FOI Advocate Blog

The NFOIC open government blog is a compendium of original concepts and analysis as well as ideas, edited excerpts and materials from a variety of sources. When the information comes from another source, we will attribute it and provide a link. The blog relies on the accuracy and integrity of the original sources cited; we will correct errors and inaccuracies when we become aware of them.

For Advocate posts prior to July, 2011, visit http://foiadvocate.blogspot.com/.
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July 14, 2015 12:52 PM

(ALBUQUERQUE) - The New Mexico Foundation for Open Government (FOG) and freelance journalist Peter St. Cyr today filed a lawsuit against the New Mexico Department of Health asking the court to declare invalid the DOH regulations which keep secret the names of licensed medical marijuana producers.

Filed in the state district court in Albuquerque, the lawsuit also asks for an order under the Inspection of Public Records Act directing the DOH to release the names of all such producers as well as applicants for producer licenses.  Continue>>>

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July 8, 2015 11:47 AM

The New Mexico Foundation for Open Government has named four, including Albuquerque Journal Editor Kent Walz, to receive the group’s top honor for open government, the Dixon First Amendment Award.

The award honors the memory of FOG co-founder and longtime board member William S. Dixon, an Albuquerque attorney and leading defender of the First Amendment and the sunshine laws in New Mexico.  Continue>>>

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March 4, 2015 12:51 PM

Gov. Susana Martinez has agreed to release monthly reports that detail the spending of security officers who travel with her, part of an agreement reached with The Associated Press in a public records case.

Under the settlement, the governor's attorneys agreed that the information in the procurement card reports relates to public business and falls under New Mexico's Inspection of Public Records Act.

The news organization sued the governor and administration agencies in 2013 for refusing to release records about her work and travel schedules, cellphone calls, and the expenses of her security detail. The parties filed papers Tuesday to dismiss the original lawsuit. continue>>>
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October 20, 2014 12:05 PM

Ever wonder where state legislatures or local politicians get funding for their campaigns and how those funds might influence the polices they create? Common Cause New Mexico Campaign Manager, Heather Ferguson met with Daily News staff Wednesday to talk about the importance of the New Mexico Pledge campaign.

Common Cause New Mexico and the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government currently have a New Mexico Pledge campaign aimed at reducing the influence of big-money interests in political campaigns. The educational campaign was launched in September.

"The main goal of the New Mexico Pledge is to both engage and empower New Mexican citizens that there are solutions to their concerns regarding the current state of disclosure and transparency in our state government," Ferguson said, adding, the modern campaign system is broken and prevents elected officials from solving big problems. Continue>>>
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October 16, 2014 11:43 PM

Transparency. Open government. Sunshine. Virtually every candidate for elected office embraces these themes while campaigning, promising to minimize government secrecy. It certainly was part of Republican Susana Martinez's successful campaign for governor in 2010. The same was true of Democrat Gary King's successful campaigns for attorney general in 2006 and 2010.

But both Martinez and King, now running against each other for governor, have had clouds over some of their sunshine efforts. Both have been sued for alleged violations of state public records laws.

In one case, news organizations sued Martinez's Human Services Department and the Attorney General's Office for refusing to release a controversial audit of 15 mental health providers. The audit resulted in the companies having their Medicaid funds suspended, forcing some out of business. The agencies have prevailed in court, though at least some of the cases have pending appeals. Continue>>>
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August 22, 2014 7:47 AM

The New Mexico Foundation for Open Government, FOG, today filed an Inspection of Public Records Act request asking for the investigation report prepared for the Albuquerque Public School Board about former Superintendent Winston Brooks. Last Friday, Brooks and APS entered into a settlement agreement in which Brooks resigned in return for a $350,000 payment by APS.

"The public deserves to know the circumstances of Brooks' resignation and why public money is being spent to end his employment two years before his contract termination date," said Kathi Bearden, president of FOG.

Although the settlement agreement was released, APS has refused to release the investigation report that was prepared by attorney Agnes Padilla of Butt, Thornton & Baehr, P.C. for the school board, or provide any information about the content of the report. "The investigation report is a public document and needs to be released," Ms. Bearden said. "No one has seen the report, but we assume it is mainly a factual account, not opinion, and therefore not protected by the limited personnel exemption under IPRA." Continue>>>
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July 29, 2014 6:42 AM

The New Mexico Foundation for Open Government announced the winners of its annual awards dedicated to open government. The group announced three recipients of the Dixon First Amendment Award, one lawyer, one journalist and one in government.

Charles “Kip” Purcell will be given the award for lawyers, Colleen Heild of the Albuquerque Journal will be given the award for journalists and State Rep. Jeff Steinborn, D-Las Cruces, for members of government.

“The battle against government secrecy is a lifelong fight that many appreciate yet few actually wage,” Kathi Bearden, FOG president, said. “When you’re in it for the long haul, you’d better have a sharp intellect and a great sense of humor. Bill Dixon had both. We celebrate his memory and celebrate those who continue the fight in new and innovative ways. Their perseverance benefits us all and serves as a beacon for democracy through good government in a rapidly changing world.” Continue>>>
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July 7, 2014 5:58 AM

A friend of mine asked me a few weeks ago about my libertarian opinion on these committees that were recently passed by the Rio Rancho Governing Body. It was said that the committees were created in the name of open government between the city and the public, and they offer protection from rolling quorums. It was also said that these committees add a layer of bureaucracy while offering only the illusion of protection.

It is true that they offer only an illusion of protection, but only because the Open Meetings Act offers an illusion of transparency. Even the city attorney must admit to this as she herself stated that it takes a level of “self-policing” on the part of governing body members in order to avoid a rolling quorum.

If you happen to be a councilor’s ideological opposite, can you really trust them to “self-police?” I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve spoken about how laws intended to curtail behavior are never effective for long, if at all. Those who truly desire to take advantage of their power will do so regardless of the law. These committees, if they work at all, will at some point fail when the loopholes are found out, and something new will need to be offered. Continue>>>
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May 6, 2014 9:45 AM

One thing is clear — city officials want citizens to see how local government operates.

Last month, the city of Aztec added a new page to its website in the effort to make public city records more accessible.

The new page features links to request public records, access the city's annual budgets, look at gross receipts collections per year, examine bids and contracts, read the city's 10-year fiscal analysis and summary, and other information.

"It's a trend. We don't want to just give lip service to transparency, but make it a reality," Ray said. "Local government is a different mentality for us — everything is out there for us, anything to do with our daily decisions, budget documents, public records requests. We thought, if we're going to have a tech-savvy community, let's make a page dedicated to transparency. It comes from what we've been hearing from all levels of government for the last 7 or 8 years." Continue>>>
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March 28, 2014 9:36 AM

NFOIC member the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government is asking Gov. Susana Martinez about the administration’s policy for handling information requests from the Legislature’s watchdog committees.

The questions were raised in response to a story by The Associated Press that Martinez agencies have told the Legislative Finance Committee and the Legislative Education Study Committee to send their information requests to the governor’s chief of staff for approval before an agency will respond.

Foundation Executive Director Susan Boe sent a letter Wednesday to the governor asking if her chief of staff now serves as the “chief records custodian” for agency requests under the Inspection of Public Records Act. Continue>>>
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March 9, 2014 3:44 AM

 It plans to increase the number of producers from the current 23 to as many as 35, as well as boost the number of plants each can grow, adding 300 seedlings to the 150 plants now allowed.

That growth on the supply side may well be necessary, because there has certainly been growth on the demand side: There are 10,621 patients enrolled in the program, up more than 1,500 from early last year.

A recent DOH-commissioned survey had patients saying they were being turned away by providers with empty shelves and forced to buy the drug illegally from street dealers, which shouldn’t happen in a government-sanctioned program. Continue>>>
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January 28, 2014 2:21 AM

Rep, Jeff Steinborn, D-Las Cruces, said he will introduce legislation to expand webcasting of legislative committee hearings in an effort to improve the transparency of the Legislature. One rule change would require that all webcasts of committee meetings during the legislative session be archived. Session webcasts can now only be watched live.

The second rule change, co-sponsored with Senate Pro Tem Mary Kay Papen, would require the Legislative Council Service to begin webcasting all interim committee hearings. Interim committees meet between the legislative sessions and hear presentations on a variety of public policy issues including important ongoing issues in state government. This last summer, there was increased public interest in hearings related to Governor Martinez' shakeup of the state's mental health system.

In 2010, Steinborn sponsored the legislation requiring webcasting of legislative session committee meetings. He said it's time the Legislature take the next step in increasing its transparency and access. Continue>>>
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