Posts Tagged ‘Public Information’

The Key Word Here is Public

Monday, February 28th, 2011

Here we go again. Those that we elect to serve in public office (mind you the key word here is “public”) would prefer to operate under the cover of darkness:

In  a decision that was partly fueled by the governor’s videos, the Senate voted to restrict webcasting, photography, and video or audio recording of Senate committees by the public unless there is permission from a panel’s chairman and ranking minority-party member. The rule was adopted on a 35-3 vote.

Apparently, this is one of those elitist bureaucratic decisions that enjoys strong bipartisan support. What is the motivating factor behind restricting public access to public meetings, paid for by the public in a building built by the public? Well, according to Senator Dede Feldman, it appears that our elected officials are concerned they might actually be held accountable for their actions:

Is this a trend?  We’re not sure yet, but in the following committee meeting, where several DWI bills that the Governor is supporting were presented, her staff appeared with little cameras in hand to tape the proceedings. They did not ask permission from the Chair (me), which is protocol on both the floor and in committees, so I am cynical about how they intend to use the material.  I’m a great fan of opening committee hearings to the news media, but this felt different. Since the staffers did not speak to me, I do not know how they intend to use the footage, but several present felt it was intimidation, meant to remind Senators that their comments would be used in campaign ads next year. Hmm.

Oh no, horror of horrors. What’s the world coming to when elected public officials might be held accountable for comments they make in public hearings? That’s just not fair. We’ve elected them, and they should just be allowed to rule the state in peace without being concerned about peering eyes. Upcoming elections should be events ruled by civility where the voting populace makes a decision, not based on actual performance, but instead based on the quality of the touched up pictures and senatorial likeness of those in office, and the claims of great deeds they’ve performed in our name regardless of what they’ve actually said or done in committee meetings.

Making the End Run When Legislation Fails

Friday, February 6th, 2009

A pet peeve of mine regarding Governor Richardson’s administration is their commitment to circumventing the checks and balances intentionally built into our system of government. And, it appears they’re at it again.

In 2004, amidst much uproar, the “Electronic Government Act” was being pushed:

A bill that calls for organizing government records through a system called “e-portal” was pending at the end of the 2004 legislative session. Backed by Gov. Bill Richardson, the “Electronic Government Act” would create a pricey e-portal system that would use the fees generated from government records to manage and fund the system. In order to obtain government records, members of the public would have to use e-portal and pay according to its tiered pricing system. (HB 291; SB 314)

It was that “pricey e-portal system” (read: pricey for you and me to access public information) that had folks like the New Mexico Press Association and New Mexico Foundation for Open Government up in arms. The bill was defeated.

But, now that they think everyone is distracted by the economic crisis plaguing the state, the Richardson administration is back up to their usual backdoor manuevers. Without much fanfare, the Taxation and Revenue Department has put out an 88-page RFP to do exactly what the legislature had previously rejected.

I hope someone in the legislature calls the administration to task before it’s too late.