Tuesday, September 22, 2009

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

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