Monday, April 30, 2012

Brooks and the board pulling a fast one

Originally, the Policy and Instruction Committee was scheduled to meet on May 8th. Without explanation, it has been moved to tomorrow night. Whatever the reason for the change, it is exponentially more difficult to gather resistance. Not that anyone who goes to the meeting will be allowed meaningful participation;

Committee Chair David Peercy flat will not allow public input as part of any meeting he chairs.

He really has no interest in hearing from stakeholders, his idea of communication is, getting their message out.

During his diatribe on consideration of the Citizens Advisory Council on Communication petition, he used the phrase "get the message out" no less than seven times.

It is his committee that buried public discussion, link, of board member's obligations as role models of APS student standards of conduct, the Pillars of Character Counts!

Peercy's Committee intends to discuss and act on proposals that would allow APS Supt Winston Brooks to keep investigations of administrative corruption and incompetence, under his individual control. It will be he who decides what information will be shared with stakeholders, if any at all.

Brooks' plan is, when a complaint is filed against an APS administrator, the investigation and the investigative findings, will be kept under their control, to publish or secret at their whim.

There is no good and ethical reason to conduct in house investigations. The appearances of conflicts of interest and impropriety are as unacceptable as they are manifestly obvious. It is rather like putting the fox in charge of investigating missing chickens.

There is only one reason to oppose independent investigations of allegations of corruption and/or incompetence by administrators; a need to control, and spin, the truth.

Consider APS' self-investigation of criminal misconduct, link, in leadership of their publicly funded, private Police force. Long after statutes of limitation have expired, the findings are still secret.

When School Board President Paula Maes indicated that she would never agree to any audit that would individually identify corrupt and incompetent administrators, she meant as well; if an investigation does take place, and it does name names, APS will spend operational dollars (classroom dollars) to underwrite whatever legal weaselry is necessary to litigate their exception to the Inspection of Public Records Act.

There is an ethics and accountability scandal in the leadership of the APS. They need more than anything else, to control the spin; including hiding the truth altogether.

There is only one reason to hide the truth, and that is to protect the corrupt and the incompetent from the consequences of their corruption and incompetence.

The people have no direct influence over the administration of their power and resources in the APS. Their only oversight is by means of the school board they elect. But if the administration and the school board are in cahoots, if they all want to hide the truth, we cannot rely upon them to put an end to Brooks' plan.

School Board enforcer Marty Esquivel and School Board President Paula Maes are foursquare behind Brooks efforts to cover up administrative incompetence and corruption.

photos Mark Bralley

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Korte's fishy math

If you read through the transcript, link, you find a red herring School Board Member Kathy Korte brought to the table during the discussion of the Citizens Advisory Council on Communication petition; her "yet another thing to do" math.

School Board Member Kathy Korte never misses an opportunity to remind interest holders of her suffering as their servant; the number of hours and amount of energy she devotes to her public service.

On the subject of communications alone;

"... there's nothing that we haven't tried or we aren't doing to try and reach out to the public that we serve. I do it every day. I spend too many hours doing it."
Board members pledge, before they run for office, that, they have the time to do the job. It seems silly to complain when the people take you up on the pledge.

An onus falls upon board members to decide, of everything they can, could or should do in their capacity as a board member, which can they actually do.

Let's say for example, Korte has 200 things on her plate; places people want her to be, things they want her to read, things the want her to do. Let's say she has whittled down her list, prioritized the more important 100 demands, and added them to her to actually do list.

Then comes the Citizens Advisory Council on Communication, asking for her time and attention. They did not ask for more of her time and attention, only their fair share of both according her prioritization process (presumably; those that offer the most bang for the buck in advancing the public, not her personal, interests).

The leadership of the APS is averse to situations where they cannot control the spin. They spend a million dollars a year controlling the spin.

Korte cannot own her aversion to two-way communication and she is grasping at straws. One of the straws she offered in her denial of due process for petitioners, was to argue, she could not do another thing; she cannot do 101 things. Her logic cannot stand scrutiny.

The petitioners have a Constitutionally protected human right to be put on the same list as every other interest holder; subject to her prioritization and according to the public interests. The CACoC petitioners are not asking for special treatment, just equal treatment. If they're less worthy than the 100th thing she does, then she has justification to strike them from her list.

In truth, Korte opposes the effort to create real two-way communication between the leadership of the APS and the community members they serve. It is because she, they, no one, can legitimately control the direction of a two-way conversation. The truth cannot be spun if there are real opportunities for exploration of issues.

The truth about the spending of public power and resources by the leadership of the APS belongs to those whose power and resources are being spent; the people. That truth is divided into two parts; the truth that remains hidden according to the law; the Inspection of Public Records Act and the Open Meetings Act, and the truth which is not excepted by the law.

That truth, the part that enjoys no exception under the laws, is divided into two parts; the part the makes the leadership of the APS look good, and the part that makes them look bad.

They are falling over themselves to get the good information out; a million dollars a year for Monica Armenta and APS' "communications" effort. They spend as many resources and as much energy or more, trying to keep hidden, the information that makes them look bad. Who knows what they have spent trying to keep, for example, the Caswell Report and other investigations into felony criminal misconduct in the leadership of the APS Police force, secret from public knowledge?

Their entire communications effort consists of a stream of information flowing in one direction. Nowhere is there a place to have the conversations Board Member Lorenzo Garcia was talking about when he offered; we're going to have to learn to have the harder conversations.

Korte will undoubtedly attack me and my motivation for wanting to talk about things that make her and the rest of the leadership of the APS "look bad". The truth is, the looking bad part is only the chips falling where they may. It has to due with establishing accountability in public service and politics. She can characterize my effort to address accountability issues as "negativity", but it's only another red herring.

It's about the answering of questions, not about why they were asked or by whom.

photos Mark Bralley

Friday, April 27, 2012

If APS collected data on bullying and chronically disruptive students,

the data would show a history of the problem and solutions we've tried, current statistics and strategies we are using, and future plans.

If APS didn't collect comprehensive history and data on student discipline, if they cannot or will not produce that record, it would show they have something to hide.

Why do we never talk about student discipline when we talk about reforming education? Where is the Power Point presentation on the effects of out of control students on school climates and the education of other students?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Bullying is just the tip of the iceberg

APS District and Community Relations Committee met Tuesday evening, link. They met in the John Milne room consequent to larger than normal attendance by community members.

Had they taken questions, I would have asked how we can talk about bullying without talking about the fundamental lack of authority of adults over children in schools that enables it.

How can you talk about prohibiting a specific behavior in the absence of an evidence of being able to control any behavior at all? How's their prohibition of "sagging" working out for them?  How's their cell phone ban coming along?  Prohibition of fighting? tardiness?  Truancy?

S/he whose will is being done, is in charge. A student defying an adult, is in charge. Students are in charge in schools. And they are disrupting the education of other students.

Despite spending nearly a million dollars a year on Monica Armenta and her "communication", effort, APS cannot or will not produce a candid, forthright and honest description of student behavior in schools, link.

They have a power point presentation for everything else.

There is no power point on student discipline because the administrative response to chronically disruptive student misconduct is a failure, and APS' response to administrative failure is to hide it.

In that endeavor, they enjoy the aid and abet of their cronies in the establishment's media.

Either that, or the effects of a lack of student discipline overall, and chronically disruptive students in particular, aren't a problem worthy of their investigation and report.

photo Mark Bralley

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Korte, ignoring the Constitution

On March 27, the school board met for a District and Community Relations Committee meeting. On their agenda, consideration of a petition submitted by the Citizens Advisory Council on Communications. I secured a copy of the audio recording of the meeting and had a transcript prepared, link. The transcript is quite lengthy as some board members chose to speak at length on a number of issues; some completely unrelated to the petition. It speaks to the need for trained facilitators to run meetings instead of board members.

Kathy Korte showed her true colors that night; her complete disregard for the Constitutional rights of petitioners in order to pursue a personal vendetta against one of their associates.

The First Amendment to the constitution reads in significant part;

"Congress shall make no law ... abridging ... the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government ... "
"Freedom of assembly, sometimes used interchangeably with the freedom of association, is the individual right to come together and collectively express, promote, pursue and defend common interests. The right to freedom of association is recognized as a human right, a political freedom and a civil liberty", wikilink.

Korte has a different idea. In a moment of remarkable candor, Korte admitted her intention to hold petitioners and their petition hostage to her personal vendetta against me.

She said, I'm sorry to say, I know that one of your leaders is Ched MacQuigg. I read his blog every now and then. It is the most negative thing I have ever read. So I don't read it, actually. To be honest with you, I don't read it. So I'm suspect of your intentions because I know Ched MacQuigg plays a big Role in this, and he's the most negative person I've ever met in my life.

Assume for the sake of argument; I am the most negative person Korte has ever met in her life; so what? Where in the Constitution, or in any amendment does it read; none of this applies to people, who in the eyes of petty politicians and public servants, are negative?

This is about the message; two-way communication, not about the messenger. Korte can't stay on message; she has no choice but to go after the messenger.

A question has been asked; are you going to support an effort to create two-way communication between the leadership of the APS and the community members they serve?

Korte doesn't want to answer the question, because her answer is no.

Even the oft arrogant Korte is not going to stand up and admit she actually opposes two-way communication with interest holders.

Korte et al, will argue there was two-way communication that night, between petitioners and their government. Petitioners might argue, there was not.

Interest holders could decide for themselves, except that the audio tape of the meeting is not available on APS' award winning website, and most people will not go through the bother of driving over there to pick up a CD.

Korte manifests contempt for interest holders and their rights to participate meaningfully in the spending of power and resources that belong fundamentally to them. She might be the most contemptuous politician I have ever met. So what?

Korte is a bully, a bully hiding behind a publicly funded private police force who aid and abet her denial of due process to petitioners and their right to freely assemble to petition their government.

Also aiding and abetting, as is usual, in the denial of due process to legitimate petitioners; Kent Walz and the Journal, and the affiliates of School Board President Paula Maes New Mexico Broadcasters Association, none of whom will investigate and report upon the Citizens Advisory Council on Communication, their efforts to establish two-way communication, and the board and administration's efforts to prevent it.

photos Mark Bralley

Saturday, April 21, 2012

How many other city jobs have no oversight?

Chief Administrative Officer Rob Perry is obviously pretty upset in his interview with KRQE, link, regarding a city employee who, it would appear, was scamming taxpayers.

Roberto Albertorio, Esq. is the Chief Administrative Hearing Officer for the City of Albuquerque. We pay him $105K a year to put in a forty hour week serving the public interests. He was instead, it is alleged, running a private law practice out of his city office.

He was able to do that for years because he has "no supervisor".

Perry is "astounded" that a public employee being paid $105K (and with no supervision or oversight) might do something untoward while (because) no one was looking;

"We are absolutely astounded that this individual had done 800 cases while a city employee being paid $105,000 a year."
I'm absolutely astounded that Perry did nothing to prevent him from "doing 800 cases while a city employee being paid $105, 000 a year".

As Chief Administrative Officer, the $143K a year, Perry should know if there are employees who have "no supervisor" and no oversight, and who are therefore, consistent with basic human nature, more likely than not, milking the situation for all they can.

All of which begs a question;
Are there any other employees who are supervised by
no one, who report to no one, who fall under no one's
oversight?  How many are under supervised?
It is important to note that the exposure of this scandal did not
flow from governmental oversight, but rather, and as usual,
from whistleblower and investigative reporter oversight.

If not for reporters and whistleblowers, taxpayers are as defenseless as governmental self-oversight is feckless.

photo Mark Bralley

Thursday, April 19, 2012

"Children being children" in public school classrooms

Another elementary school student has been handcuffed, link; this one in Georgia.

It rekindled interest in the news about APS students getting handcuffed, link.

The children's lawyer argues that children should not be put in handcuffs for acting like children.

Not all children behave in ways at school, that place them in situations where handcuffs are even considered.

Children being children commit inadvertent acts. When you ask them to stop, they do. Depending on how they were raised, they might even apologize. For the most, their misconduct doesn't disrupt teaching and learning by their classmates.

Then, there are students who when you ask them to please stop, will not. Students whose misbehavior does disrupt classrooms; students who think its funny to burp and burp and burp and burp ... and won't stop until finally someone throws handcuffs on them and ends their disruption.

When a teacher asks a student to stop misbehaving and the student's response means, no, the problem becomes an administrative issue. According to school board policy, administration is charged with enforcing district and school discipline problems.

Why is student discipline not even being discussed in the educational reform discourse? Why aren't we talking about the effects of chronically disruptive students on other students?

I asked APS Supt Winston Brooks why we never talk about student discipline, link; still nothing.

In the absence of any other explanation, Brooks is unwilling to talk about student discipline because it is a serious problem, the administration is responsible, and it is being managed ineffectively. If teachers were ever asked, they would substantiate the existence of an enormous problem and too little administrative support.

Brooks is understandably, though not acceptably, unwilling to talk about the issue candidly, forthrightly and honestly.

It is the practice of administrators to keep disruptive students in classrooms as long as possible; expecting teachers to correct their behavior. It is their practice to burden teachers with recalcitrant and disruptive students, rather than free teachers to focus on students who want to learn and need their teacher's individual attention.

Chronically disruptive students are an administrative responsibility. Do we want to invest our teachers in teaching or behavior management?

Are handcuffs the right answer? It depends on the situation.
If there is no other choice than allowing 29 other kids to be
deprived of their education, then yes, handcuffs are the answer.

Neither those who agree or disagree with my conclusion, will
find a venue where they can discuss these issues or any others.
There will be no public discussion at all.

The leadership of the APS will not point to a time, a day and a place, where they will sit down and discuss student discipline and the effects of chronically disruptive students on test scores and graduation rates.

The Citizens Advisory Council on Communication has petitioned the leadership of the APS for their support in an effort to create a venue for two-way communication between the leadership of the APS and the community members they serve; a place where we can discuss the need to handcuff students.

I asked the Journal if they would investigate and report upon the effects of student discipline and chronically disruptive students in the APS.

Apparently, they will not.

photo Mark Bralley

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Torrance County whistleblower taking heat

Torrance County Commissioner Vanessa Chavez-Gutierrez is a whistleblower. She wrote a letter to the state auditor asking for an investigation into apparent corruption in the letting of county contracts.

KOB reports that the contractor in question is harassing the Commissioners family, link.

There are really only two mechanisms for exposing governmental corruption in New Mexico; whistleblowers and investigative reporters. Except for them, taxpayers appear to be at the mercy of corrupt and incompetent politicians and public servants.

It begs a question about where the responsibility lies for oversight. Is it reasonable to expect the powerless to hold the powerful accountable?

God bless folks like Vanessa Chavez-Gutierrez who have the courage to blow the whistle on corruption, but if governmental oversight is left up to a handful of whistleblowers and investigative reporters, there will always be corruption and incompetence.

The first legitimate use of power is to ensure that the power cannot be abused. It is up to government to provide oversight over its spending of our power and resources.

It is up to us to insist that the oversight functions of government, the state auditor and attorney general, have the staff and resources they need to make it impossibly difficult to steal from taxpayers without getting caught.

photo Mark Bralley

Monday, April 16, 2012

Are teachers really the problem?

More than a third of a century ago, I began teaching. At the time, there was a great deal of concern about evaluating teachers; who would do it, how would they do it, and what criteria would they use?

Like most aspects of education, little has changed in the intervening three decades. We're still focused on teachers as the problem and teacher evaluation as the solution.

For awhile back then, the fad was to call teachers facilitators.
It made a great deal of sense, the work of learning has to be done by the student, the teachers function was to help them learn.

The focus on fixing education by improving teaching, assuming "teaching" can be substantially improved, is addressing the smallest aspect of the problem. The biggest part of the problem is students who don't want to learn, and even the best teachers cannot make students want to do anything.

Public education includes teaching and learning. Learning is an individual activity. For the same reasons you can lead a horse to water but can't make it drink; you can't make students learn. The best teacher in the world cannot teach a student who does not want to learn. There is no such thing as a disengaged learner; they have to be there, present and engaged for learning to take place.

The reason kids don't want to learn has a great deal to do with the obsolete model for public education they must endure; 30 kids sitting in five rows of six desks, working out of the same book, on the same page, at the same speed for twelve grueling years.

What are we training them for? When again in their lives will they be compelled to join a group of thirty strangers and form a thought choir in order to accomplish some goal? Even if we could take groups of 30 kids with nothing in common but the year of their birth, and form them into thought choirs, why would we want to?

Lots of things can be mass produced quite economically and effectively; well educated human beings are not among them.

The teacher centered model of education supports an arguement the better teachers means better results. The simple truth is the difference between an average and above average teacher is not that great, and even if it were, it wouldn't make much difference in the overall results because teachers aren't the weakest link in the chain, students are.

In the Journal this morning, link, an extensive article on the "benefits" of National Board Certifications for teachers. The underlying supposition, the exercise makes them better teachers. If you're beating a dead horse to begin with, is a more qualified jockey really your best investment?

Clearly the efforts board-certified teachers put into getting their certification makes them better teachers; but how much better? Deep in the Journal report, the caveat;

Research on National Boards is still inconclusive, but several studies have shown that students taught by National Board-certified teachers show more academic growth than peers taught by non-board certified teachers — although other studies have shown no significant difference. It is unclear whether the process makes teachers better, or whether better teachers choose to go through it. However, there is some evidence teachers improve their classroom practices as a result of the experience. (emphasis added)
Yet here we go, plunging headlong into a very expensive endeavor ignoring the lack of a foundation based on empirical data.

If there really are super teachers, teachers that stand head and shoulders above good average teachers, where are they, and why is their skill set so impossible to quantify?

Sunday, April 15, 2012

APS' four new goals

Assuming the Journal has it right, link, the leadership of the APS has agreed upon four goals to last them until their next goal setting exercise;

  1. improving academic achievement,
  2. maintaining sound financial stewardship,
  3. improving community engagement and
  4. maintaining a safe school environment
Improve academic achievement - seems reasonable under the circumstances.

Maintain sound financial stewardship - implies sound financial stewardship exists. What definition of "sound financial stewardship" does not include candor, forthrightness and honesty in the accounting of the spending of public resources? Until they produce a candid, forthright and honest accounting of their spending at 6400 Uptown Blvd, the goal should read; improving sound financial stewardship.

Maintain a safe school environment - again, implies that schools are safe now. Until they produce empirical evidence to substantiate their claim, the goal should read; creating a safe school environment.

The recent audit finding; there is a "culture of fear of retribution and retaliation" in the administration of the APS, points to a lack of safe environment for adults. There is no reason to expect students to feel any safer at school than their teachers do.

Improve community engagement
If there is a pinnacle of "community engagement" it is two-way communication between the leadership of the APS and the community members they serve.

But School Board member Kathy Korte has a different idea; she is pretty clear about what she means by community engagement; folks will get background checks and then go volunteer in classrooms.

She has a right to her preference.

She has no right to impose her preference upon people she supposedly serves. It is not her prerogative to define community engagement, it is the prerogative of the community.

The Citizens Advisory Council on Communications is ready, willing and able to help create a model for two-way communication between interest holders in the APS.

Korte has done everything she can to thwart the CACoC effort. Her utterly indefensible justification for denying petitioners due process, appears to be their association with me.

They, of course, have a Constitutionally protected human right to associate with whomever they please, and without becoming targets of a school board member's vendetta.

Korte is more comfortable attacking the messenger than responding to the message, because her position on the message is indefensible. She has no good and ethical argument against creating a venue for two-way communication between the leadership of the APS and the community. If she had a defensible position, she wouldn't need to bring me in to the discussion at all.

Korte is not alone.

There is a reason, at the beginning of every public forum, Korte tells citizens they are not allowed to ask her or anyone else, any questions.

There is a reason they oppose the creation of a meeting venue where questions can be asked and candid, forthright and honest responses are expected.

Despite their stated goal; improve community engagement;
there really isn't one of them who will stand on the record in
support of the creation of a forum where open and honest
two-way communications can actually take place.

photo Mark Bralley

Saturday, April 14, 2012

APS District Goals, where are they; what are they?

If you make your way to APS' award winning website, and search for "District Goals", link, you will no mention of new goals. As far as anyone who depends on the website for current information knows, they still have the same 8 goals.

Yet, the Journal reports, link, that APS has new goals;

The district settled on four main goals, down from the previous eight, after extensive public comment about what direction it should take and what issues are most important. The goals are improving academic achievement, maintaining sound financial stewardship, improving community engagement and maintaining a safe school environment.
Why haven't APS Executive Director of Communications, Crisis Manager and Calendar girl Monica Armenta, and their million dollar a year effort to "communicate", been able to communicate that the goals have changed?

A question is begged; how can the new goals be reached, if no one knows what they are?

The last time they wrote new goals, they celebrated them, literally, link.

Do they have new goals or not? When do they plan to let us know what they are?

Shouldn't they at least tell the folks who are supposed to do the work that will enable them to meet their goals?

photo Mark Bralley

Friday, April 13, 2012

Attempted cover up, covered up

KRQE continues to investigate, link, the allegation that an APS senior administrator, Rep Sheryl Williams-Stapleton, took advantage of taxpayers. According to their report, they have uncovered evidence that suggests Williams-Stapleton attempted to cover up the fact that she had not completed the appropriate paperwork for the political leave she took.

Of interest to taxpayers; the ball upon which we must keep our eyes; the administrative handling of allegations of administrative corruption or incompetence.

Brooks knew about the attempt to falsify records.

KRQE reports;

APS Superintendent Winston Brooks said he did not take
kindly to Stapleton’s attempt to backdate leave documents...

"I don’t think anything ought to be backdated. I think it’s unethical.”

Brooks is apparently unaware,
the falsification of public records
is a fourth-degree felony.

Yet, how could he not know,
except willful ignorance?

If the allegations of criminal
misconduct are investigated,
who will do the investigation?

Brooks would like to have his own publicly funded, private police force, the APS police, do the investigating; a police force that is certificated by no one, certified by no one, and accountable to no one except Winston Brooks and the leadership of the APS. And, most importantly, which has demonstrated a willingness to hold and hide evidence.

Unfortunately for Brooks, APS signed an MOU with Bernalillo County Sheriff Dan Houston, requiring them to surrender evidence of felony criminal misconduct by APS administrators, to either the Sheriff's Office or the Albuquerque Police Department.

After botching their previous self-investigation of their own public corruption and incompetence, and then suppressing evidence until statutes of limitation expired on felony criminal misconduct by APS senior administrators, link, the APS police force is no longer allowed to self-investigate felony criminal misconduct involving APS senior administrators.

The understanding reads in significant part;
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.
Not much wiggle room there.

It would be interesting to know, if any evidence of Williams-Stapleton's efforts to backdate records, has been forwarded to the Albuquerque Police Department or Sheriff's Office as required by the MOU.

In support of conjecture that no evidence has been forwarded; Brooks' unwillingness to respond candidly, forthrightly and honestly to legitimate questions about his handling of allegations of her misconduct.

Asked if he disciplined Stapleton over the leave situation,
Brooks said, "Yes. The answer to that is yes."

Asked, what was that discipline? Brooks hid the truth behind
"personnel rules".

A letter of reprimand, if she got even that, is a public record.

APS cannot write "personnel rules" that except them from the
requirements of the Inspection of Public Records Act.

Except that they can (obviously), but only because they have an unlimited budget for litigation and legal weaselry, even against the public interests.

Why would Brooks need to hide the letter, or records of any other consequences he provided, even in violation of the law, except that they point to a lack of accountability in the leadership of the APS?

photos Mark Bralley

Thursday, April 12, 2012

KOB shines light on Torrance County Commission

KOB TV sent a news team over to Torrance County yesterday,
to cover the shenanigans at Torrance County Commission meeting.

"On your side" reporter Chris Ramirez reported on two issues;
efforts to limit citizens and media rights to record County Commission meetings, link, and a move to unseat the Commission Chair, Vanessa Chavez-Gutierrez, link.

The villain in both pieces is Commissioner Lonnie Freyburger. It was his idea to offer up a resolution that would prohibit recording devices of any kind to be used during Commission meetings.

And it was he who wondered aloud if the position of Chair could be "re-voted" in order to unseat Chavez-Gutierrez in retaliation for creating "negative publicity". She had written a letter to State Auditor Hector Balderas, asking his office to investigate credible allegations and evidence of corruption in the letting of county contracts.

The contrast between Freyburger and Chavez-Gutierrez could not be more dramatic; he proceeding from the premise that both civil rights and the truth are his to dispense as he sees fit, and she, every bit the opposite.

Chavez-Gutierrez had every right,
some might argue responsibility,
to write her letter to Balderas.

Freyburger may not like that
he wasn't in the loop, but that's his
problem; a personal problem that
he needs to deal with internally;
not by unseating Chavez-Gutierrez.

She needed neither his permission nor his approval to write the letter.

Chavez-Gutierrez said she will think about Freyburger's request that she step down, and then respond.

After the meeting adjourned, several citizens approached Chavez-Gutierrez, encouraging her to remain as Commission Chair. As I have written before, she is doing an extraordinary job chairing commission meetings, and it would be a huge loss to lose her services in that capacity. Especially if she were to be replaced in that position, by Freyburger himself.

Chavez-Gutierrez intends to leave the County Commission and run for a vacant legislative seat. Her manifest quiet courage and character will be a refreshing change in the Roundhouse.

photos Mark Bralley

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

APS Stadium, how much will it really cost?

In November of last year, I asked APS Chief Operating Officer Brad Winter for a candid, forthright and honest accounting of the money they spent on their new boardroom at 6400 Uptown Blvd.

We're still waiting.

Even after a public records request and a complaint filed with APS whistle blower program, he is yet to provide that candid, forthright and honest accounting.

According to internal documents, when Winter was asked about the failure to produce the records, he replied;

I am not responsible for public records requests.
The truth, I suspect, is that he has no idea how much money they spent.

I believe there aren't records at all. Either that, or the records point to incompetence and corruption. Why else will they not produce them?

There was an audit done of the APS Finance Division at the time they were spending more than five and half million dollars renovating a building that they had assured taxpayers, would pay for itself.

The auditors found a profound lack of standards, accountability, and record keeping.

One might hope that in the intervening years, their standards and accountability and record keeping have improved.

One might hope.

Dashing that hope, the facts;
  • they still haven't produced a candid, forthright and honest accounting of spending at 6400 Uptown Blvd,
  • they still oppose any independent audit of their administrative standards of conduct and competence,
  • the abject lack of due process for complaints filed against administrators.
Laurence Sterne observed;
“Trust that man in nothing
who has not a conscience in everything.”
If Winter won't tell us the truth about spending at 6400 Uptown Blvd, what makes anyone think he will tell the truth about spending on the new stadium?

photo Mark Bralley

Policy Committee agenda violates Open Meetings Act

If you take a look at the agenda, link, for the Policy Committee meeting tonight, you will find the following;

Future Topics: Various topics will be presented as time allows.(Discussion/Action)
It is illegal to "discuss" an item that is not on an agenda, much less take "action" on it. The Open Meetings Act reads;
Meeting notices shall include an agenda containing
a list of specific items of business to be discussed or
transacted at the meeting. (emphasis added)
Where except in the minds of the leadership of the APS and their lawyers, does "various topics" meet the specificity required by the law, and by their obligations to interest holders?

Thursday, April 05, 2012

School Board bullies bullying protestors

According to the Journal, link, "... several dozen protestors gathered outside Albuquerque Public Schools district offices on Wednesday, saying the district is not doing enough to prevent bullying.

Apparently, they went inside and spoke at the public forum at the School Board meeting. One it is reported, ran afoul of the board's rules of decorum; including (time) limits on free speech.

The board routinely bullies community members during public forums.

The bullying runs the gamut from imposing completely arbitrary limits on the free speech of citizens who stand up at their forum, to using a private police force to enforce the more arbitrary and indefensible rules of decorum; rules that prohibit asking questions about the public interests and their public service.

John Kennedy wrote;

Those who make peaceful revolution impossible,
make violent revolution inevitable.
School boards who make two-way communication with stakeholders impossible, make the civil disobedience of their rules inevitable.

You can hardly blame people who take affront at limits being placed on their right to peacefully assemble and petition their government, face to face.

The board wants to engage with community by "listening" to them for two minutes every two weeks. They steadfastly refuse to provide a venue where they will respond to questions about the public interests and about their public service. They spend a million dollars a year on a carefully crafted public relations campaign in order hide scandals like the corruption in the APS police force; an effort that could not survive the first open public discussion of important issues.

There is no good and ethical reason to oppose a venue where parents who are concerned about bullying can carry on a conversation about the district's efforts to mitigate it. There is only one reason to oppose a public discussion with the leadership of the APS on the subject of the administrative handling of bullies and other chronically disruptive students; to hide the truth.

Board Member Kathy Korte's has only one reason to obstruct the success of the Citizen's Advisory Council on Communication, a group whose goal is to create venues for community members and the leadership of the APS, to engage in two way communication about important issues; like bullying,

... to hide the truth.

photo Mark Bralley

APS Deputy Chief misled investigator

Pursuant to a public records request, APS has produced a statement made to APS' Ethical Advocate investigator, by APS Deputy Chief Steve Gallegos. The statement was made in response to my complaint against him, link.

My version of the incident read;

I went to APS Administrative Offices in order to conduct personal business in the Employee Benefits Department.

After initially being denied the opportunity to do my business, I was finally "escorted" to Employee Benefits. No one else to my knowledge, is harassed by having an escort attached for no reason.

While I was conducting my business, APS Deputy Police Chief Steve charged into the benefits office, announced that he had to leave a "crisis" to attend to me, and begin harassing me. He asked me several times if I had finished my business and I told him, clearly, "no". I had not.

Never the less he arrested me and demanded that I leave the building.

I had done nothing untoward; the arrest and ejection were totally unjustified.

This is the second time Gallegos has been involved in an unlawful arrest and ejection; he helped throw me out of the EHS Gubernatorial debate, again without justification and upon Winston Brooks’ unlawful orders.
I asked the investigator to gather;
All public records; belt recordings, security videos, emails, texts, phone calls, etc related to the incident.
Gallegos has a different story.
On the afternoon of February 28, 2012 Mr. MacQuigg came to City Centre and told [name redacted] that he had business in Benefits. [name redacted] came to APSPD Dispatch where I was extremely busy dealing with three lockdowns at three separate schools. This concerned subjects with a gun and knife on the campuses. I told [name redacted] that I would meet with Mr. MacQuigg as soon as I could manage to break away for a moment. Within three to four minutes [name redacted] returned to dispatch and told me that Mr. MacQuigg was very loud, argumentative and demanded to know why he could not have free access to benefits.

I told [name redacted] to escort Mr. McQuigg (sic) to Benefits and I would meet them there shortly. Within five minutes I met them in Benefits where Mr. McQuigg (sic) held a receipt in his hand. I asked him if he finished his business and he immediately began to ask questions not related to his business. I again asked him if he was able to complete his business and he said yes. I told him that we had several lockdowns in progress and he said “then go.” Mr. Mcquigg (sic) again began to ask questions and I said I had to leave. He asked if he could finish his questions and I said no because I was very busy. I turned and began to walk back to dispatch and Mr. MacQuigg walked behind me and out of the building. No further conversation took place between me and Mr. MacQuigg.

At no time was Mr. MacQuigg arrested or ejected from the building. It appeared to me that Mr. MacQuigg wanted to question me and argue rather than conduct his business. I would not engage him in this manner.

Steve Gallegos
I have redacted the name of the CSA who Gallegos said reported my "very loud and argumentative" demeanor. This because I have no idea whether she said anything like that and APS did not produce any record that she had. If I was indeed "very loud and argumentative", a record of that behavior was made by security cameras. APS surrendered no camera record.

As to what Gallegos was doing and how busy he was; it's all a smoke screen. Gallegos had no good and ethical reason to intervene at all. I should not have been stopped at all. No one else, on their way to Employee Benefits has to wait for a personal escort from the Chief of their private police force.

The questions I asked him were legitimate; why was he there harassing me? I did suggest that if he was busy, he should, by all means, go. When it became apparent that he was not going to leave; that he was going to stay there and harass me, I did resume my questioning of his harassment.

He asked me if I had finished my business, I told him no. If, as he maintains, I answered "yes", then it would have been recorded and witnessed. Again, APS produced no records of such.

Gallegos writes;
I turned and began to walk back to dispatch and Mr. MacQuigg walked behind me and out of the building.
Despite the fact that my business was not finished, and despite the fact that I clearly did not want to leave, Gallegos would have you believe, I simply wandered after him, he having given no indication that I had to leave.

I was arrested when I was deprived of my liberty. I was ejected from the building when he insisted that I leave.

APS will not produce the public records I requested, because those records would prove Gallegos is a liar.

Gallegos isn't the only liar. When the EA investigator asked Chief of APS Police Force, Steve Tellez,
"... do we have a legal restraining order again (sic) Mr. MacQuigg barring him from the building?
Tellez responded with a lie;
No, all we have is a letter from the Board banning him from CC. (emphasis added)
True there is no legal restraining order. What there is, is an unlawful restraining order; a "letter" banning me from participating in School Board Meetings; it does not ban me from CC (City Center).

The point of this exercise was not to hold APS Deputy Chief Steve Gallegos accountable for harassing me and denying me the free exercise of my Constitutionally protected human rights. I knew that would never happen.

I filed the complaint to prove there is no due process in APS whistle blower hotline, for complaints filed against senior administrators or board members.

And, I believe I have.

photo ched macquigg

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Brooks admits; institutional racism "certainly probably" a problem in the APS

The exact words reported in the Journal this morning, link.

Brooks emphasized that as a large organization, APS likely has problems with discrimination.

“I acknowledge there’s institutionalized racism,” Brooks said. “I acknowledge that discrimination is an issue in all large institutions, and it certainly probably is in ours.”
Probably? Does he really not know if there is institutional discrimination in his organization?

Maybe he should take a bus tour, link, around his own administration.

Frankly, I am aghast that he admits the existence of the problem at all. It is his desk where the buck stops, wikilink, on "institutional" anything.

He owns the problem. If there is institutional racism, it is because Brooks didn't make it clear to his subordinates,
there will be no institutional racism.

As to what might motivate Brooks to admit to a "shared" problem, and purely speculating: I think Brooks is willing to admit to sharing a problem with everybody else, in order not to have to talk about student discipline in the APS, link.

A recent audit found the leadership of the APS routinely falsified crime statistics to make schools look good, link.

There is a reason APS doesn't gather data on student discipline.

Does anyone really supposed that student discipline, the ineffectual administrative handling of chronically disruptive students, and the effects therefrom, have no effect on teaching and learning in classrooms?

I think Kent Walz and the Journal would rather chastise Brooks for a "shared" problem, than investigate and report upon student discipline in the APS.

There's a reason you haven't read about it in the Journal.

photo Mark Bralley