so unethically in 2001, but be ethical now? Does a zebra change its stripes? If anything, he has just gotten more sophisticated in hiding ethical misconduct.

It is easy to be an "advocate" for open government and ethics
reform, all you have to do is stand up on a soap box and
proclaim your support of both. Well talk is cheap.


As recently as last week Chavez was opposing City Councilor Ray Garduno's bill to provide more transparency in government, link.

Within the last two weeks, Chavez allowed the Ethics in Public Service Act, to die after languishing in committee for a full year and Chavez did nothing to move it out for passage by the full council, link.

Chavez an ethics reformer? Not!

On the bad news for Chavez side, a Journal poll revealed that Albuquerqueans disagree with the editors' blind support of Chavez, and are prepared to hold him accountable for the fact that 12 years in the Mayor's Office, has not seen him end the culture of incompetence and corruption in City Hall.

Apparently voters believe that the Chavez administration really was shaking down a local businessman, link, and retaliating against that same gentleman over complaints over safety and misspent federal grant dollars. Voters watched a video tape, link, of ducks walking and quacking, and they know whose ducks they are.

The editors might want to ignore the independent audit, link, that revealed contract management in City Hall, so egregiously incompetent as to be corrupt, but voters will not.

Perhaps, with the election of a new mayor, we really will see
the end of the corruption and incompetence in City Hall.

One can only hope.




photos Mark Bralley

Saturday, September 26, 2009

It is time to redraw the line.

On one end of the line, not lying; on the other, telling the truth.

telling the truth ____________________ not lying

In between, the standard that applies to politicians and public
servants during their public service.

A millennium of legal weaselry has established the standard on
the far end of the line.

telling the truth _________________ X _ not lying

The public interests would be better served, if the point were
pushed in the other direction.

telling the truth _ X _________________ not lying


There is not one legitimate agenda that does not move forward
on the day that government is transparently accountable to the people.

It is time to redraw the line on transparently accountable government.

The redrawing will require your meaningful sacrifice.

Sacrifice is the currency of commitment.

APS and NMPED spar over who's to blame.

The Journal is following up on the dispute over APS' graduation rates, link.

In a nutshell; APS and every other school district in NM supply statistics to the NMPED, who then takes those statistics, plugs them into a "formula" and calculates a graduation rate.

When that calculation was first done, APS' graduation rate
was 46%. According to the Journal, Winston Brooks says
the recalculation will raise APS' graduation rate from 46%
to somewhere between 58-63%.

Even 63% would still be unacceptable.

The recalculation will be based on "corrections" APS has forwarded to the NMPED. APS maintains that the corrections were sent to the state well before the preliminary calculation was made that revealed APS' 46% graduation rate, but were not used in the calculation, causing an APS' reputation to be damaged by the inaccurately low rate.

According to the Journal, NMPED says, APS may have dated the corrections before the initial calculation, but in fact, did not deliver the 1500-1700 corrections to the state until August, well after the initial calculations were complete. Therefore, according to the NMPED, APS owns the error, not them.

See if you can keep your eye on this ball. The Journal reports;

"(NM PED Secretary, Veronica) Garcia, in a news release Friday, said the information APS supplied to her department was "poor," and that the district made more than 1,700 corrections to it after it was submitted.

"I am incredulous at the implication that somehow PED is responsible for the inaccuracy of the district's self-reporting and subsequent corrections."

Brooks fired back, saying Garcia's announcement of a 46 percent graduation rate had been harmful to the district's morale and reputation. (red herring; the supposed damage to APS' reputation, has nothing to do with who supplied what data and when)

"I'm absolutely amazed that the PED wants to take no responsibility for this ... I don't even know what kind of error to call it,"

"They want to take no responsibility, they want to point fingers, like a child, back at APS, as if it were our calculation. I'm just absolutely amazed." (more red herring; its not about the calculation or who did it, it is about the inaccurate data the was used, and about who owns the inaccuracy)

In short, the state says APS supplied faulty data and, APS' response is that the NMPED is acting childish for saying the faulty calculation was based on APS faulty data.

Lost in the argument over when APS sent it "corrections" to the NMPED, is the nature of the corrections. APS is correcting its statistics by among other things, eliminating from the data base, ninth grade students who are not in the ninth grade for the first time. Or in other words, by eliminating from the calculation of students who don't graduate, the students least likely to graduate; students who already failed the ninth grade.

Lost in the argument over who reported what, when; APS wants to drop the least likely to graduate from calculations of how many graduate.

At the same time, APS wants to add seniors who take two senior years to graduate to the calculation. I have no problem with that. While it would be better if they graduated in four years, five years is not completely unacceptable.

My issue is with adding students who need an extra year on the tail end of high school and, at the same time eliminating students who need an extra year on the front end of high school.

By what logic? exactly.

Friday, September 25, 2009

"No public trust should be lost", NMPED Secretary Veronica Garcia

You really can't make this stuff up. The Journal reported that the NM Public Education Department had found some accounting errors and, the correction had raised APS' graduation rate. The story, link, made it sound like NMPED owned the screw up. Their headline read; "State Botched Grad Rates".

Band leader, Marty Esquivel, according to the Journal, said;

"If the state wasn't more certain of the numbers, it should have thought twice about releasing them.

I think the most unfortunate thing is those early numbers really did a lot of damage to the confidence within APS, and I think that was unnecessary in retrospect.

How can we figure out box office numbers for a weekend movie and not figure out graduation rates?"


Again, according to the Journal, Winston Brooks said;
"The wide discrepancy also calls into question the state's ability to accurately calculate progress under No Child Left Behind.
It makes everyone a little skeptical."


He later added that in light of the improved graduation rates, "I think I should get a raise". The Journal reported that he was joking when he said that, but stranger things have happened, link.
And now we get to the good part. APS' graduation rates are going up because they decided to leave the students who were the least likely to graduate, out of their sample.

Huh?

The Journal reports that Rose-Ann McKernan, Executive Director of Instruction and Accountability at APS said,
The change in the graduation rate does not reflect a significant difference in the number of graduating students, but rather in the overall number of students tracked.
... many students should not have been counted because they were not first-time ninth-graders.
They don't think they should have to include kids who had to take the ninth grade more than once.

Perhaps they should just go ahead and drop from the sample, any students who don't have a "C" average. At that point, they should have a graduation rate of nearly 100%.

The Journal blames it all on the NMPED and is apparently OK with dropping "at risk students" out of graduation rate calculations.

Trip Jennings, NMI, link, link, has a different slant in a couple of pieces about the accounting error that has raised APS graduation rate above one student in two.

He reports that the NMPED thinks the leadership of the APS are the ones who should be held accountable for the screw up.


Jennings writes, PED Secretary Veronica Garcia said;
"I am incredulous at the implication that somehow PED is responsible for the inaccuracy of the district’s self-reporting and subsequent corrections.

As indicated by APS, their data quality was poor, and they submitted over 1700 corrections after their original submission."
This is not the first time that bad book keeping has kept some good ol' boys ass out of the fire.

When the Meyners auditors came into APS Financial Division, they found;
  • inadequate policies and procedures,
  • inadequate accountability, and
  • inadequate record keeping.

Nobody ever goes to jail for keeping records so inadequate that they cannot be used to send anybody to jail.

The bottom line is that we don't have the slightest idea what is going on in the administration of the APS. We know;
  • they keep lousy records,
  • they're suppressing evidence of felony criminal misconduct involving senior APS administrators,
  • they won't step up as role models of the student standards of conduct,
  • they won't answer legitimate questions,
  • they (Paula Maes) "will never agree to any audit that" individually identifies corrupt and incompetent administrators and board members, and
  • they won't allow an independent standards and accountability audit that reports to the public record.
We're getting two very different stories here; one from the Journal and one from the New Mexico Independent.

The Journal, is covering up an ethics and accountability scandal in the leadership of the APS.

The only reason why "the public trust should not be lost." is because there is none left to loose.




photos Mark Bralley

Marty Chavez either cannot, or he will not, end public corruption in City Hall.

Either he cannot,
or he will not.

There is only one
other possibility;

there is no public
corruption in City Hall.

Yet this happened on his watch, link,
and still, no head has rolled.

I rest my case.




photo Mark Bralley

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Politicians and public servants have a right to privacy.

The right to privacy is a constitutionally protected human right.

It requires a warrant to invade the privacy of another human being.

Richard Barry has complied with financial disclosure law in every respect. Yet there are those who demand the opportunity to rummage around in his private life as well.

They claim "a right to know".

What about Richard Berry's constitutionally protected human right to privacy? Where is their warrant to invade his privacy?

Why is Richard Berry accountable to a higher standard of conduct than the law? In particular since no higher standard of conduct than the law, would warrant the invasion of his privacy either.

If they are not a stakeholders in Richard Berry's private life,
they do not have standing to ask him questions about his private life.

The premise for the "right" to invade his privacy is,
Berry needs to prove that he is "trustworthy", and the only
way he can do that is to expose his private papers.

The necessity of his trustworthiness stems from the fact that
the only thing we have to protect us from being screwed over
by politicians and public servants, is our trust that they won't.

If the interest is in protecting the public interests, our trust
and our treasure, "trusting" politicians and public servants
runs a far distant second to transparent accountability
to meaningful standards of conduct and competence
during public service.


If there are adequate standards of conduct and competence
and if those standards are adequately enforced, trust
no longer plays. It doesn't make any difference whether they
can be "trusted" or not.

Casinos do not "trust" their employees. Banks do not "trust"
their employees. They simply make it impossibly difficult to steal.

It can be made impossibly difficult to steal tax dollars without getting caught.

It can be made impossibly difficult to engage in cronyism and pay to play, without getting caught.

When we know the whole truth about their public service,
their private lives become inconsequential.

Public servants have a right privacy. Their right is specifically
and explicitly protected by
the Constitution of the United States of America.

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

How much clearer can it be?

Show him your warrant.




photo Mark Bralley

I've stumbled across a piece I wrote about Marty Chavez and the APS.

Mayor Marty Chavez, on a radio talk show, said he wanted accountability in the leadership of the APS. His record reads otherwise, link.

Once, he claimed to be a role model of the Pillars of Character Counts!

His record reads otherwise.



photo Mark Bralley

Does editorial license, license dishonesty and corruption?

The role of the press in a democracy really doesn't require
any more explanation or defense. The consensus is, they have
a responsibility as the fourth arm of government to fully
inform voters on issues and candidates.

Editors, if my understanding is correct, are given license to
offer opinions. For example, they might write; we recommend that voters vote in favor of the $650M bond issue, next February. But can they surreptitiously affect the outcome?

Are they given license to deliberately skew the truth?
Are they given license to change the outcome of an election
by means of deliberately misleading voters?

If you read the Journal editorials this morning, link, you will
find a piece on the APS, Winston Brooks, and his goal setting.

I think you would agree that the overall effect of the editorial
is that voters will have a warmer and a fuzzier feeling about
the APS when they go to the polls next February.

Recently, the Journal has give a great deal of space to APS'
goals and goal setting . The coverage has been positive;
more warm, more fuzzy, link. The true picture is less rosy,
link.

It is a major breach of the trust of Journal readers.

The Journal editorially and otherwise, steadfastly refuses to
investigate and report upon credible allegations of an ethics
and accountability scandal in the leadership of the APS.
The steadfastly refuse to investigate and report upon;

  • their abdication as role models,
  • their cover up of the lack of prosecution of criminal misconduct involving senior APS administrators; misconduct the Journal itself, reported upon, link,
  • their steadfast obstruction of any impartial audit of APS standards and accountability in the administration of the public trust and treasure in the APS,
  • their ongoing denial of due process to whistle blower complaints, and
  • their lowering of APS student standards of conduct.
Whomever at the Journal who is ordering this cover up, is not honestly accountable for their misconduct. There is no where you can go and file a complaint and expect due process.

Rules that govern journalists, like rules that govern every aspect of life, apply more to the great unwashed, than they apply to the "upper class".

The good ol' boys at the Journal are about manipulating
the outcome of a $650M bond issue election, and there's
not a damn thing anybody can do about it.

Who won the Berry, Chavez, Romero debate?

Clearer I think is, who lost. That would be, voters. Every time
I watch a "debate", the feeling returns, there must be a better
way to compare and contrast candidates and issues.

The format allows false victories.
For example; blogger Monahan,
a former Chavez Campaign
Communications Director,
reports on a "defining moment"
in the debate. The defining
moment was nothing more than
Chavez dragging a red herring
across the train and getting away
with it.

Monahan wrote;

"... RJ Berry asked Mayor Chavez why city police do not adopt the more aggressive policy of the Bernalillo County Sheriff in ferreting out possible illegal immigrants ... Chavez quickly responded by enumerating how murder, auto theft and other crimes have risen dramatically in the areas where the tougher policy toward immigrants is in effect. Besides blowing a big hole in Berry's argument, ..."
There was no hole blown in Berry's argument, big or otherwise.

Rising crime rates in the County can not be causally connected to the policy toward immigrants. It is a marginally better argument than saying there are higher crime rates in the county because their uniforms are tan, and the city's are dark blue. The uniforms may be tan and blue and, there may be higher crime rates in the county, but the two are not causally related; one simply cannot argue that crimes rates vary according to the color of uniforms.

The format didn't allow Richard Romero to point to the video tapes that are now up on the internet, of Chavez' underlings "shaking down" the Bodes for their refusal to honor mayoral requests for special consideration (all "allegedly" of course).

The video, link, is of ducks looking like ducks, walking like ducks,
and quacking like ducks.

I would say Chavez scored big, though he should not have scored at all, when he was pointing to the openness and transparency of state government. In particular, it sounded great when he pointed to the Inspector General's and Audit Offices "he created". The audit office in particular, did a great job of auditing the contract mismanagement involving the mayor's crony's nephews landscaping company. Yet, apparently, no heads rolled over the incompetence bordering on corruption, link.

Romero brought up the current scandal over Councilor Ray Garduno's transparency bill, currently under "consideration" by the City Council. link. Garduno argues that the bill is being stalled at the behest of "the administration". Romero brought it up, but was unable to keep it on the table long enough to score any points.

Chavez scored more points when he attacked Berry over his decision, apparently, to not release his tax records. Monahan wrote;
"But what (Berry) ... gained, he lost when Chavez tore
into him for not agreeing to release his tax returns.

"I know it's not comfortable, but the public has a right
to now. That's open and transparent government."
Chavez nearly gloated."
It isn't open and transparent government at all. Berry released all of the information that the law requires him to release. If the public has "a right to see Berry's tax returns" then that right would be underscored by law; it is not.

Never the less, Berry lost points on the issue, and will continue to loose points for as long as Chavez pounds on the specious argument, "the public has a right to know".

The election will turn on misleading voters on important issues and on misleading voters on the importance of issues. Chavez will score points with an ignorant electorate with his now thoroughly discredited attack on Berry's not being a business man, link. He will score points with an ignorant electorate on Berry's apparent decision to keep his private life, private.

Romero with continue to loose points because he will not play his trump card; his promise to tell the truth, link, while Chavez continues to make points by playing fast and loose with the truth. He will never be asked to explain his abdication from "Founding Father" of Character Counts! Albuquerque. Chavez will never be asked to explain why the Ethics in Public Service Act, the culmination of a process he claims credit for beginning, was allowed to die in committee, link.


Kudos to KOB TV for a very professional presentation, link.

But again, a disappointing evening overall for an ignorant electorate.




photos Mark Bralley

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Would Governor Heather Wilson take a stand against public corruption in Santa Fe?

The majority of pundits, regard
Rep Heather Wilson as a worthy candidate for Governor. It is a fair question then, would Wilson stand up against the culture of corruption in Santa Fe?

Has she even acknowledged, on the record, its existence?

Would she attack corruption personally, or will she sit back and wait for the legislature to do the heavy lifting?

My personal experience with Wilson, leads me to believe that she will not stand up for accountability to any higher standard of conduct than the law.

When I asked her to do something about the fact that the
leadership of the APS has renounced honest accountability
as role models of the Pillars of Character Counts!,
she did not, link.

In fairness, neither did Senator Pete Domenici.




photo Mark Bralley

There is a mayoral debate tonight.

I have been trying to find someplace to submit a "question"
I would like to hear addressed by each candidate.

Describe the problem of corruption and incompetence in
city government, and the solution you propose.

Audit reveals incompetence so egregious as to be corrupt.

When your tax dollars are spent buying concrete, the contract for the sale and service is managed on your behalf by public servants who work in the City's, Department of Municipal Development. Their job is to protect you from getting screwed by contractors with the city.

There has been an audit of the management of one of those contracts, done by the City of Albuquerque, Office of Internal Investigations, link,

The audit reveals the mismanagement of the contract, that is so egregious that it points to corruption. The fact that the beneficiary of the mismanagement is the nephew of one of Mayor Marty Chavez' cronies points there as well. That and the fact that a nondescript landscaping company rose to economic prominence on a whole bunch of contracts with the City. link.

What we have here is a barrel of apples, and one of them has turned up really, really rotten. It stands to reason that there are other rotten apples as well.

You cannot cause a search for those apples. The system is set
up so that if you want any other apple checked for rot, you have
to first point to the rot. In effect, if they can keep corruption
out of the newspaper, your Office of Internal Investigations
will not go looking for any other rotten apples.

That's really too bad because there is stink coming from the
Balloon Museum apple, and from the federal grant money
spent at the Double Eagle Airport apple, and from, I would
suppose any apple you cared to sniff.

The buck (millions and millions of bucks actually) stops on
Marty Chavez' desk.

Even if we cannot tie him personally to any of the corruption,
it happened on his watch. His Municipal Development Division enabled gross fraud. His subordinates showed up on video tape, link, shaking down John Bode.

Why is he still seriously considered for re-election?

Why does he not have to answer for the corruption that he enabled?




This is the part where voters hold public servants accountable at the polls, for their incompetence and for their corruption.

If we don't, we will continue to have government that tolerates and enables public corruption and incompetence.




Photo Mark Bralley

"Republican baggage"

It seems that any Republican running for election, is called
upon to first defend remarks made by Rush Limbaugh,
Sean Hannity, Glen Beck, Michael Savage, and every toothless, gun toting nut job who can find a news camera.

What a shame.

It's almost like every Democrat has to carry the baggage of
being the party of corrupt government in New Mexico.

How about, let's see if we can discuss the issues without
using the words Democrat or Republican. How about we
look at each candidate individually, regardless of their party
affiliation and judge them instead on the content of their
character, their competence, and their courage.

Colon's fund raising celebrated.

Many bloggers have headlined the fact that Lt Gov candidate Brian Colon has accumulated more than $100K in a month of fund raising. They are equally impressed by Diane Denish's $2M war chest.

I wonder if they have ever considered that,
they are celebrating the buying of an election?

S/he with the most gold wins,
the new Golden Rule of politics.

APS "Policies and Procedures" are a mess!

The APS Board of Education is charged with writing district wide policies. The administration is charged with writing procedural directives that enable the policies to be carried out.

The Board and administration are in the midst of reviewing all policy statements and all procedural directives. They are finding policies without procedures, procedures without policies, and that many changes, particularly in procedures have not shown up in Board Policies or in APS Procedural Directives. I don't see malevolence, more like careless, sloppy record keeping.

I have been arguing for a long time that the leadership of the APS has been playing fast and loose with policies and procedures. It would appear that I have been vindicated by incontrovertible evidence.

The public will never see that evidence. One of the arms of the current effort is to get current policies and procedures up on the district's website. Policy Committee Chair, David Peercy has directed that the current and screwed up policies and procedures not go up on the website until after they are "fixed".

This is typical good ol' boy problem solving; solve the problem without admitting there was ever a problem in the first place.

One might argue, who cares as long as the problem gets solved?

I care. I care because the first priority is not problem solving,
it is problem hiding. Although some problems can be solved in
secret, the priority of hiding them while they are being solved
is fundamentally dishonest.

It works only to the advantage of those with something to hide,
and it prevents the solution of any problems which cannot be
solved in secret.

It sets a poor example, for staff, for students, and for the community.

The process of reviewing and revising all policies and all procedures at the same time, makes a certain amount of sense, since they are so interwoven. Unfortunately, Peercy and the rest of the leadership of the APS are using it as an excuse to not examine publicly, the most fundamental policy/procedure of them all; the APS Student Standards of Conduct which are, by logical extension, the Adult Standards of Conduct, and the procedure the administration intends to follow in order to teach and enforce those standards.

I would argue that the standards to which they hold themselves accountable, should be reflected in their decisions regarding every other policy and every other procedural directive.

They are simply hiding the fact that they cannot summon the character and the courage to discuss standards and role modeling openly and honestly.




photo Mark Bralley

Chavez' campaign ad speaks to his character.

There was a time when Mayor Marty Chavez represented that
he was a (local) founding father of Character Counts!; a
nationally recognized, accepted and respected code of ethical
conduct.

I doubt that he ever held himself personally accountable to
any standard of conduct higher than the law. There are those
who would argue that he doesn't hold himself accountable
even to the law.

He is currently running a campaign blitz that basically calls RJ Berry a liar for representing that he is a local business man because the company for which he works, is owned by his wife and not by him personally. Berry has called it a "family owned business", which seems honest enough.

It is after all a community property state.

Chavez is apparently trying to get voters to believe that Berry has done something dishonest in representing that he is a local business man, although that representation is fundamentally honest, according to the evidence that NMIs' Marjorie Childress has reported upon, link.



That makes Chavez the dishonest one.




photos Mark Bralley

Denish a shoe in, if Richardson leaves?

Blogger Monahan has written repeatedly, Lt Gov Diane Denish hopes Gov Richardson gets recruited to serve in some far off corner of the world, because as an incumbent, she would be a shoe in for Governor.

I see it a little differently.

Denish hasn't really stood up to the culture of corruption in Santa Fe. Despite her many protestations that she has, there just simply is not a record to support it.

The common excuse for her failure is that she is crushed under the onerous weight of Big Bill. Minus that weight, her supporters argue, she would have stood up to the good ol' boys long ago.

In my opinion, minus that weight, she still will not stand up to the likes of Speaker of the House Ben Lujan, and the highway to his place, link. And, she will have no one to hide behind in her failure.


Diane Denish is afraid to pick a fight, even over so egregious an insult as the Lujan Interchange.



I hope that Richardson does leave, denying Denish her excuse for her failure to stand up to the good ol' boys and protect our interests in Santa Fe.


At which point, a candidate with proven competence, proven character, and proven courage will be the "shoe in" for Governor.

Diane Denish is afraid to fight.

Janice Arnold-Jones has already
picked two fights, and won them
both. It was her leadership that
began the webcasting of the
sausage making.

I say, Go Bill! go far, go soon.




photos Mark Bralley

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Richard Romero posts the Bode tape on line.

When local businessman, John Bode was being shaken down by city hall, he had the cameras running.

He has already won one of two lawsuits against City Hall in a ruling that the judge called an embarrassment to the city, link.

One of Richard Romero's pet projects is ending the culture of corruption in City Hall and has put these tapes up to make his point.

Want to see what it's like to do business with the city? check it out; link.

Listen to the radio interview with John Bode. Link through Errors of Enchantment, link.





photo Mark Bralley

Cadigan kicks ass in defense of Garduno.

I watched, link, the City Council discuss Councilor Ray Garduno's bill, link. The bill will create more transparency in City Government.

At 47:40, Councilor Ray Garduno, a man of apparent character and courage, begins his defense of increased transparency in City Government.




At 49:30, Councilor Trudy Jones argued, first we must determine and then debate whether the value of telling the truth to stakeholders justifies the cost. She wants an FIA (Financial Impact Analysis) and various blah, blah, blah, until 51:04.





At 51:40, Councilor Don Harris stood against passage. He said that he needed more time to "really study" the question of whether to tell stakeholders the truth about their power and their resources. He also introduced a concern that the cost of computer hard and software might be a deal breaker; the cost of telling the truth might outweigh the advantage.

At 52:55, Harris said something really weird;

"We had issues this last year in the state legislature where one representative had a web cam and that caused a big stir."
What in the hell does that mean?

Then he goes on to argue that the City of Albuquerque isn't as bad as others; the county and the state, for example.

He finishes by saying that there has not been enough time to think about the limits on public access to government to "work in an orderly fashion". The issue of transparent accountability in government is just moving too fast for his liking.

At 53:40, Councilor Ken Sanchez
stepped up to the plate, and then hit a
foul ball. He too, is concerned about the
lack of study of the actual financial cost
of transparency. In a stroke of genius,
he argued that if we really believe in
transparency, we would be transparent
about the cost, and therefore delay passage.


The argument is specious; the cost is insignificant; both fiscally and philosophically.

He continued; blah, blah, blah (relatively speaking) until 54:58.

At 56:53, Councilor Michael Cadigan smacked one over the center field wall.

He called calls for an FIA, a delaying tactic.
He built a compelling argument that there really is no significant financial impact at all.

In the end, the council voted 5 to 3, to not take final action
on the bill.

In truth, I am not sure that final action could be taken anyway,
because the Open Meetings Act prohibits making a decision
about any issue, unless the decision is on the published agenda.

I see no reason why the bill cannot be passed at the next meeting of the City Council.

In particular, if a few hundred people show up in support.

Governmental truth telling falls along a continuum. On one
end the truths that should be told, on the other, the truths
which should not be told. Somewhere in between, the point
where the need for public knowledge and secrecy meet. That
point has been identified in law,
a handful of specific exceptions have been created.

That "legal" point has not met the need for transparency in
government. Too many truths about the spending of public
power and resources are still secret from stakeholders.

The point where publication meets secrecy needs to be
reestablished. A new point needs to be found.

That discussion needs to happen now. We need to determine
where that point is, and then move to it now.
Not incrementally, not next year, but now.




file photos Mark Bralley