Sunday, January 31, 2010

Albuquerque Tea Party to be tested.

I've read people who wonder if the Tea Party has a soul;
whether they are united by anything but their upset.

I wonder, if they have each other's six?

Two of their own, stepped into the breach last week in House Rules, link, and were repulsed. I have a feeling they will be back in the breach tomorrow.

The Tea Party's test is, how many party members will be there to stand beside and behind them as they stand up for government that is transparently accountable to the people? Are they going to be the only ones to show up for the tea party? wikilink


Legislative webcasting;
let's do it right and,
let's do it now.

Arnold-Jones, webcasting, the final battle?

Rep Janice Arnold-Jones is on the agenda for the House Rules Committee meeting tomorrow; 8:30am, Room 307.

It was almost a year ago to the day, this same committee was meeting to decide whether to "allow" her to continue to webcast for her constituents.

A lot has happened since then; but not enough has happened.

There will not be enough webcasting until we can search user friendly archives of high quality recordings of deliberative meetings of our government.

Arnold-Jones has a webcasting resolution on the table; House Resolution 4, link.

There is no good and ethical reason to delay webcasting for even one more day.

"The right time, to do the right thing, is always right now." unk

Nearly one third of the members of the House, sit on the Rules Committee. This is a perfect pitch* for a final fight.
*the central part of the field; the area between the wickets.


This is the time, the day, and place to have it out, once and for all, on whether the people's business will be open and transparent to them, or not.

If enough people show up at this meeting, expressing their interest in open and transparent government, the issue of webcasting will be settled at once and for all.

This could be the final battle.

If too few people show up, there will be no videotaping of committee meetings, and there will be no searchable archive.

When people say, we get the government we deserve, this is what they mean.

All that is necessary for the culture of corruption and incompetence to prevail in state government, is for good citizens to do nothing. Burke - derived

Those who wait for the perfect circumstances to act,
will find only the perfect excuse to never act at all.

We need people who will step into the breach to lead.

They need people, who will step up beside and around them.




photo Mark Bralley

UNM Regent Jamie Koch facing rebuke in confirmation hearing.

UNM Regent Jamie Koch is slated to sit before the Senate Rules Committee tomorrow morning. They will decide whether to accept Governor Bill Richardson's reappointment of his longtime supporter and former Democratic Party Chairman, to the Board of Regents.

The sailing will not be smooth.

Normally, these hearings smack of good ol' boys patting each other on the back while appointing each other to prestigious government positions. Not this one.

Not only is there an effort to unseat Koch, there is also talk of unseating all of the Regents, allowing the next Governor to install her own slate of candidates. The Journal reports, link;

Sen. Cisco McSorley, D-Albuquerque, said he won't vote for Koch.

"I am respecting the wishes of the faculty and the staff and their no confidence, and I am very much of the opinion that all of these regents should not be reconfirmed and we should allow the new governor to make these decisions and give this university a new direction," McSorley said.

The UNM Faculty recently voted no-confidence in Koch, by a margin of 482-7. Even more recently, the Faculty Senate narrowly approved a resolution reaffirming the vote of no confidence. The UNM Chapter of the American Association of University Professors has circulated a similar petition; the results of which were not included in the Journal report.

The question is simple enough; are the good ol' boys going to ignore the input of the great unwashed and proceed with their little coronation ceremony as if nothing is wrong, or are they going to listen to the folks who actually work at UNM?

There are other people as qualified as Koch, to serve on the UNM Board of Regents. Why ignore them, to pick instead, a man who has so little support from those he will be expected to lead, and who has been soundly repudiated by them, over and over again?

Is this government of, by, and for the people, or
is it a government of, by, and for the good ol' boys?

By 10 o'clock tomorrow morning, that question will have been answered.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Where is the budget?

Two weeks in, and no budget to examine.

Either there is going to be a bum's rush at the end,
or another special session.

There seems to be a certain reticence to lay the truth on the table for examination. Whether to raise taxes, cut programs, or raid the permanent fund, are questions whose answers depend on what the money is going to be used for.

There is an opportunity to install world class webcasting in the
Roundhouse
for a relative pittance. If they are not going to
fund that, I want to know what else they are funding instead.

If it is going to be spent on another bureaucrat's salary,
I would like an opportunity to express my several objections.

Dems fighting transparency?

As a matter of course, I try not to use the words Republican and Democrat to make points. My belief is that, at the end of the day, it is all about individual beliefs and policies, and not about party ideology.

But as an advocate for open government, I cannot help but notice support from the Republican side, and resistance from the Democrats.

I have been unsettled over the disconnect between my belief that corruption and incompetence know no party affiliation, and the fact the most of the resistance against web casting and other open government initiatives comes from Democrats.

I have concluded that it really doesn't have to do with ideology, but rather, entrenchment. The party in power, if they are in power long enough, becomes entrenched. They have hired on all of the political cronies they can, while overtly or covertly protecting them from the consequences of their corruption and incompetence; thereby feeding the downward spiral of entrenchment and corruption.

It is the entrenched politicians who don't want their boat to be rocked by sunlight shining on their shady dealings. In this state, right now, they happen to be Democrats; Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez and House Speaker Ben Lujan.













Had New Mexico been under the control of Republicans for generations, I have no doubt it would be they who would be fighting to maintain the status quo.

Self preservation is human nature, not a political philosophy.




photos Mark Bralley

Friday, January 29, 2010

The Albuquerque Journal's half truth, is a whole lie.

The Journal editors did their part to convince voters to support the upcoming bond issues and mill levy, link.

They chose to not tell the half of the truth which might lead voters to deny further financial support of the current leadership of the APS.

They chose deliberately and steadfastly to not investigate and report upon the ethics and accountability scandal in the leadership of the APS. They steadfastly refuse to investigate and report upon;

  • evidence of felony criminal misconduct involving APS senior administrators, link, which still has not been surrendered to the DA's Office for prosecution.
  • their denial of due process for well over one hundred APS whistleblower complaints.
  • their refusal to accept accountability as role models of the APS Student Standards of Conduct.
  • their refusal to restore the role modeling clause to their code of conduct; "In no case shall the standard of conduct for adults, be lower than the standard for students."
  • their refusal to allow independent review of administrative and executive standards and accountability.
  • School Board Member Paula Maes declaration that she will "never agree to any audit" that individually identifies APS senior administrators or board members.
  • the squandering of the public trust and treasure at 6400 Uptown Blvd; the needless board room, the decision to not rent office space in the building to cover costs, as promised.
The Journal has a responsibility to fully inform voters before they vote. Instead, they have abandoned their obligation to voters by giving them only half of the truth.

And, a half truth is a whole lie. Yiddish proverb

Two steps forward, a half step back

Comparatively speaking, the White Hats had a good day today, finally;

  1. the House floor will be video cast, and
  2. interim committee meetings will be audio taped, and
  3. our Representatives voting records will be available online.

The Black Hats had a pretty damn good day too.

They managed to get the legislation passed with the proviso that no archive will be created; making webcasting nearly pointless. And, they managed to keep video cameras out of interim committee meetings.

The Black Hats are dragging their feet in establishing any system under which they can be held honestly accountable to meaningful standards of conduct and competence. They will water-down webcasting and every other effort to shine sunlight on their character and competence.


The White Hats weren't able to stop them.

They reasoned that pushing for the whole package could cost them no bill at all.

For a quarter of a million dollars, we could have legislative web casting that would be a model for legislatures everywhere.


The Black Hats claim no money, no expertise, and no need. They are still worried that cameras will catch them doing something they shouldn't be doing.

Well duh.



House Speaker Ben Lujan has reason to be particularly pleased with the fact that committee meetings aren't archived. If they were, there would be video on the internet showing Lujan bullying two women who had the audacity to use their hand held camera without first kissing his ring.

If that videotape were available, Lujan would have no choice except to apologize for his condescending treatment of those two ladies. As is is, he can simply pretend that it never happened.


However hard it was to going to be, to get searchable archiving, it got harder today. It got harder to get cameras into interim committee meetings.

It will get harder tomorrow, and the day after, and the day after that.

Any day that a good ol' boy doesn't actually loose, he wins.

There is no good and ethical reason to not do webcasting right. And there is no better time than right now.


"The right time, to do the right thing, is always, right now". unk




photos Mark Bralley

Thursday, January 28, 2010

It ain't really a right, if you have to kiss his ring before you can exercise it.

A couple of people were video taping a Rules Committee meeting.

They were "abused" by Speaker of the House Ben Lujan. Apparently, he thinks they need his permission before they can make a recording of his public service; an exercise of their first amendment rights if nothing else.

If they are rights, they don't need his permission to exercise them.

Lujan
thinks it is up to him, whether first amendment rights may be exercised.

This is precisely this "party in power" arrogance and abuse that sustains the culture of corruption in the Roundhouse.

We are demanding web casting and they are resisting.

The terms of public service are the prerogative of the public,
and not of the public servants.

Whose call is it, the public's or the public servants'?

Who is responsible? Who is standing in the way?


Is it this guy?




photo Mark Bralley

APS' lack of candor re Jimmy Carter MS incident.

APS said that three employees were put on administrative leave following an incident with a special education student. According to an allegigator, it turns out that two more employees, witnesses, were told "to keep their mouths shut" and have been transferred to a different location.

In the Journal this morning, link, it is reported;

"The family of a Jimmy Carter Middle School student who was pinned against the wall this week by school employees had warned the district two years ago that the boy was prone to being aggressive and could injure himself or others."
APS Rigo Chavez claimed never to have seen the letter and could not comment.

The media are playing this up as an unwarranted assault on the student. APS Superintendent Winston Brooks is feeding the frenzy by chastening the staff members who were involved, apparently without even interviewing them first. The reassignment of witnesses, after telling them not to talk to anyone about it, is troubling.

If you watch the video, link, you will see no evidence of "out of control" staff members; their demeanor is surprisingly calm considering the circumstances.

"Pinning" an out of control person against a building is actually a benign intervention, very unlikely to cause any physical damage. No one is claiming that the student suffered any injury at all, despite Brooks observation that he was surprised "the students arm wasn't broken".

If the Journal chose to dig any deeper, they would find that teachers believe that the district would sell them out in a heart beat to get good press or to avoid bad press.

There is more of the story untold, than told, I think.

In particular, why is a teacher with accusations of sexual assault on two female students, and who had been denied a teaching certificate by the State Dept of Education, being allowed to "finish out the week" in the first place?

School Board travels to Santa Fe to violate the Open Meetings Act

APS' School Board traveled to Santa Fe yesterday for a board meeting. The minutes from the previous meeting are supposed to be approved at the next meeting with a quorum. According to the New Mexico Open Meetings Act;

Draft minutes shall be prepared within ten working days after the meeting and shall be approved, amended or disapproved at the next meeting where a quorum is present. (emphasis added)
It isn't so much this particular violation of the law, as it is that this is just one in a long string of Open Meetings Act violations which appears will continue unabated.

This latest actually occurred in the Roundhouse!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Where is Jamie Koch's Senate Approval?

Jame Koch's appointment by Governor Bill Richardson, to the UNM Board of Regents is subject to the approval of the Senate.

The UNM Faculty recently disapproved of Regent Koch's appointment, 482-7.

Unswayed, Richardson is plowing ahead with his installation.

The first hearing will be held in Senator Linda Lopez' Rules Committee.

When?

Should we "punish" deliberate misconduct?

There was a time when a student who deliberately broke the rules got punished. When we decided to abandon corporal punishment, the net effect was that we abandoned "punishment" altogether.

The question; should deliberate misconduct be punished? is a philosophical question. The answer to that question is the philosophical foundation for a policy which provides consequences for deliberate misconduct.

If you would like to know what APS" discipline philosophy is, you are out of luck; there isn't one.

The open and honest discussion of discipline philosophy is the third rail of education in the APS. The leadership will not allow the discussion, because it open the Pandora's Box of punishment.

The leadership is loathe to it, and the rank and file cannot succeed without it.

This is why the APS Research, Development, and Accountability Department has never surveyed teachers over the issues of student discipline and punishment. They don't want to document the fact that teachers are not getting the administrative support necessary to keep students under control.

If students in the APS were getting the character education they are owed, there would be far less disruption; far less need for punishment. But again, the leadership of the APS will not talk about character education either; because they don't want to be held honestly accountable for their own (lack of) character.

Character Counts! in the APS?

Brooks hangs teacher and two aides out to dry.

A teacher and two educational assistants have been accused of using inappropriate force to subdue a student, link.

Brooks, who at some point will hear all of the testimony and view all of the evidence before delivering a final determination on the issue, appears to have his mind made up already, apparently without first hand testimony from any of the players, link;

"At the point in time when the EA grabbed a hold of him and actually threw him towards the wall, that's when I said, 'You know what, that's really not necessary,' " Brooks said. "And then to watch the EA and the teacher actually lean on the student in a way to hold him against the wall, it was totally, 'That's not how you restrain a student.'"
If teachers were ever surveyed, we would find that when students are out of control, there is little a teacher can do about it, that will not end with their vilification. They are accountable if the student hurts anyone else or damages school property, but if they intervene directly, they're hung out to dry by administrators looking to avoid litigation.

APS, which doesn't even have a written discipline philosophy, steadfastly refuses to deal with chronically disruptive students, in particular those under the protective umbrella of "special education".

It is way past time to put the issue on the table for candid, forthright, and honest discussion.

Instead, the Journal will continue to print only APS speak.

Eliminating educational achievement gaps.

There is really only one important educational achievement gap; it is the difference between where a student is in their education, and where they should be in their education.

Other gaps can be measured; like the relative gaps between students grouped according to ethnicity. If you wanted to, you could group students by sex and find a gap, by height and find a gap, by home town and find a gap, by number of healthy teeth and find a gap.

None of them play. Just because you can calculate a number doesn't mean the number is relevant.

In the end, you have an individual student with individual educational difficulties, which are best addressed individually. Grouping them by ethnicity serves no educationally relevant purpose; it doesn't help.

So why focus on gaps calculated on ethnicity? It is simply a convenient and effective excuse for forming yet another bureaucracy. Instead of investing in classrooms where all students can learn, we will hire another bunch of bureaucrats who in the end, will not have added anything concrete to the solution.

Consider the recommendations, link, that come up when you gather people according to ethnicity. Substitute for African American, the ethnicity of your preference.

1) Mandate changes to the New Mexico standards and benchmarks to incorporate relevant and authenticated curriculum in African American history and culture.
2) Explore existing rigorous, multicultural-relevant programs.
3) Produce and integrate African American contributions within all phases of education vs. one month of African American history.
Ask someone with some real teaching experience whether they think taking any of these steps will help (African-American) students with learning difficulties. You will find few among those on the front lines who will endorse the plan.

And as long as they're sitting around dreaming, how about;
".... the NM Public Education Department should ensure there are two or more teachers in every classroom to support students with the lowest grades. The second teachers might be volunteers or retired teachers who would receive a small stipend for their service."
Right, like the doors are being beaten down by hoards of "volunteers and retired teachers" just dying to get into the classroom in exchange for a "small stipend".

There are literally hundreds of thousands of years of teaching experience in classrooms, and no seat at the table where decisions are made. It is time to go to the source to solicit solutions to the problems.

I think you will find little support for grouping students according to arbitrary classifications.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Haussamen does not endorse Janice Arnold-Jones for Governor.


















but he is impressed with her manifest commitment to transparency, link.

The value of an honor correlates directly with the honor of the valuer.

What an honor.




photo Mark Bralley
at Janice's six,
Howard DeLaCruz-bancroft

The Sun to shine on Denish and Rue

A Democrat and a Republican are standing up today to introduce their legislation marking some real progress in open and transparent government.

Lt. Gov. Denish Kicks-off Effort to Launch Sunshine Portal
Giving Taxpayers Web Access to Government Information

Act will put state’s checkbook online for public to inspect

Who: Lt. Governor Denish & Senator Sander Rue
What: Announcement of Sunshine Portal Legislation
Where: Lt. Governor’s Office- 4th Floor, State Capital, Santa Fe
When: 1:00 PM- Tuesday, January 26, 2010


... webcast would be cool.

Turn on our cameras!

What is it going to take to get this guy to turn on our cameras on the floor of the Senate?

and every where else?


Turn on the cameras!

Turn on the cameras!

Turn on the cameras!

Turn on the cameras!





photo Mark Bralley

Raising the bar in the blogosphere

Steve Terrel's reporting on the Senate Judiciary Hearing, link, raises the bar for political coverage.

imho

So, I met with Keith Gardner.

Republican legislative leadership have offered themselves to the "media". It was very informal and, I thought, honest. I have to point out that candor and forthrightness seemed bound infrequently, by political correctness. It is the difference between standing next to the breach, and standing in the breach.

Centurions often suffered heavy casualties in battle, generally fighting alongside the legionaries they commanded. They usually led from the front, occupying a position at the front right of the century formation. They led and inspired their men by example. They also sought to display the skill and courage that may have gotten them to their rank in the first place. It is for these reasons that they often suffered a disproportionate number of casualties. wikilink


Because, he admitted, he doesn't read blogs very much, Representative Keith Gardner was unaware that he is apparently highly regarded as the House Minority Whip, link .

I was disappointed to hear that little attention is being paid to political bloggers. Gardner said, it was a issue of priorities; there are only so many hours in a day.

My advice would be, find a way.

There are perspectives expressed in the blogosphere that are substantially different from the perspectives of corporate media.

Their Communications Director, Camden Hubbard is apparently "on it". She asked me for the names of some blogs that they might want to pay some attention to. I am going to suppose that she would welcome input on the issue, from anyone.

We talked about a number of issues;

On the subject of the Railrunner, their perspective is; pulling the plug should be on the table for candid, forthright, and honest discussion; my words, not theirs.

On the subject of the investment scandals, they said that investigation could be adequately funded without raising taxes.

It was a very satisfying meeting.

As far as I know, the leadership of the Democratic side, has not offered themselves up for the "media". I am curious if they will.

I would like to ask Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez a question; Somewhere in the United States is the state that offers up to the people, the finest example of legislative webcasting.

Why are we not that state?

Webcasting has been on the table in the legislature for years. Even after all of these many years, why is the New Mexico Legislative webcasting still so woefully inadequate?




photos Mark Bralley

GPSA election implications far reaching.

This week, the Graduate and Professional Student Association at UNM is conducting an election, link.

At the heart of all of the issues, a single issue; do stakeholders have any "standing" at all in the decision making processes at UNM?

There is abundant evidence that the good ol' boys at UNM could not care less about the feelings of the great unwashed; students, teachers, and tax payers. Then Board of Regents President Jamie Koch, after suffering a 482-7 vote of no confidence by the faculty, said;

He didn't care one bit about the vote — that it had slid off him like water off a duck's back, link.
If stakeholders are not given respect, they must demand it.

The most important issue on the table is the independent review of the administration of the UNM.

UNM President David Schmidly, in response to questions about the handling of Locksley Gate, stated, he isn't going to answer any more questions.

UNM Athletics Director Paul Krebs
said the same thing.

Oh really? Public servants responding to legitimate questions about the public interests and their public service by saying we're not going to answer any more questions.

I don't think so.

There are four issues on the ballot; one is fundamental.
Do stakeholders have the right to demand an independent investigation of their concerns, or must they rely on "trust" in politicians and public servants as their only protection against betrayal?




photo Mark Bralley

Editorial disconnect at the Journal

In the Journal this morning, link, find an editorial excoriating the leadership of the APS for their lack of candor, forthrightness, and honesty.

Yet one of these editors has decided that their "education" reporter will not investigate and report upon the ethics and accountability scandal in the leadership of the APS, even in the face of elections over $617M.

It's the little things - Maggie Hart Stebbins

Compare the photos; one was taken recently by Mark Bralley, the other is an "official" campaign photograph. Bralley's is on the left.














Damned if they're not the same person!

One of my pet peeves is candidates using photographs taken years (decades?) before and trying to pass themselves off as someone they no longer are.

A little thing? of course it is. But that is where real honesty and integrity begin.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Monahan dreams of forensic audits.

One of the NM political blogosphere's heavy hitters stepped up today, announcing his "dream" of a few millions of dollars spent on forensic audits of the UNM. One might of hoped for more "demand" and less imagining and dreaming, but we'll take whatever we can get.

"Imagine this (he writes). The Legislature makes a special appropriation of $2 million a year for two years for the office of the State Auditor to hire ten forensic audits who do nothing but look at the books of UNM and other state agencies and start finding the "fraud, waste and abuse" that we hear the politicos mouth about so often."

Hear, hear, Joe, and welcome aboard!




photo Mark Bralley

Winston Brooks $1/2M golden parachute.

During their private little confab to "evaluate" APS Superintendent Winston Brooks, the Board of Education decided to extend his contract. It is the second extension in a year; the first one was granted before he had even served one full year.

His contract has been extended until June 2013 "to provide continuity", link. Every year they will extend his contract another year so that he always has two years "in the bank".

When, if, a decision is made to hire a different superintendent, Brooks will still have his two years in the bank.

Taxpayers will have to buy out the remaining two years; another half a million down the drain.





Just one more little tidbit not being shared with voters before the upcoming Mill Levy and Bond Issue elections, neither by the leadership of the APS, nor by the Journal, our "newspaper of record".

Or have I misunderstood something?




photo Mark Bralley

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Maggie Hart Stebbins looks good.

County Commissioner Maggie Hart Stebbins, link, is running for election in District 3.

She makes the usual campaign promises, link.

In addition she promises government that is transparently accountable to the people.


Therefore she earns my endorsement; for whatever that might be worth.




photo Mark Bralley

No to "Hispanic" education.

If we have learned anything at all about bureaucracy and education, it is that the one does not lead to the other.

Yet here we are, considering forming yet another bureaucracy, link; this one to educate Hispanic students.

The flaw in education is as fundamental as the model itself; take a large group of individuals who have nothing in common but chronology, or color, or creed, or ..., and then compel them to move as a group, at the same speed, and in exactly the same direction, for twelve years.

It is called "cemetery seating" for a reason.

If a child stands before a teacher with an educational difficulty, the intervention does not begin with color, or creed, or chronology.

The current model is defers the teacher as the fount of knowledge; the only fount. It is the effort to use teachers "efficiently" that stands in the way using them "effectively".

It serves no good purpose to group students for no good purpose.

I am not aware of any empirical evidence that proves students in groups "learn" better than they would independently. If the purpose of education is to create independent learners, why is that not the goal of education?

APS School Board, vote no on the APS Mill Levy and Bond Issue

If you ask School Board President Marty Esquivel to explain why school board policy requiring the use of Character Counts! as the model for character education in the APS is being disregarded, he will not.

If you ask him to explain why he will not step up to honest accountability as the senior-most executive role model of the APS Student Standards of Conduct, he will not.

If you ask him why there will be no independent review of APS administrative and executive standards and accountability, he will not.

If you ask School Board Member David Robbins to explain why his audit committee is denying due process to more than one hundred whistleblower complaints, he will not.







If you ask School Board Member David Peercy to explain why his policy committee will not discuss the role modeling clause in the Employee Standards of Conduct, he will not.







If you ask School Board Member Paula Maes to explain why she will "never agree to any audit" that individually identifies incompetence or corrupt administrators or board members, she will not.






If you ask School Board Member Robert Lucero to explain why students are required to answer any legitimate question candidly, forthrightly and honestly, and he is not, he will not.







If you ask the Journal to explain why they will not investigate and report upon the ethics and accountability scandal in the leadership of the APS, they will not.




photos Mark Bralley

Linda Sink, vote no on the APS Mill Levy and Bond Issue.

If you ask APS Chief Academic Officer Linda Sink to explain why APS' Research, Development and Accountability Department does not conduct meaningful subordinate evaluations of administrators, she will not.

If you ask her to explain why APS has no written discipline philosophy, she will not.

If you ask her to explain the demise of character education in the APS, she will not.

If you ask the Journal to explain why they will not investigate and report upon the ethics and accountability scandal in the leadership of the APS, they will not.




photo Mark Bralley

Winston Brooks, vote no on the APS Mill Levy and Bond Issue

If you ask APS Superintendent Winston Brooks to explain why evidence of felony criminal misconduct involving APS senior administrators, link, has not been turned over to the DA for criminal prosecution, he will not.





If you ask him to explain why he will not allow an independent review of APS administrative standards and accountability, he will not.

If you ask him to explain why he will not hold himself honestly accountable as the senior-most administrative role model of the APS Student Standards of Conduct, he will not.

If you ask him to explain why legitimate complaints about his character and competence were denied due process in APS' SilentWhistle whistleblower complaint program, he will not.

If you ask the Journal to explain why they will not investigate and report upon the ethics and accountability scandal in the leadership of the APS, they will not.




photo Mark Bralley

Brad Winter, vote no on the APS Mill Levy and Bond Issue.

A few years ago, the leadership of the APS decided to move out of their digs on University Blvd. They "needed" to move to shiny new apartments in the sky.

6400 Upyours Blvd.

They promised stakeholders the purchase would actually save tax dollars. They told us that they would rent out half the building and make money on the deal. They did not.

Within the building, a brand new board room. You paid a million dollars for it.



In truth, you have no idea what you paid for it.
Nor can you find out.

If you ask APS Chief Administrative Officer Brad Winter to tell you how much you paid for it, he will not.










If you ask him explain why fire safety inspections of schools were ended, and the money that was saved then spent on state of the art electronics for the board room, he will not.


If you ask him to explain justify the need for a building new board room, while at the same time, students at Susie Rayos Marmon Elementary School were attending school in portable classrooms that were being used to three times their life expectancy, he will not.

If you ask the Journal to explain why they will not investigate and report upon the ethics and accountability scandal in the leadership of the APS, even in the face of elections over $617M, they will not.




photos Mark Bralley

Public Education Secretary has the authority to split APS.

What NM Public Education Secretary
Veronica Garcia
does not have is,
any compelling reason to split APS.

There is no compelling argument
in support of the split.

The supporting arguments are
entirely specious.

There is no empirical evidence that demonstrates that smaller districts do anything better than larger districts. There is no evidence that smaller districts are any more responsive to stakeholder input than larger ones.

Whether or not a school district is responsive to stakeholders is a function of the character of its leadership.














If APS Superintendent Winston Brooks and School Board President Marty Esquivel are unresponsive to stakeholders, it out their own arrogance, and not because there are "too many" stakeholders complaining.




photos Mark Bralley

More misconduct, or better reporting?

The Journal headline reads; "What is going on in our schools?" link.

The gist of the story is; there seems to be an increase in the number of stories about teachers having sex with students, and the Journal wonders, why?

The most oft offered excuse in the article, and in real time;

there is no increase, we're just getting better at reporting the misconduct."
I wish I had a dime for every time I have heard that excuse. It has been APS' excuse for decades. How much better can the reporting get?

I would offer that there is an increase in all kinds of misconduct by staff and students. It is a reflection of society where criminal acts, in particular "victimless" criminal acts are on the rise.

Misconduct is on the rise in APS for another reason; APS no longer offers character education to students or staff.

Character education has been abandoned in the APS because there is not a single senior administrator or board member in the entire APS willing to step up to accountability as a role model of the APS Student Standards of Conduct; the Pillars of Character Counts!; a nationally recognized, accepted, and respected code of ethical conduct.

The biggest part of character education is role modeling. Character is taught by role modeling. Character is taught only by role modeling.

Students in the APS are being denied character education because neither the senior-most administrative role model of the student standards of conduct, nor the senior-most executive role model of the student standards of conduct, can summon the character and the courage necessary to actually hold themselves honestly accountable as role models.















If you are looking for a reason for the uptick in ethical misconduct in the APS, don't look toward "better reporting", look to the Superintendent and the School Board President.

Look to the Journal to continue to cover up the ethics and accountability scandal in the leadership of the APS, even through the upcoming Bond Issue and Mill Levy elections.




photos Mark Bralley

Teachers union dragging its feet.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, link, has a few billion dollars to invest in education. States are competing for their share of the kitty. New Mexico is looking for $160M.

New Mexico's plan emphasizes finding ways to evaluate teachers and to then reward the better ones.

According to Journal editors, link, local Teachers Union President Ellen Bernstein, stands opposed.

The immediate problem with evaluating teachers is its subjective nature. One can have teachers take objective tests of their understanding of subject material, but there are no truly objective measures of their teaching effectiveness; at some point it usually boils down to an administrator's subjective evaluation of the teacher's effectiveness. At that point the process is corrupted; corrupt or incompetent administrators can reward teachers, or not, based on their personal prejudices regarding particular teachers. A bad teacher with an "in" will be rewarded, a good teacher who doesn't get along with the principal could be penalized.

We need to be able to figure out who the good and bad teachers are. One of the first responsibilities of professional organizations is to police their profession. In this respect, teachers unions and professional organizations have dropped the ball, and now someone is going to pick up the ball and do it for them.

It isn't going to be easy. If it were, it would be done already. The simple truth is that there is no magic bullet with respect to evaluating teaching; it is as much an art as a science.

That not withstanding, teacher unions need to get on the stick; lead, follow, or get the hell out of the way.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

I want my taxes to be raised.

An open letter to legislators;

In the paper this morning, I find two stories of public corruption and incompetence before I leave page one.

Fundamentally, they both have to do with a lack of oversight over the spending of my power and resources, and I want it to stop.

I am tired of hearing that oversight is underfunded.

Fund it. Now. Completely.

Even if you have to raise my taxes.

Winston Brooks' glowing evaluation.

In a largely secret process, the
Albuquerque Public Schools
Board of Education, just finished
evaluating APS Superintendent,
Winston Brooks.

The process was tainted
from its inception.

If the evaluation of the
superintendent is good,
the school board looks good.
If the evaluation is bad, the school board looks bad.
The inherent appearance of a conflict of interest is undeniable.

In effect, they are evaluating themselves.

A few years ago, the Council of the Great City Schools audited the APS. They found that "... administrative evaluations are subjective and unrelated to promotion or step placement ..."

objective; not influenced by personal feelings, interpretations, or prejudice; based on facts; unbiased

subjective; placing excessive emphasis on one's own moods, attitudes, opinions, etc.
They found administrators being promoted and raised according to a bunch of good ol' boys sitting around a table and concluding that another good ol' boy is doing an OK job, so let's give him a raise.

Nothing has changed. This was another conclusion reached by auditors; the leadership of the APS routinely ignores audit findings and doesn't change policies to reflect audit findings.

If you examine the instrument used by the board, link, you will no objective data gathering as part of the process; just board members sitting around congratulating each other on their great appointment. The conflict of interest is a clear and compelling violation of their own supposed Code of Ethical Conduct; a code that by their own admission is completely and utterly unenforceable.

There was not, nor will there ever be, any independent evaluation of the Superintendent. Board Member Paula Maes "... will never agree to any audit ..." that individually addresses the conduct and competence of any administrator, especially her pick for superintendent.

The evaluation reflects the opinions of no one except those who hired him. It did not include even the mention of subordinate evaluations; a truly accurate and important indicator of successful leadership.

The glowing evaluation of the Superintendent comes, conveniently, two weeks before the Bond Issue and Mill Levy elections.

With the evaluation came a contract extension until 2013. His salary will continue at the reported $250,000 per year. I suspect the salary report is being low-balled; his compensation package is likely closer to $300,000. The Journal reports, and I recollect, the number is $276K. It is, of course, not posted on their fancy new website. I'll follow up; I have emailed Rigo Chavez and asked for the whole truth.

Bottom line; should the School Board evaluate their superintendent? of course they should.

Should that be the only evaluation? of course not.




photo Mark Bralley

Friday, January 22, 2010

Senate Judiciary decision will be far reaching.

There are a number of questions on the table.

One of the most fundamental questions is;
when a man points to public corruption or incompetence,
is it then up to him personally, to hold that politician or
public servant accountable for their corruption or incompetence?

The first ethical use of power is to protect itself from abuse.

It is up to power to police itself. It is absurd to expect the
powerless to hold the powerful accountable for their conduct
and competence.

Yet here we are.

Were it not for Frank Foy and Victor Marshall,
no one would be doing anything to get to the bottom of the
corruption in the State Investment Scandal.

The Attorney General is not investigating; he can't afford to.
The State Auditor is not investigating, he can't afford to.

The legislature steadfastly refuses to fund adequate oversight.

A cynic might conclude that they are doing so for selfish and
corrupt reasons.

Senator Cisco McSorley's Judiciary Committee
is charged with making a monumental and far reaching decision;

whether to fund the demise of the culture of corruption
in state government.

Janice Arnold-Jones raises the bar again, in the spirit of full disclosure.

You may or may not know your candidates stand on all of the
important issues. But what about more "minor" issues?

Rep Janice Arnold-Jones,
the first candidate to post her
campaign contributions as they
are made, has raised the bar
again. She has posted her positions
on every issue she can think of,
A to Z, nearly 40 in all, link.

More importantly, if you want
to communicate with her on
any of those issues, she has a
"hotline" on her site, where
you can share your views or ask her follow up questions.

This is a bold step in full disclosure and one which no other
candidate has taken so far, and some likely, never will.




photo Mark Bralley

NM Attorney General and State Auditor of no use to the little guy.

Because the Offices of the New Mexico Attorney General and
State Auditor are so grossly underfunded, they have to pick
and choose among the cases they will prosecute. The logic is
sound.

The effect is that the small complaints receive no attention at
all. My complaint to the NMAGO that the APS is suppressing
evidence of involvement of APS senior administrators in felony
criminal misconduct, is small potatoes compared to investigating
huge losses in the SIC and ERB.

My complaint to the State Auditors Office that the leadership
of the APS has submitted an audit containing a deliberate
fraud, is small potatoes compared to million dollar frauds.

The net result; neither is going to attend to my needs.

The process affords me the opportunity to sue in state district
court. The First Judicial District Court is short three judges.
Criminal cases take precedence over civil cases. There are so
many criminal cases that civil cases are not being heard at all.

The end result, no recourse for the little guy all; he is simply screwed.

Watchdog agency underfunding

During testimony yesterday before the Senate Judiciary Committee, two points that were already obvious to those who have been paying close enough attention, were reiterated;

  1. Taxpayers are out hundreds of millions of dollars lost in investment scams.
  2. The Attorney Generals Office is not in the fight, because they lack resources.
The AG's representative who testified before the committee was asked how much money they needed in order to step up. She declined to place a number on the table. A number that has been bandied about, $200K.

So for lack of $200K, the likelihood of recovering hundreds of millions of dollars is put at risk. It makes no sense.

Committee Chair Cisco McSorley said that we should prepare to raise taxes in order to cover this and similar needs. Whether revenue enhancements are used, or whether money gleaned from budget cuts is used, is moot; a distinction without a difference. Either way, money needs to flow to the watchdog agencies. The idea that the entire responsibility for pressing suits that will recover tax dollars should fall upon a whistleblower and his attorney is ridiculous.

The State Auditors Office is another watchdog in the same boat. State Auditor Hector Balderas has stated that with 1% of the budget, he could save 3-5%. It's a money maker.

If you can spend $200K to recoup $200M, it makes sense.
If you can spend a dollar to save five, it makes sense.

It makes sense to make watchdogs a funding priority.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

APS scoffrule "Sagger" off to prison.

A few years ago, I was a teacher at Hoover Middle School.
I was central to a long running battle over the fact that the
administration was permitting prohibited behavior.

The rule in question prohibited "sagging"; the wearing of pants
so low as to expose underwear. At the time it was not only
prohibited by school rules, but by School Board Policy.

My position was, and still is, you have to enforce rules.
If you don't, you teach children to ignore rules.
I found the sagging issue particularly important because
sagging is overt, in your face, disregard for the rules.

This is not about sagging. Sagging was not a hill I was ready
to die on. But the "leadership" of the APS made the rule, and
I believed that because it was a rule, it should be enforced.

So one day, I went around school with a camera and took
pictures of the kids who were sagging; incontrovertible proof
that prohibited behavior was being permitted by the
administration. I even took a picture of the assistant principal
standing in the hallway with his arms folded in front of him,
watching dozens of kids breaking the rules without consequence.

I was fired for "creating a hostile environment" for the principal
and assistant principal. The firing was reversed in the first
impartial hearing outside of the APS administrative system.
But that is a whole other story, and not the point of this post.

One of the students I photographed that day, a kid so cocky
in his disregard for the rule that he posed for the picture with
his shirt up to highlight the sagging, has just been sent to
prison for six years.

Apparently, he and a few of his friends thought it would be
amusing to beat the crap out of someone they didn't even know,
and then light him on fire, link.

I can't say that if this kid had been pulled up short as an 8th
grader, that he wouldn't have gone on in life to do what he did,
but the supposition is not all that outlandish.

If the leadership of the APS supported character education in
the least, life would be different, and better, for a number of
students, both in school and after graduation.

The leadership of the APS has dropped the ball on character
education and student discipline.

One of the greatest obstacles to education is the lack of student
discipline. Yet the leadership of the APS steadfastly refuses to
step up on the issue. They have not even invested the time and
effort necessary even to pen a discipline philosophy;
the critical foundation for any and all discipline policies.

Kids are still sagging on every campus in the APS. A rule was
made, the students said "you can't tell us what to do", and they
do whatever they want.

Who is in charge in schools; adults or children?
Who is in charge, the people who make the rules, or the kids
who ignore them?

Kids are in charge in the APS.

The leadership of the APS bears some responsibility for the
assault and near murder of an innocent.

Who knows how this young man's life would have turned out
if we had provided him the character education he was promised.


Not that they will admit it, or
recognize it, or
do anything about it.




photo Mark Bralley

Secrecy surrounding US Attorney Candidates.

US Attorney candidates are picked by a state's US Senators.
A final selection is made by the White House.

Senators Bingaman and Udall, according to blogger Monahan,
link
, are refusing to identify the candidates on their short list.
The claim "privacy" issues. Monahan claims;

"... the release of the names of the US attorney
candidates is about the public's right to know, not just
of a possibly pre-selected final choice, but of all those
who were interviewed and to have a chance to weigh in
on the matter if they so desire.
The position of those with power and privilege is that the truth
belongs to them until you can prove, in court, your right to know
it.

When in reality; the truth belongs to the people, unless those
who want to keep it secret can prove, in court, their right to
withhold it.

What more proof could you possibly need that you have lost
control over your power and resources, than that the spending
of them is secret from you?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Janice Arnold-Jones, "... budget first; budget only"

The inherent shortcomings of single issue politics self evident;
the concept gains some validity when the single issue is
fundamental to all other issues.

There is no legitimate agenda that does not move forward
on the day that our government gets "fixed".

Rep Janice Arnold-Jones
argues; lets get the
government up and running
before we do anything else.

She believes that the existing
committee structure of the
legislature can divvy up state
government and right the wrongs.

I agree, but only if, there is no cover and confusion offered by
debating non budget issues,
no matter how otherwise important they might be.

There isn't a more fundamental budget issue than
transparent accountability in its spending.


"A rising tide lifts all boats" wikilink




photo Mark Bralley


Ever wonder why they never respond?

In the following post, I lay it out pretty succinctly;
Winston Brooks and Marty Esquivel lack the character and
the courage to step up as role models of the APS student
standards of conduct, and further that the Journal is covering
up their that lack of character and courage in the leadership
of the APS.

None of them will respond. Why?

If they responded to that question, they would doubtless
argue that I am a crackpot and they don't want to legitimize
me or my allegations by responding to them.

I'm not buying their excuse. They could respond anonymously
to any of my posts; I have never censored an opposing point of
view.

The simple truth is that I am pointing to the truth and they
cannot defend their positions. If they could write; you're full
of crap and here is why, they would.

They won't, because they can't.

APS students are being denied character education because
of the lack of character and courage in the leadership of the APS.

... period.

The Journal is covering their asses.

... period.

$1.25M in grants to teach ethics.

The Journal reports this morning, link, that schools of
business at UNM and NMSU will get $1.25M to "... to help business school students learn a high standard of ethics."

NMSU Dean and former Governor Garrey Carruthers said
of the effort to teach ethics at a younger age;

“To go out and talk to a 60-year-old businessman about
business ethics might be interesting and entertaining
(but pointless).”
He could not be more correct. The younger a person is when
they begin to think about their character, the more likely they
are to develop character.

Currently, despite the fact that school board policy requires that
students in the APS receive character education, they are being
denied meaningful ethics training because there is no one in the
leadership of the APS willing to actually step up to honest
accountability as a rolemodel of the APS Student Standards
of Conduct
; the Pillars of Character Counts!; a nationally
recognized, accepted, and respected code of ethical conduct.














Both APS Superintendent Winston Brooks, the senior-most administrative role model of the student standards of conduct, and School Board President Marty Esquivel, the senior-most executive role model of the student standards of conduct, will get all pissy if you suggest that their unwillingness to step up as role models of the Pillars of Character Counts! flows from their personal lack of character and courage.

Yet neither will offer any alternative explanation.

There isn't one.

The Journal continues still, to refuse to investigate and report upon the ethics and accountability scandal in the leadership of the APS.




photos Mark Bralley

Denish struggling still with candor, forthrightness and honesty.

Lt Governor Diane Denish, according to Monahan, link,
said of Gubernatorial Candidate Pete Domenici,

We can't afford a Governor who has a name but no ideas
or priorities!
Unless you actually believe that Domenici hasn't one single
idea, nor one single priority, Denish's statement is false
on its face.

And why is it acceptable to utter patent untruths?

Are campaigns a license to lie? Why do we accept dishonesty
in campaigns and then rail against it once they are elected?

Candidates are showing their stripes during their campaigns.
We ought not to ignore the stripes that portend a willingness to
deliberately deceive and mislead voters.

The day Janice Arnold-Jones "... dragged her camera in there"

I find myself on occasion, in back and forth exchanges in the
comments sections of other blogs.

Some of the most frustrating exchanges occur on the backside
of Democracy for New Mexico, host site for some of the most
intransigent bigotry found anywhere in the blogosphere.

Rarely is there a philosophical discussion or disagreement;
mostly they just really hate "Republicans", no matter what else.

One backsider, who will identify himself only as "Luther", was
recently exercising his need to berate Republicans by attacking
the record of Rep Janice Arnold-Jones. He asked;

What the heck has Arnold Jones ever achieved except
dragging that camera in there?
It got me thinking about the (2nd) day she "dragged her
camera in there". She had already defied the good ol' boys
by webcasting a committee meeting. This was the next day.
We were in a meeting of the House Rules Committee.

They were there to deal with their response to the assault on
their traditions and the "threat" of webcasting.

Arnold-Jones was there.
As she was leaving the room
to go to a committee meeting
where she was again going to
set up her webcasting,
a TV reporter asked her,
"what are you going to do
if they tell you again,
to put your camera away?"

Rep Janice Arnold-Jones said
something to the effect that,
she wasn't sure what she was going to do.

The uncertainty was not over her plan to continue to web cast
for her constituents. I felt the uncertainty centered around her
concern that her courage might fail her in the confrontation she
was headed toward.

Her courage did not fail her, and the rest as they say, is history.

I have always believed that courage is not reflected in a lack of
fear, it is manifest in doing what needs to be done, in spite of
the fear.

You would be hard pressed to point to an instance of political
courage that surpasses this.

"Luther" will never understand the remarkable courage it took
to be the first through the breach in the wall of shady backroom
dealing in Santa Fe.

Worse, even if he did finally grasp it, he would never admit it.

After all, she is a "Republican".

If Medal of Honor winner, Audie Murphy, link, were a
"Republican", I am certain that Luther would be asking,
What did Murphy ever do except "dragging" his rifle
across Europe?




photo Mark Bralley

APS' Student, Parent, and Employee Website.

APS has rolled out its new website, link. Students, parents,
and employees will be able to find "everything they need to
know" about the district.

There is no tab for "community members" or "taxpayers".
Apparently, the disregard for taxpayers and the community
in general, will continue unabated.

Nowhere on the new site, can you find out how much money
they have spent, or will be spending, on refurbing the castle keep at 6400 Uptown Blvd.

If you search around for a while, you will find some two year
old information on spending in pdf files which are neither
searchable. amenable to cutting and pasting, nor linkable.

In other words, new face on an old cover-up.

As always, I will bow to controverting fact; perhaps the
information is there and I just can't find it. In which case
I will gladly amend this report.

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Denish Albatross

There has been one party in power for ever.

It happens to have the Democrat Party.

If it had been Republicans in charge for generations, it would be
the same.

It isn't power that corrupts, it is the opportunity to abuse power
without consequence that corrupts absolutely.

If you sit within an entrenched system you will be corrupted
by your invulnerability, absolutely.

Those who stand up against an entrenched system find
themselves out of the system in short order.
Entrenched corruption does not tolerate
those who do not tolerate corruption.

Even if Lt Governor Diane Denish has not be complicit in
the incompetence and corruption, she is certainly compliant
to the culture of corruption and incompetence in state government.

She is part of an entrenched system.

One cannot graduate from party to corruption to
being the person that ends the corruption single handed.

How would that meeting look?

"Hey guys I changed my mind, and
you're all under arrest."


The impossibility of her taking charge of state government
and throwing out all of the corrupt and the incompetent
politicians and public servants entrenched in her own shared
government, hangs like an albatross* on her candidacy.

*"... a seemingly inescapable moral burden,
as of guilt or responsibility.

something burdensome that impedes action or progress."







photo Mark Bralley

She...'s back.

Representative Janice Arnold Jones
announced that she will be webcasting her
committee meetings;
House Taxation and Revenue and
House Voters and Elections.



She will web-cast the 2010 NM House Committees she serves on at http://www.NMGov.tv/.

She will use her Twitter account, LadySunshineNM, for posting updates for times and dates during the session.

Her constituents can not only watch the meeting, but can participate real time through email to their representative.

Arnold-Jones' email contact address during webcasting will be
jearnoldjones(AT)aol.com


Janice is seen here in the first days of webcasting, chatting on
talk radio about her effort. In the back ground is
Howard DeLaCruz-Bancroft, an integral part of the legislative
webcasting past and present.




photos Mark Bralley