The Albuquerque Journal in a story dated May 7th, 2007 outlined some of the proposal's main points the first of which was:
"An open-records ordinance would define city procedures for responding to requests for documents. It will call for cooperation from all city employees, elected officials, contractors and subcontractors. Every city department, board, commission and committee, as well as the City Council, would designate a records custodian to cooperate with the city clerk in responding to requests" - ABQ Journal (Subscription Required)We found that particularly curious considering we already have a New Mexico Inspection of Public Records Act (PDF). Therefore, the city is already obligated to provide information and records upon request.
14-2-7 D. A custodian receiving a written request shall permit the inspection immediately or as soon as is practicable under the circumstances, but not later than fifteen days after receiving a written request. If the inspection is not permitted within three business days, the custodian shall explain in writing when the records will be available for inspection or when the public body will respond to the request. The three-day period shall not begin until the written request is delivered to the office of the custodian.There are some cases where public records can be withheld, but in general the government agency that receives a request has 15 days to provide access to the records. Which brings us back to our friends downtown...
According to our Eyes, Silvio Dell'Angela, President of SWAT (Stop Wasting Albuquerque's Taxes) has been pursuing a formal request to review all documents relating to the formation of Councilor Benton's 19th Century Streetcar Task Force. As is usual for these types of requests, they're time consuming and in general a pain in the $#@ for the departments required to produce records. It's no surprise that requests of this nature often meet resistance.
So it goes in this case. According to our Eyes Mr. Dell'Angela has been nothing if not persistent and it comes as no surprise that he has ruffled a few feathers. We were forwarded an email thread in which city attorney Bruce T. Thompson apparently instructs other city departments to "ignore him." Unfortunately for Mr. Thompson, it looks to us like he used mother of all screw-ups button - "Reply All." Guess who was also on the distribution list? Yep! Silvio Dell'Angela.
From: Thompson, Bruce T.Sent: Wednesday, May 16, 2007 2:19 PMSubject: RE: Inspection of Public Records Act Request dated May 12, 2007 and May 13, 2007Ignore him!
As the city is already required by law to comply with records inspection requests, we hope that Mr. Thompson an attorney was not instructing city personnel to ignore Mr. Dell'Angela's request. We're not an attorney, but wouldn't that be a direct and willful violation of the law?
Open-government is not something that is legislated as much as it is something that is practiced. Creating laws like the state's Inspection of Public Records Act is a good idea, but what good does it do when city officials simply choose to "ignore" the request, misplace the records, or maintain that they don't even exist?
Average citizens don't have the resources to prove these claims false and must accept them at face value. We would suggest that before Mayor Marty worries about creating an ordinance addressing open-government, that he begin to practice open-government within his own administration. He can start by making sure Mr. Dell'Angela gets all of the information that he has requested AND by producing an APD roster complete with assignments for all of APD's sworn and non-sworn employees.