Episode 738 | Sunshine Week

Episode 738 | Sunshine Week


>>IF THE BROAD LIGHT OF DAY
COULD BE LIT IN UPON MEN’S ACTIONS, IT WOULD PURIFY THEM
AS THE SUN DISINFECTS. SUPREME COURT JUSTICE LOUIS
BRANDEIS WROTE THOSE WORDS MORE THAN 100 YEARS AGO
REGARDING TRANSPARENCY IN GOVERNMENT.
HENCE THE NAME SUNSHINE WEEK. THIS TIME EACH YEAR,
JOURNALISTS AND ORGANIZATIONS DRAW ATTENTION TO LAWS THAT
HELP CITIZENS AND MEDIA ACCESS GOVERNMENT INFORMATION AS THE
BASIS OF ACCOUNTABILITY AND DEMOCRACY.
NMIF CORRESPONDENT GWYNETH DOLAND TALKS TO SUSAN BOE, NEW
EXECUTIVE DIRECT OF THE NEW MEXICO FOUNDATION FOR OPEN
GOVERNMENT, ABOUT THE LATEST ISSUES IN THE STATE AROUND
TRANSPARENCY.>>SUNSHINE WEEK IS A TIME FOR
THOSE OF US IN THE NEWS MEDIA, FOR TEACHERS, FOR FOLKS IN
PUBLIC LIBRARIES AND IN COMMUNITY GROUPS TO HAVE A
CONVERSATION ABOUT THE PUBLIC RIGHT TO KNOW, ABOUT OPEN
GOVERNMENT, AND TRANSPARENCY. SO, TODAY WE’RE TALKING TO
SUSAN BOE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR FOR THE NEW MEXICO FOUNDATION
FOR OPEN GOVERNMENT. AND IN FULL DISCLOSURE, I USED
TO HAVE SUSAN’S JOB WHEN I TOOK A LITTLE TIME OFF
JOURNALISM. SO THANK YOU FOR COMING,
SUSAN.>>THANK YOU.
>>SUNSHINE WEEK WAS CREATED BY JOURNALISTS IN FLORIDA AND
WE KNOW THAT JOURNALISTS ARE ALWAYS WHINING ABOUT ONE THING
OR ANOTHER, SO, WHY SHOULD THE PUBLIC CARE ABOUT THIS KIND OF
STUFF?>>WELL, SUNSHINE WEEK AS YOU
KNOW WAS FORMED IN 2005, AND IT WAS PUT TOGETHER BY
JOURNALISTS BUT ALSO IT WAS ORGANIZED ON THIS
PARTICULAR WEEK TO COINCIDE WITH THE BIRTHDAY OF JAMES
MADISON. AND JAMES MADISON IS LARGELY
CONSIDERED THE AUTHOR OF OUR BILL OF RIGHTS.
SO, WHY SHOULD THE PUBLIC CARE?
WELL, I AM GUESSING MOST CITIZENS CARE ABOUT DEMOCRACY.
NO TRANSPARENCY, NO OPENNESS, NO DEMOCRACY.
AND REALLY THE SIGNATURE OF A TOTALITARIAN COUNTRY IS CLOSED
SYSTEM. RECORDS ARE NOT AVAILABLE.
MEETINGS ARE NOT OPEN TO THE PUBLIC, AND THAT IS WHY
CITIZENS SHOULD CARE. IT IS WHAT KEEPS REALLY
DEMOCRACY ALIVE.>>I THINK A LOT OF PEOPLE
JUST FEEL VERY DISCONNECTED, THOUGH, FROM HOW HAVING PUBLIC
RECORDS AVAILABLE MEANS THAT THEY ARE HAVING A BETTER
DEMOCRACY. HOW DOES THAT ACTUALLY WORK?
>>WELL, WHAT IT MEANS, AND I THINK YOU’RE CORRECT IN THAT
CITIZENS FEEL DISCONNECTED. AND THE REASON THEY DO, IN
PART, IS WE’RE SO BUSY. AND WE CAN’T PERSONALLY GO TO
EVERY CITY COUNCIL MEETING. WE CAN’T GO TO THE SCHOOL
BOARD MEETING, AND SO, BY DEFAULT, FOR LACK OF A BETTER
TERM, WE RELY UPON JOURNALISTS AND JOURNALISTS ARE NOT THERE
JUST BECAUSE THIS MIGHT BE AN INTERESTING MEETING TO COVER,
THEY ARE REALLY HELPING TO KEEP THIS DEMOCRATIC IDEAL
ALIVE AND THEY ARE REPRESENTING ALL OF US.
>>YEAH. A LOT OF THOSE MEETINGS AREN’T
INTERESTING AT ALL.>>NO.
I SAT THROUGH QUITE A FEW OF THEM WHEN I WAS A JOURNALIST
IN MY YOUTH AND IT DOES SEEM PRETTY TEDIOUS AT TIMES BUT IT
IS SO IMPORTANT.>>I JUST MEAN SOMETIMES YOU
SIT THERE FOR THREE HOURS AND THERE IS NOT A SINGLE VOTE
TAKEN.>>AND THEN YOU HAVE TO WRITE
A STORY.>>WHEN I SIT IN ON SOME OF
THE LEGISLATIVE SESSIONS, THERE IS A LOT OF TIME THAT IS
SPENT WITH MARIACHI BANDS, AS INTERESTING AS THOSE MAY BE,
OR HONORING DIFFERENT GROUPS OR DIFFERENT CITIZENS AND IT
IS VERY NICE IF YOU’RE THE PERSON BEING HONORED BUT WHEN
YOU’RE IN THE GALLERY, IT IS NOT QUITE AS EXCITING.
>>SO, YOU RUN A HOT LINE AT FOG AND IT IS OPEN TO THE
PUBLIC AND TO JOURNALISTS. WHAT ARE SOME OF THE THINGS
THAT PEOPLE CALL AND ASK FOR YOUR HELP WITH?
>>THE HOT LINE HAS BEEN AROUND FOR ALMOST 24 YEARS
WHICH IS THE LENGTH OF TIME OF FOG AND I WOULD SAY THAT
PEOPLE WHO USE IT BREAK OUT INTO THREE CATEGORIES.
ONE GROUP OBVIOUSLY ARE JOURNALISTS.
THEN QUITE A FEW CITIZENS AND I WOULD SAY ABOUT 10% OF THE
CALLS ARE ACTUALLY FROM OTHER LAWMAKERS, WHO WANT TO MAKE
CERTAIN THAT MEETINGS ARE OPEN WHEN THEY SHOULD BE,
AND REALLY WANT TO DO THE RIGHT THING.
BUT, THE AVERAGE CITIZEN, WHAT I HAVE BEEN IMPRESSED WITH IS
OFTEN IT IS RETIRED MEN, ALTHOUGH NOT ALWAYS.
BUT, CITIZENS ARE CONCERNED ABOUT, WHEN, FOR EXAMPLE
SCHOOL BOARDS GO INTO A CLOSED MEETING AND THEY DON’T
UNDERSTAND WHY ALL THE INFORMATION ISN’T AVAILABLE TO
EVERYBODY SITTING IN THE GALLERY.
SUDDENLY, THEY ARE KICKED OUT. AND IN SOME CASES THERE ARE
CERTAIN RECORDS THEY ARE TRYING TO OBTAIN.
WE HAVE HAD QUITE A BIT OF DISCUSSION AND ISSUES LATELY
ABOUT GETTING ACCESS TO THE CURRICULUM OF LAW ENFORCEMENT
ACADEMY.>>LET’S TALK ABOUT THAT ONE
IN PARTICULAR BECAUSE WE HAVE SEEN IT IN THE NEWS LATELY.
YOU KNOW, PEOPLE DON’T HAVE ACCESS TO MY CURRICULUM,
NECESSARILY, AND I TEACH HERE AT UNM.
WHY SHOULD WE HAVE ACCESS TO THE LAW ENFORCEMENT ACADEMY’S
CURRICULUM?>>LET ME GIVE YOU A HEADS UP
ABOUT YOUR CURRICULUM, BECAUSE THERE IS AN ATTORNEY GENERAL
OPINION THAT SAYS, AT A PUBLIC UNIVERSITY, YOUR CURRICULUM
WOULD BE SUBJECT TO THE OPEN RECORDS LAW.
>>WELL, THERE YOU GO. NOBODY EVER LOOKS AT IT.
>>BE PREPARED ONE DAY, BUT THE REASON THE LAW ENFORCEMENT
ACADEMY IS OF INTEREST RIGHT NOW, WE HAVE HAD A LOT OF
ISSUES THROUGHOUT THE STATE OF POLICE OR DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC
SAFETY KILLING CITIZENS.>>OR OTHER VARIETIES OF
MISCONDUCT.>>OR OTHER VARIETIES OF
MISCONDUCT AND HISTORICALLY THE CURRICULUM OF THE LAW
ENFORCEMENT ACADEMY HAS BEEN SUBJECT TO WHAT WE CALL RULE
MAKING AND WHAT RULE MAKING IS AN ADMINISTRATIVE
PROCESS RECOGNIZING THAT WE CAN’T PASS A STATUTE FOR, YOU
KNOW, EVERY POSSIBLE GOVERNMENTAL ACTION, AND SO WE
HAVE THIS PROCESS CALLED RULE MAKING AND THE THING THAT I
LIKE ABOUT RULE MAKING IS THAT PUBLIC INPUT IS REQUIRED.
IT IS NOT DISCRETIONARY, BUT WE WANT TO KNOW WHAT THE
PUBLIC HAS TO SAY, SO, YOU TAKE THAT AND APPLY IT TO THE
LAW ENFORCEMENT ACADEMY. SO, FOR YEARS AND YEARS, THE
PUBLIC HAS BEEN ABLE TO SAY, YOU KNOW, WHY DON’T WE HAVE
MORE COURSES FOR OUR NEW POLICE OFFICERS ON COMMUNITY
RELATIONS, FOR EXAMPLE. AND OF COURSE THE HOT BUTTON
ITEM RIGHT NOW IS WHEN SHOULD A POLICE OFFICER DRAW HIS OR
HER GUN. NOW, FOG DOES NOT HAVE A
POSITION ON THIS. WHAT HAS HAPPENED WITH THE
RULE MAKING FOR THE LEA CURRICULUM, LAW ENFORCEMENT
ACADEMY, IT HAS BEEN REMOVED FROM THE RULE MAKING PROCESS
AND, SO, NOW THE DIRECTOR OF THE ACADEMY CAN DETERMINE WHAT
THE CURRICULUM IS GOING TO LOOK LIKE.
>>IS THE ISSUE WE MIGHT WANT TO SEE IF THEY HAVE CUT
TRAINING IN VIOLENT SITUATIONS OR IF THEY — WE MIGHT WANT
PUBLIC INPUT TO SAY THEY SHOULD HAVE MORE?
>>EXACTLY. UNDER THE NEW RULE PASSED AT
THE END OF 2013, CURRICULUM IS DEVELOPED BY THE DIRECTOR AND
THEN APPROVED BY THE LEA BOARD, WHICH IS A PUBLIC
APPOINTED BOARD BY THE GOVERNOR, BUT WHAT HAPPENS AS
A RESULT IS THAT WE DON’T EVER HAVE AN OPPORTUNITY FOR THE
PUBLIC TO GIVE INPUT. THE CURRICULUM ITSELF UNDER
PUBLIC RECORDS LAW, WHICH WE CALL IPRA, AS WELL AS UNDER
THE NEW RULE, PROVIDES THAT IT SHOULD BE POSTED ON THE LEA
WEBSITE. AND THE CURRICULUM WAS
APPROVED IN DECEMBER OF 2013 AND ACCORDING TO THE RULES IT
SHOULD BE POSTED WITHIN SEVEN DAYS OF APPROVAL AND WE STILL
DON’T KNOW WHAT IT IS.>>THE PUBLIC REALLY HAS VERY
LITTLE CHANCE TO HAVE AN IMPACT ON LAW ENFORCEMENT.
USUALLY THEY HAVE THE IMPACT ON US; RIGHT?
THIS IS ONE OF THE FEW WAYS THAT WE HAVE OVERSIGHT.
>>EXACTLY. AND WHAT IS BEING TAUGHT TO
OUR BEGINNING POLICE CADETS? AND WE BELIEVE THAT WE DON’T
KNOW WHAT THEY SHOULD BE TAUGHT BUT WE NEED TO HAVE A
FULL PUBLIC DISCUSSION ABOUT THAT.
>>GIVE ME AN UPDATE ON SOME OF THE OTHER ISSUES YOU GUYS
ARE TALKING ABOUT. I SAW SOMETHING IN THE NEWS
THE OTHER DAY ABOUT COURT RECORDS THAT THE PUBLIC HAS
LESS ACCESS. WHAT IS GOING ON?
>>THE BERNALILLO METROPOLITAN COURT, THE LARGEST
METROPOLITAN COURT IN THE STATE OF NEW MEXICO, HAS
SWITCHED FROM WHAT THEY CALLED THE AS400 SYSTEM TO A SYSTEM
WE CALLED ODYSSEY. CERTAINLY THERE IS A NEED FOR
THE COURTS TO UPDATE SOFTWARE AND PROVIDE MORE MODERN
TECHNOLOGY. BUT, AS A RESULT OF THAT, THIS
NEW SYSTEM APPARENTLY HAS LIMITATIONS THAT MAKE IT
DIFFICULT TO TRANSFER ALL OF THOSE RECORDS FROM THE AS400
SYSTEM. THE AS400 SYSTEM IS STILL
GOING TO EXIST AND THE JUDGES ON THE COURT WILL STILL HAVE
ACCESS TO IT. BUT, THE GENERAL PUBLIC WILL
NOT BE ABLE TO ACCESS IT ONLINE.
>>SO, WE’LL HAVE ACCESS TO FEWER RECORDS.
>>EXACTLY AND I DON’T KNOW THE — WHERE THE CUT UP IS
GOING TO BE AND PART OF IT IS SORT OF SPECULATION BUT IT IS
OUR UNDERSTANDING THAT SEVERAL OF THE MISDEMEANOR CASES MAY
NOT BE AVAILABLE SO WE HAVE EXPRESSED OUR CONCERN.
WE MEANING THE FOUNDATION FOR OPEN GOVERNMENT, TO THE
SUPREME REALLY ADMINISTRATOR OF ALL THE COURTS IN NEW
MEXICO, WHICH IS THE NEW MEXICO SUPREME COURT, ABOUT
TRYING TO MAKE CERTAIN THOSE RECORDS ARE STILL ACCESSIBLE.
>>WHY WOULD ANY REGULAR NORMAL HUMAN BEING EVER CARE?
>>WELL, IF I AM AN EMPLOYER, I AM GOING TO CARE.
IF I WERE INVOLVED IN A CIVIL LAWSUIT AND I WANTED TO MAKE
CERTAIN THAT I WANTED TO BE PAID IN FULL OR IF I WERE A
CRIMINAL AND HAD FULFILLED ALL MY RESTITUTION OBLIGATION, I
WANT TO KNOW WHAT IT SAYS.>>SO, IF YOU WERE AN
EMPLOYER, YOU COULD LOOK IN THERE AND SEE HOW MANY
SPEEDING TICKETS A PERSON HAS HAD?
>>SPEEDING TICKETS BUT EVEN MORE SERIOUS VIOLATIONS THAN
THAT. IF I AM RUNNING A VOLUNTEER
ORGANIZATION AND I WANT TO MAKE CERTAIN THAT THE PERSON
WHO IS VOLUNTEERING PERHAPS WORKING WITH YOUTH HAS ANY
INFRACTIONS IN THE PAST, I NEED FULL ACCESS TO THAT.
GOING BACK MANY YEARS.>>ONE OF THE THINGS, SPEAKING
OF COURTS, ONE OF THE THINGS I HAVE BEEN THINKING ABOUT
LATELY HAS BEEN HOW WE DON’T EVER SEE PICTURES OR VIDEO
FROM THE SUPREME COURT, U.S. SUPREME COURT.
I WAS REMINDED OF IT WHEN WE HAD THAT SAME SEX MARRIAGE
DECISION HERE AND THERE WAS ACTUALLY WEBCASTING FROM OUR
SUPREME COURT, WHICH WAS VERY UNUSUAL.
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT WHAT IS HAPPENING IN COURTS RIGHT
NOW WITH GETTING VIDEO AND WEB CASTING.
>>OF COURSE, THE POSITION OF THE FOUNDATION FOR OPEN
GOVERNMENT AND HAVING BEEN INVOLVED IN ACCESS ISSUES AS
AN ATTORNEY FOR MANY YEARS IS WHERE CAMERAS BELONG IS IN THE
COURTROOM. AND, THE LAST PURE HOLDOUT IS
THE UNITED STATES SUPREME COURT AND THERE IS A BIG PUSH
RIGHT NOW DURING SUNSHINE WEEK BY SEVERAL NATIONAL
ORGANIZATIONS FOR THE SUPREME COURT TO OPEN UP AND ALLOW A
LIVE FEED DURING ARGUMENT. THE REASON THAT ONE — ONE OF
THE REASONS THAT THE COURT GIVES FOR NOT ALLOWING CAMERAS
IN THE COURTROOM IS THE FEAR THAT ATTORNEYS ARE GOING TO
GRAND STAND.>>MORE THAN USUAL.
>>WELL, THAT WOULD BE MY POSITION, TOO.
ALTHOUGH, IF YOU HAVE LISTENED TO ORAL ARGUMENT FROM THE
SUPREME COURT, THOSE DON’T NECESSARILY KEEP YOU AWAKE.
>>YOU KNOW, OUT HERE IN NEW MEXICO WE HAVE SO LITTLE
ACCESS TO WHAT GOES ON, ALTHOUGH THE ISSUES ARE SO
INTERESTING. I AM SURE A LOT OF PEOPLE
WOULD BE MORE LIKELY TO PAY ATTENTION IF THEY COULD SEE
IT.>>ABSOLUTELY, AND JUST TO
WATCH HOW THE PROCESS WORKS AND IF YOU HAVE EVER BEEN TO
THE U.S. SUPREME COURT DURING A REALLY IMPORTANT ARGUMENT,
PEOPLE LINE UP TO TRY TO GET THE LIMITED GALLERY SEATING
AND OFTEN IT IS PRETTY DIFFICULT TO EVEN GET INTO THE
ROOM. AS A REPORTER OR EVEN AS A
CITIZEN.>>SO, LET ME ASK YOU ONE LAST
QUESTION. WHAT DO WE NEED TO DO AS
REGULAR FOLKS HERE IN NEW MEXICO TO ENCOURAGE GOVERNMENT
TO BE MORE ACCESSIBLE TO THE PEOPLE?
>>WELL, CERTAINLY, AS A CITIZEN, YOU CAN ATTEND
MEETINGS AND TRY TO OBTAIN RECORDS BUT I THINK THE MOST
IMPORTANT THING IS TO TALK TO YOUR LAWMAKERS AND SEE WHAT
THEIR POSITION IS ON TRANSPARENCY.
THAT IS THE NEW BUZZ WORD BUT IT IS EASY TO SAY IT BUT TO
PUT IT INTO PRACTICE, FOR EXAMPLE, WE HAVE HAD A LOT OF
CONTROVERSY OVER WHETHER LAWMAKER’S EMAILS ARE SUBJECT
TO PUBLIC RECORDS. AND OF COURSE FROM MY POSITION
AS EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE FOUNDATION FOR OPEN
GOVERNMENT, WE’RE A NONPROFIT, IT IS VERY INEXPENSIVE TO JOIN
AND IF YOU’RE GOING TO TALK TRANSPARENCY, THEN, PLEASE
COME AND WORK WITH US. OUR HOT LINE, WHICH WE TALKED
ABOUT EARLIER IS FREE, AND EVERYONE IS WELCOME TO USE IT.
GOING BACK TO THE HOT LINE, I HAVE ALWAYS BEEN TAKEN BY THE
NUMBER OF CITIZENS OUT THERE WHO ARE TRYING TO BE WARRIORS
AND FIGHT THE BATTLE. AND OFTEN WHEN I RESPOND TO
ONE OF THEIR ISSUES, THEY SAY, WELL, WAIT UNTIL I GET BACK
AND TELL THE FELLOWS ABOUT THIS.
AND I JUST LOVE THAT. BECAUSE, THEY FOUND SOMEONE
THAT CAN SUPPORT THEM IN THE BATTLE.
>>SUSAN, THANK YOU FOR BEING WITH US TODAY.
>>THANK YOU.

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