COMMENTARY: There is no legitimate agenda for state government that does not move forward on the day that politicians and public servants find themselves honestly and transparently accountable to meaningful standards of conduct and competence within their public service.
In November of this year, the entire N.M. State Legislature will stand for election — 70 representatives and 42 senators.
It is at least theoretically possible that majorities — 36 House members and 22 senators — could be elected that would then vote to adopt the highest standards of conduct and competence for politicians, public servants and public service in the State of New Mexico.
It is at least theoretically possible that those same courageous individuals would vote in favor of their own ruthless accountability to those standards.
That is all they are — theoretically possible.
History tells a far different story.
This isn’t the first time voters have had the opportunity to elect representatives who would, as their first order of business, protect the people’s power and resources from waste, fraud and abuse. This will be the 53rd time.
If ethics, standards and accountability were the only issue in the next election, all 112 representatives and senators would be elected based on their manifest support of their own, honest-to-God accountability to meaningful standards of conduct and competence within their public service.
Standards and accountability will not be the only issue; they are likely to not be an issue at all.
In the end, very few people, and therefore very few political candidates, are able to summon the character and courage to be held honestly and transparently accountable to the highest standards of conduct and competence. That, and the that political process in New Mexico is inherently perverting.
Standards and accountability could be made an issue; they could be made the issue in the primary and general elections if there were an object on which attention could be focused.
Imagine an amendment and legislative proposal of fewer than a dozen pages. It represents the best efforts of a large number of good and decent people to tweak the Constitution and state statutes, and in so doing, provide honest accountability to meaningful standards of conduct and competence within public service to the state and to the people of New Mexico.
Imagine a proposal that creates and enables the epitome of what we seek in transparently accountable government.
What stands in the way really? Do we lack the expertise, the intelligence, the experience, and the imagination to create such a proposal?
It’s a matter of our will, not of our capability.
New Mexico could be the model for open and honest government. We could pop up first rather than last in Google searches for governmental best practices.
Every candidate for a seat in the Legislature could be handed a proposal that they will co-sponsor or face being held accountable by voters.
All it would take would be a handful of people who cast bigger shadows than I, to say, “We could do this; this would work.”
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.