Updated 11am Thursday.
—that's the word the Vatican used
to describe Irish Bishop Donal Murray's sex scandal cover-ups. But why not extend that pithy description to the Richardson administration for its refusal to support transparent, responsible governance?
So begins Kate Nash's front-page story
in the New Mexican
this morning: "The Governor's Office refuses to identify
the 59 exempt state employees whose jobs will be eliminated early next year."
The story goes on to describe the paper's request, under the New Mexico Inspection of Public Records Act
, for a list of names of state employees who are losing their jobs. The paper got 65 pages of e-mails between reporters (seeking the same information) and the Guv's office, plus a few news releases. Gilbert Gallegos, Gov. Richardson's deputy chief of staff, told the New Mex
it was "not necessary"
to provide the names—but Sarah Welsh of the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government
expressed incredulity that there wasn't a list (via the New Mex):
"It's just amazing that they would put out a press release and refuse to answer the obvious questions," she said. "It's hard to imagine they didn't write this down somewhere," Welsh said. "Did they memorize the 59 names and then call them?"
It gets better, too. Click HERE
to read the lively e-mail exchange between KOB-TV reporter Jeremy Jojola
and Gallegos, posted on Jojola's blog this Monday.
"I find it quite concerning the Governor's Office is essentially telling me it really doesn't matter what's public record
," Jojola wrote Monday on his blog
. "[I]f the Governor's Office doesn't find it 'appropriate,' it won't release it despite obligations
under the Inspection of Public Record Act."
Obscuring public records is, quite simply, inexcusable. This isn't a case of national security, in which the end might (legally, at least
) justify the means; rather, it seems like an unbecomingly desperate grab at Bush-esque opacity. I'm not saying the state did anything wrong; maybe they truly don't have a list of the 59 employees, or maybe the various IPRA requests they have received aren't comprehensive or specific enough to include said list.
What I am saying is that transparent government is the foundation of a democratic society, and when the avenues to transparency—such as access to public records—are blocked, that foundation crumbles.
Update, 11am Thursday: Heath Haussamen over at the New Mexico Independent just tweeted this gem, about his own IPRA request:
Surprise, surprise. Guv gives me nothing but reporter's e-mails too... and nothing that tells us anything about who he's laying off and why.