Monday, February 29, 2016

Journal editorial misdiagnosis

The Journal editors, in a strangely hard to find the link to editorial harrumph, suggested a gastroenterological exam for APS school board members, in search of "the guts" to prioritize upcoming spending on students instead of on a comparatively unjustifiable employee health clinic contract.

My suggestion was that the need was not for a gastroenterologist in finding their guts, but rather; a proctologist in finding their heads.

No public forum at the next APS school board meeting - why not?

update: I have been informed by the board; "... there will be regular public forum at the meeting on Wednesday" despite its absence from their agenda.

The agenda, link, for the APS school board meeting does not include a public forum.

That's bound to upset some people.

For example, the teachers and their union leadership who have been conducting what they call "teach-ins" during the public forum.  The teach-ins consist of ATF President Ellen Bernstein and a handful of union members showing up regularly at the public fora to "educate" the board regarding the problems they confront; to inform them of what they apparently don't know or don't understand.

Bernstein, despite her position, experience and expertise, has found herself in the line with everyone else, vying for somewhere between 60 and  120 seconds of the board's full attention.

That their only opportunity to command the board's attention for even a few moments, has been cancelled without explanation or apology will be regarded by the union as, as insulting as it is disrespectful of their interests.

The lengths to which the APS board must go, to keep distance between itself and anyone who might publicly disagree* with them are appalling.  *Or, embarrass, shame or indict them.

will the board stand and deliver good faith responses to legitimate questions.

will anyone in the "leadership" of the APS point to a time, a day and a place where the will simply sit and deliver candid, forthright and honest responses to questions about the public interests or about their public service.

In the absence of any explanation whatsoever regarding the absence of the public forum, conjecture is reasonable.

Perhaps it's been cancelled in the interests of school board Vice President Analee Maestas in order to provide cover for her as she remains embroiled in what is only the most recent scandal and fall from grace in the leadership of the APS.

Perhaps Maestas doesn't want anyone standing up at the public forum and poking holes in her pathetic defense of the allegation that she squandered public trust and treasure by having taxpayers pay to clean her house.

photos Mark Bralley

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Maestas' defense leaves much to be desired

Like a shoplifter caught with a purse full of pilfered
merchandise and whose only explanations are;

  • I have bought merchandise here before, and
  • merchandise has been purchased at other stores, too
  • And, I'm not going to answer any more questions
APS School Board Vice President Analee Maestas' future looks bleak.

Analee Maestas is one of seven of the senior-most role models in the entire APS.  At the moment, she is one of the worst.

Nearly everybody has done or will do something sometime in their life, they regret.  They will do something that doesn't reflect well on their reputation as a role model.

At that point, they will have two choices;
  1. sidestep the consequences of their misconduct, or
  2. embrace them.
There is something to be said for a role model who having failed to summon the character and courage to do the right thing, will then admit;
I did the wrong thing.  I regret it, and I will accept the consequences of my failure to do the right thing.
The nearly 90,000 of this community's sons and daughters in Albuquerque public schools deserve good role models.  I would go so far as to argue they have a right to good role models; if not of making good choices, then of the character and courage it takes to accept the consequences of making bad choices.

If we really want students to grow into adults who embrace character and courage and honor, someone is going to have to show them what they look like.

It starts with the school board holding themselves actually and honestly accountable to meaningful standards of conduct and competence;
  • giving them the moral authority to expect the same from their superintendent,
  • giving him or her the moral authority to expect the same from their subordinates,
  • giving them the moral authority to expect the same from adults in classrooms and schools,
  • giving them the moral authority to expect the same from their students.
and ends before it begins; the APS board of education never stepped up in the first place!  The APS school board created a code of ethics for themselves, and by their own free admission; by their own deliberate choice, it is was and remains utterly unenforceable; they provide no mechanism for, nor any venue in which a complaint against them can be filed.

They expect students to model and promote honest accountability to a nationally recognized, accepted and respected code of ethics; the Pillars of Character Counts!, and hold themselves barely accountable even to the law; the lowest standards of conduct acceptable to civilized human beings.

And they are only accountable to the law, when unlimited spending in meetings in secret, without real oversight, on cost-is-no-object legal defenses fails to except them from its reach.

They get away with it, and will continue to get away with it, in no small part, because of the aid and abet they receive from the Journal and the "K"abal of Paula Maes' NM Broadcasters Assoc affiliate stations.

Kent Walz (the Journal), Iain Munro (KRQE), Michelle Donaldson, (KOB TV) and Mary Lynn Roper (KOAT) are complicit in the cover up of an ethics, standards and accountability scandal in the leadership of the APS.

Walz' and Ropers' photos Mark Bralley
Donaldson's and Munro's; their sites

Friday, February 26, 2016

Will legal weaselry save APS School Board VP?

Analee Maestas, the vice president of the APS school board has provided yet another example of the lack of character and competence that grips the leadership of the APS.

It appears she stole a few hundred dollars, link, from her employer,
the Albuquerque Public Schools.

As embarrassing as this will be for her, she needn't worry that her record will reflect having done anything wrong.  No matter what else happens, she will admit no guilt in the settlement.

If it suits the interests of the rest of the school board, they will meet in secret and without recording, to spend on her behalf and without limit on her cost-is-no-object defense; all the lawyers, and legal weaselry she will need in order to allow her to escape the earned consequences of criminal misconduct.

They recently did just that for former school board heavy hitter Marty Esquivel.  

The board, meeting in secret and without real oversight; knowingly permitted or negligently allowed Esquivel to spend more than $850K before they finally pulled the plug on his non-viable defense.

All, in order that he (and they) would have to admit no guilt for the violations of my civil rights.  All, in defense of his ego.

Most don't know; Esquivel is still a named respondent in ongoing litigation.  Operational funds are being spent to this day, on lawyers and legal weaselry in Esquivel's interests; escaping the consequences of civil rights violations and of his perjury in sworn statements.

The people whose trust and treasure are being squandered remain ignorant to this day, of the federal complaint and of the ongoing betrayal of their trust.

Journal Editor in Chief Kent Walz and Marty Esquivel are good friends. 

They're all good friends. 

APS does whatever it is they do for the leadership of the APS, and the Journal does whatever they can in return. 

The Journal refuses still, to even report that the complaint has been filed in federal court, much less that hundreds of thousands of dollars have been spent, and are being spent, on another non-viable Esquivel defense.

The Journal refuses still, to investigate and report upon the ongoing ethics, standards and accountability crisis in the leadership of the APS.

Walz' refusal to expose the ethics, standards and accountability scandal in the leadership of the APS cannot be explained by his ignorance of it.  If he is ignorant (he is not) it is according to his will. 

It cannot be explained any conviction of his that the allegations might not be true.  That the allegation is false; that school board members and superintendents are honestly accountable to meaningful standards of conduct and competence within their public service, is every bit as newsworthy as the truth; inadequate accountability to inadequate standards without adequate record keeping.

It can be explained only by Walz' complicity in the cover up.

photos Mark Bralley

Thursday, February 25, 2016

APS Supt. goes to students for advice

aps image
APS Supt. Raquel Reedy needs to improve graduation rates; she needs to decrease the number of drop outs.

She doesn't know what to do.
No one in the leadership of the APS knows what to do.

She's needs some advice.

APS teachers have among them, nearly 100,000 years of current and ongoing experience with students who end up dropping out or not.  Reedy and her leadership team could go to teachers for their advice. They haven't yet; they won't ever.

The problem is, once you open the box, you can't control what comes out.  One of the things that will come out is, the school board and their administration have failed in a number of very important regards.  Not the least of which is; the executive and administrative failure to maintain order in classrooms and schools.

Rather than listen to teachers and others working at the educational interface; where the system meets the clients, Reedy will entertain a select group of students.  She expects, link, that they together, will "tackle the big issue of improving graduation rates for the district.

So far, the students have let Reedy know that "students drop out for a variety of reasons."  Among them;
  • laziness,
  • school is not challenging enough,
  • their need to work to survive, and
  • school is not for them.
The student advisory council let Supt. Reedy know that "high school diplomas are important".

Unclear at this point; why did not Supt. Reedy already know that high school diplomas are important, and that students drop out because they're lazy, unmotivated, or have personal obligations that interfere with their ability to attend school.

Reedy's plan is to ask the students what teachers, parents, fellow students, community members, district officials, and elected officials can do to help.  This rather than ask teachers, parents, students, community members, district and elected officials themselves.

$111K a year crisis manager and public
relations head APS Exec. Dir. of
Communications Monica Armenta
This, like Reedy's dinner tour of the district, link, is a publicity stunt, pure and simple. Likely dreamed up by someone in APS' million dollar a year in-house public relations firm.

There's nothing wrong with making students feel like they're part of a decision making process.  But when it comes instead of making teachers feel like they're part of the decision making process, there is something wrong with it.

photo Mark Bralley

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Ethics, standards and accountability are not rocket science.

Nobody in their right mind can suggest that there are not people who are ready, willing and able at this instant, to write legislation that creates honest to God accountability to meaningful standards of conduct and competence for politicians and public servants in New Mexico.

The problem is not in writing rules that suit the interests of the people. The problem has been in writing rules that suit the interests of powerful people who enjoy playing fast and loose with the people’s trust and treasure.

The problem is hopelessly complicated by the fact that real reform amounts to changing the rules in the middle of the game. The pols and public servants who don’t want to change the rules are all suited out, on their home field and ready to play.

You can’t elect people under one set of rules and then expect them to hold themselves accountable to stricter rules in the middle of the game; in especially when they benefit from the rules as they are and their style would be cramped by real accountability to even stricter rules.

A lot of these people get elected because their fast and loose style also suits the interests of people who are powerful enough to get them elected.

The people of New Mexico have an opportunity to change the rules between games. They have an opportunity to write the rules when the heavy hitters in opposition, have no place to swing their mighty bats.

The terms of public service are the prerogative of the people, not of their servants.

The people need to gather, write new rules for public service in New Mexico, and see to their ruthless enforcement. Any would be legislator who is not willing to play by the people’s rules, will not be allowed to play at all.

A singular opportunity presents itself in the current increased public interest in reform and in the fact that the entire legislature is up for election.

It would be a shame to waste an opportunity like this on some futile hope that somehow things will be different than they have always been.

APS still screwing with bloggers

I, and all persons desiring, enjoy Constitutional protection of the human right to be the press.  We have enjoyed that protection since December 15, 1791.

The First Amendment reads in significant part;

  Congress shall make no law ... 
abridging the freedom of ... the press.
In so far as that law applies to the leadership of the APS;
The leadership of the APS shall promulgate no rule, 
regulation, requirement, directive, order, edict, or act 
that abridges my right, or the right of  any person desiring, to be the press.
The leadership of the APS, Executive Director of Communications Monica Armenta in particular, have a need to restrict attendance at press conferences; to abridge the rights of the press.

Their restrictions have nothing to do with time, place and manner; the usual restrictions on the free exercise of First Amendment rights.

Armenta's interest is in avoiding situations where the leadership of the APS can be asked questions that they don't want to answer, however legitimate the questions are.

Armenta invites only those members of the press who she knows will play their part.  You should see all the glad handing, hugging and butt slapping that goes on before press conferences begin; heinously unprofessional.

At the last presser, the reporters from the Journal, KRQE, KOAT, and KOB TV asked questions only about what APS wanted to talk about; all the good things that will be done with the recently acquired bond issue and mill levy money.

I was the only member of the press who asked a tough question.
The question was entirely legitimate but made the leadership of the APS feel uncomfortable; something Armenta is expected to prevent.  It's where she earns her $100K+ salary.

I asked;  Failed stewardship being an issue in the election;
What concrete plan to you have to directly address the issue of stewardship?
Though every reporter there heard the response, I was the only one who reported it;
There is no concrete plan to address their stewardship failure.
All the reporters who ignored the question and APS' response, will be invited to the next press conference; I will not.

It represents a violation of my rights under the First Amendment.

If I sue them over it, they will spend another $750K on lawyers and legal weaselry in another cost-is-no-object legal defense, in order to keep me from asking any more awkward questions at news conferences.  In the end, they will lose.  Taxpayers will be out three quarters of a million dollars and, no one in the leadership of the APS will have to admit any guilt, despite their manifestly obvious guilt.

Their friends in the media,  Journal Editor in Chief Kent Walz, Iain Munro at KRQE, Michelle Donaldson at KOB TV and, Mary Lynn Roper at KOAT, will spin the settlement casting me as the villain and their friends atop the twins at 6400 Uptown Blvd. as the victims.

They "media" enjoy their exclusive access to the leadership of the APS and are willing to do whatever it takes to maintain it; including asking softball questions at news conferences if need be.

They are unbound by any standards of conduct that preclude their acquiescence; not even the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics.  Like the leadership of the APS, their own code of ethics is utterly unenforceable.

photos Mark Bralley

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

APS suspension data "garbage"

A presentation and discussion will take place Wednesday in APS' District Equity and Engagement Committee meeting Wednesday night, agenda.  A report on APS "suspensions and infractions" will  be the subject.

The presentation surrounds two documents; link, link; some of the most highly polished garbage the leadership of the APS has ever produced; very professional looking.  But garbage nevertheless.

There is an understanding regarding the programming of computers to analyze data;  garbage in, garbage out*.

*The phrase was popular in the early days of computing, but applies even more today, when powerful computers can produce large amounts of erroneous information in a short time.  The term was brought to prominence as a teaching mantra by George Fuechsel, an IBM 305 RAMAC technician/instructor in New York. Early programmers were required to test virtually each program step and cautioned not to expect that the resulting program would "do the right thing" when given imperfect input. The underlying principle was noted by the inventor of the first programmable computing device design:
On two occasions I have been asked, "Pray, Mr. Babbage, if you put into the machine wrong figures, will the right answers come out?" ...
I am not able rightly to apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question.
Wikipedia derived
APS freely admits in a number of places in both presentation, that the data the presentations are based on data that is unreliable and therefore invalid.

The paucity of reliable data regarding discipline problems in general, is the proximate result of deliberate efforts to not gather data on discipline.  One of the presentations concludes;
Currently in APS, there is no designated office charged with the needed formal monitoring and support of discipline, suspensions, and alternative interventions.

There are a number of reasons that data was not, and is not gathered to this day. Not the least of the reasons that data isn't gathered has to do the manifest conflicts of interests;
  • the individuals who are tasked with gathering the data (principals) have a self interest in under reporting problems, and
  • the individuals to whom they report (superintendents and school board members) have an even greater self interest in under reporting problems.
A recent Council of the Great City Schools independent audit of the leadership of the APS found that school principals routinely falsified crime statistics at their schools in order to protect their public image.

Stake and interest holders have no idea how bad student discipline problems in APS schools really are; how much damage is being done by chronically disruptive students.

Simple proof; try to find any data at all, on discipline problems in any school in the APS.  Try to find out how many weapons were confiscated at a particular school.

They acknowledge in their presentations;
... schools and districts attempting to study suspension are hampered by poor record keeping ... And that APS is no different.
To this day, there is no one in the leadership of the APS whose clear and explicit responsibility it is, to gather valid and reliable data on discipline.

And to this day, there is not one iota of evidence that the leadership of the APS is prepared to be candid, forthright and honest with stake and interest holders regarding discipline problems in  schools; not now, not in the future.

Committee Chairperson Barbara Peterson neither solicits nor allows public input in her committee meetings. The data and the decisions they make based on the data will go unchallenged.

They will likely succeed because the Journal steadfastly refuses to investigate and report upon student discipline in the APS; even to report there are no problems.

Journal Editor in Chief Kent Walz,
co-conspirator in the cover up.
Just like the Journal steadfastly refuses to investigate and report on the underlying problem, the ethics, standards and accountability scandal in the leadership of the APS.

photos Mark Bralley

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Open letter to transparency advocates; organizations and individuals

There is no legitimate agenda for state government that does not move forward on the day that politicians and public servants find themselves honestly and transparently accountable to meaningful standards of conduct and competence within their public service.

In November of this year, the entire NM State Legislature will stand for election; 70 representatives and 42 senators.

It is at least theoretically possible that majorities of 36 house members and 22 senators could be elected, and who would then vote to adopt the highest standards of conduct and competence for politicians, public servants and public service in the State of New Mexico.

It is at least theoretically possible that those same courageous individuals would vote in favor of their own ruthless accountability to those standards.

That is all they are; theoretically possible.
History tells a far different story.

This isn't the first time voters have had the opportunity to elect representatives who would as their first order of business, protect the people's power and resources from waste, fraud and abuse.  This will be the 53rd time.

If ethics, standards and accountability were the only issue in the next election, all 112 representative and senators would be elected based on their manifest support of their own honest to God accountability to meaningful standards of conduct and competence within their public service.

Standards and accountability will not be the only issue; they are likely to not be an issue at all.

In the end, very few people, and therefore very few political candidates, are able to summon the character and courage to be held honestly and transparently accountable to the highest standards of conduct and competence.  That and the political process in New Mexico is inherently perverting.

Standards and accountability could be made an issue; they could be made the issue in the primary and general elections if there were an object on which attention could be focused.

Imagine an amendment and legislative proposal of fewer than a dozen pages.  It represents the best efforts of a large number of good and decent people to tweak the constitution and state statutes, and in so doing, provide honest accountability to meaningful standards of conduct and competence within public service to the state and to the people of New Mexico.

Imagine a proposal that creates and enables the epitome of what we seek in transparently accountable government.

What stands in the way really?  Do we lack the expertise; haven't we the intelligence, the experience, and the imagination to create such a proposal?

It's a matter of our will, not of our capability.

New Mexico could be the model for open and honest government.  We could pop up first rather than last in Google searches for governmental best practices.

Every candidate for a seat in the legislature could be handed a proposal that they will either;

  • co-sponsor, or
  • be held accountable by voters for their refusal
All it would take would be a handful of people who cast bigger shadows than I, to say;
we could do this; this would work.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Why APD "really" can't find enough good cops

Mayor Richard Berry would have us believe that the reason he can't keep the police force full of good cops, is because we aren't paying them big enough bonuses.  Journal

His logic flies in the face of a number of police departments that are at least nearly fully staffed without paying bonuses.

It can't be just the money.

If answer is really only money, what kind of people are we going to end up recruiting?

APD Chief Gordon Eden
cabq photo
I've worked in enough organizations to know that tight budgets aren't the real morale busters.  It is failed leadership.

There is no more accurate indicator of organizational (ill)health than poor morale and no greater cause of poor morale than leadership failure.

There is no greater condemnation of poor leadership than poor morale.

CABQ CAO Rob Perry
Nonsense?  All
Eden, Perry and
Berry need to
do, is to actually survey the rank and file (in circumstances free of fear of retaliation for speaking the truth).

All any one of them has to do is to allow the rank and file to respond candidly, forthrightly and honestly, identify the real morale busters, and then explain how they; Richard Berry, Rob Perry and Gordon Eden are not personally responsible for all of them.

photos Mark Bralley
except as noted. 

Friday, February 19, 2016

It's all about ego


It is fun to spend money.
The more you can spend,
the more fun it is.  And,
the more important you feel.

It is fun to wield power.
The more power you wield,
the more fun it is.  And,
the more important you feel.

The more constraints there are
on how you can spend money
and how you can wield power,
the less fun it is; and
the less important that you feel.

State Senator Michael Sanchez and a handful of others who consider themselves heavy hitters, view constraints, in the form of their honest to God accountability to meaningful standards of conduct and competence within their public service, as anathema to their better scheme of things.

He, and they who benefit from the lack transparency accountability for politicians and public servants, believe their decisions made in secret; their opportunities to bend and break rules, are actually in the people's best interests.

They believe (I suppose), letting the heavy hitters like he and Ingle play their political games without real constraints, serves the people better than transparency and accountability.

You would think our state's last place standing in everything good
might disabuse him and them, of their delusion.  It has not.

Sanchez is worried that his influence
might be minimized by changes like
ones that Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto and
Rep. Jeff Steinborn might agree upon.

It boils down to;
they like things the way they are.

The more power and resources Sanchez and Senate Minority Leader Ingle control personally: the more "important" they feel.   And there's no denying, they enjoy feeling important. 

Socrates argued;
power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Spending resources and wielding power under the tightest possible constraints, does not corrupt. In truth, it is not power, but the temptation to abuse power that corrupts.

It is the spending of resources and the wielding of power without constraint that corrupts absolutely.  It is the temptation we pray to be delivered from, not the power and resources

Spending under constraint doesn't feed egos.   State Senator Michael Sanchez and Minority Leader Stuart Ingle enjoy being the decision makers; spending resources and wielding power like they were their own.

Holding Sanchez, Ingle and rest, honestly accountable to the highest standards of conduct and competence would constrain their sway; minimize their swagger.

It won't be done by them: it must be done to them.
Even against their will.  In-especially against their will.

photos Mark Bralley

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

105 years stretches patience past its limit

During the discussion preceding the Senate Rules Committee's most recent abandonment of any serious effort to end the cultures of incompetence and corruption in state government by creating an ethics commission with some teeth, Sen. Sander Rue asked New Mexicans for patience;

“I hope the public will indulge us for one more session.”
 “We’re at a point where this needs to be done. 
It should have been done by now.”
In truth, we are way past the point where it needed to be done.  It should have been done in the very first meeting of the very first legislature.

The first legitimate use by government, of the power and resources entrusted to them by the people whose power and resources they are, is to protect them from waste, fraud and abuse.

Their top priority 104 years ago was to write for politicians and public servants, high enough standards of conduct and competence to protect the people's interests from waste, fraud and abuse.

Along with creating high standards, they had the coinciding responsibility to provide honest to God accountability to those standards.  Even the highest standards are meaningless if they are unenforceable; their effect becomes indistinguishable from the lowest of standards of conduct. 

The first legislature obviously did neither;
  1. write high and unequivocal standards of conduct and competence, nor
  2. create for themselves, honest to God accountability to any standards at all.
Nor has any legislature since.
There have been 52 of them.
They've met at least 104 times in as many years and
they never got around to creating for themselves;
honest to God accountability to meaningful standards of conduct and competence within their public service.

And now, they'd like us to trust them for another year.

How in the world could anyone take their promise seriously?

How gullible do they think their constituents are?

How gullible are they?

photo Mark Bralley

Hope in the rubble; real reform is still possible

Yet again, an effort to provide transparent accountability to meaningful standards of conduct and competence, has crashed and burned.  The people who don't want transparent accountability in politics and public service, have been enabled yet another triumph over the people who do (including I am led to believe; 90% of New Mexicans).

A number of the state senators who supported gutting Dines' proposal in search of a better one, indicated they could come up with a better plan in the interim.  They, they claim, are finally ready, willing and able to craft ethics reform.

They made what I am comfortable calling a commitment to come up with something that could and would sail through the legislative process in the next session.

They could, if they wanted to, write a bill that is acceptable to their fellow legislators and to other politicians and public servants whose corruption and incompetence would be placed in check depending on the new rules and whether they would be actually, honestly accountable to them.

Left out, or at best secondary in their consideration will be, what would best serve the people's interests.

It's fair to say, the people would want higher standards and more swift and certain accountability for politicians and public servants, than they want for themselves.

There is something fundamentally wrong with the servants writing the terms of their in-servitude.  It is bass-ackwards on its face.

The prerogative to write the terms of public service belongs to the people.

Somebody needs to do something.

Somebody needs to organize an effort to rewrite the rules for public servants and public service.

Somebody besides politicians and public servants needs to decide

  • how high will be their standards of conduct and competence, and 
  • how swift and certain the enforcement of those standards will be.  

Somebody besides pols and public servants needs to decide what truth will be told, and when and how.

Let us, we the people, identify the ethics, standards and accountability that will characterize politics and public service in the state of New Mexico.  Let we the people make sweeping reform the issue in both the primaries and in November.

Let us take back control over usurped power and resources by holding politicians and public servants honestly accountable for their conduct and competence within their public service.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Sen. Michael Sanchez cannot. Or, he will not.

Imagine; you walk into Sen. Michael Sanchez' law office to meet with him.

You explain that

  • you are in charge of an endeavor employing 30,000.  And further, 
  • you have a code of ethics and specific standards of conduct and competence, and that 
  • you are interested in holding every employee from the least to the most, actually and honestly accountable to those ethics and standards.
You ask the senator and long time lawyer;
If I paid you enough money, can you design a system that provides honest to God accountability to meaningful standards of conduct and competence while those employees are at work?
Then you ask him;  
And will you?
Ethics reform? We don't
need no stinkin' reform!
I'm going to suggest that Sanchez'
answer to the first question would
be; oh yeah, hell yeah, I can do that.

The answer to the second question,

after it occurs to him that he himself
would be held accountable to
meaningful standards of conduct
and competence, under his system,
would be different.

He'd show you the door.

Sen. Sanchez can reform government and end the cultures of public corruption and incompetence in state government, he just doesn't want to.

And, the people aren't ready yet, to rise up and make him.

photo Mark Bralley

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Is APS Supt. Reedy in hiding? Are they all?

It is no secret that there are high school teachers who are upset with a class schedule change that they insist increased their work load.  They're looking for a place to give vent to their upset.

aps image
A few of them showed up at APS interim Supt. Raquel Reedy's office last week.  They all agree that Supt. Reedy met with and listened to them.  At that point the accounts of the meeting diverge.  There are allegations of what might be construed as an effort to intimidate the visitors. I don't know what happened; I wasn't there.

There is an absolute certainty; there is no place where stake and interest holders can get together with school board members and superintendents and carry on open and honest two-way conversations about legitimate and important issues.

There is no venue; no place, no day, no time, where teachers or any other stake or interest holders can meet with the leadership of the APS, there to ask legitimate questions and expect candid, forthright and honest responses.

Deprived of any honest to God opportunity to be heard and listened to, any effort to engage in open and honest discussion of important issues devolves into something far less satisfying.  The circumstances almost always cast the "interlopers" in a bad light, having "barged" into somebody or another's personal space and "disrupted" proceedings.

The leadership of the APS does not take kindly to people who rock their boat.  A recent independent audit of the leadership of the APS found; a culture of fear of retaliation against whistleblowers and other complainants.  They do everything they can to squelch the speaking of truth to their power.

It is worth noting; APS teachers have between them, tens of thousands of years of teaching experience, most of it in APS schools.  And, they have no seat at the table where decisions are made.  They were not part of the decision making that gave them an extra class to teach every day.

How can decisions be made about what happens in classrooms without talking to the people who actually work every day at the educational interface; where the system meets the clients; in classrooms?  Those are the people who are ultimately expected to put any (and all) reforms to their practical test; why are they not there to craft the reforms?

Whatever happened in Reedy's office, the issue remains;
despite their supposed efforts to engage with their community,
no one in the leadership of the APS, no board member, no
senior administrator is willing to come out the castle keep,
out from behind their praetorian guard; their publicly funded
private police force, to sit down and respond in good faith
to legitimate questions about the public interests and about
their public service.

No one of them, though it is their expressed expectation of students, is willing to be candid, forthright and honest with stake and interest holders.

Journal Editor in Chief
Kent Walz
The board and their senior administration are in hiding for a reason.  They won't answer questions for a reason.

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

The truth is not theirs to hide; it doesn't belong to them.  The truth belongs to stake and interest holders and in particular to those whose power and resources are being spent.

The board and their senior administrative leadership will succeed in their effort to escape transparent accountability.  They continue to succeed for as long as they enjoy the support and cover of the Journal and the Kabal; KKOB, KRQE, KOAT, and KOB TV.

Not one of whom will investigate and report upon the ethics, standards and accountability crisis in the leadership of the APS, nor upon their extensive and expensive efforts to cover it up.

photo Mark Bralley

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

APS' seach for the next supt., a fait accompli?

It will come as a surprise to no one, if APS' interim becomes the next full time superintendent.  The track has been laid.  The APS school board and their friends at the Journal have done everything they can to habilitate the reputation of the heir apparent to the superintendency.

aps photo
APS interim Supt. Raquel Reedy has even already made the obligatory new superintendent tour of the district, albeit only to the homes of seven families, one in each school board member district.

Her tour, like all of the preceding new superintendent tours, did not make a stop at any place where groups of teachers could speak freely and without fear of retaliation over what they need to say.  So far, she is indistinguishable from her predecessors.

She looks like a superintendent and she quacks like one.
Is she one?

Only the school board knows what is afoot and they're not saying; not candidly, forthrightly and honestly anyway.

Are they obligated in any way to stir the pot in search of yet another superintendent if they already have one seemingly up to the task.

The board's obligation is not to find the best possible superintendent.  If it were, their record is one of abject failure. There is no consensus really, on what the best possible superintendent even looks like.

Their job is to find a "good" superintendent.   If they really believe they have that in Reedy already, why fix what ain't broke?  If the board has found someone that they think can do the job, why would they waste money looking for someone else who can do the job?

The longer Reedy serves (without screwing up in any major way) the more difficult it will be to begin a replacement process that appears legitimate.

Reedy is ready.  She is ready willing and able to aid and abet;
  • the cover up of felony criminal misconduct involving senior APS administrators in the leadership of their publicly funded private police force, and
  • the denial of due process for whistleblowers and other complainants, and
  • the abdication of the leadership from their duties and responsibilities as the senior most administrative role models of the standards of conduct that they enforce upon students; the Pillars of Character Counts!; a nationally recognized, accepted and respected code of ethical conduct
  • the obfuscation of any effort to conduct any independent examination and review of ethics, standards and accountability in the leadership of the APS.
Reedy has proven that she has what school board members want most; she isn't going to rock their boat; she's not going to make any waves.  She will polish APS' apple while hiding the rot in its core.

The deal is done.

They have only one thing left to do; make stake and interest holders think somehow, that they participated meaningfully in the decision making.

Sunday, February 07, 2016

The ethically redacted truth is fundamental to democracy.

George Orwell wrote;

Sometimes the first duty of intelligent men
is the restatement of the obvious.
We have now sunk to a depth at which
the restatement of the obvious is
the first duty of intelligent men.
Sometimes, the first duty of intelligent women and men
is to restate the obvious.  And, now is that time.

  • the success of democracy depends upon the people knowing the whole truth and nothing but the ethically redacted truth about their government;
And just as obviously;
  • The people don't know that truth.
Worse, they couldn't find it if they wanted to.

Informing the democracy isn't about putting every public record in every person's hand, any more than it is about cramming every person into every public meeting.

Enabling the democracy is about placing in any person's hand, any record they ask for*.

Enabling the democracy is about letting into any meeting, any person desiring to attend*.

*subject to exceptions authorized by the people for any one of a number of good and ethical reasons.  It is the people's prerogative to determine the rules of public service; not their servants'.

The premise that the truth belongs
to politicians and public servants,
theirs to dispense to the people
as they see fit, is flawed on its face.  

It's patent nonsense.

If open government laws were being written today and from scratch, they would not include letting the fox write the rules for guarding the hen house, and they would not give the foxes ever; sole custody of the hen house, all of the chickens and all of their eggs.

There is no legitimate democratic agenda that does not move forward at the instant that the whole truth and nothing but the ethically redacted truth is immediately available to any stake or interest holder who wants to avail themselves of it.

The proximate cause of nearly every failure of government
is being covered up by the people whose corruption and or incompetence precipitated the failure.

How are we every going to fix anything if we can't find out what's wrong and who let it happen?

photo Mark Bralley

Saturday, February 06, 2016

The very worst thing any politician or public servant can do ...

... is anything they do in unnecessary secret

from the people whose money they are spending and
whose power they are wielding.

Think of transparency on a continuum between
as little as the law requires and as much as the law allows.

"As little as the law requires" can mean as little as can be gained by protracted and expensive litigation, and too often does.

"As much as the law allows" means that the people will know everything they need to know to play their part in the democracy, except for legally and ethically necessary secrecy and redaction.

Politicians and powerful public servants argue that there's a lot of ground between as little as the law requires and as much as the law allows.

The foundation upon which open government can be built cannot be one or the other, or a anyplace in between.  It can only be; as much as the law allows.

It's time to pick a side.  It's time to settle the issue;
at once, and for all.

Which seems the better foundation for government of the people, by the people and for the people?

Politicians and public servants using tax dollars
to underwrite litigation and legal weaselry
in order to hide the record of their public service
The ethically redacted truth belonging to the people.
The onus being on politicians and public servants
to prove that they're need to do something in secret,
according to the law, and according to the will of the people.
The terms of public service are the prerogative of the people.
They are not the prerogative of politicians and public servants.

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

Your silence gives consent.

All that is necessary for the cultures of corruption and incompetence in government to continue, is for good men to do nothing.  Edmund Burke derived

Friday, February 05, 2016

Open government rests on flawed premise.

Government of, by, and for the people depends upon the people knowing what they need to know in order to govern themselves. For the most, the information they need to know in order to participate meaningfully in their government can be found in public records and public meetings.

If the people had access to all public records and all public meetings, they would know everything they need to know. They would also learn a lot of things they shouldn’t know for a lot of good and ethical reasons.

Clearly, some part of the whole truth should be kept from “the people”. Which begs the question; who decides which records and which meetings are open to inspection and attendance?

It stands to reason that someone who might have a personal interest in hiding records or in closing meetings should not be the decider. It creates an unavoidable and inescapable appearance of a conflict of interests. That appearance, as well as the appearance of impropriety, shake faith in government whether or not they are substantiated in fact.

Sole possession of the truth; sole control over public records and public meetings creates temptation.  Temptation is the real corrupter accompanying nearly absolute power.

The decisions that close public meetings and secret public records must be made impartially and according to the spirit of the law, not by politicians and public servants with conflicting interests.

Yet open government laws are based on a fundamental premise and manifestly flawed premise; the truth belongs to politicians and public servants. And, the people can access their records and attend their meetings only according to their ability to prove (in court sometimes and at huge expense) their right to see the records or attend the meetings.

A better premise; all records are public and all meetings are open to the people, unless politicians and public servants have first proved their legitimate need to secret the record or to close the meeting.

Until it is; until that fundamental change is made, (corrupt and incompetent) politicians and public servants will be enabled to hide the record of their public service from the people they serve. They will enjoy the nearly insuperable advantage of "possession", and as we know, possession is nine points of the law.

That’s another way of saying it’s a whole lot easier to hold on to something than it is to take something away from someone in court in the face of enormous budgets for litigation and legal weaselry to use to keep them secret.

Thursday, February 04, 2016

APS has no plan to address stewardship failure except to try harder

I participated in the press conference at Albuquerque High School yesterday morning.

APS' Executive Director of Communications Monica Armenta was there to orchestrate the event.

My first impression of the relationship between Armenta, the leadership of the APS, and the various media outlets who were invited, was exceedingly cordial.

One might argue excessively cordial.

At some point all the fawning over each other appears tawdry and unprofessional; blurring boundaries and creating appearances of conflicts of interest and impropriety.

The softball questions the "media" (were allowed to) ask,
are in the record and cement the perception.

All of them were paying attention when I asked (acting) Supt. Raquel Reedy;

Is there a plan to specifically address the issue of their 
"stewardship" during their spending of the $575M?
It's fair to say; the import of her answer was, no.

No, there is no specific plan* to address their stewardship challenges.  *Proof to the contrary is as simple as the articulation and presentation of their plan.

Her answer is less than satisfying.

Their plan apparently, is to be good stewards from now on and hope to have a record of better stewardship to carry into the next elections.

Nothing wrong with being better stewards from now on,
but that really doesn't get to the "stewardship" issue.

Stewardship in this context means, actual accountability to meaningful standards of conduct and competence within their public service.  Great stewardship means, honest to God accountability to the highest standards of conduct and competence.

Ayn Rand expressed it as well as any;
To fear to face an issue is to believe the worst is true.
The leadership of the APS expects to skirt the issue of the ethics, standards and accountability crisis, without ever admitting there is one.  It is their tried and true modus operandi;
  • hide the problem, while they figure out how to
  • fix it without being held accountable for creating or enabling it.
There will never be a time, a day and a place were they will hold up their (written) ethics and standards, and then report candidly, forthrightly and honestly on their (lack of) actual accountability to them*.
*For example; the APS school board has a code of ethics.
By their own By their own free admission, and by their
deliberate decision, the code is utterly unenforceable.

As for accountability to the law; the standards of conduct
that all "higher standards" are higher than, anyone who
thinks that the leadership of the APS are actually 
accountable to the law has only to look at the amount of 
money they have squandered on cost-is-no-object legal 
defenses in pursuit of admissions of "no guilt" in heinously expensive settlement agreements.

Kent Walz/Journal,

Iain Munro/KRQE,

Michelle Donaldson/KOB,

Mary Lynn Roper/KOAT,

and Pat Frisch/KKOB

all know, or remain willfully ignorant of the findings of independent auditors who have found the trifecta of public corruption and incompetence in the leadership of the APS;
  1. inadequate standards, and
  2. inadequate accountability, and
  3. inadequate record keeping
They all know, or remain willfully ignorant of the ethics, standards and accountability crisis in the leadership of the APS.

They are at best, complacent about the crisis.
They are at worst; complicit in its cover up.

Anyone of them could remove their names from my list anytime.  They have several means;
  • supply for my use instead, the name of any person more responsible than they, for the refusal to investigate and report upon credible testimony and evidence of the ethics, standards and accountability crisis in the leadership of the APS.
  • suggest any good and ethical reason whatsoever, to not investigate and report upon the crisis, candidly, forthrightly and honestly.
  • provide any evidence or testimony that would create even one iota of doubt about the validity of the allegation of an ethics, standards and accountability crisis
To date, not one of them has.  They are all still in the pretending "I can't hear you" phase of the our process.  They are hoping that their cabal will succeed in keeping truth from stake and interest holders forever.

"Hoping" is the wrong word; they are depending upon keeping the cover up and their part in it, secret, else their reputations be destroyed.

They could just throw their APS friends under the bus.
They could just investigate and report upon the ethics,
standards and accountability that characterizes the
leadership of the board and their superintendents.

They won't.  They won't because they can't expose the scandal without someone asking;
  • why didn't you expose it when first you learned about it a decade ago?
  • why didn't you report on the cover up of felony criminal misconduct in the leadership of their publicly funded private private police force?
  • why didn't you report on the squandering of operational funds on litigation and legal weaselry in an ongoing effort to keep the public records of findings in investigations of the felony criminal misconduct, hidden from public knowledge.  The findings that name the names of APS senior administrators who were involved in felony criminal misconduct and whose names were never turned over to the District Attorney's Office for prosecution.
  • why didn't you report on the denial of due process to hundreds of whistleblower complaints against administrators and school board members?
  • why didn't you report on the squandering of millions and millions of operational dollars on cost-is-no-object legal defenses in search of admissions of no guilt?
Walz, Munro, Donaldson, Roper and Frisch are betwixt a rock and a hard place.

Know that they are in that position as the proximate result of their own deliberate decisions.

They deserve no sympathy and certainly no pardon for their individual and combined failure to inform the democracy in critical times.

photos Mark Bralley
save Munro and Donaldson /their website

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

10,000 voters did not want to trust APS with more than a half a billion dollars.

They are going to be unhappy with the election results.

They are going to worry that their unwilling investment will not be invested in the interests of students.

They are going to worry that the ongoing stewardship failure of the leadership of the APS will continue unmitigated by their outrage.

Unfortunately, history leads us to believe that
however unhappy they are, they will not be so unhappy
that they will actually do anything
to protect their investment.

If only one in ten of them showed up at the school board meeting today, Wednesday, February 3rd, at 5pm, they could protect their investment by demanding an end to the stewardship failure that threatens it.

They, in that number, could actually end the ethics, standards and accountability crisis in the leadership of the APS by demanding an immediate, independent examination and review of the administrative and executive ethics, standards and accountability that protect the public interests in the public schools.

In that number, all they have to do to end the crisis
is to demand that the ethically redacted findings
of the investigations be made public as they are found.

I wish they would,
but I fear they won't.

Half a billion dollars is only going to last them five years.
Then they're going to be back again 

  • asking for another half billion,
  • in spite of their ongoing record of lack of stewardship,
  • because holding them accountable will hurt the children.

"Sponsored content" and "the news"

I have to admit that until I saw it on Joe Monahan's blog in the context of the APS school bond and mill levy election and sponsors in the local construction industry, I was entirely ignorant of the concept of sponsored content in news reporting.

A Google search found nearly 30 million hits; one of them a white paper from the American Press Institute entitled "the definition of sponsored content" link.

What struck me then, and what strikes me still, is how can "the news" include sponsored content?

It depends on the meaning of "the news".

In the context of supporting and enabling the democracy, "the news" must be the truth.  How can a news teller; a purveyor of the truth, simply turn over a part of their truth telling to "a sponsor" and not create the appearance of a conflict of interests?  ... and not sully their reputation for ethical truth telling?

The situation is further complicated by imprecise language.
Terms like media, journalists, and press as thrown around as if there were no difference between them.  There is a huge distinction.  The rights of the press are protected by the Constitution of the United States.  "Journalists" are not protected.  "The media" is not protected.

Journalists are at best, exceptional members of the press.  Journalists are journalists in no small part because they promise to abide by an agreed upon code of ethics.  They are no more "the press" because of their oath of allegiance an unenforceable code of ethics, than anyone who has not sworn obedience to the code.

A fair differentiation between the press and every other descriptor, imo, is that the primary goal of the press is to enable the democracy, period.

The press are a special class.

The framers protected the press because they recognized a critically essential element of democracy; informed voters.

Because the press are afforded such great respect and protection in the Constitution, the press are compelled to respect the democracy - or stop calling themselves "the press".

As an aside;

"The press" are men and women who become "the press" at the instant they want to be.

Voltaire expressed the underlying logic;
Man is free at the instant he wants to be.

In the instant that a wo/man becomes the press, they acquire no obligation to meet before they have a right to exercise their rights as free men and a free press.  They acquire no obligation to prove to anyone (including their government) that, that is who they have become.

The onus of proving anything at all, belongs to someone else.  It is not up to the press to prove they are the press; it is up to someone who believes that they are not the press, to prove that they are in fact not the press and entitled to First Amendment protection.
Free men and women do not have to prove that they are free before they are free.  They don't have to prove that they are free in order to exercise their human rights; one of which happens to be, the right to be the press.
I can't imagine a member of "the press" turning over any part of the telling of the news to a "sponsor", in-especially to a sponsor who is the subject of the news.

The bottom line.  All of the "news" outlets in Albuquerque are presenting sponsored content within their reporting of the news.  Their news is no longer the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.  They are allowing sponsor bias to color the truth.

Monahan is unique among the media in that he is at least obvious about his use of sponsored content in the midst of his news.  When he runs his sponsors' content, he entitles it "sponsored content" and uses italics for additional differentiation.

Not so, Editor in Chief Kent Walz and
the Journal.

I am not suggesting that Journal sponsors are actually writing the Journal reports on the bond issue and mill levy, or even specific parts therein.

I am pointing out that the reports are about the good things that can be bought, and still not one investigation and report on (the lack of) stewardship in the leadership of the APS.

Sure, the editors complain about the lack of stewardship in the APS, but they relentlessly refuse to report on the depth and breadth of the problem; the ethics, standards and accountability scandal in the leadership of the APS.

The proof of the scandal is simple and straightforward;
the abject absence of controverting evidence;
  • they cannot point to their own honest to God accountability to high enough standards of conduct to protect the public interests in the public schools.

NM Broadcast Assoc. affiliate stations', the Kabal; KRQE, KOAT, KOB TV, and KKOB radio, are running sponsored content during their "news" as well.

Walz/ the Journal, Munro/KRQE, Donaldson/KOB, Mary Lynn Roper/KOAT TV
Again, no indication that bond issue and mill levy sponsors are actually writing their scripts, but during their reporting of  the "news"; during their telling of the whole truth and nothing but the truth, they are instead, reading the company line.  Not one of them has ever been, or intends ever to be, candid, forthright and honest with their reader, viewer, listeners about the real accountability crisis in the leadership of the APS; the other election issue.

People can and will do whatever they want.
They can call themselves whatever they want.
I submit; they ought not call themselves "the press"
so long as their intention is to mislead the democracy;
creating beliefs or leaving impressions that are untrue or

It just seems so disrespectful of the reasons "the press"
were protected in the First place.

Walz and Roper photos Mark Bralley
Munro KRQE, Donaldson KOB TV

Monday, February 01, 2016

KKOB pushing the bond issue and mill levy as "news"

KKOB radio is running ads in support of the AP' bond issue and mill levy.  Nothing wrong with that; they can sell ad space to whomever they want.

The problem comes during the 'news" part of the day.  They are running a list of all the good things that can be accomplished should voters entrust the leadership of the APS with another few hundred million dollars.  Again, nothing wrong with that; what good can be done with the money is part of the reasonable discourse during the election process.

But, they never get around to the other side of the story;
the reasons why the unreformed leadership of the APS
should not be trusted with control over any more of our
power or any more of our resources.

It amounts to slanted news.  It amounts to an abomination;
in especially during an election.  In especially in a time when
democracy itself is at stake.

The "program director is one Pat Frisch.  I don't know that that equates to new director; I sought clarification in an email to same;

Mr. Frisch,

If I were unhappy with KKOB's in the midst of reporting the news, coverage of the school bond issue and mill levy election, if I thought it was more of an endorsement than even handed coverage of "the news", would you be the person I would appropriately hold responsible for the content?

grateful for your time and attention

ched macquigg
diogenes' six
Frisch did not respond.

All out effort underway to pass bond issues and mill levy

APS is doing all it can to encourage voters to entrust another $575M to their stewardship.

They're getting a lot of help.  Not surprisingly, local big project contractors and engineering architectural firms are spending a lot of money on fliers and on ads.  They stand to loose $10M a year until APS can finally pass another bond issue and mill levy.

Yesterday, New Mexico State Sen,
Michael Padilla attached his name and reputation to the passage effort by means of a robocall message.

In his message, the good senator did not mention what would he do, to address the stewardship failure that threatens the passage of bonds and mill levy in the first place.

A debate over honest to
God accountability to
meaningful standards of
conduct and competence
within public service;
Oh hell yes; sign me up!
At least when Gov. Bill Richardson encouraged bond and mill levy passage in 2006, link, in spite of an earned statewide reputation for its lack financial accountability, he promised;
Following the school election, I welcome a debate on potential solutions aimed at requiring more accountability in our schools. 
That debate never took place of course.

It likely never will, in-especially if we keeping trusting them will more money despite their lack of stewardship.

It will never end if we keep trusting them with even more money despite their abject lack of;
  1. high enough standards of conduct and competence within their public service, AND
  2. honest to God accountability to them.

photos Mark Bralley

APS can hold more elections next year

There is a certain amount of ill-logic in this morning's Journal report, link, intended to get voters out to support the APS bond issues and mill levy.

$109K a year, APS Capital Master Plan Executive Director Kizito Wijenje began by telling the Journal that "losing a bond election means you lose a year of projects."  Yet he went on to report that when voters turned down a bond issue in 2002;

“It took us until 2013 to recover from that. … It is very, very disruptive, not only financially but especially for the kids. You have a generation of kids disrupted for three, four years.”
This, though he went on to admit;
APS came back the very next year with a bond issue that passed.
That seems to conflict with his report that "a generation of kids were disrupted for three, four years".

As part of his argument, Wijenje pointed out that because the last bond issue failed; APS was compelled to spend more than a million dollars to "install a portable building".  He did not elaborate on how exactly, APS managed to pay more than a million dollars for a portable building worth more like $50,000.

APS is still to admit their stewardship failure, or to produce any plan to mitigate it.

Voting down the bond issues and mill levy remains still, the only choice if voters want to regain any semblance of control over the power and resources they entrust to the stewardship of the leadership of the APS.