COMMENTARY: In five days, voting will end in the APS bond issue and mill levy elections.
On the table: $575 million and a singular opportunity to hold the leadership of the Albuquerque Public Schools accountable for their conduct and competence as stewards of the last few hundred million dollars voters entrusted to their care and use.
Rejecting the bond issue and mill levy is not the best way to hold the leadership of the APS accountable for its ethics, standards and accountability crisis. It is, unfortunately, the only way to hold the school board and their administration accountable for their stewardship.
If anyone has any idea at all about how the school board can be held actually, honestly accountable for its stewardship, besides voting down these bond issues and mill levies, now would be the time to share it with voters. Now, because it’s looking like voters are showing up in record numbers to vote them all down.
Please don’t suggest that voters can hold them accountable for their lack of stewardship at the next school board election. The election will be in February 2017 and over a minority of seats — three of seven. Even if all three seats went to manifestly competent stewards, they would still find themselves outnumbered by those with a record of abysmal stewardship to cover up.
Holding current school board members accountable over their stewardship in those elections presupposes that stewardship (ethics, standards and accountability) will be an issue in those elections. By “an issue,” I mean coverage and discourse in major newspapers and in broadcast news, editorials and op-eds.
Suffice it to say that if you search the record for an example of, let’s say, the Albuquerque Journal’s coverage (editorial or otherwise) of stewardship — ethics, standards and accountability in the APS — during any school board election since 2007, you will find none. Likewise for the cabal — KRQE, KOAT, and KOB TV; search them all and find nothing.
The most powerful players in school board, bond issue and mill levy elections don’t want stewardship examined. They don’t want their ethics and standards to be identified, and they don’t what their lack of any honest-to-God accountability to them to be exposed.
They don’t want to be held accountable for their stewardship. They don’t bring it up themselves and their friends in the “media” don’t either. The media are, at best, complacent and, at worst, complicit in the effort to keep honest to God accountability to meaningful standards of conduct and competence within public service off the table and out of the discourse during school board, bond issue and mill levy elections.
In the absence of a better idea, the less-than-best choice is the only choice.
I have proposed and continue to advocate for the commencement of an immediate independent, district-wide examination of administrative and executive ethics, standards and accountability, the ethically redacted findings of which will be surrendered to public knowledge as they become known.
For that matter, I propose and will continue to advocate for ethics, standards and accountability audits of any governmental body seeking stewardship over our power and resources before they lay acquire control over either of them.
Ched MacQuigg is a retired shop teacher and blogger. He has been a longtime advocate of honest accountability to meaningful standards of conduct for politicians and public servants — in particular for the leadership of the Albuquerque Public Schools.