Saturday, April 30, 2011

Should Del Norte coach be fired for DUI?

The head football coach at Del Norte High School was arrested for DUI, link. There will be calls for his termination; most will point to "role modeling" as the justification.

The possibility raises many questions, not the least of which is, should someone lose their job over something they did when they were not at work? APS has, for as long as I remember, insisted that it has a right to hold people accountable for things they do off school grounds.

The aspect that will grate most on me is the disparate expectations and consequences for APS employees. The last super administrator caught driving drunk, APS Assoc Supt Michael Vigil, got a bunch of paid leave and $162K, link; a football coach will not likely see so sweet a settlement.

The leadership of the APS will not talk about role modeling. They haven't since the night they removed the role modeling clause from their own standards of conduct, the one which used to read;

In no case shall the standards of conduct for an adult,
be lower than the standards of conduct for students.
The leadership of the APS will use the words "role modeling" in a context that makes APS look good, but not in a context where their hypocrisy can be challenged.

The APS School Board, and in particular APS Board Member David Peercy, have kept the discussion of administrative and executive role modeling of the student standards of conduct; the Pillars of Character Counts!, off the table in their Policy Committee for years, link.

Should a coach be fired over a DUI? Long before we have that discussion, we need to discuss standards and accountability for all APS employees and students, openly and honestly. When that is resolved, we can talk about firing folks over their failure to meet those standards.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Editors call for school audits; just not at the APS

Journal editors are pleased as punch, link, that NM PED Secretary Designate Hanna Skandera investigated New Mexico School Districts, looking for irregularities in reporting that gave some districts money they didn't deserve at the expense of districts who submitted accurate reports.

The word audit means different things in different contexts.
In this context it means an outside independent investigation.

Independent investigations are important because internal
investigations are by nature corrupted by personal and
institutional loyalties. And let's face it, they are sometimes
corrupted by people covering up their own incompetence and

The editors concluded;

"It’s important that New Mexico’s parents, taxpayers,
educators and students finally know what they are
getting for their money — almost half the state’s $5.6
billion budget every year. This audit is at least a place
to start."
The pearl in their conclusion, this audit is only a start.
The implication; there need to be more independent audits.

It defies reason that agencies of government be allowed to
self-audit. It provides temptation to not audit at all, to forge
or fudge audit results or, as in the case of the APS, to hide the
results. APS has not posted on their website, the results of
even one audit, and for good reason; audits of the APS find the
same lack of standards and accountability over and over and
over again. They have no choice but to hide the findings.

Of what use are audit findings to stakeholders,
if they are hidden from them?

Of what use is the Journal to the community,
if they give their (tacit) approval to the hiding?

If the Journal had any real interest in improving the APS,
they would demand more independent audits. Of course,
if they had any real interest in improving the APS, they
would also be investigating and reporting upon;
  • the cover up of the Caswell Report on corruption in the APS Police Department,
  • the denial of due process to hundreds of whistle blower complaints,
  • the abdication of the entire leadership of the APS as role models of the student standards of conduct, and
  • the overall lack of standards and accountability in the leadership of the APS.
Kent Walz and the Journal are in bed with the leadership of the
APS; part and parcel to the ongoing cover up of the ethics and
accountability scandal at 6400 Uptown Blvd.

It's just that simple.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Board silence non-feasance?

The leadership of the APS doesn't take questions.

By their deliberate choice, they sit in no public forum where stakeholders can ask them direct questions about the public interests and about their public service, and expect a response; an honest dialogue. The leadership of the APS will show up in no place where follow up questions are allowed.

Politicians and public servants, if they are accountable to the people, are compelled to answer the people's questions about the spending of power and resources that belong fundamentally to the people.

Non-feasance is "the failure to do something that should be done, especially something that one is under a duty or obligation to do."

If politicians and public servants fail to "communicate" with the people, they have failed to do something they have an obligation to do. They are guilty of non-feasance.

If the leadership of the APS is refusing to "communicate" in an effort to continue to cover up the ethics and accountability scandal in their leadership, then they are guilty of malfeasance as well.

They would have betrayed the public trust; deliberately and
with malice and forethought.

Their non and malfeasance are violations of the law.

If only that made any difference.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Why must they hide from the people?

There is not one member of the leadership of the APS willing to meet with the community and respond to questions about the public interests and their public service. Even at the "public forum" at school board meetings, the asking of questions is strictly prohibited.

If you are persistent and ask questions anyway, you will be arrested by APS' Praetorian Guard and escorted out of the meeting. I have been arrested on numerous occasions for ignoring their silly prohibition. If you care to, you can watch one such arrest, link.

Though utterly illegal, they will even revoke your privilege to attend board meetings altogether; link, promising an arrest for even showing up.

So why won't the leadership of the APS present itself in meetings open to the people, and respond to questions about the public interests and about their public service?

I maintain there is not one good and ethical reason for politicians and public servants to hide the record of their public service from the public. Their real justifications are so shameful they will not even offer them.

There is not one member of the leadership of the APS with the character and the courage to tell interest holders the truth, in person, face to face.

Instead, they invite you to submit a question in writing;
which they will either answer in writing, or ignore altogether.

As proof, I will offer to you a simple test.

See if you can get APS COO Brad Winter, link, to answer a question.

Ask him for a candid, forthright and honest accounting of spending on the new and utterly unjustifiable boardroom. I did. Not only has he not answered, but he even lied (to the police) about having ever been asked.

Need more proof?

Ask APS Supt Winston Brooks
why he will not release an ethically
redacted version of the Caswell
Report on the investigation of
felony criminal misconduct involving
APS senior Administrators.

Ask him why evidence of felony
criminal misconduct is still being hidden from the District Attorney; four years after it took place and after statutes of limitation on criminal misconduct have expired.

Need more proof?

Ask school board heavy hitter
Marty Esquivel to tell you the
truth about why he opposes
an independent investigation
of APS' administrative standards and accountability.

Ask him for justification of his
illegal restraining order
banning me from school board meetings.

Ask him why he will not hold himself accountable as a role model of the APS Student Standards of Conduct, the Pillars of Character Counts!

Need more proof?

Ask School Board President
Paula Maes why she will
"never agree to any audit that
individually identifies" corrupt
and incompetent administrators
and board members.

Ask her why she signed off on
Esquivel's illegal restraining order
banning me from school board

If you ask a person if they will tell the truth, and they will not answer your question, it means the answer is no. Any answer except yes, means no.

If you have the establishment media in your pocket,
it means the questions won't ever be asked.

Shame on the leadership of the APS and shame on the Journal, and on KRQE, KOAT, and KOB TV.

photos Mark Bralley

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

APS responds to Ethical Advocate Complaint - it is still a fraud.

More than a month after the complaint was filed, the leadership of the APS has finally responded to the allegation that they misled an investigator from the State Auditors Office when he was led to believe that whistle blower complaints have been given the individual review and approval that is required by school board policy.

Their response ends; "This issue is considered closed."
It is considered closed by the people against whom the complaint was filed.

The boldface is mine, to indicate the issues that I will elaborate upon.

Submitted By: Admin
Submitted On: 4/25/2011 5:56:21 PM
Comment: Mr. MacQuigg – Thank you for your patience in waiting for your response to this matter. Your complaint stated that two APS employees “deliberately misled an investigator from the Office of the New Mexico State Auditor”. Two employees did meet with representatives from the Office of the State Auditor’s Office on August 27, 2010 to discuss the whistleblower process that was used by the APS Internal Audit Department. The delay in the response to you is a result of seeking clarification of that conversation. The process used in resolving whistleblower complaints was discussed and includes responding to the individual that files the complaint, maintaining the files on the issues, and reporting the statistical information to the Audit Committee. (1)In the course of the discussion, it was made clear that maintaining confidentiality was important and the reports were not taken to the Audit Committee for approval as that would result in the whistleblower issues becoming public. (2)The other reason whistleblower complaints are not taken to the Audit Committee is it would result in no response being available until after the issues are presented to the committee for approval. This could result in delays of up to six months. The Whistleblower policy (G.15) has been in place since 9-3-2003 when it was initiated. There has been no change to that policy. The procedural directive has been in place since 9-3-2003, also with no change. (3)Neither the policy nor procedural directive indicates that the reports will be taken to the Audit Committee or the Board of Education for approval. (4)The only whistleblower information that has been presented to the Audit Committee has been statistical in content, explanations of the process, and updates when the vendor relationship has been changed. There have been some whistleblower complaints that have resulted in audits being conducted on specific issues, but (5)the original complaint has never been presented to the Audit Committee or Board. (6)It is recognized that the policy describing the various Board of Education Committees did reference taking whistleblower complaints to the Audit Committee for approval. This has never been done and the minutes of the Audit Committee can be reviewed to verify this. The policy B.07 contained the statement “An Audit Committee to (7)review and recommend approval or action(s) associated with the District’s Annual Audit, any internal audits(s), audits associated with the Capital Outlay and Technology and any employee whistleblower complaints.” This was effective as of 2-19-2003 and pre-dated the Whistleblower Policy. (8)This policy (B.07 Board Committees) was most recently replaced with BD1 Board of Education Committees on 8-18-2010. (9)This issue is considered closed.
At highlight 1; Audit Committee review of complaints would compromise confidentiality lacks basis in fact. The truth is that the Audit Committee meets in Executive Session (in secret) anytime they want to. Confidentiality would not be compromised by a meeting in secret.

At 2; complaints could not be closed until after an Audit Committee Meeting reviewed the case. The truth, the review is of the final disposition; it does not predate it. This is nonsense on its face.

At 3, the district admits that there is no procedural directive indicating complaints will be reviewed and approved. The statement is correct. The fact that the administration did not create a procedural directive to implement board policy is proof of administrative incompetence or corruption. I am surprised they admit it so candidly.

The statement that "policy" does not indicate that complaints will be reviewed is more nonsense. The whole point is that, board "policy" clearly indicates that complaints will see review by the Audit Committee.

At 4, the district freely admits that not one single complaint has seen review and approval.

At 5, another admission that not one single complaint has seen an Audit Committee Review.

At 6, the district admits that Board Policy does "reference" the commitment to offer review of the administrative handling of complaints against the administration.

At 7, the district quotes the actual School Board Policy that charges the Audit Committee with review and approval of any (all) whistleblower complaints.

At 8, the district admits changing board policy by deleting any specific reference to the duties of the Audit Committee, including whistleblower complaint review. They replaced the reference with a promise to revisit the subject of specific committee responsibilities sometime in the future.

They incurred a debt to more than 300 whistleblowers and now they think they can erase the debt by changing the wording of the policy that created it.

The inherent flaw in APS whistleblower protection program is that complaints against administrators are adjudicated by other administrators. A complaint against Winston Brooks will be adjudicated by one of his subordinates. This situation creates the appearance of a conflict of interest; a violation of the School Board's own code of conduct.

The conflict of interest is resolved when the board reviews and approves the handling to make sure that an administrator has not abused the process. Administrators are not accountable to the public; the board is. It is critical that the integrity of the process is guaranteed by someone who is accountable to the public. When the board reneged on its responsibility to insure that the process was clean, it made the whole process suspect. It harmed the process.

No indication was offered in the administrative response as to who handled it. For all I know it was handled by one of the two administrators accused of the misconduct. In which case, how can the handling have been delayed by "seeking clarification" of a conversation in which she was a participant?

In essence, the leadership of the APS admits making a commitment to protect whistleblowers and defends its failure protect them by arguing that it never has.

This whole thing stinks to high heaven. The leadership of the APS is corrupt to its core. The Journal knows about it, all of the establish media do, and none of them will investigate and report up it.

All this is of little consequence to those who have never filed a whistleblower complaint. It is of little consequence to those who filed complaints that were adjudicated to the satisfaction of the complainant. But what about the complainants who believe their complaints received short shrift? Where is the (impartial) final hearing the school board promised them?

And why should they believe another commitment made by the school board, ever?
"I don't have to keep my promises because
I have never kept my promises before."
The latter speaks to the likelihood of the former, it does not
justify it.

Is this really the example we want to set for students?

Brooks covering for Armenta; Walz covering for Brooks

It has been more than a month since APS Supt Winston Brooks acknowledged that he had received my complaint against APS Executive Director of Communications Monica Armenta.

The allegation is straightforward; Armenta has been asked legitimate questions* and refuses to answer them candidly, forthrightly and honestly.

APS has 8 stated goals; the third is communication. Brooks has a fiduciary responsibility to compel Armenta to do the job she is paid $107K a year to do, which is to "communicate".

In response to the complaint, Brooks' options include finding that Armenta really is incompetent and/or corrupt in her ongoing refusal to communicate about the public interests or, he can find that she is living up to her responsibilities and obligations as a highly paid public servant.

He will not find Armenta corrupt or incompetent. Not because she is not, but because that's just not the ways things roll in the leadership of the APS. Name the last senior administrator whose name was attached to their incompetence or corruption. Mostly they just leave with a boot load of cash and paid administrative leave.

Nor can he find that she is doing her job; because she obviously is not. That finding would fly in the face of overwhelming contradictory evidence.

So he will continue to stonewall; a blatant violation of the standards of conduct to which APS students are held accountable.

The only confusing part is, knowing he had no intention of giving the complaint its due process, why did Brooks acknowledge receiving it?

As for Kent Walz and the Journal, they will steadfastly refuse to investigate and report upon the ethics and accountability scandal in the leadership of the APS. They will continue covering up the cover up of a scandal, the tip of which, they first exposed, link.


1.Why have hundreds of APS whistle blower complaints been denied the final hearing promised in school board policy?

2.Why was the APS Role Modeling clause (In no case shall the standards of conduct for an adult be lower than the standards of conduct for students.) removed from the adult code of conduct? Why will it not be restored? Why won’t the school board discuss the issue openly and honestly and in public?

3. What is in the Caswell Report (APSPD circa 2007)? Does it point to evidence of the felony criminal misconduct of senior APS administrators? Why has the evidence been withheld from the District Attorney for more than four years? Why are operational funds (otherwise classroom bound dollars) being spent to litigate against the surrender of an ethically redacted version to public knowledge?

4. Why does the leadership of the APS oppose an independent audit of administrative and executive effectiveness and efficiency, standards and accountability, the ethically redacted results of which, would be surrendered to the public record?

photo Mark Bralley

Monday, April 25, 2011

More redaction outrage

Heath Haussamen is justifiably upset over Secretary of State Diana Duran's lack of candor, forthrightness and honesty in response to his public records requests, link.

He provides a link to some emails redacted by Duran.

The rules of redaction really don't allow entire text bodies to be blacked out; some effort must be made to surrender any information that is not covered by exceptions to the public records act.

The rules of redaction really don't apply apparently, if you are
Dianna Duran.

APS' Ethical Advocate a fraud

It has been more than a month since a complaint was filed with APS' Ethical Advocate whistleblower program, link. The district promised a response by April 6, 2011. It is nearly three weeks past the deadline and there is no evidence that APS is doing anything about the complaint except ignoring it.

This makes APS' Ethical Advocate not only a fraud, but also a waste of district resources and an abuse of power; I suspect the complaint is being delayed by those who are subjects of the complaint.

APS' Waste, Fraud and Abuse Hotline is itself, all three.

It has been more than a month since APS Supt Winston Brooks acknowledged that he received my complaint against APS Executive Director of Communications Monica Armenta, alleging that she has refused to answer legitimate questions about the public interests in the APS, link. There is no evidence that he is doing anything about the complaint except sitting on it.

No effort has been made to answer any of the questions that were submitted.

There is no good and ethical explanation for this treatment of complaints against APS senior administrators. The only reason at all, is to hide incompetence and corruption in the leadership of the APS.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

APS snow day a big flop

Students in the APS are expected to attend school for a given number of days. If school does not meet (district wide), the day must be made up. Normally, the "snow days" that are built into the calendar suffice. This year, there weren't enough snow days left in the calendar to meet the need.

APS decided to tack the extra days onto the end of the school year. A bunch of people complained that plan would ruin their summer vacation, so APS backed down and gnawed away at days within the calendar. One such was the "Vernal Holiday"; Good Friday to those less in need of political correctness.

Well surprise, surprise; a whole bunch of students didn't show up. Teachers with half full classes trod water Friday. Monday, they will do Friday again. The students who stayed home will get their missed classwork, and the kids who showed up Friday, will get to do it all over again Monday.

The leadership of the APS did tack on one day; the day after Memorial Day. Though attendance will be even lower (how about nobody is going to show up), it will still count as a "school day".

And they call this leadership?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Korte didn't put up much of a fight

Despite the fact that open meeting minutes (rough drafts) are supposed to be published within ten days, and despite the fact that they're are supposed to be published before they are approved at the next meeting, the minutes for the March 25 meeting have just recently been posted, link.

It was during this meeting that the board adopted it's Open Meetings Rules. The NM Open Meetings Act provides a framework of rules for open meetings. Local governmental agencies can write their own rules but the rules have to comply with the state law. For example, the law requires an agenda to be posted for 24 hours, but any local agency can write their own rule requiring 48 hour notice, 72 hours, or whatever they want; just not less than 24.

I asked School Board Member Kathy Korte to step up and suggest extending the notice from 24 to 72 hours. She did not. In an exchange of emails after the incident, she indicated that she had been led to believe that state law would have to be changed before the school board could give more than 24 hours notice. That belief is ridiculous on its face; yet Korte clings to it still.

The minutes indicate she never even brought the subject up at the meeting.

The minutes, by APS' deliberate choice, are anecdotal not recorded. It is possible that whomever writes the anecdotal account simply left out the part where Korte stood up for the rights of interest holders, but I doubt it.

Far more likely, the PTA mom doesn't have the eggs to stand up to board members like Marty Esquivel, and decided to go along to get along.

To hell with anyone who wants more notice on agendas.

Brooks micromanaging La Cueva drug bust

La Cueva High School has a drug problem; just like every other public high school. Drug use at La Cueva just draws more attention because it is a school for affluent white kids who aren't supposed to have drug abuse issues.

Three LCHS baseball players got caught with pot and paraphernalia, link. The players should have known the consequences of getting caught; I wouldn't be surprised to find they have signed some kind of document making them liable for penalties which apply to no others; one of which is a 45 day suspension from extra curricular activities. There is no equivalent consequence for students who are not athletes. No one makes any effort to ferret out what is perhaps their most meaningful and successful life endeavor, and then deny them its exercise for 45 days as a consequence for their misconduct.

Don't get me wrong; I believe that deliberate misconduct should have consequences and one of those consequences should be punishment. The punishment however, should be the same for everyone who earns it; not greater for student athletes and lesser for non-athletes.

All of this could be handled internally at La Cueva. Nevertheless, APS Supt Winston Brooks and the APS Communications Department have stepped in to intervene.

The conclusion; one of APS' premier high schools has incompetents in command who cannot handle the day to day issues of running a school.

Or, Brooks is a micro-manager who can't keep his hands to himself and likes to appear in the press, as a take charge kind of guy who will end drug use by student athletes singlehanded.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Why is Brooks hiding APS audits?

The NM Public Education Secretary is going to "audit" the APS.

APS Supt Winston Brooks says bring it on. Brooks would have us believe that his administration can stand honest auditing. He would have us believe the findings have all been good.

Why then, is he hiding those findings? Why isn't he showing them off?

You can see the findings if you want. But you have to go to Rigo Chavez' office to do it. Then you will have to pay for copies; 50 cents a page though the law allows only actual costs of copying. Is APS really paying 50 cents a page to make their copies? You will have to sue them to see the really damning ones like the Caswell Report, link.

Why is Brooks hiding an ethically redacted Caswell Report?

It is a matter of keystrokes to put APS' audit findings on line.
So why won't Winston Brooks put them up in a searchable archive?

Except that, he cannot summon
the character and the courage
to hold himself honestly accountable
to the truth.

photo Mark Bralley

Sunday, April 17, 2011

PED audit of the APS justified

NM Public Education Department Secretary Hanna Skandera intends to audit some NM school districts. She is concerned that some districts may be using numbers for special education and training and experience that are inaccurate.

APS Supt Winston Brooks was miffed that anyone would suggest that APS was gaming the system with bogus numbers. His reaction was more than a little disingenuous. It was only three years ago that the NM PED found that the APS had been doing just that, for years. APS had to return $20M. link.

At the time, the "... state Inspector General's Office, ... had told APS about reporting problems behind the revenue loss as far back as 1991."

"... according to a 2007 audit report, a 1990 state investigation found APS calculating credit hours for teachers in violation of state rules."

"APS had been overstating both, which led to the (unearned) funding."

The leadership of the APS held their computer responsible for the problem.

Any independent review and analysis of APS audits, would reveal ongoing administrative shortcomings and no attention paid to remedying them. Their record is one ignoring audit findings and covering up the findings. There are not audit findings from even a single APS audit posted on their website; not one.

It is not power that corrupts, it is the opportunity to abuse
power without consequence, that corrupts absolutely.

Thank the establishment press for enabling them to escape
the consequences of their corruption and incompetence.

Friday, April 15, 2011

More PIOs gone wild

It is easy to personalize the PIO issue when the PIO is someone like Mayor Berry's Chris Huffman-Ramirez. His arrogance makes it easy to forget that its not so much the PIOs, as it is the people who employ them against the public interests, who are the real problem.

The villain in the piece, link, North Central Transit Director Josette Lucero, was overheard directing her Public Information Officer to dis-inform the press (and the people);

"I'm tired of helping these people and they don't print what we want them to print, anyway."

"You shouldn't be front line right there after the meeting so they can ask you questions, making yourself available like that,"
One of the more disturbing aspects; this $94K a year public servant will not be fired for her non and malfeasance.

More importantly, the person or people to whom Lucero reports, will not be held accountable for their mal or nonfeasance either.

Now would be a good time to visit the issue of loyalties of Public Information Officers in general. Are they there to inform the public, or are they there to spin the truth to cover up the incompetence and corruption of their bosses?

Whose interests are theirs?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Huffman-Ramirez; what a maroon!

The story is on KOB TV's website, link.

I don't know anything beyond what was in the report by KOB.

It looks as though some police officers might have gotten a
little carried away during an investigation of a reported murder.
They managed to scare the crap out of some citizens and the
citizens think it was unwarranted. It will get straightened
out in court, I expect.

The Mayor's PIO decided to put in his two cents worth.

The PIO, Chris Huffman-Ramirez, is the same self involved
autocrat who imagines he has the authority to decide that
bloggers are not entitled to the same First Amendment
protection as the members of the press "who own printing
presses and broadcast licenses."

On the community's coming upset over the prospect of having
police come into your house at 4:30 in the morning, scare the
crap out of you, handcuff you, trash your house, and then just
leave, Huffman-Ramirez had this to offer;

"We have to understand that our police officers are put in dangerous situations every single day. And as a community, it is difficult for us to second guess their decisions."
That we have brave men and women who are willing to put themselves in dangerous situations every single day, is something we should be most grateful for. I thank them for their service.

That said, that they are put in dangerous situations everyday
does not justify "overreaction". And it is absolutely up to the
community to decide what overreaction is, what abuse of our
power is. The terms of public service are the prerogative of
the people and not of their servants. The police don't get to
decide what overreaction is, the people do; it is our power they
are wielding.

It is absolutely within the purview of the community to second guess any decision made by any public servant. The decision they are making is how to spend our power, and damn right we can second guess their (ab)use of our power.

Mayor Richard Berry has apparently given PIO Chris Huffman-Ramirez a free hand to say or do anything he wants, and he doesn't think the community should second guess his decision making.

I think, he should think again.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Brooks vs Martinez on APS effectiveness and efficiency

Governor Susana Martinez says there is funding being "wasted" in the administration of the APS.

APS Supt Winston Brooks says there is not. He says he's cut administration to the bone.

One of them is wrong.

Let's settle it, at once and for all.

Let's have an independent third party investigate on behalf of the people and then report the truth to the people.

It will turn out that Martinez is right; there is money to be saved by ending the inefficiency linked to inadequate standards and accountability.

Governor Martinez has a golden opportunity here; at virtually no cost to tax payers, she can order a review and analysis of APS audits. She can prove her point. She can expose the incompetence and corruption that wastes educational funding.

Will Governor Martinez fire the coup de grĂ¢ce, wikilink,
on the Brooks and the good ol' boys that run the APS?

A quick check with my Magic 8 Ball, wikilink,

shake shake shake

"Outlook not so good"

photos Mark Bralley

Saturday, April 09, 2011

APS misses own deadline

I filed a complaint against the leadership of the APS through
a third party vendor called Ethical Advocate, link.

I alleged that one or both of two members of APS' Internal Audit Department who met with an investigator from the Office of the State Auditor, misled him regarding the Audit Committee's "review and approval" of hundreds of whistleblower complaints.

The investigator was led to believe that whistleblower complaints had received review and approval by the APS School Board's Audit Committee when, in truth, not one single complaint has seen the individual review and approval promised in school board policy.

APS' response to Ethical Advocate regarding the complaint was to promise to respond to the complaint.

Submitted By: Admin
Submitted On: 3/23/2011 11:00:33 AM
Comment: Thank you for using Ethical Advocate. Pleae allow 2 weeks (Apirl 6, 2011) for a response.

That promise came due last Wednesday, and their response is not yet posted.

There a remote possibility that Ethical Advocate has dropped the ball.

It is far more likely that the leadership of the APS decided to "not respond" to an allegation that two members of the leadership of the APS misled the State Auditor.

Which begs a question; why not?

Why not respond to a credible allegation of public corruption and/or incompetence?

Why are they misleading an investigator in the first place?

If they can prove they are really giving whistleblower complaints their due process, why not just show him the proof; agendas, meeting minutes, recordings, ...?

If they are not giving whistleblower complaints due process,
why does the investigator believe that they are?

Why doesn't anyone in the leadership of the APS have to answer questions?

Why don't school board members or administrators have deliver a good faith response to any legitimate question about the public interests or about their public service?

Aren't these questions the establishment media should be asking?

Which begs a question; why not? Why won't the establishment media; the Journal, KRQE, KOAT, and KOB, investigate and report upon a scandal involving the denial of due process to more than 300 whistleblower complaints filed against the leadership of the APS?

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Was Kathy Korte bamboozled by the good ol' boys?

Was APS School Board Member Kathy Korte, link, bamboozled by the good ol' boys on the Albuquerque School Board?

Shortly after she was elected, I suggested that she was no match for the good ol' boys that run the APS; ... squashed like a bug was the metaphor that came to mind at the time.

I didn't want to be right, but it would appear that I am.

She had an opportunity to vote for increased transparency in the APS and voted instead to provide "only what the law requires"; the law being the lowest standards of conduct acceptable among civilized people.

The board recently voted on their open meetings rubric.
There is a rubric in state law; it is called the Open Meetings Act.
Like all laws, local bodies can adopt stricter but not more lenient standards than the state.

The "state law" on agendas is clear;

"Except in the case of an emergency, the agenda shall be available to the public at least twenty-four hours prior to the meeting."
The "ethics" on agendas is just as clear;
Interest holders are entitled to all of the notice that they can be given.
The School Board could if they wanted, create a policy that requires agendas to be posted 48 hours in advance or, 72 hours in advance or, as they are built.

With all the lawyers in the room, at least one of whom claims to be an "open government" lawyer, it is strange that Kathy Korte came away from the discussion with the impression that the law would have to be changed before stakeholders could be given more than 24 hours notice on public meetings.

She wrote;
"I did some research on the open meetings act, including talking with FOG officials. 24 hours notice for posting an agenda falls within the law. Lawmakers must change that, not APS. ... I sought answers from FOG and journalism professionals. I voted based on my research."
If her "research" including reading the law, or asking an honest lawyer to read it for her, she would know that lawmakers determine only minimum notice, not maximum.

I think perhaps her research was limited to advice from a few people on the board, one of whom is a FOG "official". I can easily see him bamboozling her into voting to limit stakeholder access to board meetings to the bare minimum required by law.

She manifest even more confusion about the law when she wrote;
"Sometimes APS does post agendas earlier, if all parties presenting to the Board give the Board Services office their information. For example, the district relations agenda was posted Friday before last Monday's evening."
She is apparently under the impression that Friday to Monday is three days, when in fact, it is only one. Notice on Friday for a meeting Monday is 24 hours notice.

When Korte wrote;"24 hours notice for posting an agenda falls within the law," she violated the student standards of conduct, of which she is a role model. I reminded Korte that she was an executive role model of a standard of conduct that requires defending one's character by doing more than the law requires, and less than the law allows. She did not respond.

She wrote that several other members of the board were concerned about the COSO Analysis and Review. I asked her who, and she won't tell me.

I asked her, her intention with respect to acting on the findings of the COSO R&A.

She wrote; it is to wait until the findings in the COSO R&A "come up in discussion" to deal with them.

She wrote;
"When topics relating to the COSO report... arise, then I will address the related COSO recommendation. That's my method."
She will wait until;
  1. the absence of a periodically acknowledged code of conduct
  2. the absence of HR processes to address nepotism conflicts of interest
  3. apparent lack of accountability for the protection of district assets
  4. a lack of process to notify the State Auditor of the discovery of any violation of a criminal statute in connection with financial affairs
  5. lack of background checks on those in fiduciary positions
  6. a lack of communication of management responses to conduct/ethical lapses
  7. the Districts practices and processes are reactive in nature (v proactive)
  8. board policy and procedural directives are outdated and inconsistently written
  9. employee standards of conduct are sparsely worded; due care of District property is not stated
  10. no code of conduct is formally acknowledged (not since the leadership abandoned its obligations as role models of the Pillars of Character Counts!)
  11. the whistle blower program is highly utilized (but due process is still being denied to every single one of the complaints)
  12. management culture shows varying emphasis on integrity and ethics
  13. no formal metric for measuring management responses to problems
  14. District management's approach to allegations of nepotism, cronyism and protection of property needs improvement
  15. it is unclear whether the District has reported to the State Auditor discoveries of cash fraud and property losses, or that they intend to rectify this finding in the future
  16. a perception that management is ineffective or ambivalent about enforcing standards of conduct, and enforces rules inconsistently
  17. the school board is not focused on evaluating the effectiveness of "the tone at the top" (yet they have extended Winston Brooks contract three times, three years into the future)
  18. the district does not publish a code of conduct
  19. significant turnover in the Chief Financial Officer position (the district argued "individual circumstances" for turnover; the record indicates otherwise)
  20. District assets are not protected from unauthorized access or use
  21. the District doesn't benchmark supervisory ratios
  22. overtime for managers is not tracked
  23. specific delegations of authority are not defined
  24. individuals hired for similar positions with similar education receive widely different compensation
  25. there is no management-related training program
  26. no systematic confirmation that required performance reviews are actually done
  27. it is unclear whether specific promotion criteria are documented or understood (the Council of the Great City Schools auditors wrote; administrative evaluations are subjective and unrelated to promotion or step placement)
  28. promotion criteria do not include adherence to behavioral standards
  29. HR policy does not require scrutiny of job candidates with frequent job changes or gaps in employment history
  30. there is no stated policy requiring employees to report criminal convictions
  31. credit checks are not done on employees with fiduciary responsibilities who handle cash
  32. activity level objectives are not periodically reviewed for continued relevance
  33. a lack of specific performance objectives in activity areas
  34. there are no formal processes for periodic risk assessment or root cause analysis of recurring issues
  35. I. T. back up plans are not periodically tested
  36. formal identification of risks at the activity-level have not been performed
  37. information on the function of internal controls has not been developed
  38. APS does not maintain an Ombudsman function
  39. no formalized process for employees to provide recommendations for improvements
  40. suppliers, customers and others are not made aware of District standards and expectations
  41. such standards are not reinforced in routine dealings
  42. improprieties are not reported to appropriate personnel
  43. no documentation of closure of complaints made to the Service Center or to the Superintendent
  44. no clear metrics showing top management is aware of the volume or nature of complaints
  45. formal monitoring of internal controls needs improvement
  46. personnel are not periodically required to acknowledge compliance with the code of conduct
  47. the Internal Audit Department is understaffed and therefore consumed with property issues and activity accounts at the expense of systematic issues of risk.
  48. the District does not conduct formal self-assessments of control processes
  49. no evidence of a single process or clearinghouse for tracking issues and corrective actions
"come up in discussion" before she will do anything about any one of them.

Well guess what Ms Korte, they're not going to come up.
If these issues ever came up in honest discussions,
they wouldn't keep coming up in audit findings.

Stakeholders and interest holders in the APS have a right to honest accountability to meaningful standards of conduct and competence for administrators and board members within their public service. If a politician or public servant cannot, or will not provide for those standards and for that accountability, they should resign.

"And that's the best I can do for you whether you think
it's good enough or not." she wrote.

Sometimes your best just ain't good enough.

photo APS website
cc Korte upon posting

It still stinks of cronyism

Governor Susana Martinez has received a considerable amount of support for her nomination of Darren White to the Judicial Standards Commission. Most speaks to the fact that he is "qualified" to hold the post.

Assume for the sake of argument, Darren White is "qualified" to assume a seat on the commission. He is still a political crony of Martinez'.

His support of her campaign, including impersonating a police officer in one of her campaign ads, link, paints him as a political crony regardless of his qualifications to sit on a standards commission.

There is no excuse for appointing a political crony, not in this state, not when Martinez campaigned long and hard promising to end political patronage in state government.

If he were the only qualified candidate, if he was the best qualified candidate, Martinez could argue;

"I know it looks like a political payoff but, there is really no other choice because he is the only qualified candidate, or at least the best qualified candidate."
In truth he is neither.

So all she can say is;
"I know it looks like
political cronyism;
blatant and egregious
political cronyism;
and add; so what?"

The "what" is, because perception
is reality to the perceiver,
New Mexicans have justification
for less faith in their government
than they had before her misbegotten appointment of Darren White.

That's, so what.

photos Mark Bralley

Monday, April 04, 2011

Minimizing the impact of the COSO audit

The leadership of the APS has a problem; the COSO Analysis and Review.

It amounts to a scathing report on administrative incompetence and corruption (guilty knowledge of ongoing incompetence).

It appeared on the agenda of the last meeting but one, before newly elected Board Members took their seats. The minutes indicate the COSO Analysis and Review was presented to the board at that meeting. If you read the minutes, link, and you read the Analysis and Review, link, you will be compelled to agree that the minutes do not reflect the gravity of the results of the analysis and review. You will be compelled to agree that the minutes are a "spinning" of the truth.

The minutes do not mention for instance, that the auditors again found; the leadership of the APS is a bunch of good ol' boy, among whom;

  • specific promotion criteria are not clearly documented or understood,
  • there is no system confirmation that required performance reviews are actually being done, and,
  • promotion criteria do not include adherence to behavioral standards.
Another recent audit found, administrative evaluations are "subjective and unrelated to promotion or step placement".

In the same audit, it was found that anyone who tries to hold an administrator or board member accountable for their conduct and competence, does so in a culture of fear of retribution and retaliation.

Kent Walz and the Journal are doing their part to help hide the COSO Analysis and Review from the community. It has been more than a month since the report was released and weeks since I brought it specifically to the Journal's attention (email to Journal Education Reporter Hailey Heinz).

A lawyer laughed at me recently, out loud, when I asked about the possibility of bringing a lawsuit for journalistic malpractice against the Journal, as a "newspaper of record", for their failure to investigate and report upon credible evidence of an ethics and accountability scandal in the leadership of the APS.

It is likely Kent Walz' response as well, he and Marty Esquivel
laughing out loud together, over the likelihood that either will
ever be held accountable for the coverup of their betrayal of
the public trust.