Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Legislative webcasting - three years later

It has been three years almost
to the day, since Rep Janice
Arnold-Jones carried a webcam
into the Roundhouse.

Before Arnold-Jones kicked in the door on legislative webcasting, there was at least some outrage that New Mexico is among the last few states to begin webcasting.

The obstructionists made some concessions to dampen the outrage, rudimentary coverage of parts of the process and no archive; searchable or otherwise, and now, nobody but the Governor seems to be fighting for the robust webcasting the people deserve.

Until the legislature gets around to providing webcasting and an archive, the Governor has taken it upon herself to create an archive of her own on her website.

Obstructionists point to the potential for the Governor to selectively compile and edit the record; a charge denied by the Governor's pio.

The argument would be moot if the legislature created its own webcasting and archiving.

The people who obstructed webcasting then, obstruct webcasting now.

Sen. Linda Lopez, Chairwoman
of the Senate Rules Committee,
says, if they allow themselves to
be recorded doing the peoples'
business, the truth about how
they are doing it "will be used
for campaigning."

The truth is the truth. It doesn't
make any difference who wants
to see it or why they want to see it.
Either the people have a right to the truth about the spending of their power and resources, or they do not. The line between do and do not is the prerogative of the people, not of their servants.

The Journal reports, link;
"During a Senate hearing this
week, Senate President Pro Tem
Tim Jennings noted the coming and going of a Governor’s Office employee filming the committee and alleged the cameras are intended to 'catch us for political purpose'.”

He says that like it's a bad thing.

Because of the obstruction of Jennings, Lopez and others, there is no robust webcasting to searchable archive.

Lopez argued, “To me, if the governor is going to be doing this,
she should be at every hearing.”

No Senator Lopez, the Governor
should be webcasting the
Executive Branch up to the
limits of the law, and you Senator,
you and the legislature should be
webcasting the legislature.

You mind your business Senator,
and the Governor will by held
accountable for minding hers.

The Journal reports;
"Last year, top-ranking Senate Democrats sponsored a largely symbolic bill that would have required webcasting of Martinez’s Cabinet meetings. Also Senate Democratic leader Michael Sanchez of Belen instructed a staffer to shoot video of the employees filming for the Governor’s Office."

Martinez does not emerge from the Journal article unscathed. Her pio is reported to have disputed the claim that the Governor's Office is selectively editing the record by asserting; "... recently archived videos posted on the website do not appear to be edited." emphasis added

Two too many qualifiers for my taste;
  1. "recently archived" Can we infer that the ones "not so recently archived" may have been selectively edited to manipulate the truth?
  2. "do not appear to be edited" Is it even possible to create more wiggle room than the words "do not appear" allow?
The people of New Mexico are entitled state of the art webcasting and archiving of politicians and public servants within their public service in the Roundhouse.

The likelihood of ever seeing robust webcasting is remote.
The fire for reform has died down to embers.
Point to a single newspaper, broadcaster or blog complaining
about the fact that three years after webcasting was dropped
into the legislative punchbowl, we still don't have any way
to watch our business being done in the legislature except by
tuning in real time, and only then for some meetings and not others.

And, we don't seem to be getting any closer.

photos Mark Bralley

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