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 

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Why won't the Journal look at the record?

The Journal, Kent Walz, Charlie Moore, Tommy Lang, whomever, has reported, link, upon my complaint in United States District Court.  The report was not based on a due diligence investigation.  They either haven't looked at readily available evidence; the public records of every meeting where I have allegedly misbehaved, or they're choosing to not report on it.

The video and audio tapes of board and committee meetings provide incontrovertible proof of what I said and did, and what their buddy Marty Esquivel said and did.

The case will be settled on my conduct during public meetings and whether anything I did justified a school board enforcer's violations of my Constitutionally protected human rights to speak freely and petition my government.  The suit would not have been filed if the evidence, recordings of every incident, the cold hard truth, were not completely in our favor.  Our suit is righteous.

On a more pragmatic level, when the Supreme Court has opined that burning flags and putting religious icons in jars of pee, are protected activities under the First Amendment to the Constitution, by what stretch of the imagination or logic is anything I've done, not?

Why won't the establishment's media point to the evidence, the actual conduct in question?  They have copies of audio and videotapes of every incident in question; if they don't have them, why don't they?  Would they look at and listen to them even if they did have them?

Anyone who listens to those tapes will conclude, as the United States District Court will conclude, nothing that I did, justifies what Esquivel did, not even close.

Either that, or they will conclude record shows that Esquivel was justified in denying me free exercise of Constitutionally protected human rights.

In which case, why aren't they showing the record?

There are only two reasons to hide the truth,
only two reasons to hide from the truth;
lack of character and lack of courage.

The characterlessness and/or cowardice than drives the media's decision to ignore the record in this case, is the same characterlessness and/or cowardice that drives their decision to ignore the record of a widespread and deeply rooted ethics and accountability scandal in the senior leadership of the APS, altogether.

  •  evidence of a cover up of felony corruption in the APS Police force.
  •  evidence of the denial of due process to hundreds of whistleblowers complaints against administrators and board members.
  •  evidence of the abdication of the entire leadership of the APS from their obligations as role models of the standards of conduct the establish and enforce upon students; the Pillars of Character Counts!; a nationally recognized, accepted and respected code of ethical conduct.
If there is a third reason, some reason beside corruption or cowardice, why the establishment's media won't investigate and report upon credible allegations and evidence of public corruption and incompetence in the senior administration and board,

I can't imagine it, and they're not willing to share.

photos Mark Bralley

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

The "spirit of the law" a la APS

The Journal gave APS' Custodian of Public Records Rigo Chavez space to argue that

“Albuquerque Public Schools follows the letter and the spirit of the state Inspection of Public Records Act,
and has done so in this case.”
The "case" he refers to; the board and administration have in their possession, findings from at least three investigations into felony criminal conduct involving senior APS administrators. Those findings are public records and are subject to the New Mexico Inspection of Public Records Act, link.  The spirit of which recognizes that;
access to public records is one of the fundamental rights afforded people in a democracy, 
and that
the records custodian will separate out the exempt information in a file or document and then make the rest of the record available for rather immediate inspection.
What APS (Brooks and the board) have done, is to redact all three (or more) sets of findings in their entirety; hardly in the spirit of the Act.

There is a wormhole they can weasel through; claiming the right to hide the findings as their lawyers' work product.  The courts will decide whether their claim is justifiable; our side argues that they are not.

Regardless of the eventual outcome of the litigation, the problem is that the board and superintendent want to afford themselves of the option of keeping public records secret from public knowledge in the first place.

According to the doctrine the board establishes and enforces upon students;
People of character must often do
more than the law requires and
less than the law allows.
The Act doesn't require them to hide the truth;
it allows them to hide the truth about
their own corruption and incompetence.

The Journal won't ask them why they want to hide the truth.

Why does the board and their superintendent want to hide the truth in the first place, except to cover up their own felony public corruption and incompetence.

Why won't the Journal ask them, why?

Except in their aid and abet?

Journal reports lacks candor, forthrightness and honesty

Journal reporter Hailey Heinz reports, link, on my lawsuit against APS and several board members and senior administrators.

Heinz investigated and reported upon the lawsuit without talking to me.  Not once, not one word.  Though a substantial part of the complaint has to do with retaliation over what I have written on my blog, Heinz chose to not mention it.  Whatever her motivation, the effect is the same, less public exposure of allegations of a scandal in the APS.

School board enforcer Marty Esquivel was allowed to tell his side in the paper; I was not allowed to tell mine.   Esquivel was allowed to point to "problems with my behavior" and I was not allowed to rebut the allegation, nor was I allowed to refute the allegation with the evidence of APS' own recording of the incident in question.   The report is manifestly unfair.  What Journalistic ethic allows such one-sided coverage?

Heinz begins by describing me as a "longtime critic".  I would call myself a resolute advocate of meaningful standards of conduct and competence in politics and public service; starting with the leadership of the APS.  For nearly two decades, I have been standing up at public forums and delivering my petitions to my government.

On a number of occasions, I was arrested for making my petition, by members of a publicly funded private police force.  I was deprived of my liberty, not because I had broken a law, but because I had made board members and senior administrators feel uncomfortable.

I was once arrested for standing very quietly and otherwise unobtrusively against the very back wall in a board meeting wearing an elephant mask, trying to draw attention to the elephant in the room; the ethics and accountability scandal in the leadership of the APS.  I have been arrested for standing in the back of a public meeting and holding up a poster.  By what logic is burning an American flag "a protected activity" and holding up a poster and wearing an elephant mask, are not?

The constitution protects my rights to speak freely and to petition my government.  Everything I have done is constitutionally protected activity.  That will be the finding of the courts.  Their conduct is indefensible; it cannot withstand scrutiny.

The Journal doesn't want to look at truth. Why not?

I wonder if Hailey Heinz has actually viewed the videotape of the Nov 4, 2009 meeting where Esquivel had me ejected for raising "personnel" issues, though I had raised none.  If she had, she chose to not report it.  She chose to not report that I had done nothing that warranted a forfeiture of my constitutionally protected human rights.

Instead she writes that I was thrown out for "personal" attacks.

The right to petition one's government includes the right to walk up to a public forum and ask

  • APS Supt Winston Brooks why he will not produce the findings of several investigations into felony criminal misconduct in the leadership of the APS Police force,
  • COO Brad Winter for a candid, forthright and honest accounting of spending at 6400 Uptown Blvd,
  • David Robbins why more than 300 whistle blowers are being denied due process for their complaints against administrators and school board members,
  • Why there is not one of them who will hold themselves honestly accountable to the same standards of conduct they establish and enforce upon students.
Board members and administrators feel uncomfortable because they are ashamed of what they're doing or not doing; not because I'm wearing a mask, or holding up a poster, or standing at a public forum demanding candor, forthrightness and honesty in their dealings with the community members they serve.

Esquivel, through Heinz, said,
... he imposed the ban on MacQuigg two years ago when he was school board president because of MacQuigg’s conduct, not the content of his speech.
Everything that Esquivel alleges is misconduct, is videotaped.  Why is he not offering any evidence in support of his claim?  Why won't the Journal ask to see them?

The tapes are available for the viewing.  Any reasonable person who views them will conclude what the courts will conclude; my conduct is not the problem, the content of my speech is the problem.
Esquivel said MacQuigg was given warnings and opportunities to sit down with APS officials and get the ban lifted, but he never did. “The bottom line is that all he had to do is sit down and have a conversation with us, to say, ‘Can you abide by a certain set of rules that are conduct-based, not content-based?’”
Had Heinz asked to see the record, she would find one offer of one meeting,  She would find I asked for an alternate time and none was offered.  But that is beside the point.

There are conduct based rules; they are called laws.  The point is, government cannot limit liberty except according to the law.  Esquivel has no authority to limit my petition to ones that don't make him feel uncomfortable.

I have not broken the law.  I have not behaved unethically.  I stand on the record, I just can't get the Journal to look at it, or to admit that they have seen it.

Heinz points out that I have sued the district multiple times.  She did not report, the suits were successful, APS had done something wrong, not me.

Heinz wrote;
Before he was banned from board meetings in September 2010, MacQuigg spoke at nearly every meeting, mostly asking members why board policy did not include the language of Character Counts!, a character education program he strongly supports.
I am fairly certain that I have never once asked, why board policy does not include the language of Character Counts!  The question has always been;
Is there even one of you with the character and the courage to hold yourself honestly accountable to a higher standard of conduct than the law?  Is there even one of you willing to hold yourself honestly accountable as a role model of the Pillars of Character Counts?

Where is mention of the fact, they never answered?
They never once responded except by stonewalling the question.

And why, while she had them on the phone, didn't Heinz ask them the same question?

Where is mention of the real reason I stood up at so many public forums; their abdication from their obligations as role models.  Where is mention of the fact that there is not a single board member or senior administrator who will be held honesty accountable as a role model of the student standards of conduct; the Pillars of Character Counts!?  Where is the mention of the fact that they flatly refuse to discuss openly, honestly and in public, students standards and the obligations of the senior-most role models?

Heinz allowed Esquivel to argue;
“I’m very sensitive to how the law should work in terms of people having a right to express themselves, and I have absolutely no reservations about doing what we did as it pertains to Mr. MacQuigg”
His use of the word "we" implies authority from the board.  Heinz did not ask about the circumstances where that authority was given to him by the board; during what meeting?  on what agenda?

Heinz reported that I have run for the board repeatedly.  Twice to be exact.  I ran for the board in no small part, to get my allegations on the record.  The Journal never published my specific allegations against the board and administrators.

If the allegations are unwarranted, why doesn't the Journal run a story about how high the standards of conduct and competence are, that apply to administrators and board members?  Why doesn't the Journal report that there is real, honest to God, accountability to those standards?

If it were true, shouldn't voters know about it before the school bond issue election in February?  Shouldn't they hear that wonderful news before a majority of board members stand for re-election?

Heinz reports;
MacQuigg also contends he has been denied public records. Chavez, the APS records custodian, said “Albuquerque Public Schools follows the letter and the spirit of the state Inspection of Public Records Act, and has done so in this case.”
The nature of those records is inconsequential, apparently.  Chavez was not asked by Heinz, or she chose to not report, why the findings of several investigations of public corruption and incompetence are being hidden from interest holders.

Remember, this is corruption and incompetence that the Journal once found newsworthy, link.  They no longer do - this though, no administrator or board member was ever held accountable to the law for breaking the law.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

"Jerk's" mother thinks Korte is an idiot

The war of words between APS school board member and batterer Kathy Korte, and the mother of a special needs student that Korte publicly labeled a "jerk", continues, link, under a headline reading;

"Mother Upset With APS Official Korte"
Why does it not read;  Mother Upset With APS Board Member Korte"?

The mother is upset, not only because Korte labeled her son a "jerk", but also because Korte did it within her elected capacity;
as a school board member specifically.  The parent's specific complaint is;
“It’s inconceivable to me that they have somebody as a board member that is pretty much in control of this school district that can act that way."
My understanding is that reporters like Hailey Heinz, don't write the headlines over their stories.  I am given to understand headlines are written by someone with an editorial interest.  In this case; an interest in manipulating public perception of the School Board.

When board members do well, they're "board members".
When they're an embarrassment, they're "officials".

The parent is particularly upset that Korte, who admits
not knowing the youngster, relied on hearsay about him.
She called Korte an idiot.

There is another disturbing aspect that coming to light; APS' investigation of the allegation was not completed "because the accused had retired".  The mother stands behind her son's allegation, saying his story never changed, and that she is certain he is telling the truth.  Maybe they'll sue.

Where is their due process?  When the parent and her lawyer going looking for public records, there won't be any. The investigation should have been completed regardless. 

Korte averred the accusation was FALSE despite her lack any first hand knowledge about the situation.

I am reminded of school board member
Robert Lucero telling the media, the
allegations against APS Chief of Police
Gil Lovato, and of felony criminal
misconduct by senior APS administrators,
amounted to nothing more than
grumblings from a disgruntled former

Apparently even disgruntled former employees get it right every once in a while, link.

Korte declined comment on the parent's concerns.
She decided to not apologize to the parent or to her child, or
to her constituents, including student constituents.

Korte is one of the senior-most role models of the standards of conduct students are expected to "model and promote"; the Pillars of Character Counts!; a nationally recognized, accepted and respected code of ethical conduct.

Korte - role modeling the Pillar of Respect
Korte claims a handicap in defending the district against allegations from parents and community members.  She claims the district has limited ability to defend employees.  My understanding has been, their litigation budget is unlimited.  Their insurance premiums were raised specifically in response to excessive costs for litigation.  They spend so much money litigating, they won't tell you how much money they spend litigating.

She says the district can't discuss student discipline records.  That applies to individual students, not to students collectively.  Korte gives at least tacit approval to the cover up of student discipline issues in general.  She complains, ... our schools cannot comment because of confidentiality laws.   More often than they should, "confidentiality laws" are used to hide administrative and executive incompetence and corruption, and not to protect legitimate interests.

Korte's photo comes from her Facebook page
Lucero's from Mark Bralley

Monday, November 05, 2012

Monica Armenta is a named respondent in a federal complaint.

It represents a violation of the First Amendment, for government to make a law abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.  In this case, for APS Executive Director of Communications Monica Armenta, to make a law, rule, policy, regulation, or stipulation abridging the freedom of the press.

A central question is, who is the press? Who is protected by the First Amendment under the cover of the press? Whatever "the press" was at that time the First Amendment was written, the press included pamphleteers.  What is a blogger, if not a pamphleteer in the digital age?

A more basic decision is, who gets to decide who is protected by the First Amendment and who is not?

Armenta took it upon herself to decide that the protection of equal treatment, did not apply to me. Worse, she denied me equal treatment in response to my exercise of constitutionally protected activities.

In other words, she denied me access to the Gubernatorial debate for no good reason, except in retaliation for my exercise of a protected activity; I wrote a few posts highly critical of her public service, a few indeed.

APS Supt Winston Brooks is a named respondent. He is, because he ordered his publicly funded private police force to keep me from attending a Gubernatorial Debate, and in so doing violated my rights. Worse, he did it in retaliation for my exercise of constitutionally protected activities; I have written a few posts highly critical of his competence and conduct.  I have showed up at a few public forums and asked him to explain why he is covering up felony criminal misconduct by senior APS administrators.

APS Chief of Police Steve Tellez is a named respondent. He is, because he is in charge of an armed and uniformed praetorian guard, and is using them to enforce an unlawful banning order, he co-signed.

APS Director of Communications Rigo Chavez is named, in his official capacity as Custodian of Public Records. It wasn't his decision to hide the findings of investigations into felony criminal misconduct by senior APS administrators.

He is a flak catcher, the person who ordered him to deny a legitimate public records request, is yet to be identified; the buck stopping at Winston Brooks desk.

Board Member David Robbins
is named. He is named because
he threw me out of an audit
committee meeting for no good

He and APS' Police force.

School Board enforcer Marty
Esquivel is named, for
throwing me out of a meeting
for no good reason, and for
creating an unlawful
restraining order that prevents
me from showing up at a
public forum to petition him
face to face, for redress of
my several grievances.

photos Mark Bralley

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Open letter to the editors and news directors,

the people whose fist pounds the table last when decisions are made about investigating and reporting upon the APS.

A complaint has been filed in United States District Court against the school board collectively, individual members specifically, and three individual administrators.  Depending upon when the process service reaches them, they may be unaware they are being sued.

My complaint is; they have denied my right to speak freely and petition my government, and they have denied me due process in reversing their denial.

The government has the power and the authority to limit speech, i.e. yelling fire in a theater.

The government's authority to limit free speech is narrowly defined.  They cannot, for example, limit my speech by exercising prior restraint; they can't keep me from speaking because of what they think I am going to say.

They cannot limit my free speech based because of its content.  They cannot limit my free speech because they don't like what I'm saying, or more importantly, the questions I am asking.

They cannot limit my speech in retaliation for what I have said or written before, both in board meetings and on my blog.

The process they use to limit my speech, is an unlawful restraining order enforced by an unaccredited and un-certified publicly funded private police force, in violation of my right to due process under the Fourteenth Amendment.

APS' defense is to build a case that I am not worthy to complain about their treatment of me.  That I have done, and continue to do, things that are so reprehensible, that I have forfeited my right to speak freely to them, and to petition them for redress of my several legitimate grievances.

Everything I have done, everything they accuse me of doing, has happened at meetings that APS was recording, or could have recorded if they had chosen to.  Their cameras are conveniently turned off when they would otherwise be recording evidence of public corruption and incompetence.  Before believing I did something wrong, ask for the record, ask why there is no record.

I was a teacher for 25 years.  For about eight of them, I was a trainer of trainers, for APS' Character Counts! program.  I took role modeling seriously.  I still do.

There is nothing I have done, nothing they allege was so unacceptable, that I would not do again and in front of those students.   I am not ashamed of my record in front of the board and senior administration; I am proud of it.  I would wear the elephant mask again, I would hold up the posters again,  I would subject myself to more than a dozen arrests again, without a moment's hesitation.

Before printing or broadcasting any of their allegations or slander, ask to see the tape, ask to hear the audio that was recorded.  I didn't disrupt their meetings, they did.

They will try to make this about the messenger, and not about the ethics and accountability scandal in the leadership of the APS;

  • the cover up of felony criminal misconduct by senior APS administrators
  • the denial of due process to whistleblower complaints filed against administrators and board members
  • the refusal to surrender a candid, forthright and honest accounting of spending at 6400 Uptown Blvd
  • their ongoing refusal to publish audit findings on their website,
  • their abdication from the obligations of the senior-most role models of the student standards of conduct
They are using an armed private police force to stifle; lawful, Constitutionally protected dissent.

The leadership of the APS will drag a red herring across the trail; me, my credibility, my character, my reputation.

Mahatma Gandhi wrote;
First they ignore you,
then they ridicule you,
then they fight you,
then you win.
They will try to destroy the messenger; ridicule me to the point where I will give up rather than suffer more of their slander. They will try to chill whistle blowing in general, as potential whistle blowers see what happens to people to expose corruption and incompetence.

To the extent you repeat their slander, in especially if you do not look at, listen to, and link to, the public record of the incident, you aid and abet them.

This is about the message, it not about the messenger.

The case, filed in the United States District Court for the District of New Mexico is numbered, 1:12-cv-01137

You can read it here, link.

Friday, November 02, 2012

Game on!

Late this afternoon, a complaint was filed, link, with the United States District Court for the District of New Mexico, over violations of the First and Fourteenth Amendments.

For the better part of two decades, I have been trying to hold administrators and school board members honestly accountable to meaningful standards of conduct and competence.

In order to silence me, and in retaliation for my engagement in Constitutionally protected activities, they violated my rights under the First and Fourteen Amendments.  They discriminated against me because of the content of my speech, in board meetings and on this blog.

  • APS Supt Winston Brooks
  • Executive Director of Communications Monica Armenta
  • Chief of Police Steve Tellez
  • Custodian of Public Records Rigo Chavez
  • Board members David Robbins, and
  • Marty Esquivel
are named respondents.

The complaint also addresses their failure to produce the Caswell Report, along with the other reports of investigations into criminal misconduct in the leadership of the APS Police force and senior administration.

They will be compelled to produce public records of several
investigations of felony criminal misconduct by senior APS

The cover up will finally end.

Heads will roll.

Lord willing and the creek don't rise.

The problem; whiny parents, jerky kids, and the media.

APS School Board Members Kathy Korte is a role model.
Sometimes, a not so good one. 

Fortunately for APS students, they probably won't read
read about her in the Journal today, link.

Korte; role modeling the Pillar of Respect for the photojournalist she battered

If we want children to grow into adults who embrace character, and courage, and honor, someone has to show them what it looks like.

Korte, instead, shows them what it looks like to be disrespectful; of the kid, the parents, of the standards of conduct she is supposed to be role modeling for administrators, of staff, of students and of the community.

APS School Board Policy requires, like it or not, that students model and promote the Pillars of Character Counts!, link.   The Pillars of Character Counts, like them or not, are the students standards of conduct.  Adults, read administrators and board members, are accountable to the law; the lowest standards of conduct that civilized people will abide.

The Pillars of Character Counts! represent a nationally recognized, accepted and respected code of ethical conduct.

As role models, adults have no choice but to show children what it looks like to hold yourself honestly accountable to higher standards of conduct than the law.  It is one thing to tell children a popular fable about George Washington and the cherry tree; its quite another thing to actually provide accountability by means of a system that guarantees due process.

Kathy Korte has neither the character nor the courage to hold herself honestly accountable as a role model of the Pillars of Character Counts!  Or she would.

When the board removed the role modeling clause from their own code of conduct, they provided "legal" cover for their abdication as role models.  The clause read;
In no case shall the standards of conduct for adults, be lower than the standards of conduct for students.
In no case shall a student be told to treat people with respect, by an adult who will not show them what that looks like.

As a Character Counts! trainer, I was party to handing out t-shirts to students who had attended  CC! training.  On its front and back it read;
Stand up for what
you believe in ...

... even if you're 

standing alone.
The point; a child standing up for what they believe in, should actually be standing alone.  There should be an adult behind them offering encouragement, an adult beside them sharing the load, and an adult in front of them, showing them what it looks like; leading by their own personal example.

Korte said,
“I’m going to call people out  when
I think I need to call them out,”
Interestingly, a citizen who feels the same way and does so at the podium of a public forum, is subject to arrest for being "disrespectful" of board members or senior administrators.

Korte insisted that she knew who the kid was, a "royal pain in the rear".  She did not say that she actually knew the kid.  It doesn't sound like she's ever even laid eyes on him; no personal experience upon which to base her evaluation.  She does the same with adults.

Korte offers;
Parents who complain to the media are never members
of the PTA who have gotten involved or used the proper channels.
Korte fails to grasp that the Constitution that protects citizens' rights to petition their government for redress of their grievances, even if they haven't "served on the PTA, gotten involved, or used the proper channels".

If people don't use proper channels, it is because "proper channels" don't exist.  There is no place in the entire APS, where a citizen can file a complaint against an administrator or board member and where that complaint will see due process; impartial, competent investigation and adjudication.

Korte takes umbrage at suggestions that her recent trip to Indianapolis was a waste of money.  She says the experience offered valuable training and perspectives.  She did not offer a single example of either.  They never do.

How can they say; hey I learned that ...,
without someone asking, why, as a board member
or senior administrator, did you not already know that ...?

Korte's email was sent to an extensive list of constituents and community members.  It should be posted on their award winning website; for stakeholders who aren't on her list.

Korte said she isn’t concerned about political fallout.  Anyone who might be concerned about the example she is setting probably wouldn’t vote for her anyway.

One would hope.

I agree with her on one point; the media is the problem;
the Journal, KRQE, KOAT, and KOB.

photo Korte's facebook