Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Teachers; handcuffed and gagged

Journal reporter Hailey Heinz on her blog, link, reports on a teachers union president who donned handcuffs and duct tape over her mouth in protest during a public meeting over teacher evaluations.

The point she was trying to illustrate is how little regard is paid to the opinions of teachers.  She is saying what I have been saying for so long.

In the APS alone, there are nearly 100,000 years of current and ongoing classroom teaching experience, and no seat at the table where decisions are made about what goes on in classrooms.

In the APS, teachers are not allowed a seat at the table because one of the first observations they will share, is that the administration is failing to provide an educationally efficient environment in schools by failing to enforce discipline policies.  Teachers will point to student discipline and chronically disruptive students as significant obstacles to education.

Enforcing discipline policies is an administrative function.  The failure to enforce them is an administrative failure.  Therefore we won't talk about the failure to maintain authority of adults over students, link, nor will we invite to the table, anyone who might;
classroom teachers for example.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

APS' Phill Casaus' libel

Phill Casaus was for a time, the editor of the Albuquerque Tribune. As such, he, and his paper took a lot of heat from me over their complicity or complacency in the cover up of felony criminal misconduct involving senior APS administrators, link.

As a reward for his complicity, I argued, link,  he was given membership in APS' good ol' boys club; a highly paid slot in APS as the Director of the APS Foundation, link.

The first time the Foundation drew my attention was when I found out that they had taken money they has solicited in the name of students, and spent instead on an administrative soiree at the Inn of the Mountain Gods, link.  At the time, Monica Armenta was the highly paid Director.  Now she is an even more highly paid Executive Director elsewhere in the APS.

In any case, Casaus apparently stumbled upon a story about a guy who carried a knife into a board meeting of some kind, link. Casaus copied the link and sent it to APS Supt Winston Brooks along with a message;

TUSD examining security at board meetings after knife incident
Brooks replied in manifest astonishment;
WOW! !!!
To which, Casaus replied;
Next time someine (sic) wants to know why ched can't come, show them this.
Brooks thought that was a great idea;
I consider Casaus' efforts to be libelous, and  Brooks' agreement scandalous.

This isn't the first time Brooks has been party to a conversation about inappropriate weapons use.  Remember him telling School Board Member Robert Lucero to use a pistol to "take me out", link.

So really, same old, same old.

photo Mark Bralley

Esquivel forfeits ignorance plea

APS School Board President, defendant Marty Esquivel is scheduled for deposition this week.  He has cancelled before, it would not surprise me if he does again; any day he doesn't lose, he wins.

The leadership of the APS, Esquivel; Supt Winston Brooks, Executive Director of Communications Monica Armenta, Chief of Police Steve Tellez and Records Custodian Rigo Chavez really, really don't want to be deposed; under oath and on the record.

If it would do them any good, I'm sure they would all like to pretend "ignorance" in their several violations of my civil rights.  That particular defense is denied to them all.

"Ignorance of the law does not excuse" or
"ignorance of the law excuses no one" wikilink
"... is a public policy holding that a person who is unaware of a law may not escape liability for violating that law merely because he or she was unaware of its content; that is, persons have presumed knowledge of the law"
... in particular if the person happens to be a lawyer well studied, experienced, and practiced in the very law he violated.

The one thing that the self proclaimed First Amendment Law  expert, Marty Esquivel cannot do, is to claim his violations of my civil rights was inadvertent.

Which makes the the violations deliberate.

In the disgracefully biased report, link, on the multi count federal lawsuit against Esquivel et al, his cronies at the Journal reported,
Esquivel "... an attorney specializing in First Amendment issues, said he is confident the board has not unfairly limited MacQuigg’s free speech rights.'
Former School Board Member David Robbins, in sworn testimony during his deposition, disagreed.  When asked if he thought I had been treated fairly with regard to being banned for life from school board meetings, he agreed that I had not.

The only people who still think at this point that Esquivel might be innocent, are those who have yet to review the evidence.

On deck for deposition this week; Monica Armenta.  She will be pretending among other things, that she didn't know it is against the law to maliciously slander and libel someone.

photos Mark Bralley

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Tellez on tap for sworn deposition

Tomorrow morning, APS Chief of Police Steve Tellez will be attending his sworn deposition regarding his participation in my illegal lifetime ban from board meetings.  His signature lies beside APS School Board President Marty Esquivel's.

At the time he co-signed, he was Deputy Chief.   In the interim he has been promoted to Chief, in secret, link.  Promoted I argue, in exchange for his on going complicity in the cover up of felony criminal misconduct involving APS senior administrators, link.  Misconduct for which, no one has ever been held accountable, even to the law.

It will be his job to try to create a(n ex post facto, wikilink) justification for their use of their Praetorian Guard, their publicly funded private police force to deny me free exercise of my Constitutionally protected human rights to free speech, to petition my government and to due process.

If Tellez' deposition goes like former Board Member David Robbin's went, it will not go well for Tellez, nor for the district, nor for taxpayers.

At least not in the short run.

photos Mark Bralley

Update; "a family emergency" prevented Chief Tellez from appearing. 

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Esquivel enjoying "cost is no object" defense

The first in a series of depositions in the federal civil rights suit against APS School Board President Marty Esquivel, APS Supt Winston Brooks, APS Executive Director of Communications Monica Armenta, APS Police Chief Steve Tellez, Communications Director Rigo Chavez, and former school board member David Robbins, took place yesterday afternoon.

We paid for one lawyer, the defendants paid for two.
Well, taxpayers paid for two.  Check that, three; in the settlement, taxpayers will be liable for my lawyer too.

The last time I was in court against the APS, I was litigating pro se; advocating in my own defense.  APS sent two lawyers.

APS can do that because their budget for litigation, even in their own self interests, is unlimited.  They can do that because for the most part, they can spend without oversight.  There is not one of the board members and administrators being sued, who doesn't outrank the person charged with overseeing their expenditure in their own defense.

If you had anywhere near all the facts about the representation (so far we have yet to see even a signed contract), the facts might justify the employment of a brace of lawyers.  If they don't, then taxpayer dollars are being wasted.

You might wonder why the Journal doesn't care about the appearance of egregious conflicts of interest and, the blatant impropriety in politicians and public servants spending on their own legal defenses without limit and without oversight ...

... for all the good it will do you.

Esquivel continues to hide emails

NM FOG Vice President and Defendant Marty Esquivel continues to refuse to produce the email record surrounding his decision to write a letter banning me from school board meetings for life.

Among the emails Esquivel won't produce are exchanges between Esquivel and the district's lawyers.  He claims they are protected by attorney-client privilege and work product doctrine.

Let's begin by pointing out that attorney-client "protection" belongs to the client.  It is Esquivel's decision alone, whether to take advantage of it. It is his decision to hide behind the shield, rather than accept the consequences of his incompetence and his corruption.

Esquivel is the senior most role model of a nationally recognized, accepted and respected code of ethical conduct; the Pillars of Character Counts, link.

He doesn't want to be a role for a number of reasons.  Not the least of them is the obligation to role model for students, staff and community, the willingness to do

more than the law requires and less than the law allows.
Maybe the law allows Esquivel all manner of loopholes, technicalities and legal weaselry, but honest accountability to the Pillars of Character Counts! do not.  Esquivel chose to make himself a role model for nearly 90,000 of this community's sons and daughters.  No one forced him to run for the school board. 
He ran, he was elected, he became a role model.

Nothing changes that; nothing.

photo Mark Bralley

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Eye on Albuquerque takes a hit

The Albuquerque Police Department has fired an employee they believe is involved with a blog called the Eye on Albuquerque.  The Eye is routinely highly critical of the leadership of the APD.

The legalities of a police department firing an employee for engaging in protected activity (free speech) will no doubt be explored in great detail, and is not the subject of this post. The need for an outlet like the Eye on Albuquerque is.

The Eye writes in response;

If APD, the City of Albuquerque and Mayor Berry told the truth; the Eye On Albuquerque would not exist ... if Perry, Berry and Schultz were honest and up-front about City business; there would be no need for the Eye On Albuquerque.
and they are right.

If employees have an opportunity to express their discontent with their leadership, without fear of retribution or retaliation, and with a reasonable expectation that their expertise and experience will be treated with respect, there is no need for a venue where those employees can vent.

The Eye on Albuquerque exists because of, and in direct proportion to, plummeting morale in the APD.

Morale is an indicator.  It is an important and powerful indicator of leadership.  Leadership and morale correlate.

So why is there no measure of morale in the APD?
Why is there no measure of morale in the APS?
Why is there no subordinate evaluation in government?

There is no measure of morale because only powerful people can order the measure and they won't.

So why won't they?

Because low morale and inadequate leadership correlate.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Brooks and Walz unlikely to come clean

A profound lack of administrative oversight in the administration the people's power and resources in the APS, allowed a vendor to routinely charge taxpayers $365 for $16 worth of parts and an hour worth of labor.

So far, APS Supt Winston Brooks and Journal Managing Editor Kent Walz are all about celebrating the employee who exposed the ripoff.  They point to the money being saved to draw attention from the money being wasted.

There is no reason to believe that this particular scam is an isolated incident.

It is bone crushingly naive to believe APS is are spending a billion dollars a year and that, there aren't many, many more situations as bad or worse than this one.

There has never been an audit of the administration of the APS that did not find problems with (the abject lack of competent) oversight in the administration of the APS.

There is a reason the leadership of the APS stands foursquare against an independent impartial audit of administrative and executive standards and accountability.

Those wondering

  • who the vendor is, 
  • who signed off on the contract, and 
  • whether this same vendor may be ripping off taxpayers somewhere else, 
are doomed to continue to wonder.

Therein lies the rub; APS is not transparent enough with respect to this incident or any other incidents, to enable taxpayers to watch over resources belonging fundamentally to them.

I point to Walz as a co-conspirator in the cover up of the ethics and accountability scandal in the leadership of the APS for a number of reasons.

But he and the Journal are by no means alone in the establishment media's tacit approval of the lack of accountability in the leadership of the APS.

KRQE, KOAT, and KOB TV are every bit as remiss as the Journal in their investigation and report on the ethics and accountability scandal in the leadership of the APS, and for exactly the same reasons; personal and professional relationships taking precedence over their duty to the people and an informed electorate.

photos Mark Bralley

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Monahan to dig into "media bullying"

A little more than three years ago, blogger Joe Monahan, link, called on "pit rule" critics to point to  "definitive proof that the rule ... cost the state jobs ... ".

He made his point when no one pointed to proof.

Monday, link, Monahan began anther search for definitive proof; this time of "media bullying".  He offered an opportunity for "... any of those reporters, editors or producers want to tell their stories ..."about being bullied, to submit their stories to him.

It be interesting to see what turns up.

The survey would be improved I think, by a qualification of terms.  Monahan mixes terms, talking alternately about the media, free press, reporters, and producers.  "Media" and "free press" are not synonymous, the one being at best a perversion of the other.  "Journalist" is not synonymous.

The First Amendment speaks to the issue of a "free press" not  of "the media", not of "reporters", not of "producers" and not of "journalists".

I submit the following as an example of media bullying;

Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry and his antipathy toward bloggers.  He prefers to take questions from the establishment press; questions softened by their need to maintain access to his pressers.  Berry denies bloggers access because he cannot control their questions; they can ask whatever they think needs to be asked - they're not beholden for further access.

Berry refuses to "credential" bloggers. Without his credentials, the free press are denied access to his press conferences.  This though, the government; the Mayor, has no authority to credential the press, or demand credentials from them.  The First Amendment doesn't authorize the government to decide who is and who is not the press.

I submit that bloggers are the press, every bit as much as the establishment press is the press.

Bloggers are twenty first century digital political pamphleteers.  They are exactly the people the First Amendment was written to protect.  Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of the press.

In modern terms, the mayor shall make no law (rule, regulation, policy or procedure) abridging the freedom of the press.  Mayor Richard Berry abridges the rights of the press in the very act of demanding of the display of some totem, trinket, or bauble as proof of a constitutionally protected human right to be the press.

Richard Berry is treating members of the press disparately.  He gives notice of press conferences to the press who threaten him least.

It is bullying, it stinks of coverup of public corruption and incompetence.  It is not transparency.

Monahan asks; just what kind of pressure is being applied in the state's newsrooms?

The answer; denial of equal access.  Rub the Mayor the wrong way and suddenly you're on the outside looking in.

photos Mark Bralley

The APS security camera scandal coverup

We are in agreement that "APS" was routinely paying one of its vendors $365 dollars for $16 worth of parts and about an hour of labor.  $8 each for rubber belts and $300 an hour for labor.

The APS Board of Education would rather you not think of it as wasting thousands and thousands of dollars.  Instead, they would rather you think about the APS employee who stumbled onto the scam and fixed it.  In truth, she is lucky she wasn't punished for revealing the waste.

The Journal dba "the editors" are happy to help out, link.

The APS Board of Education rightly recognized Cruz’ contribution during its meeting last week. She deserves a nod of appreciation from the community of taxpayers, too.
What taxpayers deserve, more than an opportunity to nod to Cruz, is the opportunity to hold accountable, whomever signed off on lack of oversight that allowed the vendor to rip off the system .

Who was that?

If the Journal investigated, would they find APS COO Brad Winter's signature on the manifest lack of oversight that enabled the scam in the first place.  Would they find APS Supt Winston Brooks'.

The buck stops where?

Taxpayers will never know because the Journal will not investigate and report upon real problems in the leadership of the APS.  They would rather heap praise upon them instead.

They would rather help them cover up than uncover problems.

APS Supt Winston Brooks is responsible for covering up felony criminal misconduct in the leadership of their publicly funded private police force.  The journal reported, link, on misappropriation of funds and illegal criminal background checks on whistleblowers; felony criminal misconduct.

The truth is in the findings of at least three investigations into the public corruption and incompetence in the leadership of the APS.  In particular, the Caswell Report; findings from an impartial, independent investigation.  The leadership of the APS is hiding the findings of all of the investigations.

The Journal in the meantime and in the person of Managing Editor Kent Walz, joined APS School Board President and NM FOG Vice President Marty Esquivel in bamboozling the FOG Board of Directors into giving Brooks their formerly prestigious Dixon Award for heroes of transparency.

Brooks got an award for hiding public records; records that FOG itself had argued belonged to public knowledge.

Taxpayers are not saving thousands and thousand of dollars.  The dollars they save will be wasted somewhere else because the system hasn't changed.  The players haven't changed.  The outcome will not change.

Public resources will continue to be wasted, our power will continue to be used against the public interests, until the day the board members and administrators are honestly accountable within their public service, to meaningful standards of conduct and competence.

The leadership of the APS will not talk about executive and administrative standards and accountability.  The Journal will not investigate and report upon executive and administrative standards and accountability.

Standards will remain too low and, accountability to those standards too uncertain to protect the public interests.  We will continue to get ripped off by unscrupulous vendors.

photos Mark Bralley

Friday, July 19, 2013

Monahan calls Walz out by name

This morning, link, blogger Joe Monahan joined the press calling out Journal Managing Editor Kent Walz by name.

(Got that, Kent Walz?)
Though, his context doesn't make clear what exactly Monahan is accusing Walz of (not) doing.
McCleskey, aka, "The Shadow Governor," because of his influence with Governor Martinez, has become a political hot button because of his fierce attacks on Dems of all stripes and his intimidation of the NM media. (Got that, Kent Walz?)
My belief lies in the need for a more direct approach, link, when calling out one of the most powerful members of the establishment press, on his manipulation of the truth, out of his cowardice or corruption.

APS paying $365 for $16 in parts - installed

APS and the Journal are celebrating an APS employee for saving the district a ton of money, link.  It appears that APS (taxpayers) were paying roughly tens times as much to fix its security cameras as the repairs should actually cost.

Journal education reporter Hailey Heinz reported the following;

Thousands saved

The Albuquerque Public Schools board recognized an employee Wednesday who is saving the district thousands of dollars in surveillance camera maintenance.

Melissa Cruz, an APS police dispatcher, was making a routine repair to a surveillance camera when she realized the district was overpaying. Specifically, she learned that two belts, which allow the cameras to pan, tilt and zoom, cost $8 each. APS’ vendor was charging $365 to take one camera down and replace those belts and the vendor was taking up to six weeks per camera.

Cruz can replace belts on a camera in one hour, using the two $8 belts. APS has about 2,500 surveillance cameras.

“She has saved this district thousands and thousands of dollars,” said APS Chief Operations Officer Brad Winter.
Heinz apparently did not investigate and therefore did not report upon the circumstances that allowed the egregious ripoff of taxpayers in the first place.  Who is responsible for the lack of oversight?

In chasing down the root cause of the waste, the chase for the buck lands on APS COO Brad Winter's desk.  But instead of having to explain why nobody noticed this before, or likely any one of a number of other similar ripoffs in progress, Winter was allowed to praise the employee instead.

The vendor was not named, much less did they have to explain the overcharges.

Heinz reported no outrage expressed by board members over circumstances that could be costing taxpayers tens, maybe hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.

There will be no further investigation or report on whose signature adorns the bottom of the contract to pay $365 dollar for $16 worth of parts and an hour of labor.

Point to the employee who uncovered the outrage,
ignore the administrator(s) who signed off on it.

Great coverage Journal!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Media coverage of Esquivel and Brooks' lack of oversight

I believe it is fair to say; the Journal, KRQE, KOAT, and KOB TV
all know or remain willingly ignorant of the following facts;

  1. APS School Board President Marty Esquivel,  APS Supt Winston Brooks, APS Executive Director of Communications Monica Armenta,  APS Chief of Police Steve Tellez, and APS Director of Communications Rigo Chavez (in his capacity as public records custodian) are being sued in federal court over their several violations of my civil rights.
  2. They have hired attorneys in their defense.  They have yet to produce the signed contracts under which those attorneys are being paid.
  3. Their spending does not conform with school board policy insofar as, there has been no case analysis presented to the whole school board.  The board cannot provide oversight if they're not told the truth; candid, forthrightly and honestly (albeit in a meeting held in secret from the public).
  4. Esquivel and Brooks are accountable only to two subordinates; APS' Director of Risk Management and a "claim analyst".  "Subordinate oversight" is a contradiction in terms, it is oxymoronic.
  5. Both "overseers" are conflicted.  A recent audit of the leadership of the APS found a "... culture of fear of retribution and retaliation ...".  (emphasis added) (And in particular, retribution and retaliation against whistleblowers.)
Esquivel and Brooks are conflicted;
  • their duties to make students' well being the basis of their decision making v, 
  • their own self interest in escaping the consequences of their public corruption and incompetence.
The people are entitled (by means of their elected) to a case analysis.

How else are they going to protect their legitimate interests in the spending of the power and resources belonging fundamentally to them?

Do the Journal, KRQE, KOAT, and KOB TV have any obligation at all to investigate and report upon this abuse of public resources?

I would argue, of course they do.

The establishment's media is conflicted;
  • their obligation to the people v,
  • their obligations (some professional, most personal) to their friends and cronies in the leadership of the APS.
So far, they have resolved the conflict in the interests of the leadership of the APS and in blatant disregard for the well being of students.

They are in a very awkward position, how can they report credibly on the ethics and accountability scandal in the leadership of the APS, without first reporting credibly on their relentless failure to do so, heretofore?

Poor them.

photo Mark Bralley

Monday, July 15, 2013

APS Police - Character Counts! role models?

click on photograph to enlarge
If you look at an APS Police car, you'll find and emblem on the rear corner panel.  I believe their police officers wear the same emblem on their left arm.

In large print, you read SAFEGUARDING OUR FUTURE.
Ostensibly, it is the future of children being safeguarded, in reality, it's the future (and well-being) of board members and senior administrators they're about safeguarding.

They admitted they will follow orders from board members, even though board members have no authority as individuals to order anybody to do anything.

They admitted, link, they'll throw someone out of a meeting on the say so of a board member, regardless of whether they have witnessed a crime or real misconduct.

In the small print;
the Pillars of Character Counts!, a nationally recognized,
accepted and respected code of ethical conduct.

Standards to which students are held accountable and they are not.

  photo Mark Bralley

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Brooks obfuscated examination of his contract

The APS was asked for a copy of APS Supt Winston Brooks' contract.  Were APS as transparent as they would like you to believe, the contract would have been produced rather immediately.

Instead School Board Executive Director Brenda Yager asked Brooks, whether she should produce the contract, or in the alternative, put the requester through the runaround that is APS' public records game.  Brooks ordered her to obfuscate the production.

From: Brooks, Winston
Sent: Friday, March 01, 2013 5:56 PM
To: Yager, Brenda B
Subject: Re: contract
Sent from my iPhone

On Mar 1, 2013, at 5:28 PM, "Yager, Brenda B" wrote:
David Walker (I think he was part of the MacQuigg group) has asked for a copy of your contract. Do you want me to send it or do you want him to make an Inspection of Public Record request through Rigo? (emphasis added)

Winston Brooks, hero of transparency.

photo Mark Bralley

Korte accused me of making an implied threat

On October 10, 2012, Board Member Kathy Korte sent an email to APS Supt Winston Brooks and a bunch of other people.  In her email she accused me of making an "implied threat"

From: Katherine Korte [mailto:kathy korte@XXXX]
Sent: Wednesday, October 10, 2012 9:53 AM
To: Tellez, Steve L; Winter, Brad D; Overmyer, Karl R
Cc: Brooks, Winston; Board ED; Yager, Brenda B; Armenta, Monica

Subject: another threat

I copied and pasted from McQuigg's blog post today. He writes, "If there is a tip of the iceberg, this is it. Game on."

That is an implied trueat and I don't like it. I will monitor this blog daily because I think I need to.
I am willing to file a criminal complaint if there is a way for me to do that. I would also like the entire file related to my police complaint, including witness accounts. And I am wondering whether security cameras were on and caught this encounter.
Thanks a bunch.
Kathy Korte
The post from which she quoted, link.
There is no threat, implied or other wise.

Apparently, her attempts to file criminal complaints against people who are engaged in constitutionally protected activities, have been fruitless; even with the full aid and abet of APS' Praetorian Guard, their publicly funded private police force.

Now the email from her dad, which Korte circulated soon after;
To: "Katherine Korte"
Sent: Tuesday, October 9, 2012 1:12:47 AM
Subject: RE: Ched McQuigg's photographer

File with both APD and APS police. Also, ask about a restraining order against both these pricks. Tell that other lady do the same thing. They are bullies who need their asses kicked.
Be careful with these two. Always have the police escort you to and from your car until you check it and get in, then lock your door.

Korte immediately after attacking Bralley
Kathy Korte's daddy, an ex-cop apparently, listening only to his little girl's side of the story (of course, what daddy wouldn't?) arrived at the following conclusion;
Mark Bralley and I are pricks, bullies and "need our asses kicked."

And, there's a real implied threat to chew on!

Apparently the nut has not fallen far from tree.

photo Mark Bralley

Journal reporter Hailey Heinz, whose side is she on?

Hailey Heinz is only the latest of Journal reporters who don't investigate and report upon credible evidence of an ethics and accountability scandal in the leadership of the APS.

Hailey Heinz prying the truth out of Brad Winter and Board Member David Peercy

I've made a real effort to not hold Journal education reporters personally accountable for the Journal's relentless refusal to tell stakeholders the truth about administrative and executive incompetence and corruption.  Reporters don't decide which stories to cover and they don't write headlines.

I hold Journal editors, maybe even Tommy Lang himself, accountable.
In particular, I hold Managing Editor Kent Walz and City Editor Charlie Moore responsible for the Journal's decision to aid and abet the cover up.

Not that left to her own devices Heinz reports impartially.  Her coverage of the complaints I filed against Esquivel, Brooks, Armenta, Tellez, and Chavez, link, borders on journalistic malpractice.  Well actually, it was journalistic malpractice.

In any event, I was sifting through APS production of emails and found an email from APS Executive Director of Communications Monica Armenta to APS Supt Winston Brooks.
From: Armenta, Monica
Sent: Thursday, March 24, 2011 9:48 AM
To: Brooks, Winston
Subject: FW: slander and iibei


Just wanted you to see MccQuigg is on the warpath again. I just talked to Dave Robbins. He asked for my advice and I told him the only real option for me personally is to ignore MacQuigg.

I won't log on to MacQuigg's blog, but Hailey says a couple of days ago he was complaining in his blog that since you and Marty met with the governor her office has refused to listen to his "concerns" or investigate complaints about APS. (underline added)

On another note, I talked with Chris Ramirez today who says Scott Darnell has been calling him to ask for insight into KOAT TV 7. According to Chris the governors office is not having problems dealing with Action 7 News.

Why is Hailey Heinz reporting to Monica Armenta about what I write in my blog?  If she is following up on leads, legitimate leads, then why is there never a report?  Why did she completely mis-characterize what I wrote, link?

I never even suggested that Governor is ignoring constituent emails due to the influence of Defendant Marty Esquivel or APS Supt Winston Brooks.  I wrote pretty clearly I think, that inconvenient constituent concerns are routinely ignored by Martinez, period.

It was simultaneous nature of the end of the Governors legitimate criticism of APS and a visit from the two most powerful people in the APS which was the target of my post.

One might argue, Heinz is just following up on my credible allegations of an ethics and accountability scandal in the leadership of the APS.   I would ask, then where is her report?  Where has she written about what she uncovered?

Either way, standards and accountability is APS is newsworthy.  Either there is honest accountability to meaningful standards of conduct and competence, which would comfort taxpayers and other interest holders,  or there is not.

Why do you think they don't just point to their standards and accountability, except that they will be found wanting?

So whose side is the Journal on;
  1. the folks who want to hide the ethics and accountability scandal in the leadership of the APS, or
  2. the interest holders who have a right to know about the incompetence and corruption that accompany the wielding of their power, and the spending of their resources.
It's a fair question whose answer I think, is self-evident.

Heinz photo Mark Bralley
Walz photo ched macquigg

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Why do we never ask teachers?

Everyone has an opinion about the ongoing failure in public education.  We know what all the heavy hitters think.

We know what the Governor and her Public Education Secretary think are the problems and solutions.

We know what the APS Supt  thinks, and what school board members, newspaper editors, and union presidents think.

What we don't know, is what teachers think.

What do the people who carry out the orders think about what is wrong and how best to fix it?

In the Albuquerque Public Schools alone, teachers have between them nearly 100,000 years of ongoing experience.  No one knows better than teachers what are the effects of policy and procedure classrooms, the educational interface, where the rubber meets the road, where the system and the student meet face to face.

Why don't teachers have a seat at the table where decisions are made? Why is their input of so little importance as not even to be gathered?

Teacher input is not sought because it is unimportant, it is not sought because it threatens administrative and executive incompetence.  A teacher survey would document incompetence in administration and leadership.

Teachers are being made scapegoats in the failure blame game.  It wouldn't do to let them gather any data in their defense.

Take for example, student discipline.  Teachers are the only people who will tell you that student discipline has a significant and dilatory effect on an efficient and effective educational environment.

Have you ever heard the Governor talk about the problems caused by student discipline and chronically disruptive students?  Or the Public Education Secretary, or a school board member or any senior administrator?  Have you ever heard a newspaper editor point to discipline problems in APS, and their effect on the education of all students?

Enforcing school discipline problems is an administrative responsibility.  Can you imagine the administration documenting the fact that teachers think the administration is undermining their authority over students?

Student discipline problems in the APS, are being kept secret from interest holders.

It has been more than a year since Brooks was asked point blank; "why do we never talk about student discipline, link.  He is yet to respond.

It has been 21 months since Brooks was asked, link, to put together a PowerPoint presentation of the historic, current and future plans to restore the authority of adults in schools; a candid, forthright and honest analysis of student discipline.

It's not why can't the put together a PowerPoint on student discipline issues in the APS, it's why won't they?

There is only one reason to not tell the truth
and that is to avoid the consequences of so doing.

photos Mark Bralley

Friday, July 12, 2013

APS and Esquivel, spending against the public interests and without oversight

APS School Board President Marty Esquivel continues to spend in his own interests, and without oversight.


At the end of the document we find;
cc wi encls.:

Patrick D. Allen, Esq.
Martin Esquivel, Esq.
Mike Wilson, Risk Management Director
Janet Gabriel, Claim Analyst
I don't know Risk Management Director Mike Wilson, nor do I know Claim Analyst Janet Gabriel, but I would bet they are subordinate to Marty Esquivel and Co-defendant APS Supt Winston Brooks.

The only oversight over Esquivel's spending on his own defense, comes from subordinates.  It isn't oversight at all, it's under-sight.

This is particularly problematic because there are indications that the lawyers are having client control issues with Esquivel and others.  The lawyers realize their case is hopeless, but their clients hate me so much, they're willing to spend whatever they can just to keep me from vindication.

The very first rule in their manifestly unenforceable  Code of Ethics requires them to spend in the interests of students; not in their own interests, like trying to litigate their own exceptions to the law.

Subordinate evaluation of senior administrators and board members creates the appearance of a conflict of interests between the subordinate's need to do their job properly, and their need to keep their job ( in what Council of the Great City Schools auditors called a "... culture of fear of retribution and retaliation" in the administration of the APS.   A culture!)

The appearance of a conflict of interests in the oversight over spending classroom dollars unjustifiably is the subject of a school board policy requiring a candid, forthright and honest case analysis to be presented to the entire board by the attorneys who have been engaged to defend senior administrators and board members, albeit in a meeting in secret from taxpayers and other interest holders.

The entire board is yet to hear the case analyses in the litigation of my complaints against Esquivel, Brooks, Armenta, Tellez and Chavez.  No case analysis has been provided by any attorney in this case.

I am given to understand that based on the district's response to a request for public records, there are no signed contracts between Esquivel and Brooks' lawyers and the district, despite their several months of expensive representation - how exactly can that be?  How much have they already spent, how much more do they intend to spend?

The only people who know about the unjustifiable spending are the people who are doing the spending, and their subordinates.  Neither is going to blow the whistle.

Nor is Journal Managing Editor Kent Walz, nor any is any one of the news directors in the rest of the establishment's media.

I would like folks to not lose sight of that.

photo ched macquigg

Thursday, July 11, 2013

NM FOG VP in emailgate of his own

Defendant Marty Esquivel is the new Vice President of the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government.

He is also a politician and public servant; he is the President of the Albuquerque Public Schools Board of Education.

He does the business of a school board member by means of emails.  Because it is public business, public records are created.  The emails are public records.

It appears that Esquivel used one or more personal email accounts to do public business.  It's "legal".

When we asked Defendant Esquivel et al, to disclose all the email addresses they used to talk about me and the banning letter, the defendants refused to produce them.  They claimed it would serve no useful purpose.  It's "legal".

When asked to produce all the emails about me and the banning letter that Defendant Esquivel created and received, he refuses.  He responds, through his lawyer,

"... Defendant Esquivel will not produce the documents listed because they are protected from disclosure by the attorney-client privilege and attorney work product doctrine.
The attorney-client privilege belongs to the client.  Defendant Esquivel is exercising it because he wants to, not because he has to.  It's "legal".

It's fair to ask, why?

Why does he need to hide the emails except to avoid the consequences of their disclosure?

Defendant Esquivel as a person, has the right to take advantage of every loophole, technicality and weaselry the law will allow.

The Vice President of an organization dedicated to open government does not.

The senior most role model in the entire APS, of student standards of conduct requiring "more than the law requires, and less than the law allows" does not.

photo Mark Bralley

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

A child who wants to learn, will want to learn to read.

A child who wants to learn to read will learn to read.

The current approach to teaching reading is to compel students to learn to read what somebody else wants them to read instead of what they would rather be reading instead.  By definition, if you offer a child something they want to read, they will want to read it.  And conversely, if you offer a child some they want less to read, they will want less to read it.

What practical purpose is served by having students learn to read in unison?  What practical purpose is served by having them all reading the same thing?

Except that they can all take the same tests at the same time every few years.

There are two kinds of people in the world*.  There are those who begin thinking about letting students learn to read by reading "whatever they want to", by thinking of all all the bad things they might read given the opportunity and assuming no oversight.

The other has more faith.

It is simple enough to keep track of what students are reading, in particular if they are reading in an electronic database.  I don't know why people suppose that when we set young readers free, we will stop paying attention to what they read.  Or, that they will inevitably learn "bad" things no matter what we do.

Teaching (young) children is like herding kittens.
... if you can pull it off.

Kittens would learn read if they could, and
they would do it the first chance they got.
They would do it in a heartbeat.

 * "There are two kinds of people in the world:
those who divide the world into two kinds of people,
and those who don't." – Robert Benchley 

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

More money for education or, more education for the money?

KKOB's Bob Clark will be discussing money and public education this morning, link.

The discussion will focus as it always does on the causal correlation between the amount of money spent and the amount of education delivered.  There is no such.  If there were, we would be spending more on education and be done with it.

In truth perfectly good education can be achieved on occasion in the worst of financial circumstances and, the best of circumstances there is equivalent failure.

The real stumbling block in public education is the model.

Public education has forever, taken thirty kids with nothing in common but their age, arranged them in five rows of six desks, and expected them to learn together, each on the same page in the same book on the same day for twelve grueling years.

All student achievement gaps are individual achievement gaps.  There is no good purpose in grouping individual gaps for no good purpose.  The student in front of the teacher has individual needs.  It doesn't make a whit of difference if there are thirty, or thirty thousand other students with similar needs.

Nearly every problem educators experience in public schools is rooted in a relentless commitment to an unjustifiable premise; the solution to any student's individual problem is to group kids with that problem and then apply group solutions.

There will be money enough for education when the goal and number one objective of public education becomes

the creation of independent lifelong learners,
at the earliest possible opportunity.

Monday, July 08, 2013

Accountability in the leadership of the APS

In my search for inspiration for a post on accountability in the leadership of the APS.  I always go first to the Wikipedia and as usual, found an excellent reference, link, on accountability.  I recommend the investment of your time and attention to it.

The opening paragraph, here quoted in significant part and edited according to my own interests;

In ethics and governance, accountability is answerability (sic), blameworthiness, liability, and the expectation of account-giving...In leadership roles ] accountability is the acknowledgment and assumption of responsibility for actions, products, decisions, and policies including the administration, governance, and implementation within the scope of the role or employment position and encompassing the obligation to report, explain and be answerable for resulting consequences.

In governance, accountability has expanded beyond the basic definition of "being called to account for one's actions". It is frequently described as an account-giving relationship between individuals, e.g. "A is accountable to B when A is obliged to inform B about A’s (past or future) actions and decisions, to justify them, and to suffer punishment in the case of eventual misconduct".

Accountability cannot exist without proper accounting practices; in other words, an absence of accounting means an absence of accountability.
An absence of accounting means an absence of accountability.

And again;
An absence of accounting means an absence of accountability.

There is no accounting, and there is no timely, honest and actual accountability to meaningful standards of conduct and competence, in the leadership of the APS.

There is an ethics and accountability scandal in the leadership of the APS.

School Board President Marty Esquivel will not hold himself honestly accountable to APS Student Standards of Conduct, even for the measly few hours a day he serves as their senior-most role model of student standards of conduct.

He is running away from his obligations and responsibilities as a role model of student standards of conduct.  Along with the rest of the school board and the entire senior leadership.

There is not one of them who will stand up and pledge their honest accountability to the Pillars of Character Counts!, even within their public service.  Not one.

Not one.

Marty Esquivel, the senior-most role model of actual, honest accountability to the Pillars of Character Counts! said he's not a role model for students because he is not an "educator".

He gets away with it, they all get away with it, because of Journal Managing Editor Kent Walz and his ilk.

I'm not saying Marty Esquivel and Kent Walz are "evil".  But when Edmund Burke wrote;
All that is necessary for evil to prevail in the world, is for good men to do nothing
these are the kind of people he was writing about, and you are the people he was writing to.

Where are the champions of Character Counts!  Where are people like Terri Cole, President of the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce and newly elected NM FOG President.?

They were there when tens of thousands of dollars in federal grant money needed to be spent, courtesy of Character Counts! founding father US Senator Pete Domenici.  Community leaders were falling all over themselves endorsing Character Counts!

Former Mayor Marty Chavez called himself a founding father of Character Counts! and is nowhere to be found.  The membership of APS Character Counts! Leadership Council, of which Paula Maes was the President, is an APS secret.

I asked Mayor Richard Berry once, to stand for character education in the APS, Character Counts! in particular. 

He declined.

The simple truth is, there is not a single community leader willing to talk about honest accountability to higher standards of conduct than the law; even within their public service.

Where are the people who want students to grow into adults who embrace character and courage and honor?  Where are the people who are willing to show them what character and courage and honor and honest accountability to meaningful standards of conduct looks like?

In the meantime, we'll continue to milk a centuries old fable about a hatchet, a cherry tree, and role model of the moral courage it takes to hold oneself honestly accountable to higher standards of conduct than the law.

Because we cannot point to a single contemporary example in the entire leadership of the APS or in the community.

photos Mark Bralley

Sunday, July 07, 2013

APS wasting $1,000 a day

Honestly, I couldn't begin to tell you how much APS actually spends on a daily basis, litigating in the self interests of board members and senior administrators.  I wouldn't be surprised to find, there is no one in the leadership of the APS who could tell you, or would if they could.

I'm talking about the money and effort they spend, simply to delay for one more day, the exposure of their particular corruption or incompetence.  I offer as an example; the money they're spending to hide the public records of findings of at least three investigations into public corruption in the leadership of the APS; corruption including felony criminal misconduct.

I am suing APS over the right to inspect the findings of at least three investigations into public corruption and incompetence in the leadership of the APS police force and administration.  There is no justification for continuing to refuse to produce the ethically redacted public records.

The Inspection of Public Records Act provides for a $100 dollar per day fine for every calendar day the leadership of the APS continues to refuse to produce the records.  The leadership of the APS will not be paying the fine, taxpayers will.  The money will come from "operational funds"; money which could otherwise be spent actually educating children.

To the extent that operational funds, money that could be spent in classrooms, is being spent instead litigating exception to the law for senior administrators and board members, the money is being spent against the public interests.

It is litigation in interests of corrupt and incompetent administrators and board members over the interests of students.

This though the first rule in the APS School Board Code of Ethics, link, reads;

Make the education and well-being of students the basis for all decision making.
How is student well-being served by using their classroom funding, to endlessly obfuscate and delay due process for complaints filed against senior administrators and school board members?

How many other complaints against APS senior administrators and board members are being denied due process by the manner in which APS litigates.

And, need I remind anyone; justice delayed is justice denied.

APS, taxpayers, are going to pay me for every meeting I couldn't participate in because of School Board President Marty Esquivel's unlawful abuse of the publicly funded private police force at his disposal.  Over and above that, they are going to pay me for every meeting I miss between now and the time a federal court jury ends Esquivel's run from the consequences of his incompetence and corruption; striking down his unlawful banning letter .

There will be screw ups in politics and public service; people will be people.  Taxpayers are going to have to pay for their screw ups.  It's fair.

What isn't fair, is for operational dollars to be spent, not in pursuing a just resolution, but in forestalling one.  Every day they don't lose, is a day they "win".  If they're lucky enough, they can forestall their personal accountability forever.  Likely none of the several lawsuits filed against APS Supt Winston Brooks will be settled during his tenure.  Why should they?

Why should they, other than the self evident immorality in selfishly delaying justice, and the increasing costs of settlements to taxpayers and ultimately to students.

I talked to Marty Esquivel by phone one day early in the first school board campaign he and I were in together.  I told him that I was interested in a "clean" campaign.  We chatted for a while and in the course of that conversation, I communicated to him, my upset over the amount of money flowing into law firms litigating exception to the law for board members and senior administrators; the Modrall in particular.

He admitted to me that he knew quite well, how Modrall would jack up the cost of litigation and then settle before trial.  Those settlements, of course, almost never include any admission of guilt, public corruption or incompetence.  Quite the opposite; settlements routinely include a statement disavowing any guilt of any kind, and another, that obligates the plaintiff to help keep the amount of the settlement secret from public knowledge.

At the time, APS insurer, United Educators, had raised APS' (taxpayers/operational funds) premiums, specifically, to cover the costs of inordinate litigation - far in excess of similar school districts.

Modrall was making so much money of APS at the time, APS wouldn't tell the truth about how much money they were actually funneling into a law firm run by the school board president's husband.  I would hazard a guess that if you tried to find out even today, how much money is flowing into Modrall coffers through APS,  a candid, forthright and honest answer would be hard to find.

They don't answer questions you know.

How many board members and their lawyers are running up bills as indefensible as they are unjustifiable, just to escape the consequences of their corruption and incompetence for one more day?

There is a reason why school board policy requires their lawyers to tell the truth (a detailed case analysis) about litigation to the entire school board.

And there is a reason as well that they're not following that policy in the litigation surrounding Marty Esquivel, Winston Brooks, Monica Armenta, Steve Tellez and Rigo Chavez.  The whole board is yet to hear a candid, forthright and honest appraisal of the case against the heart of the leadership of the APS.

The reason no one knows about this save you, is the establishment media and their relentless refusal to investigate and report upon incontrovertible evidence of an ethics and accountability scandal in the leadership of the APS, and the cost to taxpayers, staff and students.

photo Mark Bralley

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Journal editors easily impressed

Journal Editor Kent Walz
Either out of consideration for their friends in the leadership of the APS, or because they really don't get it, the editors have penned a glowing review, link, of APS' progress in the latest round of Standards Based Assessment.

Standards Based Assessment, wikilink, is supposed to measure student learning, and by extension, school performance.  The tests are a poor measure of both.  Imagine a test designed for "all" students that really measures the individual performance of each.  They are an attempt to create global statistics in order to create global solutions requiring huge industries including the testing industry.  A Google search for "problems with Standards Based Assessment" produces nearly 20 million hits; not all inconsequential.

If I may point to one; even students who have "passed" SBA tests and who have "graduated" from high school, cannot be considered, based on the test results, to be prepared for work or college. Colleges and university classes are filled with students who passed SBA tests and have diplomas and still had to take remedial classes before they could undertake college classwork.

The Journal editors are much impressed with a few percentage points improvement in test scores.  The gains are small enough, I wouldn't be surprised to find a statistical source for the gain. APS has raised their graduation rates twice in the past; once by adding another year to high school and once by dropping from the cohort, students who had failed the 9th grade already.  Graduation rates improved, education did not.

The editors seem to miss the point the improvement is from failing miserably to failing a little less miserably.  It isn't OK that nearly half of students still leave APS functionally illiterate, even if it's 2 percent fewer than the year before.

Even if the few percent growth per year is sustainable, it isn't, it will take 15 years to reach a point where 9 out of 10 students leave high school the skill set they need to lead happy and productive lives.

The growth isn't sustainable because a 50% failure rate in any endeavor is an indication of a fundamental flaw in the model; not of a conglomeration of little problems that can be fixed at a rate of 2 or 3% a year.

Fixing a fundamental flaw in any system can be expected to raise performance by tens of percent or more.  Two percent growth in not an indicator of a fundamental fix.  Inconsequential fixes may raise scores a little one year or two, but there aren't enough of them to make to lower the overall failure rate to an "acceptable" level.

Incremental growth does not follow fundamental change.  Incremental growth , like no growth at all, is an indicator of the lack of fundamental change.

APS' Spin Doctor, Monica Armenta
The APS Communications Department spin, link, points to;
  • about three-quarters of Albuquerque public schools made gains
  • APS’ test results exceeded scores for students around New Mexico.
  • all 13 comprehensive APS high schools showed gains in at least one category, including 9 that improved in both reading and math.
  • Twenty-four of 27 middle schools gained in one category, with 13 improving in both.
  • Improvements also were seen in 58 elementary schools, including 22 in both categories.
  • 99 of 133 schools tested gained in at least one category, 54 of them in both categories.
  • The achievement gap between Anglo students and Hispanics narrowed, as well as the gaps with English language learners and economically disadvantaged students.
Note the celebration of gains that are inconsequential in the overall picture; deftly avoiding any mention of the fundamental problems they are yet to address, perhaps even to identify.

APS steadfastly refuses to recognize the standing of the Citizen's Advisory Council on Communications and their effort to establish a public forum where we can talk openly and honestly about the fundamental flaws in the APS' approach to education nearly 90,000 of this community's sons and daughters.

Chalk one up for the spinmeister and the aid and abet she gets from the Journal.

photos Mark Bralley

Monday, July 01, 2013

Do APS students have a right to role models of student standards of conduct?

APS' Board of Education has established student standards of conduct.  If asked to point to them, they will point to the Student Behavior Handbook.  It is a poor excuse for "standards of conduct".  The Handbook does cite actual standards of conduct; the Pillars of Character Counts! link.

Students are "expected to model and promote the Pillars of Character Counts; Trustworthiness, Respect, Responsibility, Caring, Fairness and, Citizenship".
They are the highest standards of conduct mentioned anywhere in APS policies and procedures, regulations, or rules.  They represent a nationally recognized, accepted and respected code of ethical conduct.  A central tenet of Character Counts! is the self imposition of honest accountability to the Pillars of Character Counts!  One cannot model honest accountability to the Pillars of Character Counts! except by holding themselves honesty accountable to the Pillars of Character Counts!

At one point, the standards of conduct that apply to school board members and administrators included a role modeling clause;
In no case shall the standards of conduct for an adult,
be lower than the standards of conduct for students.
They removed the clause from their own standards of conduct, unanimously.  They removed the clause rather than be held accountable under it; rather than be held honestly accountable the Pillars of Character Counts!

They believe that because they removed the role modeling clause, they are now accountable only the law; the lowest standards of conduct acceptable among civilized people.  They believe that because they removed the role modeling clause, they can use an unlimited budget and all manner of legal weaselry to except themselves from honest accountability even to the law.

Different standards of conduct for students than for their role models is as unacceptable as it is utterly indefensible.
Higher standards for students than for adult role models is reprehensible.

If standards of conduct include holding one's self honestly accountable to those standards, then it is the responsibility of the "leadership of the APS, executive and administrative role models, to model "honest accountability"; accountability by due process, without the appearance of conflicts of interests and impropriety.

They will not.

Nor will they discuss in public, why they will not.

I have argued for decades, there are two reasons that the leadership of the APS will not step up as honest to God role models of student standards of conduct;
  1. lack of courage, and
  2. lack of character.
No one, ever, has suggested a third.

I will extend the same invitation I always have; if there is a good and ethical reason that the leadership of the APS will not hold itself honestly accountable to the same standards of conduct it established and enforces upon students, what is it?  Tell us in a comment.

If there is a good and ethical reason to prevent open and honest public discussion of executive, administrative, staff and student standards of conduct and accountability, what is it?

In the glaring absence of a good and ethical reason to avoid any public discussion that might end in school board members and senior administrator having to walk the talk on higher standards of conduct for themselves, it is fitting to conclude;
they will not walk the talk because they cannot summon the character and courage to do so.

They will not hold themselves honestly accountable to the Pillars of Character Counts! because they cannot summon the character and courage they would need to do so.

If we really expect students to grow into adults that embrace character and courage and honor, someone has to show them what it looks like.

One cannot "claim" to be a role model.   One "becomes" a role model through their conspicuous example. There is no such thing as an inconspicuous role model, the entire concept is oxymoronic.   

I would have stakeholders hold Journal Managing Editor Kent Walz personally responsible for the ongoing cover up of the ethics and accountability scandal in the leadership of the APS.

Without his unswerving aid and abet, the cover up would have ended long ago.

photo Mark Bralley