Saturday, July 26, 2014

NM FOG, Marty Esquivel and, Public Participation in Public Meetings

I think it's fair to say that if the minds that are the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government wanted to, they could write a Public Participation in Public Meetings Policy that is world class.

I think it's fair to say that FOG inspired PPPMP would read far differently than APS School Board Member Marty Esquivel's PPPMP.

Not that they should read the same.  Esquivel and his lawyers don't speak for FOG and aren't about shared interests.  Obviously quite the opposite.

The question is; will FOG react to Esquivel's PPPMP the same way they would react if it wasn't the brainstorm of a FOG super hero and heavy hitter?

Does Marty Esquivel cast a big enough shadow on the interests of the NM FOG, that they will ignore what he is doing because it is he that it doing it?

As an aside, I find myself wondering in which direction falls the equally large shadow of FOG heavy hitter, Alb Journal Editor and good friend of Marty Esquivel, Kent Walz.

Will the Journal editorial on pppmp come down for or against Marty Esquivel's efforts to further limit public participation in public meetings?  Will there be no editorial? Will they give consent with their silence?

A lot of people and the troubled FOG are having a test of  mettle;
knowing the right thing and then either doing it or, not doing it.

Confucius called it a test of courage.

Will FOG champion public meetings as open as the people deserve? Will they do something or nothing as APS and Esquivel close their meetings as much as the law will allow?  Since when is it what will the pols and public servants tolerate from the people instead of what kind of behavior will the people tolerate in their politicians and public servants.

Keep in mind, even real honest to God accountability to the "the law" is only accountability to the lowest standards acceptable to civilized human beings and; the standards that higher standards are higher than.

Sometime, we have to talk openly and honestly about higher standards of conduct than the law and even more importantly;
Do we really expect the politicians and public servants who claim to be accountable to higher standards of conduct than the law, to be actually accountable to them?
Any answer except yes, means no.

It always sounds histrionic to talk about battles between good and evil.

Nevertheless, diametrically opposite points of view on the public participation in public meetings fairly represents a battle between good and evil; transparency v. opacity, government of, by and for the people v. government by petty tyrants and bureaucrats.

Setting the limits on public participation in public meetings is the prerogative of the people.  As are every other one of the terms of public in-servitude.  They work for us.  If they don't want to meet our expectations on transparent accountability to meaningful standards of conduct and competence within their public service, they are free to not run for political office nor accept public employment.

It is not the prerogative of Marty Esquivel and his lawyers to tell the people what they can or cannot do or say while they have the floor in public meeting.  Public meetings aren't their meetings, they are our meetings.  It isn't up to Marty Esquivel to tell the people what he will and will not tolerate from them.  It is up the people to tell Marty Esquivel what they will and will not tolerate from him then the public interests and his personal interests conflict.

In particular it is offensive that this PPPMP is nothing more than a thinly veiled part of an effort to reverse a trend in adverse court rulings.  Adverse that is, to politicians and public servants trying to keep people from standing up a public meeting, in-especially when they have the floor and who are speaking truth to power; criticizing them and their public service, by name and to their face.

They allow, and will continue to allow praising them by name.  They will allow audience members to stand and praise them from their seats.  They will allow pretty much anything in the way of praising them short of spray painting it on a wall.

The minds that are the FOG could create a PPPMP that sets a standard for the free world.  Seriously.  New Mexico could be first in the nation in open government, transparency, and standards and accountability law.  They could write standards that citizens could carry to public meetings and insist their representative bodies observe and follow. 
Somebody should do something
pretty much everybody at one time or another
The trouble is; what the person saying it really means is
somebody else should do something.

Where better to pick a side in the battle between good and evil, than for or against Marty Esquivel's efforts to stifle public dissidence and dissidents who bring it on?

What better place to stand up for the side you pick, than the floor of a public meeting of the Albuquerque Public Schools Board of Education?

photos Mark Bralley

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