Friday, April 11, 2014

"Ban is lifted on APS critic"

And with that headline, the Journal began their coverage this morning, link, of developments in the litigation against APS heavy hitters Marty Esquivel, Winston Brooks, Monica Armenta, Steve Tellez ...

The last time the Journal covered the case, link, the reporter chose to not interview me and give me an opportunity to refute, rebut or deny any allegations they were going to publish.  They have again.

Journal (education?) reporter Jon Swedien talked with my lead attorney, but he made no effort to talk with me.  It seems hard to justify.

Had I been interviewed;

I would have pointed out that repeatedly identifying me as an "APS critic" is deliberately pejorative.  I could also be described as a relentless advocate for Character Counts!, governmental transparency, and for actual, honest accountability to meaningful standards of conduct and competence for politicians and public servants within their public service.

I could have been referred to as a blogger; a modern political pamphleteer.  They could have linked to Diogenes' six.

I would have cleared up Swedien's lack of certainty that I intend to return to the public forum at APS School Board meetings.

Why would I not;
  • are they going to tell stakeholders the truth about the ethics and accountability scandal in the leadership of the APS 
  • are they going to tell the truth about the cover up of felony criminal misconduct involving senior APS administrators
  • are they going to tell the truth about student discipline and chronically disruptive students
  • are they going to end the practice of cost is no object litigation to except senior administrators and school board members from the consequences of breaking the law
if I and many, many others don't step up to demand candid, forthright and honest responses to our legitimate questions?

Swedien interviewed Journal Managing Editor Kent Walz' good friend Defendant Marty Esquivel, and then published his slander without my input.
Esquivel said he imposed the ban – with the backing of the board – because MacQuigg would shout out during board meetings, would hover over administrators and once donned an elephant mask that made employees and members of the public feel uncomfortable and unsafe.
The "backing" Esquivel refers to was gathered in violation of the Open Meeting Act; there was no meeting, no agenda and no vote for the record.

My "shouting" (another deliberately pejorative term) at three board meetings, was because I was being talked to by a board member, talked about by a board member, or being illegally arrested for drawing attention to the elephant in the room.

 No evidence was produced by APS that proved that these incidents actually disrupted any board meeting ever.  I never hovered over any administrator ever; nor have they produced a single photograph of me hovering over anybody. 

As for the elephant mask; Esquivel and Armenta both swore under oath that they thought I was a "mouse".  Armenta sworn she thought I was Chucky Cheese.  Who could be scared by Chucky Cheese?

Esquivel swears in Swedien's report;
The ban was not because MacQuigg criticized APS or because of his outspoken support for an education program called Character Counts.
The Judge;
"... was dismissive of APS’(Marty Esquivel's) arguments."
Marty Esquivel has a position on APS' student standards of conduct; the Pillars of Character Counts!.  It is that he is not personally accountable even as one of the district's eight senior-most role models of accountability to the nationally recognized, accepted and respected code of ethical conduct, link.

We can debate whether politicians and public servants can or should be held honestly accountable to higher standards of conduct and competence within their public service, but there is no debate over how one goes about abandoning accountability to those standards.  The board can't simply resolve to adopt them, link, and then ignore rather than repeal them.

The board must either hold themselves honestly accountable to the Pillars of Character Counts! or lower student standards to a point where the leadership of the APS is comfortable with their own honest accountability.

I can't imagine what standards those would be.  The record of the leadership of the APS is that they are not even accountable to the law; the lowest standards of conduct, the standards of conduct that every higher standard is higher than.

Swedien reports;
"The Court finds that the real reason for excluding Plaintiff from Board meetings is the Board’s frustration with Plaintiff’s ad nauseum belaboring of the Board about Character Counts, and that the justifications offered by the Board are pretexts masking viewpoint discrimination.”

Yes, the Judge described my relentless efforts to hold the leadership of the APS accountable as ad nauseum belaboring.  I'm not sure what I am supposed to do with that.  Should we give up after we have been ignored some number of times?  How many?  How many times do you get to freely exercise a Constitutionally protected human right before forfeiting it?

Swedien offered my attorneys an obligatory column inch;
“All I can say is that Mr. MacQuigg’s behavior has never included anything that would form a legitimate reason for ejecting a citizen from a public meeting of elected officials,” John Boyd said.
It is important to note that nearly everything that Esquivel and Brooks accuse me of doing occurred during school board meetings and in their castle keep at 6400 Uptown Blvd.

My (mis)conduct was either videotaped or it was not.
They made every effort they possible could to videotape any misconduct on my part.

Those meetings and the building they're held in, have more security cameras on them than probably other any place in the city.  The cameras are manned 24/7.

APS employees were ordered to take photographs of me if they could, doing anything wrong. 

APS Police officers were assigned in pairs to follow me around when ever I stepped on APS property. 

They spent a quarter of a million dollars installing cameras and hardening their castle keep against my armed invasion and still, they can't produce a single frame of evidence against me.

There is not one photograph, one second of videotape, or bit of audio recording of me acting outside my Constitutionally protected human rights to act.

There is a reason for that.  Untoward activity has never been in my interests or consistent with my agenda; advocacy of honest accountability to higher standards of conduct.

My agenda would have been immediately and fatally undermined by my doing anything inconsistent with the standards for which I advocate.  I have trained literally thousands of students and adults about Character Counts!.  I have presented before a sitting governor, an APS superintendent, board members, community groups.  I did not do anything at the public forum at a school board meeting that I would be ashamed to have any of those people review.

Review, by the way, is possible.  Anyone who wants to look at the evidence can; it's all online, link.
Esquivel, an attorney who works on First Amendment issues, said the judge should have listened to witness testimony regarding MacQuigg’s behavior and not just relied on court briefs.

“I have never disagreed more with a legal opinion in my 25 years of practicing law,” Esquivel said. He added the board would have lifted the ban had MacQuigg agreed to tone down his behavior.
All I had to do, was admit that I had done something wrong and then promise to not do it again.  The Judge has ruled that I did nothing wrong.  I don't have to "tone down my behavior".  I have no wrongdoing to admit and I shouldn't be required to swear that I will not do something I have never done.

The "witness testimony" comes in the most, from people who I have complained about formally or in blog posts; the School Board President Marty Esquivel, APS Supt Winston Brooks,  Chief Operating Officer Brad Winter, Executive Director of Communications Monica Armenta, and the now disgraced former APS Chief of Police Steve Tellez.

Tellez and his boss APS COO Brad Winter
Tellez swore in his deposition that he had watched videotape of me sneaking into APS headquarters. 

He hadn't of course, because no videotape was recorded of an event that never happened.  I would have had nothing to gain by sneaking in, and everything to lose by getting caught.

They couldn't produce the video. 

None of their manifestly conflicted testimony is corroborated by hard evidence.  Evidence that could have been easily created at the time, could exist now if they had wanted it to, but does not now exist; either because it was never created or because it was created and lost or destroyed in their hands.

Swedien writes;
In addition to APS, MacQuigg’s suit names Esquivel, former board member David Robbins, Superintendent Winston Brooks, former police chief Steve Tellez and communications staffers Monica Armenta and Rigo Chavez.
Why does the Journal always refer to Armenta as a "communications staffer"? She makes over a hundred thousand dollars a year; she's a full fledged member of APS' innermost circle.
Both sides are seeking a summary judgment of the case in their favor. If neither request is successful, the case could head to trial.
Had Swedien asked, I would have reminded him that a settlement has been on the table from the very first day.  It has been rejected by Marty Esquivel because he doesn't want to have to admit that he violated my civil rights.  He's ready, willing and able to spend however many "operational dollars" it takes to prolong that certain result for as long as he can.

If nothing else he needs forestall his conviction until after Friday May 2; the day he is scheduled to teach the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government's seminar on how to control meetings without violating speakers' civil rights.

photos Mark Bralley

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