For quite some time, I have been trying to participate in APS press conferences.
For just as long, APS Executive Director of Communications Monica Armenta and others, have been opposing that effort.
Though a great deal of "legal" shenanigans have been employed to keep her name out of it, I am convinced that it was she who has been the main driver in APS' ongoing denial of the free exercise of my Constitutionally protected human right to be the press.
Armenta's opposition is based on a number of (her personal) issues but is centered on the way I behave when I am allowed to ask questions out loud and on the record. I sometimes ask questions that make them feel uncomfortable; questions like;
Why do you refuse to stand up as role models of the standards of conduct you establish and enforce upon students?I ask questions that their media friends are willing to forego in exchange for access to press conferences.
At the press conference following the bond issue and mill levy elections, for example; I asked a question about their stewardship. Their response, that they had no specific plans to address it, made them feel uncomfortable.
Most, if not all of the local media were there to take pictures, ask questions and join in the back and butt slapping with Armenta and APS bigwigs before the presser began.
My question was a perfectly legitimate question; but legitimate questions weren't the purpose the press conference. It was to be their celebration more than a Q&A.
Armenta wasn't happy.
Despite her unhappiness, it has become clear to them and their lawyer Art Melendres, that their wanton violation of my civil rights is leading to another federal complaint, more litigation and their inevitable defeat despite another cost-is-no-object legal defense.
The last time Melendres and the Modrall law firm advised the leadership of the APS on how to get away with violating my civil rights, they gave the district such bad advice, ended up costing the district (taxpayers) $863K.
It should come as a huge relief to taxpayers, to learn Armenta and whomever have relented; they have decided to allow me to exercise my right to participate in their press conferences.
I have been informed by APS Director of Communications Rigo Chavez;
"... your name and contact information have been added to the APS Communications Office list for press conference invites."It isn't binding of course, it's only their word on it.
It's not a court order; no precedent has been set.
They can renege anytime it suits their interests.
And it will. Sooner or later, it will.
And the dance will begin again.
photo Mark Bralley