Friday, April 30, 2010

Villanucci endorses Doug Turner

Though recently he said he thought
Rep Janice Arnold-Jones
was the most qualified candidate.

The object of the Primary, according to Jim Villanucci, is to elect someone who can win in November, not to elect the best qualified candidate.

This runs contrary to the widely expressed belief that we can clean up government by simply electing the most qualified candidate.

Why isn't the most qualified candidate the most likely to win?

Have we taken our eyes off the ball?

Weh's conduct unsettling

Someone else first observed; "the best indicator of future performance is past performance". There is a better indicator than past performance and that is, current performance.

If the interest is in electing ethical politicians, then some attention should be paid to their manifest ethics.

For the life of me, I cannot understand how voters can watch unethical conduct during campaigns and then be surprised when it shows up again after election.

Consider Colonel Allen Weh's current campaign;

  1. he claims he isn't a politician, and
  2. he is misrepresenting Lt Gov Diane Denish's use of Richardson's jet, and
  3. he is "push polling", and
  4. he still has not stepped up to the consequences of his alleged physical assault on a member(s) of the NMRP staff.
1. By any reasonable definition, Weh is a politician. To represent otherwise, in order to cash in on anti-politician public sentiment, is not honest.

2. Weh is running TV ads that have misrepresented Denish's use of the state jet. He claimed she used federal funds and apparently is mistaken. It appears she was using state tax dollars to fly to the parade. The mistake could well be innocent. Continuing to run that ad after he knows that he is spreading an untruth, is not so innocent.

3. According to blogger Monahan, Weh is conducting a push poll. Push polls are actually illegal in some states, because they are so blatantly unethical.

4. There is every reason to believe that there was a physical assault. The details are germane to the discourse surrounding his candidacy. Everybody makes mistakes; only a few have the character and the courage to admit to them and accept the consequences.

How will Weh conduct himself if elected?

What are you going to believe,
his ads on radio and TV, or your lying eyes?

Look to his current conduct.

Torches and Pitchforks at Rio Grande High School

Several hundred students walked out of their classes at Rio Grande High School yesterday. They were protesting their exclusion from the decision making process that replaced two administrators as their school.

They are on firm philosophical ground. As students, they are expected to model and promote the Pillars of Character Counts!. According to various of the six Pillars, stakeholders have a right to meaningful participation in decision making that affects their interests.

What does participation mean exactly? That varies from situation to situation of course, but at the very least would include sharing of timely and accurate information about any administrative changes at their school.

APS Supt Winston Brooks, by his own deliberate choice, is not honestly accountable to the higher standards of ethical conduct that he enforces upon students. He holds them accountable for their respect for the rights of others, yet will not hold himself accountable as a role model of the same standard.



Brooks and the rest of the leadership of the APS have not been actually accountable as role models, and removed even the pretense of it, when they removed the Role Modeling Clause from their own standards of conduct. It used to read;

In no case shall the standards of conduct for an adult,
be lower than the standards for students.
John Kennedy is credited with the observation;
Those who make peaceful revolution impossible,
make violent revolution inevitable.
If Brooks had showed any respect at all for the stakeholders at RGHS, there would not have been the need for students to rise up in protest.

As a result of the student demonstration, ten of them have been granted an audience with Brooks. Not that it will do any good, the skunk is not going to change it's stripe, but you have to give the kids credit for standing up for what they believe in.

Perhaps their example will not be lost on the adults in their community.




photo Mark Bralley

Thursday, April 29, 2010

APS principal swap wrong headed.

APS Supt Winston Brooks has called a Chinese Fire Drill, wikilink, for more than two dozen principals this week.

APS does this every couple of years, link. It resets the clock on their many failures.

It is an accountability dodge .
Asses are being covered.

Lemons are marching. Brooks would have you believe "good" principals are on the march as well. But why? Why would he move a successful principal?

Among other things, successful schools have a synergy.
If a principal, a staff, and a community have a good synergy,
why destroy it?

Brooks would have you believe that the problems in APS schools can be solved by simply applying the right administrator. A failing school under the right administrator will succeed.

Never mind the accumulated experience, expertise, and investment of students, staff, parents, and community.

There are well over 70,000 years of teaching experience alone, in the APS, and no seat at the table where decisions are made. No seat at the table where principals are hired and fired.

No seat at the table for students. No seat at the table for parents. No seat at the table for anyone but Winston Brooks.

Brooks wants the authority to move principals around at his whim, but does not want to be held accountable for his decision.

If just the principal of Rio Grande High School was moved, RGHS stakeholders would tell him, I told you so.

If just the principal of Jimmy Carter Middle School was moved, JCMS stakeholders would tell him, I told you so.

If just the principal of (substitute the failing school of your choice) was moved, FSoYC stakeholders would tell him, I told you so.

But if he trots 28 principals around in a circle for awhile, it all becomes a blur.

Brooks never has to admit his administrative failure.

And if we fired him tomorrow,
we would still owe him two years of pay, link.



Side note;

Take this job and shove it!
The Principal at APS' crown jewel; La Cueva High School,
was headed for Jimmy Carter Middle School.

She retired instead.




photo Mark Bralley

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Rep Wilson did not mention Rep Janice Arnold-Jones by name, but ...

Former Rep Heather Wilson has posted an essay on Heath Haussamen's site, link, entitled;

Restoring ethics: Eight ways to clean up Santa Fe
Read it, and then think of the six people who would be Governor.

There is no legitimate agenda that does not move forward when we elect a Governor who will clean up Santa Fe.

Clean and fair government is all anyone in either Party has a right to expect.

Government that is transparently accountable to the people serves every legitimate agenda.

Government that is lean and efficient serves every legitimate agenda.



Proven competence,
proven character,
proven courage.


It's a no-brainer.




photos Mark Bralley

DA Susana Martinez does not keep those statistics.

I had emailed the Custodian of Public Records at DA Susana Martinez' Office. I explained that I had heard that, Martinez has been "reversed on appeal" more than most DAs. I asked for a record of that statistic, or in lieu of an actual "record", a candid, forthright and honest answer to the question.

I have received the following from her Office, quoted in significant part; (the rest being a list of the accolades earned by members of their team).

I believe that the information that you were told is incorrect.

Further, I am not aware of anyone with statistics on this topic. I have been with this office as Chief Deputy District Attorney since 1997 (and I have been a prosecutor in New Mexico even longer) and have never been aware of records being kept that would address your question.

Susan M. Riedel
Chief Deputy District Attorney and
Custodian of Records for the
Third Judicial District Attorney's Office


OK, I'll bite. Why not?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Heads will not roll in a Denish administration.

By any reasonable measure, state government is in shambles.

Some responsibility for current mess falls upon the shoulders of the people who have been running it for the last eight years.

The heavy hitters in the Richardson administration would like to hang around for at least another four years in the Denish administration as well, according to Joe Monahan, link.

If Lt Gov Diane Denish is the only one changing seats, how does anything change in the Roundhouse?

It will be more of the same old, same old.


How does she pretend she was anything but complicit in
or complacent about, the corruption swirling around her?






photo Mark Bralley

Monday, April 26, 2010

"A plague o' both your houses!"

"This is a famous quote from Romeo and Juliet, link.
As Mercutio dies, he utters this phrase three times,
cursing the families whose rivalry led to his death.

The phrase is commonly applied to criticize warring factions
whose rivalry brings ruin to others. "

Government of the Party, by the Party, and for the Party
is not the same thing as government of the people,
by the people, and for the people.

Partisan politics cannot serve the interests of the whole.
Partisan politics sustain Party politics.
Party politics sustains Parties, not people.

What about the people's politics?

Do we really need someone to tell us who to vote for?
Do we really need someone to write our agenda?

All we really need is, a champion.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Let's say you are a Democrat, but you don't want to vote for Denish

There are Democrats who cannot do the Richardson - Denish - Colón thing, even if they hold their nose.

Which Republican will thinking, open-minded, and moderate Democrats prefer?

It would depend on their individual priorities. If one of them approached a single issue priority, they would be inclined toward the candidate who shared the single issue.

On the other hand, I did stipulate thinking, moderate, and open-minded.

They would be interested in a the candidate who would assure them a seat at the table where all issues would see open and honest discussion.

They would be interested in a Governor who made time to meet with them, not off playing Crime Scene Investigator somewhere. They would be interested in a Governor who will greet their different perspective with a smile and handshake, not a baseball bat.


They will be most interested in Rep Janice Arnold-Jones.





photo Mark Bralley

A seat at the table.

No one is entitled to more or less than, a seat at the table.

If the table functions well, it can make decisions that manifest the will of the people. With the right people at the table, it can work.

It is a function of government to provide for its citizens, seats at the table. It is a function of government to provide for; "government by the people".

There is no legitimate agenda that does not move forward on the day that government functions as an independent facilitator of the will of the people, and not of the will of power and privilege.

A seat at the table for citizens, could be the product of the next meeting of the Restructuring Committee. Or maybe not.
OK, probably not. It has never happened before.

There is a live ball lying on the playing field.

On that day, the ball will be carried toward or away from the goal; a people's seat at the table.

So far, the ball is just sitting there. No one wants to pick it up.

No one wants to take responsibility for putting together the People's Plan; an unequivocal outline of the terms of politics and public in-servitude, according to people's interests.

There is an election coming up.

It is the opportunity for a referendum on reform.

It is an opportunity to compel candidates to pick a side on open government.

Let's make the election about restructuring government.

Let's elect the candidates who will hold themselves transparently accountable to meaningful standards of conduct and competence; and throw out those who will not.

The best next Governor, is the candidate who shows real leadership right now. Not with a promise about what they may or may not do after they're elected, but right now, before the election.


Somebody needs to pick up the ball and run with it.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Az immigration law suffered from narrow thinking.

The legislative process does not lend itself to the development of novel solutions; or even good solutions. It is one guy's final draft against the system. Rep Al Park complained about it during opening remarks at the Governmental Restructuring Committee meeting.

He spoke of reform bills that he had carried in to the system,
only to see them summarily dismissed.

If they follow past practice; some final draft will be concocted
(sometimes in secret) and a bill will appear.

Folks will pick sides according their own agenda, and they will tell us what they are willing to do by way of restructuring.

It is not their call.

The terms of public in-servitude are the prerogative of the public, not of the public servant.

If they are not willing to provide transparent accountability; if they cannot return to us, control over power and resources that are fundamentally our own, they need to be replaced with people who are. Rep Janice Arnold-Jones comes to mind.

Our will is that they create a revolutionary reform that places control over our power and resources, solidly in our hands.

In 192 days, we will be standing at the polls ready to hold them accountable to that standard. We will need a few days before hand, let's say 20, to talk about the reform package.

End date then; NTE 172 days from this.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Is Susana Martinez even a good DA?

Susana Martinez says, vote for her for Governor because
she is doing such a great job as District Attorney.

There are statistics that could be used to substantiate a claim like that. For example, if she is a great District Attorney, she could point to a statistic that shows she has a high conviction rate. She hasn't, and you have to wonder why.

There are statistics that would disprove the claim. If for instance, she was being reversed on appeal an inordinately large percentage of the time, that statistic would indicate she was doing a bad job as District Attorney.

I emailed her Office this morning, at 7:53 am, and asked for a public record that reflected her rate of reversals. I also offered to forgo the records request if they would simply give me a candid, forthright and honest answer to the question.

No answer.

Under "the law", they can handle it as a request for public records and wait up to three business days to respond. According to any higher standard of conduct than the law, they would have at least acknowledged its receipt by email reply.

One would think if the rate of reversals were low, and the rate of convictions were high, both statistics would be posted on her website. They are not.

My experience leads me to conclude that the truth is hidden
only
when it's bad.

Will you help restructure the Roundhouse?

Or will you let legislators do it? in meetings that can still be
held behind your back, "legally".

As far as I know, the first meeting of the Government Restructuring Committee was not videotaped by anybody.

The opportunity for you to participate meaningfully in decisions that affect your interests, is long gone. You can't go back and watch the record. There is no webcasting of interim committee no matter how consequential their work.

Why not, how was the war over robust webcasting lost?

The war need champions, and we had champions.

There were people from the dais and from the bleacher seats alike, who picked up the flag, charged into the wall, and created a breach.

They prevailed momentarily, and then lost. They lost because when they looked around to see who was with them, they found themselves standing nearly alone.

They had won the battle and lost the war.



If Rep Janice Arnold-Jones had been surrounded by those whose interests she was defending, we would not have lost the war.






If those who she was fighting for, had then joined the fight, we would not now have;

  • legislative webcasting that is an affront to the citizens of New Mexico.
  • a surrender of public records that is an affront to the citizens of New Mexico.
  • deliberative meetings behind closed doors that are an affront to the citizens of New Mexico.
Rep Janice Arnold-Jones can lead restructuring. She has shown you the competence, she has shown you the character, and she has shown you the courage it will take to clean the rot out of the Roundhouse.




Let's not make the same mistake twice.





photos Mark Bralley

Jim "the enforcer" Scarantino

Because New Mexico doesn't have any worthwhile mechanism for dealing with political corruption and incompetence, the burden goes uncarried, or must be carried by those whose job it is not.

Jim Scarantino is getting some help, link.

For as long as politicians and public servants continue to
refuse to provide a mechanism under which they can be held
honestly accountable for their conduct and competence,
citizens will have to create their own.

Thank God for those who are picking up the slack.

Brooks nixes student pay.

There are a number of schools across the nation that are experimenting with paying students to succeed; cash for hard work and good grades. As might be expected, there is some push back, although there is some empirical data suggesting that it works, link.

There is no such thing as a disengaged learner;
you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink.

If there is a student who doesn't want to learn, they will not.
If they decide to learn because they want a few dollars for a
good test score, they will.

Some local students wanted to run the concept by APS Supt
Winston Brooks
, who had nothing better to do than to
run by the school, chat with them, and oh yeah, get his picture
in the Journal in a "feel good" story, link.

"Nepotism Is No Problem at Charter School"

Thus read the headline in a Journal report this morning, link.

I would suggest that the whole point of the report was to get people to think there is in fact, a problem with nepotism in charter schools. If there is no problem, why write the story at all; why put it on the front page? Since when does the unstory get front page coverage?

Recently, auditors from the Council of the Great City Schools revealed that there were real problems with nepotism in the administration of the APS. Did the Journal report that? No. Did they do any kind of investigation of their own? No.

Yet they're are willing to point to the possibility that there is a problem in charters even though they conclude, in the end, that there is not.

The leadership of the APS needs to get used to the fact that the void they are leaving in the education of 90,000 of this community's sons and daughters is going to be filled by charter schools. And further that, the charters are going to do a better job of it because they are not locked into the rigid thinking that keeps APS using a model that no longer works.

They need to call off their cronies at the Journal, and allow them to write uplifting stories about charter school successes rather than having them write stories whose point is to try to make the second horse in the race; APS, look like the winner.

We're paying Monica Armenta and her crew a million dollars* a year to do that.

*The real cost of the APS Communications Department is unknown except to the leadership of the APS. If you search the APS website for "communications department budget" you get no answer.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

I have a question for the candidates.

The question is this, and stands by itself. There is currently in progress, an interim legislative committee whose task it is, to write a restructuring plan for an administration in ethical and legal shambles.

What is your plan?

Will you post it on your website?

Alright, two questions then.

Anyone who would like to meet Rep Janice Arnold-Jones and then take her up on her offer to answer your every question, truthfully, you have that opportunity this evening between 5:30 and 6:30 at her campaign office. The office is a block north of Menaul on Pennsylvania, on the west side. There will be another opportunity tomorrow from 4 pm until 7 pm in the Quigley Park area.

Meet the Candidate Tonight!
Q&A With Janice Arnold-Jones!
Thursday, April 22nd 5:30 to 6:30 PM
Campaign Headquarters
2625 Pennsylvania, NE Suite 200
(Just North of Menaul)
RSVP Appreciated: staff@janiceforgovernor.com


Meet the Candidate II
Friday, April 23rd 4:00 to 7:00 PM
Residence of Winnie Schmidt
2916 Cuervo, NE
Quigley Park Area, South of Candelaria
RSVP Appreciated: staff@janiceforgovernor.com

Whose plan to restructure should we use?

17 legislators (primarily) and executive branch members are charged with creating a plan to restructure our government.

Alternatively, the people could draw up such a plan, and present it to the committee for them to implement.

Wouldn't it be swell, if all the non-government and politics heavy hitters of every persuasion sat down with the intention of advancing a non-partisan public interests agenda, and write a restructuring plan that would guarantee it.

Their version would include of course, transparency limited only by the spirit of the law, and inescapable accountability for politicians and public servants who will not tell the truth.

In either case, we must have something on the table before the November 2nd.

Else, how are we going to hold them accountable if they fail?

"The end of democracy and the defeat of the American Revolution

will occur when government falls into the hands of lending institutions and moneyed incorporations."
Thomas Jefferson

"It's the redistribution of weath, stupid"*

*"It's the economy, stupid" wikilink

The Founding Fathers argued, convincingly,
citizens have a right to own property.
They claimed, because they believed,
the right to own property come from God.

Not to mention that they recognized it as
an inherent human right, regardless.

So if someone claims the right to take one wo/mans property
from them without their consent and then, give it to another;
is it reasonable to expect them to cite justification?

“When the people find that they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic.” - Benjamin Franklin


The pity is that, as fundamental an issue as; the redistribution
of wealth as a legitimate function of government,
cannot enjoy civil discourse and debate, even during elections.

The Founding Fathers could do it, why can't we?

UNM Graduate and Professional Students Association, feckless.

Early this year, the leadership of the GPSA conducted an election. One item on the ballot asked voters if they wanted an independent review of the administrative handling of the Locksley Gate scandal.

The issue passed overwhelmingly. And that was the end of it.

To date, UNM President
David Schmidly
is yet to
even acknowledge that the
election took place, much less
his intentions with respect to
an independent review of his
administrative standards and
accountability.

I am unaware of any effort at all,
that the GPSA has made to
compel him to comply, or even to
bring attention to his refusal.

The GPSA had a milestone opportunity to compel the first ever independent review of an administration of the public trust and treasure, and they blew it.

So what was the point in having the issue placed on a ballot?

And what is the point in having a GPSA if they are so impotent even on a milestone issue with such widespread support*?

*Nearly everyone except the administrators whose individual incompetence and corruption would be exposed by an independent and honest inquiry.




photo Mark Bralley

Schmidly on; Schmidly

The Journal gave UNM President David Schmidly space for 451 words on efficiency in his administration, link.

There was not a single word anywhere in the Journal, nor has there ever been, on Schmidly's refusal to allow independent efficiency experts to validate, or not, his claim.

Coincidentally, the Journal devoted exactly the same amount of space to APS Supt Winston Brooks' refusal to allow an independent efficiency audit of his administration; zero.

If you ask Journal Editor Kent Walz why the Journal will not investigate and report upon the fact that these administrators will not allow an independent, and honest, evaluation of their administration of public resources and interests, you will get the same response; another zero.

It is almost as if they are in cahoots in an effort to cover up administrative inefficiencies at the UNM and APS. In what way would being in cahoots look any different than it looks right now?

Eichenberg's hot potato

Senator Tim Eichenberg
is the Chairman of the
Government Restructuring
Task Force
, link.

Their first meeting was not
webcast to a searchable archive,
thereby denying stakeholders
an opportunity to participate
meaningfully.

Which begs a question;

Will the next meeting of the Task Force be webcast to
a searchable archive, or is transparency not on the table
as a fundamental aspect of any meaningful effort to
restructure state government?



photo Mark Bralley

Brooks bungles budget

APS Supt Winston Brooks is having trouble figuring out how to deal with a looming $43M budget shortfall.

Early in the process he decided to grab some low hanging fruit by screwing over some widely loathed "double dippers". The plan failed to recognize that double dipping was initially authorized for the expressed purpose of retaining these very teachers. At the time, they were retiring from APS and moving to Tucson to teach, and drawing both salary and pension. The authorization allowed them the same benefits, but without having to move, and without APS loosing their expertise and experience.

Brooks found out rather immediately that his little brainstorm wouldn't work. How can you tell a person that it is OK for them to retire and then rehire, and then cut their legs out from under them the next year?

Now, Brooks has decided to increase class sizes. The pitfalls that creates are too obvious to bother to explain. And still, we have no idea whether he has cut his administrative staff to the bone; the first and most fundamentally important budget cut.

The Journal this morning, link, gave Brooks an opportunity to pat himself on the back for his oft asserted "openness" in the process;

Brooks said. "... his staff is aiming for openness ...

The truth is quite different.

The truth is that if you ask
Brooks
why he won't conduct
an "open" review of APS
administrative standards and
accountability by independent
efficiency experts,
he is not open at all.

He will stonewall the question.



The independent review would reveal one of two things;
  1. Brooks is telling us the truth; APS' administration is as lean and efficient as it can be, or
  2. APS' administration is top heavy with superfluous administrators.
If Brooks is telling the truth, nothing would be of more use to him than audit findings that substantiated his claim.

If Brooks is not telling the truth, he would be avoiding an audit like the plague.

Brooks is in fact, avoiding an audit like the plague.

The obvious conclusion is that he has something to hide,
and enjoys aid and abet from the Journal in that endeavor.





photo Mark Bralley

"Government Restructuring Task Force" holds first meeting.

House Bill 237, link, was passed during the Regular Session in January, and created a task force charged with "restructuring" government. It is comprised of seventeen voting members and six advisory members, link. Senator Tim Eichenberg was elected as the chair by acclamation; Rep Patricia Lundstrum as vice-chair.

Eichenberg was a good choice. He made two landmark decisions rather immediately;

  • there will be a skilled facilitator who will run the meetings, and
  • meetings will start on time.
Just because someone is politically influential enough to be elected the Chair of a committee, does not guarantee that they have the skill set or the inclination to run the meetings efficiently and effectively. Eichenberg and the Committee were wise to make that provision.

The first meeting after Eichenberg took charge, was the first meeting in the Roundhouse, in my experience, that actually started on time. Kudos to the Senator on that major step forward in restructuring.

Committee members are looking for direction. There is expressed confusion about what exactly, they are supposed to/going to, do.

House Minority Whip Keith Gardner wants the committee to "drill down" on state government and find the inefficiencies, the redundancies, the superfluous employees, etc, and then eliminate them.

Some want to set arbitrary goals; reduce state employees by "x" percent and then figure out where to make the cuts.

I urged them to take a broader view; instead of searching out inefficiencies and fixing them, they should restructure government so the system continuously ferrets out inefficiencies and fixes them. The difference is "fixes" are temporary and an honest restructuring of government is a solution that will last forever, if it is done correctly.

I offered as an example, transparency. If they write a restructuring plan that makes government as transparent as the law will allow, inefficiencies, ineffectualities, redundancies, corruption, and incompetence will be readily apparent and subject to remediation.

The authorizing legislation requires the Task Force to complete its work by the end of the calendar year, December 31st, 2010. It also requires the Task Force to take public input. The last sentence reads;
It is necessary for the public peace, health and safety that
this Act take effect immediately. (emphasis added)
I laid out my objection to their deadline which is two months too late for voters to weigh in on the restructuring. Candidates for legislative and state offices should be on the record for or against the restructuring plan before they stand for election. Much of the groundwork for the restructuring has already been laid by previous Task Forces with essentially identical charges, whose output was shelved upon completion.

I was blunt; I argued that there were three factors and three factors only that would keep them from finishing their work before the November elections;
  • their competence,
  • their character, and
  • their courage.
If stakeholders are ever to pay attention to any interim committee ever, this would be the one to which their attention, and attendance, should be directed.

They meet next on May 24th and 25th. link.

If Richardson is the worst Governor in the US, what is Denish?

Citizens for Responsibility & Ethics in Washington
says Governor Bill Richardson is among the eleven worst governors in the United States, link. They did not say whether he is first worst, or eleventh, apparently the eleven worst governors hold the seat co-equally.

Doesn't that made Lt Gov Diane Denish among the worst Lt Governors?

It has been demonstrated conclusively, Denish never took exception to his shenanigans; at least not in any manner that created a public record that she can show to voters, link.

Yet she is running for Governor and as yet, has not offered a word of explanation about how all this corruption could surround her, not only not touching her, but in total secret from her.

"I knew nothing."

Right Ms. Denish, and a pint of Häagen-Dazs serves four.




photo Mark Bralley

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Is Allen Weh a politician? Is he violent? Is he honest?

A central theme in Col Allen Weh's campaign is that he is not a "politician" but rather a business owner and a war hero.

If you wanted to argue the point, I am sure that he would say that what he means is that he has never served in political office "in government". Weh was the Republican Party State Chairman for five years.

According to the dictionary, a politician is a person who is "active in party politics".

By any reasonable definition he is a politician (who is claiming he isn't a politician in order to deliberately mislead voters).

He is also apparently, in hiding. He hasn't shown up for a political debate or forum since the Tea Party event at Smith-Brasher.

He is trying to shed the image he created when he promised to clean up the Roundhouse with a baseball bat. That image was substantiated when he, allegedly, physically attacked a member of the Republican Party staff, link.

Is he being honest? The parsing of terms over what it means to be a politician is only one aspect of his unwillingness to be completely honest with voters. His steadfast refusal to acknowledge the assault allegation is another.

He is a successful businessman; so what? Apparently he expects voters to accept that because he can run a business, he can run a government. The argument is specious; it sounds good but melts away under examination.

He is a war hero; so what? While a Governor needs courage, s/he doesn't need it in the amount necessary on the battlefield. His courage on the battlefield more than forty years ago, doesn't play.

Even if it did, his one time courage on the battlefield is lost behind his lack of courage in stepping up to the allegation that he lost control of his temper, and committed an assault and battery. He has yet to deny, defend, explain, or even acknowledge the alleged assault.

He has yet to step up and accept the consequences of his actions.

There are at least two reasons to pretend it never happened; a willingness to be less than honest with voters in order to be elected, or a lack of courage to step up and accept the consequences of his conduct.

Either is reason enough to disqualify him as worthy of election to the state's highest office.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Janice Arnold-Jones posts AFSCME questionnaire.

Why not post all the questionnaires I fill out?, she wondered aloud.



Expect Rep Janice Arnold-Jones
to continue to set the bar for
transparently accountable government.

I found out about it at
Heath Haussamen, link.




photo Mark Bralley

The AFSCME endorsement, what does it mean?

The Political Action Committee of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, link, unanimously endorsed Rep Janice Arnold-Jones, link.

Now people are asking what it "means". The handful of people that wrote the endorsement are the only people who know what they "meant". All of the rest of us will have to take them on their honor when they "wrote" about their intention.

They wrote in recognition of her ability to solidify support for issues of good government.

They said she was "on the same page" with state, county and municipal employees, in the commitment to end public corruption through increased transparency and real protection for whistle blowers.

They wrote about a shared belief in transparency in the spending of our power and resources.

They expressed specifically, their concern about candidates' ethics.

The fundamental ethic is transparency.

If there is a Champion for transparency in Santa Fe,
it is Janice Arnold-Jones.

They examined her closely
and found her exemplary
among Republican Candidates.

They assured state, county, and
municipal employees
that they
would get a "fair shake" from
Governor Janice Arnold-Jones
.




photo Mark Bralley

Monday, April 19, 2010

The truth about Janice Arnold-Jones

It is the perfect storm for ethics reform in our Roundhouse.

There will never be a better time to reform state government.

Transparency is fundamental to reform.

There is no legitimate agenda that does not move forward on the day we elect a Governor who will ensure that we know the truth about the spending of our power and our resources.

A Governor like Janice Arnold-Jones.

Her stand on transparency is not one of political expediency.
Her belief in the ability of stakeholders to solve problems,
if only they know the truth, is a matter of long record and
unquestioned sincerity.

She is committed to government that is transparently accountable to the people.

She has the competence, the character and the courage to make it happen.

She stands in stark contrast to her competition; the Richardson administration. At a time when he is refusing to answer questions about his political appointees, Janice Arnold-Jones is prepared to answer any question, any time, any where.

On her website, you will find a list of every question she could think of with respect to positions on issues, and answered them. No other candidate in either party is being as candid, forthright and honest.

His administration is fighting webcasting; she promised to bring it into her cabinet meetings.

His administration is worse than worthless on public records, Denish's Sunshine Portal won't be actually, and honestly, open for years.

Governor Janice Arnold-Jones will be posting them online, real time, just like her campaign contributions.

Transparently accountable government will not happen without a fight. There will be "push back".

Those fighting for transparency need a champion, someone around whom they can rally. Someone behind whom, they can get into the fight. Someone has to be willing to pick up the flag and carry it through the breach.





Janice Arnold-Jones picked up that standard when she carried a web camera into the legislature. She punched a hole in the wall and now stands in the breach.
She has the competence, the character and the courage to lead the fight for government that is transparently accountable to the people.

All that is left is for everyone who believes in transparently accountable government, to stand up beside her.


"All that is necessary for evil to prevail in the world,
is for good men to do nothing." Edmund Burke
Those who wait for the perfect circumstance in order to act,
will find instead, the perfect excuse to never act at all.




photo Mark Bralley

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The battle will be carried by the tea baggers and the socialists, if that's alright by everybody.

The political discourse remains at a level where terms like "tea bagger" and "socialist" are being used define the depth and width of the argument. It is counterproductive; it has to stop.

This is a once in years opportunity to regain control over power and resources that are fundamentally our own.

We cannot accomplish that goal if the discourse cannot be raised.

Voters need to understand the issues and their part in the solution. We have to offer them more than an opportunity to hate the other Party.

The arguments can be made civilly and argued in terms that are independent of political orientation. We need an open and honest public discussion of important issues, or we will not be able to identify and elect those who's first interest is the public interest.

Transparent accountability to meaningful standards of conduct and competence, for example, is a concept that is neither conservative nor liberal.

There is no legitimate agenda that does not move forward on the day that government is honestly and transparently accountable to the people.

All we the people have to do is to take back control over the process.

It will not be given back by executive order; it will not be legislated back, and it will not be ordered back by the court. If we ever again regain control over our power and resources, it will be because we take it back.

The power is ours and the resources are ours. We have a right
to ask legitimate questions about how they are being spent.
And, we have a reasonable expectation that those questions
be answered candidly, forthrightly, honestly and
rather immediately.

We don't have to let this election go to the highest bidder.

Ask tough questions;
insist on candid, forthright and honest answers.


Should APS students be spanked when necessary?

Apparently, swats are making a comeback, link.

Please note that this post is not about whether APS students should be spanked.

It is a post about the fact that, that question will never be asked and answered in any open, honest and public discussion of student discipline in the APS.

That discussion will never take place because it is impossible to have that discussion without revealing the inconvenient truth about student discipline in the APS including the identities of those who are truly responsible for the failure.

Denish conspicuously silent on Richardson's lack of honesty.




Governor Bill Richardson
told us he did his part to make
our state government lean and
mean, by laying off 59 of the
more than four hundred people
he has appointed to "exempt"
jobs in state government.

A number of people asked; who? exactly.

He refused to identify them.

So, requests for public records were made.

Richardson says there aren't any. He would have us believe that his friends and cronies were laid off without creating any public records at all.

The Attorney General's Office says that a bunch of hooey.

And here we go, litigation (funded by taxpayers) that will likely last until long after he out of office. It is to his advantage that you to believe it is a fight over public records. It is not.

He wants you to come into his brier patch, where he and his lawyers can keep you tied up for ever. Or at least until he is long gone and enjoying the accouterments of power and privilege somewhere else.


The fight is over whether politicians and public servants can be compelled to tell us the truth about the public interests including their public service.

In response to any legitimate question, do they have to respond candidly, forthrightly and honestly, or do they not?

The power and the resources belong fundamentally to the people. The truth about how both are being spent belongs fundamentally to the people.

Our eyes were drawn from the ball. In our haste to join them on their playing field, in their courtrooms, we lost sight of the fundamental fact;

Richardson was asked a legitimate question about the public interests and he refused to answer candidly, forthrightly and honestly.

He was asked to tell us the truth and he "said" no.



Gubernatorial Candidate Diane Denish has an albatross around her neck.




She can only respond to or stonewall, the widespread belief that she and Richardson('s corruption) are one and the same; that electing her is the same as re-electing him for eight more years of the same bunch of corrupt and incompetent good ol' boys that they appointed during the last eight years.

Does anyone really believe she is going to clean house?
Does anyone really believe heads will roll?

There is every reason to stand up for what she claims to believe in, and no good and ethical reason to not.

What better way to pick a side than to; stand up on a stump
somewhere and, pick a side in the fight over transparency?

She didn't have any problem picking a side when the PRC mess was too far gone to hide.

Is she for transparent accountability to the people, or is she not?

Any response except yes means no. Stonewalling is a nothing more than a cowardly way to lie.


Is she for Big Bill, or is she for us?

She picks a side, when she doesn't pick a side.




photos Mark Bralley

APS students are dying and Brooks is in hiding.

In this morning's Journal, "Heroin Stalks City Teens", link.

There is an "epidemic" of heroin abuse in APS high schools; 9 of 13 city high schools have full time drug counselors.

An APS parent, who buried his daughter this month, said;

She had been enrolled at La Cueva High School, but it wasn't suitable for her recovery.
"She didn't feel comfortable there, with the whole drug culture there. It's out of control.
One of APS premier high schools has an "out of control drug culture" and the leadership of the APS hasn't said a word about it (show me the letter from APS leadership to La Cueva parents, letting them know the risks their children are facing at LCHS, and I will be happy to retract that statement).

There is a solution. The solution is not immediately apparent because we have not yet created it. The people who will come up with the solution haven't, yet, because they still don't know the problem exists. Or at least, they didn't until the story in today's paper.

A recent audit of the APS by the Council of the Great City Schools, revealed that APS administrators "routinely falsify" crime statistics to protect their reputations.

The leadership of the APS has a Modus Operandi; a way of doing things.
  1. Step one is cover up the problem in order to avoid any due unpleasantness.
  2. Step two, is trying to solve the problem without anyone finding out that there is a problem.
Typically, the approach is unsuccessful; ask any teacher how well the leadership of the APS has handled the problem of "chronically disruptive" students. In there effort to cover up the problem, they have failed even to take the first step of writing a discipline philosophy.

APS Supt Winston Brooks
has an obligation to be candid,
forthright and honest with
stakeholders about this problem
and about others.

He will not of course;

it's just not the way he rolls.



photo Mark Bralley

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Editors call Esquivel on his lack of sensitivity

In the Journal this morning, link, the editors pointed to APS School Board President Marty Esquivel's failure to "get it" that, when teachers are looking at losing their jobs through layoffs made "necessary" by budget cuts, it is important that the leadership appear to be doing everything they can to be sharing the pain equitably.

Esquivel's inability to grasp the notion became apparent when he offered;"If we cut a few $100,000 salaries by 5 percent, what's that going to accomplish?"

That, offered in defense of APS Supt Winston Brooks intention to spare senior administrators any pain because; "compared to other states, our pay for top administrators is pretty sorry."

The same might be said for teacher salaries.

Elsewhere in the Journal, link, Brooks explained away his accounting department's failures by pointing out that,

"the finance department was going through a period of upheaval."

"I'm not intending this to sound like an excuse, but we've had three CFOs in four years, and we've had at least four budget directors, I think, since I've been here,"
The Journal decided to not report upon Brooks' failures with respect to the turnovers. One CFO resigned amid allegations of a cover up, link, of the monumental problems pointed to by Meyners auditors;
  • the historical lack of adequate policies, and
  • the historical lack of accountability to such standards as there were, and
  • the historical lack of record keeping complete and accurate enough to send any one to jail.
One Director of Internal Audits was fired when it was revealed that he was spending part of his work days in porn shops and casinos. Brooks absolutely owned the vetting failure, link, that precipitated the scandal, but has been, and will be, given a bye by Journal "education" reporters.

Esquivel and Brooks steadfastly refuse to allow any independent review of the APS Finance Division or of any other administrative division of the leadership of the APS; reviews that would point to the lack of standards and accountability.

For their part, the Journal steadfastly affords them the cover they need to escape accountability for their efforts to cover up the ethics and accountability scandal in the leadership of the APS; an occasional mild editorial rebuke not withstanding.




photos Mark Bralley

APS Board meeting moved closer to constituents

Without explanation or much in the way of notice, the next meeting of the APS School Board District Relations Committee Meeting has been moved to a place and time where constituents can actually attend.

It is set for Rio Grande High School, at 5:30 pm, link.
(The link does not include the updated site and time change.)

I assume that Committee
Chair Lorenzo Garcia
is
responsible for the change,
and offer the kudos this
effort deserves.

This is a small step forward,
but a step forward none the
less.




photo Mark Bralley

Friday, April 16, 2010

Is the Tea Party racist and homophobic?

There are a number of left wing bloggers who would like their readers to believe that the Tea Party is racist and homophobic. They will cite as evidence polls such as the recent NY Times/CBS poll, link, that reveal inordinately low minority membership.

Is it fair to then conclude the Tea Party itself is racist?

I would say it is bad science. It is the same kind of science that concludes that because nearly all heroin addicts once drank mother's milk, that drinking mother's milk leads to heroin abuse.

Are there real reasons that minorities are under-represented? Of course there are, and I look forward to some real science that reveals what those reasons are. In the meantime, it is reasonable to look at what the Tea Party says it is about, and not to what non-members say it is about, or what a relatively few members of a rally somewhere say it is about.

Policy statements are the true window to the soul of an organization. When people sit around and deliberately decide what they are about; then, and only then, is it fair to hold the organization accountable for endorsing the principle.

Consider for example; the Republican Party of New Mexico sat around one day, at their pre-primary convention, and decided, deliberately, to continue to disrespect gay people by denying their human condition protection under their equal rights plank of the Party platform. It is fair to conclude then, based on that deliberate decision, that the NMRP is homophobic.

Now, because I am a member of that Party, does that make me homophobic? No, it does not, though, there are left wingers who would try to build that argument. Does it make all Republican candidates for office homophobic? No it does not, though again, there are left wingers who would try to make that argument.

All of this boils down to skirting specific philosophical arguments by drawing easier to understand and argue generalizations, and prejudices.

It lowers the level of the discourse to uselessness. Worse even; it lowers it to worse than useless.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

APD Police Chief Schultz Ray "the buck stops (anywhere but) here" Schultz

A lawsuit has been settled.

Former Police Officer Sam Costales sued the city over retaliation following his exposure of the misconduct of fellow officers in disregard of the "blue wall of silence", link.

According to the Journal, link, city officials still won't tell the truth about the amount of the settlement of the lawsuit against the city, but those in the know say we probably ponied up nearly a half of a million dollars.

As part of the settlement agreement,
Albuquerque Police Department
Chief Ray Schultz'
name has been
removed from the lawsuit;

a common practice.

From now on, if anyone asks him if he
has been found guilty of violating the
civil rights of one of his subordinates,
he can answer, no.




Former Bernalillo County Sheriff, current Public Safety Director, and utterly relentless local TV presence, Darren White saw his name removed from a similar suit against the Bernalillo County Sheriff's Department.

In response to a question from a City Councilor during his confirmation hearing, he has already stated that he had not been convicted of a civil rights violation, after his Office settled a companion lawsuit.

"The law", the lowest standard of conduct acceptable among civilized human beings, allows the powerful and the privileged to expunge their records even before they are created.

There are higher standards of conduct. Under those standards, leaders accept responsibility for the conduct of their subordinates, and the atmosphere their leadership creates.

Good leaders accept accountability; great leaders insist upon it.

Schultz and White, it would appear, are neither.




photos Mark Bralley

No seat at the table for the Charters and, Alb Journal bias

In the Journal, link, a report on yesterday's APS' Special Board Meeting, link, on charter schools.

One of the policy statements approved at the meeting;

The district reserves the right to request "any and all information from a locally authorized charter school at any time."
Journal bias;
"That was a point of contention in February when the district demanded financial statements from four charter schools and threatened to shut them down if they didn't comply. The schools initially resisted but eventually turned over the records." (emphasis added)
It reads like the charters in question were trying to hide something and "the District" backed them down. The real story reads a little differently, link.

The leadership of the APS is threatened by the relative success of charter schools and is responding by trying to assert more authority over them. It smacks of bullying.

Their disrespect for charters is manifest in their refusal to include the charters in the decision making process surrounding the development of charter school policy. They will be "included" in the process only after the process is complete;
The board approved a basic policy Wednesday, ... and will be presented to charter schools for comment in coming weeks.
Robert Baade, director of Robert F. Kennedy Charter School, said ... "They need to meet with us." ... presenting the policy to the board before consulting with charters leads to bad feelings. "
The APS Student Standards of Conduct require the meaningful involvement of stakeholders in decisions that affect their interests.

Students are told that denying stakeholders a seat at the table comes at the forfeit of their good character. The leadership of the APS, by their own deliberate choice, is not accountable to that same standard of conduct.

More Journal bias; the Journal steadfastly refuses to investigate and report upon the abdication of the leadership of the APS as role models of the student standards of conduct, and upon their removal from their own code of conduct, the phrase and requirement;
In no case shall the standards of conduct for an adult,
be lower than the standards of conduct for students.
Journal editors make that decision at the forfeit of their good character.

And one last, I recently met with a charter school principal. He complained to me that he could not get the Journal to publish any stories about the successes that his students were enjoying, while the Journal routinely does stories on the successes of students in regular APS schools.

He asked if I had any ideas about how to encourage less biased Journal coverage.

I told him, no.

Good ol' boy salaries "a small slice of the pie"

Whenever the outrage over administrative exorbitance reaches a boiling point, one of them is sure to articulate their only defense; the exorbitance is only a small piece of the pie; ending it altogether would make little difference from a fiscal stand point.

Case in point; top heavy and expensive administrations in education and in state government.

This morning, Blogger Monahan reports, link, that

"old time politico and UNM Board of regents President Raymond Sanchez (says) eliminating the veeps "is not going to be that large of an impact."
Yesterday, the Journal reported, link, that APS School Board President Marty Esquivel argued;
"... a pay cut for top administrators would be "symbolic" and would not save enough money to make a difference.
"I'm very sensitive to the perception that we've got to cut administration. But in all honesty there's not that much to cut," he said. "I think we have to be realistic. If we cut a few $100,000 salaries by 5 percent, what's that going to accomplish?"
Gubernatorial appointments enjoy the same defense; eliminate them all and there will be no perceived benefit.

From one narrow perspective, their arguement is valid; cutting administrative exorbitance would go largely unperceived by the rank and file. Proportionally, the amount of cash involved is small.

That isn't the only perspective. There is another. It is from the perspective of those who genuinely struggle to make ends meet. From their perspective, excessive numbers of administrative slots created and maintained by and for the good ol' boys is a source of umbrage, the addition of insult to injury.

As a matter of principle, leadership is manifest through example. Before asking subordinates to tighten their belts, leaders must tighten their own.

There is no reason to trust people like UNM Board of Regents President Raymond Sanchez, UNM President David Schmidly, APS School Board President Marty Esquivel, and APS Supt Winston Brooks when they assure us that their belts are tight.

We are entitled to an independent corroboration of the truth.

They all steadfastly refuse to allow independent reviews of their administrative overhead. You have to wonder, why? Except that an honest and impartial review would reveal that they haven't tightened their own belts very much at all. It would point to the excesses they create and maintain still, for each other.

Even if it is only a (relatively) small piece of the pie.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Special Board Meeting; charter schools

The APS School Board will convene today at 5pm to consider their policy on Charter Schools, link.

Brooks; we're lean, trust me.

APS has been taking input from the community related to solving the ongoing budget crises.

A significant amount of the input suggests cutting administrators before cutting teachers. There is a widespread belief that APS is top heavy, it is a central theme in every venue where the public has an opportunity to vent their concerns.

APS School Board President
Marty Esquivel says cutting
administration would have
nothing more than "symbolic
effect".

He says APS' top-heaviness
is a myth; the perception
is not the reality.

Not true.

In the eyes of the perceiver, the perception is the reality.

He ignores the widespread public perception out of arrogance.

It would be a simple matter indeed, to hire an independent investigator to go into the administration of the APS and look for waste and the practices that enable it. The investigator would find one of two things, the administration of the APS is as lean as Esquivel and Supt Winston Brooks would like us to believe it is or, s/he would find waste and the practices that enable it.

If Esquivel and Brooks actually believed what they say they do, they would have begun that investigation long ago. Esquivel, before he moved to the dark side, actually called for such a review.

There is no legitimate reason to not investigate. The cost of the investigation would be negligible even in a budget as tight as it is.

Examine the 1250 word process for implementing a board policy through creation of a procedural directive, link, and then tell me there aren't senior administrators squandering the public trust and treasure.

Esquivel claims, link,

"I'm very sensitive to the perception that we've got to cut administration."

If he really was, he would prove conclusively, that there is no administration to cut.

He won't. He won't even acknowledge that the question has been asked.

The Journal lets him get away with it.




photo Mark Bralley

APS anti-bullying campaign starts

It is difficult to estimate the toll that bullies exact on the education of their victims.

One of the main reasons it is so difficult to estimate is APS' steadfast refusal to actually measure the effect by surveying students. APS as is their custom, will try to solve a problem without quantifying it first. In the absence of any declared reason for the refusal to survey, it is fair to assume that APS is simply covering its collective butt by not gathering incontrovertible data on its failure to adequately address the problem.

One cannot survey students on bullying without revealing that students don't believe that administrators consequence bullying adequately enough to change their behavior.

It is the same reason that teachers will never be surveyed on the subject either; they will point to the administrations failure to provide consequences for bullies that will put them out of business.

As an aside, APS' Research, Development and Accountability Department, freely admits that they have never done a survey where they asked teachers, and other staff working at the educational interface, what they need to succeed. The reason for refusing to do the survey is the same, they are covering their asses.

If teachers ever had an opportunity to identify their real needs, they would point to the failure of the administration to back up their efforts to control the behavior of chronically disruptive students.

I expect the little progress will be the result of the current effort, simply because I believe it to be impossible to solve a problem at the same time you are trying to hide it.

A recent audit by the Council of the Great City Schools revealed that APS administrators "routinely falsified" crime statistics in order to protect their school's image.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Crashing the Tea Party

There is a website, link , called Crash the Tea Party. You can even buy tea shirts with a "Crash the Tea Party" logo, link. There is a push back, link.

The truth about what is going on could fall anywhere between a practical joke and genuine bigotry.

The Albuquerque Tea Party is apparently ready for anything. It will be impossibly difficult for a disruptive infiltrator to show up at the rally without being videotaped more than Darren White in a month of Sundays.

More to follow, I'm sure.

The Founding Fathers talked funny

They wrote funny as well; "florid and complex".

The Federalist Papers, wikilink, must reading for anyone interested in studying the United States Constitution, wikilink, were written in the same language.

I went looking for the Federalist Papers written in modern English. There is apparently only one reference, edited by one Mary Webster, who is, interestingly, a descendant of Daniel Webster, wikilink.

It is called;

The United States Constitution: Annotated with
the Federalist Papers in Modern English
and will run you about 24 bucks plus shipping.

In a Digital Future, Textbooks Are History

Is it time for APS to move out of the past and into the future?

Are APS students doomed to suffer the cemetery seating model forever?

In the digital future, students do not fall behind because they miss a day of school; they can keep up at home. Students will not be left behind by classes that move through the curriculum at a faster pace than they are able. Students will not be slowed down in their education, as they tread water waiting for the slowest students to catch up.

The fly in the ointment? leadership that cannot or will not accept the change and will continue to insist that 35 kids with nothing in common but the year they were born, can and should be, sat down in five rows of six, and moved lockstep in the same direction and at the same speed for 12 years.

link

APS students with alcohol up almost 400%

In the Journal this morning, link, we read that the number of students in possession of alcohol has gone up 377%.

Not to worry though, the increase isn't due to the fact that more students are in possession of alcohol, but rather;

"Police say much of the increase is due to better reporting."
This has been APS' excuse for rising rates of all kinds of behavior, for at least a decade.

Which begs a question; how much better can one get at reporting? It is after all a fairly simple process; you find a kid with alcohol, you report it.

But APS has problems with reporting. A recent audit by the Council of the Great City Schools, revealed that APS administrators "routinely falsified" crime statistics to make their schools look better. In September, 2009, the Journal reported that the APS was no longer compiling crime statistics at all, link.

Once, when I was on the team negotiating the teacher contract, we were arguing that we had a right to know the truth about student misconduct in our schools. Then AHS Principal Tom Savage said;
"If I told the truth about what was going on in my school, the realtors in my neighborhood would have my neck."
A few days later, then Supt Peter Horoscak told me;
You can't just tell the truth, you don't know how someone might try to use it."
I can think of at least one way that the truth might be used; to solve a problem. You cannot solve a problem while at the same time denying its existence.

This is why the APS makes so little progress in solving
important problems; they don't know there are problems
because, they're still trying to figure out how to report them.

According the Journal report;
The top schools for alcohol-related incidents in 2009 were West Mesa ..., Rio Grande ..., and Cibola and Del Norte... The data do not include Manzano and La Cueva, (for which no data is compiled at all).