ABQ: City personnel hearings not subject to Open Meetings Act

Albuquerque contends that its public personnel hearings aren’t subject to the state’s Open Meetings Act. The city said so last week in a formal response to a complaint filed with the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office. Charles Arasim filed the complaint with the office on March 9, alleging the city violated the Open Meetings Act after being blocked from videotaping multiple city personnel hearings. In the response, interim Albuquerque City Attorney Jenica Jacobi and assistant attorney Nicholas Bullock wrote last week that the city’s personnel hearing officers do not have to make accommodations for members of the public who want to record the hearings. The city’s Personnel Board, which weighs grievances from city employees who contest their disciplines or firing from city government, consists of five people.

TV stations, others critical of APD use of YouTube videos

A new trend by the city of Albuquerque and its police department of releasing video statements online in lieu of face-to-face interviews has one New Mexico television executive mad enough to issue a video condemning the practice. Last week, Mary Lynn Roper, president and general manager for KOAT-TV, spoke out against the Albuquerque Police Department for issuing statements through their YouTube channel. In the video, posted on KOAT’s website, Roper accused APD of hiding behind an “electric version of The Wizard of Oz curtain” and not releasing information. The full video is available below. According to Roper, KOAT-TV requested information about a fatal shooting at a skate park and only received a pre-recorded video as a response.

Cities still want to seize cars from those arrested for DWIs

A Rio Rancho man who was collecting signatures to stop a proposed DWI seizure plan in the city abandoned the push for a simple reason: He said it was no longer necessary because of a law recently passed by the New Mexico Legislature and approved by Gov. Susana Martinez. KOAT spoke to Todd Hathorne:
“It [HB 560] does exactly what we wanted done,” Hathorne said. “It pushes the decision for seizure and forfeiture into the hands of a judge. The innocent until proven guilty standard is upheld in HB 560.”
The American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico, which helped spearhead the passage of the law, agrees with Hathorne. However, the city of Rio Rancho disagrees and says that their law is different.

Martinez reiterates that PARCC is here to stay

Susana Martinez said that she knows students have the rights to protest, but it is time for students to get back in the class room and take the PARCC tests. Martinez made those statements speaking about the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC, test in an interview with KOAT-TV that aired Wednesday night. KOAT does not include embeddable videos of stories. “They have a right to protest, I’m not saying they don’t,” Martinez said. “But when it’s time to be in class, that’s where they belong: in class.”

KOAT: Reporters removed from city event

Last week, the New Mexico Political Report’s Margaret Wright penned an opinion piece describing the City of Albuquerque’s aggressive posture with reporters trying to question city leaders or obtain records which should be available by public records request. The New Mexico Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists issued a statement in response to Wright’s experience and that of at least one other reporter, Dennis Domrzalski. “The mayor’s arbitrary barring of journalists from important news events that impact the community … runs a grave risk of giving the public the perception that it is used to keep out members of the press that the city doesn’t like. Powerful government officials should not be allowed to pick and choose which reporters cover them.”
While the city has since apologized, reporters have continued to move the story forward online.  KOAT’s Mike Springer profiled the issue last night:
A U.S. Department of Justice report criticizes the Albuquerque Police Department for having an aggressive nature and lack of transparency.