Monday, October 31, 2011

APS BCSD MOU finally posted

The BCSD APS MOU has been posted on the Sheriff's website,
link. For comparison; the original MOU, link.

The final rev of the MOU still includes language which denies APS any opportunity to investigate its own felony criminal misconduct, and the right to hold onto the evidence if they do;

  • h. Any report of a crime which may be determined to be a felony offense, excluding property crimes, shall be promptly reported to and investigated by BCSD or APD.
  • i. All crimes which may be determined to be felony offenses, including property crimes, shall be documented utilizing a New Mexico State Uniform Police Report...
  • j. Any evidence collected by APS police in relation to any crime that may be determined to be a felony, excluding property crimes, shall be submitted to BCSD or APD for tagging and safe keeping.
I don't see anything in the new language which allows APS to continue to cover up the corruption in the leadership of their Police Department, just because the original criminal activity occurred before the MOU was signed. Their holding of evidence they should not be holding, is a current, ongoing violation of the MOU. BCSD Attorney Jennifer Vega Brown offered no explanation as to why they will be allowed to continue to hide the evidence, writing only,
"The MOU does not require APS to surrender any prior evidence to BCSO."
No it doesn't, not specifically. Nor does it allow them to do so.
While the evidence they are hiding was collected before the
MOU was signed; they are still holding evidence that the MOU
specifically denies them the opportunity to hold.

An interesting stipulation at the end of the document appears to make the MOU useless to "third parties" (including the people), in terms of using the MOU to compel APS to surrender evidence of its own corruption.
  • By entering into this MOU, the parties do not intend to create in the public, or any member thereof, a third party beneficiary or to authorize anyone not a party to the MOU to maintain a suit for wrongful death, bodily injury to persons, damage to property, or any other claim whatsoever pursuant to the provision of this MOU. No person shall claim any right, title or interest under this MOU or seek to enforce this MOU as a third party beneficiary of this MOU.
Apparently, if the Sheriff is unwilling to enforce the terms of his own MOU, he doesn't want anyone else to do so in his stead.

Aside from an ongoing investigation by the utterly feckless NM Attorney General's Office, it would appear that the leadership of the APS is finally successful in covering up felony criminal misconduct by senior APS administrators.

The bottom line; despite all the swagger and bluster; "This is not a negotiation", Bernalillo County Sheriff Dan Houston will do nothing to hold APS senior administrators accountable for admitted felony criminal misconduct.

None of this would be possible without the aid and abet of the Journal and the rest of the establishment media.

They should be ashamed of, or at least embarrassed by, their betrayal of the trust placed in them, and by their journalistic mis, mal, and nonfeasance. Instead, I suppose, they celebrating their success in helping a bunch of good 'ol boys escape the consequences of their felony criminal misconduct.

photo Mark Bralley

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Transparency is not a function of volume

Not to be outdone by Mayor Richard Berry who recently posted already available information (on city employee's salaries) and claimed "transparency!", Governor Susana Martinez has posted already available information (on state employee's salaries) and claimed "transparency!" too.

In the Journal this morning, link, Martinez is given front page, top of the fold credit for "pushing" for transparency in state government; transparency as measured by volume. Volume is not a measure of anything but volume. It is not a measure of the willingness of politicians and public servants to tell the truth about the public interests and about their public service.

Information about the spending of public power and resources falls legitimately into three piles;

  1. information which should be shared,
  2. information which should not be shared, and
  3. information, the sharing of which is in honest dispute over the propriety and legality of its sharing.
There is a fourth pile. It contains information which rightly belongs in the first pile, but is placed in the third pile in an effort to obfuscate its surrender by people whose self interests are served by the obfuscation. Public power and resources are used to forestall the surrender for as long as the law allows. The law, the lowest of all standards of conduct, allows the truth to be hidden for a long, long time.

We can't talk about this without talking without pointing to the illustrative example; not only in point, but a textbook example.
There exists, a body of information regarding criminal misconduct by APS senior administrators and the leadership of the APS Police Department.

That body of information has been sorted (by people whose interests are affected by the sorting) into four piles.

The first is nearly microscopic in terms of the information they have actually surrendered. The second and third, if not microscopic, are non-existent.

All of the rest of the evidence and testimony about felony public corruption and incompetence in the leadership of the APS Police Department, is languishing in a fourth pile on the desk of the APS Chief of Police Steve Tellez.

Tellez was recently, and secretly, promoted to Chief despite overwhelming contraindications including a vote of no confidence by the APS PD rank and file.

Despite the fact that the original criminal investigation was of the APS Chief of Police, the results of the investigation were placed on the APS Chief's desk and no other (in law enforcement, not even the DA).

They sat there during the next Chief of Police Bill Reed's tenure, and they will sit there for as long as Tellez sits there, and they will sit there during the tenure of whomever "serves" next, and next, and next.
There is a lot of information about government and the wielding of public power and resources. In the age of computers, it is easy to put a lot of information online. If you can convince people that it's a measure of transparency, you've got it made. They need you to believe that large amounts of disclosure represent real transparency; they don't.

The measure of transparency in government is the size of the fourth pile.

The Journal, in order to maintain access, will tout the government line; more is better.

The Journal will print more about more, and they will continue to present Marty Esquivel and Winston Brooks as all about transparency.

The three of them; Kent Walz, Esquivel, and Brooks managed to get a NM FOG Dixon Award for Brooks at the same time they were all working together to hide evidence and testimony of a full blown criminal conspiracy in the leadership of the APS.

Yet by their standards; lots and lots of information on line,
they are as transparent as can be.

photo Mark Bralley

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Boston travelers identified

When I asked APS, who we sent to Boston to participate in the Fall Conference of the Council of Great City Schools, the question was not answered.

The answer appeared today in APS' Journal, link. APS' "award winning" website, link, is yet to offer any information at all on who APS sent to the conference.

It would appear that board members Kathy Korte, David Peercy, Paula Maes, Analee Maestas and Marty Esquivel took advantage of a taxpayer financed trip to Boston. Board members Lorenzo Garcia and David Robbins, apparently didn't go along.

Senior administrators, Supt Winston Brooks, COO Brad Winter, CFO Don Moya, Asst Supt Eddie Soto, CAO Linda Sink, and Chief of Staff Joseph Escobedo were aboard, as well as school board staff including Director of Board Services Brenda Yager and Policy Analyst Carrie Menapace.

The district paid $26,187 to send the delegation to the conference, according to APS spokeswoman Monica Armenta, who apparently was not invited to join them on their jaunt.

$26,187 is small potatoes in APS' $1.2B budget; yet it still must be justifiable; otherwise the trip is just another travel junket for public servants who have work to do here. They must come back from Boston with solutions to our problems, that are worth more than the cost of going to find them.

That possibility is remote, these conferences have been going on for 55 years and we're still graduating only about half of the students who enter our high schools.

I look forward to any one of them coming back and justifying their experience in terms that will help even one failing student to find success.

I'm not holding my breath.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Williams Stapleton "vanished" from APS website?

I went to APS' award winning website to see if I could find the
name of the person to whom APS senior administrator
Sheryl Williams Stapleton reports. It is that person who is most
responsible for the fact that Williams Stapleton was paid as an
administrator while she was serving in the legislature; contrary to the law.

I couldn't find Stapleton Williams; much less her "supervisor";
a person to whom she referred when she was closing the door
in Larry Barker's face, rather than answer his questions.

I suspect it will be Asst Supt of Human Resources Andrea Trybus.

Supt Winston Brooks showed up in an interview for KRQE (which is finally posted on KRQE's website, link), but he isn't the person most responsible for their latest brush with the law. He will stand up sometime and say, the buck stops here on the snafu, but it's only because he will feel no actual consequence for doing so, and in so doing, will cover for whomever is actually responsible, and most importantly, for his unjustified confidence in their character and/or competence, and subsequent lack of effective oversight.

No head will actually roll.

Stapleton Williams will not have to reimburse APS and taxpayers, and the "supervisor" who enabled her to do bilk taxpayers, won't be held accountable either.

Barker lambasts APS senior administrator legislator

KRQE has finally posted the link, to the story on their website.

As best I recollect; state law prohibits legislators from accepting any compensation, except their per diem, for their service as legislators.

It turns out, according to Barker, APS senior administrator Sheryl Williams Stapleton has been collecting her APS salary in addition to her per diem. Barker alleges that taxpayers have been bilked out of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Her response to Barker efforts to ask questions, left the impression that Rep Sheryl Williams Stapleton would have Barker (and the people) take any followup questions we might have, roll them up tightly, and stick 'em where the sun don't shine.

Reinforcing the impression that politicians and public servants really don't think they have any enforceable obligation to respond to legitimate questions about the public interests and about their public service.

And there in, of course, lies the real problem.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

APS' new ad campaign

The leadership of the APS has decided to invest about $50K in TV and radio ads. Financial underwriting will be provided by the APS Foundation, link, a nonprofit that normally confines its spending to student education and administrative soirees at the Inn of the Mountain Gods, link.

The ads are "necessary" because APS is hemorrhaging students to charter schools. APS enrollment is declining for the first time in decades. More than 11,000 students have opted for charter school educations and taken their state funding with them.

The math is sketchy. APS claims they get around $8K per student, link. Dividing their total income by the total number of students yields a result closer to $14K. If 11,000 students have taken between 8 and $14K with them, APS is out somewhere between $88M and $154M. APS claims they're down by only $8M. If APS employed anyone whose job it is to answer questions about these numbers, the confusion could be cleared up; but ...

those people are busy doing other things, like trying to change APS' image without changing their outcomes.

If these are the same ads that APS Executive Director of Communications Monica Armenta was touting at the District Goals meetings, the voice-over is hers. Perhaps she sees a need to get her mug (voice) out in public a little more.

Oh, by the way, students should attend APS rather than some crummy old charter school, because APS publishes a world class calendar, link.

photo Mark Bralley

BCSD/APS MOU still not posted.

Bernalillo County Sheriff's Attorney/PIO Jennifer Vega-Brown assured me that the final version of the MOU between the BCSD and APS would be posted on the Sheriff's webpage, link, on Tuesday the 25th. This morning, when you click on "MOU"s on the Sheriff's webpage, you get a blank page with the words;

"This is a test."
Ironically, that is exactly what it is; a test of their candor.
So far, they've earning their "F".

I for one, would like to read the new language which allows the leadership of the APS to continue to hold evidence of their own felony criminal misconduct, upon which statutes of limitation have not yet expired.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

"The MOU does not require APS to surrender any prior evidence to BCSO. "

That from the Bernalillo County Sheriff's Attorney/PIO Jennifer Vega-Brown.

When APS signed off the MOU that denied them the right to hold evidence of their own corruption, I emailed Vega-Brown to find out if APS was going to have to obey the MOU language about surrendering the evidence to either the APD or the BCSO. I was concerned that the leadership of the APS was going to be allowed to grandfather-in the previous public corruption in their publicly funded, private police force, link.

So, I inquired of her;

"I am wondering if the MOU requires APS to surrender their evidence and records of the public corruption in the leadership of the APS Police Department circa 2006-2007; and if so, what is the BCSD willing to do to expedite their surrender, in light of about to expire statutes of limitation?
She replied;
"The MOU does not require APS to surrender any prior evidence to BCSO. "
It used to read;
Any evidence collected by APS police in relation to any crime that may be determined to be a felony, excluding property crimes, shall be submitted to BCSD or APD for tagging and safe keeping.
now, apparently it does not.

She also offered;
We will be putting a link on the Sheriff's web page today so that you can view the MOU in its entirety.
I went looking for it; couldn't find it.

I get that Sheriff Dan Houston has bigger fish to fry than a bunch of penny ante (yet felonious) criminality in the leadership of the APS Police Department.

I get that District Attorney Kari Brandenburg has bigger fish to fry, and State Auditor Hector Balderas, and Attorney General Gary King.

I don't get the cover up in the establishment media.

I don't get why Journal Editor
Kent Walz and the rest of the
establishment media are
helping APS cover up their
ethics and accountability scandal.

I don't get why KRQE, KOAT, KOB,
and KKOB won't investigate and
report upon credible allegations
and evidence of corruption and
incompetence in the leadership of the APS.

I don't get why they steadfastly refuse to honor their obligation to interest holders, to investigate and report upon the corruption in the leadership of the APS.

Except that Walz and they, are every bit as corrupt Marty Esquivel and the rest of the leadership of the APS whose incompetence and corruption they are helping to hide.

photo and Walz frame grab Mark Bralley

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

APS signed the BCSD MOU, now what?

APS has signed off on the MOU created by Bernalillo County Sheriff Dan Houston, link. Because the negotiations that led to the signing were conducted in secret, we have no idea if the MOU was amended before it was signed.

The original MOU, link, stipulated that APS could no longer hang onto evidence of felony criminal misconduct by APS administrators, unless the felony was a property crime, in which case the MOU will allow them to hold onto the evidence despite the blatantly apparent conflict of interest in so doing.

Assuming the MOU remained intact;

Any evidence collected by APS police in relation to any crime that may be determined to be a felony, excluding property crimes, shall be submitted to BCSD or APD for tagging and safe keeping.
APS Police collected evidence and testimony of qualifying felony criminal misconduct by APS senior administrators, link. That evidence (unless APS was successful in negotiating the "grandfathering in" of previous felonies) should be "submitted" to the BCSD or APD rather immediately - hopefully before statutes of limitation on the felonies, expire.

APS still has a few tricks up their sleeves. I wouldn't put it past them, if they are asked to obey the MOU and surrender evidence of non-property felonies, to put all the evidence they've collected in the past twenty years in a big box without sorting. I wouldn't put it past them to claim they can't find the evidence. I wouldn't put it past them to start expensive and extensive litigation (burning up even more class room bound dollars) to obfuscate the surrender.

There are more ways for APS to screw up the surrender than you can shake a stick at. It all depends on what the Sheriff and APD Chief Ray Schultz are willing to do to get APS to comply.

Schultz would not be my first choice. While Houston and his legal adviser Jennifer Vega-Brown have made it pretty clear they have no intention of actually investigating any of the felonies in question, I didn't get the impression that they would willingly participate in APS' cover up of the corruption in the leadership of their police department.

Ray Schultz is a different story.

Monday, October 24, 2011

APS leadership off to Boston

If you go looking for it, link, on APS' award winning website, you can find enough information to conclude the Supt Winston Brooks will be in Boston this week speaking at the Council of the Great City Schools 55th Annual Fall Conference. Unclear, from their website; which, if any, board members will be accompanying him.

Which begs a question;

Are community and students' interests better served
by sending these people to Boston, or by having them
stay in town to do what they're supposed to be doing
What do they gain by going?

Brooks is a speaker at the conference.

This indicates, the selection process for speakers does not include a record of actual, meaningful success in leading a large urban school district, link.

It seems fair to extrapolate;
the conference will be of the blind
leading the blind.

If you examine the agenda, link, you will find they will be become learned in essentially the same topics they became learned in, in the 54 preceding Annual Fall Conferences. And, they're all "leading" districts where half of students leave high school with inadequate skill sets to succeed.

The fundamental premises;
  • there is only a handful of people who are capable of making important decisions in public education, and
  • their expertise and experience so far out weigh the expertise and experience of thousands of teachers in their districts, that
  • they can ignore those hundreds of thousands of years of teaching experience, and
  • instead of asking teachers what they need to succeed, can go to Annual Conferences to share the secrets of success.
don't stand up to reason.

Perhaps most importantly of all; no where on their agenda will you find the discussion of: what do we do with chronically disruptive students?

photo Mark Bralley

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Johanna King takes one for Armenta

Johanna King works in APS Communications Department
under Executive Director and APS' senior spokesperson,
Monica Armenta.

When KOAT TV asked APS about the heroin use at La Cueva,
Sandia and Eldorado High Schools; King's name appeared
under the district's response; not Armenta's.

It certainly sounds like something Armenta would write;

"APS continues to work in cooperation with the APD to keep our campuses safe and drug free. We are aware of a community drug problem and have resources available on our campuses."
According to KOAT, they were directed to take any further questions to "the city".
  • How bad are the drug problems in APS high schools?
  • Are campuses really safe and drug free?
Why should those questions be taken to the city?

They're legitimate questions. As such, they warrant candid,
forthright and honest responses.

Not some communications department underling's warm and
fuzzy gobbledegook, and directions to take the search for truth

Brooks wants a sit down - with every one but us

Re; the brouhaha over the BCSO MOU, KOB reports, link, APS Supt Winston Brooks; "... wants all of the entities involved to sit down for another meeting - including Albuquerque police and the Bernalillo County Sheriff's Department.

Not invited to the meeting, even to watch, even by recording,
will be the people whose interests are being decided.

The default relationship between the people and government is;
the people can watch their politicians and public servants spend
our power and resources, only with their permission.

When in fact, it is they who need our permission to meet in secret from us.

"You can't prove it!" APS

The Albuquerque Police Department and the Mayor believe there is significant weight of heroin being moved at three of APS' "best" high schools; La Cueva, Sandia, and Eldorado.

The APS Communications Department, at the behest of the leadership of the APS, is trying to convince the community that there is no problem.

The story only got out because the drug busts were made by the Albuquerque Police Department and not by APS' Police Department.

A recent audit of the APS by the Council of the Great City Schools found the leadership of the APS routinely falsified crime statistics to make schools appear safer and more drug free than they really are. Having their own publicly funded private police force is what allows them to do get away with it.

Look at the KOAT TV report, link, and then ask yourself,

Do we want to continue to allow; felony criminal misconduct by APS senior administrators, to be investigated by their own Praetorian Guard; their publicly funded private police force?
Bernalillo County Sheriff Dan Houston has it right;
  1. APS doesn't investigate it's own felony criminal misconduct, and
  2. APS doesn't hold onto the evidence; if it does.
The Journal steadfastly refuses to investigate and report upon the cover of the scandal they exposed, link, and Houston seeks to end.

November 1st showdown

It looks as though the leadership of the APS has no choice but to sign off on Bernalillo County Sheriff Dan Houston's MOU. They will either sign by the close of business October 31st, or they will wake up the following morning without the authority to arrest criminals.

One of the stipulations in the MOU is, the APS Police Department has to surrender the evidence they are hiding, of criminal misconduct by APS senior administrators, link.

It's going to be close. It's been nearly five years since the leadership of the APS Police Department began it's investigation of the corruption in the leadership of the APS Police Department. Statutes of limitation on felony criminal misconduct, are about to expire.

In order to get the truth out as quickly as possible, it will be necessary for a number of people to step up; beginning with Sheriff Dan Houston.

He needs to make it clear to the leadership of the APS, the MOU regarding their possession of evidence of their own public corruption and incompetence, will be enforceable immediately upon signing the MOU.

If Houston instead, allows them to "begin their search" for records on that date, they will continue their stall until the statutes actually do expire. (Only they know the dates of the actual criminal misconduct.)

Houston will have to give no quarter. He and his legal adviser have indicated that they have no intention to prosecute any of the felonies, or even investigate them; though the corruption involved the felony criminal misuse of Sheriff's Department access to a highly secure national criminal data base.

He can, if he chooses to step up, expedite the surrender of public records to public knowledge. He can make certain that the truth about the scandal in the leadership of the APS is made public knowledge, November 1st.

Or not; we'll just have to see.

photo Mark Bralley

Friday, October 21, 2011

“This is what open government looks like”

Mayor Richard Berry has delighted the editors of the Journal, link, by leading his administration to the "highest levels of transparency and accountability."

He put already available public records online.

If you look up "transparent" you will conclude that it means; "having the property of transmitting rays of light through its substance so that bodies situated within or behind, can be distinctly seen."

In the context of government; transparent means; having the property of allowing sight through and beyond its substance, so that the truth about the spending of the people's power and resources can be distinctly, and easily, seen.

The power and resources that government spends, belong to the people. The truth about their spending, belongs to the people.

The truth can be sorted into two piles;

  1. should be shared (with the people) and
  2. should not be shared (with the people)
There are good and ethical reasons to put some of the peoples' truth into the pile which will not be shared. There is work to be done on the process by which the truth is sorted. It begins with the understanding that nothing goes into the should not be shared pile, except with the people's informed consent.

Poorly written governmental transparency laws create a third pile of the people's truth; may be shared. It may be shared if you can find out about it and are willing to sue your government in order to see it.

Berry and the establishment media think transparency means showing a lot of information, no matter how useless the information is in uncovering problems in the government.

Transparency is a matter of quality of information; quantity is just another government statistic.

Transparency is not measured in the number of documents that are posted on line, it is in the difficulty seeing something from the share pile, that they would really rather you not see.

I will switch institutions for an illustrative example.
APS spent a bunch of the people's power and resources on a brand new board room. The truth about how and how much belongs to the people; it is not excepted by the law therefore lies in the share pile.

APS COO Brad Winter has been avoiding telling the truth about that spending for years. Before he tells the truth, he will have to ordered to do so by a judge and after lengthy and expensive litigation.

APS shares a lot of information and they claim it as proof of their "transparency". But dig for something in the share pile that embarrasses or incriminates them, and you quickly find out how transparent they really are.
Transparent means everything in the share pile is either a mouse click or an email away. Transparent means, no third pile to fight over.

Berry has impressed the establishment media by shining a flashlight into a dark warehouse.

He will impress the rest of us when he turns on every light and illuminates every square inch except for the very small space where he keeps the truth that, we really shouldn't see.

photo Mark Bralley

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

More honesty from APS administrators; from Paula Maes, not so much.

APS senior administrators have been leading and facilitating public meetings in each of the seven school board member districts. The meetings are focused on the district's goals; current and future.

The leadership team begins the meetings by defending their progress in the last three years, toward the current eight goals. Then they solicit input on the next set of goals.

One of the goals will be community involvement, and is doomed from its inception. It is impossible to involve a community without communicating with the community.

The history of the leadership of the APS and their communications with their community, is one of a one-way stream of information. Extracting information other that what they stream, has always been difficult. Consider for example, the years long and completely unsuccessful effort to get APS COO Brad Winter to tell the truth about how much money they spent on the new board room.

Are board members really sitting in chairs that cost $800 dollars each?

The leadership of the APS will try earnestly to involve the community. In the next set of goals setting meetings, a couple of years from now, they will be able to point to a lot of things they did in their effort to involve the community.

What they won't be able to point to, is any assistance they provided to the people who want to establish real open and honest communications; the Citizens Advisory Council on Communication.

As hard as they work to involve the community, they will work harder to obstruct the creation of a forum that diminishes their control over the dissemination of the truth. They will obfuscate any effort to begin open and honest, two-way communication between the leadership of the APS and the community they serve. They will be fighting against the Citizens Advisory Council on Communication.

They need to control the communication. While their interest, I suppose, in "communicating" openly and honestly about the education of the 89,000 of this community's sons and daughters in the APS, is genuine, there are things they don't want to talk about; things the people have a right to know about. They don't want to admit to any inconvenient truth.

They don't want to communicate openly and honestly about the corruption in the leadership of their police department, or about the evidence they are holding, of APS senior administrators committing felonies. They don't want to talk about denying due process to hundreds of whistleblowers. And they don't want to communicate about the standards ad accountability problems in the leadership of the APS, or about the need for a standards and accountability audit.

Unfortunately for them, they can't have one without the other. They can't tell the whole truth part of the time. They can't accustom people to candid, forthright and honest communications in one meeting but not in the next; in response to one question but not the next. People would notice.

Since the goals setting meetings began, last night's meeting was the fifth of seven, they have made a big deal of "we're here to listen" and "we're not allowed to respond to questions".

Last night they were taking questions. Usually it is only Supt Winston Brooks' who's willing to play "stump the chump". He really needs to stop calling it that. There's nothing wrong with standing there and taking questions.

Except for School Board President Paula Maes who did not stand for questions in any way, shape or form.

It would take both character and courage for her to stand in front of the hundred people or so people who signed the petition. And then to explain to them, candidly, forthrightly and honestly, why she has denied due process for their petition. And, why their petition warrants neither open and honest discussion, nor a roll call vote when they decide whether to grant the petitioner's requests of the leadership of the APS;

  • the benefit of APS administrative expertise and experience with CACs, and
  • access to their records of the previous and current CACs, and
  • a decent place to hold meetings, and
  • professional, competent and impartial facilitation for meetings.
There is no good an ethical justification for Paula Maes' wanton disregard for a petition from people who want to form the Citizens Advisory Council on Communication, nor for the disrespect manifest in the unlawfully written "thank you" note she took it upon herself to offer instead of due process.

There is no good and ethical reason to obstruct the commencement of real, open and honest, two-way communications between the leadership of the APS and the community members they serve.

They are covering up something.

Paula Maes' and they, are covering up an ethics and accountability scandal in the leadership of the APS.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Occupy APS?

Whatever else is true about the "occupiers" individually and collectively, they are people who at least, are willing to stand up for what they believe in. They are willing to be maced in defense of their beliefs.

Most people it seems, are only willing to complain, and only then from relative safety.

The world is not going to change because of the people who do nothing; it will change because of people who are willing to stand up, make sacrifices, and make a difference.

Tomorrow, Tuesday October 18th, at 6pm in the Sandia High School Media Center, link, School Board President Paula Maes is scheduled to host the fifth of seven meetings on District Goals.

Maes recently denied due process to a Petition bearing more than a hundred signatures. The Petition was filed by the Citizens Advisory Council on Communication.

Maes took it upon herself to write an unlawful response, a thank you note, and deny the Petition its due process; an open meeting and a role call vote.

There is an opportunity to stand up and defend the petition; an opportunity to defend the people's right to the truth about the spending of their power and resources. If enough people show up to defend due process for the petition, a difference might be made.

It is unlikely that you will be maced; though with a publicly funded private police force accountable to no one but the leadership of the APS, anything is possible.

There is no guarantee of course, that by showing up we can compel due process for our petition. But we all know the chances for due process will be if we do nothing at all.

All that is necessary for the lack of open and honest
communications, between the leadership of the APS and
the community members they serve, to prevail,
is for good people to do nothing. Edmund Burke - derived

photo Mark Bralley

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Yeah, but are the kids any less rowdy?

In France, a teacher, fed up with rowdy students,
immolated herself in protest, link.

Telling students "This is for you." she doused herself in petrol and lit herself on fire.

A witness reported seeing the teacher;

"... running and on fire. ... a human torch.
... students were screaming ..."
A student, unclear whether one of the teacher's, thought the whole thing seemed "... totally strange ..."

I don't know any more about it than we just read.

I would be willing to bet though, she, like most teachers in the
Albuquerque Public Schools, was not getting the help she
needed in her efforts to control the behavior of a bunch of
chronically disruptive students.

Maybe if an APS teacher lights herself on fire, or duct-tapes
some kids mouth shut, the leadership of the APS will get around to doing something with chronically disruptive students, beside sticking them back in a classroom.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

More students duct-taped to keep them quiet

An APS teacher has been sent home following an incident where students mouths were duct-taped shut, link.

While not condoning it's use, I can understand how APS teachers may feel they have no other choice when dealing with chronically disruptive students, link.

More than four years after that post was written, APS still has no written discipline philosophy upon which they can build effective discipline policy.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Willful ignorance

Despite the fact that the Citizens Advisory Council on Communications submitted their Petition to the School Board more than two months ago; Board Member David Robbins swears they never saw it or discussed it. They know nothing.

People sometimes pretend to not know something in order to
escape accountability for not doing something about what they know.

Politicians and public servants are renown for "not knowing".

There is a name for the pretense in this case; willful ignorance.

Willful ignorance is akin to "guilty knowledge"; knowing about corruption and incompetence and doing nothing to expose it. The one worse than the other, mostly by degree. A lack of character leads to one; a lack of courage to the other.

I have been accused of saying all APS administrators and
board members are corrupt or incompetent. The truth is,
all I have ever argued is, there are only two kinds of
administrators and board members;

  1. those who are corrupt and/or incompetent, and
  2. those with guilty knowledge of administrative and executive incompetence and corruption.
That leaves very few left who want to expose the truth about the corruption and incompetence in the leadership of the APS.

Willful ignorance
and guilty knowledge sustain cultures of corruption and incompetence. They are the oil for their engines.

APS' self insurance

I'm cynical, so I think the leadership of the APS wants to self insure, in no small part, to keep a lid on the truth. All the mistakes that get made that cost taxpayers dollars, will be handled in secret from the people who are paying damages. The opportunities to conceal public corruption and incompetence will be increased. The culture of corruption and incompetence will be further enabled.

Despite all their talk about communication with the community, any real open and honest communications threatens their very existence.

Monica Armenta isn't being paid to
communications, she is paid to
them; she is paid to spin the
truth to make APS look good.

She is paid to have their backs;
to cover their asses.

Monica Armenta is paid to handle
the media. She's doing it quite well.

For example;

almost five years ago, some APS senior administrators ran some criminal background checks on a few whistleblowers and an Asst Supt's fiancé. The manner in which it was done constitutes felony criminal misconduct. They also moved some evidence (money) around, in violation of the law; also felony criminal misconduct.

They had their police department, their Praetorian Guard, conduct a self-investigation of their own public corruption and incompetence. No other agency of law enforcement investigated, or will, despite the fact that it was the Bernalillo County Sheriff's access to the NCIC database that was used to commit the felonies.

They are holding all of the evidence they gathered (assuming they gathered any at all) while statutes of limitation on the felonies, expire.

The self-investigation of felonies, and the holding of evidence of one's own felony criminal misconduct, are both specifically prohibited in the MOU Bernalillo County Sheriff Dan Houston is trying to enforce upon the leadership of the APS.

In the face of the expiration of the statutes of limitation on felony criminal misconduct; Houston just gave them thirty more days of cover.

If you watch TV, you have seen KRQE, KOAT, and KOB, blow about their investigative Journalists defending our interests. Is this not a great story? Is this not a perfect story for investigation and reporting by the crack TV investigative reporters?

So why aren't they? Why isn't the Journal investigating and reporting on the ethics and accountability scandal in the leadership of the APS?

Like I said, Monica Armenta is doing her job quite good well.

photos Mark Bralley

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Can we watch? puleeese can we?

Despite Bernalillo County Sheriff Dan Houston's assurance that his MOU with the leadership of the APS was not up for negotiation; it apparently is. On the table, the grandfathering in of felony criminal misconduct by APS senior administrators.

Which begs a question;

What good and ethical purpose is served by conducting those negotiations in secret from those whose interests are being negotiated?
Why can't we watch?

photo Mark Bralley

Armenta; you can't make me!

On the face of it, it seems reasonable to ask a question of the Executive Director of APS Communications Monica Armenta and expect "communication" in response.

In response to my question; does APS pay someone to read blogs and keep records on posts and comments about the APS?, Armenta has chosen to respond to the question by not communicating. She has not delegated the response (apparently) and has not responded herself.

One might argue; who am I to be asking questions of an Executive Director of anything? Doesn't someone making more than $50 an hour have better things to do than to pay attention to me? The simple fact is that any question I ask of anyone, is immediately forwarded to the directors and above anyway. I'm actually saving you time and money by going to the top to start. Also, when asked to identify anyone who would field my questions except her, she did not.

Monica Armenta is responsible for the fact that a legitimate question about the public interests and about her public service will go unanswered. Why? because you can't make her.

You pay her well over a hundred thousand dollars a year to respond to your questions, but your can't make her answer any she doesn't want to answer.

It's not because she enjoys any exception under the law; it's because she doesn't want to, and you can't make her.

So there! ............

Also not answering questions this morning, Board Member David Robbins, who made a commitment to respond to us on questions about Board President Paula Maes' unlawful and disrespectful "thank you note" response to the Citizens Advisory Council on Communication Petition, and upon his own failure to even look at it.

photos Mark Bralley

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Dear Ms Armenta

I have written to APS Executive Director of Communications Monica Armenta to ask a legitimate question about the public interests and about her public service.

Ms Armenta,

I am told that APS employs someone whose job it is, to read blogs searching for posts and comments related to the Albuquerque Public Schools.

I am wondering if I might ask you for a candid, forthright and honest response regarding the existence of that position and its particulars; in particular; to whom do they report?

grateful for your time and attention

ched macquigg

School Board never even looked at the petition

School Board Member David Robbins was a guest speaker at a GOP ward meeting last night. After his opening remarks, he stood for questions. I asked him to describe the process that the board followed that resulted in the denial of due process for the petition submitted to the Board by the Citizens Advisory Council on Communication, link.

He said, he had never seen it!

Despite the fact that he, and the rest of the board, were all in their seats during the public forum where Rep Janice Arnold-Jones delivered the petition carrying more than a hundred community member signatures, Robbins claimed that whomever took the petition from Arnold-Jones, never passed it along to the board to read. He offered no explanation as to why none of them cared enough about petition to take the initiative and ask to see it.

When asked how it came to be that School Board President Paula Maes took it upon herself to write a "thank you note" as the board's entire response to the petition, he said, Maes was "authorized" to write the letter.

According to school board policy, the only authorization for an individual board member to do anything, comes from the entire board.

BB1 - Board Member Authority

Board of Education members shall have authority only when acting as a Board of Education in a regular, special, committee or emergency meeting. The Board of Education shall not be bound in any way by any statement or action on the part of any individual Board of Education member. No Board of Education member shall speak for or represent the entire Board of Education unless so authorized by the majority of the Board of Education. (emphasis added)
Maes could not have been authorized (by a majority of the Board), except in a meeting that violated the Open Meetings Act.

Yet Robbins steadfastly claimed the board never discussed the petition or their response to it. (Interestingly, the board just revoked a charter school's authorization, in part because of "... violations of the Open Meetings Act, link.)

As an aside; Robbins also conceded that there is a problem in the APS with (student) discipline. In my recollection he could be the most senior member of the leadership of the APS to admit there is a problem with student discipline. Yet if you look for any action the board has taken to address the problem district wide, you will find nothing; not even an admission that there is a problem.

The leadership of the APS has always had their head in the sand when it comes to chronically disruptive students and the lack of student discipline in general. Submitted as proof; they have not even taken the most basic step; creating a written an APS Discipline Philosophy to underpin their discipline policies.

Student discipline would of course, be one of the topics that the Citizens Advisory Council on Communications would try to put on the table for open and honest two-way discussion between the leadership of the APS and the community members they serve.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Where's the video?

There was a School Board Meeting on Wednesday Oct 5th.
The video record was supposed to have been posted on the
District's award winning website by Friday.

It is not up still, link.

Normally, their failure to archive the record, and in some cases their actual falsification of the record, link, means something happened during the meeting, or during the public forum, that they would rather not be seen.

One wonders what, exactly.

Impoverished APS students get computers and internet access

In the news, APS is involved in an effort to get computers and internet access to students who otherwise could not afford either.

It is a great move, link.

Now, if only APS would teach them how to use them safely,
effectively, efficiently and critically, at the earliest possible

If the goal of education is to create independent lifelong
learners, how can it not be the top priority?

And not just for children who live in poverty; but for them and
all of the rest of the 89,000 of our sons and daughters in the APS.

Monday, October 10, 2011

How would you know?

I have it upon good authority; not only are there fight clubs at Rio Grande High School, but there are gang initiations, rankings in, going on in plain sight.

If you Google "Rio Grande High School" fights, link, you can watch;

- Emilio VS Potter -
School Fight Crazy fight between two high school kids that hate each other extreme beat up violence funny wacked I recommend to watch this home made movie its funny as hell. Must see!!! good music and video rock rap...
Watching the fight begs a question;
does that kind of thing go on at your kid's school?
Let's say you want to do some research.

How would you find out about student violence in the APS?
Who would you ask, if you wanted to ask legitimate questions
and receive candid forthright and honest responses?

It sure as hell wouldn't be APS
Executive Director of Communications Monica Armenta.

She's paid well over $100,000
a year, to not to tell the truth
about student violence in the APS.

And by her own admission
"... sleeps quite well at night."

It wouldn't be APS Director of
Communications Rigo Chavez,
who is yet to surrender, in
electronic format, the APS PD
incident report on a fight at
RGHS that culminated in
students being chemically maced, link.

Where is the open and honest two-way communication with the community they serve?

There would be no point in
asking the camera shy APS
Chief of Police Steve Tellez.

He's hiding evidence of felony
criminal misconduct by APS
senior administrators; why would
he tell the truth about student

He's just a little embarrassed that
they promoted him to Chief of Police
in secret, and in no small part because he's helping to hide the evidence of the felony criminal misconduct of APS senior administrators at least until the statutes of limitation expire in the next month or two.

It wouldn't be APS Supt Winston
Brooks, the administrator most
responsible for the cover up of the
public corruption in the leadership of
the APS and in their publicly funded
private police force.

A recent audit by Brooks' Council of the Great City Schools found APS administrators routinely falsified crime statistics to make the schools look safer than they really are.

If you want the truth about student violence or student discipline problems in schools, you cannot expect the leadership of the APS to tell it.

Tragically, neither can you expect the local media to tell it;
not the Journal, not KRQE, not KOAT, not KOB, and not KKOB.

photos Mark Bralley

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Berry spins his ass-handing

Mayor Richard Berry still doesn't get it.

In Tuesday's election, he "bundled" a couple of proposals together, the Sports Complex and improvement of the Paseo Del Norte/I-25 interchange. He paid a price.

"Bundling" or logrolling (as it's called at the state level) is against the law (at the state level) for a number of good and ethical reasons. As a former state legislator, he should be familiar both with the law and with the good purpose it serves. He thought, or was convinced, he could get away with it anyway.

His most oft offered excuse; everyone else does it.

Listening to him after the election, he's still blaming voters and their unaccustomedness to "bundling" for his loss. He doesn't see it as a straight up, enlightened, and determined rejection of his attempt to log roll two dissimilar issues on one ballot.

Thomas Jefferson wrote;

The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time
with the blood of patriots and tyrants.
While his observation is being used to fuel and inflame the political debate and incite people, on a less histrionic level, it points to a need for relatively minor bloodletting like the bloody nose Berry got from voters for his tyranny; denying voters a straight up and down vote on a controversial issue.

Though Berry continues to soft pedal his defeat, I expect he has learned his lesson and will remember this ass-handing before he tries again, to put one over on voters.

Voters are to be congratulated for feeding the tree of liberty.

photo Mark Bralley

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Winter an unfortunate choice

I don't pay much attention to
Brad Winter as a City Councilor.

I pay more attention to him as
an APS Senior Administrator.

If, as a Senior Administrator,
he cannot be depended upon to
tell the truth, why in the world
would anyone trust him to
tell the truth as a City Councilor?

There is a simple and straightforward test of his character and courage; ask him a legitimate question about the public interests and about his public service.

Will you surrender a candid, forthright and honest record of the spending on the John Milne Boardroom, including accoutrements; yes or no?
Any answer except yes, means no.

Are Board Members really sitting in chairs that cost $800
a piece? Likely, you will never know, because Brad Winter
is unwilling to tell stakeholders the truth; not as a senior
APS administrator and not as a City Councilor.

photo Mark Bralley

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Trouble on APS school buses just the tip of the iceberg.

It would appear that a significant number of students are "misbehaving" in school buses on their way to and from schools. "... throwing things out of windows, screaming and standing in the aisles ...", link, link.

If your immediate reaction was; well duh! then you have bought into the premise that children will misbehave no matter what; misbehavior on school buses is inevitable. There's nothing you can do about it.

Well there is in fact, something that can be done about it; we can make an overt effort to teach children what the rules are, why they should respect them, and then, most importantly, we can provide real consequences for their deliberate disobedience.

The leadership of the APS used to teach students about character. Then they made a deliberate decision to renege on their commitment to teach students about Character Counts!, link. Say what you will about CC!; what it is and isn't, what it will and what it won't; it was better than nothing.

To the extent that children think before misbehaving, it is a calculation; cost and benefit, how much fun it will be, and the likelihood of being caught and punished. The punishment itself is part of the calculation. If the punishment is inconsequential, its effect is zero. If the punishment is both certain and unpleasant, it becomes a factor in the decision making process.

In the APS and on its school buses, punishment for willful disobedience is neither certain nor unpleasant.

In the eyes of APS Supt Winston Brooks, link, willful disobedience of a teacher is the least severe deliberate misconduct. That is his philosophy. If you look for the Albuquerque Public Schools Discipline Philosophy, you will not find it; it doesn't exist.

Nowhere will you find it written, even so basic a commitment as, whether students who deliberately misbehave should be punished or cajoled.

What you will find written; is the "weasel clause"; the clause in the Student Behavior Handbook, link pg 2,

Nothing in the following is intended to prevent a ... principal or other administrator from using his/her best judgment with respect to a particular situation.
The weasel clause is what allows administrators to ignore their promise to punish students who misbehave, and then offer them yet another second chance to stop deliberately ignoring the rules.

"Best judgment" is not subject to review or even questioning; it is what it is, best judgment. How do you prove administrator didn't use their best judgment in sending a chronically disruptive student back into a classroom to continue their disruption?

The leadership of the APS has chosen to not provide punishment for deliberate (or reckless) misbehavior. Providing punishment for students who chose to misbehave has a cost; they're unwilling to pay it.

Students are in charge in schools. When adults make rules and children ignore them, children are in charge. When children are in charge, there is chaos instead of education.

One of the leading contributors to the failure of schools is their willingness to tolerate disruptive behavior; their unwillingness to provide certain and meaningful consequences for deliberate disruption. Ask a teacher.

It won't do any good to ask the leadership of the APS.

Standards of conduct, accountability and student discipline aren't even on the table for discussion, by their deliberate choice.

The truth about the out of control on public school campuses will not be told by their deliberate choice and with the aid and abet of the media.

The leadership of the APS is morally, ethically and legally responsible for maintaining discipline on public school campuses and on school buses. Yet they cannot, or will not, establish and maintain the authority of adults over the children in their charge.

How can you expect teachers and bus drivers to maintain control
if students are allowed to disobey them without consequence?

The very first rule has to be; you have to obey the other rules.
The consequences for deliberate disobedience must be certain
and significant enough to enter into their next calculation.

photo Mark Bralley

Monday, October 03, 2011

"We're not allowed to respond to questions."

There were a number of people
who asked questions of APS
Executive Director of
Communications Monica Armenta
at the District Goals Meeting at
Jefferson Middle School.

I heard her tell at least two people;
"We're not allowed to respond to questions".

Others were told; "We're not supposed to respond, but ..." and then she would answer anyway.

The difference was in the type of question that was asked. If the answer made the district look good, she would go ahead and respond, even though she "wasn't supposed to."

If the answer would make the district look bad, then she
"... wasn't allowed" to answer and would tell the person who
asked the question to call her instead.

And then she told them, "nobody has ever complained that her department doesn't respond to questions"; a false claim that has already been laid to rest by the facts, link.

So who has the authority to tell the Executive Director of Communications that she is "not allowed" to answer questions?

By law, the board has no authority, though I'm certain it wouldn't stop Armenta from doing what they tell her to.

That leaves Supt Winston Brooks. He is the only person in the APS with the authority to tell Armenta that she's not allowed to answer questions in public.

Which begs a question; why would he order Armenta to keep her mouth shut?

At the end of these meetings, Brooks invites the audience to ask him anything they want. He seems to enjoy playing "stump the chump" (his identifier, not mine).

I don't think anyone ordered Armenta to not respond; I think it is her own deliberate choice. And further, if anyone ordered anyone to not respond to questions, I think it was Armenta giving the orders.

Also not responding to questions that night; Board Member Marty Esquivel. After going on and on about how important it was for him to "listen" (as opposed to respond) to the community, he didn't even do that.

I was anxious to see him interact with the community, and what I saw instead, was him schmoozing administrators, another board member, and a teacher or two.

I didn't see him even listen in to either of the two groups that met in the room I was in. There was a time he was out of sight; perhaps he did interact in one of the two groups in a different room, however doubtful.

You really should go to one of these meetings. Listen to them talk about how important communication is, and then watch them avoid it like it was the plague.

The next meeting is at Sandia High School on Oct 18th, link. It will hosted by School Board President Paula Maes.

She's the one who proclaimed, she would "never agree to any audit that individually identifies"any corrupt or incompetent administrators or board members.

I'm betting, she's not going to be "allowed" to answer any questions either.

Like, why did she take it upon herself to write a "thank you note" as the board's entire response to a petition with more than a hundred signatures on it, link?

photos Mark Bralley

Berry's credibility takes a hit

Mayor Richard Berry has attached his name and reputation to an effort to "logroll" two issues, the Paseo Del Norte and I-25 Interchange Improvements and a Multi-Sports Complex. Logrolling, putting two unrelated issues in one piece of legislation is illegal at the state level, but is apparently "legal" at the local level.

Legal or not, it is wrong. Voters should have been allowed to vote on each issue separately.

Also just plain wrong, is Berry's effort to convince voters that voting for the bond issue "won't raise their taxes". The truth is; if voters vote yes, they will pay more taxes than if they vote no.

The phrase "won't raise taxes" is dishonest. The statement is "technically" correct based on mathematical machinations but is ethically dishonest.

Berry continues to disappoint; whether it's letting his PIO trample on the press or deliberately deceiving voters to get his Sports Complex funded, he is not the man he pretended to be to get elected.

photo Mark Bralley