A few weeks ago when I requested the applications for the state’s Department of Public Safety Secretary and New Mexico State Police positions, I didn’t expect to get the run around from Gov.-elect Susana Martinez’s transition team.
But I did.
Since the request was clearly one of legally-established public documents (see 2009 N.M. Court of Appeals ruling), I didn’t expect the transition team of a Gov.-elect with a solid history of transparency and a Gov.-elect who just ran on the notion she’d be more open than her predecessor to deny me such a simple request, but that was what happened. I chalked it up, in part, to being a Santa Fe-based reporter who Martinez & Co. weren’t comfortable or familiar with. That shouldn’t matter, but I thought maybe that was what this was about.
Then I read Heath Haussamen’s commentary this morning about also getting the head-scratching denial for the same documents. Heath is a reporter as familiar with Martinez as just about anyone having been a longtime Las Cruces-based political blogger and former courts reporter for the Las Cruces Sun-News where he worked closely with then DA Martinez on a nearly daily basis.
Heath’s blog hits the nail on the head:
Doesn’t bringing a new level of transparency to government imply that, when in doubt, you’ll err on the side of transparency instead of secrecy? . . .
I’m told that transition teams have not treated such information as public before. But that’s not the point. Martinez’s slogan – “bold change” – means doing something in a way that hasn’t been done before. There’s nothing bold about doing the same thing past transition teams have done.
When I posted a poll on this blog about the public record request on Nov. 22, here is the e-mail I got from a senior member of the transition team:
No transition – that I know of – in the first 100 years have ever treated the resumes or names as public. You are trying to single handedly hold this incoming administration to a standard no one else has ever been held to. Governor-elect Martinez is focused on closing a half billion dollar budget hole, getting jobs created and reforming education so New Mexico is no longer 49th in the country. I hope that helps.
Never mind that this is THE FIRST transition team in state history that has been around after the 2009 N.M. Court of Appeals ruling that made these documents public record. The fact is Heath is right. If the transition team wants to be transparent, they very well could be, but so far aren’t choosing to do so.
Since the requests, Martinez has tabbed former U.S. Marshal Gorden E. Eden Jr. as her choice for DPS secretary. Good pick, from what many have told me. I hope the state police chief pick is also a good one and someone picked from a great pool of applicants, even if its a pool they won’t make public.
I’m crossing my fingers that Martinez is light years ahead of the deny-deny-deny mentality of the administration she was elected to replace in terms of public records requests. I know in the area of transparency, she has been better than this in the past.