Wednesday, August 27, 2014

APS Modrall; will Journal shake up change anything?

There has been a shake up in the Journal's newsroom, link.  There has not been a shakeup in ownership; we know whose fist pounds on the table last in meetings of the leadership.

For as long as I have been trying to get the Journal to investigate and report upon the money that flows through APS and into the coffers of a few select law firms, the Journal has been refusing to.  I have long surmised that it had to do close personal and political ties between the heavy hitters at APS and at the Journal.  I have also surmised that it had to do with Journal owner Tom Lang and his personal and political ties to the APS.

APS is both self and other insured.  APS other insurer, United Educators, raised APS' premiums recently.  The premiums are paid with operational dollars; dollars that could be spent in classrooms.

United Educators raised our premium because APS engages in wholly unjustifiable amounts of very expensive litigation.  The primary beneficiaries of APS' administrative and executive largesse include the Modrall.  For the longest time, the APS school board president and the president of Modrall were literally married.

Defendant Marty Esquivel once admitted to me, he was aware of the fact that firms like Modrall were milking taxpayers at the direct expense of nearly 100,000 of this community's sons and daughters.

If a Journal reporter interviewed a few lawyers who have litigated against APS, Modrall, Robles et al., they would find APS lawyers run up huge bills and then settle on the courthouse steps.  They settle for huge amounts of money so that politicians and public servants like Marty Esquivel can scrub their names from their misconduct.  Operational dollars pay for admissions of no guilt.

I doubt Journal coverage will change.

Time will tell.

I would argue that there is a story here.  I would argue it is newsworthy no matter what the investigation uncovers.

If the Journal investigates and reports upon the public record of tax dollars flowing to select law firms for the last 12 years or so, the investigative product will be newsworthy.

It will be newsworthy if the Journal can report that the millions and millions and millions of dollars that flowed into Modrall and handful of APS family law firms have been spent well; in the interests of educating children.

It will be newsworthy if the Journal must report that the millions and millions and millions of dollars that flowed into Modrall and a handful of APS family laws firms has been spent on cost is no object legal defenses in efforts to litigate exceptions to the law for APS school board members and senior administrators.

That the public trust and treasure have been squandered is newsworthy.

The worthiness in question, is of the Journal newsroom and of the people who tell them what is the news they will investigate and report upon.

Will they from now on, inform the democracy in order that the administrative and executive leadership of the APS can be held accountable by the community members they serve?  Will there be government of, by and for the people?

Will a government of, by and for the people be enabled by a press that doesn't give a crap about where APS Executive Director of Communications Monica Armenta thinks they have to stand during school board meetings?

Will the Journal continue to kowtow for APS credentials and or for some more sinister reason; like their complicity in cover up of the ethics, standards and accountability scandal in the leadership of the APS?

That will become abundantly obvious, shortly.

photo Mark Bralley

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Esquivel and NM FOG part ways

Tip of the hat to Peter St Cyr, link, former FOG President Marty Esquivel has resigned from the FOG Board of Directors.

Esquivel cited the time he needs to spend with his twelve year old son and his private law practice as the contributing factors.

He did take the time to protest FOG's involvement in the effort defeat his efforts to secret from stakeholders, the truth about Winston Brooks' very expensive departure from the APS.

FOG is trying to pry open a lid that Esquivel is sitting on as heavily as he can.

Of course he can't sit on the Board of Directors any more.

Wait until FOG gets around to reading the Esquivel and Modrall policy and procedural directive limiting public participation in public meetings of the school board, and have to take a stand on the record against that too.

photo Mark Bralley

Does APS' new social media policy apply to school board members?

APS new social media police requires students to use social media in a “responsible, ethical and polite manner.”

How exactly are students supposed to know what ethical means now that ethics isn't part of the curriculum?  If they have been exposed to ethics at all, it was likely on a list of words to spell.

I love that the Journal, link, tracked down APS School Board Member Kathy Korte for a quote.

posted on social media by Kathy Korte in an effort to
slander and libel photo-Journalist Mark Bralley after
attacking him before a school board meeting.

It violates APS social media policy.

Nor is it Korte's first rodeo, link.

APS Executive Director of Communications Monica Armenta informs us;
consequences for violating the policy will vary; 
they will be handled on a case by case basis. 
In other words; same old, same old.

Never mind the consequences of disparate enforcement of rules.

Exposing the Brooks file; pressure mounting

KOAT has a couple of reports up, link, link, on the public records fight between the APS School Board and the community members they serve.  Give KOAT credit for applying some pressure.

They have an expert legal opinion to headline what is turning into a very lopsided battle between the APS School Board and pretty much everybody else with even a modestly learned opinion.

Marty Esquivel's APS PR image.
If he and the real Marty Esquivel
met on the street, they wouldn't
recognize each other.
Open government lawyer and school board enforcer Marty Esquivel is the only lawyer on record, in agreement with the board in their belief they can hide Brooks' file from public knowledge.

Modrall lawyers recently helped Esquivel write his manifestly unconstitutional public participation in public meetings policy and procedural directive.  It will surprise no one, if Modrall lawyers show up to argue, it's all "legal".

Not right, not ethical, not moral; "legal".

When Marty Esquivel and the board decide to spend operational dollars on legal defenses for themselves, they do it in meetings in secret.

When they decide to spend dollars that could be spent in classrooms  instead, on "legal"efforts to scrub their names from their convictions, they decide in secret.

There is no real oversight over their spending of what amounts to unlimited amounts of money.

APS Chief Counsel,
Modrall lawyer and great
personal friend of the
leadership of the APS
Art Melendres.
Don't believe it?  Ask for the
public records of how much
money that has been funneled
into Modrall over the years.

They won't produce it.

They make so much money,
Art Melendres couldn't recall
even under oath, how much
money they make.

There is only one reason to hide the truth; it is to
avoid the consequences of the truth becoming known.

If they were proud of the truth, they wouldn't need to hide it.
If the truth does not embarrass, shame or indict them, why hide it?

photo Mark Bralley

Monday, August 25, 2014

The day after the next APS Supt is hired

will be a day too late to ask questions about the secrecy
that will characterize the process.

Consider the recent annual evaluation of former Supt Winston Brooks and the secrecy that surrounded it.  All we really know about it for certain is, the board met in secret to do it.

Within these meetings in secret, questions are asked and answered.  Some of the answers may actually enjoy legitimate exception to the law; good and ethical justification to be kept secret.  The rest do not.  The questions asked, do not.

Politicians and public servants meeting in secret have to follow rules, make that laws, that pertain.

One of those laws has to do with reasonable specificity.
School board members and senior administrators are required to describe with "reasonable specificity" what it is they intend to discuss and, after the meeting, what they it was they actually did discuss. 

The APS school board and open government hero Marty Esquivel's idea of reasonable specificity is;

  • we're going to meet in secret to evaluate the superintendent, and then,
  • we evaluated the superintendent.
We all have some issue I presume, we hold as more important than most others.  Mine is administrative and executive role modeling of honest accountability to meaningful standards of conduct and competence.

I would like to know if any questions were asked, or, are going to be asked about standards, ethics, accountability and, role modeling, specifically the obligations of the senior-most administrative role models of APS student standards of conduct.

The answers to those questions may qualify for exception according to an ethical interpretation of the law, though honestly, I can't imagine how.  Nevertheless, I would like to know if the questions were asked.

For reasons I cannot imagine, NM statutes allow politicians and public servants to self-redact the public record of their own public service.  But open government law is pretty clear about redaction; public records custodians must redact public records specifically, not in their entirety.

The leadership of the APS is fond of, and litigates it's way into, redacting entire records rather than  honestly redacting them, and then producing the rest of the record.

The concept of reasonably specific redaction applies to every aspect of government, not just public records.  Meetings cannot be simply redacted in their entirety because at some point in the meeting, something that earns legitimate redaction takes place.

There is a solution; create transcript and ethically redact it.
That solution has been rejected by the leadership of the APS.

It turns out, the APS school board by their own deliberate decision, does not create any record at all of what they do in secret.  The law allows them to not record the meeting.

They are fond of pointing out that "the Inspection of Public Records Act does not require politicians and public servants to create public records".

There is only one reason to hide the ethically redacted truth;
to avoid the consequences of the truth becoming known.

If the APS board had the collective character and courage,
they would record their meetings in secret.  They would create
an incontrovertible record of their public service.  The recordings
would be sealed to anything but a court order.  They would have
their staff create an ethically redacted transcript and they would
post it on their award winning website.

They could, but they won't.  Contrary to their annually reiterated expectation of students;
in defense of your good character; strive always to do 
more than the law requires and less than the law allows
Esquivel and the board will produce only what the law requires, secreting as much as "the law" will allow; and then, only after spending without any real oversight, unlimited operational dollars on cost is no object litigation and legal weaselry.
Why won't Marty Esquivel and the board produce
ethically redacted transcripts of their meetings in secret?
The Esquivel Modrall law on public participation in public meetings prohibits anyone, but especially me, from asking them that question from the speaker's podium during the public forum of regular school board meetings.

Arrested by APS Police Chief Tellez
This, though according to Esquivel
and Modrall, holding up a poster at
a meeting is"generally acceptable".
If I insist upon asking it, they are prepared to have their publicly funded private police force arrest me; deprive me of my liberty.

They will not entertain the question in private.

They will not entertain questions from me at all.

If the establishment media; the government "credentialed" press asked the question, one of two things will happen;
1.  someone will answer the question, or

2.  someone will not.
The Journal, KRQE, KOAT, or KOB TV will do one of two things;
1.  they will investigate and report upon the (non) response, or

2.  they will not.
The very worst thing a politician or public servant can do
is anything they do in ethically unjustifiable secret.

The very worst thing "the press" can do is,
allow them get away with it.

photo Mark Bralley

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Journal editors have it right; but don't expect an apology

I've argued for a long time that reliance on graduation rates as a measure of public schools success was delusional.  The editors of the Journal have agreed; link, though they never did get around to apologizing for their part in misleading interest and stakeholders by selling "graduation rates" as the measure to promote in the first place.

No scientist ever endorsed the use of graduation rates to measure anything except that graduation rates are easily manipulated enough to make people believe that things are getting better when they really aren't getting any better at all.

The editors concede;

 ... tests (and not graduation rates) would seem to be an important measure for both the student and the education system.
The editors wrote;
"If you think New Mexico’s public school system is just fine and doesn’t need sweeping reforms ..."
and some other stuff.

The thought that popped into my mind was;
If you think NM' public school system is just fine and doesn't need sweeping reforms then you have been paying too much attention to the Journal, mustlink, and the leadership of the APS. 

They've been singing their praise of Winston Brooks' administrative success primarily on the basis of the "fact" that "he raised graduation rates".

If there is a need for "sweeping reforms" then why did the Journal editors endorse Brad Winter as the interim APS Supt? Trust me, Brad Winter was not hired because of the sweeping reforms he proposed.

The people have been deliberately misled and believe that Albuquerque Public Schools are actually doing a better job of educating students than they are.

It really is all about, and only about
  • students passing tests and
  • the number of students who are able to pass those tests after 
  • some reasonable number of years in public schools.
If graduates cannot pass tests, it makes no difference how many of them we "graduate".
"... New Mexico (will) stay right where it always has been
– at or near the bottom of the education barrel."
for as long as we continue to place the future of public education in the hands of people who have no respect for the intellect, experience and expertise that is immediately available to them.  Intellect, experience and expertise that if utilized would truly reform education and for the good.

APS teachers and employees have between them nearly 100,000 years of teaching experience in Albuquerque Public Schools.

The smallest handful of them, the inner circle of the leadership of the APS, have seats at the table where decisions are made.  Decisions like;
OK, let's sell graduation rates as the measure of our
success because we can easily manipulate them upward.
The Journal and our credentialed media friends will back our play.

NOBODY talk about ACT and SAT test scores.

We are disappointed but not surprised that Journal editors endorse Winter

In the Journal, link; the editorial opinion

APS right to pick Winter

APS Chief Tellez, his boss Brad Winter
They, he, she, argue;

When you are entrusted with putting the largest school district in the state ... back on a steady course it makes sense to go with experience and with what you know.
The editorial opinion is that back on a steady course is what APS needs.  It is not.

"Back on a steady course" is the battle cry of those who endorse the status quo.  Unless the status quo is acceptable; it rarely is and is not in this case, back on a steady course is a bad thing.

Back to inadequate standards, inadequate accountability and inadequate record keeping and production, is a bad thing.

I know for a fact that at least one of the candidates for interim superintendent intended use that authority to clean out the rats nest in preparation for a new administration.  It was not his plan to get the administration of the APS back on its "steady course".

APS' steady course is and has been to use public power and resources to enable school board members and senior APS administrators to escape accountability for their incompetence and corruption.  Regardless of whatever else happen to accomplish.

They, she, he opined;
If anyone knows APS and can embrace the work that needs to be done and leave the drama on the sidelines, it’s Winter, who over more than two decades with the district has worn every hat from teacher to assistant principal to administrator.
Let's give them that one.  Who know better than a man who has worn every hat from teacher to 2nd in command, where all the bodies are buried?

Who knows better than Brad Winter where lies the administrative and executive incompetence, corruption, and the policies and practices that enable them?
The current city councilor and former APS chief operations officer has earned a reputation as a calm, civil problem solver who puts public accountability at the top of his list.

If that were true, Brad Winter would show us his list.  Where on that list is
  • his PowerPoint presentation on student discipline and in particular the presence of chronically disruptive students, and
  • his production of a candid, forthright and honest accounting of spending at 6400 Uptown Blvd, and
  • his production of ethically redacted findings of audits, investigations, examinations, and reviews into senior administrative and executive incompetence and corruption, and
  • his  commencement of an independent examination and review of senior administrative and executive standards and accountability, and
  • his production in particular, the ethically redacted findings of investigations of felony public corruption in the leadership of the police force Winter directly oversaw, and
  • his public promise to respond to legitimate questions about the public interests and his public service, by answering candidly, forthrightly and honestly?
As a matter of fact, where on his list will we find
  • him standing up as the senior-most administrative role model of honest accountability to the same standards of conduct he establishes and enforces upon students?
Where on his list has he placed stepping up as the senior-most administrative role model of student standards of conduct; a nationally recognized, accepted and respected code of ethical conduct; the Pillars of Character Counts!?

It is not on Winter's list, even in the form of an open and honest public discussion of student and adult standards of conduct and accountability. Nor is it on the Journal editors list of newsworthy facts about Brad Winter.

When the head of an organization falls under circumstances the 2nd in command knew or should have known about, you have to consider guilty knowledge.  If they were aware of problems, why didn't they expose them.  If they weren't aware of the problems, why weren't they?  Did they remain willfully ignorant or were they only mind-numbingly incompetent?

Brad Winter has guilty knowledge of most of the public corruption and incompetence in the leadership of the APS.  That or he remained willfully ignorant.  That or he was mind-numbingly incompetent in his oversight over APS' publicly funded private police force.

He represents the worst possible choice; the 2nd in command who will now oversee APS' self investigation of numerous complaints of senior administrative and executive misconduct.  Who will then hide the findings of those investigations from public knowledge at least until a new superintendent is hired.  Who will spend unlimited numbers of operational dollars in litigation against the public interests and without objective oversight of any kind in a cost is no object effort to hide the ethically redacted truth.

If there was any real doubt that Journal Managing Editor Kent Walz and whomever else at the Journal are in cahoots in the cover up of an ethics and accountability scandal in the leadership of the APS this should extinguish it.

Standards, ethics, and accountability in the spending of a fourth of the state budget, are newsworthy.  They are newsworthy when they exist and more newsworthy when they don't.

If the Journal editors can ensure us that the standards of conduct and competence that apply to school board members and senior administrators are high enough to protect the public interests in the public schools, why won't they?

If the Journal editors can ensure us that school board members and senior administrators are honestly accountable to those standards; accountable by due process under systems over which they have no undue influence and powerful enough to hold them accountable even against their will, why won't they?

If the Journal editors, because of circumstances, must report that the leadership is not honestly accountable to meaningful standards of conduct and competence within their public service, why won't they?

Except that the editors are part of the cover up; they are in cahoots.

photo Mark Bralley
Walz photo ched macquigg

Saturday, August 23, 2014

6400 Uptown Blvd, a money pit? Winter won't say; never has, never will.

If there is nothing to hide, why hide anything?
Who spent how much and on what during a time when Meyners auditors found;
  1. inadequate standards
  2. inadequate accountability to inadequate standards and
  3. inadequate record keeping;
the trifecta of public corruption and embezzlement?
A great deal of money has been spent at 6400 Uptown Blvd. The same dollars could have been spent on spaces of use to students and teachers.

The twin towers were purchased years ago, after promising taxpayers that new apartments in the sky would actually save them money.  They promised; we'll occupy half and rent out half; it will be great. Then they filled both buildings to overflowing.

Brooks promised to have the truth
about the $800 chairs "by noon"
a long, long, long time ago.
They have not saved taxpayers money, they have hardwood paneled their offices.  They have spent, I'm told and they won't deny, $800 a piece for the rolling chairs that board members sit in twice a month.

This is a test of Brad Winter's mettle.  And of the school board that just voted unanimously, to put the second in command in charge of the cover up.

Every investigation that is done between now and the school board elections and hiring of the new superintendent, will be done under Brad Winter's control.  The findings will be secret because he and they will hire lawyers to investigate rather than a less expensive private eye, and then claim lawyer client privilege.

Lawyer client privilege belongs to the client.  The client can tell the whole truth and nothing but the ethically redacted truth if they want to.  The client is allowed to hide the truth, not required to hide the truth.

Why won't Brad Winter produce a candid, forthright and honest accounting of spending at 6400 Uptown Blvd?  Is it possible that one such, doesn't even exist?

Do you have any interest at all in knowing how millions and millions and millions of dollars have been spent in a building you can't get into, if they decide to keep you out.

Brad Winter, Steve Tellez, and their Praetorian Guard; a publicly
funded private police force, standing between the the people and
the truth about their squandering of our trust and treasure.
You have a Constitutionally protected human right to speak during the public forum at the next school board meeting, and the next and the next.

You have a right and responsibility to ask for, to demand, that Brad Winter produce a candid, forthright and honest accounting of the money that has been spent at 6400 Uptown.

From the unjustifiable new board room to the $250K they spent installing Kevlar between them the podium from which speakers might embarrass, shame or indict them, and then pull out a gun and start shooting at them.

This after making their way through the most heavily secured and surveilled spaces in the APS; the front doors of their castle keep.

Demand candor, forthrightness and honesty.

The "leadership" of the APS expects candor, forthrightness and honesty from students in the student standards they adopt and have adopted annually since 1994; the Pillars of Character Counts!; a nationally recognized, accepted and respected code of ethical conduct; link.

They are the senior-most role models of student standards of conduct.  They are obliged to role model honest accountability to the standards they establish and enforce upon students.  Whether they like it, whether they agree with it,  and whether their friends in the credentialed media will expose them for their abdication from role model responsibilities.

The day Brad Winter comes up with a candid, forthright and
honest accounting of spending at 6400 Uptown, is the day
you can believe the leadership of the APS might be anything
other than the good ol' boy oligarchy it has always been.

It will also be the day;
  • pigs will fly,
  • fish will speak,
  • rocks won't sink,
  • snakes will smoke,
  • frogs will grow hair,
  • hell will freeze over,
  • chickens will grow teeth,
  • fish will climb poplar trees,
  • grapes will grow on willows,
  • the sun will rise in the west,
  • white crows will fly upside down,
  • crayfish will whistle on the mountain,
  • and, monkeys will fly out of my ass.
Adynatons; wikilink

photos Mark Bralley

Friday, August 22, 2014

APS board has truth to hide, Brad Winter's happy to help

If you ever stayed in a Holiday Inn ever, you know enough to know that the APS Board of Education needs to hide the truth about why they fired Winston Brooks and why we have to pony up $350M to keep everyone quiet.

They have decided, link, that among the four candidates on their short list, former 2nd in command in APS Brad Winter is in the best position to help them keep the lid on things until things cool off.

When the head of an endeavor leaves in scandal, the second in command is the single worst person to then put in command.  Either the second in command is manifestly incompetent, willfully ignorant in their failure to expose the corruption and or incompetence that brought down their boss or guilty in their knowledge and failure to expose it.

Former APS Police Chief Steve Tellez had guilty knowledge of the corruption and incompetence that brought Gil Lovato down, and he was made Chief of APS police anyway.  You can see how well that worked out.  You can't put the people with a need to cover up in charge of their own investigation.

How much money exactly have we spent in here, and on what?
Did school board members really spend $800 a piece on chairs?

Tellez reported directly to Brad Winter
Brad Winter has a record of not telling the truth.  From the outright perjury he offered during his sworn deposition, link, to his relentless failure to produce a candid, forthright and honest accounting of spending at 6400 Uptown Blvd, link, he cannot be depended upon to tell the truth.

More over, he can be depended upon to not tell the truth.

Bingo! a new APS superintendent is found.

photo Mark Bralley

APS School Board in hiding

We read in the Journal this morning, link;

Tony Ortiz, a Santa Fe attorney hired by APS ... said, ... neither the court nor PED would be given the investigation report done by an attorney who was retained by APS Board President Analee Maestas.
Neither a Second Judicial District Court Judge nor NM PED Secretary Hanna Skandera will read the report the APS School Board is secreting from interest and stakeholders.  No one besides manifestly conflicted* school board members will ever know the ethically redacted truth about the "serious personnel matter" that justified firing Winston Brooks and saddling taxpayers with a $350K buy out of his contract - a contract that the school board had recently extended even beyond the terms on the board of a majority of the board.

*The manifest conflicts of interests; the board is expected to evaluate the superintendent impartially.  They are expected to tell the people they represent, the ethically redacted truth about the evaluation; the process and the product, and the results of that evaluation reflect on their performance as board members.  They have an interest in manipulating the truth.

One of the most important responsibilities of the school board is to hire and annually evaluate the superintendent.  Hiding the truth about how and how well they are handling that obligation prevents voters from holding them accountable at election, for how and how well school board members are serving the people they represent.

The people have a right and need to know how their representative on the school board has performed in office,  The people have a moral and ethical right to the ethically redacted truth about the superintendent's performance and evaluation.  School board members, by and through their multitude of lawyers, have refused to produce it.

School Board President Analee Maestas, when asked a legitimate question about the public interests and or her public service by a TV reporter, responded;
"no comment"

"No comment" is a categorically unacceptable response from a politician or public servant in response to a legitimate question about the public interests including their public service.

How can there be government of, by and for the people if the government's response to a legitimate question from the people whose power and resources they spend, is no comment?

Are the terms of public servitude, including the limits on truth telling, the prerogative of the people, or of their servants?  Ask them, they will tell you the prerogative is theirs.  That's what "no comment"

Every reason Marty Esquivel and the APS School Board cite as reasons they "can't" tell the ethically redacted truth are only circumstances that "allow" them to not tell the ethically redacted truth.  Their citations are deliberately misleading, untrue, and dishonest.

As but the latest example; Marty Esquivel and his Modrall lawyers procedural directive on public participation in school board meetings, link, here quoted in significant part;
The New Mexico Open Meetings Act prohibits open discussion amongst board members for any item not listed on the ... agenda. Therefore, Board of Education members ... shall not answer questions posed to them from a speaker or comment on a speaker’s concerns. emphasis added
That statement is manifestly dishonest.

APS students, in their highest standards of conduct, link, are expected to communicate honestly;
"Honesty in communications is expressing the truth as best we know it and not conveying it in a way likely to mislead or deceive.  It precludes all acts, including half-truths, out-of-context statements, and even silence, that are intended to create beliefs or leave impressions that are untrue or misleading."
The APS School Board, in their lowest standards of conduct; can be expected to create as many untrue and misleading beliefs, as a million dollar a year public relations effort and unlimited budgets for litigation and legal weaselry will allow.

As another example; the APS School Board has under its control, the findings of several investigations into felony criminal misconduct involving senior APS administrators in their publicly funded private police force.  They refuse to produce ethically redacted versions of any of those several investigations, even in response to inordinately and unjustifiably expensive litigation.

There is a world of difference between can't do the right thing and won't do the right thing.  The APS School Board refuses to produce findings because "the law" allows them to secret them, not because the law requires them to.

There is only one reason to hide the truth and that is to escape the consequences of the truth being known.

The APS school board is in hiding because they haven't the character and the courage to tell the ethically redacted truth about the public interests and about their public service. 

They get away with it because neither Journal Managing Editor Kent Walz nor his counterparts at KRQE, KOAT, and KOB TV will assign reporters to investigate and report upon a standards, ethics, and accountability scandal in the leadership of the APS.

Are we really going to enter a whole new superintendency in secret?

Is there really going to be just another good ol' boy oligarchy?

Are we going to reinstate the old one?

Tellez whispers in Brad Winters ear.
Last night, the board placed recently retired senior APS administrator, key to the cover up of corruption in the leadership of the APS Police, and perjurer Brad Winter on their short list of candidates for interim and perhaps ongoing superintendent of the APS.

It was Winter's keen oversight that allowed former APS Chief of Police Steve Tellez to believe he could get away with walking off with hundreds of dollars worth of ammo.

photo Mark Bralley

Thursday, August 21, 2014

What it is that we need in an APS superintendent

There is about to be compiled, an enormous list of every quality a superintendent could and must display.

I heard one at public forum last night, I hadn't heard before.
I use it for no other reason than that.

It was part of a presentation by a group of people coping with the Esquivel Modrall procedural directive.  Because Esquivel and the board don't want them to pool their time and elect one speaker, they were taking turns presenting successive parts of a cogent thought too complex to convey in 60 seconds.  Oddly, the procedural directive requires that people with the same thing to say, must select one of them to say it in one unit of time.

"Culturally proficient".  We need a superintendent and superintendency that is more culturally proficient than the last.

Let's say we find the most culturally proficient candidate in the entire United States and hire them.  How much will that one person contribute to the overall cultural proficiency of the community?

The problem is not that the last superintendent lacked cultural proficiency, it was that he made no use of the cultural proficiency available to him.

There are nearly 100, 000 years of teaching experience in the APS.  There are thousands and thousands of employees.  There are hundreds of thousands of stake and interests holders who between them, know more than anyone can bring.  It is highly unlikely that anyone can bring anything new or revolutionary.  There is no magic; there are no magicians.

There is no expertise or acumen that any candidate can bring to APS, that is not already here.

We need a superintendent who is capable of facilitating the meaningful participation of all interest and stakeholders in decision making that affects their interests.

We need a facilitator.

A proven facilitator, a superintendent with both

1.  manifest character and

2.  competence.
Substitute in the preceding argument for culturally proficient, any other quality you can imagine.  Is there even one, the fruit of which is not already hanging on tree unharvested?

The interim APS Superintendent - can s/he become the permanent superintendent?

There is now in the APS, an acting superintendent.  There will be by Friday, an interim superintendent.  There will be in several months up to a year, a duly hired superintendent.

A question has arisen; can the interim superintendent become the actual superintendent?

There are reasonable arguments on both sides.  Why not hire the best person for both jobs and if they turn out to be the same person, so what.

The "so what" is the creation of an appearance of impropriety.
What if the current board picks an interim superintendent willing to continue the cover up, and then cements that person's chances of being picked by the new school board?

The interim superintendency should be a fact finding.

What stakeholders need in an interim superintendent, is someone to lead a complete examination and review of the administration of the APS in preparation for its repair and rejuvenation.

Someone who will tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the ethically redacted truth about incompetency, corruption, and the practices that enable them, in the leadership of the APS.

The new school board and the superintendent they select
should know what they're getting.  The people should know what they've gotten into.

The people have a need and right to know what has been done with power and resources they entrusted to the current and immediately past leadership.  They have a right and need to know truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the ethically redacted truth about the squandering of their trust and treasure.

The public forum and subsequent school board member discussion provided some real irony last night.  Due to the number of speakers, the twice monthly opportunity to speak directly to the leadership of the APS for two minutes was reduced to one.

A number of speakers had prepared two minutes on what they would like to see in the interim and incoming superintendent.  They, we, have trouble condense an already condensed argument by half, and it is easy to run past 60 seconds.  For the most part, School Board Secretary Steven Michael Quezada cut off immediately at one minute.

In subsequent discussion the board can be seen and heard discussing how important it is, as they begin their process, to listen to the community.

They would have you believe, "the law" prevents them from dedicating more than one hour a month listening to interest and stakeholders.

It isn't the law, it is their own deliberate decision.
Just as it was their own deliberate decision to adopt
Marty Esquivel and Modrall's manifestly unconstitutional  
public participation in public meetings policy and procedural directives.

I defy any (First Amendment) lawyer, not in Marty Esquivel's or
Modrall's employ or service influence, to actually read the policy
and procedural directives and then attach their name and reputation
to their Constitutionality.

It is nothing but an excuse to funnel millions more dollars into
litigation that is for the most, against the public interests.

A couple of media people showed up; the Journal, KRQE, and at least two others.  They were recording from all over the room, so clearly APS Executive Director of Communication Monica Armenta, who was there and who was seen giving a videographer directions, did not enforce the procedural directive that requires all media and all persons desiring to record any school board meeting, to do so, from one particular place. The Esquivel Modrall rule clearly applies only to the press and all persons desiring, they don't like.

An interim superintendency should not include this ridiculousness.  An interim superintendency should not cost at least three teacher salaries in litigation against the public interests trying to make this pig fly.

During my 1 minute, I tried to point out the discrepancy between the standards of conduct that apply to students and the standards of conduct that apply to school board members and senior administrators.

One is a nationally recognized, accepted and respected code of ethical conduct, the other is "the law"; the standard of conduct that every higher standard is higher than.

I tried to point out what a difficult position in which this places both the interim and incoming superintendents.

I tried to convince them to lower student standards of conduct to eliminate the discrepancy.  I suggested they offer students access to lawyers and unlimited budgets for litigation in order to eliminate the disparity completely.

As awful as that solution sounds, it will at least eliminate the manifest hypocrisy in have school board members and senior administrators trying to establish and enforce higher standards of conduct on students than they will on themselves.

There will be no opportunity provided, where I or anybody else will be able to ask candidates to be the interim and/or incoming superintendent;

Will you, as the senior-most administrative role model
of student standards of conduct, do as you expect of students?
Will you model and promote (honest accountability to) the Pillars of Character Counts!, link; Respect Responsibility Trustworthiness (candor, forthrightness and honesty) Caring Fairness and Citizenship?
Funny story;
There were a number of public meetings during the last search for a superintendent.

I wanted to ask the candidates at those meetings, if they would be willing to step up as an honest to God role model of student standards of conduct.  I was never allowed to ask; the question never made it through their questions filter.

So there I was, standing against a wall holding up a poster and the question.

I was asked by the lady from the League of Women Voters who were running the meeting, if I would mind standing somewhere where the candidates couldn't see me.

I told her yes.
Call me idiosyncratic.

photo Mark Bralley

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

More evidence that gradation rates are a poor measure of public school success.

In the Journal this morning, link; a third of students taking college entrance exams, the crème de la crème of public school students, are not ready for college.

Nearly every student who did not take a college entrance exam is not ready for college; or even gainful employment.

Yet graduation rates sky rocket.

Yet politicians keep talking about rising graduation rates like they mean something.

Yet the media let them get away with it.

APS School Board Meeting tonight

Anyone wishing to speak at the public forum during the regular meeting, link tonight must;

Arrive at 6400 Uptown Blvd before the end of the "recognitions" part of the agenda.  To be safe, sign up by 5:00.

They must agree to abide by APS School Board Policy, link, and the accompanying Procedural Directive, link.

They must agree;

  • if more than one of them wants to say essentially the same thing, they may be required under penalty of arrest and being banned from future meetings, to have one person express their views for them, with no additional time allotted, and
  • to direct their comments to board members and no one else, and,
  • that they may praise school board members and senior administrators by name but are prohibited from criticizing them by name, and
  • Respect the fact that (your) views and opinions may not be shared by all present - whatever that means, and
  • express no non-job related complaints against board members or the superintendent, and
  • focus on topics not on personnel, and
  • if you can't express yourself in the time provided, you may submit your presentation in writing and the board will take a look at it if they feel like it.
If you don't agree, you simply must show up and say so.

photo Mark Bralley

You pick a side, when you don't pick a side

Sides are being picked in the struggle between the leadership of the APS and those who want more transparent accountability in the administration of public schools and the spending of public resources.

APS has two issues with respect to transparent accountability;

1.  their relentless refusal to produce ethically public records. and

2.  their deliberate efforts to limit public participation in public meetings.
NM FOG picked a side on APS IPRA issues; link.

NM FOG did not pick a side, and in so doing picked a side, in the struggle APS, Marty Esquivel, et al, are waging against those who would expand rather than restrict public participation in public meetings.

To the extent that their silence gives consent, the NM FOG is good with;
  • requiring the media, the press, and any person desiring, to record school board meetings from a particular corner of the room, though they do make exceptions for "credentialed media", link, and
  • requiring groups of speakers with similar thoughts to appoint a single person to speak for all of them, but without inheriting the two minutes to which each was entitled, and
  • granting board members and committee chairs unbridled authority to declare any behavior disruptive, arrest "violators" and ban them from future meetings, and
  • perhaps worst of all, pretending that the Open Meeting Act actually prohibits them from allowing speakers to ask questions during public forum, when in truth, questions are only prohibited by their individual and collective lack of character and courage to respond to candidly, forthrightly and honestly to legitimate questions about the public interests and about their public service.
One wonders why? except that the indefensible policy and procedural directive are the brain child of FOG heavy hitter Marty Esquivel and his friends at Modrall.

Notables yet to pick a side;
  • New Mexico Public Education Secretary Hanna Skandera and
  • the Second Judicial District Court - though who, what, when, where and how remain unspecified.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Is "scanning" a hard copy of a public record, really "creating a new record"?

I have made a Public Records Request of the APS under the auspices of the NM IPRA.

I have asked that copies of those public records be emailed to me per the resolution of a previous complaint over their refusal cooperate with my absolutely justified reticence to present myself at 6400 Uptown Blvd.

I have asked that they be emailed to me as opposed to requiring me to show up anywhere near APS' Executive Director of Communications and slanderer Monica Armenta.

APS Director of Communications Rigo Chavez has the records I have requested, in his hands.

They are records of the contracts that have been let in the cost is no object legal defense against the complaints I filed against them in federal court.

Chavez responds; not only does he "not have a scanner", even if he did, he couldn't be required by the law to use it to "create a new record".

So why won't Rigo Chavez extend to the people,
the simple courtesy of having someone scan the records?
It would be faster and cheaper than time he spent explaining that he had no intention to scan and email records.

In the first place, don't blame Rigo Chavez.
He does what he's told or, he "does" somewhere else.

He and everyone else working at 6400 Uptown Blvd,
exist in what independent examiners have repeatedly identified as a culture of fear of retaliation against whistleblowers.

Blame whomever who told Chavez to obfuscate the production, and to draw me into the vicinity of Monica Armenta so she can invent more crap.

Blame whomever led Rigo Chavez to believe the best thing for him to do would be to respond to my request for public records, by writing;

With regard to your request for “contracts for services related to Case 1:12-cv-01137 (MacQuigg v. APS et al)., including by not limited to contracts for legal services,” to be provided to you via e-mail, I do not have electronic copies, so I cannot provide them to you via e-mail. And, under the NM Inspection of Public Records Act does not require public bodies to create documents that do not exist in response to requests: “(NMSA 14-2-8) Procedure for Requesting Records, B. Nothing in the Inspection of Public Records Act shall be construed to require a public body to create a public record.” Further, according to the “New Mexico Inspection of Public Records Act Compliance Guide (Seventh Edition – 2012 (Page 32))” put out by the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office, “The right to inspect applies to any nonexempt public record that exists at the time of the request. A records custodian or public body is not required to compile information from the public body’s records or otherwise create a new public record in response to a request.”
Just because it's legal,
just because you can get away with it,
doesn't make it right.

photo Mark Bralley

Non partisan public forum proposed; open and honest public discussion in anticipation of the next APS School Board election.

There, I proposed it.

Now all we need is the time, the day and the place.

And professional facilitation, wikilink;

"It is important to note that the tasks and responsibilities listed below do not need to be covered by a single facilitator. The role of the facilitator is often shared by multiple people, for instance one person may arrange the logistics before the meeting, another person may keep time and monitor the agenda during the meeting, and a third person may be responsible for recording agreements.

Prior to a meeting, facilitators:
  • research the meeting
  • find out the purpose and goal (if any) of the meeting
  • establish who needs to attend
  • draw up a draft agenda and design the group processes to attain the necessary results
  • share the agenda with potential attendees, changing it as necessary
  • ensure everyone gets fully briefed for the meeting and that everyone knows the purpose and potential consequences of the meeting
During the meeting, facilitators:
  • monitor the agenda
  • keep time
  • manage the group process
  • encourage participation from all attendees
  • help participants understand different points of view
  • foster solutions that incorporate diverse points of view
  • manage participant behaviour
  • create a safe environment
  • teach new thinking skills and facilitate structured thinking activities
  • record (with an agreed phraseology) agreements. They may also note unresolved issues for later debate.
The facilitator may write up and publish the results of the meeting to everyone concerned including those who could not attend."

NM FOG to ignore APS public participation policy

The NM Foundation for Open Government is not happy with the secrecy in the settlement agreement between APS Supt Winston Brooks and taxpayers.  They are righteously not happy.

Capital Report and Rob Nikolewski report, link,

New Mexico Watchdog will file an Inspection of Public Records Act request to obtain details of Brooks’ resignation. NM FOG’s executive committee is meeting Tuesday to decide to file its own IPRA request. If the committee goes forward, New Mexico Watchdog and NMFOG will join forces and file together.
Why is NM FOG's executive committee meeting to decide whether to take a stand against the school board's unjustifiable secrecy in the Brooks settlement, but not deciding whether to take a stand against the same board's recently unanimously passed and manifestly unconstitutional limitation on public participation in public meetings?  They have known, link about the public participation policy issue for longer than there has been, an IPRA issue.

I defy any member of the NM FOG's executive committee to actually read what APS School Board Member Marty Esquivel and his Modrall lawyers wrote, link, and not conclude;
  • it is vague.  How does one exactly, “respect the fact that the speaker’s views may not be shared by all.” ?
  • the policy grants unlimited discretion by the board or committee meeting chairs find violations, eject speakers from the podium of public forum at APS school board meetings, and even prohibit that speaker's participation in future meetings, and that
  • the rules are without legal basis, in especially denying participation in public meetings, and that
  • Marty Esquivel and Modrall lawyers' effort to mislead interest holders into believing that the Open Meetings Act prohibits school board members from answering questions asked from the podium of a public forum is dishonest, and
  • that requiring groups of people with similar interests to combine their views for presentation by a single speaker is as indefensible as it is utterly preposterous.
One is an IPRA issue an the other an OMA issue, but both are manifestations of the same problem caused by the very same people.  Their conflation makes eminent sense.

It's what they call a twofer. So why will NM FOG pay attention
only to the one?

The only difference I can see, is one is clearly the brainchild of FOG heavy hitter Marty Esquivel, and the other is not.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Federal Court rules against APS Board, Esquivel, Brooks et at.

For the second time, a Federal District Court has ruled against the sitting APS School Board, former School Board President Marty Esquivel, former APS Supt Winston Brooks, former APS Chief of Police Steve Tellez and a handful of others.

In March of this year, a Federal District Court Judge preliminarily found, link, "... the justifications offered by the Board (for banning me from school board meetings) are pretexts masking viewpoint discrimination."

Marty Esquivel, Winston Brooks, and a handful of others deciding under no real oversight, decided to file motions seeking reconsideration of the rulings, spending even more money in defense of their egos.  Who knows how many tens of thousands of dollars they spent submitting parallel motions to reconsider the order?  Seriously, who knows?

Well, the Court reconsidered the decision long enough to now order, link; the right decision has already been made.

"... Of significance in this case is that the Court had before it for consideration, prior to issuance of its Order Granting Preliminary Injunction, an extensive record. The materials before the Court included transcripts of deposition testimony and, most importantly, video recordings of key events. Defendants did not request an evidentiary hearing prior to the Court’s ruling. The Court afforded the Defendants a full and fair opportunity to be heard in opposition to Plaintiff’s request for a preliminary injunction. There being neither an intervening change in the law, new evidence previously unavailable, nor a demonstration of clear error in the Court’s ruling ... Defendants’ Motions for Reconsideration ... are denied.
So ordered this 18th day of August, 2014."

Brooks era over. Really?

If we are talking about the time when Winston Brooks was the sitting Superintendent of the APS, then yes, the Brooks era is over.

If we're talking about the leadership culture of the APS, their way of doing things, the Brooks era isn't over; it never began.  The culture that greeted him is the culture he leaves behind.

There hasn't been a fundamental change of course in the leadership, in more than a century.

If it ever was not a good ol' boy oligarchy; loose standards and looser accountability, I would like to know when that was.

I have long argued that if ever the leadership of any endeavor finds itself honestly accountable to meaningful standards of conduct and competence; it will always find itself accountable to meaningful standards of conduct and competence.

Leaders who are honestly and actually accountable to meaningful standards of conduct would never find themselves in a position where they would be able to lower standards or lessen the accountability without themselves being held accountable.

Time for a clean sweep of the leadership and a new course; beginning with, I hope, honest accountability to meaningful standards of conduct and competence at least for those few hours a day they are expect that of students.

The next APS school board election winners will pick the new superintendent

Unless the current school board picks Winston Brooks' successor with record speed and arrogance, there is no way the new superintendendt can be picked before the February 2015 school board elections.

Four of seven seats, the majority, will be elected.

There will be no re-elections.

Never has there been a better opportunity
for the people Albuquerque to re-establish
their control over the Albuquerque Public Schools.

It has been a good ol' boy club;
for far, far too long.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Journal reporter not standing in corner, why not?

The leadership of the APS recently adopted a policy requiring the media, and any person desiring to record the meeting, to stand in the corner while they do.  (the NW corner to be specific)

If you examine Journal photos taken during the meeting, link, you will see the photographer was not standing in the corner when the photos were taken.  Unless the shots were taken past past mirrors, the photographer was standing very close to where APS Executive Director of Communications Monica Armenta sits when she attends meetings.  They may have chatted while the photographer took photos.  Armenta may have been pointing out which photos to take.  In truth,  I have no idea whether Armenta was even at this meeting.  In the deliberate absence of a record, conjecture is more justified.

Awhile ago, I wrote about the absurdity of the Marty Esquivel Modrall Law Public Participation in Public Meetings Policy and Procedural Directive.  Hereafter the MEML-PPPMPPD.  Provisions of the MEML-PPPMPPD are manifestly unconstitutional.

APS Chief Counsel
Modrall lawyer
Art Melendres.

In any event, at least several hundreds of dollars, dollars that could have bought an awful lot of crayons, were spent writing a policy and procedure that guarantees nothing, if not that they will make several hundreds of thousands of dollars many times over, litigating its defense.

Modrall partners make well over a million dollars a year litigating the interests of the school board members and senior APS administrators.  They make so much money, they won't tell you how much they are making.

The money they are making comes in unlimited amounts and without any real oversight, from operational funds; money that would otherwise be spent for its intended purpose; the purpose for which it was taken from taxpayers; educating nearly 90,000 of this community's sons and daughters.

The Journal has yet to investigate and report on the amount of money the leadership of the APS is spending in litigation against the public interests.

I proffered weeks ago, link, that one of the reasons the APS credentialed media weren't fuming about a policy restricting their Constitutionally protected human rights to be the press and any person desiring to record the meeting,was; they knew along, they would enjoy exception to the rules as long for as long as they they played by APS rules.
One rule apparently;
do not investigate and report upon the relationship between the leadership of the APS and Modrall Law.

Do not investigate and report upon the number of operational dollars that have streamed to Modrall Law, and continue to stream to this day.

The Marty Esquivel Modrall Law PPPMPPD is an abomination.  Anyone who bothers to read it and who knows anything at all about the law, will come to the same conclusion.

It is nothing but a bold move to funnel even more teachers salaries into Modrall coffers.

The Journal won't investigate and report upon it because they'd rather have full access to the room and post meeting interviews.

Photo journalist Mark Bralley would not have been able to record from that spot.  I would not have been allowed to record from that spot. 

It is disparate treatment; it's against the law.

photos Mark Bralley

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Will Skandera read the secret Brooks' report?

Sometime in the next few weeks, former APS Supt Winston Brooks' settlement agreement will be submitted for a stamp of approval by the NM Public Education Dept and the Second Judicial District Court; though it is unclear at this point, how stamping approval on a settlement agreement falls within the jurisdiction of the Second Judicial District Court.

Within the settlement agreement, it is clearly stated that the file containing the investigation of "a serious personnel issue" will remain secret from everybody, forever; APS shall not release the report to anyone. emphasis added

Does "anyone" include the Secretary of Public Education Hanna Skandera?  Will she be allowed to read the report before she signs off  for the PED?

Would she sign off on the settlement without reading the report?

Will she have someone else sign off in her stead?  Will they read it?

And while we're at it; will a Second Judicial District Court Judge sign off on Brooks' settlement agreement without reading the report?

What if the report is of criminal misconduct on the part of Winston Brooks, or his wife, or of the board?

They can't give away public money in a settlement agreement designed keep criminal misconduct a secret among themselves. That would be illegal.

It wouldn't be the first time they've done it,
but it would still be illegal.

Whether Hanna Skandera actually signs off herself or has someone else sign off in her stead, her reputation and the reputation of the NM PED will be attached to their assurance that the people have no legitimate interest in the contents of the file.

Similarly, the Second Judicial District Court and the Judge who signs off on the settlement and its secret file, attach their honor with their guarantee that the truth being secreted, is not being secreted in violation of the law.

photo Mark Bralley

What is the board hiding? Do we have a right to know or are we just being nosey?

I have argued on every appropriate occasion, public servants have a right to private lives.  The right to privacy is a Constitutionally protected human right.  A right that cannot be abrogated except by due process and a warrant.

Nevertheless, when private and public lives blend, the people whose power and resources are being spent, have a right to know what's going on.

You will notice, when powerful people hide truth, they never defend the hiding except by citing the law that allows them to do it.  APS for example, will not tell you why they are hiding the findings of investigations into corruption and incompetence in the leadership of their police force, just how.  How of course is the ubiquitous "its a personnel issue".

If the truth about Brooks and his wife includes misappropriation of public property, the luxury car entrusted to Brooks, then the people have more than a prurient interest in knowing the truth.

Is the settlement designed to protect genuine privacy rights or to hide evidence of a lack of oversight by the board over their superintendent?

They could defend their need for privacy without invading their privacy.  There is ethical redaction of the truth.  But you can't just claim the redaction is ethical, you have to prove it.

Proving it is easy enough to do, you simply have to justify the hiding.  Its only a problem if the why you're hiding the truth is as damning as the truth you are hiding.  Which it always is, or they would offer a reasonably specific justification as a matter of course.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Brooks leaves with $350K; who's to blame?

The Albuquerque Public Schools Board of Education voted at one point, to provide Supt Winston Brooks with a golden parachute amounting to a full three quarters of a million dollars.  They voted to extend his contract until 2016.

Four of them are up for election in 2015.  They voted to extend the superintendent's contract beyond the end of their own election to the board.  $250K of the $350K Brooks is taking, is for the year they gave him.  A year they had no business giving him.

It must have been "legal" but that doesn't mean its right.

They are Marty Esquivel, Kathy Korte, Lorenzo Garcia and David Peercy.

They sit in the office they hold because 97% of eligible voters; interest holders; stakeholders all, paid no attention to the last school board election.

The next one is next February.

Brooks resigns; walks away with more than a third of a million in cash

APS Supt Winston Brooks
resigned today. The APS
School Board has agreed to
give him $350,000 as a
going away present.

$350k could hire between
7 and 10 teachers depending.

According the agreement,
link, nobody admits that
anybody did anything wrong.

Brooks will not be held accountable for his part in the cover up of the cover up of felony criminal misconduct involving senior APS administrators and the leadership of APS' publicly funded private police force.

All other details will remain secret.

Now, if Marty Esquivel et al., would just resign as well,
we might really be getting somewhere.

photo Mark Bralley

Journal report on APS football players eligibility controversy; a great case study

Journal reporter James Yodice comes this morning with a report, link, on high school football players with eligibility issues, an APS coach with ethics issues, and a regulatory body with disclosure issues.

The story is interesting because it deals with violating codes of ethics rather than violations of law.

The regulatory body is the New Mexico Activities Association.  Yodice interviewed Executive Director Sally Marquez.  The standards of conduct she followed in responding to his questions are manifestly confused.

On one hand, she is bound by the law,  she is required to tell certain truths.  She must for example, produce public records upon demand.  The law provides exceptions.  She cannot for example, produce students names. (That is my assumption - I didn't bother to go read the applicable law).

On the other hand, she is bound by ethics.  Ethics require doing more than the law requires, and less than the law allows.

All of these folks do this dance as they answer questions.  One moment they dance to the tune of the law.  It may come after they waste ridiculous amounts of money in litigation trying to hide it, but it will come; they will obey the law.

During their finest moments, they dance to the tune of higher standards of conduct than the law.

I would like you to consider at least one of those standards.  I would have you consider it because it is the standard that the leadership of the APS has established and enforces upon students, link, here quoted in significant part;


There is no more fundamental ethical value than honesty. We associate honesty with people of honor, and we admire and rely on those who are honest. But honesty is a broader concept than many may realize. It involves both communications and conduct.

Honesty in communications is expressing the truth as best we know it and not conveying it in a way likely to mislead or deceive. There are three dimensions:

Truthfulness. Truthfulness is presenting the facts to the best of our knowledge. Intent is the crucial distinction between truthfulness and truth itself. Being wrong is not the same thing as lying, although honest mistakes can still damage trust insofar as they may show sloppy judgment.

Sincerity. Sincerity is genuineness, being without trickery or duplicity. It precludes all acts, including half-truths, out-of-context statements, and even silence, that are intended to create beliefs or leave impressions that are untrue or misleading.

Candor. In relationships involving legitimate expectations of trust, honesty may also require candor, forthrightness and frankness, imposing the obligation to volunteer information that another person needs to know...
Clearly Marquez was being "legal" not candid, forthright and honest in response to legitimate questions about the public interests and her public service.  At no time apparently, are politicians and public servants "legally" accountable to higher standards, despite their protestations. 

Higher standards cannot be enforced in courts of the lower standards.

My hackles raised a little when I read;
The New Mexico Activities Association has completed its investigation of the players. “As far as we’re concerned, the case is closed,” executive director Sally Marquez said.(emphasis added)
"... and "the case is closed" is the language powerful people use to end speaking truth to power.  They use it to indicate their suspension of a complainant's right to further pursue an unjust resolution of their complaint.  I just wrote, link, how some anonymous bureaucrat in APS has determined my "issue is closed" with respect to my complaint against APS' Chief of Police Steve Gallegos.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

APS responds to Ethical Advocate Complaint against APS Police Chief Gallegos

APS has responded to the complaint I filed, link, against APS Chief of Police Steve Gallegos.

My complaint read;

I asked APS Chief of Police Steve Gallegos whether he had qualified with the gun he carries. He refused to answer. I asked him again, about a month later, and he told me that I am "harassing" him by asking him that (and perhaps, any other question).

As a member of the press I have a right to ask legitimate questions about the public interest and Chief Gallegos public service.

He is a public servant in a public place engaged in his public service. I resent his refusal to answer legitimate questions and further, being threatened with charges of harassment for asking legitimate questions under those circumstances.

Further, Gallegos and select subordinates regularly harass me by following me around when I attend board meetings. Gallegos will answer legitimate questions about the public interests and his public service.
As a proposed solution I offered;
He will apologize for his implied threat to prosecute me for "harassing" him.

Gallegos will rescind the orders to have police officers follow me around for no reason.
In response, some anonymous bureaucrat at APS has written;
Information is provided in response to public records requests. These requests can be filed with Rigo Chavez. Officers and/or Chief Gallegos attend the board and committee meetings. No one has been directed to follow anyone during these meetings and this can be verified through both film and observation. This issue is closed. Thank you for using Ethical Advocate.
"Information is provided in response to public records requests". 
Even if that statement is true, it is not always, it doesn't address any concern I raised.  Not all questions have public records that respond to them.  Are you carrying a gun, for example, is a question not answered by any public record.  Have you qualified?  is a question that a public record that addresses Gallegos' failure to qualify regularly, those records are "up to fifteen days" away as "allowed by the law" and useless in the face of deadlines.
"Officers and/or Chief Gallegos attend the board and committee meetings. No one has been directed to follow anyone during these meetings and this can be verified through both film and observation.".
Frankly, I simply don't believe them.  Their "film" and "observation" prove nothing, they still follow me around.  Former APS Chief of Police Steve Tellez admitted as much in his own sworn deposition.

This issue is closed. Thank you for using Ethical Advocate.

Typical APS; we're done - now go away.

I am still under threat of prosecution for "harassment" if I ask him another question face to face.  This though there is no law that protects him from legitimate questions about his conduct and competence as a senior public servant within his public service.

I wrote back;
The resolution is categorically unacceptable.
Gallegos is free to continue to intimidate me with the threat of criminal prosecution for "harassing him" if I ask him another question face to face.
There is no law that says I have to file a public records request as my only avenue of gathering data. Clearly, not all questions can even be answered by public records. Are you wearing a gun you cannot qualify with? is not a question whose answer lies in a public records.
I require assurance that Gallegos'' opinion that my asking him legitimate questions is "harassment" in any form is unacceptable. This complaint is not closed.

Brooks eval bungled

One could argue that there is no single person more important than Supt Winston Brooks in determining the success or failure of APS effort to educate nearly 90,000 children.

One could argue that the APS Board of Education engages in no more important endeavor than selecting the best superintendent.  And that their second most important endeavor is their annual evaluation of his performance.

Every year, the board is required to evaluate the superintendent, and by logical extension, their competence in his selection.  It is a self evaluation as well.  Not only are they evaluating their competence in his selection, but their continued endorsement over the years while inflating his golden parachute to an all time high of three quarters of a million dollars.

It creates the appearance of a conflict of interests;
their duty to evaluate their superintendent impartially
and their interests in protecting their own reputations.
Their relentless refusal to even acknowledge the existence
of the conflict suggests that they are not handling it well.

That they carry no objective data into the evaluation; that it is all subjective and unquantifiable is profoundly disturbing.  One need look no further than their continued  refusal to survey teachers and include their input in their annual evaluation.

There aren't many good and ethical reasons to hide the truth from stakeholders.  There is not one good and ethical reason that doesn't require defense or at the very least, acknowledgement.

If the APS Board of Education had even one good and ethical reason to conduct this entire process in meetings in secret, meetings they choose to not record, why not defend it?

Why not defend their deliberate refusal to record their meetings, to create an incontrovertible record?  Why not create a record that would be available only to a judge?  Except that they don't want to create a record that would be available to a judge, because in their meetings in secret, they routinely violate the law.

It is proof positive of their individual and collective unwillingness to be held accountable even to the law, much less the higher standards of conduct they hold up for students. 

If the school board could justify their position; the entire process,
stem to stern, cloaked in a blanket of secrecy, the Journal would
publish it.  You know they would.

The board hasn't offered a justification.  And the Journal hasn't asked for one.  That, or the Journal for some reason known only to them, won't report what is that justification.

If nothing else, the board could publish their defense on their award winning website.  APS' million dollar a year public relations effort could be put use telling truth; the whole truth and nothing but the ethically redacted truth about the board's process and product.  They won't do that either.

There is really in the end, only one reason for them to hide the truth beyond the requirements of the law; and that is to escape the consequences of the truth being known.

Trust me, they are not trying to escape the accolades
that truth telling would evoke.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Lid creaking open on Brooks' administration

After six years of ignoring real problems in the Winston Brooks administration of the APS, at least one media outlet is not only sniffing around, but actually reporting on (at least part of) what they found, link.

Mayor Berry's PIO, Ramirez
Mayor's PIO turned KOB TV investigative reporter Chris Ramirez, has found that Brooks is headed to an October trial over his (alleged) personal misconduct.  A viewer would conclude, "a" trial as opposed to; "many" trials.

Had Ramirez dug deeper, he would have found Brooks is headed for more than one trial in which he is a named respondent, and not just because he is the titular head of the APS.

Ramirez would have found the likelihood of actual trials is remote.

Trials for any board member or senior administrator are extremely unlikely because at trial, guilt would be found.  Instead, if they can't drive off the complainant with their abuse and legal weaselry, they settle.  Huge amounts of money, funds that would otherwise be spent educating children, are traded for admissions of no guilt and clean records.

On my honor;
In early 2007, just before the school board election, I spoke with another candidate in the upcoming school board election; now APS School Board Member and enforcer Marty Esquivel.

I expressed my concern over the spending huge amounts of money in cost is no object legal defenses for senior APS administrators.  I expressed my concerns over the lack of transparency in the spending of public resources and the wielding of our power.

Esquivel indicated he was fully aware of the fact that APS spends huge amounts of money on lawyers (read Modrall and a few others) who run up huge bills on expensive litigation and then settle on the court house steps.

At the time, I read disapproval into what he was saying.  I thought we were on the same page.  Instead, Esquivel is currently up to his eyeballs in litigation that is going to cost taxpayers a million dollars, in defense of his own ego.

When Ramirez investigates and reports upon;
  • the money APS spends on litigation in the interests of senior administrators and school board members, and
  • the sizes of the settlements, and
  • the lack of oversight over unlimited budgets for "legal" defenses, and just for good measure,
  • the cover up of the cover up of felony criminal misconduct involving senior APS administrators and the leadership of APS' publicly funded private police force
I will be perhaps, convinced of his full conversion; PIO to press;
from hiding the truth about politicians and public servants
to ferreting it out, from covering asses to exposing them.

Stay tuned

photos Mark Bralley