Saturday, July 30, 2011

IRO report redacted

The Independent Review Officer has released part of the results of his investigation. He (they, someone?) has decided to keep some of it secret by means of redaction; names have been removed, link.

There are a number of good and ethical reasons to redact the public record. They are recognized and provided for in the law as exceptions to open meetings and public records disclosure laws.

It has been decided that an agreement between the Police Officers Union and the city, trumps state law. The law reads, surrender the entire record to public knowledge; Mayor Richard Berry's administration says the city and the union can ignore the law apparently, as long as they agree on it.

According the Journal, link,
"An attached letter from Interim City Attorney Robert Kidd said the full report would not be released. Most of the names were redacted from the summary because of the collective bargaining agreement between the city and police union, “constitutional privacy concerns” and because “the disciplinary process is not complete,” he said.

I am not a lawyer and I will bow to controverting facts but,
my reading and understanding of the law does not provide an exception just because the players agree on it. And, while the law does except public records that are part of an ongoing criminal investigation (but only to the extent that the release could damage the investigation), it doesn't allow them to redact on that basis alone. With respect the "constitutional privacy concerns, it is time to discuss, openly and honestly, the privacy rights of public servants within their public service. Does the Constitution really provide government a way to hide its own corruption and incompetence? If a private citizen were accused of any of these acts, their name would be released without hesitation.

It defies reason to allow politicians and public servants to suppress evidence of their corruption or incompetence by allowing them redact their own record. The appearance of a conflict of interest bone crushing.

It is exactly what the leadership of the APS is doing with the records of corruption in their Police Department; they just investigate themselves and continue to investigate, and hide records, until statutes of limitation have expired.

The entire reports, both the IRO's report and Robert Caswell's report, should be surrendered to impartial redaction according to the spirit of the law.

photo Mark Bralley

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Administrators Conference on Education

Every year APS administrators get together for the ACE. This year the conference is being held in town, and that's all APS will say about it, link.

A little digging, link, reveals a cost to taxpayers for ACEs of between $100-600K. It was listed as a potential cost saving measure which was apparently not applied.

The conference has a bad reputation; one year they held the conference at the Inn of the Mountain Gods, link. It was underwritten in part by APS vendors. One vendor, Pepsi, got the exclusive contract for the entire APS. Another vendor, one of APS' roofing contractors. It was also underwritten by the APS Foundation; though if you looked at the list they gave to donors, of things they underwrite, ACE conference sponsorship was not admitted.

When I asked APS Executive Director of Communications Monica Armenta if donors had to disclose whether or not they are APS vendors, APS Spokesperson Monica Armenta wrote;"no disclosure is needed on our part. Private businesses can donate what they’d like to anyone they care to support"

When asked why the conference was held in relative secret, she offered; "No public statement is needed. This is professional development."

Unless of course your it is your job top make public statements and you're being paid $107K a year plus benefits to do it. If there is honest professional development going on, why would she hide it under her hat?

In my experience, the only reason to hide the truth, is if it makes you look bad.

photo Mark Bralley

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Journal editors all about the truth, but only in some cases

The Journal editors aver, the people have a right to know the truth about the spending of their power and resources. They wrote, link;

"’s important the whole story come out. Then the city can determine what, if any, action is to be taken, ..."
Let's see how their standards apply in a different but similar situation. Can you imagine Journal editors, demanding that the Caswell Report be made public? They never will, even though the scandal it reports upon was their own top of the fold, front page story, link.

There will never be an editorial that reads;
"’s important the whole story come out. Then the community can determine what, if any, action is to be taken, (against APS senior administrators and board members who have suppressed evidence of felony criminal misconduct involving APS senior administrators, for more than four years, waiting for statutes of limitation to expire)."
The truth is, you have no choice but to imagine it.

Journal editors will never tell this community the truth about the ethics and accountability scandal in the leadership of the APS.

Kent Walz will cover Supt Winston
Brooks' ass, and Board Member
Marty Esquivel's as well; they're
tight. It's the way they roll.

Among the privileged class,
among the good ol' boys, it's,
loyalty above all else, even honor,

and even above the sacred
responsibilities and obligations
of newspapers of record.

frame grab Mark Bralley

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

"The proper time to influence the character of a child

... is about a hundred years before he’s born",
according to William R. Inge, American playwright (1913-1973)

Having missed that deadline, we must attend to the next.
The right time, to do the right thing, is always right now. unk
Character development should be part of the core curriculum.
To educate a person in mind and not in morals is to educate a menace to society.
Theodore Roosevelt, American adventurer and president (1858-1919)
The formation of character in young people is educationally a different task from and a prior task to, the discussion of the great, difficult ethical controversies of the day.
William J. Bennett, author and former U.S. Secretary of Education (b. 1943)
If we want our children to possess the traits of character we most admire, we need to teach them what those traits are and why they deserve both admiration and allegiance. Children must learn to identify the forms and content of those traits.
again - William J. Bennett
APS students are being denied character education because the leadership of the APS are unwilling to hold themselves (either individually or collectively) honestly accountable as role models of the student standards of conduct.

Nearly 90,000 of this community's sons and daughters are deprived of administrative and executive role models of student standards of conduct, and of character education in general, because there is no one in the entire leadership of the APS who can summon the character and the courage to hold themselves honestly accountable as a role model of the Pillars of Character Counts!, link.

And because Kent Walz and the rest of the establishment media won't tell their parents what's going on.

Parents don't know, nor will they ever be told about the abdication of every single one of the senior-most role models of the student standards of conduct. Nor have they been told, nor will they be told about the abject lack of any real institutional ethics or accountability.

Else; let any one of them point to the senior administrator or board member who has, or who ever will promise to hold themselves honestly accountable to the same standards they establish and enforce upon students; the Pillars of Character Counts!, even for the measly few hours a day they're telling students to meet those standards or forfeit their good character.

Point the venue where they can be held honestly accountable for failing to meet ethical standards of conduct.

frame grab Mark Bralley

cabq can't handle the truth

It is interesting to watch politicians and public servants trying to figure out how to investigate former Public Safety Director Darren White's conduct and competence. It is clear that they really have no idea how to proceed.

There in lies the problem.

Logically, the more powerful a politician or public servant is,
the easier it should be to hold them accountable. Instead, we
have allowed them to create and maintain systems where the
rank and file are held accountable by administrators who cannot themselves be held accountable for their conduct and competence in their public service.

It is because we have no clear way to hold them accountable,
that they are not.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Arnold-Jones calls Lewis out.

CD1 Candidate Dan Lewis has distributed a fund raising email in which he accuses his only Republican opponent of "... resorting to platitudes ... to defend her positions.

I suspect that if Lewis takes advantage of his Republican opponent's intention to debate the issues candidly, forthrightly and frequently; he will find her positions resting on more than platitudes. He will have his hands full. Perhaps that is why he has chosen an email as the venue of attack rather than face to face.

He, a Pastor, cannot extend to her,
even the simply courtesy of using
her name in his attack.

Her name is Rep Janice Arnold-Jones.

And in any head to head debate, her
intellect and experience will make her
a formidable opponent. Lewis has
more to worry about than platitudes.

Lewis should know that, and perhaps that's why he was compelled to attack her positions in an email, rather than in a venue where she can defend her positions and he must defend his.

When the honest debating begins, if it ever does, you will her
ready, willing and able. I suspect he may be harder to find.
That says something about her and about him, and about the
service they will provide.

photo Mark Bralley

Krebs, apparently, will slide; again.

If you google UNM Athletics Vice President Paul Krebs' name
+corruption, you will get more than a thousand hits.

His first instincts in critical situations tend toward covering them up instead of pointing them out.

He never seems to be held accountable. He should have lost
his job over his handling of Locksleygate; Schmidly too.

But they don't. They continue to make huge salaries independent of their conduct or competence.

Krebs latest; a few thousand dollars have been stolen from a filing cabinet at UNM. Krebs made a deliberate decision to not file a police report. This, though the UNM Police Chief advised him to.

If there is one good and ethical reason for him to not file a police report, I cannot imagine it and he has not offered it.

Which leaves us with only not so good and not so ethical reasons.

Yet he continues to suckle at our teat.

How many times do politicians and public servants have to manifest their inability or unwillingness to protect our power and resources from abuse, before they are finally held accountable?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The bone crushing need for independent fact finding

The posts and comments on the Eye on Albuquerque, link,
are of a mind; there is corruption and incompetence in the
leadership of the Albuquerque Police Department.

It could all be a bunch of hooey, they do all write anonymously.
Under other circumstances, that alone would be reason enough
to ignore them.

An exception is an environment where there is a real and present fear of retaliation. One of the recurring allegations on the Eye and its backside, is retribution and retaliation against whistleblowers. Their insistence upon anonymity may be justified.

Are there are people in the police department who are genuinely afraid to point to the administrative corruption and incompetence they witness?

It's question worth asking.

When that question was asked in the Albuquerque Public Schools; the independent auditor found "... a culture of fear of retribution and retaliation ...". (emphasis added) That fear enables administrative and executive corruption and incompetence in the APS.

What would an independent investigation of the Albuquerque Police Department find? Is the fear of retribution and retaliation against whistleblowers grounded?

Retribution and retaliation against whistleblowers is categorically unacceptable. If it exists, it must end. Whether it exists or not, is an important question and worthy of investigation.

I call upon the Journal (and the rest of the establishment media) to investigate and report upon the culture of fear of retribution and retaliation in the Albuquerque Police Department.

I expect that call will have the same effect as my call for them
to investigate and report upon the culture of fear of retribution
and retaliation in the Albuquerque Public Schools;

they will ignore the call.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Could the Altanta Public Schools cheating scandal happen here?

APS Georgia has suffered a cheating scandal, link. Hundreds
of administrators and teachers falsified student test results;
erasing incorrect answers and replacing them.

It is fair to wonder if a cheating scandal like this could occur
in our own APS.

Among contributing factors in the Atlanta Public Schools;

  • inordinate pressure to meet unreachable NCLB goals,
  • an administration that discouraged whistleblowing, and
  • a celebrated Superintendent.
So, in our APS, is there inordinate pressure being put on
teachers and administrators to meet unrealistic goals?

Ask any teacher or administrator.

In our APS, is there fear of retribution and retaliation against whistleblowers?

A recent audit of the leadership of the APS conducted by the Council of the Great City Schools, found;
"... a culture of fear of retribution and retaliation ..."
that keeps APS employees from reporting the administrative mis, mal, and non-feasance they witness.

Do we have a celebrated Superintendent?

Just ask anyone in the nearly million tax dollars a year
communications effort headed by APS Executive Director of
Communications Monica Armenta.

He enjoys celebrity for other reasons.

APS Supt Winston Brooks has an earned reputation as a bully with anger management issues.

Can you imagine anyone in the
APS going to him to report
administrators having them
change test responses?

If Brooks can hide the Caswell
Report from you, a report that
details public corruption and
felony criminal misconduct involving
APS senior administrators, would anyone be surprised to find
he was hiding widespread cheating?

photo Mark Bralley

Friday, July 22, 2011

Attacking the messenger; an illustrative example

Gabe Apodaca is the Vice Chair of the Bernalillo County Democratic Party. He has penned an op-ed piece for the Journal, link.

His piece is in response to an op-ed, link, written by County Commissioner Wayne Johnson.

Set aside the issue, as Apodaca would have us do. We won't
examine whether the process for holding politically powerful
people accountable for their conduct and competence, should
happen in public or in secret.

Let us look instead at Apodaca contribution to the discussion
of that politically important issue.

Apodaca is exemplar of "win at any cost" political operatives.
It has nothing to do with political persuasion. It's about Party
politics in general, not specifically. Exemplar of the win at any
cost mentality in the Republican Party, is fourth floor shot-caller
Jay McCleskey.

The moral obligation of those who try to sway voters, is to sway
them by getting them to understand the truth and allow that
truth to guide them to their conclusion.

The win at any costers goal is to manipulate voters, not to
fully inform them on the important issues of the day.

You be the judge; is Apodaca trying to manipulate you, or fully
inform you? He wrote;

I had to laugh when I saw Bernalillo County Commissioner Wayne Johnson’s sanctimonious letter to the editor concerning the ethics process at Bernalillo County, particularly at his comment that he was “shocked,” just shocked, that an ethics complaint against his fellow commissioner, Maggie Hart Stebbins, had been dismissed by the County Ethics Board.
The issue you will remember is, whether ethics hearings should be held in secret.

Rather than write to the issue, he berates and belittles the messenger and then misstates the message. He left off; ... had been dismissed by the County Ethics Board under compromising circumstances not the least of which; it was done in secret.

Johnson wrote;
How can the public trust
a ruling from a committee
where one of three
members was appointed
by the accused, the decision
was made in secret, and the
County Attorney appears
to be encouraging dismissal
without a public hearing?
The question is legitimate; his point is well taken.
Apodaca lied about it (by omission).

Apodaca continues;
"I suspect he was more disappointed than anything. For 18 months, Johnson has been lobbing baseless accusations at Commissioner Stebbins, first in his cowardly, anonymous contributions to the “Eye On Albuquerque” blog (which he was asked about by the Albuquerque Journal), then as an accessory to Stebbins’ GOP opponent who actually filed the report that was dismissed."
Again, in his capacity as a win at any cost political operative, he
continues to berate the questioner while ignoring the question.
What difference does it make, in the argument over holding
ethics hearings in secret, whether the person who asked the
question posts anonymously on the Eye on Albuquerque, link?

It you think about it, his insistence that he knows the identity
of the writer of an anonymously posted "contribution" on the
internet is oxymoronic on its face.

Apodaca continued;
"While Johnson pretends to carry the banner of ethics, it’s clear that his personal behavior hardly lives up to the claim. Public officials should be willing to take credit, or blame, for their statements and actions. Johnson instead takes cheap political shots and then hides behind a shield of anonymity or a fellow candidate — hardly the “transparency” and “openness” he claims to espouse."
Is there a fact anywhere in there that has to do with answering
Johnson's legitimate question? Is there anything in there that
revokes Johnson's standing to ask the question?

Apodaca continues;
While Johnson criticizes both the ethics process and the volunteer members of the County Ethics Board, he has yet to propose a single constructive recommendation for improving the process.
Johnson proposed following the law; one of many constructive proposals;
"The ordinance clearly intends that a full board of five members be present to hear complaints – even providing for a replacement appointee where a member has a conflict of interest.
Apodaca says he had to laugh when he read Johnson's letter.
I had to laugh when I read Apodaca's;
"It appears he prefers to manipulate the process for political gain."(That, a separate illustrative example of; the pot calling the kettle black, wikilink.
Apodaca concludes;
There’s a big difference between being a candidate and being a leader. I hope that Commissioner Johnson can someday make the transition and leave behind the personal political attacks and actually begin to address the critical needs of Bernalillo County.
More personal attacks on the messenger instead of responding to his question and another laugh at Apodaca's expense; that it is Johnson and not he himself, who needs to "... make the transition and leave behind the personal political attacks and actually begin to address the critical needs of Bernalillo County."

photo Mark Bralley

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Brooks to lead the Council of the Great City Schools

APS Supt Winston Brooks has
been chosen, link, to lead the
Board of Directors of the Council
of the Great City Schools, link.

Coincidentally, APS will host the
Council of the Great City Schools
annual conference in 2013.

He has enough spare time
apparently, to take that on.


"Superintendent Winston Brooks brings to the leadership of the urban coalition a proven track record of successfully heading two Great City school districts - Wichita and Albuquerque."
The problem is of course, there is no objective data to support
that sweeping claim.

By what measures is Brooks successfully heading the APS?
If the measures are;
  • successfully covering up the public corruption including felony criminal misconduct in the APS Police Department, and
  • successfully abdicating from his responsibilities as the senior-most administrative role model of the student standards of conduct, and
  • successfully denying due process to hundreds of whistleblower complaints against administrators, and
  • successfully avoiding any independent standards and accountability audit of the leadership of the APS which would individually identify corrupt and incompetent administrators and board members, and
  • successfully keeping it all out of the Journal and local TV,
then I guess, yes, he is successfully leading the APS.

But if the measures are employee and community morale, or
test scores, or graduation rates, or transparency, or
administrative standards and accountability, then
he is not so very successful at all.

photo Mark Bralley

Cash on hand

Pre-election posturing has candidates touting their "cash on
hand"; the contributions they have collected from who knows
who and who knows why.

The money will be used ultimately, to buy attack ads.

Candidates seem to benefit from their claims about the amount of money they have raised. We are supposed to fall in behind the front runners and then elect them.

I wonder, if instead of calling it cash on hand, they called it
negative campaign support, if their popularity would suffer

The emperor has no clothes.

The money they are able to raise is a bad thing, unless it is
to be used to raise the level of the discourse and the under-
standing of complex issues by everyday voters. It will not.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Another public figure falls

State District Judge Albert Murdock was arrested yesterday
and charged with rape, link. He joins a troubling long list of
public servants who have fallen from grace.

Is anyone surprised? There is surprise that it is Murdock.
Those who knew him personally are apparently very surprised.

There should be little surprise beyond that; power corrupts
after all. The greater the power, the greater the temptation to
abuse it, and the easier it is to abuse it without accountability
and consequence; creating more temptation still.

How many examples of public corruption and incompetence does
one need see, to conclude that corruption and incompetence
are endemic in politics and public service? They are endemic
because "trust" is the only arrow in the quiver for protecting
public trust and treasure from abuse.

The answer is not to continue to look for human beings who are
immune to temptation. There may not be as many as one.

The answer is to make incompetence and corruption impossibly
difficult to hide. The answer is transparent accountability.
The answer is casino security on the spending of public
resources and on the wielding of the people's power.

Casinos don't avoid corruption by hiring a better class of people,
they do it by making it impossibly difficult to get away with.
Politics and public service could and should do the same.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

APS to rework district goals

APS' Board of Education is working on reducing the number of
District Goals. It currently has 8.

The wordy version lies on APS' award winning website, link.
A Cliff's Notes version was provided by the Journal, link:

  1. Improve academics, as measured by math and reading scores, the size of the achievement gap, graduation rates and truancy rates.
  2. Build public confidence in APS through relationships with parents, business leaders and other community members.
  3. Develop a comprehensive internal and external communication plan.
  4. Establish training for school board members.
  5. Review and improve plans for building and maintaining facilities.
  6. Develop a transparent, sound and effective financial management plan.
  7. Transition APS from a site-based to district-based management structure.
  8. Develop and improve crisis and safety plans for schools.
APS Supt Winston Brooks wants to reduce goals to three.
According to the Journal
Brooks, at a Monday meeting, suggested narrowing the
goals from eight to three. He said a smaller number
might be easier for the public to remember and support.
APS interest holders are apparently too thick headed to
comprehend and remember 8 goals.

Board Member Marty Esquivel, according to the Journal,
suggested that picking an arbitrary number like three, was
a poor way to start a discussion of what the goals really need
to be.

Brooks pointed out that some of the goals have been achieved.
He has managed to complete his goal to put an end to years of
efforts to empower teachers, by ending site-based management.

Teachers, who between them have nearly 100,000 years of
teaching experience in the APS, have lost what ever seat they
had, in the decision making process in the APS.

Goal 3; establishing two-way communication with interest
holders has not been reached. Despite spending nearly a
million operational dollars a year on Monica Armenta and the
APS Communications Department, Brooks has failed miserably
in creating the two way communications goal set in Goal 3 and
in School Board Policy, District Administrative Procedural
Directives, and the Board's own Code of Ethics.

Brooks suggests therefore, striking it and replacing it with
"building community relationships".

Brooks intends to report on the District's progress with
respect to the 8 Goals at a meeting on August 10th (this
might be an error, the board's first and third Wednesday
rule would suggest meetings on the 3rd and 20th).

At that meeting, the schedule for community meetings will
be determined.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Is Huffman-Ramirez going down?

Blogger Monahan writes; link, the way forward for Mayor Richard Berry's administration is to reassign Chief Administrative Officer Robert Perry, Public Information Officer Chris Huffman-Ramirez, and Chief of Police Ray Schultz.

Moving forward means damage control in the aftermath of the first press conference on the brouhaha surrounding Public Safety Director Darren White's conduct in the investigation of White's wife's accident. To say the presser was badly handled would be an understatement.

According to Monahan;

The debacle permanently demolished the credibility and effectiveness of ABQ Police Chief Ray Schultz, Chief Administrative Officer Rob Perry, the now departed White and city spokesman Chris Ramirez.
Monahan is reasonably concerned about the community's lack of trust in the Mayor's leadership team. Why would anyone expect them to step up to tough questions in the future? They made it clear that their first loyalty in not to the people, their press, and their right to know the truth about the spending of public power and resources.

Berry has managed to stay out of
the fray with the press and has so
far avoided dissing them personally;
though he did knowingly permit
and/or negligently allow Perry,
Huffman-Ramirez, and Schultz
to alienate them in his stead.
Even the establishment press
was treated to their disregard
and disrespect.

It's a toss up as to which of them is the greatest liability to the
credibility of the Berry administration. Perry is a distant third;
he is abrasive, condescending, arrogant and easy to not like.
But from the standpoint of repairing the public trust, far more
damage is being caused by Huffman-Ramirez and Schultz.

Schultz is at the center of a crippling
morale crisis among his subordinates.
If he ever had a subordinate vote of
confidence in the Chief, they would
vote; not. Apparently, any subordinate
evaluations of departmental leadership
at all would shake the Police Department
to it foundation.

Morale is an excellent indicator of effectiveness in any organization, and morale crises point to leadership crises.

Schultz can hide his issues because he doesn't answer to the people, by any reasonable definition. He can avoid questions simply by avoiding places where questions can be asked.

Huffman-Ramirez on the other hand,
is a public information officer; he is
paid to inform the public. He has to
show up where questions are asked.

Before his Monday evening debacle,
he was able to hide from tough
questions by keeping his distance
from tough questioners.

But now that the establishment
press is asking harder questions,
he is going to have to make a tough choice; continue to betray the interests of the people who pay his salary, and fuel the fire between the press and the Berry administration, or he is going to have to prove that he can stand up and take questions without attacking the questioner. He could stop ignoring emails, phone calls and legitimate questions.

Right, and a pint of Häagen-Dazs
will serve four.

Richard Berry represents that he
is a big transparency guy. He uses
the word a lot.

But when push came to shove,
Berry chose Huffman-Ramirez
interests over the people's, link.

Huffman-Ramirez cannot be fixed;
he must be replaced. He must be replaced by someone whose
first loyalty is to telling the truth, not spinning it.

photos Mark Bralley

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Arnold-Jones to add debate to the debate

Political campaigns are notorious for their dependence on negative campaigning in place of substantive discourse and debate. Rep Janice Arnold-Jones, in announcing her intention to run for Congress offers hope for change. Win or lose, she will change the tone of the election.

Many candidates cannot hold their own in debate and shy away from them in favor of time honored mud slinging. Arnold-Jones can hold her own in a debate based on her knowledge and first hand experience in Government.

Arnold-Jones says she will push for wide ranging policy debates rather than pounding on partisan wedge issues. She promises to bring the substance of issues to light.

New Mexicans didn't look closely enough at Arnold-Jones when
she ran for Governor. They have another chance to pay closer
attention this time and to appreciate the value of the character,
competence and courage she brings to the table.

photo Mark Bralley

Friday, July 15, 2011

I think Robert Caswell should investigate Whitewashgate

Robert Caswell, link, has investigated Public Safety Director
Darren White before. Only then he was Bernalillo County
Sheriff Darren White, and Caswell was investigating public
corruption in the APS Police Department and the criminal
misuse of a federal criminal database entrusted to White's
Department, link. He did such a great job apparently that
his final report needs to be hidden from the public record.

There will be those who argue that with White's retirement,
there is no need for an impartial investigation.

The impartial investigation is not so much necessary to expose
the corrupt and the incompetent, as it is to expose those whose
lack of oversight enabled the corruption and incompetence to
take place.

An investigation ends only when it come to that person in the
chain of command who really didn't know about the corruption
and reasonably, can not be expected to have known.

Everyone else in the chain of command needs to explain to the
community, why they didn't do their part to protect public power and resources from abuse.

Those with nothing to hide, have nothing to fear.

If the question is; do you support an independent top to bottom
investigation, any answer except yes, means no.

Contact your City Councilor, link; tell them you want an outside
independent investigator to investigate Whitewashgate.

Time for some debates

Civil debate is critical to widespread understanding of the complex issues that voters must understand in order to cast sound votes.

Instead, voters will watch millions and millions and millions
of dollars worth of negative campaign ads.

It's almost like their wishes don't count at all.

Swear, you won't vote for any candidate who is afraid of open and honest public debate of the important issues of the day. And as many as can be arranged.

Strike three! You're out!

Or not.

Public Safety Director Darren White
has now been handed his third vote
of no-confidence by subordinates;
first, from the NM State Police, then,
from the Albuquerque Police, and
now, from Albuquerque fire fighters.

Will the third make any difference?

Did the first? Did the second?
How many does it take?

He doesn't even have to stand for questions about them.

If you're one of the good ol' boys, powerful and hooked up
politically, it doesn't make any difference if the people who
work for you have no confidence in your leadership. You
don't need to impress them, you only need to impress the
guy you work for.

Mayor Richard Berry is still impressed by Darren White.

Go figure.

photo Mark Bralley

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Who will investigate Whitewashgate?

Mayor Richard Berry has decided that the city's Independent Review Officer will investigate the propriety of Public Safety Director Darren White's involvement in the aftermath of his own wife's car wreck. The idea of an in-house investigation isn't sitting well with the city council.

City Councilors are talking about hiring a truly independent investigator.

All investigations should be independent. The idea that people
who ride the same elevators to work everyday can investigate
each other completely impartially, flies in the face of human

Whomever does the investigation, transparency will be the
key to gaining the trust of an increasingly doubtful public.
Facts need to be laid out in a manner that invites their examination. Questions should be asked and answered before the "final" report is written.

The ethically redacted final report must be surrendered to
the public record. No more giving the report to those with the
most to hide, and letting them do the redaction. Citizens still
remember the report on the investigation into corruption in the
county (the Dantis scandal) and the subsequent redaction by
the County Manager (a player) that rendered the report useless to interest holders.

Impartial investigators offer one assurance of impartiality in the
investigation. T
ransparency limited only by an ethical
interpretation of the law, is a better one.

Circling the wagons around city hall

Mayor Richard Berry, Public Safety Director Darren White and Chief Administrator Rob Perry have circled their wagons to shield themselves from "attack" by the press.

Even the establishment press has found themselves outside
the circle, despite that they hold "credentials" issued by Berry,
Perry and White minion, Chris Huffman-Ramirez.

Huffman-Ramirez has informed them, he will not answer any
more of their questions despite the fact they enjoy his "credentialing".

I hate to say I told you so, but I did. If Huffman-Ramirez can
limit or deny "credentials" to me, he can deny or limit them to anyone.

It will never be clearer than it is right now, where the PIOs stand. Huffman-Ramirez, though we pay his salary, though he is our servant, will fight from inside the circled wagons. He will defend those he works under against the interests of those he works for. He will hide the inconvenient truth.

Doesn't it strike anyone else as utterly unacceptable, that we pay this guy $75K a year to tell us he isn't going to answer anymore questions about the public interests and their public service as related to the current scandal in particular, and past and future scandals in general?

photo Mark Bralley

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Where there's smoke there's fire.

The smoke is building in city hall.

The astute know that smoke doesn't always mean fire.
But, they will also investigate the source of the smoke.

If you read the backside of the Eye on Albuquerque, you will
find a great deal of smoke of the kind that indicates unrest in
the rank and file of the police department, link. There are a
number of comments alleging corruption and incompetence
in the leadership of the APD.

The astute know a bunch of people, posting anonymously
on the backside of a blog, does not a fire make.

But, they will track down the source of the smoke.

Are there morale problems in the APD? Should they be
ignored? Is there a crisis in confidence in leadership?
And should it be ignored as well?

Is it time for independent investigations of government,
investigations of the kind police chiefs and directors of public
safety will never begin of their own accord?

And of investigations and investigators who report to the people?

White welcomes probe, so does Esquivel

Public Safety Director Darren White
says he welcomes a probe into the
circumstances of his wife's car crash
and role he played in the aftermath.

APS School Board Member
Marty Esquivel said
the same thing, link.

He begs, he says, for a
"rigid examination" of
how APS operates.

So, one wonders,
why would public servants
honestly welcome probes into their public service?

I can think of two reasons, either;

  1. they are proud of their public service, and want to shine light on it, or
  2. they are confident that whatever "probing" is done, won't illuminate their shame.
Let's give White and Esquivel the benefit of the doubt. Let's assume that they have nothing to hide and really welcome probes of their public service because they have nothing to hide.

Where is the evidence of that welcome?

Where are their previous probes? Where are their ongoing probes?

Where is the probe of the joint public corruption involving senior APS administrators, the Bernalillo County Sheriff's Office, and the felony criminal misuse by senior APS administrators, of the NCIC criminal data base entrusted to then Sheriff, Darren White?

The probe was done; it's called the Caswell Report. It points to
evidence and testimony about public corruption in the the APS
and in the Sheriff's Office. It's being hidden from public knowledge by Esquivel, White and others, in violation of Inspection of Public Records law.

And it's not because they have nothing to hide.

If these guys welcome probes, how do they explain that they
are hiding one as hard as they can?

Someone should ask Esquivel if he really begs for a rigid examination of his handling of public corruption in the APS Police Department and the covering up of the Caswell Report.

Someone should ask Darren White if he welcomes a probe of his handling of felony criminal misuse of his NCIC database by senior APS administrators.

Someone should ask Journal Editor Kent Walz why he won't investigate and report upon credible allegations and incontrovertible evidence of public corruption and incompetence in the leadership of the APS and city government.

photos and Walz framegrab Mark Bralley

Huffman-Ramirez arrogance growing

The wife of a high ranking city official, Public Safety Director Darren White, was involved in a automobile accident. The investigating officer placed a check mark in a box under "apparent contributing factors", indicating the driver was "under the influence of drugs or medication".

The box was checked reportedly, based on an admission made by the driver. She admitted to taking prescribed birth control and seizure control medication.

Sometime later, the Journal asked the city; Mayoral PIO Chris Huffman-Ramirez, for a comment on the checked box and the suggestion that the driver was under the influence. Ramirez's wise-ass response is the subject of this complaint.

Ramirez could have given the reporter a straight answer to a legitimate question.
Instead he got cute and offered
“Can you really be under the
influence of birth control pills?”

Never mind that the question was not about birth control, but rather about a drug, Lamictal, whose instructions imply the possibility of real impairment. The Journal reports, link, taking the drug

“may cause blurred vision or impair your thinking or
reactions. Be careful if you drive or do anything that
requires you to be alert and able to see clearly”
- like driving a car.

So whose side is Huffman-Ramirez on? The answer is so
obvious, the question seems rhetorical.

The answer is; like so many other PIOs; his job is to spin the
truth and divert attention, to cover the asses of high ranking
city officials (and their wives).

Apparently White has made non-specific complaints about the
conduct of "city personnel" at the scene. An investigation has
been ordered, though it will take "weeks" to complete. No
explanation was offered as to why a seemingly simple investi-
gation should take weeks - other than to let interest and public
awareness subside.

The situation is so tense that the officer has hired an attorney
to protect him from retaliation by the city. The Journal reports
that when asked about "history" between the officer involved
and White, Ramirez did not respond.

Huffman-Ramirez is so confident in his immunity from censure
for betraying the trust of those who pay his salary, he doesn't
even try to hide it.

Huffman-Ramirez could offer as an excuse that, he is just doing
his job; though history is punctuated by a number of people,
who in similar situations, told their bosses to take their jobs and
shove them. No job is worth sacrificing your honor and betraying trust.

Mayor Richard Berry, of course,
cannot hide behind the same excuse.

Berry accepts and enables Huffman-
Ramirez' dishonest handling of
legitimate questions about the public
interests and the public service of
politicians and public servants.

This rot apparently, starts at the

photos Mark Bralley

Monday, July 11, 2011

Governmental transparency not for everyone

Imagine government that is as transparently accountable as it
will ever be. Every legitimate agenda is served.

But that doesn't mean that every citizen will take advantage
individually, of the information available to them. Those who
would not, create a disadvantage for those who would, by
making the situation seem less critical. The need for access
to the truth about the wielding of power and the spending of
resources is critical to our oversight over our government.

In simpler terms, it isn't pragmatic to expect government to
publish the truth to everyone in anticipation of their interest,
but rather to expect that government will surrender the truth
to anyone who asks, upon the asking.

Any one of the people ought to be able to go to a "public information officer", ask for the truth, and expect a candid, forthright and honest response.

Instead, the people get the likes of Chris Huffman-Ramirez.
He doesn't take questions from just anyone, and he sure as
hell doesn't respond candidly, forthrightly and honestly to
the questions he does.

The buck of course, stops on Mayor Richard Berry's desk.

When I say transparency isn't for everyone, I mean it isn't
for the disinterested. When Berry and Huffman-Ramirez say
transparency isn't for everyone, they mean,
it's not for anyone who might use it to their disadvantage.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Taxpayers are out more than $73K, why?

Taxpayers paid more than $73K for the "handcuffs, body armor, print cartridges, digital recorders, smartphones and dozens of cell phones." that former sheriff Greg Solano sold on eBay, link.

Solano stole from the people because he could not summon enough moral courage to overcome the temptation to which he was exposed. That temptation was enormous according to Terrell's report.

Imagine if there were "casino security" on the evidence, drugs,
and cash that were instead, just lying around free for the taking.
Would Greg Solano have stolen public resources if getting caught
was a virtual certainty?

The fundamental failure here was not Solano's personal
weakness, it is the failure of the government to provide for
human weakness. The first line of defense appears to be
nothing more than hope that politicians and public servants
will be strong.

If an audit like the one State Auditor Hector Balderas just had
done on Solano's Office, was done every year in every office
and agency, auditors would find little to complain about. There
would be few findings.

It is only because there aren't annual audits, that people get
lazy and careless about protecting public power and resources.

Auditors would not find resources being stolen, because they
wouldn't find resources that could be stolen. They wouldn't find
power being abused because they wouldn't find power that
could be abused without consequence.

If government is of and by the people, then any "governmental"
failure is the people's failure. If there is a lack of real oversight
in government, it isn't because "government" doesn't insist
upon it, it is because the people have not insisted upon it.

The people are responsible for tempting politicians and public
servants beyond their limits by making public corruption and
incompetence so damned easy to get away with.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

What's with Berry's lack of respect for the press?

When the Constitution was amended, it was to offer protection
of the human right to be a free press; to collect one's thoughts,
put them to paper, and pass them around.

They believed it was necessary to protect the press in order
to protect the country and a government of the people, by
the people and for the people.

I suppose they were protecting them from the government
smashing their printing press. In this day and age, the need is
for protection from some Public Information Officer jerking the
press around over imaginary "credentials" and equal access to
King Richard.

The press cannot fear the government. They cannot write in
fear of having their printing press destroyed or their equal
access denied. The effect is the same; those who don't write
the company line, or as close to it as their conscience will allow,
fear punishment for not doing so. The pressure, the coercion,
compels reporting the truth in the best possible light or
suffering the consequence; no more access.

This is not about "journalism" and "journalists". Access has
been denied to bonafide journalists whose bona fides far out
shine those of PIO Huffman-Ramirez himself. It has to do
with the abuse of power entrusted to a politician and his
minion, both of who work for the people and are servants of
the people. It has to do with the need of the people of a press
free to print the truth with no fear other than prosecution
under the laws on slander and libel.

Mayor Richard Berry has a chance to step up, though there
is little evidence that he is up to it.

He knows full well that Huffman-
Ramirez is screwing with members
of the press who won't write what
he wants them to write. Or, more
importantly, who won't kiss his ring.

It just seemed particularly onerous
today; the first day back from a few
days of reflection on the writing of
a declaration of independence and
amending a constitution.

photo Mark Bralley

APS still bloated

There is a report in the "Daily Briefing" in the Journal this
morning entitled; "School Budgets Get Good Reviews. They
provide no link.

According to the article, New Mexico School districts managed
to put "nearly 74%" of their budget dollars into classrooms.

APS reports, link, nearly 71% of its budget went to classrooms.

The difference between APS and the state average is 3%.
The difference amounts to nearly $18M that APS spends in
outside classrooms that other districts don't.

It stands to reason, the larger the operating budget, the
smaller the percentage of the budget that needs to be spent
on administration.

On the face of it, it appears that APS still has unresolved
bloat, and no one with any interest in defending it.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

APS Human Resources has a new website where they can publish an old lie

APS announced that its Human Resources Department has a
new website, link. My exploration thereof, led me to the
Employee Handbook, link, and then to Standards of Conduct, link.

Employee Standards of Conduct

APS employees serve as positive role models for students
and set good examples in conduct, manners, dress and
grooming. APS expects each employee to maintain
the highest standards of conduct
and act in a mature
and responsible manner at all times. Employees must not
engage in activities which violate federal, state or local
laws or which, in any way, diminish the integrity, efficiency
or discipline of the District.
(emphasis added)
If you ask anyone in the leadership to point to those "highest
standards", they cannot. They don't exist.

During the exceedingly brief "debate"
over whether the role modeling
clause should be returned to the
adult standards of conduct, Peercy
claimed that holding adults
accountable to the same standards
of conduct as students would
represent a lowering of the adult
standards. Clearly, Peercy was
(is) ignorant about the student
standards of conduct; how high
they really are and what they require.

Student standards for example require truthtelling, the adult
standards do not.

The role modeling clause they stripped 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.

Peercy argued that the "highest standards", though they
remain unspecified, are higher standards than student
standards which are specified; clearly and unequivocally.

Peercy would like people to believe that there are applicable
standards of conduct for adults and they are higher standards
than those that apply to students. Neither proposition is true.
The standards of conduct that apply to administrators and
board members amount to whatever APS lawyers can litigate
at taxpayer expense. They end up being the least restrictive
interpretation of the lowest standards of conduct; the law.

They are absolutely unaccountable to any standard of conduct
higher than the law, much less the "highest" standards of all.

There are higher standards of conduct than the law. Students
are accountable to one of them; the Pillars of Character Counts!, link.

Students are expected to model and promote a nationally
recognized, accepted and respected code of ethical conduct.
The leadership of the APS has scrupulously scrubbed their
codes of conduct to eliminate any real accountability to
enforceable ethical standards.

The standards of conduct that apply to adults, including
administrators and board members are written above - that
is it; their standards are the "highest standards" as interpreted
by administrators holding other administrators "accountable".

The School Board has a Code of Ethics, link.
By their own admission, it is utterly unenforceable.

photo Mark Bralley

Editors don't get the struggle

Journal editors are much impressed, link, by the change in
the law regarding the surrender of public records to public
knowledge. According to the new law, if a record exists as an
electronic record, it must be surrendered in that format.

This represents a significant step forward. Some state
government agencies have been charging up to the dollar per
page allowed by the law. (The law allows for the actual cost
of making copies - the agencies who charged a dollar per page
never had to explain how it cost them that much to make a
copy that would cost less than a dime at any retail copier.)

It was a convenient way for politicians and public servants
with something to hide, to make it as inconvenient as it could
be made, for anyone to view the record of their public service.

The editors write;
"This ... law ... will make it easier for the public to see how
its government is working ..."
That conjecture is true only if the stumbling block was actually
the copying of records; it is not. The real stumbling block is
the redaction of the record. Politicians and public servants
are allowed to redact their own record. The easiest form of
redaction, albeit illegal, is to hide the whole record. The new
law does nothing about to prevent the most incompetent and
corrupt politicians and public servants from simply refusing
to surrender the record, as a hard copy or in an electronic form.

The fact that the records are now inexpensive and easy to
transfer does not address the fact that there are public
records of incompetence and corruption that are still subject
to redaction by the people with something to hide.

Take for example the Caswell Report. It is a public record
create by a private investigator who investigated the public
corruption in the APS Police Department, link. His report
details felony criminal misconduct by APS senior administrators.

Anyone who wants to read this record has a bigger problem
than paying 50 cents a page for copying. They will find the
entire report is "redacted" by suppression. The leadership
of the APS doesn't want anyone to see this record and they
can continue to hide it with their legal weaselry. They will
spend tax dollars, operational funds destined for classrooms,
to litigate their exception to the law.

The Journal editors don't understand this, or they wouldn't
be so impressed by a law that making the willing surrender
of records easier but that does nothing to compel the unwilling
surrender of public records by corrupt politicians and public
servants who will continue to hide their record from public
view, just like they always have.

Friday, July 01, 2011

APS Board not alone in their disrespect for the public forum

Speaking truth to power brings out the worst in the powerful,
in particular if the truth is at all inconvenient; discrediting,
embarrassing or incriminating.

The Journal reports, link; speaking truth to power at a school
board meeting in Santa Fe unleashes the same fury as it does
at an APS school board meeting. The only real difference; the
leadership of the Santa Fe Public Schools doesn't command
their own publicly funded private police force. Otherwise,
there would have been an arrest.

One of Santa Fe Superintendent Bobbie Gutierrez' critics,
suggested, in public and on the record, that the Supt had

"... “manipulated” statistics about Santa Fe public
school students to make the district look better."
She made the suggestion, apparently during the public forum
at the board meeting. She reasoned;
"... that people often stand up at school board meetings
to praise the superintendent. It stands to reason that
they may also stand up in public to criticize her.
The School Board President used the gavel to try to silence
the critic. The Board's lawyer reportedly cautioned the board
to shut down the criticism because "... negative remarks might veer into slander."

Never mind that slander statutes apply and there is no need
for the board to be creating its own protection for their minion
under legitimate "attack" by a stakeholder.

Even if the speakers remarks were slanderous, it isn't the board's
responsibility to do anything about it. It's between the alleged
slanderer, the allegedly slandered, and the court.

The board ultimately decided to audit the disputed numbers;
conceding apparently that the district stats might be misleading,
and maybe there was some "spin control" going on.

Is it me, or does any of this have a familiar ring to it? If I
stood up at a public forum and pointed to fact that APS
routinely falsified crime statistics to make schools look better,
the School Board President would have me arrested. It would
make no difference that the allegation was true and was one of
the findings in a recent independent audit of the APS.

The reporter wondered;
"... why try to shut up someone ... who raises questions
about something as important as student performance?"
Assume the question was rhetorical. Otherwise would be to
imply s/he didn't understand why powerful and corrupt people
might want to stifle someone who is pointing in public, to their
corruption and incompetence. Or, why they might want to
stifle discussion of "important" issues more than any other.

It is fair to say the Journal does not wonder, why the APS
School Board would try to shut me up for raising questions about
  • executive and administrative role modeling of the student standards of conduct, or
  • the Caswell Report and evidence of felony criminal misconduct involving APS senior administrators, or
  • their denial of due process for whistle blower complaints; the executive "review and approval" of administrative self-adjudication of complaints by complaint respondents, their colleagues, and even their subordinates, or
  • School Board President Paula Maes' assurance that she would "never agree to any audit of APS leadership that individually identifies" corrupt and incompetent APS administrators or board members, or
  • Marty Esquivel and Paula Maes' illegal restraining order banning me from school board meetings, or
  • the critical need for an impartial audit of APS administrative and executive standards of conduct and competence, and of their honest accountability.
If they do wonder, their wonder does not compel them apparently,
to investigate and report upon any of it.

I guess it pays to know someone.

Santa Fe School Board President
Barbara Gudwin, Supt Bobbie
Gutierrez and their lawyer don't
know someone at the Journal
I guess, who might be inclined to
help them cover up their dirt by
keeping it out of the Journal.

Perhaps they don't know Kent
Walz as well as Paula Maes,
Marty Esquivel and Winston Brooks know him.

To the Journal's credit, they did publish something germane in
school board meetings in Santa Fe or at 6400 Uptown Blvd;
" ... the School Board is "obligated to listen to comments
from the public in a public meeting"
according to
"the First Amendment."
Though the board's record is one of ignoring it when they don't
listen to comments or even when they arrest people over and
over for trying to get them to listen.

Mark Bralley's framegrab is of Journal Editor Kent Walz . He is
caught giving APS Supt Winston Brooks, an award from him and their
friend Marty Esquivel. The award was the formerly prestigious NM FOG
Dixon Award for being a "hero of transparency" and is now not worth
the frame they put it in. Brooks is after all, the one hiding the Caswell
Report and the inconvenient truth it contains, and in violation of the
letter and spirit of the Inspection of Public Records Act.