COMMENTARY: Nobody in their right mind can suggest that there are not people who are ready, willing and able, at this instant, to write legislation that creates honest-to-God accountability to meaningful standards of conduct and competence for politicians and public servants in New Mexico.
The problem is not in writing rules that suit the interests of the people. The problem has been in writing rules that suit the interests of powerful people who enjoy playing fast and loose with the people’s trust and treasure.
The problem is hopelessly complicated by the fact that real reform amounts to changing the rules in the middle of the game. The pols and public servants who don’t want to change the rules are all suited out, on their home field and ready to play.
You can’t elect people under one set of rules and then expect them to hold themselves accountable to stricter rules in the middle of the game — especially when they benefit from the rules as they are and their style would be cramped by real accountability to even stricter rules.
A lot of these people get elected because their fast and loose style also suits the interests of people who are powerful enough to get them elected.
The people of New Mexico have an opportunity to change the rules between games. They have an opportunity to write the rules when the heavy hitters in opposition, have no place to swing their mighty bats.
The terms of public service are the prerogative of the people, not of their servants.
The people need to gather, write new rules for public service in New Mexico, and see to their ruthless enforcement. Any would-be legislator who is not willing to play by the people’s rules will not be allowed to play at all.
A singular opportunity presents itself in the current increased public interest in reform and in the fact that the entire Legislature is up for election.
It would be a shame to waste an opportunity like this on some futile hope that somehow things will be different than they have always been.
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.