Cost of Secrecy: $340,000
Under New Mexico’s Inspection of Public Records Act—one of the key pieces of legislation that protects citizens’ rights to view government documents—agencies can be fined up to $100 per day for improperly denying or ignoring a request.
In 2007, private investigator Eric Griego won a $117,500 settlement from the New Mexico Taxation & Revenue Department for a long overdue public information request. Following SFR’s report on outstanding IPRA complaints sitting in the Attorney General’s Office, Griego decided to file suit again against T&R, this time alleging five IPRA violations between 2006 and 2008.
Assuming his case has merit, as of May 18, Griego is owed a whopping $328,800, which T&R would, of course, pay out of tax dollars. That said, it could be months or years before the case goes to trial.
Meanwhile, blogger Heath Haussamen has filed a motion in court against the New Mexico Finance Department, which he claims withheld federal grand jury subpoenas in violation of IPRA. Haussamen has not filed for damages, but if he changes his mind and his case has merit, as of May 18, he would be owed as much as $11,200.
Cost of Wildcatting: $8 Million
When Tecton Energy President Bill Dirks announced his firm’s plans to drill for oil in the ecologically delicate Galisteo Basin, SFR ran a background check on Dirks and his previous company, Samson Canada.
SFR discovered Samson faced fierce opposition from residents of the Charlie Lake area of British Columbia. Dirks called it quits and sold the drilling rights to another firm, Terra Energy. Residents lamented to SFR that Terra Energy was far more aggressive and less environmentally responsible than Dirks.
Now history is repeating itself. In November 2008, again facing unwavering environmentalist opposition, Dirks announced that Tecton’s holdings in Canada and New Mexico were up for sale. This month, Tecton found a buyer for the Canadian operations: Terra Energy, again. The company will pay $8 million for the rights this month. So far, Tecton has reported no interested buyers in the Galisteo Basin.
Cost of Defense: $3.5 Million
Santa Feans will pay out $2 million for nuclear weapons and $1.5 million for ballistic missiles in fiscal year 2009, according to the National Priorities Project.
If the programs were cancelled, Santa Fe could use the money to cover 926 people with health care, hire 90 police officers, pay for 820 college scholarships or provide 5,425 homes with renewable energy.