Sunday, March 31, 2013

Restricting speech in limited public forums, according to Esquivel

On May 16th, the NM Foundation for Open Government and the Alb Journal will host their Continuing Legal Education Seminar on Public Access to Government; Understanding and Implementing NM's Public Records and Open Meetings Laws.

According to the agenda, link, at about 3 in the afternoon, Defendant Marty Esquivel will be teaching the attendees, how to maintain order without infringing on constituents’ constitutional rights.

I suspect he will not be showing the video of his own performance; conduct which has him headed for an ass-handing in federal court. 

Thursday, March 28, 2013

APS "leadership" responsible for Manzano Drill Team hazing.

Nearly six years ago to the day, a student on a field trip to the BioPark, did considerable damage to a very expensive piece of acrylic in the aquarium.

At the time I wrote a post, link, blaming the incident in no small part, on then APS Supt Elizabeth Everitt.

According to school board policy, policy that has never been rescinded, she had a responsibility to offer students character education as part of their curriculum. She had, I argued, an unmet obligation to offer students some direction in the development of their character, and therefore shared responsibility. 

Had the student in question gone through meaningful character education, there is a possibility he might not have vandalized the aquarium.  In my experience, character education did not turn many "bad" kids into "good" kids.  Nor did it turn great kids into greater kids.  It did push the kids in the middle, in right direction.  It did have an overall positive effect, though really positive results were limited to those schools where the administration actually walked the talk.

A few years later, when a sagger was sent off to prison, again, I blamed the leadership of the APS, link.  And now, when a high school drill team runs amok, link, again, I blame the leadership of the APS.

I can hear the chorus; what about the students? what about the parents? what about every other negative influence that bombard children all day long?  Realistically, I can't fix any of those; neither can you.

We can fix the fact that, the entire leadership of the APS has abdicated from their obligations and responsibilities as role models of the standards of conduct they establish and enforce upon students.  We can hold them accountable for their willful decision to abdicate from their obligations as role models of honest accountability to higher standards of conduct than the law, and to abandon any district wide efforts to help children embrace higher standards themselves and develop the moral courage to hold them themselves honestly accountable to them.

Real leadership begins at the top and by personal example.  If we really want students to grow into adults who embrace character and courage and honor, someone has to show them what it looks like; beginning with the school board and senior administration.

Their accountability begins with compelling them to defend their indefensible decision to abandon character education and their abdication from role models for students.

Somehow, they must be made to defend, in public and on the record, their decision to remove from their own code of conduct, their role modeling clause;

In no case shall the standards of conduct for an adult
be lower than the standards of conduct for students.
Somehow, they must be compelled to defend their deliberate decision to strike language that held them accountable to a nationally recognized, accepted and respected code of ethics, link, the Pillars of Character Counts! Somehow, they must be compelled to explain why students are expected to model accountability to higher standards of conduct than their adult role models.

Unfortunately, making them do the right thing is harder than you might imagine.

School Board enforcer Esquivel
If you stand up a  public forum and demand that board members and senior administrators explain why students are expected to model and promote the Pillars of Character Counts!, and they are not, APS School Board President Marty Esquivel will have you arrested by their praetorian guard, their publicly funded private police force.

Journal Managing Editor Walz
If you go to the Kent Walz' Journal, or KRQE, KOAT, KOB, or KKOB (or any other NMBA/Paula Maes affiliate) and ask them to investigate and report upon the ethics and accountability scandal in the leadership of the APS. they will not.

They won't tell you, why they won't; or about all their interpersonal connections and affiliations with board members and senior administrators. 

They also have the luxury of not having to defend their indefensible positions.

The only thing they can't stop is the people.
The board can't arrest everybody;
the Journal can't ignore everybody.

Show up at a public forum, ask them
why students are expected to model honest accountability to the Pillars of Character Counts!, at risk of their good character, and

why the "leadership" of the APS is not.

photos Mark Bralley
Walz ched macquigg

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Defendant Esquivel co-leading FOG seminar on public records and open meetings laws.

The NM FOG invites you, link, to find out about the latest developments in public records and open meetings from FOG Hotline attorneys Martin R. Esquivel, Charles R. Peifer, Charles "Kip" Purcell, Robert M. White, Gregory P. Williams and Dan Yohalem, and Journal Managing Editor Kent Walz.

I call your attention to two of the leaders of the seminar, Defendant Marty Esquivel and Kent Walz.

Esquivel has been tapped as a presenter, presumably because he is a role model in the "open government" community.  I presume Walz was tapped for the same reason.

As Esquivel sits at the dais, sharing his wit and wisdom about open meetings, he is simultaneously ordering APS' publicly funded, private police force to enforce an unlawful restraining order that he wrote and had the chief of APS' Praetorian Guard, Steve Tellez, co-sign.

His purpose in violating of my civil rights? to prevent me from standing up at a public forum at a school board meeting, and asking him a legitimate question;

Why are the ethically redacted findings of at least three investigations into felony criminal misconduct in the leadership of the APS (police force), being hidden from public knowledge?  "Why?" mind you, not "how?"
He wants so much, to not be asked that question in public, he will use his Praetorian Guard to stand between me and the asking.

He couldn't get away with it, with out the aide and abet of the establishment's media; including but not limited to, the Journal; including but not limited to Journal Managing Editor Kent Walz.

When I was running for the school board, Esquivel's unlawful restraining order kept me from campaigning for standards and accountability at public forums.  Walz steadfastly refused to investigate and report upon the blatant violation of my civil rights to speak freely, assemble freely, and to petition my government, and the subsequent lack of due process for resisting the unlawful order.

A bona fide candidate for the school board was having his civil rights violated in plain sight, and Walz found it completely not newsworthy; by what reasonable standard?

Clearly, the Journal knows about the felony criminal misconduct in APS; it was they who exposed it, link.  Clearly they know about the cover up; or remain deliberately ignorant.

Kent Walz, knows that none of the findings of at least three investigations into felony criminal misconduct were ever turned over to District Attorney for prosecution.  Walz knows, or remains deliberately ignorant; a handful of the leadership of the APS took it upon themselves to decide that the felony criminal misconduct in this case, did not warrant prosecution.  He knows, or should know, it's not their decision to make.

District Attorney Kari Brandenburg claims she can't do anything about it.  "Claimed" actually, link, link, link, link; statutes of limitation on felony criminal misconduct have expired long since.

In any case, while all this is going on, and while APS, under Supt Winston Brooks, is refusing to produce an ethically redacted version of any of the investigations,  Defendant Esquivel and Walz bamboozled the NM FOG into giving Brooks the FOG's most prestigious recognition for heroes of transparency.

Esquivel himself, is a FOG hero of transparency.  If Walz isn't, he probably will be someday.

What perspective can these two heroes; Esquivel and Walz, bring to a seminar on open government? 

It certainly won't be one of candor, forthrightness and honesty.  It won't be one of character and courage and honor.  So why are they there?

Maybe the audience would be better served by hearing from the screw-ees rather than the screw-ers when it comes to developments in public records and open meetings.

photos Mark Bralley
Walz ched macquigg

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Does the APS board even know, the trouble they're in?

The APS Board of Education is being sued; even the just elected.  I'm wondering if they even know about it.

Every year, the board signs contracts with Modrall and a handful of other law firms, for legal services on behalf of the board.  This year, the RFP, link, p24 section 4.4.4, requires law firms to offer the board a candid, forthright and honest appraisal of the trouble they're in, within thirty days of being sued by someone.  They deliver the evaluation in secret for a number of reasons, some less worthy than others.

In order to meet in secret, they have first to meet in public, and then adjourn to the meeting in secret (they don't record their meetings in secret - they are secret).  They have to tell the public, before they adjourn, what it is they intend to discuss.  If it is litigation, they state the case number and sometimes the plaintiff's name.

Based on my review of their record, the board has never met to be told by their lawyers, about the trouble that Marty Esquivel, Winston Brooks, Monica Armenta, and Steve Tellez, have gotten them into.

Maybe the rest of the board, especially new members, might have a problem with increasingly scarce operational funds being spent keeping the motley crew from feeling the consequences of their public corruption, rather than in classrooms.  Maybe they'll have a problem paying lawyers to insulate them from consequences, not because they're not guilty, but because they privileged.

But do they even know?

Has the contract with their lawyers been violated?

Has the Open Meetings Act been violated?

Friday, March 22, 2013

"The right time to do the right thing, is always right now."

APS has provided a link, to the videotape of the March 20th board meeting.  At approximately 1:33 into the meeting, the discussion and action on the APS Open Meetings Resolution begins.

It wasn't exactly as I supposed.  I was right about the lack of School Board President Marty Esquivel's honest enthusiasm over increasing the notice on their agendas to 72 hours.

For as long as Esquivel has been on the board, the board could have, in two meetings, increased the notice from 24 hours to 72.  They could have changed every year when it came up as a matter of course.  Clearly, if HB21 doesn't get signed for some reason, Esquivel will be fine with keeping the notice at 24 hours, for as long as he can.

You need to listen to their rationale for not just doing the right thing, right now.  They claim the burdens associated with moving from 24 to 72 hours notice are substantial.  I just don't buy it.  A number of bodies, the Bernalillo County Commission for one, have shown 72 hours notice, or more, is doable.

New Board Member Donald Duran
spoke right up in favor of changing
the notice to 72 hours.  His respect
for public input seems sincere.

The other new Board Member
Steven Michael Quezada chose
to not stand up on the issue,
either way.

David Peercy was not there.
Nor was Lorenzo Garcia.

Kathy Korte was there, offered no opinion.

Board Member Analee Maestas
also spoke up in favor of
increasing public notice.

photos Mark Bralley

Thursday, March 21, 2013

APS Open Meetings Resolution tabled.

The APS School Board met last light.  Their agenda, link, was to pass an open meetings resolution that provided only 24 hours notice on public meeting agendas.  It is fair to wonder, why?  Why stand in front of an idea whose time has clearly come; there will be 72 hours notice given for public meetings in the State of New Mexico.

The likely to be signed into law, HB21, link, ends the APS board's past practice of providing only 24 hours and about ten minutes notice for every meeting they ever had.

Even if the APS School Board could hang on on to their advantage for a few months longer, why, at such a ridiculously high cost?  I mean, it looks bad; very, very bad, even to be considering policy that flies in the face of new law.  How far out of the loop are these folks?

There seems to be some confusion over the videotape records of school board meetings.  Some people think that links are posted on APS' award-winning website, that will allow visitors to watch archived board meetings.  If you go their "meetings, minutes and archives" page, link, and scan down the list, you will find a stray link that reads; video.  Click on it, and theoretically, you can watch the meeting.  I say theoretically, only because I have so much trouble personally, to get any APS video records to play reliably.

In any case, I can't wait to see the videotape of  the board discussing and finally tabling the resolution.

Speaking of watching APS video play reliably.  I tried everything I could last night, including reloading Microsoft Silverlight, the program APS uses to stream their live cast, in a futile effort to watch the live stream of the board meetings.  The most I could get it to do, was to play for a second, pause for a few, play for one, pause for a few and then lock up.  Sounds like a buffering problem, but then I'm not a computer expert.  I asked APS if anyone else was having trouble, and haven't heard back.

From what I could barely make out from the fractured stream; it seemed like open government lawyer, school board enforcer and defendant in a federal civil rights lawsuit, and recently again elected APS School Board President Marty Esquivel was trying to pass the resolution in spite of its disregard of the public interests.  Nobody ever said "open government lawyer", meant working on the side that's trying to open it up more.  I mean, the people trying to shut down transparent accountability in government, need all the lawyers they can get.  That's how you keep the lights from actually being turned on.

As far as I can tell, the Journal didn't report upon the stalling effort they almost passed.  It isn't even reported on Journal education reporter Hailey Heinz' blog.

But then the Journal really doesn't investigate and report upon Esquivel's deviousness.

Esquivel thought he was being sneaky; ended up creating more evidence.

I have long argued that the reason the Journal won't investigate and report upon the ethics and accountability scandal in the leadership of the APS, is because Esquivel and Journal editor Kent Walz are cronies.

They once teamed up to get the NM FOG to give APS Supt Winston Brooks, their Dixon Award for heroes of transparency, while the three of them together hid, or abetted the hiding, of public records, of felony corruption in the leadership of the APS police force (the Caswell Report and the findings of at least two other investigations), from public knowledge.

If there is another explanation for the Journal's apparent complicity in, or complacency about the cover up of a cover up; in particular, a good and ethical explanation, for the Journal's ongoing failure to investigate and report upon the ethics and accountability scandal in the leadership of the APS,

I cannot imagine it.

And anybody else, is yet to suggest it.

photos ched macquigg

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Last minute agenda item - Open Meetings Resolution

Every year, the APS School Board Passes an Open Meetings Resolution.  They intend to discuss and act on one tomorrow night, link, Wednesday, March 20.

It has not been discussed in committee - it is a last minute deal.  The agenda was posted ten minutes before the deadline.  They provide no link to the resolution and therefore no opportunity for community members to examine it before they pass it.

Update; after this post was published, a link to the resolution appeared on the agenda. 
I expect that they will pass a resolution that provides only the 24hrs agenda notice that meets the current minimum required by the NM Open Meetings Act.
Update; as I suspected, it is their intention to provide only 24 hours notice.
They could pass a resolution in line with HB21, legislation providing for 72 hours notice.  The bill has passed both houses and is waiting for the Governor's signature.  They could but they won't.

School Board Vice President Kathy Korte is under the impression that APS is not allowed to give 72 hours notice until the legislature compels them to.  She was wrong then, link, and she would be wrong now.

The resolution, if it doesn't provide for 72 hours notice, will test the mettle of the two new members, Don Duran and Steven Micheal Quezada, who are headed for a steamrolling.

photo Mark Bralley

Defendent Esquivel, senior-most role model in the APS?

Everyone is a role model; 

a person whose behavior, example, or success is or can be emulated by others, especially by young people.
The Josephson Institute offers access, link, to their library of aphorisms related to character education, including a section on role models.

A handful of them on point and on,
the need for role models;
  • Example has more followers than reason. Bovee 

  • Example is not the main thing in influencing others.  It is the only thing. Schweitzer

  • You can preach a better sermon with your life than with your lips.  Goldsmith

  • Don't worry that children never listen to you. Worry that they are always watching you. Fulghum

  • The question for the child is not Do I want to be good? but Whom do I want to be like? Bettelheim
the timing;
  • The right time, to do the right thing, is always right now. unk

  • The proper time to influence the character of a child is about a hundred years before he’s born. — William R. Inge,
the importance;
  • If we want our children to possess the traits of character we most admire, we need to teach them what those traits are and why they deserve both admiration and allegiance. Children must learn to identify the forms and content of those traits.  Bennett

  • The formation of character in young people is educationally a different task from and a prior task to, the discussion of the great, difficult ethical controversies of the day.  Bennett
the qualifications of role models;
  • If there is anything we wish to change in the child, we should first examine it and see whether it is not something that could better be changed in ourselves.  Jung

  • You must be the change you want to see in the world. Gandhi
Whatever else they thought they were doing when the APS School Board elected Marty Esquivel to be their President, they elected him to the position of senior-most role model of the standards of conduct that the school board establishes and then has the administration enforce upon students.

Enforcer/new President Marty Esquivel
Esquivel, by any reasonable moral and ethical argument, is a role model for students.  He has inescapable obligations as the senior-most role model of personal accountability to the Pillars of Character Counts!, a nationally recognized, accepted and respected code of ethical conduct, link.

Anyone who would like to weigh in on the propriety of the Pillars as the standards for students missed the boat - it sailed nearly twenty years ago when the School Board voted unanimously to adopt the Pillars as the APS student standards of conduct.

Their resolution, as old as it is, is still binding.  They have to honor the promise they made, or formally rescind it. As much as they would like to pretend it has, it doesn't just fade away.

If one could get Esquivel to speak candidly, forthrightly and honestly about his impression of his obligation as a board member and role model, he will deny that he is a role model for students.  He once told me, he's a school board member, "not an educator".

There are two reasons that someone like Esquivel does not step up to accountability to ethical standards of conduct; corruption and cowardice.

If one makes a conscious decision to reject certain standards of conduct, one is corrupt with respect to those standards.  Commonly, people who reject the law as their standard of conduct are considered corrupt.  Those who reject ethical standards of conduct are ethically corrupt.

If one acknowledges that certain standards of conduct apply to them; such as the School Board adopting the Pillars of Character Counts!, and then cannot summon the courage to hold them self accountable to them, one is a coward.

It is the whole point in telling the fable about George Washington owning up to chopping down the cherry tree.  We have to rely on the telling of the tale because we don't have enough living role models to point to.

Reciting fables isn't enough.  If we really want students to grow into adults who embrace character and courage and honor, someone has to show them what it looks like.  Character is taught by personal example; not by storytelling.

There is no other explanation for the failure of the leadership of the APS to step up as role models of accountability to  the Pillars of Character Counts! except cowardice and corruption.

Proof of these allegations lies in front of your eyes and in the absence of any evidence at all, to the contrary.

APS Board VP Korte
If either Esquivel or the new Board Vice President Kathy Korte. can be held honestly accountable to higher standards of conduct than the law, the lowest standard of conduct, they would be able to point to place where that accountability can be found.

They can't.

There is no place where an allegation of their failure to live up to standards, will see due process.  There is no venue in the APS, beyond their undue influence, impartial, principled, and powerful enough to hold them accountable even against their will.  It doesn't exist.

Maybe the legislature could hold us accountable to our own code of ethics! former School Board Member Robert Lucero once offered.

So far they haven't.  Not that any APS lobbyists have actually asked them to.

All of this will go unnoticed by the community that entrusts nearly 90,000 of their sons and daughters to the care and guidance of the APS.  It will go unnoticed because the establishment media is the establishment's media, and the establishment does not want to talk about duel standards of conduct in the APS; one for students and a far lower one for them.

Duel standards were made "legal" when the board removed from their own code of conduct, the words;
In no case shall the standards of conduct for an adult
be lower than the standards of conduct for students.
Without so much as a by your leave, the leadership of the APS abdicated from their obligations and responsibilities as role models.

Journal Editor Kent Walz
An abomination that to this day, has gone unreported by Esquivel's crony Kent Walz and the Journal.

photos Mark Bralley
Walz - ched macquigg

Monday, March 18, 2013

Ouch! I found some results on the School Board Officer election.

Journal education reporter Hailey Heinz reported the results on her blog, link.  I still can't find the results in the Journal proper; our "newspaper of record".   I find no reference in her post, to a report in the paper. Perhaps the editors think anyone who really cares about the results is reading Heinz' blog, so they don't need to publish them in the paper.

Heinz reports that school board enforcer Marty Esquivel has been elected President.  That is fine with me, because when he started violating my civil rights with his unlawful restraining order, he was the President.

He should be being sued as the President.

Korte, seconds after battering Mark Bralley

Elected as Vice President in a split vote, 4 - 3; the always delightful Kathy Korte.  3 of the good ol' boys and Korte voting for her; the 2 new guys; Don Duran and Michael Quezada, and Analee Maestas voting for Maestas.

Double ouch.

photos Mark Bralley

APS no longer posting board meeting videos?

If you search the archives APS' award-winning website, link, you won't find a video record posted for

  • the last meeting, March 6, 2013 or,
  • the one before that, February 20th, 2013, or
  • the one before that, February 6th, 2013, or
  • the one before that, January 16th, 2013, or,
  • the one before that, December 19th, 2112.
You have to go clear back to December 5th, 2012 to find a board meeting where the video is posted.

APS made a commitment to post videos by the Friday after a Wednesday meeting.  Have they reneged?  Do they intend to tell anyone about it?

Get your calendars here folks!
As an aside, I found out this morning that APS' Executive Director of Communications and Calendar Queen Monica Armenta gets paid more than the Mayor of Albuquerque Richard Berry.

And neither she nor anyone else in APS' million dollar a year public relations effort can get a few videos posted?

It seems almost like they want to not post them.

photo Mark Bralley

You don't want to see the sausage being made! Or, do you?

Our representatives in the Roundhouse have created a sausage
for us and it's a doozy.  Even those whose normal tendency is
toward more dispassionate reporting are steaming, link.

Legislating has been likened to sausage making in that,
you don't really want to see either in process of being made.

The implication is that you would be disgusted if you really knew what goes into sausage.  And according to the saw; you would be disgusted if you really knew what goes on in the legislative process in Santa Fe.

So why are we allowing a disgusting process to continue?
Why do we continue to allow legislators to engage in conduct we find so disturbing that we don't want to watch. Just because we can't watch?

It is precisely because we cannot see the sausage being made,
that the sausage making process is repugnant.  And, why
it never changes.

The sausage makers like sausage making just the way it is.
The sausage makers have no reason to change their process.

However and whatever individual New Mexicans feel about
the philosophically different solutions to complex issues,
they all must be universally upset with the process that eschews
philosophical discussion and debate in favor of middle of the
night votes, and last minute procedural maneuvering.

It is time to re-visit the NM Constitution and how the Roundhouse works.  It's time to set new standards and new expectations.  It is time to revisit the process; beginning with the addition of the most fundamentally important ingredient; more sunlight.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Who is the new President of the APS School Board?

The APS School Board met Wednesday, March 6, 2013.

According to their agenda, link, it was their intention to;

(hold an) Election of 2013-2014 Board of Education Officers;
  • President, 
  • Vice President and 
  • Secretary.
If you search APS' award-winning website for "Election of 2013-2014 Board of Education Officers", link, you won't find out who won; the results are not posted.

It was their further intention to;
(hold an) Election of 2013-2014 Board of Education Committee Chairs;
  • ... Policy and Instruction Committee Chairperson
  • ... Capital Outlay and Technology Committee Chairperson
  • ... Election of Finance and Audit Committees Chairperson
  • ... Election of District and Community Relations Committee Chairperson
If you search APS' award-winning website, for "Election of 2013-2014 Board of Education Committee Chairs" link, you won't find those results either.

If you go to APS' award-winning website, and look for the videotape of the March 6th board meeting, link, a record supposed to be posted by the Friday following the meeting, you will find it hasn't been posted yet.

If you search the Journal, link, for 'Election of 2013-2014 Board of Education Officers" you won't find any coverage there either.

What we have here, is a failure to communicate.

Why, what's going on?

The fight over transparency is just beginning

Legislators often argue that they need to do business in secret from the people in order to do the people's business more effectively.  I have yet to hear one of them offer a "for instance".

What exactly, would two legislators have to say about the public interests, that cannot and should not be said in the presence of the people whose interests are being decided?

They won't offer up and then defend a "for instance". What they will do, is to pass laws in the middle of the night; laws that except them from more transparent accountability.

The passage of HCR1 was a throwing down of a gauntlet.  According to the Wikipedia, to throw down the gauntlet is to issue a challenge.

A gauntlet-wearing knight would challenge a fellow knight or enemy to a duel by throwing one of his gauntlets on the ground.

The opponent would pick up the gauntlet to accept the challenge.
Therein lies the rub.  Someone has to pick up the damn thing.

Will the champions of transparency pick up the gauntlet?

Will the citizens of this state who insist upon transparent
accountability in the spending of their power and resources,
accept the challenge?

There will be no doubt, times and places to stand up and
defend transparent accountability in government.  The doubt
is as is always is, as it always was, and as it will always be;

whether anyone will show up.

Schultz avoids subordinate evaluation

With his impending retirement, Albuquerque Police Dept
Chief Ray Schultz dodges a different kind of  bullet;
another subordinate evaluation, link.

He has suffered through one already, albeit a poorly executed survey done by the police officers union.  Survey results are skewed because only union members were allowed to participate, and have to be taken with a grain of salt.

That not withstanding, the survey indicated that a subordinate evaluation correctly done, would have similar and similarly disturbing results.

Why isn't subordinate evaluation part of every evaluation?
Why isn't subordinate evaluation a matter of course in government?

The cynic in me blames the situation on powerful people who would rather not be evaluated by their subordinates.  Powerful people who would rather be evaluated by other powerful people.  A privileged class who do not suffer evaluation by any number of the great unwashed.  It came to be called a  good ol' boys club.  Since the shattering of the glass ceiling, of course, it is the good ol' boys and a handful of good ol' gals, club.

The resistance to subordinate evaluation is difficult to articulate without the appearance of self service.  The straightest path to discrediting subordinate evaluation is to impugn the subordinate evaluators.  It is implied, they can't evaluate the conduct and competence of their superiors, fairly and professionally.  Yet, if you press the point, they have to admit they are talking about police officers and teachers, to mention just two.

Despite their inability to act fairly and professionally when they evaluate their chief, police officers are trusted with uniforms and badges and guns and the authority to police our community.

Despite their inability to act fairly and professionally when evaluating their principal, teachers are given classrooms full of our most precious resource and expected to prepare them for life.

Go figure.

The absence of subordinate evaluation is the deliberate decision of the politicians and public servants who don't want a record made, of their subordinates' impressions of their character and competence within their public service.

The proof of that is the absence of open and honest public discussion of subordinate evaluation.

APD Chief Ray Schultz
Chiefs of Police don't stand up
and answer questions about
their subordinate evaluation.

APS Supt Winston Brooks
Public School Superintendents
don't stand up and answer
questions about their own
subordinate evaluation.

They don't have to because,

Mayor Richard Berry
Mayors don't stand for
subordinate evaluation.

And because,

School Board Members don't
stand for subordinate evaluation.

So why should their chiefs
and their superintendents?

photos Mark Bralley

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Ortiz y Pino is obfuscating the issue

Rob Mikolewski reports, link, State Senator Ortiz y Pino voted in favor of HCR1.  He reports that Ortiz y Pino offered justification for the apparent hypocrisy of legislators expecting more transparency from the Governor, than the people can expect from legislators.

His justification; legislators have no individual "authority" and therefore individual emails aren't public records.  His exact words, in response to Mikolewski's question;

Isn’t it hypocritical then for the Legislature to grant itself an exemption?
“Yeah, it’s true” “(But) we believe the governor is in a different position than citizen legislators who have no authority on their own.”
Mikolewski followed up;
So the difference is that the governor has a full-time job and legislators work part-time at the Roundhouse?
To which  Ortiz y Pino responded;
"That’s right, exactly.”  “We have no authority individually, where hers is. It’s the Legislature as a group of 112 people (70 members in the House and 42 in the Senate) who make rules and set policy … but the governor, who is all by herself, I mean, she is the authority.”
Ortiz y Pino's justification bears some scrutiny; he is playing with words.  He would have you believe, that in all of their conversations in the backs of Santa Fe bars and restaurants, no promises are being made, about spending our power and resources.

Why didn't he say, legislators have "no power" as individuals?  Because obviously they do.

Anywhere a legislator is introduced as Representative or Senator, they are wielding power.  They are wielding the people's power.  For that reason, they should be creating a record; a public record.

They can't have it both ways; they can't say
  • they need to work off the record to get things done, and 
  • argue that nothing (important) is being done off the record.
It has been argued, those who control the language, control the argument.  Are we talking about spending our power, or are we talking about what the word authority means?

The argument should be;
whether the spending of public power and resources should be conducted on the record; in full sight of those whose power and resources are being spent.
Senator Ortiz y Pino would argue instead, about the "legal" meaning of the word "authority".  And then about the "legal" meaning of another, and another.   He could never say straight out;
I stand in favor of limiting the people's access to government.
The decision about what public servants can and cannot do off the record, is the people's decision to make, not the public servant's.  The terms of public in-servitude are the prerogative of the people; not of politicians and public servants.

When the question is;
Do you promise to tell the truth, the whole truth,
and nothing but the ethically redacted truth, about
the public interests and about your public service?
Any answer except yes, means no.

Fundamentally, this about telling stakeholders the truth, and where is the line between the truth that is legitimately secreted, and the truth that is not.

Mikolewski also reports that NM Attorney General Gary King is taking a stand; maybe.  He won't do anything on his own, but if someone else wants to do all the heavy lifting, he's indicated his willingness to stand behind them while they do.

King offered;
“I don’t think the Legislature can exempt themselves from making public documents that they prepare and such from the Inspection of Public Records Act.
And yet, they just did, right in front of his eyes.

 photos Mark Bralley 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

HCR1; transparent accountability battleground

Make no bones about it, link, there is a fight going on in the Roundhouse.  On the one side, legislators who embrace transparent accountability in their day to day service to the people.  On the other, legislators who do not; the complicit and the complacent.

The fight is over a fundamental philosophical disagreement; some believe the truth belongs to the people and theirs to control.  The others believe the truth belongs to politicians and public servants; theirs to disseminate in their interests.

Some see no problem, no appearance of a conflict of interests, in allowing pols and public servants to redact the public record of their own public service.  Some do.

The power that politicians and public servants wield belongs to the people.  The resources they spend, belong to the people. The truth, about the wielding of that power and the spending of those resources, belongs to the people.

It is up to the people to decide what public records are legitimately secreted and which are not.  The terms of public service are the prerogative of the people; not of their servants.

The most fundamental question;

In government of the people, by the people and for the people, who decides; who decides?  The people or the politicians?

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

"A clean slate every year"

Senator Linda Lopez is carrying a memorial, SM062, link, that would lead to a Student Bill of Rights.  There are a number of problems, not the least of which is, the Memorial will give students a greater voice in running their schools than teachers have.  I can't wait to see how that works out.

The very worst and most problematic right Lopez would give students;

..., students have the right to schools ...  in which
students are given a clean slate each year ...
A two hundred pound bully who bitch-slapped a kid after robbing him in front of a cafeteria full of kids, and his victim, will start the next school year with the same record.

If erasing a kid's slate every year is good for them and their school, why not give them a clean slate every semester, every 9 weeks, every month?

Hell, why not clean their slate every morning?

Nowhere in their lives will students as adults, find their record expunged every year, no matter what. Erasing records is a disservice to kids who accumulate no record.  Treating "good" kids and "bad" kids exactly the same cheats the kids who follow the rules out of the recognition they deserve.  And for no reason except to insulate thugs and bullies from the consequences of their choices.

Ayn Rand wrote;
"It is not justice or equal treatment that you grant to men when you abstain equally from praising men's virtues and from condemning men's vices. When your impartial attitude declares, in effect, that neither the good nor the evil may expect anything from you - whom do you betray and whom do you encourage?"

photo Mark Bralley

Monday, March 11, 2013

Legislators climbing aboard Egoff's Ethics Commission Act

Representative Brian Egoff's  bill, HB109, link, passed the House 64-1 by those voting, link, and is on its way to the Senate.  Despite the fact that it stinks.

How many pages of legislation would you think it should take to create an honest and above the board process enforcing ethics laws on politicians and public servants?

Egoff, link,  has whittled it down for us,
to a mere 107 pages.

About 24 pages in, Egoff veers off into election law.  Why election law and ethics commission law aren't separate law escapes me.  It has the appearance of "log rolling"; combining two or more bills into one.

How does a simple endeavor grow to from a few pages to too many pages?
A better question to ask is, why does it?

My impression; normally more words are added to make things harder to understand and more difficult to implement, not easier.

Lessening honest accountability to meaningful standards of conduct and competence, is both the motivation and the proximate result of legislation like HB109. 

Imagine a legislator really doesn't want effective ethical oversight but wants to stay in office.  What is s/he to do?  There are two choices;

  1. vote against a practical and effective ethics commission, and pay the political consequences, or
  2. support ethics commission legislation that sounds good but won't work, and reap the political benefits.
On page 23, line 18, Egoff lays out restrictions and penalties far violating the unnecessary secrecy he has built into the process.  He provides far more privacy/secrecy for politicians and public servants accused of breaking the law, than is provided to citizens when the government files a complaint against them for allegedly breaking the law.

Wherever the line is drawn on transparency, the line should be drawn in the same place for citizens and for politicians and public servants.  Whatever is the process for the people, should be the process for politicians and public servants.

Egoff, and all of the legislators who vote in support of HB109,
will take credit for trying to create an Ethics Commission, and
get us no closer in the end, to real accountability for pols and
public servants who betray the public trust through their abuse
of the power and resources that we have entrusted to them.

photo Mark Bralley

Sunday, March 10, 2013

You'll find the agenda taped to the door!

If you have an interest in participating in the legislative process, you can go to Santa Fe, attend any one of a number of committee meetings, and then speak your piece to legislators.

For some people, that isn't as simple as it sounds.  For us folks in Albuquerque, it means a couple of hours on the road, more hours sitting through endless personal anecdotal evidence for and against, and then, occasionally, running out of time and finding the bill rolled over to another meeting.

Fortunately, meeting agendas are posted on the internet.  The posting doesn't guarantee that bill will be heard, only that no bill that isn't on the agenda, will be heard.

Sens Cisco McSorley and Richard Martinez
Now comes the Judiciary Committee, link.  Its Chair, Senator Richard Martinez, link, has posted his agenda for his meeting today, not on the internet, but on the door of Rm 321.  If you'd like to see it, to decide if you want to drive to Santa Fe or not, all you have to do is, drive to Santa Fe.

Unless the agenda on the door is hand written, or perhaps typed out on a typewriter, it was created on a computer.  And, at the same instant it was being printed, could have been posted on the internet.  (More or less; I get that it probably has to go through some channel).

Our servants are getting unruly.

Someone should do something.

photo Mark Bralley

Auditors Office funding could quadruple

If Senate Joint Resolution 9 makes it through the process, voters will be given the opportunity to amend the State Constitution.

The amendment would dedicate 2/10ths of 1 percent of the state's budget to funding the State Auditors Office.

The current state budget is $5.65B.  Depending on the actual budget each year, the SAO would have a little over $11M to spend.  Their current budget is around $2.3 million.

What would State Auditor Hector Balderas do with more funding?

The last time I asked him that very question, link, he said,

for every dollar increase in his budget, he can save three.

For an $11M investment, taxpayers will see about $30M returned.  Where else are our tax dollars being invested so prudently?

Why don't we invest even more?

Why don't we just give Balderas as much as he can use?  Why isn't every agency of oversight not fully funded?

My suppositions are;

  • there are politicians and political parties who benefit personally from the lack of oversight over the spending of our enormous power and considerable resources.  And,
  • that those pols and parties legislate in their own self-interests.

But then, I'm a cynic.

photo Mark Bralley

Saturday, March 09, 2013

Legislators to re-invoke their weasel clause

Tip of the hat to Rob Mikolewski and Capital Report, link.

We are disappointed but not surprised to find a weasel clause the New Mexico Constitution.

We are not surprised because, when good ol' boys get together to write the rules, they always add a rule that excepts them from the rules.

The good ol' boys who got together to write the Constitution a century ago created for themselves, just such privileges and immunities; Article 4, Section 13, link;

Members of the legislature shall, in all cases except treason, felony and breach of the peace, be privileged from arrest during their attendance at the sessions of their respective houses, and on going to and returning from the same. And they shall not be questioned in any other place for any speech or debate or for any vote cast in either house.
They write open government laws that apply to everyone but themselves.  By what reasoning should laws apply to everyone but the people who write them?

The "reasoning" will go unexplored.  There isn't going to be a press conference where the opponents of transparent accountability in government will defend their logic.

Fortunately, on occasion, one of them allows their arrogance to get the better of them and lets us know in no uncertain terms, how the cow eats the cabbage.

One such is Rep. Eliseo Lee Alcon, who let fly with these pearls;
“As a citizen legislator, it’s up to me to decide if it’s a public record or not," “It’s up to the person seeking that record to prove that to me … I don’t care what they do. … I think it’s up to me to decide if you can have my record.”
Talk about calling a spade a spade, wikilink.

If you went looking for a text book example of the appearance of a conflict of interests, you couldn't find any, any better than a politician or public servant redacting the record of their own public service.

It defies logic even to suggest it.
It is utterly indefensible.

Politicians and public servants cannot be allowed to redact their own record.  The record of their public service belongs to the people.  It is up to the people to decide how it will be redacted and by whom.

The next hearing of the HCR1, link, will be on the House Floor.  The weasel clause is re-invoked in part C.

It is on the House Floor Calendar for Monday, item 27.

photo Mark Bralley

Friday, March 08, 2013

Student bullies aren't the only bullies in school

I recommend your time and attention to a post by Michael Swickard, link.

APS Police force crippled by BCSO SOP? BS?

Re; Senate Bill 306, allowing APS to have its own Police Department.

According the Legislative Education Study Committee report,
APS claims it needs its own police department because, under the oversight of the Bernalillo County Sheriff's Office;

"... its police force is unable to deal with children and adolescents because the Standard Operating Procedures followed by the Bernalillo County Sheriff's are not tailored for children or adolescents."
I'd be willing to bet that nobody asked Bernalillo County Sheriff Dan Houston if his deputies are under-trained and ill-equipped to deal with children and adolescents; nor that he conceded that his deputies are not trainable in that respect.

The leadership of the Albuquerque Public Schools would like to have a police department.  Having a "department" as opposed their current publicly funded private police "force", will allow the APS police to self-investigate allegations of felony criminal misconduct by administrators and school board members. APS police will not be required to turn allegations and evidence over to another agency of law enforcement.

The appearance of conflicting interests in investigating one's own felony criminal misconduct is currently addressed by the BCSO and Houston's MOU with APS, requiring them to surrender evidence of internal felony criminal misconduct to either his department or the Albuquerque Police Dept.  Without the requirements imposed by the BCSO, the APS police force will be free to suppress  allegations and evidence for as long as they choose, even while statutes of limitation expire.

No one has ever disputed the validity of following allegation; not APS Supt Winston Brooks, not APS' Executive Director of Communications Monica Armenta, not APS Police Chief Steve Tellez, not one school board member, and importantly, not one editor or broadcast news director.  The scandal was first reported in the Journal, link.
APS administrators were involved in felony criminal misconduct; moving cash from evidence and spending it as petty cash and without record keeping, and illegal criminal background checks on whistleblowers.  No one has denied these are felonious acts or that they were committed.

At least three separate investigations were done.  The findings of  those investigations, though they public records and enjoy no legitimate exception under the law, are being hidden from public knowledge in violation of public records law.

No evidence of felony criminal misconduct has been handed over to the DA or any other agency of law enforcement.  No APS administrator was ever charged or held criminally accountable.  None ever will; statutes of limitation on felony criminal misconduct have expired.
Whatever else Senate Bill 306 does, it will enable the leadership of the APS to continue to cover up their own felony criminal misconduct.

And that's wrong, right?

photo Mark Bralley

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Service on APS School Board begins with disregard for the law

The law, the Open Meetings Act, reads, link;

Draft minutes will be prepared within ten working days after the meeting and shall be approved, amended or disapproved at the next meeting where a quorum is present.
Steven Michael Quezada
According to their agenda, link,
we are very disappointed, but not
surprised to find the very first act
of the new APS Board Members
Steven Michael Quezada and
Donald Duran, will be to vote to
approve minutes from a January
23rd board meeting; well beyond
"the next meeting where a quorum was present".

And with their vote in the affirmative,
they signal their, at least tacit approval
of the board's disregard of the law;
They will signal their complicity and/or complacency.

Donald Duran
The real agenda of the leadership of the APS is to give as little notice of public meetings as the law requires, and to delay the posting of minutes of public meetings for as long as the law will allow.

The standards of conduct that the board established and enforces upon students, rest on one fundamental standard;
Students are expected to model and promote personal accountability to standards of conduct that require doing "more than the law requires and less than the law allows."
... or forfeit their good character.

Yet to be determined, whether either of these two gentlemen is willing to step up as a role model of APS student standards of conduct, even for the few hours a day they are among the senior-most role models of those standards.

Stepping up as a role model means holding themselves honestly accountable to the same standards of conduct to which they hold students accountable; a nationally recognized, accepted and respected code of ethical conduct; the Pillars of Character Counts, link.

photo Donald Duran Mark Bralley

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Modrall "wins" big APS contract

It comes as no surprise that APS will continue to funnel untold and untolled numbers of operational dollars to the Modrall law firm; they have "won", link (item 10), no small amount of business from the APS.

Operational dollars are the ones that could be spent in classrooms if they weren't being spent in litigation.

When school board enforcer and now Defendant Marty Esquivel was running for the board for the first time, he told me he knew of Modrall and their tendency to drive their fees up through inordinately long litigation ending in settlements.  Election can't have changed his evaluation of them and the way they litigate; only his complacency about, or his complicity in, allowing it to continue.

APS is largely self insuring.  For the big stuff, they have coverage from United Educators.  UE recently raised APS' premium, more operational dollars, in order to cover APS' inordinately high costs for litigation.

If you look at the record, you will find a record of cost is no object litigation in the interests of administrators and board members seeking exception to the law.

If you ask to see the record and they won't show it to you, you'll have to ask yourself, why not?

I asked once for, as few sheets of paper as possible, to determine how many tax dollars have flowed through APS to the Modrall.  APS' answer;

that will be tens of thousands of sheets of paper that we will be happy to sell you for $.50 a page - up front.
At the time of that request, the president of Modrall was married to the president of the school board Paula Maes.  For years and years and years, Modrall made a living off taxpayers and ignored monumental conflicts of interest.

The problem with Modrall, and I suppose with any other law firm the district hires, is an unlimited budget to spend not in furthering the public interests, but in excepting APS senior administrators and board members from accountability to the law.

One could argue that people are entitled the best defense money can buy.  People are, public servants are not.  The idea that vast amounts of scarce operational resources are being spent to protect politicians and public servants from honest accountability for their public incompetence and public corruption is as indefensible as it is ridiculous.

photo Mark Bralley

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Reported Crimes in APS schools to plummet - guaranteed!

The proximate effect of Senator Ortiz Y Pino's SB 528, link, will be that the number of reported crimes in APS will plummet.  The plummeting numbers will be used in the next few years to convince community members that crime rates in APS are declining, and by extension that the APS police force is doing a great job, and by further extension, that the superintendent and school board are doing a great job; managing to actually reduce the number of crimes being committed in schools.

The Bill, quoted in significant part, reads;

Each school district or charter school discipline policy shall: … offer alternatives to … referrals to law enforcement agencies. (And shall:) not require the reporting of … misdemeanors to law enforcement agencies.
In plain English, school districts and charter schools can allow administrators to not report misdemeanors; violations of the law.

Administrators, principally principals, have an interest in lowering the number of crimes committed in their schools.  In the first place, it's the right thing to do.  Beyond that, the likelihood of their promotion correlates with the crime rates at their schools.

The number of crimes can be lowered in one of two ways:
  1. doing things that actually reduce the number of criminal acts, or
  2. under-reporting the number of crimes that are taking place.
There is the appearance of a conflict of interests when a person whose future depends in no small part on the number of crimes committed on his/watch, is allowed to decide what crimes do and do not get reported.

If there is an opportunity to under-report, there are principals who will under-report.  The number of reported crimes on campus is going to go down.

Are there APS administrators who would do that kind of thing?

When the Council of the Great City Schools recently audited APS, they found administrators routinely falsifying crime statistics in order to protect the public perception of their schools.  You can't ask for clearer proof than that.

Whether a school principal actually bows to the pressure to under-report crime, there is still the temptation.  The easier it is made to yield to temptation, the more administrators will yield to temptation; It's human nature.  It isn't power that corrupts, it's an opportunity to abuse power without consequences that corrupts, absolutely.

Regardless of the reasons that contribute to a child's decision to break the law, the law is either broken or it is not.  Bringing the severity of the act into deciding whether the law has been broken, is a red herring.

If you decide to go one mile per hour over the speed limit, you have decided to break the law.  Period.  Whether there is any point in enforcing the law, is an entirely separate question, and a question that is properly asked of law enforcement, not of you;
and not of conflicted school principals.

APS already allows principals way too much latitude in enforcing rules.  There is a document given to students called the Student Behavior Handbook.  The handbook, in the minimum mandatory consequences section, promises students they will be held accountable; there are consequences they will suffer.  Principals are loathe to impose the minimum mandatory consequences for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that it annoys people who then annoy the principal.

Principals are provided a "weasel clause" in the Student Behavior Handbook.  Nothing in this handbook, they write, prevents an administrator from exercising  their own "best judgment" to suspend the rules and do whatever they want, link.  Best judgment is not subject to review; it does not require explanation or defense.  It is what it is.

SB 528 was given a "do pass" by a majority of the members of the Senate Education Committee, link.  Next stop, the Judiciary Committee, link.

Submitted; Alb Journal, Letter to the Editor,  upon posting.