Wednesday, December 26, 2012

To whom does the public record belong?

It depends upon who you ask.

If you ask politicians and public servants, and they were inclined to candor, most would admit that effectively speaking, the record belongs to them.  It is their prerogative to decide which records will be made available for immediate inspection, and which will not.  There is no personal penalty in the law, for their deliberate delay in the production of documents according to their personal interests.

Why is the redaction of public records in the hands of people who might well benefit from the redaction?  How much more egregious must a conflict of interest be, before the end is put to it?

Allowing potentially corrupt and incompetent policy makers and administrators to redact the public record of their own public service is utterly indefensible.  It is an abhorrence created and maintained by corrupt and cowardly politicians and public servants serving their own self interests.  There is no culture of corruption where there is no spinning of the truth.  Falsifying the public record is a criminal offense. hiding the public record for personal gain, is every bit as harmful to the public interests.

The redaction of the public record must be an impartial and timely process, carried out in accordance with the spirit of the law.  Timeliness is essential; in as much as "justice delayed, is justice denied" - truth delayed, is truth denied.

Among the most egregious offenders when it comes to hiding their public record, are the APS School Board and Superintendent Winston Brooks.

Don't believe it? ask him for the findings of at least three investigations into felony criminal misconduct by senior APS administrators and the leadership of the APS Police force.

All we have to do to end the culture of corruption and incompetence in the leadership of the APS is to elect four board members who are willing to tell the truth; the foundation upon which honest standards are built and real accountability is so utterly dependent.

photo Mark Bralley

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Will transparency, standards and accountability on the table in school board election?

The lack of transparent accountability to meaningful standards of conduct and competence for APS school board members and administrators is a significant problem.  It can be rectified by the creation and enforcement of a new school board policy, one that raises standards and provides due process for legitimate complaints of administrative or executive incompetency or corruption.

That new policy will not be created nor enforced by the same board members who have never created the policy nor enforced before; the same board members who refuse to explain, defend, or even acknowledge having removed the Role Modeling Clause from their own standards of conduct, the one that read;

In no case shall the standards of conduct for an adult,
be lower than the standards of conduct for students.
The sitting school board will never create honest accountability to any standard of conduct than the law. Their record is one of avoiding accountability even to the law. They are manifestly comfortable with the current situation; students are expected to model and promote a nationally recognized, accepted, and respected code of ethical conduct; the Pillars of Character Counts!, and administrators and board members are expected and allowed to model and promote anything the law allows; the law being the lowest standards of conduct acceptable among civilized human beings.

With the election of four new members in February, a new majority can be created. If they are committed to transparent accountability to meaningful standards of conduct and competence, if they are willing to hold themselves and their subordinates honestly accountable to standards requiring more than the law requires and less than the law allows, APS will follow an entirely different path and better opportunity for nearly 90,000 of this community’s sons and daughters.

Standards, accountability and transparency are the key words in the board election, and in the elections over $368M in mill levies and bond issues. The incumbents can’t afford to talk about them, the challengers cannot afford not to, and neither can voters.

cc letters to the editor, upon posting

Monday, December 24, 2012

Internal oversight is oxymoronic.

The City Inspector General Neftali Carrasquillo Jr. has resigned, link.  Carrasquillo says he isn't being allowed to do his job.

The City Council is concerned that the inspector-general system needs to be fixed. 

Apparently, many of the complaints that his office would normally investigate, are being investigated by private investigators whose findings then belong to the Mayor Richard Berry administration, to publish or to hide.

One of the private investigators is Robert Caswell Investigations, who get a lot of Berry's contract work.  He gets a lot of business from APS as well.  Apparently, he is the go to guy for pols and public servants who want to find out what in the hell happened and then keep the findings to themselves.

APS hired Caswell to investigate felony criminal misconduct by senior APS administrators, and now the findings are being keep secret from public knowledge by both APS and Caswell, link, in blatant disregard for public records law.

When there is incompetence and corruption in government, though the responsibility flows up, accountability diminishes in direct proportion.  One of the most effective ways to diminish (the likelihood of) accountability, it is to control the spread of truth.

Robert Caswell investigates corruption and incompetence in the spending of public resources and in the wielding of public power.  He earned $300K from the city alone last year; and no telling how much from APS.  Seriously, there is no telling.  The city's website discloses the amount they paid Caswell last year; APS has no such disclosure on their own "award winning" website.

Why are Caswell's investigations and findings secret from the public?  Why are we not entitled to the truth about politicians and public servants who have betrayed our trust and stolen our resources?  Why do they get to simply slip away unscathed?

Most fundamentally, why are politicians and public servants allowed investigate their own conduct and competence in the first place?  It is a manifest conflict of interests to allow politicians and public servants to redact their own record.

There are two kinds of oversight; internal and external.
Internal oversight creates the appearance of a conflict of interests and is unacceptable for that reason alone.  That leaves only independent and impartial external investigations and review.

So why do we allow internal investigations at all?  Why do we allow police departments to have internal affairs, why to we all school systems to field publicly funded private police forces, why do we allow Perry and Berry to ever be the only ones who hold in their hands, the unvarnished truth about their own conduct and competence?

When an investigation reveals widespread problems, the people start wondering whether the politicians and public servants they have hired, are up to the task.  It is to their advantage of pols and public servants, to be able to hide the truth about their inability to eliminate the circumstances that enable corruption and incompetence below them.

The City Council will discuss the future of the Inspector Generals Office and authority in a meeting late in January.  It represents an opportunity for the people to insist upon truly independent oversight over the spending of their power and resources.  It represents an opportunity to insist that self investigations of complaints is at once and for all, prohibited in politics and public service.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Transparency, standards and accountability are issues in APS board election

APS has transparency and accountability issues.  Nobody denies it.  Seriously, if you ask APS, they won't deny it.  If you ask the establishment press, they won't deny it either.  Nor will either admit to it.  They stonewall,  The only defense of an indefensible position is to hide it.  When asked to comment, neither will.

The issues of transparency, standards and accountability are important because the lack of transparent accountability to meaningful standards in the leadership of the APS has depressed the performance of the entire district.  A significant factor in APS' overall failure, is the failure of the school board to establish and enforce meaningful standards of conduct and competence upon themselves and administration of their policies.

On the other hand, these aren't election "issues" at all,
because the establishment media hasn't reported on them.
Not one of them; not the Journal,not KRQE, KOAT, or KOB,
will investigate and report upon credible evidence of an 
ethics and accountability scandal in the leadership of the APS.

The credible evidence comes in the form of findings from at least three investigations into felony criminal misconduct in the APS Police force leadership; one by APS HR, one by their own Police force, and one by Caswell Investigations.

The Journal exposed the scandal and reported on the felonies, link, in 2007; misappropriation of funds, and illegal criminal background checks on whistleblowers and an associate superintendent's girlfriend.

District Attorney Kari Brandenburg told me that the APS Police force, the only agency of law enforcement to investigate felony criminal misconduct on the APS Police force, never surrendered to her office, any of the evidence of felony criminal misconduct.

The findings are public records and identify by name, the senior APS administrators who broke the law and then covered it up.  They do not enjoy any legitimate exception under the NM IPRA.  Yet, rather than simply surrender them, Brooks and the board are spending operational dollars (dollars which could be spent otherwise in classrooms) to litigate the "dispute" in federal court.

When they eventually lose, their fines will be paid by taxpayers
who will remain ignorant of where the money they appropriated
for education has actually gone and why.

The establishment media has not asked APS to produce the findings. If they have, they did not report that APS didn't produce the records and won't produce them until ordered to do so by a judge and only after have exhausted every appeal (at unlimited taxpayer expense).

Either that or, APS did produce the records, in which case the establishment media knows the names of senior APS administrators who committed felonies, knows the evidence was never turned over to the DA, and is helping to cover the whole thing up.

If you need another example, consider that though Brooks and the board will ask taxpayers for $348M to spend on capital improvement, if you ask them for a candid, forthright and honest accounting of their spending at 6400 Uptown Blvd, they won't give it to you, link.

There are standards and accountability issues in the leadership of the APS.

In any event, there is an opportunity to elect four board members who are committed to a change of course; transparent accountability.  There is an opportunity to create transparent accountability to meaningful standards of conduct and competence for all APS employees; most notably the supt and the board.

There is incontrovertible evidence, in the form of numerous recorded public forums, that the incumbent school board members know about the cover up of felony criminal misconduct.  They won't be held accountable during the election unless standards and accountability become an issue in the election.

Voters don't know about the ethics and accountability scandal in the leadership of the APS, because the establishment media; the Journal, KRQE, KOAT, and KOB won't expose it.

If you click on any of these links 1, 2, or 3, you will find photographs the media and APS leaders schmoozing at APS' ACE conference.  I am not saying that photographs of APS and media heavy hitters looking chummy is proof that the media is helping Brooks and the board cover up an ethics and accountability scandal in the leadership of the APS, but when the real proof does come out, I'll know where I can find group shots of the co-conspirators.

Success for APS depends on two factors over which we have control; standards and accountability.  If the standards of conduct and competence are high enough, and if all players are actually held accountable to those standards, there will be success.  It is as simple as that.  Failure to provide high enough standards or failure to provide actual accountability to those standards leads to the inexorable failure of the organization.

If the press won't make transparency, standards and accountability issues in this election, the people must.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

What do you want to happen in February?

Do you want to authorize $368M in mill levies and bond issues?

Are you looking for more of the the same old, same old in new board members?

Potential voters don't yet know it, because it is yet to be published by the establishment press, but because a majority of the board is up for election, there is an opportunity to actually change the direction APS will take for the next four years.

There are at least two paths; one is the one we follow now.

We simply surrender control over our power and resources to
a handful of people, and trust that they will spend both in our
best interests.  So far, that has not worked well.  The record of
their spending is so disgraceful, they have to hide it, link.

The fundamental flaw in the path we now follow, is its lack of
transparent accountability in spending and administration.  It is
a poorly lit path.

There is another path; government of, by, and for the people.
It begins with the illumination of government, transparency
limited only by the law; the expressed will of the people.

It is the people who decide what will and will not appear on
the public record, not our servants.  It is we the people who
will determine the limits on speech during public forums.

The terms of public service are the prerogative of the people,
not of their servants.  Fundamental among those terms;
public servants are accountable to the people by means of
transparency and accountability to meaningful standards of
conduct and competence, at least for the eight measly hours
a day that we must "trust" them with the control over the
wielding of our power and the spending of our resources.

That is your choice in February.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Steven Michael Quezada stands unopposed, so far.

Steven Michael Quezada's opponent in APS school board district 5, Cynthia Chavers has withdrawn.

His seat on the board is guaranteed unless a write-in candidate files in January.

Deliberate disobedience "could lead to consequences" for students; but probably won't.

Apparently, rumors of pending violence are running rampant in some APS schools.  Some of those rumors are undoubtedly being started by students just wanting to stir up trouble.  They do so in deliberate disobedience of the student standards of conduct established by the board of education and enforced by their superintendent and his administration.

APS Superintendent Winston Brooks has laid it out for students, their parents and anyone else who reads APS' news.

Rumors of violence at schools are unfounded, and students are reminded that spreading rumors of threats could lead to discipline.  (emphasis added)
I taught in APS for twenty-five years.  I wish I had a dollar for every time I heard an administrator tell students, if they misbehave, they could face discipline.

Ask a teacher or teaching assistant, what the probability is,
of that promised discipline being delivered.
APS is hiding their discipline records for a reason.

Brooks' quote above, appeared boldfaced in the news release header, link.

By the end of the release, his spine had stiffened a little;
Also remind students that they will face discipline for spreading unfounded rumors and gossip about the safety of others. (emphasis added)
Ask someone who works in a school, whether there is obedience.  Ask them whether chronically disruptive students and bullies ever face discipline.

If we want schools to be safe, students have to obey adults.  There have to be meaningful consequences for students who defy the authority of adults.

Brooks feels differently.  He expects his subordinates to dance to his whip or be fired, but when he imposed a discipline policy on middle schools, and established the authority of adults over students, he named insubordination and defiance of authority among the least consequential of misconduct; a "level one offense", link.

If we really want to end violence and bullying, if we really want to raise performance and graduation rates, the single most effective thing we can to is to restore order in schools; restore control to adults and strip it from deliberately disobedient students.

The school board isn't up to it,
Neither is Brooks.

photo Mark Bralley

Who in the hell is Richard Shin?

And who is he to put limits the free exercise of Constitutionally protected human rights to free speech and to petition one's government?

Journal editors are righteously concerned, link, over an effort by Police Oversight Commissioner Richard Shin to put limits on citizens' comments during public forums.

“You do not have an unlimited right to come up and speak about anything you want, and say anything you want, during public comment.”
And you sir, do not have any right at all limit free speech and the unfettered petition of government.

Liberty is limited only by the law.  There are laws that govern behavior during public forums.  Politicians and public servants cannot simply write and enforce their own laws under the guise of "rules of decorum".

The terms of public service are the prerogative of the people, not of their servants.  The people have decided, by and through our elected representatives, the limits on liberty that may be imposed during public forums during public meetings.  If Shin, or any other pol or public servant, doesn't like the rules we have written, he should resign.

When the people surrender control over their power and resources to politicians and public servants, it is with the intention that the power and resources be spent according to the will of the people, not of their servants.

A democratic republic is not meant to be an arena in which the people and their representatives fight over how the people's power and resources will be spent.

The power is ours, the resources are ours.
Both will be spent according to our will.

Breaking Bad actor running for school board

The Journal reports, link; Steven Michael Quezada ... has filed to run for the Albuquerque school board.

I don't watch Breaking Bad, and I don't know Quezada from Adam's off ox, but the apparently popular actor has the potential to bring some wide spread attention to the school board race.  People will show up to debates to see the actor rather than the candidate, but showing up for any reason is better than not showing up at all.  Perhaps voter turnout will climb above 3.5%.

As the parent of three charter school students, Quezada's election would put a damper on the anti-charter school sentiment the permeates the current leadership.

Board members Paula Maes and David Robbins are running against each other and four other people.  There is the potential for one of them to get re-elected by as few as six tenths of one percent of registered voters.

Board member Lorenzo Garcia faces three challengers, David Peercy faces two.

There is a real chance to elect a majority of new board members;
a real chance to change directions, set new standards, and instill
real accountability.

Now, if only we could engage the press at any but the most superficial level.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

In the Albuquerque Journal this morning,

you will find no mention of the fact that today is filing day
in the APS school board election.

The Journal actually told me once, when I was looking for exposure for my campaign in their pages, they "don't start covering the election until after filing day."

If you go to the Journal website and search for "2013 aps school board election" link, you will find no evidence that the Journal is about generating any interest in the February election; a turning point election in the course and success of the APS.  You will find no editorial interest; you will find no investigative interest.  You will find school menus (oddly, in the paper, but not on their website).

Understanding that the Journal's underlying interest is to sell advertising, and not necessarily to see to our need for information in order to vote next February, I would argue that an investigative report on credible evidence of an ethics and accountability scandal in the leadership of the APS would sell as many newspapers as school lunch menus.

It's not that the Journal won't publish my allegation that the APS school board and administration is hiding evidence from the District Attorney.  It is that they won't even ask the board and supt to turn over the public records that settle the allegation once and for all.  Either the Caswell Report and findings of at least two other investigations into the corruption contain evidence of felony criminal misconduct by senior APS administrators, or they do not.

If they don't hold evidence of criminal misconduct, there's no reason to be hiding them, even in violation of the New Mexico Inspection of Public Records Act.  If they do hold evidence of criminal misconduct, they should have been turned over to the DA long ago - they haven't.

Either the Journal, meaning; Tommy Lang, Kent Walz, Charlie Moore, Karen Moses, whomever, won't ask to see the Caswell Report, or they won't report to voters, that they asked for it and were denied even a redacted copy.  They won't report that public records of public corruption in APS are being hidden from their inspection.

How do they explain that?  How do they justify it?  They don't.  They won't, even as the fourth school board election since I began asking the Journal to investigate and report upon the cover up of felony criminal misconduct by senior APS administrators, comes and goes.


cc letters to the editor, upon posting

Sunday, December 16, 2012

It's too late to recruit school board candidates

Tuesday next is filing day for the APS school board election. All you have to do to run for the school board is go into the county clerk's office and sign up.  Early voting begins January 11, I think. 

Fundamental to government of the people, by the people, and for the people, is people running for office; people running for seats on the school board.  If "people" aren't elected to fill the seats, the seats will be filled instead by personal and political interests.  The people's interest, the public interests will find them themselves second interests.

The "press" has a part to play in democracies and democratic republics.

Part of their part is to engage potential candidates.  There has to be enough information out there before an election, to stimulate the thinking processes that culminate in everyday people stepping up to serve.

It's more than a day too late for the Journal to publish any information that anyone can act on before filing day.  I find it disappointing, but not surprising.  I would encourage you to visit the Journal's website and review their coverage of past school board elections.  You'll find a lot of editorial hand-wringing and chastisement of voters who didn't turn out, and very little encouragement for them to have done so.

Never mind that Journal is not only not covering the elections,
they're part of a cover up of a scandal that would change the election's outcome.

As many as four sitting board members are running for election at the same time they're covering up the scandal that will compel their immediate resignations.  David Robbins, Paula Maes, Lorenzo Garcia, and David Peercy are complicit in the effort to hide from prosecutors, evidence of criminal misconduct by senior APS administrators.

They and their publicly funded, private police force, are the only people who have ever seen the evidence of the misappropriation of funds and the harassment of whistleblowers, link, that constitute felony criminal misconduct.  The illegal NCIC criminal background checks broke federal felony statutes.

Clearly the Journal knows about the felony misconduct.  And they know no one was ever held accountable; no one ever stood before a judge, no prosecutor was ever given incontrovertible evidence of criminal misconduct.  They know that these four board members and the rest, are hiding the findings of as many of three investigations into the public corruption and incompetence in the leadership of the APS.  They know the findings, the Caswell Report in particular, name the names of the people who committed felonies.  They know the board and administration won't produce those findings for public inspection according to the NM Inspection of Public Records Act.

The Journal has never asked APS for those findings.
Either that, or they never reported that APS refused to produce them.

Either way, though the Journal is affecting the outcome of the elections, it's not in the good way.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Why are we last in education?

How would you find out?

You could ask the people who run the schools.  It's fair to assume board members and administrators are in a position to answer the question.  If anyone has access to the data, they do.

Yet in asking the question of them, a conflict of interests is created.  Because they own some part of the failure, their personal interests are served by attaching blame elsewhere, while the public interests compel them to disclose their shortcomings candidly, forthrightly and honestly.

The problem with asking board members and administrators to respond candidly, forthrightly, and honestly to questions about their own, and each others competence and conduct, is they are human.  Their natural tendency is to protect themselves, garner praise they haven't earned and escape consequences they have.

Not every board member and senior administrator yields to the temptation to avoid honest accountability.  There are school board members and superintendents with the character and the courage to hold themselves honestly accountable to meaningful standards of conduct and competence in their public service; just not here.

Honest accountability does not include self investigation.
Impartial self-investigation is oxymoronic.

The superintendent cannot impartially evaluate the board because they're keeping his $750K golden parachute inflated.  The board cannot impartially evaluate the superintendent because they are evaluating (and validating) at the same time, their selection and retention decisions regarding the supt.

The most simple and straightforward solution is to have independent investigations of the conduct and competence of the administration and board.  There is no good and ethical reason to avoid independent standards and accountability audits of the leadership of the APS.

There are two possible outcomes of an independent administrative and executive audit.  They will find;

  1. school board members and administrators are honestly accountable to meaningful standards of conduct and competence or,
  2. they are not.
If they are, their $1M a year communications efforts would be spending money on radio ads imploring support of their competence and conduct, rather than their "potential".  Not a word. Nowhere.  Not even in anticipation of school board, bond issue, and mill levy elections.

The obvious conclusion is that impartial investigation will reveal a lack of standards and a lack of honest accountability to such standards as there are.  The lack of high standards and accountability affects the quality of education delivered in schools.

The self-investigation of allegations of corruption and incompetence is an accoutrement of power.  It is the corrupting influence; not the power, but the ability to abuse it without consequence, that corrupts absolutely.

Why is there no independent investigations of why APS is failing to meet the needs of so many students?

More importantly, why are teachers not being asked why fully third of their students won't graduate, and many of the ones who will graduate, will leave high school functionally illiterate?

It would be interesting to compare the answers of APS Executive Director of Communications Monica Armenta and the answers of teachers when asked, why are so many APS students leaving school without an adequate education?

APS teachers have more than 100,000 years of teaching experience between them.  Nearly half have masters degrees, many have doctorates and other advanced certifications.  They represent an immense pool of educational expertise; highly trained and experienced.  Why are they not being asked for their input on APS' failure?

Is it because of where their 10,000 fingers will point?

It's time for a full scale standards and accountability audit of the leadership of the APS.

cc Letter to the Editor upon posting

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Why is it so important that students march in unison?

According to KOB TV, link, the APS Policy and Instruction Committee undertook what APS "spokeswoman" and Executive Director of Communications Monica Armenta describes as "... one of the trickiest, most complex issues we take on all year". 

A third of students attending APS will not graduate. I suspect there are more than a few tricky and complex issues.

It's hard to believe a school calendar is one of them; I mean really, how hard can it be?  The board and administration have only themselves to blame. It is they, who relentlessly insist that 98,000 children can, and should be made to, learn in unison, a
thought choir if you will.  Even if you could do such a thing, why would you want to?  When again in their lives will they ever have to think and work in unison?

"The biggest challenge really is balancing what parents and students want with what we have to have in place by state statute," Armenta said.

The decision to move spring break is going to be unpopular with parents and students, so if the administration and board can pass the blame along to the NMPED, it takes the heat off of them. Armenta would like to create the impression that state statutes are driving the decision to move spring break. 

What they would really like to do is to improve performance on standardized testing by providing more uninterrupted learning before students take tests. They can't just admit that's why they want to do it, because when test scores improve, they want to take credit.

They can't take credit if they've already admitted that the move was justified by the increases it would stimulate.

Armenta did touch on the truth tangentially, when she admitted,

"Moving spring break back a month will allow us to handle all the state mandatory testing without an issue,"
The issue is not a statutory but she would like interest holders to believe it is.

In future, when their communications department points to improved test performance, the delay in testing that was the impetus will be long forgotten.  They will allow an impression to be created, that they are responsible for increasing student test performance.

Just like when they raised graduation rates by adding a fifth year to the traditional four-year graduation plan.  They "raised" gradation rates without actually raising performance.

Just like when they raised graduation rates by dropping from the statistical cohort, students who had already failed the 9th grade; students who were the least likely to graduate.  Again, graduation rates climbed, though real performance did not.

It looks like they're doing better and
that's what its all about.

It all about improving APS' public perception

photos Mark Bralley

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Next election, the most important ever.

Every election season posits itself pivotal in the course of humankind.  Each is.

By definition, it's too late for the people to exercise their rights and responsibilities in creating a government that is by the people, of the people and for the people, in the last election.

The next election in the Albuquerque area is a three-fer, a school board election, a bond issue election, and a mill levy election.  They are all important on their face.

Each is extraordinarily important in its own right.  The bond issue and mill levy amount to a third of a billion dollars; that's important.

Most importantly, the direction of  leadership of the APS is at stake.  A majority of school board seats are up for election.

The potential impact is enormous.  Nearly 90 thousand of this community's sons and daughters look to the school board and senior administration for an opportunity to be educated according to their full potential.  It is important, who gets elected.

So where is public interest in these elections?

They are held at the worst possible time, and have the lowest voter participation of any election I know about.

Were that not enough, potential voters are given no information and hence no impetus to pay attention and to vote.  I hold the press responsible.

It is their (sacred) obligation, is it not, to let the people know how important the elections really are, and not just to report upon how important they were?

Not after the fact, but before.  Before the elections,
when it can still make a difference.

And while we’re at it, why not publish the circumstances of this election before candidate filing day?  Early enough that a number of men and women of character and courage have the time to consider whether service on the school board is their calling.

Friday, December 07, 2012

APS joins club, taxpayers on the hook for about $40M

The leadership of the APS, when they go looking for answers, look for national movements to join.

The have grabbed another straw, the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers.

In order to join the club, APS has to comply with the requirements of PARCC. Compliance will cost $39M upfront and $15M every year thereafter.

APS doesn't need to be part of a consortium to teach and test the Core Standards.  They can do it themselves, by themselves, anytime the want to. It was only their deliberate choice to teach to NCLB testing instead, that drew teaching away from the core curriculum in the first place.

Why does APS need to be part of a "consortium of 23 states working to create a test of the Common Core standards". If APS employees were given 40 million dollars to create tests that work on the computers we already have, couldn't they? If they were given fifteen million dollars a year to keep it all working, couldn't they?

Board Member and batterer Kathy Korte
reports; “I’m just sitting here blown away
by the cost.”

One might wonder, why?
Why is she surprised?

Doesn't she approve the budget this money will come from?

How did APS join this consortium without knowing it was going to cost $40M?

The sound is reminiscent of board members expressing surprise at $500K in cost overruns on their new board room, link.

According to the Journal, link, APS Chief Financial Officer Don Moya said the district will pay for the upgrades through capital money, not the operational budget.

Moya said, he is finding ways to tighten the capital budget.
How about not spending it on joining national consortia
instead of building school buildings?

APS is coming to taxpayers in February for more capital money, $368M more.

There is of course a lower cost option APS didn't take.
According the Journal;

The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers is one of two national groups developing tests of Common Core standards. Harris said of the two, the partnership has higher technology standards with greater costs to districts.
The consortium would like every student to have a new high powered computer/network so they can test simultaneously. Consortia take great interest in students doing things in unison. The Journal reports, APS Chief Information Officer Lynn Harris said,
the district may also be able to schedule testing so it won’t need a computer for every student. “We are beginning to believe that we won’t need one computer per student for each test,” Harris said. “It might be one-to-four or one-to-three, and they might stagger testing throughout the day, and that would minimize our financial impact.”
Wow, how clever.

photo Mark Bralley

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Will the DOJ probe APD morale?

Is there a correlation between low police force morale and a propensity to overreact in potentially violent situations?

There is, and that's why the DOJ needs to investigate and report upon morale in the APD.

Will every cop be surveyed?  Will every cop have the opportunity to say what they think needs to be said about the conduct and competence of their leadership, without fear of retribution and retaliation?  Will every cop know their voice has been counted?  Will the DOJ the opinions of the cops they're investigating?

Likely, no.  It would be the first time ever.

Statistically identical to the likelihood that APS teachers will ever be surveyed about the conduct and competence of their leadership.

It's just not the way leadership rolls, here in River City.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

"Culture of complacency" root cause of fake audit

The Journal reports, link, the state's top securities regulator has found

"... a fake audit of the New Mexico Finance Authority went undetected for months because of a lack of oversight by top managers and the authority's appointed governing board."
How surprised are you?  If you Google search for New Mexico State Government and "lack of oversight", you'll get more than five million hits.

How many other state authorities, agencies, bureaus, and departments in state government lack the managerial oversight necessary to protect the people's power and resources from corrupt and incompetent politicians and public servants?

Whose interests are served by the lack of oversight in government?  Certainly not the people's,

Whatever real oversight costs, it costs far less than lack of oversight.  NM State Auditor Hector Balderas says, if the legislature funded his office adequately, he could save taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars a year, link.

The lack of oversight permeates not only state government, but governments and quasi-qovernmentals throughout the state. 

It permeates the APS.  In that regard, they rank among the highest statewide.

Are you surprised?

Monday, December 03, 2012

News Tip; APS spending record unavailable to voters

In less than two months, voters will have an opportunity to elect four board members and spend $368M.  96% of them will not.

The few that do, have a need to know how their power and resources are being spent currently, by the folks asking them for hundreds of millions more.  They need to know because, the record of APS' past and current spending is the single best indicator of how they intend to spend the $368M they're asking for in February.

The people who are asking to be re-elected as the stewards of our power and resources are asking to be trusted with hundreds of millions of dollars.  At the same time, they will not produce useful record of their current spending, it is unavailable to voters.

The APS communications department, nearly a million a year, argues APS is transparent because their budgets are posted on line.

I argue, they are not transparent at all.  They don't post all their audit findings on line.  They don't post the finding of investigations of administrative and executive corruption and incompetence.  Though they are public records and enjoy no exception to the requirements of the NM IPRA, citizens who wanted to see those findings will have to sue to sell them.  The records should be online and are not; no where to be found on APS' "award winning" website.

They are not transparent because voters being asked for the better part of 400 million dollars, cannot look up the cost overruns in their spending of the last few hundred million they were trusted with.  Voters have no idea who to hold accountable for the substantial overruns in the construction of the Atrisco Heritage High School.  We cannot look up their spending at their apartments in the sky.

Did we really pay $800 dollars apiece for board member chairs?

Transparency isn't about what they post online, it's about what they won't tell you.  They won't tell taxpayers how APS spends their money, but they would really like it so much, thank you, if we would give them another $368M to spend.

APS Chief Operating Officer Brad Winter was asked to produce a candid, forthright and honest accounting of his spending in the twin towers; the yet to be justified board room, and the millions and millions of dollars he spent remodeling, link.  He never did.

Did you stumble at candid, forthright and honest?

So does Brad Winter.

The words come verbatim from the standards of conduct established and enforced upon students; the Pillars of Character Counts!.

In the event that one is asked a legitimate question, the obligation of a person of character, of a role model of those standards, of an administration of character, and of politicians and public servants in the leadership of the APS, is to respond candidly, forthrightly and honestly.

The board and supt, by and through Brad Winter do not want to produce a candid, forthright and honest accounting of their spending at 6400 Uptown Blvd, at Atrisco Heritage, or anywhere else their incompetence or corruption have cost taxpayers unnecessarily.

Even while asking for $368M, they continue to hide the record of their spending and their competence as stewards of way more than a billion tax dollars a year.  They steadfastly refuse to tell the truth.   They steadfastly refuse to answer any inconvenient questions at all.

Voters will go to the polls, or not go to the polls, based on what they hear and read from whatever press they follow.  If the Journal and the rest of the establishment media KRQE, KOAT, KOB, and KKOB, refuse to investigate and report upon APS' unwillingness to share the truth about their spending record before the elections, they will not have done due diligence on behalf of voters counting on them for just that.

They will do what they have done since the day after February 11, 2007, link, the day the establishment's media's interest in covering corruption and incompetence in the leadership of the APS, came to a screeching halt.

photos Mark Bralley

Journal coverage of school board, bond issue, and mill levy elections

The Journal can be counted upon for at least one piece with feeling, about the upcoming elections. The day or two after the elections there will be an editorial lamenting the disinterest of voters.

It begs a fair question, does the press, in this case the Journal, have any obligation to drum up interest in elections?  I believe they do.

It is already too late most likely, for the Journal to drum up any interest in people who might want to run for the board.  Filing day is less than two weeks away.  They already missed the opportunity to help recruit some really good candidates.

If you examine their past, the record of Journal coverage of school board, bond issue and mill levy elections, you will find bare minimum coverage.

In the two elections in which I ran for the board, I could not get the Journal to investigate and report upon credible allegations and evidence of the corruption and incompetence of incumbent candidates.  The Journal wouldn't tell voters that school board enforcer Marty Esquivel, against whom I was running, had unlawfully banned me from school board meetings and was lying about it to the press, link.

The Journal refused to investigate and report upon credible evidence that board members running for re-election were complicit in or complacent about the unlawful suppression of evidence of felony criminal misconduct by senior APS administrators and the leadership of their publicly funded, private police force.

By the time the election rolls around, voters still won't know about the ethics and accountability scandal in the leadership, their suppression of evidence, their denial of due process for whistle blower complaints, and their abdication as role models of student standards of conduct.  Voters won't know the entire board, including the four who are running for re-election; David Robbins, Paula Maes, David Peercy, and Lorenzo Garcia, are guilty as sin of complicity or complacency about the lack of honest accountability to meaningful standards of conduct and competence for administrators and board members.

Unfortunately, the folks at the Journal who decided to help cover up the ethics and accountability scandal in the leadership of the APS, are no more accountable to voters than are board members and administrations.

Any interest in holding the Journal accountable for its failure to do due diligence in this or any other election, might just as well written down, rolled it up tightly, and stuck where the sun don't shine for all the attention the Journal or anyone else, will pay to it.

We're all kind of screwed in that respect.

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Oops! That page is not published.

I went looking on APS' award winning website, for how much money APS school board members are paid for their service.
A friend had asked me, I didn't know.

I still don't.

Search their website for "board compensation", link.

Click on Time Commitments and Compensation for Board Members and you get;

Oops! That page is not published.
OK, I get it, stuff happens, people make mistakes.
Not all omissions are nefarious.

But when there are a lot of mistakes and they all have the same effect; that of making public information and records harder to find ...

You have to wonder, don't you?

Thursday, November 29, 2012

KRQE lands Brooks interview

KOAT is being denied interviews with senior APS administrators, link.  Apparently, KRQE is not.

Last night, KRQE broadcast an interview they had with APS Supt Winston Brooks in which he was given the opportunity to address a manifest inconsistency in his claims of parental support of APS.

Brooks claims 89% of parents approve of the quality of APS education, link, despite the fact that a full third of APS students are destined to drop out.

Brooks' claim is impossible on its face.

You can't have a test where 89% of students pass and a third fail.

I don't think KRQE pushed Brooks very hard, maybe they're afraid of being blackballed like KOAT.

Why will Brooks show up for KRQE, but not for KOAT?  It looks like he feels threatened by KOAT but not by KRQE.

It will be interesting to watch this play out. If "communications staffers" are allowing KRQE interviews but not KOAT, KOAT is being treated disparately.  It violates their civil rights.

They must have lawyers for this kind of thing, KRQE does.

At one point, APS School Board enforcer Marty Esquivel was KRQE's lawyer on First Amendment issues.  He may still be, it wouldn't surprise me in the least.  Perhaps that's why Brooks doesn't feel threatened by KRQE interviewers.

Winston Brooks is not going to show up in any venue where he will have to respond to hard follow up questions.  He will never have a press conference and play stump the chump, link, with reporters and other interest holders.

KRQE offers no link to the interview.

Is it Monica Armenta?
I still want to know who the "APS communications staffer" is, who decides who gets interviews and who doesn't; who is the press, and who isn't.

That is lot of power to be wielding anonymously.

Why won't KOAT identify the source, who are they protecting, why do they need to, what's the big secret?

photos Mark Bralley

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

APS claims 89% of parents approve

APS claims, link, a survey they did last September, showed 89% of parents approve of the quality of APS education.

According to their own statistics; 33% of parents have children who drop out.

It would appear a substantial number of parents approve of their children dropping out.

They also report 67% of parents approve of Supt Winston Brooks;
the lowest approval rating assigned in the report.

Had teachers been asked, the numbers would have been different.
Ergo, they will not be asked. Nor will anyone else working beside or beneath him

APS refuses to submit to KOAT interviews

Government by, for and of the people depends upon meaningful communication between the government and the people; two-way communication.

There are a number of reasons why the people can't expect individual face time with the most powerful politicians and public servants.

The solution we settled upon is for the people depend upon "the press" to ask the questions and then publish the responses.  The press, KOAT, asked to do interviews with APS administrators.  APS denied the interviews and offered statements instead.

The problem with a statements of course, they can't be asked follow up questions.  Questions and statements can be exchanged 'til the cows come home; it isn't two-way communication.

In KOAT's report, link, they refer to the people they talked to, the pols and public servants who denied them interviews, as "the district's communications staff."  Is it just me, or is it not important to know who speaks for the APS on this issue? 

Who is KOAT protecting, and why are they protecting them?

The media of late have been down playing titles and identities of APS senior administrators in the news.

The Journal recently published a piece where they referred to Monica Armenta a "communications staffer" instead of $106K a year Executive Director of Communications.

Co-incidence or conspiracy? It smells fishy.

The smell comes in no small part from the myriad of personal connections between APS senior administrators, board members and the establishment's media.

It was a "communications staffer" who told KOAT

"We provide district administrators for on-camera interviews when we feel they are appropriate..."
Since when do anonymous "communications staffers" decide whether a request from the press for someone in a position of responsibility to respond candidly, forthrightly and honestly, and in person, to legitimate questions about the public interests and about their public service, is "appropriate"?

The First Amendment was written to protect the press from the government. It is difficult to imagine a greater affront to the press than to deny the press access to government.

KOAT alluded to retaliation as the motive for the denials, citing a profile they did last year, on the high salaries APS gives to "communications staff".

photo Mark Bralley

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Rosary ban "lifted" at Atrisco Heritage High

A week ago, according to the Journal, link, and APS communications staffer Monica Armenta,

Students at the school wearing rosaries visibly are being asked to conceal them under their shirts or in their pockets, Armenta said, adding that the request is intended to limit students from identifying themselves with specific groups, either on or off campus.
Armenta said it is a measure APS police and school staff are taking “to curb gang activity.
This morning, interest holders find, link,
APS spokeswoman Monica Armenta said in an email Monday that students are not required to conceal their rosaries and that no student this school year has even been approached by administrators about a rosary.
In the military they call that an "about face".

Missing from the Journal coverage of APS' efforts to "curb gang activity" at Atrisco Heritage; even one iota of empirical data about gang activity at Atrisco Heritage.  The Journal doesn't cover APS' student discipline issues.

"Journal staff"did dig deeper apparently, on the issue of enforcement last year.
Armenta said Monday that she doesn’t know what measures were taken at Atrisco Heritage last year, because the school has a new principal and the former principal no longer works for the district. 
Imagine that, the only person in the entire APS who knows what measures were taken at Atrisco Heritage last year, has vanished from the face of the earth.

When asked to produce the record;
the simple truth about what actually
happened last year at Atrisco Heritage,
the $106K a year executive director
of communications, communicated
nonsense instead.

"Journal staff" let it slide
as is their want and custom.

photo Mark Bralley

Monday, November 26, 2012

APS projects don't go to lowest bidder; what else goes to lesser qualified?

When APS let the contract for the work at Sandia High School, it didn't go to the lowest bidder.

They've invented a rubric for the letting of contracts that includes intangibles.  The intangibles in the Sandia contract amounted to a full 60%; far more than the interests of taxpayers; getting the most bang for their buck.

It isn't the first time.  When APS let their phone contract to Monica Armenta's mother, she wasn't the lowest bidder either, link.  This is part if a pattern of behavior; a way of thinking in the leadership of the APS.

The same kind of thinking goes into promoting administrators.

Skill set and experience don't drive decision making that fills the inner circle, intangibles do.  In this case, a willingness to hide inconvenient truths.

Auditors from the Council of the Great City Schools have found,

  • administrators routinely hiding crime statistics, and
  • enabled by administrative evaluations which are subjective and unrelated to promotion or step placement.
The thinking that gets one ahead in the APS oligarchy is the willingness to protect APS' public perception and other administrator's asses.  There are only two kinds of (senior) administrators in the APS, the corrupt and incompetent, and those with guilty knowledge of the corruption and incompetence.

Auditors can find the truth about the ethics and accountability scandal in the leadership of the APS, why can't the Journal, KRQE, KOAT, or KOB, except that they aren't looking?

... even in the face of school board member, mill levy and
school bond issue elections.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Students packing rosaries at Atrisco Heritage

The editors take notice, link; APS is just begging for a lawsuit over a ban on the wearing of rosaries at school.  Begging is exactly the right word; their lawyers will make a killing litigating settlements.

The editors write, Albuquerque Public Schools must have a lot of extra money lying around for lawsuits.  Actually they do, in the form of an "unlimited budget" in support of litigation.

They spend so much money on litigation, their insurer, United Educators, raised our premiums on that basis.  They spend so much money on litigation, they won't tell us how much they spend on litigation.

In any case, in the war on gangs at Atrisco Heritage High, the administration has decided to prohibit the wearing of rosaries.  Gang members have apparently adopted rosaries as their flags.  They understand their wearing of rosaries for even for comparatively nefarious purposes, is a protected activity.  Protected activity meaning; protected by the Constitution of the United States; in this case, the First Amendment.

The problem is; there are two kinds of kids and only one kind of APS school.  There are kids who do and don't want to learn, and a school system that insists on educating them together.

An efficient and effective learning environment requires obedience to a set of standards that maintain effectiveness and efficiency.


It's one of the reasons most charter schools do better than APS schools.  They have a better plan for dealing with chronically disruptive students.

APS Supt Winston Brooks and the school board have no plan to deal with chronically disruptive students.  Except to enable them to continue to disrupt the education of other students.  That and continue to pretend they don't exist.

The leadership of the APS is fond of arguing, any child can learn.

In simple truth, only children who are engaged in their learning can learn.  You can't drag a horse to water and make him drink.

It is not so much that there are kids in schools who don't want to learn; it's what they do instead.  Instead of learning, they entertain themselves and each other by disrupting the learning around them.

The Supt and board have surrendered to out of control students, control over what goes on in schools.

Who is really in charge, the administrator who writes a rule, or the student who deliberately breaks it?  The person whose will is being done, is in charge.

In couple of months, the people have an opportunity to elect school board members who will work to re-establish adult control over students in school.

In couple of months, the people will still be ignorant about the student discipline problem in the APS.  The Journal still will have not investigated and reported upon student discipline problems in the APS.

Why they will not investigate and report upon student discipline problems, according to someone other than Brooks or board members, is a question they don't have to answer.

At least, not when I ask it.

Monday, November 19, 2012

The power to avoid subordinate evaluation.

Socrates takes credit for observing that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

It would be difficult to find a better measure of conduct and competence in leaders, than the honest opinions of their subordinates; in particular of subordinates with demonstrable capability to participate meaningfully in that evaluation.  Teachers for example.

In fact, power doesn't corrupt absolutely; power doesn't corrupt at all.

The opportunity to abuse power without being held accountable for that abuse, does corrupt, absolutely.

Good leaders accept accountability,
great leaders demand it.

Great leaders provide for open and honest subordinate evaluation
of their performance and of their character.

APS Supt Winston Brooks
does not.

photo Mark Bralley

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Brooks v. Sink; a "private affair"?

The Journal reports; link, the no bid deal APS made for digital textbooks created quite a brouhaha; justifiably.  But that's not the whole story.

The story inside the story written by Journal investigative reporter Mike Gallagher is; it seems APS Supt Winston Brooks and recently retired Assoc Supt Linda Sink weren't getting along.

It's a recurring theme; women working under Brooks and not getting along.  A number of them are suing him.

There are those, I among them, who are concerned about by rumors, evidence and testimony regarding Brooks' treatment of women.  The quality of his public service, his conduct and his competence, are legitimate interests of the people.

Brooks' and the board have an interest in keeping Brooks' inability to get along, to themselves.  They have a common interest in protecting APS' and their public perception.

So a fundamental question is begged; whose business is it,
whether Brooks is a misogynist and a bully at work?

Would it be a private affair, just for those in the know,
or do the people have an interest?

Does Brooks' conduct at work enjoy any legitimate exception under open government laws?

Is the public service of the highest ranking public servant in the APS, a legitimate interest of the people?

Voters have a responsibility to hold school board members accountable at election.  How can voters hold the board accountable, for holding the superintendent accountable, if his standards and accountability are a private affair?

The only assurances that Brooks and the board are doing a good job, come from Brooks, the board, and their million dollar communications department. It is manifest conflict of interests.  It is a violation of school board policy.

We are assured by the school board, they hired a wonderful superintendent.  We are assured by the school board, he's such a great superintendent, he deserves a $750K golden parachute.  What else would you expect them to say; they hired a bully who can't get along with anyone, especially women?

The school board assuring us that they are doing a good job is a manifest conflict of interests.  They're enabling corruption and incompetence to protect their own political and legal self interests.

Where is the independent investigation of standards and accountability in the leadership of the APS?

One would like to think it would be in the newspaper.

The Journal will investigate and report upon the allegations and evidence of dysfunction in APS' senior administration.  They will investigate and report upon the evidence of an ethics and accountability scandal in APS' senior leadership, and the school board's ongoing complicity and complacency.

Education reporter Hailey Heinz won't write about standards and accountability in the senior administration, Gallagher will.

The Journal will tell the people what they really need to know in order to vote on school board seats, mill levies, and bond issues.

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

 photos Mark Bralley

Saturday, November 17, 2012

$368M going to highest bidders?

Two Journal reports this week of interest to taxpayers.  One about APS awarding a contract to the highest bidder, link, and another about the school board and senior administration's quest for another $368M to spend on our behalf, in our stead.

School bond issue and mill levy elections are the means by which taxpayers exert their will upon the politicians and public servants who will spend hundreds of millions of tax dollars.  A fair question to ask is, how well are they spending them?  Are they being spent effectively and efficiently?

Did they pay $800 apiece for board member chairs, or not?

There is a record to examine.  If taxpayers want to see how their money will be spent, they want to see how their money just was spent.

If APS COO Brad Winter did a good job spending the last few hundreds of millions of dollars, it it's a good indication that he can spend the next few hundred million dollars effectively and efficiently.

When asked to produce a candid, forthright and honest accounting of spending at 6400 Uptown Blvd, Winters did not.

For some reason, he doesn't want us to see it.

Either that, or he just doesn't have any records in the first place.

At the time this spending was going on, independent auditors found that APS administrators like Winters, were spending upwards of $50K at a whack "without involving Purchasing."  The auditors found inadequate standards, inadequate accountability, and inadequate record keeping, link.

The rub here is that students really do need buildings and the only way to end the out of our control spending of our resources is to cut off the money.

Either he produces a candid, forthright and honest accounting of spending at 6400 Uptown Blvd, or we don't trust him with $368 million more.

The Journal will support the mill levy and bond issue, and never report that a candid, forthright and honest accounting of spending at 6400 Uptown Blvd has never been produced.

 photos Mark Bralley

Friday, November 16, 2012

Learning expensive and, apparently, quite transitory

In the Journal, link, this morning, a report on the proposed APS school calendar for next year.

Of significance, spring break, which usually precedes high stakes standardized testing, will take place after the testing is completed.  The logic; the longer you wait before administering the tests, the better students will do.  If anyone ever explained why the tests aren't given at the end of the year, I must have missed it.

The other rationale for testing before, as opposed to after, a break is, so much of what was "learned" will be forgotten over the week between teaching and testing, test scores will fall significantly.

Reporter Hailey Heinz wrote;

A key rationale for the change is that spring break is currently held right before the state-mandated time period for standardized testing. The idea is that students forget key content during a break ...
Role Modeling the Pillar of Respect
My impression is, that key rationale was explained to her by School Board Member and batterer Kathy Korte.

The rationale guides the decision making that places the winter break between semesters and not in front of first semester finals.

We are paying more than a billion dollars a year for learning, a significant part of which evaporates over two weeks.

It is time to rethink the paradigm.
Maybe following rigid calendars and timelines
isn't the most important thing after all.

photo Korte's Facebook

Thursday, November 15, 2012

In back to back meetings with no public forum

the APS School Board will make it harder for to students to shop around in their efforts to educate themselves.

The Journal reports, link,

A key limitation under the new policy is that students will be able to take outside credit only if they are taking a class that isn’t reasonably offered by APS.
The board is experiencing a conflict of interests.  On the one hand, they want to hang onto students and the money that comes with them.  On the other hand, there is the school board's own code of ethics, link; their number one ethic being;
1. Make the education and well-being of students the basis for all decision making.
Clearly the education and well-being of students is best served by making their education as easily available as it can be made.  Any class offered anywhere by any means, either meets standards for classes or does not.  If it does, it doesn't make any difference who offers it or how.  Nor does it matter, how many hours it takes a student to demonstrate adequate proficiency.  It only matters, whether the class meets standards.

The school board will settle this conflict in the manner they settle all their conflicts of interest; they will vote in favor of their self interests. They will do it in back to back meetings with no public forum. Neither agenda, link, link, allows public input.

No opportunity is allowed for people to petition their government, their first right under the Constitution of the United States.

Charter school advocates, including the students who choose them over APS' and their "reasonable" efforts to meet their individual needs, will have no voice in the decision.

Business as usual for the board.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A: Because they don't want you to know how bad it really is.

Q: Why will there never be a poll of APS employees, on their morale and confidence in their leadership?

There has been a poll of APD police officers, link.

The majority of respondents reported low morale and dissatisfaction with their chief.

Subordinate evaluation?
I don't need no stinkin'
subordinate evaluations.
If APS employees were given a similar survey, they would report low morale and dissatisfaction with their chief too.

Low morale doesn't flow from bad circumstances, as much as it flows from bad leadership.

We have only the school board's word for it, by means of a 3/4 million dollar golden parachute, that Brooks is any great shakes as a superintendent.

Good leaders and newspapers pay attention to employee morale as a leading indicator of institutional and systemic ill-heath.  The only leaders who want to cover up low morale, are those whose lack of good leadership destroys morale.  Those who will not survey morale, decline to do so because they are afraid of the results.  If morale were high, they would be measuring it twelve ways from Sunday.

The newspapers that enable the cover up of low morale in public systems and institutions, do so in a least tacit support destructive leadership in the Albuquerque Police Department and in the Albuquerque Public schools.

Frankly, I've never understood why teachers unions don't run subordinate evaluations as a matter of course.

I have always understood why powerful public servants don't conduct subordinate evaluation; their lack of character and or, their lack of courage.

APS Supt Winston Brooks will never stand for subordinate evaluation.  He can summon neither the requisite character nor the requisite courage.

Or am I missing something?

photo Mark Bralley

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Armenta and Chavez; "communications staffers" or Journal bias?

It has bugged me from the first reading of Hailey Heinz' report on my federal civil rights lawsuit against the school board and a handful of individually identified board members and senior administrators.

Two of the senior administrators and named respondents are APS Executive Director of Communications Monica Armenta and Director of Communications Rigo Chavez.

Chavez is being sued in his capacity as "Records Custodian" and not over his individual conduct or competence.

In her story, Heinz identified them both as "communications staffers".

Armenta is part of the leadership team.  She takes down more than $100K; she sits at the table where decisions are made.

Why did Heinz, or whomever wrote the headline, write that I was suing the "schools", and not that I am suing the school board itself and three senior administrators?

Why did Heinz write,

"A longtime critic of Albuquerque Public Schools is suing "the school district",
when the complaint reads clearly and unequivocally;
the Albuquerque Public Schools Board of Education ...
The complaint was made against the board, collectively and individually in the cases of Marty Esquivel and David Robbins.
Why is the truth being soft pedaled?

These are a few of the points I would make and questions I would ask when, if, the Journal ever gets around to reporting on both sides; when they finally get around to interviewing the complainant as well as the respondents, as part of the balanced coverage of the suit that they are obligated to provide.

Why was I not interviewed?  Why am I not allowed to refute and rebut the impressions Heinz and the Journal have allowed to be created and enable to be perpetuated?

It's because they're not really accountable to anyone but each other.

There really is a privileged class here in River City, and
they really do cover each others' asses.

photos Mark Bralley

Friday, November 09, 2012

Do Brooks and the board really need their own Police Department?

Their legislative agenda, link, indicates APS' lobbyist will be lobbying for their very own publicly funded private police department, a far cry from their publicly funded private police force.

A police "department" is a step up from police "force"
The APS Police force has oversight,
an APS police department will not.
They will be accountable only to Brooks and the board.

Brooks and the board say they need a "department".
Only if they are a police department can their officers

"... specialize in working with children 
to focus on protection of students and 
enhance their educational success."
It is apparently impossibly difficult to get exactly the same officers to understand something as members of a police force, that they will be able to grasp easily when they are members of a police department.

What they're really looking for is the authority to commission their own officers.   Currently, APS officers enjoy commissions under the Bernalillo County Sheriff Dan Houston.  Houston amounts to the sum total of independent oversight over the APS Police force.

Among the things he doesn't tolerate, is them self-investigating felony criminal misconduct, link.  Once they slip this through the legislature, they will be back to self investigation of their own corruption.  Assuming they ever stopped.

They're covering up the scandal in the leadership of their private police force, link.  They're covering up the cover up.  They're hiding the findings of at least three investigations into misappropriation of funds and harassment of whistleblowers by running illegal NCIC criminal background checks on them.  Not to mention the one they ran on an associate superintendent's fiance.

They're hiding evidence of felony criminal misconduct by senior APS administrators.

When they are made a department, they will have the authority to self-investigate their corruption again.  And with no one to complain to except the supt and board whose police force it is; whose Praetorian Guard it is.

Would they do such a thing, given the appearance of conflicts of interests it creates?

As a matter of fact, yes, they would.

Will the Journal continue to ignore it?

Apparently yes, they will.

Information overload?

The city has recently posted more public records on their website.  KKOB reports that people are wondering if the new deluge of data from the city is "too much" data.

The Journal reports on the deluge as well, link.

All data has to be stored somewhere.  It might as well be stored in a place that is readily accessible to the people whose data it is.  There cannot be "too much" data, as long as it is searchable.

In theory there are only two kinds of public records;

  1. those that people can inspect and copy, and 
  2. those they cannot.
In practice, the records that people can inspect and copy, are sub-divided themselves into;
  1. the ones that make the pol or public servant look good, or at least not bad, and which will be produced rather immediately, and 
  2. those which show public corruption or incompetence, and will not be surrendered unless and until the courts order it so.
The only real measure of transparency in government, is the ease with which citizens can lay hands on all of the truth that the law will allow.

A case on point;
The public records of investigations into public corruption and incompetence in APS' publicly funded
private police force.

The records are subject to immediate surrender, yet they will be surrendered only after APS Supt Winston Brooks and the school board litigate against the public interests, and at public expense, for as long as they can prolong the delay.  The law allows them to do that.  Their lawyers will make so much money of the litigation, they won't tell how much they make.  You could sue them for the information I suppose.

In that respect, Mayor Richard Berry is no hero;
he is in fact, no better than any of the rest.

He talks a good game, but he continues to refuse to
recognize bloggers as press; engaging in activities that
are protected under the First Amendment.

photo Mark Bralley

Editors ask APS for the truth

The editorial headline,

APS, Give the Public Information It Deserves,
promises far more than the editors deliver. It turns out that the editors are just upset because when APS puts an employee on administrative leave, they are very closed mouth about what they've been accused of doing. They wonder, is there more to the story? and conclude, who knows?

The editors apparently do understand that
... providing students, parents and taxpayers the specifics allows them to make fact-based decisions on whether the public school district acted appropriately ...
Again, editors strain at a gnat and swallow a camel.

They're upset that "APS" won't tell them specifics about personnel issues, and could not care less that "APS" won't tell them the truth about spending at 6400 Uptown Blvd, far more important information, particularly in light of the upcoming Bond Issue election.

Spending still secret from taxpayers.  Did they spend $800 a piece for chairs for board members? Who knows, and why doesn't the Journal care?

The editorial concern over the comparatively unimportant and lack of concern over the spending of millions of tax dollars is perplexing.

Did APS COO Brad Winter spend the last bond issue money efficiently and effectively? Who knows - it's a secret.

Do taxpayers have a need to know?

Do taxpayers have a right to know?

The editors seem unsure.

That, or the Journal is part of a coverup of unjustifiable spending by administrators on administrative accoutrements; deliberately keeping that information secret while APS floats another multimillion dollar bond issue past unwitting taxpayers.

photo Mark Bralley

cc the editors, upon posting