Saturday, April 27, 2013

Shopping the story around

I couldn't get KRQE to commit to doing a story about taxpayers' double billing for legal defenses for Marty Esquivel and most of the rest of the leadership of the APS.

They told me to go ahead and shop it around if I wanted to.  Shopping it around doesn't mean I expect anyone else will jump on it either, but because it's worth pointing out that they could and won't.

I sent the following to KOAT, KOB and the Journal.
Taxpayers are being double billed for litigation in defense of Marty Esquivel and, most of the rest of the leadership of the APS.

The board and senior administration are being sued in federal court. They are entitled to legal representation at taxpayer expense. That said; they could spend excessively or inappropriately if there were no oversight. Without oversight, there is the temptation to overspend or misspend in defense of one’s self interests v. the public interest. The appearance of temptation creates the appearance of a conflict of interests. You can’t just ignore the appearance of a conflict of interest; it has to be addressed; openly, honestly.

The check and balance in the case of APS, is described in a Request For Proposal for Legal Services, and in particular section 4.4.4.

According the agreed upon rules for legal services for board members and senior administrators; within 30 days of agreeing to represent board members or administrators, their lawyers are required to stand before the entire school board, in a meeting they hold in secret, and tell the board the truth about the case, no matter how bad; how embarrassing, or how criminal. They are expected to report candidly, forthrightly and honestly.

It is during those executive sessions that every school board member has the opportunity to object, on behalf of the people, to spending they deem excessive or inappropriate. They are the people’s defense against for example, a Superintendent who might want to spend unjustifiably large amounts of money covering his own ass.

The board has never met to approve Marty Esquivel’s spending on a legal team of his own, doubling or more, the cost to taxpayers for litigation. The cost is in “operational” dollars; dollars which would be otherwise spent in classrooms. The board never approved of the hiring of the legal team for their own defense.

The RFP establishes a rate; $160/ hour, for lawyers. I would not be surprised to find the contracts in this case, provide for far more.

Communications Director Rigo Chavez admits; The agreement does not include this language. He refers to the following, from the RFP;

Within thirty (30) days following receipt of a case, counsel shall prepare a comprehensive initial report for APS and/or its designated representative to contain a comprehensive written analysis. This analysis shall provide the initial evaluation of the case, including a brief synopsis of the facts to include any exposure in the case, identification of strengths and weaknesses, damages, plaintiff’s injuries and similar. Counsel shall also provide an initial impression of liability and identify the pertinent statutes and the case law expected to affect the outcome of the litigation including any precedent setting issue.
I had asked
I would like to know if the contracts with the lawyers who are representing the board and Marty Esquivel, contain the same or similar language.
The contracts for legal services in this case, my complaints in federal court, do not include any language requiring them to submit their plan to the whole board for their oversight and approval.

Something is fishy.


Anonymous said...

Marty Esquivel represents Ennis Communications which owns KRQE and he and Donaldson have been friends for a while. His buddies represent Channel 4. Your best bet may be whiney Channel 7 because their attorneys are in NYC

Anonymous said...

Marty and Ken Waltz, editor of the Journal, are on the Board or Training Panel for FOG. They are very insular. May I suggest The Weekly Alibi or NM Compass or even The Daily Lobo to get the word out?

Anonymous said...

It is Emmis Communications. The Journal covered a story about a reporter who was stalked and Mr. Esquivel represented KRQE: