The Piercing Truth

This is right from the dictionary and seems to describe Albuquerque, Berry and Schultz. Fascism (f ash ,izem) noun An authoritarian right wing system of government and/or social organization. (in general use) extreme right wing, authoritarian, chauvinistic and/or intolerant views or practices. Fascism tends to include a belief in the supremacy of one group over another, national, ethnic, especially social strata or monetarily; a contempt for democracy, an insistence on obedience to a powerful leader, and a strong demagogic approach. Compliments of one of our Eyes

May 16, 2007

Ignore Him!

A couple of weeks ago Mayor Martin Chavez announced his open-government initiative. He was roundly praised for the idea of making government more accessible to those who are governed. We agree that our government should be open to inspection for any citizen that wishes to take the time to review the records and documents that are the byproduct of all government agencies.

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.

Sent: Wednesday, May 16, 2007 2:19 PM
Subject: RE: Inspection of Public Records Act Request dated May 12, 2007 and May 13, 2007

Ignore 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.

10 comments:

Ched MacQuigg said...

is this not evidence of public corruption? criminal conspiracy?

Can a public servant legally direct other public servants to ignore public record requests?

surely this must be criminal.

Ched MacQuigg said...

if Mayor Martin Chavez had any stones at all, and as proof of his commitment to open government, would hold a town hall meeting and answer questions in a candid and forthright manner, until there are no more questions.

"no comment" my aching ass.

stonewalling; even more candyass.

Anonymous said...

surely it must be...but do you think they really care...it will be interesting to see how they go about trying to get out of this one..."wasn't me" comes first to mind..."someone else" had "access" to my computer...blah...blah...blah...

Anonymous said...

Your post only represents one side of the story.

Mr. Dell'Angela was using e-mail as a means of trying to create an electronic conversation with government officials. This is not mandated by the IOPRA. In fact, the use of e-mail as a proper method of "written request" for records is debatable.

The Act is for inspection of public records, not inspection of public officials or inspection of attorney-client privelege.

He inspected records at more than one City department. He wasn't satisfied. His subsequent requests were neither practicable nor practical.

Ched MacQuigg said...

which justifies in no way, a public official telling other public officials to ignore him.

If there is a justifiable denial of the opportunity to inspect public records, one that is provided for in the IPRA, then a properly justified denial is an appropriate response; ignoring him is not.

The only thing wrong with email communications is that those who want to obfuscate the process, can't use snail mail as one of their tools.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Dell'Angela's original request was properly and completely addressed. When he did not find any documentation to support his conspiracy theory, he continued to use email to harrass City workers, as has been his habit for many years.

The "ignore him" comment, while rude, might possibly be justified in this case considering Mr. Dell'Angela's harrassing behavior.

As I indicated, this post only shows one side to the story. It does not speak to Mr. Dell'Angela's vague requests which were illogical. The post also does not speak to Mr. Dell'Angela's continued harrassment of City employees who cannot produce documents which do not exist.

Giving him the benefit of the doubt (which is difficult because of his harrassing behavior), Mr. Dell'Angela is merely confused. His written request was for documentation on a committee that has not yet convened. Therefore no documentation (such as minutes, scope, actions and results) exists.

The obfuscation is in Mr. Dell'Angela's head.

Anonymous said...

Um hum..and here start the "excuses"...harrassing behavior...ahem...IF it in fact did exist, could, through various legal means be stopped and or prosecuted rather than "ignored"...that means, not having been used for whatever likely not yet concieved reason...here come the "personal" attacks...um hum...yeah...we are believing the city's side...yeah we are...NOT!

Ched MacQuigg said...

this is reminding me of the county commission, city council, and APS BOE using Geraldine Amato as an excuse for all to move their public forums off the record.

You don't get to change the rules because one person is "abusing" the right to meaningful participation in decisions that affect them.

Good debate though, sir.

I appreciate your exposing yourself to criticism by by representing the other side of a contentious issue.

It is way too bad that open and honest discussion of contentious issues cannot take place in a public forum and on the record.

Anonymous said...

More people need to "abuse" their rights as American citizens.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, ched. I'm just trying to let folks know that there is more than one side to the story.

As for the "Um hum..." anonymous comment -- I can't follow the ellipses and elliptical logic, so I won't even attempt to respond.