Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Why won't the Journal cover the scandal in the APS?

There is an ethics and accountability scandal in the leadership of the APS.

It manifests itself in an occasional mini-scandal that the Journal does report; their coverage of the current situation at RGHS is a case in point.

However, there is a more fundamental scandal that the Journal will not investigate and report upon; the ongoing failure of the leadership of the APS to hold itself honestly accountable to any standards of conduct at all, even the law; the lowest acceptable standard of conduct.

The leadership of the APS has abdicated as role models of the student standards of conduct. They are not accountable, even in its smallest measure, as role models of the higher standards of conduct that they establish and enforce upon students.

The Journal didn't report it, when the leadership of the APS removed the Role Modeling Clause from their own code of conduct; the one that used to read;

In no case shall the standards of conduct for an adult,
be lower than the standards of conduct for students.
And the Journal won't report now, that the leadership of the APS refuses to hold an open and honest, public discussion about why they will not put the clause back into their standards of conduct.

Just like the Journal won't report upon;
  • the cover up of corruption in the APS Police Department, or
  • their refusal to allow an independent standards and accountability audit, or
  • their refusal to provide due process for more than 200 whistleblower complaints.
So why won't the Journal, a self proclaimed newspaper of record, do due diligence?

It could be as simple as simple corruption. Journal editor Kent Walz and School Board President Marty Esquivel sit together on the Board of Directors of the NM FOG and, who knows what else. School board heavy hitter Paula Maes is the President and CEO of the NM Broadcasters Assn. It could be as simple as the media covering the asses of their friends.

Or, it could be as complex as; how can the Journal investigate and report upon the ethics and accountability scandal in the leadership of the APS, without reporting how it is they have not investigated and reported upon the scandal heretofore?

It's not like any of the allegations and evidence are brand new, link.

Esquivel loses it at Audit Committee meeting

Marty Esquivel is the President of the APS School Board.
He is an "open government" lawyer and a past recipient of the
NM Foundation for Open Government's
soon to be much less
prestigious, link, Dixon Award, link, for transparency and
fighting in support of First Amendment freedom.

He also a hypocrite.

Though APS has the technology to stream audio and video
from committee meetings, just like they do with regular
board meetings, they choose not to. If you want to watch
a committee meeting, you have to attend the meeting in
person and during most people's work day.

There was a dispute at the Audit Committee meeting Wednesday.

There are those who want to make public, the fact that,
the leadership of the APS, by means of the Audit Committee,
is denying due process to more than 200 complainants in
APS' SilentWhistle whistleblower program.

There are those, the leadership of the APS, who would like to keep that fact secret from the public. The Journal, apparently, is following their lead, steadfastly refusing to investigate and report upon the ethics and accountability scandal in the leadership of the APS.

Last Wednesday, the leadership of the APS tried to keep the lid on the story by illegally arresting two stakeholders, who also happened to enjoy First Amendment protection as members of a free press.

Esquivel is seen here using a pocket video camera to record evidence that he hopes will aid in his defense in any litigation over the board's denial of First Amendment rights to the press and the people by means of the illegal arrest of dissidents.

He is seen here, an instant later, losing it because I took the above photograph of him recording us (I am nearly out of the frame and the target of his threatening gesture).

An added irony; the quilt on the wall behind Esquivel touts the virtues of the APS Student Standards of Conduct; the Pillars of Character Counts! none of which include hypocrisy and none of which apply, apparently, to Marty Esquivel, though he is the senior most role model in the entire APS, of the Student Standards of Conduct.

top photo ched macquigg
bottom photo Mark Bralley

Monday, August 30, 2010

Board member calls for investigation

APS School Board Member
Delores Griego
is calling for
an independent investigation at
Rio Grande High School
, KOAT, link.

There will not be one of course.
And, she knows it.

Even if there were an investigation, it would be as narrow as possible, and it would be internal. The results would be kept secret.

Consider as proof of those allegations; the investigation into felony criminal misconduct involving senior APS administrators, link. Consider that the APS Police Department is still "investigating" itself after more than 3-1/2 years. Statutes of limitation have expired, and still, not one shred of evidence has been turned over to the District Attorney for prosecution.

Griego knows about all of this. She was there when

Board Member Paula Maes

"I will never agree to any audit
that individually identifies ..."
corrupt or incompetent APS senior
administrators or board members.

School Board President
Marty Esquivel
isn't talking
about any investigation at all,
especially one which would
reveal the sea of corruption
and incompetence, upon which he sails.

Robert "the weasel" Lucero
isn't calling for an independent
investigation of anything.

David Peercy doesn't want any
investigation. He can't summon
the character and courage to bring
executive and administrative role
modeling of the Student Standards
of Conduct onto the table at a
Policy Committee meeting for
open and honest discussion.

David Robbins is loathe to
begin any impartial investigation;
one that would reveal that he is
denying due process to more than
200 whistleblowers who have filed
complaints against administrators
or board members.

That leaves Lorenzo Garcia
who hasn't said a word about the
need for any independent audit
of standards and accountability
in the leadership of the APS, or
about the leadership's abdication
as role models of the Student
Standards of Conduct, or about
the denial of due process to
hundreds of whistleblowers.=, or
the cover up of public corruption
and incompetence in the APS Police Department.

So why is Griego talking independent investigation of anything?

Who is kidding whom?

photos Mark Bralley

Denish ducks reporter

Everyday, another story about a candidate snubbing the press.
Today it was Lt Gov Diane Denish's turn, link.

It would seem they have even less respect for the press than
they have for the people.

Or are they really the same thing?

Debates? We don't need no stinkin' debates.

It is clear that the overwhelming majority of voters want the
candidates to sit still and discuss issues. Voters want to be
enlightened; they want to understand the important issues
in order to cast their support and ballots intelligently.

The candidates (most of them anyway) have a different plan.

They intend to manipulate voters and the entire process
in order that the candidate with the most money wins.

Instead of looking forward to intelligent and thoughtful
discussions of critically important issues (half of our children
are dropping out of school before graduation),
voters can look forward to being buried in negative campaign
ads everywhere they look.

Every candidate claims their intention to fight for and serve the public.

Why in the world would we believe that, that is their real intention upon election; when it is so clearly not their real intention now?

Why in the world would we believe that our legitimate questions about the public interests and their public service will receive candid, forthright, and honest responses after their election, when those same questions are currently not only being ignored, but suppressed, link?

How is this government of the people, by the people, and
for the people?

New rumor about Brooks' involvement in the scheduling snafu

No way to confirm this rumor one way or the other, as it is
"not the practice" of the leadership of the APS to respond to
legitimate questions with candor, forthrightness and honesty.

Never the less, the rumor is that APS Supt Winston Brooks
personally ordered the rescheduling of students at RGHS and
at other schools, to accommodate the scheduling of students
into his pet project; AVID. The rumor includes as many as
four aborted schedules in order to fill up his program to spend
lots of time and money on dedicated, but at risk, students in
an effort to help them graduate.

The rumor continues; students have been placed in the AVID
program without their knowledge, and conceivably against
their will, which would violate some pretty basic tenets of
the AVID program as I understand it.

Again, all rumor.

But it would explain Brooks' apparent willingness to accept
"responsibility" so quickly, although so far only for
other people's screw ups.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Stand up for what you believe in Rally!

A perfect storm of screw ups by the leadership of the APS
points to a record turn out at public forum at the board meeting next Wednesday at 5pm.

Whether you think;

  • they should tell the truth about the corruption in the APS Police Department, or
  • they should tell the truth about their abdication as role models of the Student Standards of Conduct, or
  • they should honor their obligation to provide review and approval of whistleblower complaints, or
  • they should begin an immediate and impartial standards and accountability audit of the entire leadership of the APS, or
  • they should give stakeholders a seat at the table where decisions are being made that affect their interests, or
  • they should respond candidly, forthrightly and honestly to any legitimate question about the public interests or their public service, or
  • any other legitimate petition of the government should not only be allowed, but treated with respect.
you have an opportunity, some would argue a responsibility,
to stand up for what you believe in for two minutes;
either at the podium or in the audience.

A number of people will summon the courage to stand up and
petition their government; face to face, eyeball to eyeball.

If you cannot stand up with them, then
at least,
stand up behind them.

The hardest part of standing up alone is the wondering, why?

Martin Luther King wrote;
“We will remember not the words of our enemies,
but the silence of our friends.”
Edmund Burke wrote;
All that is necessary for evil to prevail in the world, is for good men to do nothing.
Ayn Rand wrote;
There are two sides to every issue: one side is right and the other is wrong, but the middle is always evil.
It is not justice or equal treatment that you grant to men when you abstain equally from praising men's virtues and from condemning men's vices. When your impartial attitude declares, in effect, that neither the good nor the evil may expect anything from you - whom do you betray and whom do you encourage?

You pick a side, when you don't pick a side.

Chicken comes home to roost?

I present this as an unverifiable, but fascinating tidbit.

APS Supt Diego "Dickie" Gallegos has been exiled, link,
from his comfy digs in the twin towers at 6400 Upyours Blvd,
to an office at Rio Grande High School. This in the wake of
the furor generated by the new Principal Cynthia Hale.

APS went to great lengths to point out that he is not being
moved there to "supervise" her.

My guess would be, he is there as a flak catcher,

"a slick spokesperson who can turn any criticism
to the advantage of their employer",
and to take the heat off APS Supt Winston Brooks for
his ill-advised appointment of the inexperienced principal.

This would make sense if what I heard is true; that it was
Gallegos who talked APS Supt Winston Brooks into
installing her as principal at the challenged school, though
she had no experience at the high school level.

Payback, it is noted, is a bitch!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Shooting bullies

KRQE reports on a student with a gun, on his way to school to shoot a few bullies, link.

The incident happened on the way to APS' $140M crown jewel; Volcano Vista High School.

If the Journal is to be believed, link.

"Albuquerque Public Schools spokesman Rigo Chavez said the district will consider harsh consequences for the teen ... he faces suspension and possible expulsion."
No word from Chavez on the consequences for the bullies who made life so miserable for this kid that he felt he had no choice but to shoot his way out.

Nor is there word from Chavez on the consequences for the administrator(s) who failed so abjectly, to guarantee the young man a school that feels safe.

Nor will there be any word from other students at the school on the extent of bullying at their school, or upon any plans to keep the same thing from happening again, and again, and again.

Fairness? we don't need no stinkin' fairness.

I am amused by the irony.
Behind APS Board Member
David Robbins a
Character Counts! quilt; and
a patch in honor of Fairness.

The irony is that at this instant
he is ordering my illegal arrest
for being part of a "group",
one of whom (the other of whom)
had allegedly ignored an unlawful
order he had given.

Immediately afterward, after I had been arrested and had no opportunity to defend myself, he slandered me in front of those still assembled.

No wonder he will not hold himself honestly accountable as a role model of the APS Student Standards of Conduct;
one of which is the Pillar of Fairness.

photo (red eye and all) ched macquigg

AGs story full of holes

In the Journal this morning, link, we find that NM Attorney General Gary King is in fact investigating allegations of misconduct in NM Secretary of State Mary Herrera's office.

The writers correctly point out; (freely cut and pasted without further identification)

Attorney General Gary King's office confirmed that it is looking into allegations of misconduct in Secretary of State Mary Herrera's office despite the fact that the Attorney General had previously refused to discuss whether he was investigating the complaints.
That previous "refusal" would have come from Phil Sisneros, a PIO/Spokesman for the NMAG(O).

As King's campaign office is yet to respond to a request for a list of the members of his campaign team, I can't write for certain that Sisneros is also King's campaign manager, but that is what I have been told.

In any case, Sisneros undoubtedly offered some justification for his refusal; probably "its a personnel matter", "we don't confirm or deny investigations, or "no comment".

None of that has changed; so why is it that he now can comment?

Perhaps there is another explanation, but the outward
appearance is; while before,
was covering fellow Democrat Mary Herrera's ass,
now he needs to cover his own.

Deborah Baker and Dan Boyd report that Sisneros offered up
"an 'intensive' three-hour interview ... and interviews with personnel in the Secretary of State Office."
as evidence of King being "on" allegations of public corruption in the highest offices.

His assurance starts to smell a little fishy when it is reported that at least two witnesses have not been interviewed at all.

Sisneros thinks it is "irresponsible" to wonder whether the Attorney General is involved in a cover up of either public corruption the Secretary of State's office, or incompetence in his own.

I would argue, it is absolutely the responsible thing to do.

Finally, I point to the absolute need and obligation of Gary King to complete this investigation before voting begins.

If the "proof is in the pudding" urban dictionary, this pudding needs to be fully and finally cooked before a single vote is cast in the re-election of either Mary Herrera or Gary King.

APS Board Approves Abdication

The APS Board of Education has formally renounced its responsibility to provide due process for whistleblower complaints. It is unclear from their post, link, at which meeting they took the vote to betray our trust.

They removed language from APS School Board Policy which had read;

The Audit Committee will review and approve
any whistleblower complaints.
They replaced specific and explicit language that guaranteed whistleblowers due process after the administration adjudicated complaints against itself, with their worthless commitment to revisit the obligation "sometime";
Duties and responsibilities of each committee shall be
further set forth in either Board of Education policy or
board procedural directive.
That their word is worthless is proven by their handling of the Role Modeling Clause. They promised to discuss it openly and honestly, and then it disappeared from their agenda without notice or discussion; a blatant betrayal of the trust placed in them.

The Role Modeling Clause; which they removed from their own code of conduct, used to read;
In no case shall the standards of conduct for an adult
be lower than the standards of conduct for students.

And now you can see why they would not want to have that language in their code of conduct.

Friday, August 27, 2010

So whoya gonna believe; the Journal, Brooks, or Esquivel?

If the Journal is to believed;

APS Supt Winston Brooks
says, things are going just
swimmingly at Rio Grande H S.

If School Board President
Marty Esquivel
is to be
believed; what's going on at
is a "travesty."

So, whoya gonna believe?

Not one of them will tell you the truth about;

  1. the abdication by the leadership of the APS as role models of the APS Student Standards of Conduct; the Pillars of Character Counts!
  2. the cover up of corruption and incompetence in the APS Police Department,
  3. the denial of due process to more than 200 whistle blower complaints.
So, who are you going to believe about the RGHS fiasco?

photos Mark Bralley

What is Gary King hiding?

I have been in repeated phone contact with Attorney General Gary King's Campaign Office.

I am trying to find the names of his campaign staff.

The names are nowhere on his website, link.

The reason why I want to know, is because I have been told,
NM AGO Public Information Officer, and public servant
Phil Sisneros is King's Campaign Manager.

Were that the situation; a conflict of interest would appear.
Has Sisneros campaigned even once, on the people's dime?

True or no, the appearance of a conflict of interest and the
appearance of impropriety themselves, do damage.

The person who answers the phone in King's campaign office, wouldn't tell me if she was a volunteer or an employee. She wouldn't tell me the name of a single person on the campaign staff.

This all seems more than a little fishy, no?

If Sisneros is in fact his campaign manager, it would be fair to question Sisneros' loyalties. Is his function to tell the truth (serving the people who employ him) or to spin it (in order to re-elect the guy who is giving him a cushy government job).

It is fair to question then, the loyalties of the whole office;
is the function of the Office of the Attorney General
to serve the people, or to serve the Attorney General?

photo Mark Bralley

Asst Supt Gallegos off to RGHS

APS Supt Diego "Dickie" Gallegos has been reassigned.
His work station is now Rio Grande High School, link.

This must have come as a shock to him, as he had been under
the impression that he was "sliding under the radar".

One has to wonder how an Asst Superintendent, who must be making $100K at least, can simply be pulled out of that job with no net lost to stakeholders and the taxpayers who have been footing the bill for his salary in that position.

Apparently he really was; just sliding under the radar
after all, link.

You're OUT! !!

The leadership of the APS doesn't tolerate dissidence.
Nor do they tolerate dissidents; they arrest them.

They have a Praetorian Guard to enforce their will.

All they have to do is give the dissident a "thumbs out";
the signal for their publicly funded, private police force to
swoop in and remove the "offender".

APS' Executive Director of Communications Monica Armenta immediately before my illegal arrest at the Eldorado Gubernatorial Debate.

APS School Board President Marty Esquivel and Board Member Robert "the weasel" Lucero immediately before the illegal arrest of Photojournalist and Blogger Mark Bralley and myself, at the APS Audit Committee meeting.

For those who are keeping score; this is my 9th illegal arrest
by the Albuquerque Public Schools Police Force for no
reason except the bidding of some board member or senior administrator.

photo ched macquigg
video frame grabs
Mark Bralley

Journal editors; blind, or just can't see?

In a Journal editorial this morning, link, we find

"Albuquerque Public Schools, (has a) dress code requirements banning gang attire ..."
One must wonder if any one of them has ever set foot on an APS high school campus, or understands what all of the exposed underwear they will see, signifies.

Not every student who sags is a gang member.
(Virtually) every gang member sags; it is their uniform.

Sagging used to be against the rules. It was even specifically
prohibited in School Board Policy. Then students made
it clear that they had no intention of obeying rules; that rule
in particular.

The School Board's response; erase the rule.

The issue is not "sagging" wikilink.
The issue is the permission of prohibited behavior.

The fundamental and underlying cause of all of the behavior
problems in schools is that students are in charge, not adults.

If an adult makes a rule and a child disobeys the rule,
who is in charge?

APS' Research, Development and Accountability Division has yet to complete even one survey of teachers and staff where in they are asked; what do you need to succeed?

They are not asked that question, because in response they
would say, do something about chronically disruptive students;
do something about students who will not recognize the
authority of adults over students.

The Journal editors don't get it. "There are none so blind
as those, who will not see", or investigate, or report upon.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Humpty was PUSHED! !!

"We pulled out all the district resources we can to put Humpty Dumpty back together again."
APS Supt Winston Brooks,
Alb Journal, link.

For reasons known only to himself, Brooks has likened the disaster at Rio Grande High School to the nursery rhyme Humpty Dumpty, wikilink.

There is a least one glaring difference; in the nursery rhyme
poor Humpty "fell", at RGHS he was quite clearly "pushed"
by a Principal Brooks appointed to a job for which she lacks the necessary skill set.

And what of the oversight? Asst Supt Eddie Soto is pulling down well north of $100K to keep an eye on Rio Grande. Where was he when Humpty Dumptina was tossing the schedules of 1600 students a month before school was to start?

According to the Journal, stakeholders at the school want the Principal replaced. Brooks, who no one tells what to do, said; "That will not happen".

According to the Journal report, the highly paid APS Executive Director of Communications Monica Armenta;

When asked for comment about the (PTSA) letter's complaints, spokeswoman Monica Armenta said a team of APS administrators' responses are posted on the district's website, ... She said she could not respond other than by reading from the website. (emphasis added)
I suggest that you do read from the website, link, entitled A Portrait of Rio Grande High School. Anyone who has had their portrait created, knows a "portrait" is a far different image than a candid photograph - there are times when a viewer wouldn't know s/he was looking at the same person. I offer political campaign "portraits" as a case in point.

Note in particular the response from the leadership of the APS to the "rumor" that high schools students are learning to play "hangman" instead of preparing for the rest of their lives.
Students are required to take certain core classes such as math, English, social studies and science. Additionally, most students have three periods of electives (except some seniors who have classes at other locations like CEC or CNM or who have already completed most of their graduation requirements.) Counselors from around the district first wanted to make sure all students have a full schedule. Then they want to try to get students in the electives they’ve asked for when possible.
Regardless of any truth in the response, it does not include a response to the allegation that students have been taught to play hang man in high school.

In APSspeak, dodging an allegation usually means the allegation is true.

The leadership of the APS did manage to find a handful of "driven" students; class presidents and students in Advanced Placement classes; students who will find their way to the right classes independent of their screwed up schedules, and then presented their responses as "typical" of all students. Hardly candid, forthright, and honest.

According to APS' spin;
APS employees have been working around the clock to get this done as soon as possible."
To the rest of the world, "around the clock" means 24 hours a day. The leadership of the APS would have stakeholders believe they are working 24 hours a day to create student schedules.

The more likely truth; they are sitting around a table
with a clock sitting in the middle of it.

All perfectly "legal" of course.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Berry shows Denish how its done

Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry has announced the opening of a Sunshine Portal to city spending, link.

In stark contrast to the Sunshine Portal on state government,
for which Gubernatorial Candidate Denish claims credit,
the city portal is actually open.

Denish's Sunshine Portal
still is not open and,
is not even scheduled to open for another (fiscal) year.

Denish is yet to explain why in her portal, corrupt and incompetent politicians and public servants were given two years to cover their tracks before the light of day would shine on their corruption and incompetence.

When asked that question; she simply ignores it.

Yet, apparently it is possible to design a portal that is actually open; Berry has proved it.

Brooks accepts responsibility for RGHS screw up

A week after school started, classes have still not started at the beleaguered Rio Grande High School. The delay is driven by a monumental screw up of student class schedules, link.

Though the Journal chose to not report it, APS Supt Winston Brooks has accepted "full responsibility" for the snafu.

This is not just some heroic gesture on his part; he is actually is responsible. He could not be more responsible if he had screwed up the schedules personally.

There is no talk of consequences for his screw up.

The Principal will take some heat, but Brooks won't.
No one will hold him accountable for his new system for
appointing principals; the one that completely disenfranchises
stakeholders and leaves the appointments at his sole discretion.

Silentwhistle on Audit Committee Agenda tonight

According to their posted agenda, link, APS' Audit Committee will "discuss" SilentWhistle; their whistleblower program.

According to APS School Board Policy B.07.d, link;
(in significant part, emphasis added)

"The Audit Committee reviews and recommends approval of ... any whistleblower complaints."
To date, they have not reviewed and approved even one complaint. More than 200 complaints are being denied due process.

The denial is the subject of an ongoing investigation by the Office of the State Auditor.

Because their SilentWhistle is nothing more than a forwarding mailbox that sends complaints made against administrators back to the same administration for adjudication, the check and balance provided by executive (school board) review is critical to addressing the obvious appearance of a conflict of interest.

The only defense for the ongoing denial of due process by the Audit Committee comes from its Chair David Robbins who wrote,
we are not breaking any federal laws.

photo Mark Bralley

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The onus is not mine.

Upon reflection, I have decided that I will not send an email to the leadership of the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government pointing out to them that they should not cheapen their Dixon Award by giving it to APS Supt Winston Brooks.

It has been suggested to me that I can follow up on my concerns by means of an email to the folks who want to give him the award. It has been suggested to me that the onus is upon me to keep the process moving.

I have pointed to rotten apples in their barrel,
it is not my responsibility to pick them out.

I'll pass.

Just as with government, is it not my responsibility to police them. It is not reasonably incumbent upon the weak to hold the powerful accountable for their abuse of power; it is theirs. The only first legitimate use of power is to assure that the power cannot be abused. It is up to them to police their own.

It is not power that corrupts, it is the ability to abuse power with accountability that corrupts; absolutely.

The leadership of the NM FOG has until October 10, to figure out how to rid their apple barrel of its rot.

That's the day they will give their Dixon Award to Brooks, despite the fact that he is ready to spend tax dollars litigating the cover up of corruption and incompetence in the leadership of the APS, the denial of due process to whistleblowers, his abdication as senior administrative role model of the APS Student Standards of Conduct and his illegal use of the APS Praetorian Guard to suppress the exercise of constitutionally protected human rights.

That is the day that everyone else who has been given a Dixon Award, will put it in the round file where it will belong.

Brooks should do them a favor and, turn down the "honor".

photo Mark Bralley

Monday, August 23, 2010

So I met with Sarah Welch

Sara Welch is the Executive Director of the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government, link.
I met with her to see if I was missing something when I write; the leadership of the FOG is infected with some people who clearly are not for "open government" at all. And to point out to her that, the FOG was about to give a Dixon Award to someone who clearly does not deserve it.

I offered to chat off the record; she expressed no need.

When I suggested that her reputation might be sullied by association with a number of the FOG's leadership, she suggested that she would be satisfied to be held accountable to her own record; (not necessary to anyone else's). Works for me.

She also argued that their "daytime jobs" were distinct from their service to the FOG.

Yeah OK but, how can you be a lawyer by day screwing people out of public records, and then be an able advocate of open government a few hours later for the FOG?

She told me that she has never bowed to, nor even felt, pressure from the board. I accept her at her word.

I pointed out to her that Kent Walz sits on the Executive Committee of the FOG, and appears to be covering up his own story about the scandal in the APS Police Department, link; no alternative explanation has been offered by anybody, ever, except that; it's not "newsworthy".

I pointed out that Pat Rogers sits on the Executive Committee and also works for the Modrall Law Firm which has made so much money litigating exception to the law for APS administrators and board members, that they won't tell you how much it is.

I pointed out that APS School Board President Marty Esquivel sits on the Board of Directors of the FOG and has no problem, apparently, arresting dissidents during Public Forums. Nor, apparently, does he have a problem with his Superintendent covering up the APS PD scandal.

I pointed out that they were about to give their prestigious Dixon Award to APS Supt Winston Brooks despite the fact that he was hiding an entire impartial report on public corruption and incompetence in the APS Police Department by calling it an "opinion" and not subject to disclosure under the law.

I asked if it would be possible to rescind the award they intend to give to Brooks.

dba Rigo Chavez, APS' Custodian of Public Records, is a poster child for what the FOG is supposed to loathe. He is using loopholes, technicalities and legal weaselry to delay the surrender to the public record, of evidence of felony criminal misconduct involving APS senior administrators, which is still being "investigated" by the APS Police Department, three and one half years after the scandal was revealed, and after statutes of limitation have expired on criminal misconduct.

She suggested that I email the "committee" that gave him the award; Marty Esquivel (who I am told recused himself from the vote to reward Brooks for his "transparency"), Kent Walz (see above), Kathy Bearden and Greg Williams (neither of whom, I know).

I think I will, and perhaps copy the entire Board of Directors, lest they go down with the ship, unaware that it is sinking.

I am told, APS Board Member Paula Maes, whose position is;

she will never agree to any audit that individually names corrupt and/or incompetent APS administrators or board members,
no longer sits on the FPGs Board of Directors;
I have no idea why.

She is still the head of the New Mexico Broadcasters Association. Consequently, I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for the broadcast media to dig very deeply into the ethics and accountability scandal in the leadership of the APS.

Maes is a named defendant in a lawsuit recently filed in Federal Court.

It is unlikely that the litigation will shed much light on the alleged misconduct. Long before the truth comes out in court, the leadership of the APS will have arrived at a Settlement Agreement, that, though worth boot loads of cash, is still "cheaper than proving their innocence in Court".

The Settlement Agreement will include language that reads, no one in the leadership of the APS admits to having done anything wrong. There will be a clause the moves a lot of tax dollars out of the APS and into the plaintiff's bank accounts. And there will be a clause that reads, the plaintiffs cannot tell the truth to anybody, ever.

Her husband was the President of the Modrall Law Firm while it was making a killing litigating on the behalf of the APS administration and Board. I suspect she still has some juice there too, and they will take good care of her.

Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Teri Cole is the Vice President of the NM FOG. She used to be a supporter of Character Counts! until I asked her to help me hold the leadership of the APS accountable for their abdication as role models of the APS Student Standards of Conduct. Then,

... not so much of a supporter anymore.

photo Mark Bralley

A distinction emerges between Denish and Martinez

The subject is gerrymandering of political boundaries to give a politician or political party an undue advantage in elections.

The Gubernatorial Candidates have taken stands which draw a distinction between them which might be the most telling distinction yet, link.

DA Susana Martinez would leave redistricting up to an independent commission.

Lt Gov Diane Denish would leave it up to party in power, her party, who would receive "advice" from an independent commission.

Martinez is willing to put the people before her party.
Denish would continue to put her party before the people.

One could not ask for a clearer choice.
Nor, for a more obvious one.

Thaddeus Lucero doing a great job according to Thaddeus Lucero.

Bernalillo County Manager Thaddeus Lucero got twenty column inches in the Journal this morning, link, to rebuild the County's image in the wake of the MATS scandal.

I will give him eighteen of those inches; not because I trust him,
but because I don't feel like checking his "facts".

I take issue with the inches that read;

From the beginning of the MATS incident, I have been proactive in working toward a quick resolution. The county hired an investigator, completed a full review and corresponding report and handed down discipline (none of which was challenged), and all within a period of less than four months, which is unheard of in government time. My quick response demonstrated that I took the situation seriously and that an expeditious investigation was paramount.
"... as county manager I have demonstrated transparency and open government, developed ethics and accountability ..."
The "complete review" and "report" he holds up as an example of his transparency and open government, is redacted beyond usefulness, I presume, by his own hand.

Look at it; read it link.

How can he take an independent investigation, completely redact both the "findings" and the "Conclusion" and then point to it as an example of transparency?

It's like pointing to a public school drop out rate of 50%
and calling it a measure of "success".

What gall.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

APS $18M in arrears; nothing in the Journal.

APS vendors are hurting because APS isn't paying its bills.
APS' new Chief Financial Officer Don Moya says,
It's all news to him, link.

Thirty years ago, when I needed supplies for my classroom,
I was given an SPO (Small Purchase Order) Book which
vendors were to accept instead of cash or a check.

About half the vendors I took it to, wouldn't accept it;
because APS took forever to pay their bills.

The Journal wouldn't investigate and report upon it then,
and they won't investigate and report upon it now.

... go figure.

Who owns the debate debacle?

There is the time honored; "the buck stops here".

In which case the responsibility for the feckless endeavor falls upon the shoulders of Lt Gov Diane Denish, DA Susana Martinez, and APS Supt Winston Brooks.

In reality, it was three people further down on the food chains, who colluded to distance the candidates from the voters and, the people from their government.

I have no idea whose fist pounds the table last, in campaign strategy meetings in the campaign headquarters, so I won't even speculate whose bright idea it was to prioritize minimizing exposure.

I have a pretty good idea of who owns APS' end of the debacle.

It is not APS' Custodian of Public Records Rigo Chavez. It is his job to smile insipidly while claiming that an independent investigation of felony criminal misconduct involving senior APS administrators, "... is a matter of opinion and not subject to disclosure under the NMIPRA."

It is not APS Communications Specialist John Miller; he is only the flak catcher and, APS' interpreter of the rights of the press under the Constitution's First Amendment.

He stepped up to tell members of the press that there was no room for them in the room, despite that fact that there were empty spots throughout the debate.

It is he who will be stuck trying to defend APS' position that the government has the right to determine the press pool, and not the press itself, the traditional and defensible deciders.

He will not have to take the heat for the illegal arrest of a dissident.

Likely, no one will.

As for the "debate" debacle itself, as per long tradition;
the senior administrator most responsible for the disaster,
will remain unnamed, unaccountable, and well remunerated.

As per tradition, all of this will go unreported in the Journal.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Empty seats at the debate

I have it on good authority that there were a number of empty seats in the Performing Arts Center at Eldorado High School during APS' Gubernatorial Debate.

There were empties in the public seats, and there were empties in the press section; perhaps as many as 10% of the cheap seats and a half dozen more in area where the "letterhead" press had allowed themselves to be confined.

Good citizens who came to watch the debate, were told that
they could not, because there was not room.

Members of the press, who came to report upon the debate,
were told they could not, because there was not room.

And I know for a fact, that a publicly funded private police force, APS' Praetorian Guard turned away members of the public and members of the press at the door.

The Gubernatorial Candidates will not answer for this.

The leadership of the APS will not answer for this.

And the media moved along, long since.

Who won? Denish or Martinez?


It's a toss up; they both lost.

We all lost.

The end result of what is arguably the most important "debate" in the entire campaign, is that neither one of them has any great new ideas. Neither of them "gets" it.

Neither of them is willing to give teachers a seat at the table.

Neither or them is willing to tap a resource that includes literally hundreds of thousands of years of teaching experience. And that is just teachers. Less attention still, is paid to the other professionals and paraprofessional that work at the educational interface; the place where students meet the system, day in and day out, year after year after year.

It's not that their input is not invaluable, rather it is that
the good ol' boys just don't want to hear it, or read it, or
answer any questions about it.

Other than not "getting" it; neither shined as a public speaker.

Lt Gov Diane Denish droned sound bites.
She has bought some pretty good ones;

"... someone with no experience fighting for children ..."
is going to go a long way for her.

Long enough probably, that no one will think to ask Denish what is so special about her failed "experience fighting for children."

You can spend all the money you want on pre-K education,
but you can't demonstrate that it has done one bit of good.

The immediate testing supports her campaign rhetoric.
But if you look at the same kids in the 3rd grade (and I
have read as early as the 1st grade) they are virtually
indistinguishable from their classmates.
Their advantage disappears.

We get their little engines running full steam and then stick
them in cemetery seating* to put the fires right back out.

She's spending a lot of money with nothing to show for it.

She will never have to address that issue because she has enough money to bury us in slick campaign sound bites instead.

DA Susana Martinez treated every question as if it were
her last opportunity to win the game by means of some oratorical flourish.

She should have just answered the questions.

Oratorical skills can get you elected I suppose, but they shouldn't.

Our need in the Roundhouse is not for great orators.
We need character and we need courage.

*cemetery seating; take 30 kids who have absolutely
nothing in common save the year of their birth,
Seat them in five rows of six kids, and then move them
at exactly the same speed, in exactly the same direction
for 12 years.

Herd kittens for 12 years.

Keep them on the same page, in the same book,
on the same day, for 12 years, and then wring your hands
and wonder why half of them drop out before the end of the drive.

The fastest learners are held back so as not to make the
slower learners feel badly about themselves.

The slowest learners are made to move so fast,
they cannot possibly keep up.

The results are as devastating as they are utterly predictable.

And yet, that is still their plan.

Never mind that it does not work, and it never will again.

Denish sees the light, the people don't.

During the Gubernatorial "Debate" at Eldorado High School,
Lt Gov Diane Denish
said, link, 57:20;

"... we now have a Sunshine Portal for the state's checkbook ..."
She claims credit for it.

Well, the problem is that there really is no portal, not yet.
Not one ray of sunshine has shown through the portal and
onto the spending of our trust and treasure. It is yet to open.

There will be one someday, long after the corrupt and incompetent in state government have had time to cover their tracks. But there ain't one now.

And it is blatantly dishonest to represent that there is.

APS Praetorian Guard arrests dissident.

This is not video of my 8th illegal arrest by APS' Praetorian Guard but of the 7th, link.

You can fast forward to 42:00, and at that point you can witness for yourself, what happens when one tries to exercise their rights to free speech and to petition one's government, at a APS Board Meeting Public Forum.

The Journal was there, and did not investigate or report upon it.

Nor, will they investigate and report upon the latest arrest.

It's just not the way they roll.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Who Lost the Education Debate?

The debate has not yet ended on who won the Gubernatorial "Debate" at Eldorado High School Thursday.

There is no debate on who was the loser; it was the people.

The debate was arguably the most important debate that the candidates will ever have. And it was held in virtual secret from the vast majority of voters.

According to the wishes of the Candidates and their cronies in the leadership of the APS, the people were deliberately denied the opportunity to watch the debate in person; it was held in one of the smallest venues available, and tickets were reserved for a select few at their choosing.

According to the wishes of a corrupt few in the leadership of the APS, the press was denied equal treatment under the law; the coverage of the debate was skewed, deliberately.

According to the wishes of the local media moguls; the people were denied, for the most, the opportunity to watch the debate on TV.

Instead of being able to watch the debate in person or on TV, voters will have only the spin of the media and of the candidates to serve as the basis for their decision making.

The losers include everyone who had a legitimate question for the candidates. questions which did not get asked. Instead, the leadership of the APS, took it upon themselves to decide which questions would and would not be asked.

In accordance with his interest in denying teachers a seat at the table where decisions are made, APS Supt Winston Brooks, who had sole discretion in determining which questions would be asked, chose to not ask either candidate if they had any intention of really empowering teachers by offering them a seat at the table where the decisions will be made that affect their future and the future of public education in New Mexico.

It is arguably the most important question of them all.

There are literally hundreds of thousands of years of teaching experience in New Mexico schools, and no one wants to ask them what they think needs to change. For no other reason than to hide the truth about what teachers would say,

... if anybody asked them, ever.

"Arrested" again

There will be some quibbling I suppose over whether I was, in fact, "arrested" yesterday at Eldorado High School before the Gubernatorial Debate.

This would be the eighth time that I have been arrested by APS' Praetorian Guard, wikilink, dba APS Police Department, link.

I have never been charged with any crime. No charges of any kind have ever been filed as the result of any of these illegal arrests. I have never done anything that I would not be proud to do again in front of any of the many thousands of students to whom I taught the Pillars of Character Counts!, link.

Typically, I am only arrested for long enough to deprive me of my rights to free speech and to petition my government at a Public Forum during APS school board meetings.

I had every right to be at Eldorado High School for the debate; I am a member of the press, and I was a ticket holder.

I had done nothing to justify my arrest; I had violated no rule, and certainly violated no law.

The arresting Officer, one B Rohlfs, informed me that he was following orders that came from APS Supt Winston Brooks personally; not directly but through an intermediary who he repeatedly refused to name.

The leadership of the APS has their own little publicly funded private police force. It is accredited by no one; it is certificated by no one; it reports only to, and directly to, those who interests it protects.

It is currently embroiled in a cover up of itself. In early 2007, the Journal reported on corruption in the APS Police Department, link. Despite evidence of felony criminal misconduct involving senior APS administrators, including in the Police Department itself; it investigated itself. Despite the blatant appearance of a conflict of interest, it is the only agency of law enforcement that has investigated the corruption.

It has been 3-1/2 years and they are still "investigating". Statutes of limitation have, conveniently, expired in the interim.

Brooks as APS' CAO, is responsible for hiding from public knowledge, the report of an independent investigation of the corruption that was conducted by a private investigator. In response to a request for public records asking for an ethically redacted version of the report, APS/Brooks response is to claim the entire report is a "matter of opinion" and not subject to disclosure under the Inspection of Public Records Act.

I would ask for help from the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government, which typically takes exception to this kind of sleazy dodge; but I suspect they will be too busy planning the banquet during which they will give Brooks the Dixon Award for transparency in government.

The granting of the award presumably enjoys the support of a number of members of the NMFOG Board of Directors including School Board President and Open Government lawyer Marty Esquivel, School Board member Paula Maes, who once said she would never agree to any audit that individually named corrupt and/or incompetent APS administrators, Modrall lawyer Pat Rogers, and Journal editor Kent Walz.

Coincidentally, the Journal steadfastly refuses to investigate and report upon the cover up of the corruption in the APS Police Department in particular, and upon the ethics and accountability scandal in the leadership of the APS in general.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

APS Bond rating falls.

In a story that could not have been buried deeper, page C2, link, we find that APS's bond rating has been lowered. I would suppose that means APS bonds are less attractive to investors and, taxpayers will pay more interest on the loans.

The leadership of the APS would have voters believe that the lower rating is the result of "... the district's revolving door of chief financial officers and its precipitous decline in cash reserves ..."

Right, that and the fact the a recent audit of the APS Financial Division revealed;

  • inadequate financially sound policies and regulations, and
  • inadequate accountability to such standards as there were, and
  • inadequate record keeping.
Apparently, either the bond rater; Moody's Investors Service doesn't care about conditions which likely precipitated the loss of millions of tax dollars, or nobody bothered to tell them about the Meyners Audit.

The leadership of the APS continues their steadfast refusal to allow an independent review of executive and administrative standards and accountability; and the Journal continues their steadfast refusal to investigate and report upon the ethics and accountability scandal in the leadership of the APS.

State cop; incompetent or corrupt?

A NM State Police Officer says Sandoval County Sheriff John Paul Trujillo was speeding, tailgating, and ran a red light, link.

Trujillo denies it.

It would appear that someone is either incompetent or lying.

If you take Trujillo's word for it, then the State Cop that began the chase is either incompetent, can't tell 80 mph from 55, or he is corrupt; just making the whole thing up.

If you take the cop's word, Trujillo is corrupt; abusing his power and the trust placed in him by Sandoval County voters.

This isn't Trujillo's first rodeo. According to KOB TV; link,

In 2006 a Bernalillo police officer says he found Trujillo parked in his sheriff’s vehicle with a strange woman hiding in the backseat. The officer clams the SUV was rocking, and when he approached Trujillo was pulling his pants back on. Sheriff Trujillo denied it all ..."
It looks like the whole thing will be swept under the carpet. Rather than vindicating one of its own Officers, the State Police are dropping the matter.

State Police Lt Eric Garcia says Trujillo will not be cited based on his statement that he was responding to a motor vehicle crash; a crash that happened 12 hours earlier.

And, the appearance of impropriety shakes the faith of people in their government. There is no where to file a complaint; no where to cause an investigation that will end the career of a corrupt or incompetent State Police Officer, or a corrupt County Sheriff.

The winner; a law enforcement officer who will not be held accountable for his corruption and/or incompetence.

The losers, the people and good cops everywhere.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Across the Board Cuts Cowardly

Across the board budget cuts as solution to the budget deficit shows a profound lack of imagination, if nothing else.

An across the board cut assumes across the board wiggle room;
all agencies have the same amount of "fat" to cut.

In the absence of any evidence to the contrary, it is reasonable
to assume, that is not the case at all. It would fly in the face of
everything we know about human nature.

The priorities that govern spending are a vertical stack.
At the top, the most important thing that government must
accomplish, and at the bottom; the least important thing that government does.

At the bottom; something truly embarrassing.
Something they must hide.

What do you suppose the most outrageous and unjustifiable
use of tax dollars looks like?

Why do you suppose they will not survey state workers
and ask them to point to it?

They are afraid to shine the light of day on their spending.
They are afraid to point to the least important thing they
are doing; the most unjustifiable spending of our resources,
because they don't want to be held accountable for their
poor stewardship of our trust and treasure.

Why are the people not be being asked
what they want to fund or not, with their tax dollars?

What we don't know won't hurt them.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Spirit of the Redaction

Two months after receiving it, Bernalillo County Manager Thaddeus Lucero has released the (now heavily redacted) summary, link, of the impartial investigation of the Dantis scandal.

A few questions arise.

The first; why can we never get a crisp and clean copy of a
public record; why are they always slanted to one side and,
why do they always smack of a copy of a copy of a copy?
I digress.

The really important question is; is the redaction candid, forthright and honest?

Did those who redacted it finish and say;

I have told as much truth as the law will allow.
Or, did they finish it and say;
I have told as little truth as the law absolutely requires, and then only after protracted litigation.
Likely, we will never know. Though the question is important, and we have a right to know the answer. If government is to be truly "by" the people, we have a need to know.

I have sent the following email to County Commissioner Maggie Hart-Stebbins;
Commission(er) Hart-Stebbins,

I, like many I would suppose, am not happy with the redaction that has been done on the investigative report on the MATS scandal.

I think there is a need for an independent review of the redaction to ensure that it complies with the spirit of the law.

As far as I know, the only option I would have to cause that independent review, would be to file suit under the NM Inspection of Public Records.

It seems outrageous that I would have to file a lawsuit against my government in order to find out the truth about the spending of my power and my resources.

I am in hope that there is something you, and/or the commission, can do to cause an independent evaluation of the redaction.

Is there?

grateful for your time and attention

So far, no response.

Interestingly, the first line in the summary reads;
"It is essential to the efficient and effective operation of government that is has the public's trust."
It is as indefensible as it is absurd; allowing the subject
of an investigation to redact its results, without any real
oversight. We are to "trust" him; whether we want to or not,
whether we actually do, or not.

And when the trust is betrayed; what then?
Where is our recourse?

Friday, August 13, 2010

"Yeah, but ..."

Senate President Pro Tempore Tim Jennings, link, promised Mark Bralley, link, and me, a thirty-minute meeting. And then and gave us forty; plenty of time to make our case.

Our interest; getting him to step up as the champion of open government in the Legislature.

I made my usual argument;
the power belongs to the people,
the resources belong to the people,
the truth about how they are being spent, belongs to the people; all of it.

Some of it, though it belongs to the people, is not shared with the people for good and ethical reasons. The rest should be immediately and easily available; public records, open meetings, and robust webcasting to a searchable archive.

I argued that the line between the truth that should and should not be made public needs to be clear, unequivocal; limited only by specific exceptions written in law.

Finally, any disputes over the location of the line need to be settled impartially and rather immediately by some administrative process rather than length, expensive and cumbersome lawsuits.

The Senator said he couldn't disagree with any of the points we made.

He argued that the Legislature shouldn't have to be candid, forthright, and honest with the people if the same requirement is not placed upon the Executive Branch, the Judicial Branch, and the Press.

Our feeling was, and is, someone has to set the example. Rather than waiting for the Governor to step up, the Legislature needs to step up and set the example.

In the end, we could not get him to step up as the champion of truly open and transparent government.

We thanked him
for his time, and
let him know
we would be back.

photos Mark Bralley

MaryEllen Broderick DfNM caught Bralley catching her.

Scariest part of Martinez' Bold New Agenda

The most glaring flaw in DA Susana Martinez' plan to reform education is her apparent intention to let incompetent administrators slide on their incompetence.

She writes;

Efficiency Studies For Districts – Every year businesses undertake rigorous audits and studies to understand how their resources are being used and where those resources can be applied in a more efficient manner. Our school districts should undertake similar studies. These efficiency studies are not punitive in nature, but rather will help our school administrators better understand where and how to better allocate resources and get even more money to the classroom. (emphasis added)
By all means, let's do impartial efficiency and effectiveness studies on every branch of government, not just education; honest and impartial audits that report directly to the people, and not to those corruption and/or incompetence is the substance of the report.

But why in the world should good ol' boys not be "punished" for their incompetence? When "every year businesses undertake rigorous audits ..." do they not hold employees accountable for their inefficiency? Do they not "punish" them?

Why would anyone strive to be better, if their is no consequence for being worthless?

The lack of accountability in government is central to everything that is wrong with government.

Is Martinez simply promising us more of the same?

APS Board meeting this morning, about what, who knows?

There is a Special Board of Education meeting this morning at 7:30. The agenda is still not posted.

Yet another violation of the Open Meetings Act.

Maybe they will post minutes sometime and let us know how they spent our and our resources. Maybe not.

Oh well.

Update; by 8:03, not only is the agenda not up, but the entire meeting has disappeared from the calendar.

Again ..., oh well.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Flip-flop, or what?

Flip-flop is a pejorative term, wikilink.

It is akin to but, different than, waffling, urbilink.

So, does a political candidate get to change their mind?

When they do, it is almost always at some substantial cost,
the opponent beating them up over their waffling and/or
flip-flopping on an issue.

Does that make sense?

Consider; two otherwise identical candidates for any Office.

One says,

"I've made up my mind; don't confuse me with facts."
The other says;
"I have an open mind. I will listen to and consider differing opinions on any issue; and then adjust my position on that issue, according to my conscience."
For which candidate, would you cast your vote?

The hard part is discerning the difference between a thoughtful change of opinion, and change of convenience, a cynical effort to gain more votes.