Monday, March 31, 2014

Government spokespeople; PIOs or political operatives?

Mark Twain is said to have said;

"'If you don't read the newspaper, you're uninformed.
If you do read the newspaper, you're mis-informed."
The same can be said for listening to public information officers.

If you examined the record of the public service of the various public information officers and their staffs, it would be hard to distinguish theirs from the record of political operatives; spin the truth in order to ensure re-election or re-appointment and simultaneously, their own continued employment.

If asked, I'm sure that most PIOs would claim their first loyalty is to the people they work for; the people who pay their generous salaries.  The truth is their first loyalty is to the people they work under.  They prove that by dragging their feet on public information and records requests.

Why are we paying the salaries of people who job is to under and misinform us?

Why don't politicians and public servants have to pay for their own operatives?

APS Board to pass unknown Open Meetings Resolution

The agenda, link, for the school board meeting next Wednesday evening, shows they intend to pass the Open Meetings Resolution they "considered" last Friday morning in a Special Meeting.

The resolution is clearly on a fast track, though the resolution itself is still a mystery.  It was not made available to interest holders before the Friday meeting, link, and as there is no link in the Wednesday agenda, it remains unavailable for inspection and review.

UPDATE: the agenda has been modified overnight.  It now includes a link to the resolution; two days too late to comply with the law, but later is better than never.

I suspect that what they are doing is "legal".  "Legal" in this context means using loopholes, technicalities and legal weaselry to prevail in cost is no object litigation to prove that hiding the resolution while acting on it, does not violate the law - the lowest standards of conduct acceptable to civilized human beings; the standards of conduct, that every higher standard is higher than.

School Board Member, Defendant Marty Esquivel is a self professed expert in open government law.  I can't imagine the board is not relying on him for guidance on what they can and can't get away with when it comes to open government law.  This though, wouldn't be the first time he has dragged the board down a wrong path, link.

Unfortunately for interest holders, Esquivel is using his  knowledge of the law, to ensure minimum compliance with the law.

As a school board member, Esquivel is one of the seven senior-most role models of honest accountability the standards of conduct they establish and enforce upon students.

Those standards; the Pillars of Character Counts!, link; represent a nationally recognized, accepted and respected code of ethical conduct.  He and the board have abdicated as role models of honest accountability to higher standards of conduct than the law.

According to the student standards; if one is unwilling to do the right thing, even if it is more than the law requires or less than the law allows, they forfeit their good character in that choice.

Esquivel and the board are unwilling to be candid, forthright and honest with stakeholders.  That's why they hide resolutions and minutes and in so doing, forfeit their good character.

He and they get away with it because of people like Journal Managing Editor Kent Walz.

He and his counterparts in the broadcast media, are willing to utterly betray the trust of stakeholders who rely on them for the truth about the wielding of public power and the spending of considerable public resources.

For no good and ethical reason.

It's just the way they roll.

photo Mark Bralley
Walz caught by ched macquigg 

Saturday, March 29, 2014

APD "processing the truth"

Lapel camera footage of recent shootings are among a set of "public records" created during and surrounding those events.

Public records belong to the people.

The spirit of open government laws in general is that public records are subject to immediate production to the public record, except if there are justifiable delays or exceptions under the law.

The leadership of the Albuquerque Police Department has decided to delay or not produce at all, some lapel camera footage.  They say they are "processing it".  There is no "processing" of digital data in the usual sense; it doesn't have to be dropped off somewhere and developed.  Digital data can be downloaded in a key stroke and produced to the public record with one more.

The only legitimate processing that could, and should be going on, is redaction.  There are ethical reasons to redact camera footage, and for that matter, 911 calls.  What if a confidential informant is captured in videotape?  What if people's reasonable expectation of privacy is denied by playing 911 calls on radio and TV until everyone knows them by heart?

Redaction means obscuring some data, but only the precise data that enjoys some exception.  If there is one moment in a videotape, or one word in a document that enjoys exception; you don't get to redact adjacent words and you particularly don't get to redact the record in its entirety.

The whole process is ridiculous.  Why are politicians and public servants allowed to redact their own public record?  The unaddressed appearance of a conflict of interests could not be more obvious.

Government in this country, state, county and community is supposed to be by, for, and of the people.  The surest indication of the control that people have over their government is the amount of the truth about it, that they know.  If the people don't know the truth about their government; the whole ethically redacted truth, they cannot be in control.

It is time to tilt the playing field in the other direction.
Rather than the people having to sue to prove records
belong to them and are therefore subject to surrender,
the government should have to prove to a court of
competent jurisdiction, that they don't.

Friday, March 28, 2014

APS School Board "considers" Open Meetings Act Resolution

The APS School Board met this morning.  The agenda, link, begins with;

Consideration for Approval of the APS Open Meetings Act Resolution and Board of Education Regular and Committee Meeting Schedule for 2014-2015 (Discussion/Action)
The board is required to meet yearly and pass a resolution detailing their intentions to comply with the Act's requirements.

For example, the Act requires agendas to be posted 72 hours before meetings.  Public bodies have to resolve then, to meet that standard; they have to actually come right out and say;
"we intend to give 72 hours notice before we begin a public meeting"
in the form of a resolution passed by the board.

As is their want and practice, the Board did not provide a link to their 2014 - 2015 Resolution; the one I am assuming they passed this morning.  They effectively eliminated any possibility that an interest holder might find out about and then object to any ill-considered provision they might want to approve.

In the absence of a document to the contrary, it is fair to assume that the resolution they considered this morning, requires 72 hours notice to interest holders before a public meeting.  72 hours is a selfish position. 

72 hours suits their needs, not the needs of community members.  It is the minimum required by the law.  The minimum requirement of the lowest standards of conduct acceptable to civilized human beings.  The minimum requirement of the very standards that every "higher standard" is higher than.

Had they published a link to the resolution 72 hours in advance of their intention to approve the resolution, it is at least possible that an interest holder(s) might have gone to that meeting to insist that they publish their agendas "as built".

As built is the resolve of the kind of politicians and public servants whose interest in honestly involving interest holders in decision making that affects their interests, is sincere.

In truth, it wouldn't have made any difference if they had posted a link to the resolution, because the meeting agenda did not include a public forum where the objection could have been delivered.  As is their want and practice, there was no intention to listen to anyone's objections anyway.

Blame Marty Esquivel.

As an "open government
expert", he knows that
the school board had the
option to do better.

Esquivel knew that they could have, and should have, resolved to publish agendas as built.

His failure to encourage the board to do just that, fairly
illustrates the difference between an open government 
advocate and an open government expert.

The one; good for the people and their interests, the other,
not so much.
Their 2013 - 2014 Open Meetings Act Resolution, link, should you have an interest.

photo Mark Bralley

Thursday, March 27, 2014

New leadership on APS Board of Ed

A full week after their election, the names of the new school board officers have finally appeared on APS' award winning website, link.

Dr. Analee Maestas was elected president, Dr. Donald Duran was elected vice-president, and Steven Michael Quezada was re-elected school board secretary.

They will serve one-year terms.

I think its fair to say it is unclear whether their new "leadership" will come to anything but more of the same old, same old.  There are powers in play that dwarf the powers of individual players like Maestas and Duran.

For example; Maestas and Duran remain, link, "officially" clueless and retain plausible deniability of knowledge of former School Board President Marty Esquivel and Supt Winston Brooks' unjustifiable spending on their own legal defenses and the conditions under which they are spending; an abject lack of oversight by the school board.

The Board also chose committee chairs:

  • Kathy Korte;  District and Community Relations Committee, 
  • Martin Esquivel; Finance Committee 
  • Dr. Duran; Audit Committee.
  • Lorenzo Garcia; Capital Outlay, Property and Technology Committee and 
  • Dr. David Peercy ; Policy and Instruction Committee

Marty Esquivel's chairmanship of the Finance Committee makes him automatically, the chair of the Audit Committee.

As the chair of the Audit Committee, Esquivel is in a position to make sure that an audit, investigation and review of APS' limitless spending on litigation, never makes it onto an Audit Committee agenda.

Policy and Instruction Committee Chair David Peercy was reinstalled as that committee's chair and will be able to continue to keep a public discussion of the role modeling clause off  his committee's agenda, link.

The Journal, unless I missed it, has not reported on the change in school board leadership and what are if any, the implications.

I can understand why Journal Managing Editor Kent Walz is willing to cover for his friend Marty Esquivel, but one would think that he would at least send a reporter to interview the new school board leadership regarding their goals and aspirations.

One wonders why he did not.

photos Mark Bralley

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Tellez investigation by BCSD will continue indefinitely

I have made contact with the Bernalillo County Sheriff's Dept spokesman Sergeant Aaron Williamson.  I asked for an update on the investigation the Sheriff's Department is conducting into allegations that former APS Chief of Police Steve Tellez stole ammunition from the APS and taxpayers.

It was my understanding that Williamson had indicated in a TV interview, that the investigation would be complete by the "end of the week" last week.

The end of the week came and went without notice by the BCSD, so I emailed Williamson and asked for an update.  He has replied;

Media update was put out last week that the investigation has not been completed. Once complete an update will be provided.
It's fair to wonder how much time and energy Bernalillo County Sheriff Dan Houston and his department will put into the Tellez investigation.

On the one hand, the people would probably rather Houston assign his detectives to catching violent felons than assigning them to investigating the theft of around a thousand dollars worth of ammo.

On the other hand, former APS Chief of Police Steve Tellez was a highly placed public servant; a member of the innermost circle of the leadership of one of the largest school districts in the country.

Houston doesn't have a record of placing a high priority, link, on investigation corruption and incompetence in the leadership of APS' publicly funded private police force even though it is he who gives APS police officers their only real authority; authority they are often asked to abuse at the behest of administrators and school board members.

I have asked to be put on Williamson's media update list.  He indicated he would forward my request to the "City of Albuquerque who maintains our media list."

That particular response causes puzzlement and concern.  Puzzlement that the City of Albuquerque decides who will get Sheriff's Department media releases and, concern because the City of Albuquerque has a record of "media" bias.

The City of Albuquerque by and through Mayor Richard Berry, has a long and ongoing history of discrimination against certain members of press, link.  All of them in fact, who don't work for the Journal, KRQE, KOAT, KOB TV and other owners of "printing presses and broadcast licenses"

I'm guessing I won't be added to the list of those Berry (and the Sheriff's Department) believe are entitled to Constitutional protection of their human right to be "the press".

photos Mark Bralley

APS School Board officers still a mystery

It is puzzling to say the least, that APS' $750K a year "communications" effort is yet to communicate who is the new school board president, vice president and secretary.   The various committee chairs were also elected at the regular school board meeting last Wednesday and also remain unannounced.

One wonders, why?

Isn't this exactly the kind of information that we are paying APS Executive Director of Communications Monica Armenta $107K a year to be communicating?

Maybe the information will show up in her next APS calendar.

photo Mark Bralley

Monday, March 24, 2014

Trust, temptation, and public service

The people have a lot at stake; it is their enormous power and resources that politicians and public servants spend.

How do the people protect their power and resources from abuse?  In a very few cases there is some real, honest to God oversight; heads roll when things are done wrong.  For the most part, control over our power and resources lies in the hands of people who can get away with squandering our trust and treasure pretty darn easily.

Trust is a poor mechanism for protecting power and resources from abuse.

It rests on an assumption that politicians and public servants are somehow less affected by temptation than the rest of us.  No human beings are immune to temptation.  There is a reason that a central prayer in Christianity includes a prayer to be saved from temptation.

Politicians and public servants are exposed to temptations far beyond those of the rest of us.  We need more protection than their assurances of their trustworthiness.

Public servants must accept honest accountability to meaningful standards of conduct and competence within their public service. The greatest among them must demand it.

Where in government, let's say, in the administration of the Albuquerque Public Schools, is there a venue where the least powerful person in the APS can hold the most powerful person accountable to meaningful standards, even against his will?

Where is the due process for complaints?

Where is there impartial adjudication of complaints; free of appearances of conflicts of interest and impropriety?

There is no such a place.

If there were, APS Supt
Winston Brooks could point
to it.  He would point to it.

His friends at the Journal, KRQE, KOAT and KOB TV could, and would point to it.

Except if any of them finally did, Brooks would find himself standing in that venue and being held honestly accountable for his part in cover up of felony criminal misconduct involving senior APS administrators and APS' publicly funded, private police force.

photo Mark Bralley

Friday, March 21, 2014

Brooks' legal woes; Journal coverage misleading

In the Journal yesterday, link, we find that APS and APS Supt Winston Brooks have lost a motion for summary judgement and are heading toward a trial.

It has been nearly four years since the suit was filed against Brooks by two of his subordinates.

The Journal reports;

  1. APS conducted an investigation of (one of the complainants) performance at Sandia, which the district argues was the basis for his demotion.
  2. In her ruling, U.S. District Judge M. Christina Armijo expressed skepticism of APS’ arguments. Armijo wrote that the district’s investigation into Bachicha wasn’t completed until after he was demoted. (emphasis added)
These two points illustrate APS' modus operandi.
  1. If someone files a complaint against an administrator or school board member, a great deal of time and money is spent "investigating" the background of the complainant in an effort to intimate, harass and discredit them.   APS investigators aren't afraid to go back decades to find something they think they can twist into something they can use, and
  2. these investigations into justifications for firing are all post hoc; they come along well after the firing, could not therefore be the basis for the firing, and are introduced anyway.
The misleading statement comes at the end of the Journal report where they write;
In other cases involving Brooks, a judge in July dismissed a suit made by three APS principals who claimed they were unfairly demoted. There is also the ongoing case involving Ruby Ethridge, a former APS associate superintendent. Ethridge filed a civil rights suit against APS and Brooks arguing she was demoted after complaining that Brooks “treated woman with disdain.”
I find it misleading to say other cases involving Brooks and then imply there are only two.  There are of course, many more than that costing taxpayers millions.

The Journal is cooperative in keeping APS legal shenanigans out of the news.  Interest holders have no idea how much money APS is spending on legal defenses and settlements. 

Before he was elected to the school board, Marty Esquivel admitted to me that it was APS' practice to drive up inordinately high legal bills waging cost is no object defenses and then settling when trial was imminent. 

The settlements always include a statement where APS (administrators and board members) get to  admit to no wrongdoing.

If anyone cared to investigate, I believe that they would find APS pays far more to their lawyers than they pay in damages to those they have victimized.

APS School Board elects officers, but who?

The Albuquerque Public Schools Board of Education, according to their agenda, was to have elected new officers for the coming year.

Two days after the election, APS' award winning website still has no new information.  Neither has the local "news".

If Marty Esquivel has found himself re-elected as President, the forecast is of his continued abuse of power without consequence.  Including but not limited to;

  • his abdication from senior most role model of student standards of conduct,
  • spending hundreds of thousands of dollars, without executive oversight, on litigation to except him from the consequences of violating my several civil rights, and
  • using his Praetorian Guard, a publicly funded private police force to hide administrative and executive corruption and incompetence from public knowledge.

Or, business as usual.

photo Mark Bralley

Will Dan Houston tell the truth about the Tellez investigation?

The Bernalillo County Sheriff's Department is investigating the allegation that APS Police Chief Steve Tellez stole ammunition from APS.  The Sheriff's Department spokesperson indicated that their investigation would be complete by the "end of the week"; today.

There will be public records associated with their investigations including evidence and their findings,  The records belong to the people; every page, every jot and every tittle.  The NM Mexico Inspection of Public Records Act allows some of that record to be redacted.

It is ridiculous that the Act allows politicians and public servants to redact their own record, but nevertheless, that's where we find ourselves.

This is Sunshine Week, link, and
today is test day for Bernalillo
County Sheriff Dan Houston.

The test; whether he will tell as
much truth as the law will allow,
or as little truth as the law absolutely requires.

He will be candid, forthright and
honest with us, or he will not.

The test is of his character and his courage.
More, at ten.

photo Mark Bralley

Bus drivers yell at APS students; do teachers?

There is a story in the news about an APS school bus driver is the subject of a complaint that she yelled at students and used inappropriate language in front of kids.  The owner of the bus company insists that you have to yell at kids (sometimes) to make them obey.

Recently, APS Executive Director of Communications Monica Armenta, admitted that a principal had used his "daddy voice" with a student.  The principal had been accused of banging a kid's head against the wall.  Armenta insisted that he had only used his "daddy voice" and by implication, that using one's daddy voice is an acceptable way of maintaining discipline and control in the APS.

So what is the status of discipline and control in APS schools and classrooms?

Who knows?

There is a huge secret being kept by the leadership of the Albuquerque Public Schools.  It has to due with student discipline and an overall loss of control over students at school.  Interest holders have no idea how students behave in classrooms.  They have no idea there are students in classrooms who keep other students from learning.  They have no idea how the performance is schools, classes and students is affected by student (mis)conduct.

The people who, by virtue of their tens of thousands of years of ongoing teaching experience, are most qualified to answer questions about student discipline, are not asked.  Why not?

There is a reason why the leadership of the APS does not survey teachers on student discipline issues and their effects.  There is a reason they don't keep any useful data on student discipline.  There is a reason that APS Supt Winston Brooks is never going to do a PowerPoint presentation on student discipline; history, trends, and future plans, link.

The truth about student discipline and its effects on an educationally efficient environment is being hidden because it makes the leadership of the APS look incompetent.

The enforcement of district discipline policies is an administrative responsibility.  The failure to control chronically disruptive students is an administrative failure, not teachers, though they are the ones being held accountable for any lack of progress the administrative failure engenders.

There's really only one reason to not tell the truth,
and that is to avoid the consequences of having the truth known.

Why won't Supt Winston Brooks, or someone in his stead, be candid, forthright and honest with interest holders on the issue of student discipline, standards and accountability,

except to avoid the unpleasant consequences
of the truth being known?

photo Mark Bralley

Monday, March 17, 2014

Brooks' telling response on Tellez firing

APS Supt Winston Brooks has not had a straight up debriefing on the firing of his friend former APS Police Chief Steve Tellez.  Nor is it likely.  It's not the way Brooks rolls.

Instead, he would like everyone to focus on how hard it was for him personally, to do his job; to hold a high ranking public servant accountable for betraying the trust of the people he served.

If the press had had an opportunity to ask Brooks some questions face to face, I doubt that any one of them would have asked him if he was having fun.

“If anybody ever starts to feel good about terminating people, they’re sick. No termination is fun. No termination is gratifying. But you have to sit back and look at what’s best for the district.”
Unfortunately, even if the media "investigators" had had the opportunity to ask Brooks some inconvenient questions, there's no indication they actually would have.

There is a reason the leadership of the APS is hiding the truth about a standards and accountability crisis in the senior most administration.

There is a reason the Caswell findings are being hidden from public knowledge.

There is really only one reason to hide the truth and that is to avoid the consequences of the truth becoming known.

Brooks and the school board need to answer some inconvenient questions about this scandal; in public and on the record.

One such;
What part of the corruption was Steve Tellez' and what part was the culture of the leadership of the APS?
What is it about the administrative oversight over APS'  police force, that made its chief think he would get away with taking ammunition that didn't belong to him?

What is it about the administration of the APS, that led a member of the innermost circle to believe that he could betray the public trust and either not get caught or suffer no real consequences if he was?

I insist that it is the very culture in the leadership of the APS that led him to believe taking the ammo was acceptable or carried no consequence.

In support of which, I submit the findings from a recent (enough) investigation by the Council of the Great City Schools. Their findings included the finding of "a culture of fear of retaliation" against whistle blowers and others who filed complaints or offered testimony against administrators.

When photojournalist Mark Bralley looked into it he found;
In reporting for this post, link, almost everyone associated with APS had a story to tell, but did not want to go on the record for fear of retaliation or retribution. I have never reported an issue where more people were willing to talk yet requested anonymity.
Through interviewing several people who have requested anonymity for fear of retaliation or retribution, I am aware of Brooks' temper. These sources have either been shouted at or physically bumped. Brooks uses his body rather than his fists or hands to barge into people.
The APS police force is part and parcel in the culture of fear of retaliation.  It is publicly funded private police force that is accountable only to the leadership of the APS.  The take their orders from senior administrators and school board members.  They are a Praetorian Guard if ever there was.

They are retaliating against whistle blowers and others who create problems for administrators and school board members.  Part of the scandal in 2007, link, was the APS' police force's illegal use of a federal criminal database to do background checks on whistle blowers and a senior administrator's fiancĂ©e.

They are insulating administrators and school board members from the consequences of their (even criminal) misconduct.  Where are the findings of the APS Police force's investigation into the criminal misconduct in the leadership of the APS Police force in 2007 and beyond?  I can tell you they were never turned over to the DA, even as statutes of limitation on felony criminal misconduct involving senior APS administrators, expired.

*How can the Journal, KRQE, KOAT and KOB TV report credibly on the cover up of felony criminal misconduct by the leadership of the APS, without first reporting credibly on their refusal to do so for the last seven years?

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Media investigation of APS Police incomplete

The local media is finally covering the public corruption in the leadership of the APS Police.  But they have stopped short in their coverage, either by their own choice or because APS just won't give them any more truth to publish.

Point in fact; the media is reporting that two people from the APS police department went to a certification training in use of the AR15 assault rifle, Steve Tellez being one of them.  Why won't they report who the other person is? It should be easy for the media to find out who else was certified, and maybe had an interest in acquiring a bunch of very expensive ammo to burn through.

APS and the media are being particularly secretive on who signed off 2010 on the order four cases of ammo worth nearly two grand, that fit weapons the APS police don't use.

KOB TV claims to have investigated the purchase of the ammo in 2010 but I couldn't find a link to their coverage.  They report now that "APS sources" say two APS officers were trained and certified on the AR15; one of them was Tellez, the other unnamed. 

My information is that the other person was then Chief of APS Police Bill Reed.  I'm told that he and his Deputy Chief went together to a training in Las Vegas Nevada.

The four cases of .223 ammo, two of which are missing, one of which Tellez admitted taking, were actually purchased when Reed was Chief.  This is all single source information, as APS won't cooperate in corroboration.

APS and their cohorts in the leadership of the local media would like this story to be over.  Releasing the story on a Friday is part of that plan.

But the whole story is yet to be told.  When it finally is, maybe we'll find out who stole the other case of ammo.

photos Mark Bralley

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Bernalillo County Sheriff investigating APS' missing ammo

The Bernalillo County Sheriff's Department has apparently begun their own criminal investigation into ammunition that went missing from the APS Police evidence locker.  Sheriff Dan Houston has sent detectives of his own into APS' castle keep.

In situations like these I'm told, the criminal investigation normally takes place before an administrative investigation is done.

There would have to be a good reason to do otherwise.

APS jumped the gun and hired Robert Caswell Investigations to begin and complete their own investigation before detectives from the Sheriff's Department were sent in.

The bass ackwards order may complicate the criminal investigation and may have been the whole point in rushing Caswell in, in the first place.

One distinction between the Houston investigation and the Caswell investigation will be the availability of the truth to interest holders.

The Houston findings, I am presuming, will be redacted according to the intent of the New Mexico Inspection of Public Records Act, and then be made available for inspection and or copying.

Caswell's findings, in stark contrast, will be hidden behind a wall of loop holes, technicalities, and legal weaselry.  It will never be seen again.  It will be redacted from the cover page to the last period.

The findings from a Caswell investigation in 2007, into the same kind of  corruption in the leadership of APS' publicly funded private police force, are still hidden from public knowledge.

Another distinction between the findings is, if Sheriff Dan Houston chose to hide his findings from public knowledge, there would be an outrage in the media.  The Journal and the NM Broadcasters Association affiliates, KRQE, KOAT, KOB TV wouldn't let him get away with it.

That APS Supt Winston Brooks chooses to hide, in their entirety, the findings of two private investigations into felony criminal misconduct involving APS police chiefs and other senior APS administrators, does not seem to outrage the media in the least.

Make of that what you will.

What I make of it is, they are in cahoots in their cover up.

photos Mark Bralley

Winston Brooks deeply conflicted

APS Supt Winston Brooks has a decision to make.

His Chief of Police Steve Tellez has "... acknowledged to APS administration that he took one (box of very expensive ammunition) for personal use with his own weapon."

Now Brooks has to decide whether to keep him on salary (either at home or in a basement somewhere) or fire him.

It's a pretty straightforward choice and there is no apparent reason to delay it.  Delaying the decision unnecessarily would constitute malfeasance.

Firing him will cost money.  APS will argue that it's cheaper to keep him on administrative leave until his contract expires, than to fire him.

Tellez whispers in COO Brad Winter.
Firing him actually could cost a lot of money depending on what secrets Tellez is willing to reveal and what Winston Brooks and the Board are willing to do to keep them from being told.

An APS police chief without the opportunity to (threaten to) divulge secrets in public, hasn't much leverage left.  The leverage was last described in a Journal report quoting APS Chief Counsel Art Melendres.  He was quoting lawyer Sam Bregman who was representing former APS Police Chief Gil Lovato.  According to Melendres, Bregman said, if Lovato ever got to court, there wouldn't be a single senior APS administrator left standing.

The APS school board and senior administration have a personal interest in keeping Tellez out of court.

Marty Esquivel
Brooks, School Board President Marty Esquivel, and the rest of the complicit or complacent leadership, would like people to believe that keeping him on leave at $250 a day until the end of June, at a total expense to taxpayers of somewhere around $30K is simple prudence, nothing more.

They are considerably less prudent when they need to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on their own legal problems, without oversight except by underling.

It is another of Brooks' conflicts; he is the highest ranking administrator who reviews his own spending on his own legal defense; hundreds of thousands of dollars on my complaints alone.   The Modrall firm alone makes well north of a million dollars a year litigating on behalf of senior administrators and school board members seeking personal exception to the law.  All without honest oversight.

The administrative review of Brooks' spending is done by a Brooks' subordinate; APS Director of Risk Management Mike Wilson and a subordinate of his.  Subordinate oversight is oxymoronic.

The APS School Board has abandoned their executive oversight obligation.  They are supposed to listen to "case analyses" of litigation involving administrators and board members, in order to provide oversight; to ensure that public resources are being spent appropriately.  The board's oversight over the administration is the people's only administrative oversight.

The APS School Board's abandonment of their obligation to provide executive oversight over administrative spending on their own legal defenses, is a betrayal of the public trust.

In any case, Brooks is conflicted and so far has managed to avoid defending, denying or even acknowledging the conflicts; the first step in addressing them.  An unaddressed conflict remains a conflict.

Brooks is conflicted by
  • the obligation to fire Tellez and
  • his personal need to keep the essential facts hidden from public knowledge. 
His conflicts remain unexamined by the investigative reporting teams of the establishment media, as does the lack of school board oversight over administrative litigation.

"It's a personnel matter"
According the Journal, APS Executive Director of Communications Monica Armenta said last week that, Tellez was put on leave for a "personnel matter" not a criminal matter.

Since when is the misappropriation of public property not a criminal matter to anyone except APS' spinmeister Armenta and the $750K a year public relations effort she leads?

The local media, without exception, steadfastly refuse to investigate and report upon the standards and accountability scandal in the leadership of the APS.

Even if the truth is; there isn't one.

What if;
1.  APS administrative and executive standards of conduct are high enough to protect the public interests in the public schools.  And

2.  Accountability to those standards is swift and certain; there is due process for complaints over administrative or executive misconduct.
If it's true, why wouldn't they want to report it?

If it's true, wouldn't they kind of owe it to their friends
in the leadership of the APS, to report it?

photos Mark Bralley

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

APS Police Chief "under fire" for missing ammo

Under fire means different things to different people.

To the Journal, sitting at home pulling down $250 a day plus benefits and, apparently immune from criminal prosecution for criminal misconduct, is "under fire".

The Journal report, link, contains a few errors.

It would be the second police chief in a row who was let go because of allegations of misconduct.
He is actually the third not the second.  The Journal should know that because they reported in 2007, link, on the departure of the second; Gil Lovato, and the guy he replaced, Darrell Harrell, who also left under allegations of misconduct.
Nearly 17 years ago, Gil Lovato took the reins of a school police agency racked by controversy.
They went on in the 2007 report;
(Lovato's) been on paid leave since Jan. 6, (2007) pending an internal audit of the school police department that still isn't complete. Normally, such audits take two weeks. (the report was published Feb 7)
The leadership of the APS was dragging their feet.  The report continued;
Outside private investigators have also been called in.
The outside investigator was Robert Caswell Investigations, the same investigator who has been called in this time.  Caswell apparently recused himself at some point during the 2007 investigation because he was "conflicted".  He still is.  Apparently this time they went ahead and did the investigation themselves despite the conflict.

The Journal refuses to report that Caswell's findings in 2007 included felony criminal misconduct involving senior APS administrators.  They refuse as well, to report that the leadership of the APS never turned the findings over to the DA for criminal prosecution.  Or, that they are spending tax dollars in federal court in an effort to keep the findings hidden from public knowledge.

The Journal refuses to demand the production of an ethically redacted copy of Caswell I (2007) and Caswell II (2014).  Or, they have asked and refuse to report that the request was denied.  And further refuse to report "why" the leadership of the APS refused to produce an ethically redacted version of the truth.

There is a problem with the report's use of the phrase "in a row".  There was a chief in between Lovato and Tellez, who wasn't let go because of allegations of misconduct; Bill Reed.  I've heard there were allegations of misconduct on Reed's part, but they are unsubstantiated until APS produces the public record of his public service in the APS.

If there were allegations of misconduct made against Reed, that would make Tellez the fourth APS police chief in a row caught squandering the public trust and treasure.

The Journal reports;
The APS police department had ordered four boxes of ammunition for assault rifles, although APS police do not use assault rifles, the official said.
The Journal did not ask, was not told, or did not report; the name of the person who ordered the ammunition.

Who is "the official"?  Is someone "leaking" information to the Journal, or is the Journal allowing someone to dissociate their name from the scandal?
Tellez has acknowledged to APS administration that he took one of the boxes for personal use with his own weapon, the official said.
So apparently the question is; if a member of APS inner circle to takes APS property for his own personal use, is that a bad thing?  Bad enough to fire him?

The Journal wrote;
APS spokeswoman Monica Armenta said last week Tellez was put on leave for a “personnel matter,” not a criminal matter.
Armenta is skating on some pretty thin ice here;
how do you take something that doesn't belong to you without committing a crime?

How much longer does APS get to claim "personnel matter" for everything they want to hide?
It will be up to Superintendent Winston Brooks to decide whether he should be fired.
It will be up to Brooks to decide whether he wants Tellez testifying in court.

Hmm.  Tellez baring his body map and ratting out a bunch of the senior leadership of the APS in court and on the record, or not? Hmm.

It does raise another possibility though;
Brooks could bring Tellez back "on probation" to keep him quiet.
Tellez ... was named acting chief (in 2007) after the district opted not to renew then-Chief Gil Lovato’s contract amid allegations of favoritism and other issues.
"Other issues"?  Candy coating by the Journal if ever there was, Link
Attempts to contact Tellez through APS were unsuccessful.
Ya think?

photos Mark Bralley

Monday, March 10, 2014

APS Police scandal enters 3rd week; still no news

From the perspective of APS Supt Winston Brooks and the APS Board of Education, the dust has settled on the "fact gathering" following the suspension of their Chief of Police Steve Tellez.
They know everything they need to know to make their decision on Tellez' future.

In at least one respect, Tellez' future looks pretty bright.  Despite the "alleged" misconduct, he is going to remain on what amounts to paid vacation until his contract expires.

On the other hand,
if he wanted his day in court,
he isn't going to get it.

It's a done deal as far as Brooks and the Board are concerned.

Their only problem at this point, is figuring out how to keep the truth from coming out.  Keeping Tellez out of court certainly helps but they still have to keep it all under cover until nobody cares anymore.

If the facts were that Brooks and the Board were on top of things like corruption and incompetence in the leadership of their publicly funded private police force, the facts would be headlined in the Journal;

APS On Top of Corruption, Heads Roll!

If the truth looked good for
the leadership of the APS,
they would be promoting it,
not hiding it.

An ethical redaction is always
allowed by the law. The law
they hide behind to hide the
truth, allows them to hide the
truth, it does not require them
to hide the truth.

There is only one reason to hide the truth and that is
to avoid the consequences of the truth becoming known.

Winston Brooks and the Board don't
want the people to know the truth
about the lack of oversight that
enables corruption and incompetence
even in the innermost circles of the
leadership of the APS.

Winston Brooks and the Board don't want people to know the truth about the standards and accountability crisis in the penthouse suites at 6400 Uptown Blvd.

Apparently, neither does the media. They have reported that;
  • Tellez has been suspended,  and that
  • the subsequent self-investigation has concluded, and that
  • the leadership of the APS intends to keep the whole thing hidden from interest holders.
What they have not reported is, one iota of outrage at being fed pablum by a $750K "Communications" Department, just so APS can do public relations damage control.

The media protest should be vociferous, and they aren't protesting at all.  Coupled with their manifest record of neglect, it leads me to believe that at the management level, the media is complicit in the cover up of a standards and accountability scandal in the leadership of the APS.

That conclusion and perception has been on the table for a really, really long time awaiting their denial, defense or even simple acknowledgement.

photos Mark Bralley

Saturday, March 08, 2014

APS' blanket redaction unjustified

KOAT continues their coverage, link, of the current scandal in the leadership of the APS and its police force.  Unless I missed it, they're the only outlet still reporting on the scandal.

They report that the self investigation is done and that everything about it, and I mean everything about it will remain secret from public knowledge; secret from the people whose power and resources have been squandered.

Open government laws are pretty clear; you don't get to redact an entire body of information because just because some part of it can be redacted justifiably.  If you have enough money and lawyers, you can drag it out for years, but at some point you have to redact the record and produce the rest.

Why in the world do politicians and public servants get to redact their own record?

What is the appearance of a conflict of interests if it is not allowing people to redact the record of their own public service?

For the most part, the exceptions to open meetings and public records allow the redaction of records and meetings, they don't require it.

You know APS is redacting the truth for the wrong reasons, when they won't tell you what their reasons to redact this record are.

You know the media and press are letting you down, when they don't insist that APS produce the rest of the record; every bit of it that doesn't enjoy legitimate exception under the law.

Friday, March 07, 2014

APS, Caswell, and the Private Investigators Code of Ethics

If you search online for a code of ethics that applies to Robert Caswell Investigations and their dealings with the leadership of the APS, you probably won't come closer than the Council of International Investigators - Code Of Ethics, link.

And by "closer" I mean internally.  There are a lot of codes of ethics for private investigators and they are naturally very similar.  There are industry codes, state codes, and who know what others.

I have no idea whether Caswell embraces any code of ethics.  In a cursory scan of their website, link, I found no citation of any code to which they hold themselves accountable.

In my experience, the harder someone's code of conduct is to find, the harder it is to enforce.

Codes of ethics are largely unenforceable anyway,
though some professions do better job of it than others.

The applicable ethic in this case can probably be found in nearly every code of ethics; it happens to be the second ethic in the International Investigators Code;

2. To preserve forever my clients' confidences
under any and all circumstances except where
the clients' interest is contrary to criminal law.
It's pretty clear that the leadership of the APS' interest in hiring Robert Caswell Investigations to do administrative investigations of allegations of criminal misconduct so they can control the evidence, is contrary to criminal law.

They're using Caswell to gather evidence so they can fire people or put them on leave until their contracts expire, and then keep any evidence of criminal misconduct under wraps.  By under wraps I mean hidden behind a shield of law firms and an unlimited budget for litigation.

Like I said, if the standards are hard to find, a place to enforce them is even harder to find.  Where does one enforce the ethic that prohibits using private investigators to evade criminal prosecutions?

A particularly convenient court is the court of public opinion. If the people get stirred up enough about the ethical misconduct in the leadership of the APS, court will come into session; people will resign, people will be recalled, people will be prosecuted.

The gatekeeper to the court of public opinion here in River City is the mainstream media; the Journal, KRQE, KOAT, and KOB TV.  Unfortunately, they don't seem to mind that;
an investigation of alleged administrative misconduct is being conducted by a private contractor who owes his allegiance to the same administration he is investigating.  A private contractor who owes an allegiance only to the administration and who will cooperate in keeping everything about the investigation secret from the people who paid for it.
This despite the fact they know that the last time their administrative investigation turned up evidence of felony criminal misconduct, Caswell I, the evidence was never turned over to the District Attorney for her decision whether to prosecute, and statutes of limitation on felony criminal misconduct were allowed to expire.

If the Journal, KRQE, KOAT and KOB TV are not
  • complicit in the ongoing cover up of the cover up of public corruption in the leadership of the APS and their publicly funded private police force,
  • complacent about the ongoing cover up of the cover up of public corruption in the leadership of the APS and their publicly funded private police force,
why are they not investigating and reporting on any of this?

Why is none of it "news"?

Seriously, why not?

I ask that question a lot; it is yet to be answered.

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Investigation into APS Police Chief is complete

All other pertinent information will remain secret.

KRQE reported yesterday, link, that the Robert Caswell Investigations investigation into allegations of employee misconduct concerning APS Police Chief Steve Tellez is complete.  They reported on "new details" released Wednesday.  Apparently, they were "released" only to KRQE.  Either that or everyone got them and nobody else thought it was news.

APS School Board President Marty Esquivel sits at the table where decisions are made, at KRQE.

According to KRQE, APS is not releasing the report, the details of that report, or its findings.

That shouldn't come as a surprise, since APS still hasn't released the report, the details of the report, or the findings in the report of the last investigation of allegations of misconduct that were leveled against the leadership of APS' Police force.

KRQE and I are under the impression that Tellez' problems have to do with some missing ammo.  Ammo, I'm told, was ordered for APS' publicly funded private police force, but does not fit any weapons carried by APS police officers.

Former Chief Bill Reed
Coincidentally I'm told, the ammo would fit assault rifles that Steve Tellez and the former Chief Bill Reed like to shoot, a lot.

Two cases of very expensive ammo is probably a felony theft.

APS is not supposed to be investigating it's own felonies anymore.  After they self investigated the corruption in 2007 and then hid the findings, Bernalillo County Sheriff Dan Houston made APS sign and MOU, link, in which they agreed to hand off felony criminal investigations to either the Sheriff's Department or the Albuquerque Police Department.

There is a loophole in the MOU allowing them investigation felony property crimes but that doesn't mitigate in the slightest, the conflict of interests manifest in APS investigating itself.

APS PIO Monica Armenta
KRQE reports that APS has refused to comment saying this is a personnel issue.

When don't they, when isn't it?

There is really only one reason to not tell the truth, and that is to avoid the consequences of telling the truth.

The truth about the wielding of public power and the spending of public resources belongs to the people whose power and resources are being spent.  Even if the truth makes the people holding our trust and treasure look very, very bad.

Both Caswell reports hold the truth about incompetence and corruption in the leadership of the APS.  Both investigations were conducted in a way that allows the leadership of the APS to continue to hide the truth.  The investigations that Caswell does for the leadership of the APS are substituted for criminal investigations.  Evidence of criminal misconduct is being deliberately hidden from the District Attorney.

Who is going to investigate APS' use of Caswell to obfuscate criminal prosecutions?  How many times has Caswell investigated criminal misconduct involving administrators and school board members and then turned the findings over to the leadership of the APS to hide from public knowledge and criminal prosecution?

Are Caswell investigations used to quietly fire people so nobody finds out about the inadequate oversight that led them to believe they could get away with whatever it was they were doing?

Where is the oversight?

Ultimately of course, oversight is the responsibility of the school board.  The people have no authority over the administration of the APS, but they do have authority over the school board, albeit it limited to only a poorly attended school board election once every four years.

The people expect the board to look after their interests.  The board has been lax of late, in meeting that expectation.  Take for example, the litigation that APS Supt Winston Brooks and Marty Esquivel are currently engaged in.  They've already saddled taxpayers with a half million dollars in debt trying litigate an escape for themselves from the consequences of their several violations of my constitutional rights.

The only oversight over their spending comes from subordinates like APS Director of Risk Management Mike Wilson and a subordinate of his.  The school board has never fulfilled their obligation to meet in closed session to hear case analyses from Esquivel's and Brooks' lawyers, about how they are wasting operational dollars to defend Esquivel's and Brooks' ego at the expense of the public interests.

Is it really up to the leadership of the APS to decide whether one of them gets prosecuted criminally?

This current and many other of APS' problems are created by a lack of objective oversight.

The lack of oversight exists because there is the opportunity to fail to oversee, without consequence.  The consequences the leadership of the APS' failure to oversee can be dodged.

Consequences can be avoided by hiding the truth.  The truth can be hidden if you do your own investigations.

Coupled with
  • literally all of the lawyers, guns and money they could ever want, and
  • a complicit or complacent media and press.
It really doesn't get any easier.

photos Mark Bralley

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Is Robert Caswell Investigations conflicted?

Are there aspects of the relationship between Robert Caswell Investigations and the leadership of the APS that represent conflicts of interest?  Should Caswell be investigating APS Police Chief Steve Tellez?

Have APS and  Caswell disclosed potential conflicts of interest?

Have those conflicts changed materially since Caswell
excused himself from the last investigation into the APS
Police due to " a conflict of interests?

Add these to the questions to be stonewalled by the leadership of the APS and their private investigator will not answer.

How do you get to be the investigator that powerful people go to when they need to know the truth but need to hide it from everyone else?

APS Police Chief will not be fired

No matter what APS Police Chief Steve Tellez has done, he will not be fired.  He can't be fired for the same reason they couldn't fire Gil Lovato, link.

Tellez cannot be fired without giving him his day in court.  At the end of that day, "... there won't be a single senior APS administrator left standing."

Instead, he will be placed on administrative leave with pay until his contract expires.

It's one of the tricks APS uses to keep the accused from defending themselves by exposing their body maps in open court. 

The other trick is to begin administrative investigations before (or instead of) criminal investigations, as has been done in the current investigation of allegations against Tellez.  The timing obfuscates outside law enforcement's ability to prosecute administrators criminally.  That's why under normal circumstances, criminal investigations precede administrative investigations.

Circumstances where people don't get to write their own rules.

APS - media relationship deteriorating

We are entering the second week of APS top cop Chief Steve Tellez' suspension.  APS is winning the public relations battle.  They have managed for an entire week, to say nothing and have nothing said.  I point in contrast, to the media coverage of Brooks several recent gaffes, which went on for days and days.

Despite the apparent disinterest the current scandal in the leadership of APS' publicly funded private police force, at least a few local reporters are apparently picking at threads.  One of them will be the first to expose the corruption, all of the rest of them will be among the last.  One of them will be the last.

I understand APS' Executive Director of Communications Monica Armenta is not taking it well.

Whatever has happened here, the people whose power was abused, whose resources were misappropriated, have a right to the ethically redacted about what happened.

Armenta and the "communications" arm of the APS have a moral and legal obligation to be "reasonably specific" in their truth telling.  That phrase comes from the NM Open Meetings Act.

Instead, local reporters are being stonewalled.  One can imagine that is not sitting well with those of them who take their informing the democracy obligations the most seriously.

This distance between the press and government is appropriate; the press, politicians and public servants should not be on a first name basis.

Unfortunately, public information officers control the press' access to government.  They are gatekeepers standing between politicians and public servants and the press and their questions about the public interests including their public service.

It is a ridiculous amount of authority to give to someone who isn't accountable to the people.

Armenta has usurped the authority,
(or had that authority handed to her
by someone else who usurped it),
to decide who is and who isn't "the press"; a question that is more appropriately determined at the level of the Supreme Courts.

Not only does she get to decide who is and is not the press, she gets to decide which one them she will talk to.  She decides who among the press, is entitled to the constitutional protection of their human right to be "the press", based on whether she likes them.

Without "like you" access, the press will be hard put to find out what's really going on with nearly a fourth of the state's entire budget.

They will have to start fighting for access.  I'm told that they do fight for access.   Frankly I don't see any blood or sweat wetting the ground anywhere.  I don't see them suing for Caswell I.

I was assured that KRQE asked for Caswell's findings in 2007, immediately after APS reneged on their promise to release them.  If they got them, they're hiding them too.

If they didn't get them, they haven't sued for them.  They walked away from the public records and their obligation to expose them to public knowledge.

Coincidentally,  APS School Board President Marty Esquivel is KRQE' lawyer.

Esquivel has an interest in hiding the truth about incompetence and corruption in the leadership of the APS Police.

Why would he not use his influence over the people who run KRQE?

Why wouldn't APS Supt Winston Brooks back his play?

Why wouldn't Monica  Armenta back up Brooks?

Why won't "the press" demand an explanation from Winston Brooks;

Why won't you surrender an ethically redacted version of the findings of investigations into public corruption and incompetence in the leadership of the APS Police?
"Why", not how, the "how" we know about; spend tens of thousands of dollars in litigation in federal court to try to create an exemption to the Inspection of Public Records Act that does not exist.

Why do they need to hide an ethically redacted version of the truth?

Why won't "the press"; the Journal, KRQE, KOAT, and KOB sue to see Caswell I and all the other findings APS is hiding?

Why won't they report that they are having to sue to see them?

Those are questions that need to be asked of managing editors and news directors.

The press has an opportunity to step back from the cozy relationship created by Monica Armenta and start playing hardball in the public interests.

Let's hope they suit up.

photo Mark Bralley

Monday, March 03, 2014

Will APS' Interim Chief investigate himself - save us a few bucks?

KOAT TV reported that Robert Caswell Investigations has been hired to investigate APS Police Chief Steve Tellez alleged misconduct.

While Tellez is on paid leave, Deputy Chief of Police Steve Gallegos is in charge.

I've been told that Steve Gallegos works for RCI.

RCI could save taxpayers a lot of money by just having Gallegos investigate Tellez.  And while he's at it, he could investigate what it was he was doing instead of exposing Tellez.

Damned be the appearance of a conflict of interests.

It's going to have to be proved to me that Steve Gallegos doesn't have guilty knowledge regarding Steve Tellez' conduct.  If he doesn't, he's incompetent.

Steve Gallegos led APS' criminal self-investigation in 2007 when Tellez was Gil Lovato's Deputy Chief.  Tellez was Chief while his investigators should have been exposing Tellez' guilty knowledge or incompetence.

Gallegos' findings and the findings of Caswell I have never been published despite the commitment of the leadership of the APS to do just that, and despite requests made under the NM Inspection of Public Records Act.

APS Executive Director of Human Resources Andra Trybus was in charge at the time of the Lovato/Tellez scandal, testified under oath that the APS police never investigated allegations of their own criminal misconduct despite overwhelming evidence that they did, and then hid what they found.

APS lawyer Art Melendres
"When the truth gets out, there won't be a single senior APS administrator left standing" - Sam Bregman, according to APS Chief Counsel Art Melendres, according to the Journal.

It appears he might well have been right.

photo Mark Bralley
Gallegos by ched macquigg

Rolemodeling in the Albuquerque Public Schools

If you go to APS' award winning website and search for role modeling, you will get 25 results, link.
If you search for role models, you' will get 250, link.
If you search for Character Counts!, You will get 232, link.
If you search the website for Character Counts! role models, you will find 19.

Search the building for an actual role model, you won't find a one.
Character Counts! is the manifestation of an effort to grow character (in young people).  The  Pillars of  Character Counts!, link, are a nationally recognized, accepted and respected code of ethical standards of conduct.

Students in the Albuquerque Public Schools are expected to "model and promote" the Pillars of Character Counts!; trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship.

What does "model and promote" mean exactly?

Take for example, the tenet of accountability.  It's arguably the most important tenet of any standards of conduct.  There isn't a whit of difference between the highest standards of conduct and the lowest if there is honest accountability to neither.

Character Counts! promotes the acceptance of accountability.  It promotes the embrace of accountability.  Accountability is why we repeat an oft told fable about a young man, a shiny new hatchet and a prized cherry tree.

Frankly, we tell the story because we can't point to real people actually modeling accountability to meaningful standards of conduct. We have to tell students to consider what George Washington did because we can't say "look at that person there, see how they are holding themselves honestly accountable to meaningful standards of conduct.

For the most part, the only role models are role modeling using power and influence to escape accountability.

In the leadership of the APS, there is not one person willing to hold themselves honestly accountable as a role model of the Pillars of Character Counts!; APS' student standards of conduct.

Not one person.

Despite the fact that The Pillars of Character Counts! are the student standards of conduct; their senior most administrative role model, APS Supt Winston Brooks, during his sworn deposition, link, demonstrated he has no idea what they are; he doesn't even know they're called Pillars.

The senior most executive role model of student standard of conduct School Board President Marty Esquivel is anything but a role model of actual accountability to the Pillars of Character Counts!.

If the Pillars of Character Counts! are standards of conduct that are too high for leadership of the APS, even for those few hours during the day when they are expecting students to hold themselves accountable to those standards, then they are standards that are too high for students.

One cannot reasonably expect children to hold themselves accountable to higher standards of conduct than their adult role models.

"Do as I say, not as I" do has never motivated anyone to hold themselves accountable to higher standards.  For the same reasons that it has never worked, it never will.

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

Every generation expects the next generation to be the first generation to hold itself honestly accountable to higher standards of conduct than the law.

If we want children to hold themselves honestly accountable to higher standards of conduct than the law, someone has to show them what it looks like.

"The law" is the lowest standards of conduct acceptable to civilized human beings.  It is the standards of conduct that every higher standard is higher than.

Role modeling is by definition conspicuous.
Inconspicuous role modeling is oxymoronic.

We used to give kids t-shirts when they completed their Character Counts! training.   On its front and back it read;
Stand up for what you believe in
even if you're standing alone.
A child standing up for what they believe in should never be standing alone.  There should be an adult behind them offering encouragement; someone beside them sharing the burden and a role model in front of them showing them what it looks like.

Character is taught by personal example.  Period.

The "leadership"of the APS had three choices;
  1. raise their own standards of conduct to the same standards they establish and enforce upon students.
  2. lower students standards to standards low enough that the leadership of the APS can find the character and the courage to actually hold themselves honestly accountable to them, or
  3. continue to stonewall and hope nobody realizes what is going on.
They chose and continue to chose option 3.

Journal editor Kent Walz
They will continue to stonewall for as long as their friends in the media will allow it, and there is no change in the wind.

Do students in the Albuquerque Public Schools have a right to role models of accountability to the same standards of conduct they establish and enforce upon students?

Does it make any difference?

To anybody?

photos Mark Bralley

Saturday, March 01, 2014

In public service, guilty knowledge is public corruption.

Public servants are unlike other people in that in order for them to do their jobs, the people have to "trust" them with control over our considerable power and resources.

The trust relationship carries a fiducial obligation to protect the interests of those who trust.

Public servants are first and foremost required protect the public interests.  If a public servant has knowledge of corruption and or incompetence, they are duty bound to address it.  Having knowledge and refusing to act is guilty knowledge.  Because it is deliberate, guilty knowledge is malfeasance.  It is a deliberate decision to not act in the people's interests.

Tellez whispering in Brad Winter's ear.
If APS Police Chief Steve Tellez was part of the corruption that brought down Gil Lovato, he is corrupt.

If Steve Tellez had guilty knowledge of, even if he was not party to, the corruption that brought down Gil Lovato, he is corrupt.

If Steve Tellez had no knowledge of the incompetence and corruption swirling around him in plain sight, he is manifestly incompetent.

The truth about Steve Tellez lies in Caswell I; the findings of an independent investigation into the corruption, link, that brought down Gil Lovato.

APS Supt Winston Brooks and the School Board have Caswell I in their possession and refuse to produce it to public knowledge as is required by the NM Inspection of Public Records Act.  They are currently trying to litigate an exception for themselves in federal court and at great expense to taxpayers and APS' operational budget; funds that would otherwise make their way to classrooms, teachers and students.

Caswell II, the findings of the current independent investigation, the second of Tellez' own corruption or incompetence; will also contain the truth about Steve Tellez.

I expect the truth is inconvenient.

If Caswell II contains truth about Steve Tellez that reflects adversely on APS COO Brad Winter, APS Supt Winston Brooks, or any member of the school board, Caswell II will join Caswell I in secret from public knowledge.

Caswell I is being hidden from public knowledge by APS Supt Winston Brooks with the blessing of the entire board.  (To date, not one board member has called for the production an ethically redacted version of  Caswell I )

except for for the possibility of their outright complicity in a conspiracy to cover up the cover up of felony criminal misconduct involving senior APS administrators,
the Journal, KRQE, KOAT and KOB have shown no manifest interest in securing a copy of Caswell I to share with their readers and viewers.

Readers and viewers depending on them for the truth,
and who depend on them to inform their democracy.

photo Mark Bralley

Magnet schools miss the point

APS has opened an Office of Innovation, link.  One of the first conclusions to come down to us from the twin towers is;
students need magnet middle schools.

Journal editors continue to grasp at straws in their effort to polish APS' apple, link; this morning writing;

"(The leadership of the) Albuquerque Public Schools deserves credit for seeing something that works well for all involved, and trying to replicate it for its students, teachers, parents and taxpayers."
The leadership of the APS has (finally) seen that students are attracted to learning about things they want to learn about.  Wow.

As good an idea as magnet schools at all grade levels might sound, it is still the same old, same old cemetery seating.  It is still students being expected to learn in unison.  If the goal of public education is to create learners, independent learners, why do we ever need to group their educational needs?

Why do even two students have to learn together to become independent learners?

Every school will be a magnet school when every school stops trying to meet the educational needs of arbitrary groups of students and resolves to meet their individual educational needs instead.

The curriculum is the magnet, not the building.

It is time to rethink fundamental premises.

Do we want to continue to gather groups of children who have nothing in common but the year of their birth and a zip code, and then try to form them into thought choirs, thinking and learning in unison for twelve years?

Even if we could, why would we want to?

If the goal of public education is to create independent lifelong learners, why is it not the immediate objective?

Like modern day Luddites, wikilink, educational power brokers resist any effort to graduate beyond brick and mortar educational institutions.

Why don't the people who insist upon remaining in the relative stone age of textbooks and lecturers and five rows of six desks ever have to defend their position?

It's fair to point out at this point that, educating people who can educate themselves creates many fewer opportunities for people to wield public power and spend public resources in vast amounts.

Just sayin

photo Mark Bralley