Monday, September 28, 2015

APS' "state of the art" cell phone policy

There is a problem with one of APS' policies.  The policy, link, has to do with students and the cell phones they carry.

The problem is not a new one, link.  The enforcement of the policy is causing some parents to complain when asked, to a local TV station, link.

The policy, is clearly stated; if by "clearly stated" you mean, to anyone who is a better reader than most high school graduates.

If you test the readability of the policy, you will find it is grade level 13 (Flesch Kincaid).  Students (and their parents) will have trouble reading it until one or both of them get another year of schooling under their belts.

Albuquerque Public Schools shall permit student possession of personal electronic devices on all district property and at all district sponsored activities while the student is under the supervision of district staff. These devices shall be kept out of sight and silenced or powered off during the instructional day unless otherwise permitted by district or school procedures. Use of personal electronic devices that disrupt the instructional day or include unauthorized use shall be prohibited.

Albuquerque Public Schools shall not be responsible for restricting, monitoring or controlling the electronic communications of students; however, it reserves the right to do so.
Not unheard in the history of the leadership of the APS;
  • APS Policies, and
  • apparently unforeseen consequences of the implementation of those policies.
That their cell phone policy has caused problems should come as no surprise. It has to do with their two step decision making model;
  1. Identify the problem and pass along until some leader among them,
  2. takes it upon them self to write a policy that will solve the problem.  
It works like this;
someone decides that a problem, like the problem with student cell phone abuse, had reached a point where the problem is too big to ignore/hide and, teachers cannot, apparently, stop it by themselves. Then a small group of "leaders" sit around discussing the problem until arriving at the inevitable stage; solution by means of the brainstorming the perfect consequence; one that "fits the crime!"  
They look in particular for punishments that fit the crime because they have a nice ring to them, making easy them to sell to uninformed stake and interest holders.

Clearly, confiscation is a punishment that "fits the crime".  The consequence, though it irked some parents, has a really nice ring to it. (No pun intended - suddenly it was there)

Whether it is even legal, remains to be seen.

The more fundamental question,
What should be done with students who routinely and deliberately ignore rules and the authority over them, of adults and their rules?
doesn't come up.

With regard to APS discipline policies, the only thing that every policy has in common with every other is, none of them are based on a philosophical foundation broader than the personal philosophies of a handful of administrators or school board members who wrote them.

APS has no discipline philosophy*.  There is no body of philosophical consensus anywhere.  There is not even agreement over whether deliberately disobedient students should be punished or not.

*A request for any public record even remotely resembling a "discipline philosophy" produced the Student Handbook, formerly the Student Behavior Handbook, also written about the reading level of most students and their parents and which contains no philosophical justification of anything; even justification for printing a handbook that nobody can read.

Policies that have no shared philosophical foundation are inconsistent with each other and often conflict outright.  They are difficult to enforce.  If a student asks, why not, the lack of a philosophical justification leaves enforcers with "because it's the rule" and "because I said so".

Because it's the rule and because I said so don't work.
If they (ever) did, there wouldn't be a problem.

Friday, September 25, 2015

I call your attention to the Journal back side

On the Journal website this morning, link, what looks to be a lively discussion on dismal PARCC test scores.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Journal coverage self-evidently slanted

In some respects, the Journal can't win; the left thinks it leans right, the right thinks it leans left.

Sometimes, they lean neither way and inform neither by simply not reporting the news; not informing the democracy.

One such today.  I would like call attention to the reporting on the report out of the Office of the State Auditor Tim Keller..

In the Journal this morning, the Journal comes with something they didn't even write; something they downloaded off an AP wire, link.  Compare and contrast that coverage with the report two days ago on the NM Political Report, link.

I would argue neither of them told the democracy what it really needs to know; the Journal didn't mention APS at all, and the NM PR only mentioned tangentially; APS' audit woes.

This though;

  • The leadership of the APS spends somewhere between a 1/5 and a 1/4 of the state budget; more than a billion tax dollars a year.
  • They have trouble with audits.  They have a lot of trouble with audits and always have. And
  • not just with financial audits.  There has never been an "audit" of the leadership of the APS that did not have "findings" including "repeat" findings.  Findings are bad; repeat findings are worse.
So why, if the leadership of the APS has trouble with audits (stemming fundamentally from the ethics, standards and accountability crisis in the leadership of the APS) will the Journal not report  on it?

It has nothing to do with leaning left or right.
It has to do with bending over backwards
to cover the asses politicians and public servants
who happen to have friends in the media.

Disclosure;  I chatted briefly with NM PR reporter Joey Peters about a month ago.  He and NM PR are aware that;
  • state and federal felonies were committed and involved senior APS administrators (in 2006-7, and were covered up*.  *There is no record otherwise; they can't produce a single public record indicating any evidence or testimony was ever turned over to the DA for possible criminal prosecution.
  • The findings of several investigations have been and are still being hidden from public knowledge. and
  • they are being hidden against the public interests, by means of using operational dollars to this day, to underwrite litigation and legal weaselry in years long effort to keep the records (and the truth) secret.
  • And that all anybody has to do to investigate these allegations to to file a public records request for 
    • the findings of every single investigation they had done into allegations of state and federal felony criminal misconduct involving senior APS administrators and the leadership of the APS Police force; a publicly funded, private police force. and
    • the public records of my efforts to get them to produce those records and
    • the public records of their efforts to keep the records hidden.
and then report on what is produced and what isn't.
So far, nothing.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The elephant in the control room at KKOB

An earlier Esquivel;
one who stood up and
demanded an independent
examination and review.
Former APS School Board heavy hitter Marty Esquivel will be on KKOB this morning.

APS needs to float a bond issue in a few months. Because stake and interest holders have no other way to register their outrage with the corruption and incompetence in the leadership of the APS, they will strike down the bond issues (that feed the local construction industry).

If the election were being held next week, the bonds would sink like rocks.

Esquivel needs to polish the board's tarnished image.  He needs to convince taxpayers that it isn't the board's fault that so much trust and treasure have been squandered even while he led the board as its president.

Esquivel is a self described expert in all the law that pertains and surrounds the hiring and firing of superintendents.

Being an expert in open government,
doesn't necessarily mean supporting
open government and transparency.
And after nearly a decade of his experience, expertise and influence on the board and the law, nothing changed.

The next superintendent, if they leave early, will leave with a boot-full of cash.

The elephant in the room with host Bob Clark and Esquivel is the underlying, actually fundamental problem; the ethics, standards and accountability crisis in the leadership of the APS.

Since it's family radio, let's call it the ethics, standards and accountability "situation" in the leadership of the APS.

I posit;
if independent investigators came into the APS looking for;
ethics, standards and and honest to God accountability to meaningful standards of conduct and competence,
their findings would be of legitimate interest to stake and interest holders.

If an impartial examination and review of ethics, standards and accountability were going to find;
  • sufficient ethics, and
  • high enough standards to protect the public interests in the public schools, and 
  • due process for complaints over incompetence and or corruption.
those findings it would be of legitimate interest to stake and interest holders; in particular if they intend to ask voters to "trust" with more millions of dollars.

If impartial examination would find;
  • inadequate ethics and standards and 
  • inadequate accountability to any ethics or standards
it would be of just as legitimate interest to stake and interest holders.

Not only is there an elephant in the control room,
it has dropped a deuce.

It's a small room; the deuce could be steaming on Bob Clark's desk.
An immediate examination and review* of ethics, standards and accountability in the leadership of the APS.
*The ethically redacted findings of which will be surrendered to public knowledge at the earliest opportunity.

Esquivel once supported such an investigation (though not that level of transparency).

Does he still?

cc Bob Clark upon posting

Update; Clark did not respond to my email by the end of his show and was unwilling or unable to work in the question.

photos Mark Bralley

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

APS; number 1!

In the report out of the Office of State Auditor Tim Keller, link, APS is ranked against other agencies in "repeat findings".  With regard to audits; findings are bad; repeat findings are worse.

OSA image
Keller found that APS had more repeat findings than anybody else.

That, should come as no surprise to anyone in the know; auditors from the Council of the Great City Schools once "found" that the leadership of the APS "routinely ignore audit findings".

I am supposing, Keller is concerned with findings of "financial" audits.

Of more concern to stake and interest holders are the findings from all of the other investigations; the investigations that were done when senior administrators or school board member broke the law, and the board needs to find out what happened in order to react. 

The investigations are always done by their lawyers, their private investigators, and even by their own publicly funded private police force.  

Evidence and testimony so gathered, can be more easily hidden from public knowledge.  In especially,
  • when they have unlimited access to the operational fund, and 
  • are allowed to spend it in meetings in secret and without any real oversight,
  • to underwrite the litigation and legal weaselry they want.
Corruption and incompetence in the leadership of the APS has been investigated on a number of occasions.

Imagine that you file a request for public records for all of the findings of all of the investigations of allegations of administrative and executive corruption and or incompetence done in the last 13 years.

Imagine that APS actually produced those records in a timely manner.

You will be surprised by how bad it really is; the number of really disturbing "findings" that have come up over and over again in "audits" only to be swept under the rug.

APS fell to 2nd place, in Keller's calculations, on the entities with the most findings.  APS had the second highest number findings.  Remember, findings are bad; high numbers of them, worse.

There is a need for an immediate independent examination and review of ethics, standards and accountability in the leadership of the APS.  It needs to been done before another superintendent is hired, and the findings need to be made public.

OSA rips APS over audits; more audits are needed

image OSA
New Mexico State Auditor Tim Keller released a report this morning, link.

The report
"compiles and analyzes data from the most recent audits of 449 government entities across New Mexico, illustrating the financial health of government. The report provides a snapshot of how government is working using three audit measures: audit opinions, types of annual audit findings, and repeated audit findings."
Among entities with the most findings of
"significant issues or problems";
Albuquerque Public Schools.

Among those entities with the greatest number of
"repeated findings";
Albuquerque Public Schools.

Auditors in the past, have found that the leadership of the APS routinely ignores the findings of the audits they suffer.

There needs to be another audit, though audit isn't the right word.  People think financial audit when you say audit. The State Auditor will take care of reviewing the financial audits.

Someone else, independent and impartial needs to come in and compile, examine and review APS' non-financial "audits".  Their findings need to be made public.

Examiners have found before, and will find again;
  • inadequate standards, and
  • inadequate accountability, and
  • inadequate record keeping
That is to say, they would find, if only there ever were and district wide examination and review of ethics, standards and accountability in the administration of the APS; against the will of the powerful people in the leadership of the APS.

Monday, September 21, 2015

APS Interm Supt. Reedy; APS; education "at its best".

By way of disclosure:

APS Interim Rachel Reedy's name appeared in evidence in litigation of my complaints in federal court.
She is alleged to be among a group of APS senior administrators who live(d) in fear of me.

With the notable exception of APS Executive Director of Communications Monica Armenta, I am not aware that any of these people have lodged any complaint against me. 
The sole exception, APS Education Foundation Executive Director Phill Casaus who joined Armenta in slandering and libeling me.  Casaus and my history goes back to when Casaus was the editor of the Tribune and I was ripping him for his part in the cover up of the ethics, standards and accountability crisis in the leadership of the APS; the corruption in the leadership of APS' publicly funded private police force, and out of control spending at 6400 Uptown Blvd.  Coincidentally, Casaus is now fixed for life with a cushy job at APS.

There are among the rest Asst Supt. for Elementary Education Diane Kerschen, now Interim Supt. Reedy, former Asst Supt Eddie Soto, and Legislative Liaison/Policy Analyst Carrie Robin Brunder, none of whom act like they are in the least afraid.  Their alleged fear is so far, only hearsay.
APS' inability to produce a shred of evidence to prove a single thing Marty Esquivel and his lawyers have alleged, is why the $750K defense of his ego, is in such trouble in federal court.
 .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .

aps image
When I read APS Interim Supt. Rachel Reedy's first communique to stake and interest holders, link, I was struck by it's lack of candor, forthrightness and honesty.

I use the words candor, forthrightness and honesty deliberately.

They come from APS' "student standards of conduct".  APS "student standards of conduct" is in lower case because there really is no document anywhere that is entitled; APS Student Standards of Conduct.

The closest thing thereto; the APS Student Behavior Handbook.  There in; students are reminded that they are expected to "model and promote the Pillars of Character Counts!", link.  The Pillars represent a nationally recognized, accepted and respected code of ethical conduct.

Whether she will embrace or even admit it,  Reedy is the senior-most administrative role model of honest accountability to the same standards of conduct that the board establishes and she enforces upon students.

Among the tenets; trustworthiness and honesty.  Students are told that when they choose to create beliefs or leave impressions that are untrue or misleading, they do so at the forfeiture of their good character.

Reedy wrote;
Walk through the halls of any school in APS, peek in a classroom, eavesdrop on some conversations and you’ll notice it, too: education at its best.
Simple observation proves that in general, the claim is self-evidently false.
Which is not to say that there are not islands, in even the worst schools, on which education at its best is taking place.

What I am saying is that if someone moved here to put their kids in APS based on Reedy's assurance that their sons and daughters would be receiving education at its best, would be sadly disappointed by the truth; a 40% chance their child would leave high school with no diploma or, no diploma worth having.
I wondered how anybody would think that they could get away with such egregious bending of the truth.

Then it occurred to me;
APS education is at its best, it is as good as it's going to get!
"Legally" she's covered; good as gold!

polytych Mark Bralley

Sunday, September 20, 2015

The difference between "ethical" and "legal"

The difference between ethical and legal is
the difference between what’s "right" and what’s legal.
Which amounts to the difference between what’s right
and "whatever you can get away with 'legally'".

"As long as it's legal" is a self-evidently inadequate standard of conduct for public service.

In particular it is, when "legal" means all the cost is no object litigation and legal weaselry taxpayers can afford. Trust and treasure squandered in the interests of politicians and public servants who would rather "admit no guilt"; even when they are guilty beyond reasonable doubt.  They spend without limit in meetings in secret and without real oversight. 

Take for example; the three-quarters of a million operational dollars that have been squandered on a non-viable "legal" defense of former APS school board member Marty Esquivel's ego.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

The slam on Moya

In the Journal this morning; link, a report that APS CFO Don Moya was arguing, that with respect to the yet to be named concerns that Valentino wanted to investigate, using his input was better than hiring independent investigators.

That looks very bad for Moya.

However earnestly he might
actually believe his opinions
are more valuable than those
of independent auditors,
the appearance is that he was
trying to interfere with any
independent investigation of ethics, standards and accountability in the leadership of the APS.

The leadership of the APS avoids independent audits like the plague.  And for a reason, the findings of those audits read;
  • administrative evaluations are subjective and unrelated to promotion or step placement.
  • the leadership of the APS routinely ignores the findings of independent examinations and reviews
  • the "culture" of the APS is one of fear of retribution and retaliation against whistle blowers and other complainants.
  • during the "renovation" of the twin towers, senior administrators were spending $50K at a whack, "without involving Purchasing" during a time when other auditors had found the trifecta of public corruption;
1.  inadequate standard and
2.  inadequate accountability and
3   inadequate record keeping.
When you are searching for the guilty, you don't usually have to look past the people who are trying to keep a lid on things.

I am not accusing Don Moya of anything.  I am not even suggesting that he is part of the cover up of the ethics, standards and accountability crisis in the leadership of the APS.

All I am saying is, that is an appearance he and they have created.

photo Mark Bralley

Friday, September 18, 2015

APS woes; the cause and the cure

The decision making model currently employed by the leadership of the APS amounts to the remnants of a century old good ol' boy oligarchy and is self-evidently unsuccessful.

Before we go looking for another someone to beat that dead horse, perhaps we should reconsider whether that is the direction in which we still want to go.

Do we want to perpetuate what's left of their good ol' boys club?

Stake and interest holders in the APS, have lost control over the power and resources they have entrusted to the APS school board and their superintendent.

The "cure"* is; a fundamentally different decision making model; one characterized by transparent accountability to meaningful standards of conduct and competence.

*Among other options; participatory decision making.  Learn about it in the Wikipedia 

If we choose that model, then we're looking for a whole different kind of superintendent.  We will be looking for a synergist; someone who can enable us to take full advantage of the human and other resources we have at hand.
The administration of the cure will be opposed by the politicians and public servants who benefit from keeping the remnants of their century old good ol' boys club intact.

Usurped power is not given back willingly, ever.
It has to be taken back.

Whether it is or not, in this and similar circumstances everywhere, depends on what stake and interest holders are actually willing to do to defend their own interests.

If the answer is "nothing"; if the answer is that they really aren't willing to do one damn thing, then the people who usurped control over their power and resources, will continue their usurpation until they are.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

How many PIOs are there in New Mexico? How much do we pay them?

I'm curious how many Public Information Officers (by that or any other name) there are in New Mexico.  And of course, how much money taxpayers are investing in being non, mis, or dis

I started with a straight out search on Google.  The response;

Did you mean: how many PIANOs are there in New Mexico?
... and that's as close as you're going to get.

I could of course, send IPRA requests to every agency of government in New Mexico.

... or not.

Public Disinformation Officers

A truly disturbing number of PIO's are making their living off taxpayers  by spreading no, dis, and misinformation.  They betray the trust the people have placed in them without the slightest apparent shame or hesitation.

Their goal in life morphed somehow, from informing the democracy
to disseminating propaganda, disinformation and misinformation.
I'm guessing, they're making a lot more money covering asses
than exposing them.

I submit that Public Disinformation Officers represent
not only the single most egregious squandering of
public trust and treasure, but also the most blatant.

If we can't put an end to this crap, and relatively immediately,
we really are completely screwed; up the creek without a paddle, wiktionary.

Consider for example ABQ Ride spokesperson Rick De Reyes.
De Reyes is one of the first in a long string of TV news people who jumped ship after discovering that the grass was a lot greener on the other side of the fence.  The hardest hitting investigative reporters were the first to go; if memory serves.

KOB interviewed him for their report, link.  He commented on a video that clearly shows a city bus driver munching on a burrito when he plowed into the car in front of him, pushing that car into two others.

After viewing the video, De Reyes described what he had seen;

"He had not been eating or drinking at the time."

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

"... so help me God."

So ends the oath taken by newly elected APS school board members.

They swear an oath to

support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution and Laws of the State of New Mexico.
and to;
... faithfully and impartially discharge the duties of said office of the best of my ability,
so help me God.
They swear their oath before God.

Which begs at least one question, the answer to which will be of interest to their God, and to stake and interest holders;
What are "the duties of said office"?  
You would think that a comprehensive list of the duties they swear to discharge, would be readily available.  Not so.  A search of APS' award winning website, link, produces;
The primary ... duties of the Board of Education shall be to employ and negotiate the contract of a superintendent of schools for the district, create and adopt district policy, and review and approve the budget for the Albuquerque Public Schools.
Are there other duties?  Among their duties, is there;
Senior most role models* of student standards of conduct?
*Are they role models of honest to God accountability to the same standards of conduct they establish and enforce upon students?

If role modeling is among their duties, then their removal and refusal to reinstate the role modeling clause in their own standards of conduct, is going to take some explaining on their Judgment Day.

Not that it's any of my business, but I would love to be a fly on the wall, when their God asks them;
When you removed, and refused even to discuss replacing, a clause in your own standards of conduct that read;
In no case shall the standard of conduct for an adult
be lower than the standards of conduct for students.
... was that really "the best of your ability?"
When children need more than ever, role models of
character and courage and honor, was lowering your
own standards to whatever "the law"* allows";
really the best you could do?
*the lowest standards of conduct acceptable to civilized human beings.
If they believe in God, they believe in judgment day.

They should know that on their judgment day, they will not be
surrounded by the usual eloquence of Modrall lawyers.

Not that "There are no Modrall lawyers in heaven",
but rather,
the one's who are, are not going to be providing the usual  
cost is no object "legal" defenses to which board members
and senior administrators have become accustomed.

They will be standing there naked and alone.
There will be no "admissions of no guilt" and,
there will be no yelling of;
How dare you judge me!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Esquivel remarks; conflicting and confusing

Former APS school board member Marty Esquivel showed up alone at the Albuquerque Press Women luncheon, link, to address for them; "what is happening to the Albuquerque Public Schools?".

Former APS interim supt. Brad Winter was supposed to be there, speaking and answering questions, but neither spoke nor attended.

Esquivel began by outlining the three main school board responsibilities. He moved then, to the obstacles that lay in the way of the school board being able to find out what happened in situations like the ongoing Charlie Foxtrot, wiktionary, involving Valentino, Martinez, Moya and Blakey.

Esquivel argued that the board only has one employee; the superintendent.  He said, the board could not for example ask Human Resources to conduct an investigation because they work for the supt. and not for the board.

Later on the issue of transparency, he complained that the board is able to hire lawyers to conduct investigations for them, and then use the relationship as an excuse to hide the findings of the investigation from stake and interest holders.

In November of last year, then APS School Board President Analee Maestas hired a lawyer to conduct an investigation related to then Supt. Winston Brooks.  Esquivel explained that the board was then able to use that relationship to hide the findings from public knowledge.  The findings are still secret and the subject of ongoing IPRA litigation.  The board spends on that litigation, in meetings in secret, without real oversight, and without limit.

Esquivel told the Journal, link;
The president does have the authority to hire an attorney as long as the cost is less than $50,000.
So which is it?

Is the board is helpless to find the truth, or is it not?

photo Mark Bralley

Possession is nine tenths* of the law

* or;
  • ten tenths, or
  •  "...eleven points in the law, and they say there are but twelve."
depending on your source.

I can remember as a child arguing over ownership of marbles.
At some point, the person holding the marble(s) in dispute, would claim; possession is nine points under the law".  For some reason, that allowed them to leave with the marble(s.

Why that worked in elementary school, or how we came to know about it remains unclear.
" See Spot run. Hear Dick quote obscure law for Jane" ?

When it comes to public records and access to public meetings, "possession" is the name of the game; they belong to the politicians and public servants who hold them.  This though their sole possession of their own public record creates an appearance of a conflict of interests as egregious as it is blatantly obvious.

According to Wikipedia, wikilink, as recently as this morning;
Although the principle is an oversimplification, it can be restated as: "In a property dispute (whether real or personal), in the absence of clear and compelling testimony or documentation to the contrary, the person in actual, custodial possession of the property is presumed to be the rightful owner. ...
The shirt or blouse you are currently wearing is presumed to be yours, unless someone can prove that it is not."
In practice; public records belong the Records Custodian
until you can prove in court, that they do not.

When you sue for records, you litigate on your own.
When public records custodians' show up in court, they enjoy cost-is-no-object "legal" defenses provided for them by taxpayers and by politicians and public servants meeting in secret and spending without real oversight and in their own interests.
Eight years ago, a number of investigations were conducted into allegations of felony criminal misconduct involving senior APS administrators.  At the very least;
  • Money was removed from evidence and spent without record, (a felony under state law) and 
  • NCIC criminal background checks were done on whistleblowers and a deputy supt's girl friend, (a felony under federal law).
APS has been spending operational dollars on lawyers and legal weaselry for eight years in order to not produce the findings of those investigations.
They have never justified keeping the findings secret.
They don't have to; you can't make them.

They have spent and are spending operational dollars without limit, in order to hide records for no reason except to spare politicians and public servants embarrassment, shame, and or indictment.

They are yet to offer even one good and ethical reason to secret the truth.  It is enough that their lawyers have only to argue that the law "allows" them.

The records are being hidden to cover up a cover up, and
(weaknesses in) the law allows it.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Yates sheds credibility in defense of Duran

Former NM Republican Party Chairman Harvey Yates came to the defense of NM Secretary of State Diana Duran in the Sunday Journal, link.

From this day forward, Yates face and defense of the secretary's seclusion will come up in internet searches for "blind loyalty at the expense of personal credibility".

Yates sheds credibility in defense of Duran's ongoing refusal to tell the truth to stake and interest holders.

There is only one reason to not tell the truth;
to avoid the consequences of the truth being known.

It stands to reason that hidden truth is not exonerating.  When a politician or public servant will not tell the truth about their public service, about their character or about their competence, their refusal comes with a spoken or not;

... trust me
Even though I won't tell you the truth, trust me.

Harvey Yates might; I doubt that many others will.

photo Mark Bralley

Saturday, September 12, 2015

"... morale is said to be low ..."

An unnamed source apparently "said" to Journal editors;

morale is low in the APD.
They reported that much in an editorial this morning, link.

They are yet to assign a reporter to investigate and report upon the as yet unconfirmed allegation.   I will bow as always, to controverting fact.

What more important or valid indicator of organizational health is there, than the morale in the rank and file?

Police officer morale is low for a reason.
Nobody really knows what that reason is. A lot of people can tell you why they think it's low; but nobody can show you any real data.

Nobody has ever asked them*; why morale is declining?
*by means of a survey they all could take, and to which they could respond candidly, forthrightly and honestly without fear of retribution or retaliation.

The people in charge generally don't and won’t ask that question (on the record, in a survey) because the answer might well be;
"BECAUSE of the people in charge."
It might well be that a lack of confidence in and respect for the people in charge is destroying individual and departmental morale.  Prove otherwise.

There is a reason that the people in charge don’t collect real, hard data on employee morale, and it isn’t any genuine concern having to do with employee morale.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

"What is happening to the Albuquerque Public Schools?"

So reads the headline, link, on the invitation by the Albuquerque Press Women to attend their September luncheon.

Their speaker for Monday was to have been former APS Supt. Luis Valentino.  He of course, will not be speaking.

In his stead, longtime APS senior administrator Brad Winter and former School Board President Marty Esquivel will discuss will discuss "the things that public boards must think about when they prepare to undo a poor personnel decision."

There is normally an opportunity to ask questions, though the APW has in the past, suppressed legitimate questions at a similar event, link.

When APS' Executive Director of Communications Monica Armenta was a featured speaker, she told the APW that she would leave if I were allowed to ask her any questions at all.

The APW accommodated her demand, refusing to call on me.

Brad Winter does not want to answer any questions about his part the cover up of felony criminal misconduct involving senior APS administrators and the leadership of their publicly funded private police force, link.

Nor does he want to answer any questions about spending at 6400 Uptown Blvd. while he was the district's chief operations officer, link.

Marty Esquivel does not want to answer questions about the spending of nearly $750K in federal court in a non-viable defense of his ego, link.

The Press Women won't ask any questions on those topics, nor do I expect, will they allow me.  This though the answers have clearly to do with "what's happening in the APS?"

photos Mark Bralley

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

A month later; what about Don Moya and Karen Rudys?

At least a few unanswered questions remain;

1.  Did APS CFO Don Moya actually do anything wrong; anything at all that would warrant placing him on paid leave? 

The widely held assumption is that he is being retaliated against for being a whistleblower.  If so, "the leadership" of the APS needs to rehabilitate his reputation and return him to work.
If he is guilty of something, he needs to be terminated and or charged.
2.  How long will taxpayers pay Moya to stay at home?
It has been a month now, since  Don Moya was put on administrative leave by former APS Supt Luis Valentino. 
In that month, Moya has been paid around $14, 250; ($171K annual salary div 12).
 3.  APS' Asst. Supt. for Human Resources [Interim] Karen Rudys credibility and reputation have been sullied.
Is she doomed to twist in the wind for the next few months or years, like Don Moya?
All begging at least two more questions
  1. Why, after more than a month, does the school board still not know the truth, or
  3. Why, knowing the truth for who knows how long, hasn't the board been candid, forthright and honest with stake and interest holders about the spending of their power and resources?
If the board is unable to ferret out the truth and hold people actually and honestly accountable for their public service, they need to resign.

Having, apparently, learned nothing in the last month ...

The APS School Board intends to meet in secret Friday morning, link;

for the Purpose of Discussion of a Limited Personnel Matter Regarding the Terms of the Acting Superintendent's Contract (Discussion/Action)
Though the Open Meeting Act quite clearly requires that they describe with "reasonable specificity" what it is that they intend to discuss and decide; the board continues to offer at little as the law absolutely requires.

No one can honestly believe that they have shared all of the information that the law will allow.

They could have written, as but one example;
"for the purpose of discussing salary" 
along with a reasonably specific description of whatever else they intend to discuss and decide upon.

The board remains utterly unaccountable to stake and interest holders.

To make matters worse, the meeting was not noticed in accordance with the Open Meeting Act which requires 72 hours notice.  The agenda was supposed to have been posted no later than 7:30 Tuesday morning.  It had not been posted by the end of the day.  It was posted this morning, along with an indication that it was posted on September 4th; five days ago.  I have asked APS to point to the place, process and person claiming to have posted the agenda 5 days ago. If ever they respond, I will attach their response to this post.

They simply skirt the law with "legally" defensible minimal compliance.

If someone wanted to actually file a complaint that they are not being specific enough, the board is prepared to spend however many operational dollars they need, on lawyers, litigation and legal weaselry to assure that when the dust settles; they will have to admit no guilt over their unjustifiable lack of transparency and unnecessary secrecy.

Still, nothing has changed.

Monday, September 07, 2015

There is no people in government in secret

Once, a long time ago, then President Abraham Lincoln highly and famously resolved;

"... that these dead shall not have died in vain ... 
that government of the people, by the people, 
for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
And yet it does; every time "the government" adjourns into secret.

Any belief that the people's interests are the only interests
being defended in meetings in secret is naive;
mindbogglingly naive.

When the APS school board meets in secret, the people lose their voice in decision making that affects their interests.  They are no longer in control of the spending of their resources and the wielding of their power.

There is a reason that the APS school board refuses to record their meetings; recordings that would be accessible only to a judge.

The reason they refuse to record their meetings in secret is not protecting the people's interests; it is protecting their own.

It is the same reason they are not reasonably specific
when they describe what it is they intend to discuss and decide in secret.

It is the same reason they are not reasonably specific
about what is was that they discussed and decided in secret.

The Albuquerque Public Schools Board of Education
will not pass; nor will they discuss in an open meeting,
a resolution requiring them to
interpret reasonably specific to mean; as candid,
forthright and honest as the law will allow.
In start contrast to their current resolution which is
to be as vague as the law will allow (when stretched to its absolute limits in meetings in secret and without honest oversight, by limitless spending on litigation and legal weaselry to except themselves from the law as it is intended).
The standards of conduct that the board established and enforce upon students have a basic tenet;
People of character must expect of themselves;
more than the law requires and 
less than the law allows.
As the senior-most role models of student standards of conduct, board members can be seen doing the diametric opposite with regard to their own transparency and secrecy;
as little as the law requires and 
as much as the law will allow
Apparently nothing will stop them.

Not only will they not have to explain, defend or deny what they're doing, they won't even have to acknowledge what they're doing.

Again, due mostly, perhaps solely, to the fact that none of the Journal, KRQE, KOAT, or KOB TV is willing to investigate the ethics, standards and accountability crisis in the leadership of the APS and then report their findings, candidly, forthrightly and honestly.

Saturday, September 05, 2015

Another former school board member speaks out

Former APS School Board Member David Robbins posted an op ed in the Journal this morning, link.

He thinks the current board needs to get their act together.

He regards the kerfuffle as an "avoidable distraction" but then goes on to point out that "several issues raised by this mess are unresolved";
  • a chief financial officer on administrative leave, 
  • the reputation of Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources Karen Rudys remains sullied, and 
  • we still have the board president’s daughter placed in a senior position by the former superintendent.
Robbins argues;
these items deserve swift action by the board and should not be left to an interim superintendent to address.
He insists that "the real question" has to do with school board member loyalties.

It's a good question; it bears looking into.

Along with all the other aspects of APS' dark side;
the ethics, standards and accountability crisis*, of which
Robbins was part and parcel.

People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.

*the school board's lack of real, honest to God accountability
to any standards at all; as their record clearly, clearly shows.

photo Mark Bralley

Friday, September 04, 2015

This is not a good time to be Monica Armenta

When the community is in an uproar over the school board's failure to communicate, it isn't going to take people long to figure out that the $111K a year APS Executive Director of Communications Monica Armenta is central to the effort to not communicate with stake and interest holders.

It has been, and will continue to be for as long as she heads APS' million dollar a year public relations campaign.

The current kerfuffle in the news is not Armenta's only problem.  She is a named respondent in a federal lawsuit alleging among other things, that she retaliated against me in response to what I have written about her on this blog.  For example; link.

I have alleged that she violated my civil rights and slandered and libeled me.  Incontrovertible evidence is in the record.

In her defense, Armenta casts me as a stalker; a threat to her personal safety.  She once alleged under oath that I "had followed her in my truck."  Under questioning under oath, she finally admitted because we were at the same meeting; (she there as a featured speaker, me to ask questions if I could, that she didn't want to answer) I must have followed her there.

She has in the last few days come closer to me physically, than I would ever, ever come to her.  I avoid her like the plague for obvious reasons.  Approaching her would serve no useful purpose and could be used to further slander or libel me.

On the first occasion, she approached a group in conversation; me and two photo journalists.  I was trying to explain to them why being required to put their cameras in a particular place; was likely a violation of the Open Meetings Act.

She came within 2 or 3 feet of me, to tell them that they needed to be talking to her (and not to me).

As she walked away, she stopped about 8 or 10 feet away, spun around, raised her voice considerably, and told me to stay away from her.  The entire encounter happened within feet of, and full sight of APS' Chief of Police Steve Gallegos.

On the second occasion, I had moved to a place in the board room; a place where I needed to be to photograph the faces of politicians and public servants within their public service.  I was standing where I needed to be, to freely and properly exercise my right to record a public meeting from any perspective.

Though it wasn't within their media "corral"; I had permission to be where I was.

At one point, Armenta stood up, moved closer to me (in order to call attention to herself while she then turned around) and took photographs of the media who were obeying her largely unjustifiable restrictions on their camera placement, and then turned around to photograph me*.

*I didn't see her photograph me.  That is my assumption based on the body language of the people who were watching her watching me.

I can only assume that Armenta may be ramping up her slander and libel campaign; photos of me threatening her safety by standing in a place she didn't think I should be standing.

Armenta and Marty Esquivel, another named respondent in the complaint, would like to see the complaint settled with their admissions of no guilt.

They want that so much, they've spent nearly three quarters of a million dollars on litigation and legal weaselry in an effort to buy it.  Without notice by their friends at the Journal and local NMBA affiliate stations.

photo  Mark Bralley

Board meeting video still not posted

Every time the APS school board meets in regular session, the session is videotaped.  The video of last Wednesday's public forum and board member reaction is still not posted on APS' award winning website.

Then APS COO Brad Winter
invested a ridiculous amount of
money on so much state of the
art equipment to record school
board meetings, that it takes two
guys to run it all.

To this day, Winter will not provide a candid, forthright and honest accounting of the millions and millions of dollars spent there.

Still, they are not able to provide a downloadable video record of a school board
meeting even after three days.

There has not been, nor is there likely to be, an adequate explanation or justification of the fact that APS will not provide a user friendly download of these meetings as streamed.

photos Mark Bralley

Thursday, September 03, 2015

APS reform must be fundamental. The cornerstone must be relaid.

Whatever reform takes place, it will be written and executed by people who meet high enough standards of conduct and competence in their public service.

Or not.

There is every likelihood that the reform will actually be written and executed by people who are marginally accountable to middling standards at best.  And only then if litigation and legal weaselry cannot fail to enable their escape.

Reform, rehabilitation, rejuvenation cannot rise from these ashes.

There needs to be laid, a new foundation; meaningful standards and, honest to God accountability.

To what standards of conduct are APS school board members actually honestly accountable?

The Duran, Valentino, Blakey brouhaha over the appearance of nepotism, stands as a clear violation of the school board's own code of ethics which reads;

Avoid conflicts of interests or the appearance thereof ...
Suppose that you or anyone else, wanted to hold School Board President Don Duran personally accountable to the school boards code of ethics by filing a complaint.  Where exactly would you file your complaint?  With whom?

The truth is; the facts are;
you can file your complaint
in an election
a few years from now, 
and that's about it.

There will be in the leadership of the APS
  • inadequate standards of conduct and competence and or, 
  • inadequate accountability to those standards
for as long as politicians and public servants
are allowed write the terms of their own public service
and of the accountability they will suffer in the public interests.

... for as long as good men do nothing."

Ten people showed up to the public forum last night
to stand up for what they believe in.
Ten people stood up to be counted.

... for as long as good men do nothing."

 photo Mark Bralley

Valentino parting wisdom; "watch APS closely"!

KOB's Caleb James managed a post exit interview with former APS Supt. Luis Valentino, link.  According to James, Valentino cautions;

... the systemic problems at APS will still be here tomorrow and the next day. ... the issues facing our school district will not disappear with his departure.

... New Mexicans need to take a hard look at every single player who makes up the systems that run our government, not only education.

... people watch very closely as APS handles the fallout from the leadership crisis. emphasis added
Sounds like sound advice.

APS board has only itself to blame

For ever, the APS  school board has claimed that they can't respond to questions asked of them during public forum, because they are not "allowed".

Last night, apparently it was all to much for them, and they did respond to accusations that have been leveled against them in the forum and in the media.

The gist is;

if the people knew what the board knows,
they would be more supportive of the board.
Begging a question;
Why not be more candid, forthright and honest with stake and interest holders?  Why keep them so deeply in the dark?
Rational people understand that some things need to be dealt with in secret. But for the board, the line is not only fuzzy but movable upon their whim.

The board chose to crank the needle all the way to the right this time; complete secrecy over everything. Instead of secreting only as much information as the laws requires, they chose to secret as much as the Open Meetings Act and their feckless Code of Ethics allows.

And now the piper is going to be paid.

Because a recall of the entire board, or even of a majority of the board, would allow the Secretary of Education to appoint the successors, the recall petition will be modified to remove only three of the most arrogant and recalcitrant board members.

Perhaps the attention of the remaining four will be gotten.

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

You have to stand over there ...

The local TV photo journalists had been told to set up their tripods in a line along the west wall of the John Milne Board Room.

That is the worst place in the room for anyone with a camera and an interest in filming the public forum and the faces of speakers.

I’m not a fire marshal, but I’ve spent enough nights in Holiday Inns to know; a line of tripods paralleling an evacuation route is a trip hazard. Were there a real emergency and a panicked evacuation of the room; fully a quarter to a third of the occupants of the room would have to flee along the entire line of tripods.

Not only that but; the Open Meetings Act reads in significant part;

All meetings of any public body except the legislature and the courts shall be public meetings, and all persons so desiring shall be permitted to attend and listen to the deliberations and proceedings. Reasonable efforts shall be made to accommodate the use of audio and video recording devices. emphasis added
It is reasonable to tell all persons so desiring, that they cannot record from places where their recording creates a safety hazard or for some other good and ethical reason.

It is not at all reasonable to tell people where they must stand, if they want to record the meeting.

There is one place in any public meeting where audio and video recording should always be allowed; where "a reasonable accommodation" is made;
anywhere; everywhere, except where there is a good and ethical to not.
I asked for and received from the Chief of APS’ police force, permission to stand in a particular place, out of APS Executive Director of Communication Monica Armenta's media corral.  I asked for an opportunity “to record Jacob Vic’s face during public forum" and "with the room as a backdrop".   I would add that both are legitimate needs and require reasonable accommodation.

As Vic finished, and as only eight people had signed up (we'll get to that in another post), I changed my mind and decided to record the entire public forum from my vantage point.

When the forum was done, the board moved immediately into a statement from the newly minted interim supt. Since I had a clear shot of at least the side of her face; I kept shooting.

And then the cop showed up.

I was summarily, albeit professionally, respectfully, politely, deprived of my liberty and a reasonable accommodation of my efforts to record public officials in public meetings.

Before I was escorted away;
  • I was the only member of the press holding a recording device with a reasonably full view of Jacob Vic’s face when he told the school board why he intended to have the most of them recalled. 
  • I held the only recording device with a clear view of (half of) APS Interim Supt. Raquel Reedy’s face when she made her first ever appearance before the school board as the interim supt.
None of KRQE, KOAT, or KOB has similar footage because prior restraint had been levied on their reporting. And as far as I can tell, they’re not the least bit bothered.

I was removed from my reasonable accommodation;
tight up tight against the north wall (in order to steady myself and my camera) and in a corner,
by a member of APS' publicly funded private police force.

The APS police force reports directly to and only to the leadership of the APS. They are uncertified and un-certificated as a police department. Contrary to the law, they will take action (ejections/arrests) if so ordered by a board member or administrator.  Even when they themselves, have witnessed no criminal misconduct.

I had asked for and was given permission by APS Chief of Police Steve Gallegos, to stand outside of the "media" space. There is no place further away, and no place with a worse view of anybody but board members than that space.

I overstayed my permission,  Frankly, I shouldn’t have been expected to solicit and permission in the first place.   The room, every square foot of it, is ours but for good and ethical exception.

I was blocking no exit, blocking no aisle. If the room need to be de-assed for any reason, not only would I not have been in the way of the de-assing, I would have been leading it – I was already on my feet and tend to pay close attentions to orders to evacuate.

For those keeping score and, for whatever it's worth;
  • Supt. Reedy has decided to face the board during meetings; her back to stake and interest holders and TV cameras.
  • Before her, Supt. Luis Valentino joined the board on the dais; facing the crowd.
  • Before him, Supt. Brad Winter turned his back to the room.
  • Before him, Supt. Winston Brooks sat with the board on the “deity” and facing the crowd.
  • As did the Supt. before him, Beth Everitt.

Will KRQE investigate Esquivel?

If you mention the name Marty Esquivel around at least some KRQE reporters, they turn around and leave.

They're in a bit of a bind you see.  If they started looking into Esquivel they would be looking into their lawyer.  Though Marty Esquivel is part of the intrigue, he is KRQE's lawyer.

Former APS school board member Kathy Korte has posted freely on the "backsides" of online reporting on developing scandals in the Valentino administration.

Korte has stated pretty clearly that the board violated the NM Open Meetings Act in her presence, and while Esquivel was on the board; maybe while Esquivel was the president of the board.

I find her testimony on Open Meetings Act violations more credible than Esquivel's.

Either way, there's a story here.  Either Kathy Korte is lying or Marty Esquivel was part of Open Meetings Act violations.

Either is a decent headline.
Either would inform the democracy.

Neither suits the interests of KRQE.

Everybody is really worked up over Valentino's quarter million dollar exit; how worked up do you think those people would be if they knew;

former school board enforcer and KRQE lawyer
Marty Esquivel has spent three times that amount
on litigation and legal weaselry in federal court
in a cost is no object, over-sightless and
non-viable defense of his own ego?

 photos Mark Bralley

"KOB continues to seek answers ..."

... about how we got into this leadership crisis at APS" was the lead in a report, link, on KOB.

I posted the following comment on the report;;

"KOB continues to seek answers about how we got into this leadership crisis at APS."


"KOB" has known about the ethics, standards and accountability crisis in the leadership of the APS for nearly a decade; ever since the night the board voted to remove the role modeling clause from their own standards of conduct. It had read;
"In no case shall the standards of conduct for an adult
be lower than the standards for students"
"We" got into this leadership crisis at APS because KOB has known about the "leadership crisis at APS" for years and helped keep it a secret; in deference to Paula Maes, Monica Armenta and others' wishes.

APS School Board headed toward recall election

The APS school board, in and around their deliberations on Luis Valentino's removal, violated a number of stipulations of the NM Open Meetings Act, a number of times.  I witnessed a few myself.  They just can't seem to keep it straight;

  1. convene in open session
  2. take a roll call vote to adjourn to go into secret to discuss and decide on subjects that have been described  with "reasonable specificity"
  3. meet in secret from stake and interest holders and discuss and decide only what they have declared they will discuss and decide
  4. reconvene in open session
  5. take a roll call vote that amounts to a sworn oath that nothing was decided in the meeting except what had been declared before adjourning.
In any case, there are grounds enough to take to a district court judge and get the process rolling in their recall.

Because so few people voted in the elections of the school board members facing recall, the two men who are leading the recall effort have relatively few signatures to gather.  I suspect there will be people lining up to sign.

There is going to be a shake up in the leadership of the APS.  There are going to be higher standards of conduct and competence, and school board members and senior administrators are are going to find themselves transparently accountable to them.

The two men leading the recall effort, Jacob Gil and Van Overton have the support of at least some of establishment's media; the Journal, link, and KRQE, link, in that they are being reported upon, and not being ignored or labeled gad flies.

Both will be at the school board meeting tonight, I expect. 

Will you?

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

APS, time for a tune-up?

The administration of the APS is need of a tune up.
Before it can begin administer;

  • the raising of test scores,
  • the lowering truancy,
  • the retention of good teachers
  • the graduation of more of this community’s sons and daughters, or
  • any of myriad other problems in classrooms and schools
the administration of the public schools needs to administer to itself.

Just like a car needs tuning before a race or road trip; the administration of the APS needs tuning before embarking on its next assault on ignorance.

In our next superintendent, we need a tune-up mechanic.

More than that, we need a crew chief; a synergist; a facilitator able to draw together stake and interest holders in order that they can pull on the same end of the rope.

The administration of the APS is crippled by its dark side; powerful people ignoring policies, procedures, rules and regulations.  And yes, even the law.

APS needs a supt. who can pull together the “respectable side” of the administration and together, ferret out and remove its dark side.

APS needs a superintendent with the character and the courage to establish due process for complaints over administrative incompetence, even those lodged by the least powerful and against even the most powerful.

Though there are good and decent administrators in the APS, the administration overall, is in the direst need of a role model of honest accountability to meaningful standards of conduct and competence within public service.

The administration of the APS has for years and with the school board’s at least tacit approval, promoted administrators with issues of competence and character.

A recent audit of APS’ administration found that administrative evaluations were “subjective and unrelated to promotion or step placement”.  Good ol’ boys were promoting good ol’ boys with consideration of neither character nor competence.

Ayn Rand wrote;
When your impartial attitude declares, in effect, that neither the good nor the evil may expect anything from you—whom do you betray and whom do you encourage?
APS needs a superintendent who will encourage the good
by holding the evil honestly accountable for their relentless incompetence and corruption.

If s/he allows; if we allow, incompetent and or corrupt administrators to serve publicly, whom will we encourage and whom will we betray?

It's time to let the bright side of the APS shine.
The superintendent who can enable that, will not be
found in meetings in secret.

cc. Letters to the editors