Saturday, July 31, 2010

This is MY house.

As I was "testifying" during the public forum at the Governmental Restructuring Task Force, the conversation came around to the fact the the New Mexico State Legislature excepts itself from accountability to the New Mexico Open Meetings Act.

A senator was pointing to the "in secret" caucus meetings, and arguing that they were appropriately denying the people any opportunity to participate meaningfully.

I wasn't ready to defend my right to participate meaningfully in caucus meetings of either party - depending on where they are held.

Upon reflection then;


The Roundhouse is my house.

There will be no "in secret" meetings,
meetings where in I am denied meaningful participation,
in my house, without my specifically expressed permission.

It is I, and the citizens of New Mexico, who will determine what truths will and will not be told. The prerogative is ours, and ours alone.

If you insist on betraying our trust by deliberating our interests without our meaningful participation,

do it somewhere else,

you will not do it in our house.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Task Force is not doing diddly, ...

or is it; Task Force is doing diddly?

Photojournalist Mark Bralley and I chatted with Rep Jeannette Wallace, a member of the Government Restructuring Task Force, before the afternoon session began. It was her impression that, the Task Force wasn't doing diddly.

Which brings me back to my question, is a Task Force that is accomplishing "nothing", "not doing diddly" or is it doing diddly? urban dictionary link

The answer is, I suppose, if you are a poor dumb taxpayer watching your hard earned tax dollars leaking through the holes of inefficiency and ineffectiveness, what difference does it make?

Wallace has been a legislator since 1991, and a good person to ask if the Task Force was going anywhere.

Her impression was that if any good at all came out of the work the Task Force was doing, it would come in the form of individual legislative proposals that members would submit independent of the final product of Task Force endeavors.

Whether it is doing diddly, or not doing diddly, I concur,
the Task Force is going to fall far short of any meaningful
restructuring of state government. They might create an
efficiency or two, they might address an ineffectiveness or
two, but the government riddled with incompetence and
corruption is going to remain fundamentally unchanged.

Even the most basic reform of all, opening government to the
scrutiny of stakeholders, will apparently go unaddressed.

I sat at the public forum and reminded them that the first
step in eliminating inefficiencies is to expose them, and that,
the first step in eliminating ineffectiveness is to expose it.
I argued that there is a direct, and causal, correlation between transparency and the ending of inefficiency and ineffectiveness.

If government was as open and transparent as the spirit of the law requires, it would be impossibly difficult to hide inefficiency and ineffectiveness. They would disappear.

I went on to point out that there are only two reasons to not put "open government" on the table for candid, forthright, and honest discussion; a lack of courage, and a lack of character; either they don't want to take on the corrupt and the incompetent by eliminating the secrecy that hides their mis, mal, and non- feasance, or, they are afraid to.

I asked the Task Force members to offer a third reason if they knew one; any good and ethical reason to not talk about the fecklessness of Open Government Laws, the NMIPRA and OMA, and the failure to begin robust webcasting of governmental deliberations.

There were no takers.

No one offered any other reason to not discuss transparent accountability, except that they cannot find the character and the courage to tell the people the truth about their spending of the people's power and resources.

They will instead, do diddly.

Not insignificantly, diddly describes the attention that
the fourth estate, wikilink, has given to
the diddly going on, on the Task Force.

So, one could ask, how's a voter to know?




photo Mark Bralley

Two reasons, and two reasons only

The Governmental Restructuring Task Force has not agreed to an open and honest discussion of transparency in state government.

There are two reasons, and two reasons only, they will not talk about transparency candidly, forthrightly and honestly, in public and on the record.

  1. lack of character, and or

  2. lack of courage.
If there is a third reason;
write it here, and write it now.


3. ____________________

"Family Ties" in Bernalillo County government

According to the Journal, link, 16% of Bernalillo County Supervisors have relatives working for the County. About 375 supervisors responded to the survey; 50, (12%) have not. County Manager Thaddeus Lucero "warned" supervisors that there could be consequences if they don't respond to the survey. Oooo!

Some cogent points are being missed.

The questions being asked have to do with chains of command, and whether people are under the direct supervision of relatives. While these are appropriate questions to ask, an important question is not being asked; of all of the "relatives" working for the County, were any hired (over better, or equally qualified candidates for those jobs) because of their family ties?

For example; it is clear that Jaime Dantis got his job because his father, John Dantis, was Deputy County Manager, an entirely different issue than whether or not he reported directly to his father.

Why that question is not being asked is unclear.

Apparently Lucero has been asked to strengthen the policy on hiring relatives.

As a side bar; if you would like to review County Policy on Nepotism, or an Organizational Chart for the County, you cannot; not unless you are willing to drive somewhere and look at them; they are not posted on the County's internet website.

There is also a part of the website called The Insider, which is available only to County Employees. I would be surprised to find much information behind the firewall which enjoyed any genuine exception to the NM Inspection of Public Records Act, which makes me wonder at the legitimacy of hiding it in the first place.

I don't know about you, but I am not feeling like the County Commission, et al, are protecting my interests.

Bernalillo County administrative bloat grows?

According to the Eye on Albuquerque, link, County Manager Thaddeus Lucero is "overworked" and needs to create a new position under his to help carry the weight.

In an email to County Commissioners, Lucero wrote;

As you know, under the current County Management structure there are four departments, IT, Human Resources, Economic Development and PIO, reporting directly to me. Over the past several months I have been giving thoughtful consideration to the overall structure. In order to improve and enhance operations I will re-establish a previously existing division-Administrative Services-which will have IT, HR, Economic Development and Public Information under its umbrella. I will appoint Renetta Torres, current HR Director to be Administrative Services Deputy County Manager. As I have previously indicated, this will not involve the creation of a new position.(emphasis added)
The position that Lucero is (not) creating, has existed before, but has not been filled for at least a decade.

I submit that Lucero is not being candid, forthright and honest with Commissioners, and further that, he should be held accountable for his lack of candor, forthrightness, and honesty.

Denish disingenuous on jet travel

DA Susana Martinez and Lt Gov Diane Denish are sparring over the fate of the state jet; Martinez wants to sell it,
Denish
doesn't.

In a statement published on NM Independent, link, Denish argues;

"Many of the trips I have taken were small business forums to bring small businesses together and help them find access to capital and cut red tape. I will never stop advocating for rural New Mexico — and to advocate for rural New Mexico, sometimes you have to get out to rural New Mexico.”
She is being disingenuous. She and her apologists would have readers jump to the conclusion that in order to get to rural New Mexico, one has to fly there in an expensive private jet.

That simply isn't true; she could drive, just like every other New Mexican who wants to visit "rural" New Mexico.

It's not like she has a lot else to do - the same apologists argue that she had no responsibility to step up in the war against public corruption in state government because her only responsibilities under the state constitution are to preside over the Senate and attend a few committee meetings.

Whether or not, now is a good or bad time to be selling Richardson's toy, is a separate debate.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Restructing Task Force agenda doesn't include transparency subcommittee

The agenda, link, for the Government Restructuring Task Force for today and tomorrow, does not include the formation of a subcommittee to study the issues of transparency in state government; open meetings law and public records law.

I was under the impression that I had a firm commitment, link, from the Task Force Chair Senator Tim Eichenberg, that the subcommittee formation would be on the agenda.

Presumably, a subcommittee would enable an open, honest and public discussion of the standards and accountability that apply to governmental transparency. That, that promise is no longer on the table does not bode well for transparency reform.

More to follow; count on it.

Denish "finds out" records were hidden

The press releases that were on Lt Gov Diane Denish's website, and then weren't, have reappeared, link.

A follow up note from Denish reads;

“I was recently made aware that press releases had
been taken down from the official site. Upon learning
this, I have directed my staff to repost these releases.”
We are to believe apparently, that they were taken down without her advise and consent, and that she only found out about it "recently".

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

Martinez steps up on webcasting archive

Gubernatorial Candidate Susana Martinez beat Lt Gov Diane Denish to the punch Wednesday, on the subject of archiving of legislative webcasts, link, when she became the first to call for an online (searchable) archive.

I left a comment on her site, reminding her of the need for webcasting deliberative meetings of the Executive Branch of government as well as the legislative branch.

Perhaps Martinez will add a right hook to her left jab, and announce her intention to webcast and archive her cabinet meetings; a campaign promise first made by Rep Janice Arnold-Jones when she was still in the race.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Janice Arnold-Jones on talk radio

Rep Janice Arnold-Jones
is Albuquerque's newest talk
show host. She can be heard
on Albuquerque's KIVA
Radio, 1550AM
.

She will be hosting a drive
time show opposite
KKOB's Jim Villanucci.

For those who are tiring of the same old same old on the Villanucci show, "New Mexico Now" should be a nice refresher.

It is hard to imagine a host with more intimate knowledge of the inner workings and hidden mechanisms in the State Legislature.

Give her a listen 4:00 to 6:30 pm week days, call in if you have a question, and by all means, if you can patronize one of her sponsors, please do.

Let's keep the ball rolling.




photo Mark Bralley

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Denish hides news releases

Diane Denish has published a number of news releases during her tenure as Lt Governor. They used to be readily available to stakeholders who wanted to review them; they are no longer.

They have been hidden away, accessible only on a case-by-case, news release-by-news release basis, through her chief of staff, Joshua Rosen .

According to Heath Haussamen, link, Rosen informed him that the news releases have not been hidden for "political reasons" despite the fact that hiding them creates an obvious political advantage for Denish.

Denish and her running mate, Brian Colon, would love to pretend that the Richardson administration, with all its public corruption and incompetence, simply did not exist.

Well, it did, and they were standing there doing (virtually) nothing while the cesspool swirled around them. The news releases do not address Denish's efforts to engage the culture of corruption in war; they address what she was doing instead; everything that was of a higher priority than fighting for the public interests against those who would betray them. What is not in the press releases, is a compelling reason to hide them, to make them inaccessible.

Rosen apparently told Haussamen that he would furnish to him, any press releases he asked for on an individual basis. Why would Rosen want to waste his time by placing himself in the middle of a process that functioned well without him - why burn up his time doing something that could be done without him?

I have asked for responses from Denish('s Office) before and been ignored; I have little faith that Rosen will turn over anything willingly, that falls under the category of "inconvenient truth".

All of which begs a question; if Denish is not willing to be candid, forthright and honest with us during her campaign, why should we believe she will be candid, forthright and honest with us if she is elected, has even less reason to be cooperative, and is even less accountable for her unwillingness to be responsive?

There cannot be government for the people, of the people, and
by the people, which is also secret from the people.

It is time to turn the truth hiders out of office,
not to elect them into office.




photo Mark Bralley


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Denish's promise to tell the truth "tomorrow"

Lt Gov Diane Denish would have voters believe that, despite the relatively powerless and largely ceremonial nature of the Office she holds, that she was instrumental in the opening of the Sunshine Portal.

Except, there is no sunlight coming in through the portal,
it will not open for nearly a year.

There is only one apparent reason to not publish the ethically redacted truth about the spending of the public trust and treasure as it becomes available, and that is to allow the corrupt and the incompetent nearly two years to cover their tracks.

There is no technological nor fiscal reason that the most of the data cannot be published rather immediately.

If there is any other reason, Denish has not articulated it.

If a person comes to you and asks;
will you trust me? and you respond;
will you promise to tell me the truth?

And their answer is
I promise to tell you the truth tomorrow;
why in the world would you trust them today?




photo Mark Bralley

Dantis party déjà vu, or another party a la Aragon?

When former state Senator Manny Aragon left for prison, there was a going away party. Many prominent politicians were in attendance. They were apparently willing to forgive and forget the fact that he had utterly betrayed the trust placed in him by New Mexicans.

Not everyone was so willing to celebrate his departure to prison. Republican bigwig Pat Rogers observed at the time, link,

"It makes me sick."
"I can't believe there are people who are so stupid, brazen or whatever ... who would go to a party for a person who epitomizes corruption."
"I'm stunned that with the bribes, the corruption, all the stuff that's going on, it's incredible that so many people would turn out at a party for a guy who's going to prison,"
Rogers worried there's apparently "a level of acceptance for this stuff" among some New Mexico civic and political leaders.

Does the level of acceptance continue, or is it just seem that way; déjà vu? wikilink.

There will be a going away party, in County Commission Chambers for "retiring" Deputy County Manager John Dantis, link.

As an aside, wouldn't you love to know;
of the guests at Aragon's soiree, how many
will be guests at Dantis' as well?

One might argue; when someone in engaged in longtime public corruption or incompetence, not only should they be held accountable (pink slip), but the person above them in the chain of command should be held accountable as well (cake and punch?). It speaks to the concept of "supervise". We are after all, compelled to trust "supervisors" with protecting our power and resources by the ferreting out the corruption and incompetence in their subordinates and mitigating the damage they do.

When are we going to start holding accountable, not only those who get caught, but those who enabled their corruption and incompetence for so long, until they got caught?

My guess is it will be sometime after "power" no longer creates "exception".

In the 38th most corrupt state in the United States,
that is going to be a while.

FYI; County Manager Thaddeus Lucero secrets still, link, the ethically redacted full investigative report of the corruption and incompetence, over which he presided.

Speaking of going away parties

It occurs to me that when major corruption and incompetence in the leadership of the APS was reported in the Journal, link, the next two steps up the chain of command, Asst Supt Tom Savage and Supt Beth Everitt, also had elaborate going away parties; never mind the fact that they fiddled while the APS Police Department burned.

There will be a going away party for APS Chief of Police Bill Reed as well. As well there should be; by all accounts he has done a good job for stakeholders, during his tenure.

Except for one annoying fact; for the entirety of his tenure, the APS Police Department has been "investigating" the corruption of one of their own. As far as that goes; corruption involving a number of their own; senior APS administrators.

The "one of their own", Gil Lovato, once said that if he ever got into court and told the whole truth about the leadership of the APS;

"there would not be one of them left standing".

The "investigation" is not yet complete.

  • The District Attorney has not yet been given evidence of felony criminal misconduct involving senior APS administrators. This despite the fact that statutes of limitation have expired on some of the misconduct.
  • Rigo Chavez, APS Custodian of Public Records, has not yet surrendered public records outlining the complicity of APS senior administrators in criminal misconduct.
  • The APS Audit Committee is still denying due process to whistleblower complaints.
  • The senior most role models of the student standards of conduct, refuse to be held honestly accountable as role models of the same standards of conduct they establish and enforce upon students.












  • APS Supt Winston Brooks and School Board President Marty Esquive steadfastly refuse to restore the role modeling clause they removed from their own standards of conduct; the one that read;
    in no case shall the standards of conduct for an adult be lower than the standards of conduct for students.
  • They steadfastly refuse to put executive and administrative standards of conduct and competency on the table for an open and honest public discussion/ And, most importantly of all, the Journal continues to refuse to follow up on its own story, by investigating and reporting upon the ethics and accountability scandal in the leadership of the APS.

So yeah, by all means, let's have a big party.




photos Mark Bralley

Monday, July 19, 2010

Overall, it sucks to be a New Mexican in business

Tip of the hat to Rob Nikolewski at Capital Report for calling our attention to a CNBC report, link, on the business friendliness of states.

Not surprisingly, New Mexico doesn't fare well. At best, we rank 18th in "transportation and infrastructure"; at worst we rank 45th in "business friendliness"; and on average, we rank 38th overall in the ten categories measured in the poll.

We rank 44th in education.

Here are ten specific issues upon which we could compare and contrast the Gubernatorial Candidates;

  1. Business
  2. Workforce
  3. Quality of Life
  4. Economy
  5. Transportation & Infrastructure
  6. Technology & Innovation
  7. Education
  8. Business Friendliness
  9. Access to Capital
  10. Cost of Living
if only we could get them to face each other on issues
rather than in attack ads.

It is Blogger Monahan's appraisal, link, that the two aren't facing off because Lt Gov Diane Denish, in person, is mundane and spiritless, and because DA Susana Martinez is not well versed in the full gamut of issues.

It is my opinion that they are not facing off because they really don't care what voters want from them; face to face, toe to toe, eyeball to eyeball interactions that will show us what we need to know to elect the better of them in November.

They would rather hire "campaign professionals" to help them manipulate voters by exploiting their naivete and lack of sophistication, according to tried and true campaign strategies independent of the candid, forthright and honest discussions to which voters are entitled.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Say, Hey, What do you say, Pay to Play is here to stay!

Pay to play; someone who wants a lucrative government contract, a regulatory favor, or some other special consideration, contributes an appropriate amount of money to a politician and Voila! favor is granted.

It is, of course, illegal, but with a enough of the right kind of lawyers, guns and money, indictment can be avoided, link.

Normally, when people get caught doing something wrong, they stop doing it. Not so with Gov Bill Richardson and Lt Gov Diane Denish.

The Gerald Murphy/Spectacular Attractions contract, link, a case in point. A large and lucrative contract is to be let to a campaign donor after a bid process where the donor was the only bidder.

The appearance of impropriety is inescapable.

Richardson will not renounce the deal, and Denish's silence gives tacit approval.

Nothing yet from the camp of Susana Martinez,
leading the cynical, me, to wonder if there aren't
Republican carnival operators waiting in the wings
for a sole bid opportunity on the contract.

So why does "getting caught" not change the dynamic of
pay to play in government?

Clearly because, aside from the stain on their honor,
there is no consequence for their misconduct, link.

So why would anyone suppose that
pay to play, ain't here to stay?

Saturday, July 17, 2010

If Richardson cared about Denish

Gov Bill Richardson('s administration) is prepared to sign a lucrative contract with a man/company who has donated heavily to Democrats in general, and Richardson in particular, link.

It looks, walks, and quacks like pay to play, with an administration whose stock and trade reeks of pay to play allegations.

Gubernatorial Candidate Diane Denish has taken a campaign contribution of $5,500 from the same donor. So far, no public statement separating her from the stink.

No evidence has been presented linking her to any discussion of the plan to let the contract to a sole bidder and campaign donor. Nor has any evidence been presented that, she intends exercise her authority, if elected, to void the contract and reopen bidding with the intention of protecting taxpayer interests by encouraging more than one bid on the contract.

If she stated that intention now, she could end the surmise that the pay to play stink in the Richardson administration will continue in the Denish administration. She wouldn't even have to give back the $5,500 dollar donation.

For whatever reason, she does not seem so inclined. Perhaps
she figures she can just ride out the news cycle, keeping the
donation and allowing the contract to be let to a major donor;
a win win for Denish and Gerald Murphy dba Spectacular Attractions, though a lose lose for taxpayers and fair goers.

Richardson could spare her, her travail by announcing that
the lone bid will not be accepted and allow the next Governor
to begin the process anew.

He could, if he cared about Denish more than he cares about
Murphy and his money.

Denish silent on State Fair Contract

It has been a week now since Journal reporter Thomas Cole wrote about the latest "appearance of" pay to play in New Mexico state government, link.

This morning, the Journal editors join their reporter, link, and this blogger, link, in wondering why she is apparently ignoring the controversy.

You could give Lt Gov, and Gubernatorial Candidate Diane Denish the benefit of the doubt, and

  • assume that she is unaware of the history of contributions to Democrats in general, and to her and Bill Richardson in particular, from a guy/company who is in line for a lucrative series of contracts to run the midway concessions at the state fair. And you could
  • assume that she is unaware of the $5,500 campaign contribution she received for her current campaign. And you could
  • assume she in unaware that the contract arrangement can be canceled and bidding reopened to encourage more than one bid, from a man/company with a history of making substantial political contributions. And you could
  • assume that she is unaware of how bad this all looks in the light of a background of pay to play allegations that haunt the current administration. And you could
  • assume that despite the damage done by perpetuating the appearance of pay to play, and the appearance of impropriety, it is OK for her to continue to ignore the issues that have been raised.

But why in hell would you want to?

Friday, July 16, 2010

Candidates, come out of hiding!

Both Lt Gov Diane Denish and DA Susana Martinez would
have voters believe that they have the right stuff to lead
the state out of a morass of unemployment, failing public
education, porous borders, and a state government that is
a national laughing stock for its public corruption and incompetence.

It begs a question; where is their leadership now?
Are they saving it up for after the election?

Neither seems to be inclined to step out of the shadows except by means of most negative campaign ads on TV.

One could be the first to challenge the other to sit down and discuss the issues that are really important to New Mexicans, candidly, forthrightly, and honestly; face to face.

One could be the first to show us what leadership looks like.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Keystone cops running the County?

It would be funny if it weren't so, well, not funny.

County residents were surprised when their suspicions were confirmed that there might be nepotism in County hiring practices. The confirmation came by means of the heavily publicized and nepotic situation between Deputy County Manager John Dantis and his son Jaime.

The Journal reports, link,
"(County Manager Thaddeus) Lucero would not say whether longtime public safety boss John Dantis has been disciplined."

In my experience "no comment" means "no consequence"
when the question is;

Will any senior administrator suffer any consequence
for their public corruption and/or incompetence?
Speaking of no consequence, according to the same Journal report, the manager, who Lucero described as having,
  • "utterly failed to fulfill his obligation as a supervisor," and
  • who was, "More importantly, ... untruthful to me during our meetings."
is still at work. He hasn't been given even the standard paid vacation that the good ol' boys grant to each other when one of them gets busted.

The County is of course, tight lipped when asked to account for their handling of "personnel problems". On the one hand, one can see a need to be circumspect when sharing details which might become points of contention in subsequent litigation.

On the other hand, the "people" have no control over County managers and supervisors; we don't hire them, we don't fire them. But we do hire and fire those who do. It is our privilege and responsibility to hire and fire County Commissioners (at election).

How do we know if County Commissioners are holding County Managers accountable for holding Deputy County Managers accountable for holding Directors accountable for holding Asst Directors accountable for holding the rank and file accountable,
if the whole thing is done in secret?

APS Police Chief resigns amid allegation of a cover up

APS Police Chief Bill Reed
will resign in August, link.

By all accounts, he has done
an excellent job during the
last three years.

Except for one thing;
the ongoing "cover up" of
the scandal that created
the opening he filled, link.

I would like to make it clear that I do not hold him personally responsible for the cover up.













That onus falls upon the leadership of the APS; APS Supt Winston Brooks and School Board President Marty Esquivel.

Reed
has denied, on more than one occasion, that there is a cover up. I have argued; it looks like a duck, it walks like a duck, and it is quacking like a duck.

We have agreed to disagree.

At least one fact remains, the whole truth has never been published in any forum; even the Journal steadfastly refuses to follow up on its own report.

It has been more than three years since the APS Police Department began its self investigation of allegations of the involvement of senior APS administrator in felony criminal misconduct. The publicly funded private police force, APS' Praetorian Guard, is still investigating. Statutes of limitation have expired long since, and the evidence tying senior APS administrators to the felony criminal misconduct still has not been surrendered to the DA, despite APS' years old promise to do exactly that.

The relationship between Reed and me, started off on rocky ground. It was he, and a subordinate, who arrested me for standing in the back of the board room wearing an elephant mask in an effort to bring attention to the elephant in the APS Boardroom, the ethics and accountability scandal that no one, but me, wants to talk about. The scandal that the Journal steadfastly refuses to investigate and report upon.

He arrested me once again, link, for asking board members and administrators legitimate questions, during the public forum; questions they would rather not acknowledge; inconvenient questions.

We disagree on whether I was "arrested"; no charges were ever filed. I deny not only having done anything illegal, but that I did anything even unethical. I did nothing that I would not be proud to do in front of the thousands of student who I tried to convince that, their Character Counts!

I wish Reed, the best of luck in whatever endeavor he pursues, asking only that he close the books on the allegations of public corruption and incompetence in the APS Police Department, before he goes.

cc Bill Reed upon posting.





photos Mark Bralley

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Denish benefits from double standard

If you ask Lt Gov Diane Denish, or any of her apologists,
why she hasn't been a player in the fight against public corruption and incompetence in state government?, she/they will remind you that the position of Lt Governor is a largely feckless, ceremonial position; she couldn't have fought the Richardson corruption even if she wanted to.

Then ask them who the real hero is in the Housing Authority scandal, who brought the corrupt and incompetent to their knees in that case?

Their answer; the Lt Governor, Diane Denish.

So which is it, powerful and effective corruption fighter, or
powerless corruption watcher?

Fearsome or feckless, which is it?

Practicing nepotism? turn yourself in!

KRQE reports, link; County Manager Thaddeus Lucero has told County Supervisors, if they are practicing nepotism, they are expected to expose their corruption, or suffer the consequences.

Good luck with that one, Thad.

Lucero is on a learning curve; apparently this whole nepotism in County hiring practices hadn't yet occurred to him.

“We've learned from it and that's what we're trying to do now is really learn,” said Lucero.

Admitting he made a mistake in the Dantis nepotism case, Lucero offered;

“What can we do to correct it to make sure it doesn't happen again”

Gee Thad, that would be swell!

It could be argued that Lucero still doesn't get it;

“In hindsight yes, I probably would have said he needed to be transferred,” said Lucero. (emphasis added to highlight the absurdity in his statement)

KRQE reports;
If employees don't respond or they're not honest they may be disciplined ... (emphasis added to highlight the absurdity in the situation, and the lack of any real hope that anything will ever really change)

"... afraid he might sue ..."

County Manager Thaddeus Lucero said, according to the Journal, link, he was afraid to fire John Dantis for practicing nepotism, because he might file a lawsuit against the County.

APS didn't fire their Chief of Police, Gil Lovato, link, putting him on administrative leave until the end of his contract, to avoid going to court.

APS Asst. Supt. Michael Vigil was put on administrative leave rather than being fired for an arrest for aggravated DWI to avoid going to court.

APS won't fire their CFO Dupay Batemen, putting him on administrative leave until the end of a contract he will sign while on administrative leave! to avoid going to court.

Time after time, high ranking public servants are being allowed to simply retire after collecting huge sums of money while on administrative leave until the end of their contract.

Why?

Some might argue that it costs more to fire them, than to pay them a salary they no longer deserve. If that is true, then what is wrong with the system, that employees who deserve to be fired, can't be, without expensive litigation?

Another possibility exists; they are being denied their day in court, simply to deny them the opportunity to share their body maps in public. Gil Lovato said; if he ever got his day in court, if the truth ever came out, there wouldn't be a single APS senior administrator left standing!

And now we're getting somewhere; APS, three years later, is yet to surrender evidence of felony criminal misconduct in the Lovato scandal to the District Attorney's Office for prosecution.

Not that it would do much good; statutes of limitation have expired long since.

Which begs the question; who is watching the watchers?

Time to revisit "transparency"

It looks like the dance around transparency will never end.

In the Journal this morning, the editors decry NM's failing grades in "open government", link, inches, literally, from a report, link, about a county attorney, whose salary we pay, argues that a memo sent on County letterhead, on County time, to County Commissioners is not a public record!

Open government laws are a lawyers wet dream; poorly written
and needing endless and expensive litigation to argue over and
over and over again, what is and is not a public record. There
are millions to be made in never ending litigation.

The concept is simple;

  • the resources belong to the people,
  • the power belongs to the people,
  • the truth about their spending, belongs to the people.
The truth about government, public servants, and their public service, belongs to the people. All of it.

Some of the truth, though it belongs to the people, should not be shared with the people. There are good and ethical reasons to keep some truths under wraps. Those exceptions are clearly identified under the law, the New Mexico Inspection of Public Records Act, link.
  1. records pertaining to physical or mental examinations and medical treatment of persons confined to an institution;
  2. letters of reference concerning employment, licensing or permits;
  3. letters or memorandums that are matters of opinion in personnel files or students' cumulative files;
  4. law enforcement records that reveal confidential sources, methods, information or individuals accused but not charged with a crime...
  5. as provided by the Confidential Materials Act [14-3A-1 NMSA 1978];
  6. trade secrets, attorney-client privileged information and long-range or strategic business plans of public hospitals discussed in a properly closed meeting;
  7. public records containing the identity of or identifying information relating to an applicant or nominee for the position of president of a public institution of higher education;
  8. tactical response plans or procedures prepared for or by the state or a political subdivision of the state, ...
  9. discharge papers of a veteran of the armed forces of the United States filed with the county clerk before July 1, 2005 ...
  10. discharge papers of a veteran of the armed forces of the United States filed with the county clerk before July 1, 2005 ...
  11. discharge papers of a veteran of the armed forces of the United States filed with the county clerk after June 30, 2005...
  12. as otherwise provided by law.
And yet, politicians and public servants think they can invent exceptions of their own; "personnel matters", and then litigate at taxpayer expense for as long as they choose, knowing that when they lose in Court, there is no consequence for their recalcitrance; any fines levied, are levied against their agency budget and then payed by taxpayers.

The Government Restructuring Task Force is in the position to revisit the issue of governmental transparency. They have the opportunity and the responsibility.

Whether they actually do or not, is pretty much up to you.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Beating a dead horse with $13M worth of electronic whiteboards

APS intends to spend $13M to buy a bunch of electronic "chalkboards". They will be used to move "cemetery seating" into the 21st century.

Cemetery seating is where you take 30 kids with nothing in common but the year of their birth, seat them like grave markers in five neat rows of six kids, and move them together in exactly the same direction, at exactly the same speed, for 12 years (and then wonder why almost half of them have dropped out by the time you reach your destination).

APS plans to each student an electronic "clicker" of their own,
and thereby fix their fundamentally flawed and obsolete
approach to educating children.

The Journal, true to form, has given APS Supt Winston Brooks the opportunity to sell the purchase to the community without fear of examination or contradiction, link.

Nowhere in the Journal is space given to anyone who might want to question the cozy relationship between APS senior administrators and the company who is making a killing selling $50M worth of electronic gadgetry to taxpayers, link.

No space will be given to anyone who might want to wonder aloud whether we should invest instead, in technology that will help students learn to become independent learners via the technological breakthroughs available to them, as opposed to continuing to try mass manufacture learners despite their 40%+ failure rate.

Instead, we will lead our little horses to water (in expensive electronic buckets) and expect them to drink like they have never drunk before.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Bernalillo County Manager sitting on the truth

It has been nearly a month now since an independent investigation into corruption and incompetence in Bernalillo County Government was completed and turned over to County Manager Thaddeus Lucero.

Stakeholders have been allowed to see a "summary" of the truth, link, but not the whole truth.

The continued hiding of the truth fuels speculation that the truth is being hidden in the interests of corrupt and/or incompetent County Officials who would like to avoid the consequences of their corruption and incompetence.

If there is another reason to hide the (ethically redacted) truth,
I cannot imagine it, and no one in County Government
(neither in the administration nor on the County Commission)
has offered it.

Their refusal to explain, defend, deny, or even acknowledge
the continued secrecy is deafening.

It smells like a cover up.

To the extent that perception is reality, it is a cover up.

County Commission candidate Johnson argues for accountability

Wayne Johnson is running
for the Bernalillo County
Commission, District 5
.

When it comes to transparent
accountability, he gets it, link.

"County management has revealed an institutionalized culture of cronyism and cover up."

"There is an astonishing lack of accountability for upper management and a very real desire to keep the county's inner workings hidden from the public."

"Lack of transparency and accountability are fertile soil for the seeds of corruption."



photo Mark Bralley

APS Policy Committee agenda posted, finally.

The agenda for the Policy Committee meeting is finally posted, link, at the last possible minute.

The discussion reinstatement of the Role Modeling Clause;

In no case shall the standards of conduct for an adult
be lower than the standards for students.
remains dropped from the agenda, including future topics, without discussion or community input.

Responsibility for the decision, I believe, reasonably falls on the shoulders of Committee Chair David Peercy, link.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

It "appears to be" pay to play

A lucrative contract is on schedule to be let to a company and/or individual who has donated tens of thousands of dollars to Democrats in general, and Gov Bill Richardson and Lt Gov Diane Denish in particular, link.

In order for the arrangement to be "pay to play" there would have to have been an understanding between Richardson, Denish, and Gerald Murphy/Spectacular Attractions that, in exchange for a few large campaign contributions, he/they would be given a state contract worth millions of dollars.

No evidence has been revealed or implied, proving that "understanding" was ever reached, or even discussed. But it could have. In an environment where pay to play is the order of the day, one could argue, it likely did.

In any case, there is the "appearance" that it did.

One could argue that, I am the only one to whom it "appears" that way; that I am the only one whose faith in government has been further diminished.

I doubt I am the only one. I submit that the Journal report
on the "appearance of impropriety" is proof that I am not.
I am not the only one whose faith in my government has been diminished.

Damage has been done. That is why creating the appearance of impropriety and creating the appearance of a conflict of interest must be eschewed.

When it became apparent that Denish had taken contributions from people who had been indicted for ripping off taxpayers, link, she had to concede that a line had been crossed and she donated their contributions to charity.

Not only has she not renounced these contributions and the corruption they suggest, she has not promised to reopen the bidding process for the contract, if she is elected (an option she would have, according to the Journal report).

It would appear that she can live with the appearance of being part of an administration that plays for pay, albeit standing quietly in the background.


The question is; can voters?




photo Mark Bralley

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Where is Denish's outrage?

According to the Journal, link, a company with a long history of contributions to Democratic campaign coffers, and to Governor Bill Richardson's campaigns in particular, is going to get a lucrative state contract good for four years with an opportunity to extend it for four more.

The deal stinks of the appearance of impropriety.
It looks like a duck, it walks like a duck, it quacks like a duck.
It stinks of pay to play.

So where is the outrage of Lt Gov,
and Gubernatorial Candidate
Diane Denish?


It is lost apparently, in the fact
that the same donor has already
donated $5,500 to her current
campaign.

Same old, same old.

New team? same as the old team.




photo Mark Bralley

Darren White impersonating a cop?

It was the first thing I thought when I saw Darren White posing in a ballistic vest with Sheriff emblazoned on its chest, link. I waited to write this piece until I got a more expert opinion.

The "expert" opinion is that the word "Sheriff" emblazoned on the vest is the equivalent of wearing a badge. According to State Statute 30-27-2.1. Impersonating a peace officer;

A. Impersonating a peace officer consists of:
"... pretending to be a peace officer with the intent to deceive another person."
According to that same statute;
"Whoever commits impersonating a peace officer is guilty of a misdemeanor."
Unless White claims that his position as Public Safety Director vests him "... with a duty to maintain public order or to make arrests for crime ...", he is not entitled to represent that he is a Sheriff,

even in (especially in?) a campaign commercial.

Transparency war heats up

The Socorro Electric Cooperative is "a member-owned electric utility, serving over 13,000 consumers in Socorro, Catron, Valencia, Sierra and Cibola counties in central New Mexico."link.

The member-owners would like to know the truth about the management of their interests by the cooperative's Board of Trustees.

A majority of the members of the Board of Trustees would like to continue to keep them in the dark and have filed suit against the co-op's 13,000 members, local judges and the local newspaper; the El Defensor Chieftain, link.

Naming the local newspaper in the lawsuit, is one of the suit's more onerous aspects. The plaintiff's lawyer, according to the Journal report, link, stated that, the newspapers were named as defendants

"because it's my belief that the press ought not to be at a business meeting ..."
The suit specifically challenges three bylaws adopted by an overwhelming majority of member-owners earlier this year;
  • Call for the board to voluntarily follow the Open Meetings Act and Inspection of Public Records Act.
  • Allow members access to co-op books, records and audits, with the exception of records protected by the Privacy Act.
  • Allow member-owners and the media to attend co-op board meetings and that a portion of the meeting be set aside for public comment.
Individually named in the suit, was activist Charlene West. Her offense; her belief that members of a democratically controlled utility cannot be kept in the dark about the management of their interests. She is justifiably apprehensive about her future, saying;
"I feel like I'm being made a martyr, because I'm just a working Joe, and people know me and people identify with me. They're going to prosecute me and persecute me, and try to break me."

"If they come after me monetarily, they're going to kill me."
She said she doesn't have money to hire a lawyer.
"It's pretty scary that this can happen in the United States, just because we're asking questions," she said. "I haven't done anything that's illegal; I've just asked questions."
The "secretists" claim those bylaws are "unworkable and unreasonable" and that, "... the state's sunshine laws would be a hardship, and allowing members to attend meetings would "adversely impact the ability of the Board to conduct business."

According to the Journal; Reform trustee Charlie Wagner says the secretists want to weaken member control and, "... and the best way to do that is to deprive the members of information and keep everything secret."

If any of this has a familiar ring to it, there is a reason.
There are those in state government who feel the same way;
in particular a number of legislators and the Governor.

If you ask them to shine the light on their legislation or administration of the public interests; they will tell you "transparency would adversely impact their ability to do the people's business".

If you ask them for a "for instance", if you ask them to describe, even in generic terms, the discussions they need to have in secret from the people, they cannot.

Or, they will not.

On July 29th, the Government Restructuring Task Force will reconvene. Task Force Chair Senator Tim Eichenberg has promised to appoint a subcommittee to examine transparency as an aspect of restructuring government to make it more effective and efficient.

I wish I could tell you I felt confident that some heavy hitters will show up to hold their toes to the fire when they form their subcommittee and define its confines.

So far, none have.

An opportunity to critically examine perhaps the most fundamental reform of them all, will come and go without notice, if no one stands up to defend the interests of the people, and their right to participate meaningfully in decisions that affect their interests.

That participation begins with knowing the truth;
the whole truth, and nothing but the truth
(except as specifically and explicitly excepted according to
the spirit of the law).

Friday, July 09, 2010

Darren White dons a flak jacket

Public Safety Director Darren "camera? where?" White managed to get himself a leading role in Susana Martinez' latest campaign commercial.

He is wearing what looks to be a bullet proof vest; that reads; Sheriff.

Perhaps he anticipated the flak he was going to catch for
appearing in a campaign commercial, link.

"I don't read blogs"

Ask a (local or state) politician if they read the political blogs and they are more than likely to tell you, no.

There are exceptions, there are politicians that post comments and op-ed pieces on blogs, and are in no position to tell you they don't read them; the illogic would be hard to ignore.

Most, in my experience, will tell you they don't. Which begs an obvious question; why not?

Some will claim to be old dogs who can't learn a new trick. Some are baffled, apparently, by email as well. Begging a sub question; what place does someone, who cannot comprehend reading blogs or answering emails, have in government?

More than likely, they claim not to be reading blogs in order to avoid having to answer the questions found there on; a tougher bunch than they are asked by the legacy media.

Consider for example; Kent Walz, Journal Editor, and Marty Esquivel, School Board President, who sit together on the Board of Directors of NM FOG.

How likely is it really, that the Journal will ask Esquivel a tough question about anything, for example;

Why will he not step up as a role model of the same
standards of conduct he enforces upon students?
How much more likely that he will be asked a tough question on a blog?

How likely it is, he will avoid answering the question
by pretending he has never heard it;
because he doesn't read blogs?

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Going over 100,000 hits

Today, the Good Lord willing and the creek don't rise,
Diogenes' Six will get it's 100,000th "hit".

Non-bloggers will probably not appreciate the meaning
of the otherwise arbitrary goal. No one who has not started
a blog and perhaps gone days with no hits at all, can fully
appreciate the feeling of reaching that goal.

It has taken 4,400 posts, and nearly 4 years; my first post went up August 15, 2006, link. I sing, for the most part, a one note song; honest accountability for politicians and public servants within their public service.

I have been successfully challenged only once, on a fact of substance; for which I offered a retraction and apology.

Currently, between 60-70% of those who arrive at Diogenes' Six either arrive by accident, or arrive and see a post they've already read, and leave after staying less than five seconds.
Less than 5% stay between 5-30 seconds,
around 10% stay between 30 seconds and five minutes,
less than 1% between 5 and 20 minutes,
2%
between 20 minutes and one hour and,
around 15% for more than an hour.

I am grateful for their attention.

I am particularly grateful to those who take the time to
comment, especially including those who articulate an
opposing point of view. Some number have nothing to offer
but ad hominem attacks, from which I claim validation of
the argument they can refute only by attacking the messenger.

Just to keep things in perspective,
some blogs get 100,000 or more hits in a single day.

New Mexicans; too stupid to understand tax breaks.

Tax breaks are a way of life. Some people (corporations and other entities) are given tax breaks for fully defensible reasons. Some are given tax breaks for reasons which are not at all defensible.

Tax breaks for movie makers being an example. Of which,
I leave up to readers to determine.

No one seems to know what the total of tax breaks is; how much it is costing taxpayers in terms of their taxes being raised to balance the breaks being given?

41 states publish in one form or another, records of who is getting what breaks and at what cost to taxpayers.
Not surprisingly, New Mexico is not among them.

Those who oppose a public declaration of the exemptions, argue that New Mexicans are too stupid to understand the tax breaks, and/or to fully appreciate their value. They of course, don't use the word "stupid"; at least, not out loud.

Apparently both Gubernatorial candidates are prepared to share the truth with stakeholders, link.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

APS' "Ethical Advocate" a sham.

APS continues to pretend that whistle blowers have an honest venue for reporting the misconduct of their superiors, as they announce yet another forwarding mailbox for whistle blower complaints; "Ethical Advocate", link. A forwarding mailbox adds nothing to the process except for a guarantee of anonymity.

Anonymity is important; a recent audit of the leadership of the APS revealed a culture of fear of retribution and retaliation against those who make waves.

While anonymity is provided to whistle blowers, due process for their complaints is not.

Of what good is the ability to make a complaint, anonymously or otherwise, if the complaint will not see due process? A complaint filed against the administration through Ethical Advocate is forwarded to the administration for adjudication. The appearance of a conflict of interest casts a dark shadow on the process.

On paper, there is a check and balance; school board policy requires the board to review and approve any whistle blower complaints (read; all whistle blower complaints) that have been self-adjudicated by the administration.

In fact, they have yet to review even one. There are now at least 200 complaints behind and have no intention, apparently, of living up to their obligation, ever.

Audit Committee Chair David Robbins, in response to a complaint that he is violating School Board Policy by denying due process to whistle blower complaints, will say only;
"we are not violating Federal law".

Small consolation to those who
have been denied due process.


The school board's betrayal of the public trust, manifest in their denial of due process for whistle blower complaints, is the subject of an active investigation by the Office of the State Auditor.



photo Mark Bralley

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Baa Baa

Writer; A.A. wondered in a letter to the Journal's Sound Off if the sheep in the Bernalillo County Seal, represent taxpayers who find themselves the victims of one scam after another in a system that tolerates and enables corruption and incompetence, dealing with either only when when someone gets caught, and they are given no other choice.

Where is an aggressive and proactive effort to prevent corruption through transparent accountability to unequivocal and meaningful standards of conduct and competence for politicians and public servants within their public service?

Where are the independent standards and accountability audits?

The Journal editors wondered the same thing in their editorial, link, Can We Become More Proactive About Theft?

Can is the wrong word. Of course we can, the question is will we? Will we ever see independent and impartial review of the standards and accountability that are supposed to protect us from being fleeced by corruption and incompetence?

The Journal did not, apparently, ask that question of Bernalillo County leadership. Nor did they ask it of City of Albuquerque leadership. Nor of the leadership of the UNM. Nor of the leadership of the APS.

If they did ask ask, the answer would be no. Actually, they
wouldn't actually say no, they just wouldn't answer at all;

which means the same thing.

Monday, July 05, 2010

APS' minority students victims of institutional prejudice.

The simple truth is that college is not for everyone.

While there are obvious advantages to college educations, college is not the answer for every high school graduate. Some, regardless of their ethnicity, are simply far better off with technical training that enables them to take good paying jobs in technical careers; auto mechanics, welding, carpentry, plumbing; the list is endless.

But there are those who see only a "disproportionate" number of minority students following those career paths and conclude that prejudice is afoot, and that the best and only answer to that manifestation of an unidentified and ill-defined problem, is to deny them that opportunity altogether.

In a Journal article, link,

Moises Venegas,, founder of the Quinto Sol research group, said those expectations lead Hispanic students to take career paths toward lower-paying jobs than the professions Anglo students might seek.
"I think it's not as hard-nosed as they used to do it, and it's more subtle," Venegas said. "They no longer say, 'You are not fit for college so you will take these types of courses.' But there are lower expectations for Hispanic students."
Albuquerque Public Schools Chief Academic Officer Linda Sink, says APS "... does not offer separate tracks for its students. Everyone is expected to have a certain set of skills when they graduate." (whether they want them or not, whether they need them or not)
"It's old-fashioned to take a kid and prepare them not to go to college and take another and prepare them to go to college," she said. "We don't do that anymore."
APS Supt Winston Brooks, previously conceded, link; he sees the need to offer vocational training to kids who are not college bound, but, right now the focus and the money needs to go to beefing up the curriculum for the college bound.

What it boils down to is, non-college bound students of all ethnicities are being denied the education they need and deserve, in deference to a supposed prejudice,
a practice which is itself, manifest prejudice.

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? Who watches the watchmen?

The power is ours; the resources are ours,
the control over their spending is not.

We are compelled to surrender control over our power and resources to politicians and public servants, who spend our resources and wield our power in our stead.

But who watches over them, who has our back?

The answer apparently, is no one. Our only guarantee that
our power and resources will not be misspent flows from the
supposition that we can elect politicians and hire public
servants who can be trusted to place our interests above
their own.

Human nature being what it is, that guarantee has proven
wholly inadequate to the task; our interests have not been
protected. Every morning we read about another instance
of a politician or public servant's failure to protect our interests.

Read and consider the op-ed letter by former City Councilman
Greg Payne in this morning's Journal, link.

Taxpayers are being ripped off right and left, and the watchers
are doing nothing to stop the plunder. Well, OK, the "topic
is under discussion".

The answer is independent review. Hire impartial outsiders
to come into government and ferret out the inefficiencies;
to ferret out the corruption, the incompetence, and the
practices that enable them.

Overrule people like UNM's Regents President Raymond Sanchez and President David Schmidly who steadfastly refuse to allow their "watching" to be watched.

Overrule people like APS's School Board President Marty Esquivel and Supt Winston Brooks who steadfastly refuse to allow their "watching" to be watched.

Over rule City Councilors and Mayors, County Commissioners, Legislators and Governors who steadfastly refuse to allow independent audits that report directly to stakeholders, choosing instead to hide behind feckless and inadequate "open government" laws.

Control over power and resources that belong fundamentally to the people has been usurped. Usurped power is not going to be returned voluntarily. No court is going to order that it be returned to the people, no legislature is going to pass a law requiring that it be returned to the people and, no executive order will ever be given that returns to the people, the control over their power and resources.

It will have to be taken back. It will have to be taken back
by those whose power it is, and, whose resources they are.

Then and only then, will we enjoy government that is truly,
of the people, by the people and for the people.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Is it time for a voter revolt?

Candidates Diane Denish and Susana Martinez have no apparent interest in an open and honest discussion of the myriad of real issues in and surrounding state government.

Voters, on the other hand, have no apparent interest in seeing or hearing even another negative campaign ad.

Whose will is being done?

And if voters interests are being ignored now, why in the world would anyone believe that people's interests will not be ignored when the winner has even less need to pay attention?

If voters, of all political persuasions united and together demanded campaigns based on issues, would it make any difference at all?

While there is some inherent logic in campaigns being driven by candidates, there is some logic as well in demanding that campaigns address the interests of voters too. That logic, unfortunately, is not compelling; at least not to Martinez and Denish.

Miller, "That question is not relevant."

So says Richardson Finance Secretary Katherine Miller in response to a couple of questions during an interview with KRQE's Larry Barker, link.


It was one of a number of "sketchy" answers given to Barker by Miller and others, as he investigated a political appointee who telecommutes to work in apparent violation of the rules for telecommuting.

The story within the story, the story that Barker reported but took no specific interest in, was the lack of candor, forthrightness, and honesty in the answers he got about the telecommuting employee's whereabouts.

This isn't Miller's first brush with a scandal in the Richardson administration.

Miller
has been a favorite of Richardson's for years, and as such, has been close to the corruption and incompetence the pervades his administration. She was appointed by him in 2004 as the Executive Director of the New Mexico Mortgage Finance Authority and remained there until for two years until being bumped up to Secretary of the Department of Finance and Administration.

Coincidentally, taxpayers were taking a merciless screwing as a result of unchecked corruption and incompetence in the Housing Authority, link, and apparently that was not held against her in Richardson's consideration of her for appointment to a position of even greater authority and trust.

More recently, she was aboard the Bloody Merry, with Richardson, when it went plowing into other boats and a dock at Elephant Butte Lake. Their lack of interest stepping up with the truth manifest itself in their departure from the scene before the Police (except for those already on board, who apparently never files a report) arrived, link.

To her credit, Miller did return to the scene, later,
to inquire after any injuries they might have caused.

It has been oft noted; where there is smoke there is fire.
Is Miller on fire? Well, the smoke(screen) is hard to ignore.

It makes one wonder if there will ever be a time in NM state government, when politicians and public servants will ever be compelled to provide candid, forthright and honest answers to legitimate questions about the public interests, even against their will.

It makes one wonder if there will ever be real transparent accountability to the people, for politicians and public servants within their public service.

A quick consultation of the Magic 8 Ball, wikilink, offers little in the way of succor; it said;

"Outlook not so good"




photo Mark Bralley

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Next step; world class legislative webcasting

OK, so the dust has finally settled; we have bare minimum webcasting of all the important meetings; floor sessions, committee meetings, and now finally, interim committee meetings.

It has taken years, literally, to drag recalcitrant politicos into the 21st century of deliberative decision making in the public interest. Yet even after all that time and all that effort, we are left with what amounts to only audio coverage. Although there is a camera in use (on the floor of the Senate), thanks to Senator John Sapian, link, it is placed so ineffectively as to be useless to stakeholders. Even if a speaker is included in the view of the stationary camera, they are so far away as to be unidentifiable, especially since we see only their backs.

The distance from where we are, to where we should be, with respect to legislative webcasting, is a technological and fiscal baby step.

But then, technology and funding have never really been the issue. The issue is the unwillingness of politicians and public servants to be held honestly accountable for their public service.

If you asked legislators who "settled" for half-assed webcasting, why?, they will tell you, "It was the best we could get; if we had pushed for more, we would have been left with nothing at all."

I will never be satisfied with that argument. I understand it;
I even agree with its pragmatism. I just don't buy it on a
philosophical level. Neither would Winston Churchill
who argued;
"In matters of principle, never give in, never, never, never."

What is, is. We are where we are. But now that "we could lose it all" is no longer part of the discourse, now that the door is irrevocably opened, it is time to open it all the way; robust webcasting to a searchable archive.

Only one question remains; will the reform be the first item on the next legislative agenda, or among the last? Will the next legislative session be another session in the dark, or will the light of day finally shine into every nook and cranny of the legislative process from the very beginning?

There are now only two reasons that legislators will obfuscate the passage of the final reform; their lack of courage, and/or their lack of character. They are either afraid of the consequences of shining light on their public service, or they support continuing to keep the people in the dark regarding the spending of their power and resources.

Thomas Paine wrote;

There is no stopping an idea whose time has come.
Robust webcasting to a searchable archive, is an idea whose time has come.

In the November election, the entire House of Representatives is up for (re)election.

Robust webcasting to a searchable archive is an issue of a magnitude that warrants inclusion in the discourse surrounding their election. It is a deal maker or breaker.

Any candidate who refuses to take a clear and unequivocal stand on the issue, can be reasonably suspected of standing against it. You pick a side when you don't pick a side.

When the question is;
Will you stand in support of robust webcasting to a searchable archive?

any answer except yes, means no.