Sunday, April 19, 2015

APS board members' first terms begin under a cloud

Barbara Petersen APS image
The Journal has reported, link, that APS School Board Member Barbara Petersen received and spent nearly 40% more money during her campaign to be elected to the APS School Board, than all of the candidates in all of the races combined!

Petersen will tell you that the unions who contributed the bulk of the money, have not influenced her to "vote union".  The unions will tell you that they don't really expect Petersen to "vote union" in exchange for the tens of thousands dollar they gave her.

The rest of us believe money buys elections and colors politics and public service thereafter.

Ms Petersen and the unions have created the appearance of a conflict of interests; the interests of students against the interests of teachers unions.

Just for the record, the APS School Board Code of Ethics prohibits creating conflicts of interest
7. Avoid conflicts of interest or the appearance thereof ...
One could argue she was not a school board member at the time she created the appearance of a conflict of interests, and therefore the code did not apply, but one would be splitting hairs in so doing.

Petersen could have dissipated the cloud during the decision making process for hiring a superintendent by supporting opening the decision making to the public, at least to the extent allowed by the law.  Instead, she contributed to the appearance of impropriety by voting twice to move the entire decision making process into unnecessary secret from stake and interest holders and allowing her to hide her prejudice should she need.

All these same arguments could apply to the other new board member Peggy Muller-Aragon.  She also accepted an enormous amount of money from people who are generally regarded as not giving something away for nothing; political operative Jay McCleskey and Governor Susana Martinez.

However, and in stark contrast
to Petersen, Muller-Aragon
fought to open the meetings
that Petersen and the rest
voted to close.

She at least, was willing to allow
stake and interest holders to
watch and evaluate her as she
participated in the process;
to determine for themselves whether
she was looking out for the best interests of students or, those of the Governor.

Interestingly, the Journal and NMBA affiliates whose most sacred obligation is to inform the democracy, chose to not cover Muller-Aragon's stand in favor of transparency and the board's otherwise unanimous resistance to opening meetings to the maximum extent allowed by the law.

Not "newsworthy" apparently.

photo Mark Bralley

No comments: