The New Mexico Foundation for Open Government (FOG) filed a complaint with Attorney General Hector Balderas today claiming the PERA Board of Trustees violated the state’s Open Meetings Act (OMA) at their meeting on May 29, 2020.
The meeting agenda for May 29, does list a item about the discussion and termination of withholding of RPENM membership dues from PERA retirement benefits. However, during the meeting an amendment was voted on and approved by the PERA Board that an additional group, AFSCME, would also have their dues terminated.
“The PERA Board’s decision to act on an issue not listed on the agenda is a clear violation of the OMA as the public did not have any prior notice that the AFSCME dues item was going to be discussed for termination,” Melanie J. Majors, executive director, FOG said. “As such, FOG believes that the action taken on May 29 concerning the AFSCME is null and void.”
Majors said FOG asks that the Attorney General take appropriate action to ensure that the PERA Board of Trustees comply with state law. She said state law and previous Attorney General opinions require specific descriptions of agenda items and public bodies may only act on items listed on the agenda.
The Open Meetings Act was enacted for the benefit of all New Mexicans to ensure that the policies, records, votes, actions and deliberations be open to the public. Any attempt to engage in a public decision-making process without including the public as outlined in the state’s guidelines is a violation of the law and just as important, the public’s trust. It’s basically a question of accountability and being transparent.
As the state’s leading advocate for transparency in government, FOG’s mission is to defend the public’s right to know and to educate citizens and government agencies about their rights and responsibilities under New Mexico’s open-meetings and open-records laws.