Candidates for governor of New Mexico in 2018 are on the record in support of the public’s right to know.
Republican Steve Pearce joined Democrats Jeff Apodaca, Joseph Cervantes, Peter DeBenedittis, and Michelle Lujan Grisham at NMFOG’s first ever Sunshine Week Open Government Candidate Forum focused solely on open government issues on Sunday afternoon at KNME in Albuquerque. The program, attended by 100 invited guests, was originally live streamed on NMFOG’s Facebook page.
NMFOG Board Directors Charles “Kip” Purcell and Kathi Bearden moderated the forum and asked the candidates to discuss their views on the importance of government transparency in state government and fully funding an independent ethics commission if voters approve a proposed constitutional amendment establishing it later this year, among others.
LIST OF FORUM QUESTIONS:
- The Inspection of Public Records Act allows government agencies to charge only the actual costs of copying documents requested by the public. The Attorney General says that these costs may include “any personnel time involved.” Open government advocates disagree, because the statute declares that providing people with information about state government is “an integral part of the routine duties of public officers and employees.” In your opinion, should government be able to charge more for copies than Kinko’s does?
- This question was provided by Common Cause of New Mexico In 2017 the legislature passed a constitutional amendment to create an Independent Ethics Commission that will be on the ballot this November. If the voters approve the amendment, nuts-and- bolts
enabling legislation will be considered during the 2019 session. What are the top three things your administration will support to enable this commission to investigate complaints, rebuild public trust, and serve the interests of all parties involved?
- Under current law, all applications for public employment are considered public records, except that applications for the presidency of a public college or university can remain confidential aside from the names of the five finalists. Recently there have been attempts to make some or even most government job applications secret; the theory behind these proposals is that openness deters some of the best candidates from applying. If elected Governor, would you support or oppose such efforts, and why?
- Do you believe that court records involving juveniles charged with serious crimes
should be public?
- Would you support an amendment to the Open Meetings Act that would require public bodies to provide time for public comment?
- This question was provided by Think New Mexico Currently, the names of the legislators who sponsor specific capital outlay projects are secret unless legislators agree to disclose them. Critics say this way of doing business causes dysfunction in the state’s
infrastructure funding system. During the past several sessions, bills introduced to require disclosure of the sponsors of each capital outlay appropriation have repeatedly failed. As governor, would you support and sign such legislation?
- If elected, would you issue an executive order requiring that all public business be conducted on state e-mail accounts?
- The Richardson administration entered into a settlement agreement with FOG and several news organizations in 2007 designed to ensure public access to State Police reports compiled by officers initially responding to a crime scene. FOG believes that the agreement also covers lapel camera footage. The Susana Martinez administration is seeking to invalidate that agreement, on the ground that it goes beyond what the Inspection of Public Records Act requires. If you’re elected Governor, what position would your administration take?
- This question was provided by Common Cause of New Mexico. If voters approve the constitutional amendment creating an Independent Ethics Commission, how will your administration support fully funding the Commission to enable it to properly perform its functions and to keep the public informed through public hearings around the state? [Background Material]
- Do you plan any initiatives to make more public records available electronically?
- State agencies create databases that have economic value to private businesses. In licensing businesses to use these databases, should government place a priority on maximizing revenue or on maximizing the public availability of government information?
Ahead of the program, NMFOG asked the candidates to familiarize themselves with New Mexico’s Sunshine Laws and encouraged them to read the Inspection of Public Records Act and Open Meetings Act compliance guides and a copy of NMFOG’s brochure.
The forum was produced in association with KNME-New Mexico PBS, Common Cause NM, Think NM, New Mexico Press Association, New Mexico Broadcasters Association and The Thornburg Foundation.