Sunday, August 12, 2012

Code of the West

What's Wrong With This Picture?
Torrance County, New Mexico calls itself the heart of New Mexico, as indicated on the County's flag, above.
This is the town Estancia, in the Estancia valley, which up until a ten-year drought starting in 1946, their main crop was pinto beans.
Estancia claims to be the true heart of New Mexico, as it is centrally located in Torrance County.
Estancia is a town with a history dating before 1779.
It has since seen better days and prospered; but it now shows signs of wear, despair, and dilapidation.
It is also the Torrance County seat of government, above.
The rural nature of the community is filled with activities for their youth including: 4-H, Boy Scouts, Estancia FFA Chapter, R.E.S.P.E.C.T program (Real-life Education for Self Protection Empowering College-bound Teens), school activities, sports, and of course church. The county sheriff puts on a summer-time Junior Deputy Program.
The county, through its official website, is openly sensitive of the urban citizen coming into a rural setting and they defend their countryside ways:

Persons moving into a rural area must recognize there are drawbacks, including conflicts with long-standing agricultural practices and a lower level of services than in town.
These are the McIntosh public service buildings with the fire department to the left.
The Website also provides a page dedicated to the:

Code of the West
Torrance County is one of the most productive agricultural counties in the United States. The rural areas of Torrance County may be open and spacious, but they are intensively used for agricultural. Persons moving into a rural area must recognize there are drawbacks, including conflicts with long-standing agricultural practices and a lower level of services than in town.

Agricultural users of the land are not expected to change their long established agricultural practices to accommodate the intrusions of urban users into a rural area. Well run agricultural activities will generate off site impacts, including noise from tractors and equipment; dust from animal pens, field work, harvest and gravel roads; odor from animal confinement, silage, and manure; the use of pesticides and fertilizers in the fields, including the use of aerial spraying…. 
Torrance County’s seat of government is located in the "old courthouse," in the small centrally located town of Estancia.
It is 17 miles south of the larger town of Moriarity, above, which has Interstate Highway 40 run along its north side.
With a total population of 16,383 and less than 10,000 registered voters, all politics is local, there is a good chance that some of the elected officials know the vast majority, if not all of their constituents.
Then Sheriff Pete Golden, above, wearing white cowboy hat, stops for a meal in a Moutainaire cafe in 2001.

Torrance is comprised of 3,346 square miles. Interstate 40 is the main east – west highway in the very northern part of the county.
The Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad passes east – west through the central part of the county.
Along US Route 60 are a number of one stoplight towns, including: Encino, Willard, above, and Mountainair.
The High Lonesome Wind Ranch with 40, 40-story high windmills, on the Mesa de los Jumanos, is just south of Willard.
The southern third of the county is only sparsely populated.
With its access to rail lines, Mountainair claimed title as the "pinto bean capital of the world."
Torrance County has several cultural and historic sites, including: Quarai, below, one of three sites associated with the Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument.

The Mountainair Municipal Auditorium, where local performer Dorothy Cole and Co staged a revival "Diamond in the Fields," about ten years ago in commemorating the valley’s history of bean growing.

The Shaffer Hotel and Rancho Bonito are also listed on the National Register of Historical Places.
Knowing whom they represent, leaders should be able to reflect the thoughts and wishes of the people.

Knowing whom they represent, leaders should be able to reflect the thoughts and wishes of the people.

There is a perceived level in a sense of patriotism in Torrance, not unlike that in many other parts of the country, which has elements contrary to a complete definition of the word:
love for or devotion to one's country.

And its synonym, nationalism:
loyalty and devotion to a nation; especially:
a sense of national consciousness exalting one nation above all others and placing primary emphasis on promotion of its culture and interests as opposed to those of other nations or supranational groups:
a nationalist movement or government

Yet, “patriotism” and “nationalism” sometimes have a narcissist’s view, unable to see the complete image, or ignoring and dismissing their own fundamental conceptual flaws as mere inconveniences.

One doesn’t always get to see tangible evidence. By way of examples:
In Estancia’s Old Timers Day parade was patriotically themed float sponsored by the Estancia Valley Classical Academy.
It had children dressed in colonial costumes, holding signs proclaiming concepts from the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights.
Under a Spirit of 76 American flag and behind a 13 star “Betsy Ross”, the signs read:
Liberty to all,
Limited Government,
Separation of Powers,
Government by Consent,
Natural Rights,
Spirit of Enterprize, and
Religious Freedoms….
Adults carried a poster board identifying the Academy, with:
"We Still Hold These Truths…"

The Academy is a charter school pending State approval from the New Mexico Public Education Department. It is scheduled to open in August.

A quick look at their website and review of their “founders” and directors backgrounds, one finds a lightly veiled form of religious based education.

There is nothing wrong with religious and or politically based schooling, as long as it isn’t taxpayer funded.

The Estancia Valley Classical Academy seems to espouse two things that government sanctioned education normally would reject – politics and religion.

Personal Note:
I am not suggesting there is anything wrong with the teaching approach embodied in the Classical education movement.

I might even support it as better than what is provided through our public school systems.

However, there are some basic differences in philosophy, which grate directly against the limitations “We the People” have placed on our government.

This Academy, in requesting sanctioning as a State Charter School, will test the Governor Susana Martinez/Public Education Department Secretary-designate Hanna Skandera’s resolve to promote educational ideas and still stay within the allowable limits of the law.

Some of the leaders of Torrance County are not great admirers of the rule of law and they may well represent the tyranny of the majority.
In republics, the great danger is, that the majority may not sufficiently respect the rights of the minority.
James Madison
On August 14, 2001, I wrote a Blue Flyer article analyzing a question of posting a biblical reference on an Estancia Municipal Schools billboard:
              The Constitution "…its only keepers, the people."
George Washington
So what’s wrong with this picture?

At the January 11, 2012, Torrance County Commission meeting, Melody Everett, an Albuquerque lawyer, who is the alternate member of the Planning and Zoning Committee, was on the agenda to raise questions about how some contracts in Torrance County were being let to particular contract vendors. Everett, however, was unable to make her presentation because, on advise of County Attorney Dennis Wallin, below, the way the matter was to be presented, by his interpretation, allegations of possible violations of law, are covered also as a personnel matters and can not be aired publicly.
Torrance County Attorneys are Brandon Huss, Dennis K. Wallin, and Adolfo J. Mendéz II, of Wallin Huss & Mendez Law Firm LLC of Moriarty, NM.
My Take

There is a misunderstanding amongst many boards and commissions about what is said during a public comment portion of a meeting when the topic touches on the name of a public employee or might at some point become an internal personnel matter.

Wallin’s statement, which kept Everett from making her comments, is wrong.

Any person, under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and Article II, Bill of Rights, Sec. 17. [Freedom of speech and press; libel], of the Constitution of the State of New Mexico, is free to say whatever they wish. If what they say becomes or might become a personnel matter, then the prohibition is on the governmental employees to refrain from discussing the matter in public.

It would seem that when County Manager Joy Ansley defended herself and the administrative process of contracting, from such allegations, she has waived her right to discuss, what might otherwise be a personnel matter, possibly subject to the protections of the State Personnel Act and State Personnel Board rules.

Wallin argued and advised the Commission that Everett could not bring forth her complaint against Ansley, because he said such an issue is a personnel matter under the State Personnel Act. He then did not prohibit Ansley from defending herself.

Ansley was not held to the same level, as was Everett in Wallin’s argument. Allowing Ansley to speak against an unstated complaint, which was not made public, whipsaws the concept of personnel matter protection favoring Ansley and unbalances the argument while suppressing Everett’s freedom of speech rights.
According to Edwina Rae “George” Hewett, center, of Mountainair, who attends County Commission meetings, with her small video camera and records the meetings; posting her results on YouTube wrote:
The questionable activities were discovered by Melody Everett this past December from and (sic) IPRA request - she attempted to present her findings at the January 11, 2012 meeting - the sensational tabloid style video Mr. (District 1 Commissioner Lonnie) Freyburger mentioned in his letter to the editor of the Telegraph.

Mrs. Everett was denied her right to speak through use of the agenda format combined with an Emmy award winning performance by the county manger who assumed the role of victim in order to stop Mrs. Everett from reporting those findings. At the commission meeting of January 11, 2012, Mrs. Everett was maligned and attacked by the county attorney Wallin and (District 2) Commissioner (Leanne) Tapia as well as the county manager (Joy) Ansley. In exchange for those abuses, Mrs. Everett forced the commissions hand and an investigation by the AG and Auditor was at last ordered.

Hewett is a sitting member of the Planning and Zoning Committee, which is appointed by the Commission, and was a candidate for the Torrance County Commission, District 3 seat. She lost in the Republican primary to Leroy M. Candelaria.

In Hewett’s email to me, about Freyburger‘s efforts to convince his fellow Commissioners to restrict access on recorded media by the public and press, she wrote:
What leaves me speechless is that these folks are citizens just like you and I. How on earth can anyone, new to public service or not, can forget and ignore the basic rights granted to all of us once taking office?

Everett attempted to raise questions of sole-source bidding and multiple bids from family and friends of the vendor, of cost over runs.
District 3 Commissioner and Board Chair Venessa Chavez-Gutierrez wrote a letter January 12, 2012, to New Mexico State Auditor Hector Balderas requesting a financial audit.

The January 19, 2012, MountainView Telegraph, an Albuquerque Journal regional publication ran an article, by Laurie Clark, “Official Facing Allegations.” The article called the January 11, 2012, Commission meeting debate as heated, involving the Commissioners, County Attorney Wallin, and County Manager Ansley, right.

Commissioner Freyburger's District 1, represents the most densely populated area of the county, along the I-40 corridor from the Bernalillo County line into the western edge of Moriarty: precinct 5, which votes at Mountainview Elementary School and precinct 13, which votes at the Moriarty Senior Center.

Freyburger is not a believer in openness in government. He provides the evidence by a quick peek at the Commissions web page, where he does not list an e-mail contact or phone number.

He does not like what he calls “negative publicity,” of the Commission, officials, and public servants; so in order to control such publicity (otherwise known as news reports), he is willing to engage in propaganda, not in the pejorative sense, but by producing an “official record” video posted on the County website for all to see and hear and for those who want to report what happened are forced to use rather than being allowed to cover events themselves.

Freyburger says County control over all recordings is to assure a full and accurate accounting of meetings. However, what he proposed, if possible, by isolation, and blackout, is unconstitutional and illegal, it is also censorship and prior restraint.
On February 22, 2012, Freyburger introduced:
WHEREAS, In order to maintain the proper decorum required for conducting the business of the county while, at the same time allowing members of the media or general public access to audio and visual recordings of the proceedings of the county commission, the Torrance County Commission hereby adopts the following policy for the recording of any such proceedings;

WHEREAS, the County Commission has implemented a method of audio and visual recording, for events within the County Commission Chambers, including but not limited to County Commission meetings; and,

WHEREAS, these recordings will be available for public viewing and/or listening on the County website, following the meeting or event

NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, by the Torrance County Board of Commissioners, that the public is strictly prohibited from operating audio and/or visual recording devices within the Commission Chambers.

DONE, this 22nd day of February 2012.
Freyburger‘s February 22, 2012 resolution clearly violates the First Amendment United States Constitution:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievance.
Constitution of the State of New Mexico
Adopted January 21, 1911

We, the people of New Mexico, grateful to Almighty God for the blessings of liberty, in order to secure the advantages of a state government, do ordain and establish this constitution….
Bill of Rights
Sec. 17. [Freedom of speech and press; libel.]
Every person may freely speak, write and publish his sentiments on all subjects, being responsible for the abuse of that right; and no law shall be passed to restrain or abridge the liberty of speech or of the press. In all criminal prosecutions for libels, the truth may be given in evidence to the jury; and if it shall appear to the jury that the matter charged as libelous is true and was published with good motives and for justifiable ends, the party shall be acquitted.
It also violates the New Mexico’s Open Meetings Act:
Reasonable efforts shall be made to accommodate the use of audio and video recording devices.

The resolution was tabled for further review by the county attorney.

March 1. 2012, MountainView Telegraph, ran an article, “Officials Want To Ban Recordings”.

In the same edition, the Telegraph ran an editorial, “Scrutiny Part of the Position”.

Also, the March 1 Telegraph published a letter to the editor, from Hewett, above, as a response to Freyburger‘s comments during the Commission’s discussion about how she posted her video on her YouTube account:
Nothing Left Out Of Meeting Videos

The First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States grants every member of the public the right to record public meetings. This right is continually tested by governmental entities who do not like the scrutiny that elected office brings.

As a citizen and member of the public I am astounded that these elected officials fail to understand the very documents they swore to uphold and preserve. Even more troublesome is the fact that members of the public body believe that citizen's rights take a back seat to a managed photo op for commission and staff alike.

As the party who posts meeting video on YouTube, I take great exception to Commissioner Freyburger's commentary suggesting that the video I provide is inaccurate, falsely edited or incomplete.

…The only editing to my raw footage is use of a stabilization tool YouTube offers to make a video smoother for the viewers. 
The March 6, 2012, Albuquerque Journal published a front page story by Mountain View Telegraph Reporter Laurie Clark, entitled, “Torrance Board Fights Recordings of Its Meetings.”
(County Attorney) Wallin said he was a “proponent” of public recording efforts.
“I have no problem with the public doing it, frankly… I think the more exposure the better,” Wallin said.

March 8. 2012, MountainView Telegraph published a letter to the editor, from Freyburger, as an Opinion, “Official Objects to Editing of Meetings”.

Freyburger wrote:
…I will not address the editing issue as Ms. Hewett readily admits to editing in her letter when she states "the only editing to my raw footage." How much editing is permissible?

…I realize the pen is mightier than the sword, so I expect you will write again, I hope though, that this ends it. I am sure that we will find a resolution to this problem. Perhaps a designated area for the public to film so that the disruption does not continue.

I do not oppose recording the commission meetings. What I am striving for is to record them accurately. If you look at what is being put on the Web now, the meetings are being edited and commented on inaccurately….

Freyburger seized on Hewett’s admission of “editing,” as if it was bad, and does not accurately characterize what she wrote. Her claim was that she used an “edit” tool that smoothed out the shake from her hand held shots for posting on YouTube. Hewett did not remove any material from the discussions she posted, yet Freyburger’s claim is the entire facts are not displayed and calls that being less than truthful.

Freyburger‘s resolution and funding $4,000.00 for creating archived video of county meetings, including the commission, is a good step towards openness. However, just because government provides a means of watching them, does not in anyway preclude the public and media from also viewing meetings, capturing them, distributing their work in any manner they wish, edited or not, and in commenting how they think government is, or is not working.
If Freyburger‘s wish, with a redrafted resolution, would end the issue, it had an opposite effect.

In the late 1990s the City of Albuquerque’s Labor Management Relations and the Personnel Boards were confronted by the way a particular attorney presented cases before them; they did not like his forceful bearing. The City Clerk purchased a video system, left, because she felt it would moderate him. She was sold a bill of goods because she was led to believe that she could store hours of video on her computer, but had no idea how much space it would require. It turned out to be extremely problematic for the City. The system was: unable to record audio at an acceptable level, the limits on storage manifested itself immediately, changing tape during the meetings caused difficult for the assistant clerks, while they attended to their other duties, requests for copies under the inspection of public records act was an unexpected issue, and ultimately it had no affect on the lawyer, who continued to present cases as he always had.

The City of Albuquerque/Bernalillo County jointly undertook to provide 24-hour televised programming of governmental activities of: Albuquerque City Council, Bernalillo County Commission, Police Oversight Commission, and Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority meetings, press conferences, departmental informational programs, announcements, bulletins, political debates, and documentaries through GOV TV – Government Television to the local cable access channel.
The Bernalillo County League of Women Voters hosted a 1996 candidate forum for District Attorney televised by GOV TV.

GOV TV has: a four member full-time staff and contractors as needed, remote controlled cameras to cover live meetings, a two-camera mobile production van, and a state of the art TV studio.

Albuquerque Public Schools broadcasts live, delayed, and re-runs through the same requirements with the local cable provider as does the City County governments.
APS has a professional staff and a state of the art broadcast booth, above, attached to their newly remodeled Board of Education meeting room, which has a number of remote operated cameras.
The Torrance County plan to stream meetings from their website is ambitious, but the technology has come a long way since the last century. There has been no mention of using the local cable provider's requirement to make available bandwidth for government programming.

On March 9, 2012, MacQuigg posted, “Torrance County Commissioner not backing down.”

On March 10, 2012, MacQuigg posted, “Torrance County Commissioner backed down.”
On March 14, 2012, Ched MacQuigg, left, James "Robby" Robertson, back, and the “Shadow,” your humble blog host, prepare to enter the Torrance County Commission meeting with equipment to document the discussion and to photograph the proceedings.
There was a two-hour Governance Training session presented by NM Association of Counties Risk Management Director and General Counsel Steve Kopelman and Loss Prevention Specialist Grace Phillips.

The lawyers offered to take questions from: Commissioners, County staff, the public and press.
The Edgewood Editor and Reporter Leota Harriman, above left, asked what the opinion of the by NM Association of Counties would be on the resolution on recording policy. Kopelman refused to answer saying it was up to the Commission to set such rules.

I asked Kopelman, left, to comment on the request the NM Association of Counties had made of Torrance County to provide 400 County Seal lapel pins or $500 for an upcoming Interstate Western Regional Conference in Santa Fe in May, hosted by the Association of Counties and how such a request could be squared with the New Mexico Constitution’s Anti-Donation clause?

Article IX Section 14:
Neither the state nor any county, school district or municipality, except as otherwise provided in this constitution, shall directly or indirectly lend or pledge its credit or make any donation to or in aid of any person, association or public or private corporation or in aid of any private enterprise for the construction of any railroad…

Kopelman said he was unaware of any such request from his organization.
Torrance County Attorney Wallin, asked me during an ensuing break, why I hadn’t posed the question to him, which I asked of Kopelman.

I told him my question wasn’t meant for him or the County, but for the NM Association of Counties, whose stated purpose, as Kopelman said, is to assist counties in keeping them from getting into legal questions like the Anti-Donation clause issue. It was meant as a test of how well the Association lawyers advised and were aware of problematic questions coming from their organization.

Wallin said I could be assured that Torrance County would not be taking actions in conflict with the Anti-Donation clause.

He also stated that the Commission would not be implementing any resolution prohibiting recording of their meetings.
Freyburger introduced the Resolution on the Recording Policy by stating he had a constituent complain of the recording by citizens that got in the way of the audience and had stood up blocking the view.
My Take

It is not uncommon for people to enter and leave the room and walk in front of cameras. As press, we simply accept the fact that on occasion, some one will block a camera's view; it might be momentarily, or it might be longer.
The shot above is an example of what happens; a man crossed in front of my lens while I was depressing the shutter. I hadn't seen him coming and this was the result. Normally I would not publish such a picture. However, it illustrates the point that rooms are not as static as Freyburger might wish. Yet no one gets upset about it.

An amended version of the resolution was on the March 14, 2012 agenda, as item 12:
...NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, by the Torrance County Board of Commissioners, that all County Commission meetings will be recorded by the County Clerk using the audio and visual recording devices installed for that purpose and all such official. recordings shall be posted on the Torrance County website and available to the public pursuant to the Torrance County Inspection of Public Records policy;

IT IS FURTHER RESOLVED that an area within the County Commission chambers shall be designated wherein members of the public using their equipment may record commission meetings; so as to cause as little disruption to the decorum of the meeting and the ability of other attendees of the meeting to hear and see the proceedings.
The Commission listened to public comments from several interested parties.
Clerk of the Commission Michelle Jones, above, spoke first, saying she was distracted, by: the presence of cameras, the movement of photographers, and especially the noise of Nikon camera shutters, keeping her from doing her job.

Others spoke, including: Planning and Zoning Coordinator Steve Guetschow, who suggested the Fire Marshall be consulted about camera tripods in the aisles, possibly blocking fire exit routes, and he spoke in favor of the resolution.

MacQuigg, according to the minutes said:
...he believes the Commission is at a “fork in the road”.

They can lean towards more transparency or less. And this not at all disruptive. And for a few hundred bucks the Commission could buy state of the art recording equipment. And he resents being told he has to be in a pen to record these meetings.
Hewett, above, read a written statement as recorded in the draft minutes:
After much consideration and council, I refuse to allow defamatory statements made by a member of this Commission to sully my reputation and good name. Mr. Wallin’s use of “one lady,” in an article appearing in the Independent News, as well as unsubstantiated libelous comments made on behalf of the Commission by member Lonnie Freyburger in the Mountain View Telegraph clearly defines the narrow scope applied to justify adoption of a recording policy by this body. That narrow scope is being used to suppress my individual viewpoint and the scrutiny it brings to this Commission. As such, I challenge any creation of a policy regarding public recording and I reserve the right as any other citizen to take action on this matter at a future date and time. Thank you.
Robertson, apologized for having stood in the aisle, but pointed out that his tripod was always attended and under his control should he need to move it.

I spoke and the minutes reflected my saying:
I am a member of the press; the people acting as the press, under not only the first amendment of the Constitution, but suggest the Commission look at the more open interpretation of the New Mexico Constitution. In Government there is a fourth estate – the press.

I suggested the Commission review the recent U.S. First Circuit Court of Appeals case, Glik vs Cunniffe… the City of Boston on recording public officials (police) in a public place.

I pointed out the New Mexico Open Meetings Act requirements in reasonable efforts shall be made to accommodate the use of audio and video recording devices.

In response to Jones' comment, I said that we might have looked like the circus had come to town, because Torrance County was not accustomed to such attention, brought upon by them selves, by an attack on the First Amendment. That we, (MacQuigg, Robertson, and I) had traveled in defense of the First Amendment. And this was how the press covered public meetings.
In my continued comments, I praised the way the meeting was run. Board Chair Chavez-Gutierrez, above, had a firm grasp of the meeting and took every item through their procedural steps, without trying to take any shortcuts. I commented on how she thanked each presenter for their words and commended county workers and department heads for their efforts. I hadn't seen such a well run meeting at this level of government, or up, through some state meetings.
Edgewood Independent Editor and Reporter Leota Harriman, above, spoke against the resolution.

After taking public comments, Freyburger moved to table the resolution for further input. Attorney Wallin said, he believed there were those whose input would be sought. The motion to table passed, 3-0.
Michele Jones works in County Clerk's office and is assigned to be the Commission Clerk. She provides staff-support for the board and is responsible for maintaining the minutes. Jones is a bureaucrat whose power is to be reckoned with; she is competent and incompetent at the same instant.

Like many bureaucrats, she is often asked the proper procedure for conducting the commission meeting. Yet, at the same time she dislikes the fact that journalists and citizens record every action in the room.

She was the first, to speak, at the March 14, 2012, meeting, favoring the resolution of a policy disallowing recording the proceedings of all meetings held in the commission chambers.

She was the first, to speak, at the March 14, 2012, meeting, favoring the resolution of a policy disallowing recording the proceedings of all meetings held in the commission chambers.
MacQuigg’s March 14, 2012, Diogenes' Six, post, “Torrance County Commission meeting extraordinarily polished,” using this photograph characterized Jones, above right, with City Manager Joy Ansley. as:
The County Clerk, seated, was particularly perturbed, informing Commissioners that the cameras in the room this morning had made it "impossible for her to do her job" during the meeting.

Jones wrote a comment in response to MacQuigg’s post:
… I'm Michelle Jones and you misquoted (sic) me in your blog. IN QUOTES you misquoted (sic) me. I never said "impossible to do my job". I said the camera clicking was disruptive to me personally as I was attempting to do my job…

MacQuigg wrote in the comment section:
i was quoting you from memory. My recollection was strong. If I quoted you incorrectly, I do indeed apologize.

MacQuigg did not change the quote, leaving it as he heard it.

However, it is clear that the majority of Jones’ job, by her repeated reference to her monitoring the audio recording machine, and at one point, interrupting the meeting, because the machine did not automatically switch to an empty medium when the first had filled up.
It was I, who had initially misidentified Jones as County Clerk Linda Kayser, above, by reading the Torrance County Clerk's webpage, which list the duties as:
The County Clerk serves ex-officio as recorder of their respective counties.

The duties of County Clerk are spell out in State Statute, Article 40:
4-40-3. [Duties; ex-officio clerk of board of county commissioners.]
The county clerk shall be ex-officio clerk of the board of county commissioners, shall attend the sessions of the board in person or by deputy, keep the seals, records and papers of said board of county commissioners and keep a record of the proceedings of said board in a book as required by law, under the direction of the county commissioners.

During the commission meeting, Jones was referred to as the County Clerk. I did not realize that she was designated to act for the County Clerk in the role as the Clerk of the Commission.

Kayser told me later, she was the ex-officio, attending most meetings, but had appointed staff to take the minutes.
The March 15. 2012, MountainView Telegraph published News Briefs, “Move to Regulate Recordings Tabled”.
Also on March 15. 2012, MountainView Telegraph published an Opinion by Executive Director of New Mexico Foundation for Open Government Gwyneth Doland, above, “Open Government Helps Everyone”.

Leota Harriman, editor and reporter for The Edgewood Independent, published an article, “Recording policy still pending”.

March 22. 2012, MountainView Telegraph published an article, “Resolution Designates Camera Area”.

March 22. 2012, MountainView Telegraph published a Staff opinion, “A Lesson in Communication”.

On March 23, 2012, MacQuigg posted, "Torrance County Commission Open Meetings - round three".

March 23, 2012, MacQuigg wrote me an email, looks like another road trip. He, Robertson, and I would make the trip and attend our second meeting.

On March 24, 2012, I wrote an e-mail:
Linda Kayser - Torrance County Clerk,

In reviewing your draft minutes of the March 14, 2012, Board of County Commissioners meeting, I noticed that you have misspelled my name.

The proper spelling is Mark Bralley.

Thank you in advance for correcting it.

I received no response from Kayser or Jones.

On March 26, 2012, MacQuigg posted, "Big week for open government".

On March 27, 2012, MacQuigg posted, "Torrance County Commissioners just want 'decorum'".
Though MacQuigg and Robertson are members of FOG, I was asked to call Gwyneth Doland and offer her the extra seat for our planned trip to Estancia. I briefed her on the amended resolution. She had to decline the offer because she had a meeting scheduled with the City.

On March 28, 2012, while we were in Estancia, Doland wrote in an e-mail:
Hiya, Mark--

I just wanted to let you know that I discussed the proposed resolution with my board and the consensus was that it's reasonable to designate an area for the media and public to use for their recording equipment.

The resolution, as written, is not something we're going to oppose.


Doland might not have seen the final draft, so I sent her a copy. I received no further comment from FOG.

The March 28, 2012, meeting agenda listed a second amended version of Resolution 2012-07 Recording Policy, under Action Items – Commission Matters:
NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVE, by the Torrance County Board of Commissioners, that all County commission meetings will be recorded by the County Clerk using the audio visual recording devices installed for that purpose and all such official recordings shall be posted on the Torrance County website and available to the public pursuant to the Torrance County Inspection of Public Records policy;

IT IS FURTHER RESOLVED that an area within the County Commission chambers shall be designated wherein members of the public using their equipment may record commission meetings; so as to cause as little disruption to the decorum of the meeting and the ability of other attendees of the meeting to hear and see the proceedings;

IT IS FURTHER RESOLVED. that members of the media or public who wish to videotape meetings must comply with the following requirements:
a.         The person intending to record the meeting must provide 24 hours advance written notice to the County Manager's office of the intent to record the meeting;

b.         All videotaping equipment must be on a tripod located in the designated videotaping area and facing the commissioner's dais;

c.         Videotape equipment and tripods must not obstruct the view of attendees of the meeting and must not block any access to exits from the meeting room;

d.         All recording devices must run on batteries, as power cords may create tripping hazards;

e.         All recording devices must operate silently or at a decibel level not disruptive of the meeting;

f.          All recording devices must operate without additional lighting;

g.         All videotaping equipment must be focused on the Commission table;

h.         All videotaping shall be performed in such a manner as not to intimidate or otherwise harass members of the public who wish to address the Commission.

The top of the March 28, 2012 meeting agenda lists:
Call to Order

Pledge of Allegiance


Approval of Minutes             March 14th, 2012

Approval of Meeting Agenda

Approval of Consent Agenda

1.            Approval of Warrants

2.            Approval of Indigent Claims

Public Requests: At the discretion of the Commission Chair. For Information Only (No Action Can Be Taken). Comments are limited to two minutes per person on subjects not on the published agenda.

During the Approval of Meeting Agenda, Freyburger, right, failed to disclose his intent to table Resolution 2012-07 Recording Policy. Had he disclosed, as is procedurally proper, citizens wanting to comment on the resolution, would have been able to speak during the Public Requests segment of the meeting, which followed. Freyburger’s motion to approve the agenda was seconded and unanimously accepted.

When the resolution (Action Items, Commission Matters, 4) was called, Freyburger announced, “there are still questions to be researched and answered before going forward with the policy,” and moved to table it. The other two Commissioners agreed to the tabling by voice vote.

MacQuigg asked Chair Chavez-Gutierrez if the Commission would grant citizens the opportunity to comment on the amended draft resolution. Freyburger immediately objected stating the matter had been tabled and was not subject to public comment, as seen on Hewett’s YouTube posting, Your First Amendment Rights Are Restricted with Prejuduice (sic), March 28, 2012.

It was a master bait-and-switch, political maneuver by Freyburger, denying citizens their Constitutional right found in the First Amendment’s:
…and to petition the Government for redress of grievances.

Commissioner Chavez-Gutierrez, near the end of the meeting, under Commission Update, stated she wanted to hear from MacQuigg because he had asked to speak on the Recording Policy. Freyburger immediately objected stating the matter had been tabled.

Chavez-Gutierrez stated she would hear from MacQuigg, but no one else.

I asked that Chavez-Gutierrez also recognize those who wanted to comment earlier, but had remained silent when she had ruled against MacQuigg.
Freyburger again objected, stating the matter was tabled. Chavez-Gutierrez backed down and told MacQuigg she would talk to him privately, as she did.
Also at the March 28, 2012, meeting, during the discussion that is critical to Hewett, as a sitting member of the Planning and Zoning Committee, which is appointed by the Commission.

Freyburger is a former Planning and Zoning Committee member. The six-person committee has four members from one commission district and one each from the other two districts. At the March 14 meeting he raised a question he said, was posed to him by a constituent, as to why the Planning and Zoning Committee members were not equally represented by district?

Freyburger had two resolutions on the agenda to address the imbalance on the Planning and Zoning Committee.

The first was, Planning and Zoning Board Policy Modifications; the second was, Planning and Zoning Board Appointments, Rescind and Reappoint.

Freyburger wanted to have two committee members from each commission district and to immediately remove the two extra members from the district with four members. Hewett is one of those members who could have been affected.

Commissioner Chavez-Gutierrez was opposed to removing current members immediately, wishing to wait until June when the terms expire and two members would be up for possible reappointment.

Commissioner Freyburger made an amendment to add several words to a resolution about the make up of the zoning board and Jones had not made note of it. She said she would catch the words off the recording when preparing the minutes of the meeting. Jones totally missed the point; the other commissioners wanted the amendment read back so they understood completely on what they were voting.

The Nikon shutters didn’t distract Jones; she simply wasn’t doing her job, writing down the verbal amendment and was going to rely on the tape recording. It begs the question, of how minutes would be recorded should the tape recorder malfunction without her noticing?

Torrance County Attorney Dennis Wallin had copied Freyburger’s amendment word for word and read it back for the benefit of the commission.

During a break, Freyburger, left, with Wallin, standing right, look at Clerk Jones', seated, new computers.
Note the grey webcam on a swivel mount in front of her two computers. At the earlier meeting Jones did not have a computer, let alone two. I have no indication of the camera capturing the meeting. Nothing was posted on the website.
I passed on a note to Wallin, through Sheriff White, with my contact information and indicated I wanted to communicate with him about the current draft, but he did not respond to the request.

After the meeting, MacQuigg posted. "The room, belongs to the people".
At the April 11, 2012, meeting there were several items of contention on the agenda related to the First Amendment.
Note in comparison with the picture from the last meeting, where Jones does not have her webcam deployed at this meeting.

During Public Requests, Ched MacQuigg asked Chair Chavez-Gutierrez if the resolution on Recording Policy was going to be heard or deferred, and if it was going to be tabled, he wanted to make comments under the Public Requests portion of the meeting.

Chavez-Gutierrez assured MacQuigg that the Commission would take public comment when the policy resolution came up on the agenda.

KOB Eyewitness News 4 made an appearance in the room. Reporter Chris  Ramirez Huffman  and Photojournalist Sarah Cornell produced a news story, “Torrance Co. works to limit media in government meetings.”
As the Commission took up the Recording Policy on their agenda, Reporter Ramirez Huffman, above, approached the dais to place a cordless microphone on the desk, No one objected to it being a distraction or disruption.

MacQuigg spoke about the importance of the Commission recognizing the room belonged to the people and those who govern should not be making rules against the interest of citizens who are exercising their rights to freedom speech, or the press or petition. He pointed out that the Sheriff was present and if he (or any citizen) became disorderly, he could be arrested and he and the sheriff would appear in court where there would be due process. He said that making rules of decorum moved beyond the law. And was unenforceable.
MacQuigg called for the Commission to reject the resolution.

I spoke about the amended resolution’s eight point and that many of them were derived from the Supreme Court guidelines for cameras in the courts and that as guidelines they were not always enforced or even acknowledged. I went on to say that at least five of the eight points were Constitutionally questionable. I suggested that the policy was not “reasonable” as required in the State’s Open Meeting act. I then turned to the difference of camera noise being “disruptive” to a meeting and the law of what constitutes disorderly behavior allowing for an arrest and the fact that with the Sheriff present, it was clear from his inaction that he recognized the behavior of the media, professional or citizens acting as the press, there was no criminal act. As my time ran out I showed two photographs taken by Albuquerque Journal photographers from an Albuquerque City Council meeting a couple of weeks before and from the State Supreme Court Hearing, the day before on candidate’s nominating petitions that did not have office names and district or division numbers listed on them. I pointed out that the pictures were taken with Nikon cameras like mine without incident.

Under Commission Matters the Draft minutes read:
7.         Resolution 2012-07 Recording Policy Madam Chair Chavez-Gutierrez speaks. She calls for comments from the table. There is none. She now calls for public comment. Two people speak in opposition to this resolution: Ched MacQuigg spoke in opposition to the resolution stating that, “this room belongs to the people”. Mark Bralley also spoke in opposition stating that the draft of this resolution that has been put out has eight standards, most of which have been lifted from the Supreme Court rules on conduct in courtrooms where there are trials and trials differ from what’s happening in this room now. Commissioner Freyburger comments that designating an area for the media is partly to insure that all who attend the meeting can have the right to “hear everything that we are doing in this room.” Madam Commissioner Tapia talks about the need, “for respect for our friends and neighbors when we come to these meetings”. Madam Chair Chavez-Gutierrez comments that she is glad that we have video and audio recording of the Commission meetings on our website so people who aren’t able to come to our meetings can still see the video online. “It opens up accessibility to everyone in our County. “She believes that as time has progressed, the Resolution has become more restrictive citing letter A of the draft which states, “The person intending to record the meeting must provide 24 hours advance written notice to the County Manager’s office of the intent to record the meeting.” Madam Chair Chavez-Gutierrez states she does not agree with this and suggests that at this time the Commission take action. She now calls for a motion to either approve or deny the resolution as written. All documents hereto attached. ACTION TAKEN: Madam Commissioner Tapia makes a motion to deny this resolution as it is currently written but to continue working on providing a resolution that is acceptable to all of the Commissioners. Commissioner Freyburger seconds the motion. No further discussion. The Commissioners vote. All in favor none opposed. RESOLUTION DENIED Roll Call District One: Yes, District Two: Yes, District Three: Yes.

Commissioner Freyburger stated that he was trying to accommodate everyone in the room, not just the photographers. He contends that the right of the press conflicts with citizens’ rights who attend Commission meetings and that because he sees the press’ exercise of their right as oppressing other citizens’ rights and that he, as the government, may suppress the press and citizens from recording.

He also wants to disfavor citizens recording of meetings in favor of an official posting of meetings recorded by the government in lieu of the public recording and reporting parts (edited) for public consumption.
My Take

Freyburger, whose first thought was to prohibit any recording device at any meeting in the chambers, then because he became aware that he could not exclude recording devices from the room, decided to move them as far away as he could without them leaving the room.

The room is not wired for what is known as house sound, which is a sound feed to the designated area so those with cameras can put audio cables into the sound system that goes to the speakers.

He has it backwards, everybody has a right to be in the room and those acting as press have a right to gather news. It is Freyburger, as government, who must also accommodate and protect the right of those who are newsgathering.

The various sections of the First Amendment are not competing with each other, but must be viewed as being applied in unison.

Freyburger and Tapia were still not happy with the coverage of the Commission and wanted the County Attorney and County Manager to draft a resolution creating a reasonable Recording Policy. Chavez-Gutierrez was opposed in attempting to limit newsgathering and said she was not bothered by cameras in the chambers. Freyburger made a motion to reject the amended resolution; it passed unanimously.
The other First Amendment questions came in agenda items:
Request to Discontinue Opening Meeting with Sectarian (Christian) Prayer and Replace it with a Moment of Silence – Thomas Smith, Resident.

Joseph Luna, above left, closest to the camera gives the invocation at the request of the chair.

Several citizens, Janet Fedor, Luna, below left, Butch McGee, center, and Rick Lopez, right, Torrance County Republican Chairman of the Republican Party of New Mexico, spoke against changing saying a Christian prayer as the invocation because the majority of the citizens of the county were Christians.
Two speakers suggested that if some one attending the meeting did not want to participate in the prayer, they could leave; Fedor, to the hall, and McGee, suggested they go to China where such objections were dealt with harshly.

The founding fathers were invoked, as being God fearing men, and that “’In God we trust’ had always been on our money and in the pledge…”
My Take

What the speakers didn’t say or seem to understand is the "God fearing" founding fathers also feared exactly what the speakers were advocating that their government, even in the form of the County Commission, to do, by engaging in a "Sectarian (Christian) Prayer" treads upon the First Amendment’s establishment clause, by holding a religious prayer in a government setting, it is therefore unconstitutional.

Thomas Jefferson wrote the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, (second paragraph, below, being the law) which would become the foundation for the establishment and free exercise clauses about religion in the First Amendment:
I.         Whereas Almighty God hath created the mind free; that all attempts to influence it by temporal punishment or burthens, or by civil incapacitations, tend only to beget habits of hypocrisy and meanness, and are a departure from the plan of the Holy author of our religion, who being Lord both of body and mind, yet chose not to propagate it by coercions on either, as was his Almighty power to do . . .

II.        Be it enacted by the General Assembly, that no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinion in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities.

III.       And though we well know that this assembly elected by the people for the ordinary purposes of legislation only, have no power to restrain the act of succeeding assemblies, constituted with powers equal to our own, and that therefore to declare this act to be irrevocable would be of no effect in law; yet we are free to declare, and do declare, that the rights hereby asserted are of the natural rights of mankind, and that if any act shall be hereafter passed to repeal the present, or to narrow its operation, such as would be an infringement of natural right.

Holding a prayer endorsed by a governmental body, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion," also attacks the second phrase of the First Amendment, "or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." In reverse, it means everybody may practice whatever religious beliefs they may hold, but the government may not: participate in, or encourage, or recognize, or establish any religious conduct.

The idea that someone who wishes to be Constitutionally protected from having to engage or participate in a governmentally sanctioned religious exercise should leave the meeting is totally unacceptable to the basic tenants upon which this country was founded; such as “…O’re the land of the free and the home of the brave”, or “…with liberty and justice for all.”

The phrase "In God We Trust," has neither, always been on our money, nor in the pledge of allegiance.

The use of God in governmental affairs directly conflicts with the Constitution, Article. VI. (third paragraph):
The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.
Under the Commission Update, Commissioner Freyburger said there had been negative publicity that came from the Commission itself. He then called for Chair Chavez-Gutierrez to step down, and if she won’t, he asked Torrance County Attorney Adolfo Mendéz II, what could be done or how can the chair be removed.
Mendez, right, said, if Chavez-Gutierrez would not step down, then the Commission would need to pass a resolution setting up a procedure to remove their elected chair. However, until such time, Chavez-Gutierrez would be the chair. Freyburger asked that the County Attorney and County Manager draft a resolution setting forth such a procedure.
Commissioner Tapia, right, said she was both supportive and concerned about Chavez-Gutierrez’ chairmanship.

Chavez-Gutierrez wrote a letter to New Mexico State Auditor Hector Balderas requesting a financial audit without the other two Commissioners approving it.

Chavez-Gutierrez is listed on Balderas’ U.S. Senate campaign website as endorsing him.
KOB Eyewitness News 4 On Your Side Reporter Ramirez Huffman and Photojournalist Cornell produced a news story that aired on April 12, 2012, “Torrance County commissioner says state audit too costly.”

Chavez-Gutierrez called for transparency and was concerned by the attacks on her by her fellow councilors and would take into consideration what they had to say, praying on the matter before deciding.

The call for the audit centers around Everett’s concerns that no bid contracts had been awarded to at least one preferred contractor who may have had a personal relationship with County Manager Ansley raising questions of possible fraud after some cost over runs.

Ansley told KOB ‘s Ramirez Huffman that it was a product of small town politics and that she had difficulty getting contractors to bid on some of the work the County was having done. She particularly had trouble with getting bids for work in Mountainair.

Ansley said she knew and had a personal relationship with most, if not all contractors, but it was business and she had no improper relationships.
KOB Eyewitness News 4 On Your Side Reporter Ramirez Huffman and Photojournalist Cornell produced a news story that aired on April 12, 2012, “Torrance County commissioner says state audit too costly.”

Commissioner Tapia told Ramirez Huffman, the audit, through the State Auditor's office, was looking at a problem worth $500,000, yet would cost $15-25,000, according to Balderas. Tapia was also upset because the State Attorney General's office was already looking into the matter. If the state auditor found anything wrong, it would be turned over to the AG, Tapia said.

My Take

Not withstanding the stated feelings of Commissioners Freyburger and Tapia towards Chavez-Gutierrez’ writing a letter, on County stationary as a commissioner, it is not only within her right, but also within her sworn fiduciary duty to report her concerns to the agency specifically responsible for investigating.

Issues falling within the statutory authority of the Office of the State Auditor, include among others:
Conflicts of Interest/Favored Treatment,
Fraud by an Employee, and
Procurement and Contracting Improprieties.

The State Auditor has a Fraud Reporting Process web page on how to report suspected “Fraud, Waste and Abuse of Public Recourses.”

Chavez-Gutierrez could have remained anonymous, but chose to use her name, as an elected official to publicly act.

Tapia complained that there is one Commission and they act as one, as if the majority can control the minority member from exercising the position of citizen and elected official without the majority’s approval.

Chavez-Gutierrez is listed on Balderas’ campaign website as endorsing him.

The April 12. 2012, MountainView Telegraph published an article by Laurie Clark, “Commission Candidate Drops Out.”

New Mexico Department of Transportation employee Jason Quintana, withdrew his name from the Torrance County primary ballot as a Democrat running for the Commission District 3 seat being vacated by Chavez-Gutierrez.

Adjutant Secretary at New Mexico Department of Transportation Mike McEntee, right, a former Air Traffic Control Specialist at Federal Aviation Administration and former Albuquerque City Councilor knows a little bit about the Federal rules about federal employees running for office. McEntee ran afoul of the Federal Hatch Act when he campaigned for Mayor of Albuquerque in 1993.

Though the Mayor’s race is “non-partisan,” McEntee used a campaign slogan touting himself as the only Republican in the multi-candidate field. The Federal government found that the Republican claim made his candidacy a partisan issue and imposed a 120-day suspension. McEntee lost the race, but was able to retain his FAA controller’s job.

The Telegraph article went on to point out that Commissioner Freyburger is also a New Mexico Department of Transportation classified employee sitting in a political office as a result of a partisan race.

McEntee said that as of April 4, Freyburger was notified that "due to his position in the classified service, his political office as commissioner placed him in violation of the SPB rule."

Freyburger does not intend to resign from either the commission or the DOT, said McEntee.
April 16, 2012, Capitol Report New Mexico, posted an article, "Torrance County commissioners and their camera problem."

The posting was based on the KOB reporting of April 11 and the April 12 MountainView Telegraph article, and an interview with Executive Director of New Mexico Foundation for Open Government Gwyneth Doland, but missed the fact that the resolution was already voted down.

Also on April 16, 2012, KOB Eyewitness News 4 On Your Side Reporter Chris Ramirez Huffman and Producer Peter St Cyr, aired a story on the 10 PM broadcast, “Torrance County Commissioner's family faces harassment.”

KOB aired part of an audio recording with contractor Chris Valdez who is heard in a heavily profane rant that required censoring by the station to conform to Federal Communications Commission rules on indecency. The audio was recorded by an unnamed member of Chavez-Gutierrez' family on a smart-phone.

The TV station claimed, "After KOB 4 On Your Side broke that initial story, the retaliation intensified and got violent."
My Take
KOB did not break this story, Hewett, above, broke the story by posting video on YouTube, after the meetings.
Edgewood Independent's Editor and Reporter Leota Harriman, left, and MountainView Telegraph's Laurie Clark, right, were covering this story since the January 11, 2012, meeting.

Both journalists are armed with cameras and digital voice recorders they use in reporting the news.

Ramirez Huffman stated he got interested in the public access part of the story from reading MacQuiggs blog.

The audio KOB ran and called violent, is rude, vulgar, and profane, but it's not violent. By what was presented on television from the audio, Valdez suggests a willingness to get violent, yet violence is not done.
On April 19. 2012, the MountainView Telegraph published an article by Laurie Clark, "Torrance Chair Asked To Vacate".

Also on April 19. 2012, the MountainView Telegraph published an article by Laurie Clark, "Freyburger Stays Commissioner for Now".

Commissioner Freyburger has problems with his state employment with the NMDOT.

The Department indicated they were unaware Freyburger was a County Commissioner, while he claims he had permission to run.

Freyburger does not seem to be able to read the state law or the state personnel rules. While running for a partisan political office, he must take leave without pay. However, once elected he may no longer remain employed by the state.

Freyburger sought a legal opinion from NMDOT and from the department' personnel director and received a response favorable to him. There is no telling what those who rendered opinions actually knew about the nature of the political race. If they were lead to believe it was a non-partisan contest, their opinion might have been valid.

However, those responses were not accurate and it was Freyburger's responsibility to follow the law, no matter upon what resources he relied.

On April 19, 2012, the Mountain View Telegraph published an article by Laurie Clark, "Inquiry Irks 2 Commissioners".

On April 27, 2012, Albuquerque Journal along with the Mountain View Telegraph published an article by Laurie Clark, "Torrance County Commissioner Retires from DOT".

On May 3, 2012, the Mountain View Telegraph published an article by Laurie Clark, "Torrance County May Replace Prayer".

According to Clark:
Many residents stood up to speak in favor of prayer.

But Rick Lopez said: "I respect (Smith's) viewpoint very, very much, I find it hard to believe that our commission would deny a Navajo to come and speak in his native language, and to give the prayer to his god … it is not declaring a religion for the county."...

Resident Rick Lopez said the residents of the county seem to be picking sides, and the commissioners are airing their troubles in the press, both of which are bad for the county.

"Every time you get in front of that press, you look bad. You look bad for the county, all three of you. This needs to stop. We need to come together as a people, as a group," he said. "… I understand that all three of you are pretty much brand new to the politics, but I am tired and I am embarrassed at my commission for what has gone on. … You are adults."
Clark doesn't identify Lopez as Torrance County Republican Chairman.

However, Hewett's YouTube, "Rick Lopez, Republican Party Chair Admonishes Commission - Torrance County Commission 04-25-2012".

On May 10, 2012, the Mountain View Telegraph published a Staff Opinion, “Panel To Take Up Prayer Issue,“ favoring the continuation of a prayer.

On May 31, 2012, the Mountain View Telegraph published an article, “Nonsectarian Prayer To Precede Meetings” by Laurie Clark about action taken at the May 23, commission meeting, “…Commissioners Leanne Tapia and Lonnie Freyburger voted in favor of nonsectarian prayer at the beginning of meetings. … Commissioner Venessa Chavez-Gutierrez was the dissenting vote."
My Take
Torrance County Sheriff Heath White, left, signing Seventh Judicial District Attorney Clint Wellborn's campaign nominating petition, at the County GOP Pre Primary Convention, held in the Commission Chambers, are the highest ranking law enforcers – prosecutors and have lawful duties. If they become aware of accusation of possible illegal activity they are empowered and duty bound to investigate. If they find evidence Wellborn may impanel a grand jury yet, neither has stepped up to inform the public that there is or is not an investigation started.
The Seventh Judicial District has a new court complex on the northern outskirts of Estancia, where there must be a grand jury room that could hear and review evidence of any possible wrong doing.

On May 2, 2012, Edgewood Independent published an article by Editor and Reporter Leota Harriman, “Freyburger quits DOT”.

“It was either resign or be fired, so I bought out five months of time, which cost me about $13,000,” Freyburger said, “and that way I was able to retire with 25 years.”

Much of the proposed list in the second amended resolution on the recording policy is based upon New Mexico Supreme Court Rule 23-107. Broadcasting, televising, photographing and recording of court proceedings; guidelines.

However, the Open Meetings Act states,
10-15-1.         Formation of public policy; procedures for open meetings; exceptions and procedures for closed meetings:
A.         All meetings of any public body except the legislature and the courts shall be public meetings, and all persons so desiring shall be permitted to attend and listen to the deliberations and proceedings.

 “… Except the legislature and the courts.”

The use of court guidelines for non-court public bodies is offensive to the Open Meetings Act on its face.
Cameras in Courtrooms
There are distinct differences between court sessions and meetings of public bodies.
The First and Sixth Amendments are in direct conflict with each other.

The First is a prohibition on government from establishing or supporting any religion, or interfering in an individuals’ free exercise of their own religious beliefs.

The First goes on protecting: thought, speech, all forms of writing, acts of expression through any form of media, peaceably gathering, associating, interacting of people with themselves, and with their government.

The Sixth requires government to protect persons accused of crimes to assure they receive a fair trial and are not be subjected to a system that might find them guilty without an opportunity to examine, and question the evidence, and to confront their accusers, and all witnesses against them, and to have the Assistance of Counsel. In tandem with the Fifth, “…persons accused of crimes will not be subjected to losing their life, liberty, or property except as a result of due process.”
Courts are confronted with specific issues not present in public meetings, such as: the presence of juries and witnesses. Court guidelines protect people who are present under lawful order: jury summons, or witness subpoenas and who are involuntarily present as opposed to those who attend public meetings.
Courts are a separate branch of government and have their own ideas of how the Bill of Rights should be applied by them.

"I can tell you the day you see a camera come into our courtroom, it's going to roll over my dead body," Supreme Court Justice David H. Souter said, speaking before a House Appropriations subcommittee for the Supreme Court's budget request for 1997 fiscal year, as reported by the New York Times.

The judiciary is not a political institution, Souter said, "nor is it part of the entertainment industry."
My Take

Justice Souter ignored the reality that the Supreme Court has and is now a political institution; he need only look at some of the decisions he participated in while serving on the court to see what are generally considered to have been political by the people of this country.

Political from the Greek polī́tēs: citizen

Souter’ statement is pretty entertaining.

If he didn’t pay attention to what the public craves, which seems to be reports of court cases involving: sensational, scandalous, lurid, depravations, and then he doesn’t understand that he is not the one who gets to define what the public finds entertaining.

Souter left the bench June 29, 2009 and was replaced by President Barack Obama's appointment of Sonia Sotomayor.
There may be a historical reason why cameras were not used in the US Supreme Court. It is only my speculation, but the room would have been too dark for the camera technology of the day. Above, is the 1975 restoration of the 1819 old courtroom in the US Capitol building.

When the Capitol was expanded in 1860, the court took over what was originally the Senate chamber and occupied it until the current building's construction was completed in 1935. This photograph was shot with a modern film camera and a fast lens, but is a short handheld time exposure. Cameras and insensitive film of the late 19th and early 20th centuries could not have made acceptable images of the working court. If there were participants in this picture, the lighting would not allow for an acceptable exposure.
State of New Mexico Supreme Court
The Supreme Court of the State New Mexico, above, does not hold the same view as does US Supreme Court Associate Justice Souter; the courtroom is open to cameras.
The Court Security Officer standing behind Secretary of State Dianna Duran has served more than 15 years and has never seen cameras turned away from any session.

Albuquerque Journal Photographer Jim Thompson, below, along with a KRQE Photojournalist Robert Pugsley; others using cameras in the court room included: Santa Fe New Mexican's Capitol Reporter Trip Jennings, and Capitol Report New Mexico .com's Rob Nikolewski.
The New Mexico Supreme Court during the April 10, 2012 session held special appeals on challenges to candidate for various State Legislative Public Regulation Commission, and Judicial offices
Supreme Court Justices, clockwise from upper left, Justices Charles Daniels, Patricio Sena, Edward Chavez, and Chief Justice Petra Jimenez Maes, heard the cases. Justice Richard Bosson did not participate.
This is an instruction, which may be read to the jury during a criminal trial.

State of New Mexico 2011 NMSA 1978 (unannotated) NMRA (Unannotated)
Uniform Jury Instructions — Criminal
CHAPTER 1 General Instructions
Part A General Explanatory Matters Before and During Trial
14-109. Explanation; cameras in courtroom.
Cameras are allowed in the courts of this state under certain guidelines. In order not to distract you, they will be located in designated areas of this courtroom. In the event any member of the jury is distracted by any member of the news media, you should immediately advise this court.

The news media has been instructed not to film this jury or any member of this jury whether in the courtroom or outside the courtroom.

The cameras may be allowed to photograph the testimony of certain witnesses and not others or only portions of the testimony of some witnesses. You are not to draw any inferences or conclusions whatsoever from this fact.
To drive the point home about cameras in the Supreme Court, Second Judicial District, Bernalillo County, Division 19, District Court Judge Sam Winder, who was recently appointed by Susana Martinez and is running for election against Metropolitan Judge Ben Chavez. Winder recorded the legal arguments that Chavez brought contesting the sufficiency Winder's petitions.

The Court ruled 4-0 the Winder's petitions were acceptable and the two will square off in the general election.
Cameras in Legislative Branches
By Federal Constitutional design, the legislative branch is closest to the people. Members of the House of Representatives are elected directly by the smallest number of constituents divided into districts and for the shortest period of time – two-year terms. Should a member of the House not be able to fulfill their term, a special election is the only means of replacement.
The Constitution mandated that the Senate represent the interests of the States and it was up to the States legislatures to select Senators to represent them; serving a six-year term, with elections staggered every three years in “classes” of a third of the body up for election. Vacancies are filled by the states in a manner of their individual choosing.
Access to the Senate floor is prohibited. The taking of pictures of any kind is prohibited in the Senate Chamber, the Senate Reading rooms (marble room and Lobby), the Senate cloakrooms, the private dining rooms of the Senate, and in the hallways on the third floor…

The House of Representatives
No photographers are permitted in the House Chamber except on special occasions such as the Joint Meetings of Congress, State of the Union addresses, etc. Admittance on such occasions is limited and requires special credentials….

Committee Hearings
…Generally photographs are permitted at open hearings, however, each committee establishes its own rules governing photo coverage. Photographers are usually allowed in committees wells, but should remain below the top of the dais and not between the witness and members of the committee. The use of cellular phones, lap tops and other electronic communication devices is prohibited in the committee well. It is the Gallery's right to limit the number of still photographers in a committee's well…. 
There are several locations where press conferences may be held in hallways, like the one taken on June 3, 1969, after the Senate Judiciary Committee met with President Richard Nixon’s nominee for Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Warren Burger. Senate Majority Leader Everett Dirksen R – Illinois announced the committee’s recommendation of Burger for Senate conformation.

On the House side there is an outdoor venue for Representatives to make: statements, announcements, or hold press conferences with the Capitol as a backdrop.
November 16, 1999, Congressman Ben Gilman, R-New York, center. with a fellow co-sponsors Representative Bart Stupak, D-Michigan, left, Representative Jim Ramstad, R-Minnesota, right, announcing the introduction of the Convicted Offender DNA Index System Support Act. Standing in the rear is Assistant Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation Dan Kerr, head of the FBI Forensic Laboratory. They stand in front of the House of Representatives side of the United States Capitol during the press conference that would create a law enforcement database of DNA samples that could be cross referenced and examined with evidence collected at crime scenes to identify or eliminate suspect through the use of unique DNA markers.

Away from the Capitol campus, the same rules do not apply.
New Mexico Representatives Tom Udall, Heather Wilson, and Congressman Stephen Horn, R – Calif. of the House Subcommittee on Government Efficiency, Financial Management and Intergovernmental Relations, held hearings in a five-city tour, including Albuquerque, April 1, 2002 into the level of preparation for a biological, chemical or nuclear attack.
Wilson and Horn attended a demonstration by members of the then newly formed joint New Mexico Army-Air National Guard's 64th Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support team, showing how they would collect samples from a chemical, biological or nuclear incident.
Wilson put on a protective suit, including an air mask, worn by the military team at such incidents.
New Mexico Senators Jeff Bingaman, D, center, Pete Domenici, R, right, and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, Independent. left, during the United States Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources field hearing on July 2, 2008, in Albuquerque.
The Constitution of the State of New Mexico, Article IV, Legislative Department, Section 12. Public sessions; journals, reads:
All sessions of each house shall be public….
It isn't true; here is a notice on the door of the Interim Legislative Council announcing it is in Executive Session.

In 2011, Senate Rule 9-5-7 was adopted in response to Governor Martinez’ staff recording certain committee hearings of politically controversial pieces of legislation, then posted on the Governor’s official website.

The rule reads:
Photography, video or audio recording or transmission of committee proceedings may, upon request, be allowed with the permission of the chair and ranking member.

Though the Senate rule clearly violates the First Amendment, Sen. John Sapien, D – Sandoval County, who was one of the 34 Senators to vote for the rule said in an interview last year, “No one has been denied the right to record any committee meeting,” Sapien said. “You just have to ask.”

Both chambers are controlled by the Democratic Party. The Party calls itself into session under the term caucus where strategies, amendments and votes are hammered out. If it weren't for the Capitol building's no smoking rule, a caucus would be the old proverbial smoked filled back room.

When a majority of a body gathers, it is a quorum. The majority will argue that a caucus is not a session for purposes of the Constitutional requirement.
The Senate Rules Committee taking a proposal from Senate Majority Leader Michael Snachez D – Valencia at a redistricting hearing during the 2010 Special Legislative Session.
Albuquerque Journal Photographer Richard Pipes photographing witnesses during a 2010 Senate Rules Committee hearing from the “well” between the dais and witness table.
A session on the House Floor photographed from the Print Media Gallery.
Albuquerque Journal Photographer Morgan Petroski and then KOAT TV’s Santa Fe Bureau Reporter Greg Gurulé shoot out of the Media Gallery window.
KOB TV Reporter/Photographer Gadi Schwartz working behind Legislators and a sign restricting area to Legislators and Staff only, during an interim committee hearing.
Albuquerque Journal Photographer Roberto Rosales, above left, photographing Senators Sapien and Michael Sanchez with then new University of New Mexico Head Football Coach Mike Locksley, in red, on the floor during a Senate session.
The photographer, above, is shooting in the House chambers.

There is a little known Senate rule allowing journalist on the floor during the session. Rule 23-3 is not adhered to on a consistent basis, but media and the Senate seem to manage quite well. I know a Senator who was unaware of the rule, but hadn't seen the laid back attitude towards photo-op's like the one above as problematic.
Though the Torrance County recording resolution policy was voted down; let’s view the list of proposed restrictions one at a time:
a.         The person intending to record the meeting must provide 24 hours advance written notice to the County Manager's office of the intent to record the meeting;

This comes from the court guidelines.

From the April 19, 2012, Mountain View Telegraph article:
Tapia is in favor of the policy as well. In an interview, she said that it comes down, once again, to respecting people.

"Miss Hewett never once came in before she started recording and said, 'Would you mind? What do you think about this?' She just started showing up with her camera … and I don't have a problem with her coming and videoing," said Tapia. "I think the downfall to what she does is that she posts it on YouTube and she labels it the label that she wants, and that people are able to comment and share what their thoughts are.

I just don't see that in a very positive realm, because it's just hurting people. I mean, if you want to have that discussion with me over coffee, that's one thing. But to post it out there, I don't see that as being very beneficial as a whole of a community wanting to better itself."

Under the First Amendment’s "Congress (states, counties, cities, towns, municipalities, or any other political sub-divisions) shall make no law (rule, regulation, standard, or other restriction) respecting an establishment of... or abridging the freedom... of the press;....”, a citizen need not ask permission of any governmental body to freely exercise a Constitutional right.

b.         All videotaping equipment must be on a tripod located in the designated videotaping area and facing the commissioner's dais;
One obvious problem is activity in the room is not limited only to the commissioner's dais; the County Attorney and Sheriff, above, may interject, there are department heads and their representatives who speak, citizens my make requests or address the Commission, guest’s like Kopelman and Phillips of the New Mexico Association of Counties took over the front of the room and the Commissioners joined citizens in the audience.

This point in Freyburger’s resolution misses the entire meaning about the people’s right to attend (peaceably) and to observe the proceedings and to exercise a free press.

Freyburger, left, talks about people being able to see.
When the speakers from the Association of Counties talked and engaged the audience, no one in the room was more attentive to who was asking questions or making comment, than was Freyburger.

He was turning around constantly to see.

Maybe Baltimore Police Department Chief Legal Counsel Mark Grimes, said it best, about a department directive to police officers about not restricting citizens recording police activity in public. "This is an extension of the citizen's right to see," he said. An officer "wouldn't go up to a citizen at a crime scene and tell them to close their eyes, so the officer can't tell them they can't film."

This dictate has a number of other problems, among them:
1         It violates the First Amendment’s …“abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press...”, by both limiting and telling "We the People," acting as press how they must conduct their protected activities in an unreasonable effort to abridge a Constitutional freedom.

2.        This constitutes an unlawful prior restraint.

3.         it is inconsistent with the "reasonable effort" language in the State's Open Meetings Act; in fact, it is an unreasonable effort to not accommodate audio and video recording.

c.         Videotape equipment and tripods must not obstruct the view of attendees of the meeting and must not block any access to exits from the meeting room;

This would seem, on its face, to be a commonsense rule, but there are instances where things like the presentation of an award to an individual or group might call for a relaxation of the blocking of an audience member’s view to momentarily obtain a close-up grip and grin shot.
Stating that Video equipment and tripods must not block any access to exits from the meeting room inaccurately states the conditions of the Commission chambers.

The aisles, below, in the Torrance County Board of Commissioners chambers are particularly wide as compared to some other public rooms around the state.
There are four marked exits two on each side of the room; the two eastern doors are double doors and the two western doors are single doors.
The north and south aisles have physical abutments that jut into the room and sometimes have items, like the podium are stored without blocking any egress routes.
The placement of tripods in these aisles, do not block any access to exits, more than what already exists.
The man, above, had no problem leaving the room after giving a department presentation and passing myself, then passing Robertson, with his camera on a tripod.
KOB’s Photojournalist Cornell placed her tripod in the jutted out part of the north aisle for a few moments as she worked different angles of the room to acquire needed images for producing the news package. Her being in the aisle was either ignored, not noticed, but certainly not commented upon, or any action taken to have her move for the blockage.

Amongst photographers at events, there are unwritten rules: If you want to change positions, try to move by going behind fellow photographers, however, if one has to step in front of a video camera, check with photographer to see if the camera is running, and to check with still photographer before crossing. When running video, I like to be asked; but when I am doing stills, a word is sufficient and appreciated, but from my stand point, not necessary.

KOB’s photojournalist was pretty good about checking with others in the room, but Cornell did set up directly in front of Robertson without looking for him.

d.         All recording devices must run on batteries, as power cords may create tripping hazards;
Where tripping hazards actually exist, like in aisles where people might pass between the location of equipment and a power outlet, this rule might make sense. Professionals, in particular, are well equipped to tape down such wires to specifically eliminate such tripping hazards. It is a standard safety procedure taught and practiced by professional media.

e.         All recording devices must operate silently or at a decibel level not disruptive of the meeting;

This rule also comes from the court guidelines. However, the courts don't even enforce such a strict rule of silence, as will be discussed later in this post.

The description and determination of disruptive is arbitrary and capricious.

There is no decibel level stated for a comparison with an ambient decibel level standard to make a reasonable judgment of what is disruptive. This should be a scientific test, but sensitive ears and curiosity, are not the appropriate test. What is the proper percentage of the audio amplification speaker level is proper?

Commission Clerk Jones was asked at one meeting to raise the volume of the speakers, not because of competing sounds, but because a citizen was having difficulty hearing the speakers, without increasing the sound system's volume.

It is also not a reasonable accommodation mentioned in the open meetings act.

This rules disregards the First Amendments prohibition against, “abridging… the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievance.”

Peaceably to assemble is much different than the whereas language of Freyburger‘s resolution:
In order to maintain the proper decorum required for conducting the business of the county while, at the same time allowing members of the media or general public access to audio and visual recordings of the proceedings of the county commission….

Before he wrote in his first draft, “the public is strictly prohibited from operating audio and/or visual recording devices within the Commission Chambers,” Freyburger makes clear he does not want any recording device in the room and if he cannot eliminate them, then he wants to direct where they “may” operate in a designated area as far from the commissioner’s table as possible.

f.            All recording devices must operate without additional lighting;
Fortunately the Torrance County Commission room appears fairly well lit, but some, trying to video or photograph might have problems.
The Sandoval County’s Commission room, above, is lit to about the same level as is Torrance County’s, however, it also has a translucent glass block wall behind the dais that during the day, outdoor light overpowers the indoor ambient light. This situation requires additional light to balance the room. The results are not satisfactory.
The Albuquerque City Commission Chamber, above, was located in City Hall and lit by florescent lighting.
In 1971 the city of Albuquerque rewrote their charter, above, and changed from a Commission/City Manager, to a Council/Mayor, form of government.

The City Council continued to meet in the same room. These are the Councillors who served in 1977 as the third council.
Front row: Sondra L. West, Marion Cottrell, Patrick J. Baca, Jo MacAleese
Back row: Mel C. Aragon, Jim Delleney, Joe R. Abeyta, Thomas W. Hoover, and Alan Reed.
When One Civic Plaza was built, the Albuquerque City Council/Bernalillo County Commission Government Chambers, above, were poorly lit and made photographing and video for cable access problematic.
The Government Access cable channel installed additional lighting, to provide the necessary illumination to video the meetings in the current Chambers, above.

When the room was used for meetings like the Public Safety Advisory Board below, and others that were not broadcast on GOV, the cable station, the additional lights were not turned on, the three different kinds of house lights: Mercury vapor, incandescent, and florescent with their different color temperatures, made photographing extremely difficult from spotted lighting to extreme dark areas and differing colors.
The top picture was under the greatest influence of Incandescent light and thus appears reddish, while the lower picture of the law enforcement presenters at the same meeting were lit under the influence of all three types of lights and appears bluish.
During a more recent renovation, the GOV channel upgraded the lighting from high wattage tungsten to a cool color balanced florescent tubes and the room, below, was named after the late Vincent E. Griego, who had a long career a County employee and was a City Councillor.
g.        All videotaping equipment must be focused on the Commission table;

This is a repeat of (b).

There are some problems associated with this arrangement, particularly the concept of a free press, the right of those assembled peaceably to observe whatever is happening in a room cannot then be limited to videotaping equipment if any citizen can look about the room then any citizen with a recording device can also look about the room.

Commission Clerk Jones briefed the commissioners on the plans for the cameras to be mounted on either side of the room at about the point where the floor covering changes from tile to carpet, below. Such placement would contradict this rule against citizens, while allowing government a wider view and greater access.

Trying to dictate coverage by placing blinders on the public is an anathema to freedom.

Freyburger said:
When we're talking about putting somebody in a designated area … it's kind of like saying, I have not seen one photographer yet run on a football field when a play is going on to try and take pictures because they have the 'right' to be there. I have seen them in designated areas.
His sports metaphor is almost perfect. The Commission room, above, being used here by the County Republican Party, has a playing field, it is even green, and it is distinctively marked off by a change from a tile floor to carpeting.

During my visits, those now covering the Torrance County Commission, have not “run onto" the carpeted area during a discussion to photograph up close.

There are other major technical concerns; particularly the distance, or what is known in the political/newsgathering coverage world as throw, between the podium and a camera platform.

Being relegated to photograph from one angle makes no sense from a journalistic standpoint and though Freyburger has not thought it through, it is deadly to any political aspirations he might harbor, when viewers and readers of visual publications, are shown the same thing, or even worse not shown anything at all. The politician loses a critical link with the electorate, which will rightly discern that something is amiss.
One only has to look at how the major campaigns or Presidential visits, above, go about providing for media coverage to understand the value associated with locations that afford opportunities for the creation of "great" visual images.
In this image, at the same event, within moments of President Obama beginning his speech, no less than 25 phone based cameras come into play from the center section of the assembled crowd.

If every person who took a picture shows it to just one other person, they will be, the Free Press, not subject to any restriction by government for their activity.

There is no doubt the White House does not view the people who attend such events as Free Press and subject to event credentials as members of the White House Press Pool, though they are accommodating to local media, including boggers.
Torrance County and most other local public bodies hardly need to go to great lengths of designating specific areas for people to witness, document or to record such events.

However, if they were to be faced with all the considerations of a presidential event in their meeting room: the security considerations, the numbers of members of the media, and the possible overflow crowds, they would likely realize that a few people taking pictures are the least of their worry.
Even when provided a designated spot from which to photograph at major events, there are other arrangements made for photographers to get different angles from other designated areas.
In the montage of pictures above, click on to enlarge image, are four examples of, "Cut Risers", so called because of their location 90 degrees for the stage, usually elevated and are for the purpose of obtaining "cut away shots" for film or video. A cut away is a clearly different angle from a main shot in video, which is used to cover an edit without viewers noticing a jump in an image where the original picture is changed to a similar looking image. A cut away is a visual form of punctuation, meaning it's changed a little; similar to a: comma, semicolon, or a period.
At big political events there is another locale photographers seek, above left. It is in close and depending on the stage height, it may be very low. Where security is tight, a limited number of photographers are permitted in this area at any one time. A member of the speaker’s communications staff usually monitors this and photographers queue up for a turn.
At the end of a political speech or event, especially members of the photo pool will photograph what is called the rope line. This is where the principle shakes hands with the crowd and any dignitaries.

Within the people's right to peaceably assemble, is the ability to participate, not only to the degree of watching and listening, but to record, if they wish, for posterity, or to share with others, in any way they see fit.

In addition to those points Freyburger hasn't paid attention to just how much freedom photographers are afforded to make pictures in other venues.
Within the peoples right to peaceably assemble, is the ability to participate, not only to the degree of watching and listening, but to record, if they wish, for posterity, or to share with others, in any way they see fit.

Inherent in such participation are several elements this proposed measure attempted to restrict. The presence of people provides a degree of access, appropriate lighting allows one to see, and modern sound systems lets people, even at a distance to hear the business at hand.

The ability of camera-mounted microphones to acquire acceptable audio is nearly impossible from such distances, without the aid of what it known as house sound – a direct access to the sound system.
This audio-technician, above, is using a shotgun microphone in a blimp windshield covered with a fur cover to reduce extraneous noise, in order to acquire the best audio possible.

It is clear that neither Freyburger, nor anyone else associated with the Commission or Manager’s office have publicly considered the ramifications of not providing such augmented sound and limiting distances as being unreasonable efforts to accommodate audio and video recordings.

The public should in no way be relegated to a lesser standard than the government provides for itself.
Throughout the state, where government meetings are regularly covered by the media, one can find in-house sound panels and outlets, above, in that one of the Print Media Galleries at the State Legislature to meet the Open Meetings dictate for reasonable accommodations.

Below, is what is known as a Mult-Box, it is a portable panel that distributes audio from a central sound output allowing for multiple connections for audio and video recorders to obtain the same quality sound as the host system provides itself.
This particular unit was used when New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez, Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry, officials from Sandia National Laboratories, and the U.S. Department of Energy, announced at a press conference at the National Museum of Nuclear Science and History, of the final transuranic waste shipment being removed from Sandia National Laboratories and transported to the Waste Isolation Pilot Project in Carlsbad, New Mexico.

Below, is a Mult-Box provided for print and radio reporters in the traveling press with then Senator Barrack Obama as he campaigned for the Democratic Party’s Presidential Nomination.
In today’s journalistic world, which is requiring less specialization and often more technical skills to be a multi-media producer; almost every scribe uses a portable digital recorder for note-taking, photographers use the devices to help in writing captions.

Where house sound is not provided, television news crews will place a wireless microphone on a podium or dais to acquire acceptable sound; radio reporters and print journalist may also place their recorders there.
Governor Martinez and General Services Department Secretary Ed Burckle, above, held a press conference, August 6, 2012, at the Associated Builders and Contractors announcing the elimination of an annual $100 vendor registration fee charged by the State Purchasing Division for companies seeking business with the State of New Mexico.

Martinez's bracelets jangled so much as to interfere in clear audio, according to one of the TV photographers.

Digital recording devices are now ubiquitous.

Susan Montoya Bryant of Associated Press, upper left, holds her recorder as she photographs and reviews her pictures during New Mexico Attorney General Gary King’s June 24, 2011, press conference. A print journalist, lower left, takes notes while holding his recorder under his pad during the January 10, 2009, U.S. Census press conference. Albuquerque Journal Photographer Dean Hanson, left, and Journal Staff Writer Dan Boyd, with his digital recorder at hand, reviews a picture on Hanson’s Nikon’s LCD screen to help determine who was in the photograph at a Gov. Martinez bill-signing ceremony.

Anyone with cellular phone technology containing: audio and video recorders, and still, camera capabilities, and some degree of storytelling abilities can spread their message without any further support that might interfere with the process.
University of New Mexico Communications and Journalism Chair Dr. Glenda Balas, above, speaking to the Albuquerque Press Women's Association explains a revamping of a new curriculum at the school.

Journalism schools are trying to teach what is now being demanded by media outlets, especially newspapers, that are trying to broaden their presence on the internet; by practicing what is called backpack journalists; all skills in one package.

There are four major disciplines regarded for today’s media worker: the ability to write, to obtain audio and interview for radio or podcasts and video, the ability to capture video images, and to acquire still photographs.

One can acquire an acceptable level of technical competence in each discipline, but to go into the field and bring back high-level material in all four disciplines is very problematic. Two skills are basic to all four, writing and interviewing. It is in the visual disciplines where the problems arise.

Theoretically, the technology within smartphones are capable of capturing all the media necessary for backpack journalists. The phones have audio recorders, digital still cameras, and video cameras; they also have keypads for writing. Applications to edit, compose, layout and then disseminate productions are available.

However, such technology is of minimal quality. It may be acceptable if viewed on a smartphone's screen, but it leaves more than a lot to be desired in any other format.

Video and still photographs are based on two entirely different philosophies, Video primarily is based on the camera being placed in a stationary position and allowing the world to pass in front of its lens, while still photography is based on the photographer continually moving slightly to improve the composure and focus of the subject.

There are advocates who argue that while shooting video, still frames can be grabbed from the video.

Though true, the quality of the stills, suffers from the locked down video camera’s position.

Backpack journalists do satisfy a certain bottom line thinking in the media world.

Newspapers are not dying because of a lack of the ability of journalists to put out quality journalism day after day; newspapers are being strangled by their own bean counters and unrealistic and overly aggressive stockholders anticipated returns who totally disregard the facts that good journalism, and in particular good photography, will sell more product than penny pinching can save.
Kate Nash, above right, now of the Santa Fe New Mexican’s Capitol bureau and Peter St Cyr, above left, now the 4 On Your Side producer at KOB TV, both were regular practitioners of backpack journalism, four years ago; neither is actively engaged in the concept today.

The enthusiasm for the quad disciplines has waned over the past few years and one sees less of all four being presented at the same time.
Television is looking more often for journalism school, multi-media trained practitioners of what TV news calls the one-man-band. A photojournalist, with emphasis on journalist; one who can capture images, interview, write, report, and edit a package for inclusion on the air.
This equipment laden member of the traveling press accompanying the 2010 Obama campaign seems well prepared to cover the event except for having a tripod.
In the local market there are some highly skilled one-man-bands: KRQE TV 13' s Reporter Alex Tomlin, above, KOAT TV’s Action 7 News Santa Fe Bureau Reporter Alana Greenfoge, below, and,
KLUZ Univision TV 41''s Jim Morrison, below.


My Take
A little secret; during football games it is not uncommon for a play, especially an intercepted pass going away from the photographer for two things to happen: the sided-lined coach will step onto the field to observe the play blocking photographers views, and photographers, also on the sidelines behind the coach will step on the field to make pictures of the down field play. Spectators and officials don’t notice this because they’re focused on the play also.
Virtually no one else notices either; if they do, it is regarded appropriately as a no-harm no-foul situation.

This picture, taken during the September 13, 2003 game against Air Force Academy, is of then UNM Football Coach Rocky Long, left, stepping onto the field of play, while the line judge tries to motion him back.
We know what happens if an over-enthusiastic spectator runs onto the field of play at a sporting event.
However, Freyburger again gets it backwards, as in his sports field metaphor, it is the field that is designated off-limits, photographers are not otherwise restrained from locations to take their pictures.

Yet, in the world of covering sports, camera technology has changed. Television routinely takes you inside a huddle at football games and gives audiences a view never before available. Cameras now are placed in what would be impossibly dangerous locations to cover auto racing, including: burying a camera in the racetrack surface, mounting cameras on bumpers, rooftops, and in drivers’ compartments.
During a December 1970 public hearing of the Albuquerque City Commission members of the TV press, Journal Photographer Barry Aguilar, and myself had free range of the room and took advantage of it.
This meeting was years before the new County City Chambers was built, which has better lines of sight and a meeting can almost, but not quite be covered from a single location.

Freyburger is only the most recent elected official to attempt to corral image-makers during public meetings.
The above sign, at an Albuquerque City Council meeting, was placed to restrain a citizen, Geraldine Amato, below, who was not photographing, and got into a physical confrontation with the Council President at an earlier meeting, from standing in this area, from where I usually photographed.
I was told by Albuquerque Police Officer Paul Pacheco I could not stand where I normally did.

I disregarded Pacheco and the sign and was told by the director of Council Services Laura Mason, I had to move. Not wanting to create a scene, at the moment, I moved – a little.
The local television news crews were relegated to lining up in the back of the room, above.
They were none to pleased.
KOAT TV Photographer, left, and Reporter A.J. Smith, above, did her 10:00 p.m. news stand up report from the aisle near the back of the room. She spoke in the volume and tone she did for all her newscasts and members of the Council took note.

After the meeting, I spoke with Mason, right, informing her the sign would be ignored in the future.

At the next meeting, TV News photographers and I were not challenged when we returned to working from vantage points that had been used for years.

A relaxed and open atmosphere at all governmental meetings seems more conducive to self-restrained behavior on the part of visual image-makers. Photographers have standards for covering events and if there is not an overt attempt to control the way they work, the consumer of news and information will get a better view than those who seek to control the message might have expected or actually realize.
Video Photographer David Quintana stand in the middle of the chambers to acquire images during a City Council meeting.
Local television news videographers, above, work from the edge of the dais, which is about as far forward of the speakers podium as one can get without encroaching between the speaker and the panel.

Albuquerque Photographer Toby Jorrin, below, escaped control of the press pen handlers during a Jan. 31, 2008, former President Bill Clinton’s campaign visit to UNM for his wife’s run for the Democratic Presidential nomination. A local Clinton campaign worker attempted to get Jorrin to return to the press pen.
This is a classic, "What’s Wrong With This Picture?", because while the Clinton campaign worried about Jorrin’s independence, they ignore the women with her cell-phone camera. They also ignored my escape, in part because the campaign ran out of press passes and I slipped off to explore better vantage points blending into the crowd of citizens who had respectable equipment and telephoto lenses.

Making control and prior restraint censorship issues are almost a guarantee of unwanted media coverage questioning the public body’s commitment to the precepts of the democratic process. Where there is an open and fair process, citizens are more willing to have confidence in their elected and appointed officials.

A history of unsuccessful efforts to restrict open coverage of government forums has littered the state’s public meeting rooms since former Senator Victor Marshall, right, pushed through an amendment to the Open Meeting Act in 1993.

h.             All videotaping shall be performed in such a manner as not to intimidate or otherwise harass members of the public who wish to address the Commission.
There is an attitude among some Torrance County public servants who do not want to be photographed.
In an interview with KOB Reporter Chris Ramirez Huffman, County Manager Ansley, above, said that County Department Heads who did not want to be photographed during Commission meetings could submit their reports in writing. Currently such reports are given orally, and then they stand for questions.
My Take

The effect for citizens is they do not get to see public employees stand, answer questions and be held accountable to the public they serve. Claiming to be shy will only be used as a pretext in not being as transparent or accountable.

This attitude turns the burden of proof from the government employee, of providing actual provable actions of intimidation or harassment, as objective evidence, rather it allows subjective feelings of victimization to control.

The rule of law is a photographer may take pictures in a public place and in particular of public servants doing work paid by taxpayers. Government employees have no expectation of privacy, so absent a physical assault by getting into the personal space of a public employee, they are subject to being photographed.
The key words from the open meetings act are:
Reasonable efforts shall be made to accommodate the use of audio and video recording devices.
Though there are statutes that deal specifically with disruptions and disorderly conduct, in the presence of a law enforcement officer, in this case the Torrance County Sheriff Heath White, left, or one of his Deputies, present during the Commission meetings, are duty bound to maintain peace and good order. When there is a disruption of the peace, law enforcement officer must establish probable cause and witness the violation of a misdemeanor crime in their presence to make an arrest. However, they may also take other action, verbally to assure the peace.

During my time in law enforcement, I have witnessed disruptions in courtrooms leading to the removal of disorderly participants. They were later brought before the court where the judge held them in contempt. Had I observed the same activity outside of a courtroom, I would have made an arrest and charged disorderly conduct for the action and or use of language constituting an assault. See definition below.
At public meetings of commissions, councils, boards, and committees, I have seen chairs attempt to have participants removed under the pretext of a person being disruptive of the process. I use the word attempt because I have only on a couple of occasions seen an officer of the law escort a person from the room for what could legally been a criminal charge. More often I have observed a meeting chair become perturbed, frustrated, or angry at a particular participant for having said something or contradicted a member of the governmental panel then illegally ordered their removal.
I have observed law enforcement officers called to enforce ejections, then not take any enforcement action. Upon arriving, officers looked for a violation of law, as they may only make a misdemeanor arrest for a crime, which occurs in their immediate presence. Officers often see the action of a participant the chair describes as disruptive, but refuse to take any action, because they see no violation of law, yet their presence assures the continued maintenance of peace and good order.

The primary mission of the Torrance County Sheriff's Office is to coordinate with other law enforcement agencies within Torrance County and their efforts within the community to preserve the public peace, protect the rights of persons and property, prevent crime, and generally provide assistance to citizens in urgent situations….

The Torrance County Sheriff's Office must enforce the law in a fair and impartial manner, recognizing both the statutory and judicial limitations of Sheriff's authority and the constitutional rights of all persons. It is not the role of the office to legislate, render legal judgments, or punish.

New Mexico crimes available to law enforcement in such situations include:

C.       No person shall willfully refuse or fail to leave the property of or any building or other facility owned, operated or controlled by the state or any of its political subdivisions when requested to do so by a lawful custodian of the building, facility or property if the person is committing, threatens to commit or incites others to commit any act which would disrupt, impair, interfere with or obstruct the lawful mission, processes, procedures or functions of the property, building or facility.

E.        Nothing in this section shall be construed to prevent lawful assembly and peaceful and orderly petition for the redress of grievances, including any labor

Disorderly conduct consists of:
A.        engaging in violent, abusive, indecent, profane, boisterous, unreasonably loud or otherwise disorderly conduct which tends to disturb the peace; or

B.        maliciously disturbing, threatening or, in an insolent manner, intentionally touching any house occupied by any person.

Whoever commits disorderly conduct is guilty of a petty misdemeanor.
30-3-1. Assault.
Assault consists of either:
A.         an attempt to commit a battery upon the person of another;

B.         any unlawful act, threat or menacing conduct which causes  another person to reasonably believe that he

C.         use of insulting language toward another impugning his honor, delicacy or reputation.

Whoever commits assault is guilty of a petty misdemeanor.
At the March 17, 1997, City of Albuquerque City Council meeting, members of the city’s blue-collar union orchestrated a protest about the administration's stance on contract negotiations. The city workers intended to snake their way through the Council Chambers from one door down the aisle then across the front of the center section of seats, up the opposite aisle and out the backdoor.

The sudden interruption caused then Council President Vickie Perea to order the doors closed and suspend the meeting. The effect was to trap a fair number of the protesters in the room. With no exist available to them, they carried on their protest. Albuquerque Police Officer Tom Perea, above right, son of the Council President, happened to have drawn an assignment to guard the meeting. He, and the other officers who had been assigned on short notice, took no enforcement action. Once it became apparent that the protestors had intended to leave as soon as they had walked across the room, the exit was opened and they left.

Disruption? Yes. End of the world? No. Message sent by protestor; message received by Council. The meeting continued with no legal intervention.

There is a big difference between someone who has sensitive ears and claims to be distracted by the noise of a camera’s shutter and activity that otherwise is a violation of law.

Cameras in the Executive Branches
The work of Executives is the most likely of the three branches to be played out in non-governmental public settings. Much of the Executive branches official activities are done behind closed doors in meetings from the cabinet level on down.

The management of the largest arm of government, in providing the services, is a huge undertaking. At all levels of governments: federal, state, county, city municipal, and all other political subdivisions, the work of the executive is often dull and bureaucratic.

By constitutions and charters the executives are often simply to be figureheads, the stated duties are limited.

However, President Theodore Roosevelt called the White House the Bully Pulpit, not the pushy meaning of the word bully of today, but as a wonderful place to prosecute an elected official’s political agenda, which is now practiced as a high art form.

Executives, be they the President of the United States, a Governor, or Mayor, often make public appearances: to sign legislation, propose ideas, recognize accomplishments, or to take credit for some deed.
President Obama, and his predecessors (except Jimmy Carter), back to John Kennedy, had "Official White House Photographers." Above, Chief Official White House Photographer and Director of the White House Photography Office Pete Souza and a White House videographer have intimate access to all aspects of the President’s activities, formal and informal.
Rio Rancho resident, Eric Draper spent eight years as Special Assistant to the President and White House Photographer for President George W. Bush.

Draper, above left, during a May 27, 2008, political stop in Albuquerque; to the right, he was a speaker at the September 1, 2011, Rio Grande Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, where he gave a presentation of his White House work.
Then Governor Gary Johnson engaged in a debate with U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency Director Asa Hutchinson, on September 10, 2001, on the topic of decriminalizing or legalizing drugs.
Governor Bill Richardson, above, speaks at Albuquerque Fire Station One before signing the "Hazardous Duty Officers' Employer-Employee Relations Act". The local press was out in force for the March 8, 2010, event, which was attended by many firefighters and equipment representing local city and Bernalillo County departments, with the additional flare of AFD flying their parade flag.
Governor Susana Martinez makes several public appearances every month at various events. Above, signing bills with legislative sponsors Rep. David Doyle, R – Bernalillo and Sandoval Counties, HB 184 "Construction Service" for Gross Receipts, and Rep. Conrad James, R – Bernalillo County. HB 256 Manufacturing Property Gross Receipts.

Governor Susana Martinez makes several public appearances every month at various events.
Below Martinez, far right, welcoming Santa Fe native and Medal of Honor recipient Army Sergeant First Class Leroy Petry, second from left, with his family being introduced by Major General Kenny C. Montoya, far left, to fellow New Mexico Medal of Honor recipient, Hiroshi H. "Hershey" Miyamura, with back to camera, daughter, Reagan and wife Ashley, while under heavy news photographic coverage by Santa Fe New Mexican’s Jane Phillips and Albuquerque Journal’s Pat Cunningham, with three others in the far background.
In spite of the Office of the Governor had a Press Assistant and Webmaster Maralyn Beck, above, photographing and creating videos for the State website, the section for photos, has no pictures of Martinez working with staff, attending cabinet meetings, or other activities taking place behind the closed office doors.

I am unaware of any photojournalist having access to acquire a photo-essay of executive work inside the Martinez administration.
I got to photograph inside Governor Gary Johnson’s office in 2001, during an interview by Catherine Boss for Swiss-based F@cts magazine article, “Legalize it now.”
There is a huge difference between Governor David Cargo's two two-year terms, 1967-70, in terms of openness of his office, above right, and the security surrounding Gov. Martinez' office today.
MacQuigg and I interviewed State Senate President Pro Tempore Tim Jennings, D – Chaves, Eddy, Lincoln, and Otero Counties, about webcasting and archiving all legislative meetings, he complained about public pressure being place on the Legislature, but not the Executive, Judicial branches, or the press.

MacQuigg posted August 13, 2010, “Yeah, But,,,”:
He argued that the Legislature shouldn't have to be candid, forthright, and honest with the people if the same requirement is not placed upon the Executive Branch, the Judicial Branch, and the Press.

The legislature passed the Open Meetings Act expressly excluding the judicial branch; the legislature is covered by the State Constitution to be open.

The Governor would argue that the executive function in setting policy is not done by vote or is required to be open to public scrutiny.

If the legislature wants the executive function open to the public, they can amend the Open Meetings Act to cover the Governor.

There are occasions when an executive might wish they didn't have to be in the public view or the glare of television lights. Mayor Martin Chávez had to face such an indignity when he was found guilty of ethical violations before the City of Albuquerque Board of Ethics and Campaign Practices, during his second term in office.
Chávez, center left, is seated with one of his four lawyers, University of New Mexico Law School Ethics Professor Antoinette M. Sedillo-Lopez, her husband and another of Chávez’ lawyers Victor Lopez, a then former Assistant City Attorney, currently a Workers Compensation Judge, and recently defeated Democratic primary candidate for State Court of Appeals Judge is seated in the last row of the room.

City of Albuquerque Communications Officer Deborah James, seated behind Chávez was visibly upset, but could do little over her boss being pictured, as a finding of a breach of ethics was read,

During Chávez’ second term as mayor, the City made inspection and purchasing public records easier and cheaper, 10 cents a page, down from the state statutory allowable amount of a dollar per page.
Cameras and the politics of Government

I covered the May 23, 2012, Air Force Academy graduation ceremonies at Falcon Stadium where New Mexico's 3rd Congressional district Rep, Steve Pearce attended honoring the two New Mexico students he nominated, Ashley Olson, of Silver City, and James Garrett Tewaheftewa, of Los Lunas high school.
Congressman Pearce, above right, was at the end of the front row with: President Obama, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz and his wife Suzi, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, and Colorado's 2nd Congressional district Rep. Jared Polis. He is preparing to take a picture of the cadets tossing their hats in the air when the class is dismissed by Brigadier General Richard M. Clark, Commandant of Cadets, left, after administering the oath of office.
The Congressman, right, awaits to speak with the President after the ceremony.

"I thanked him for taking the time to be there for these cadets on such an important day in their lives," Pearce wrote responding by email, to the question, I asked of him; what had he said to the President.
The Congressman has become an accomplished photographer with his Blackberry phone. Here he takes a picture of a constituent during a May 5, 2011, Silver City rally in support of keeping roads open in the Gila National Forest.
A demonstration of the collegiality the Senate is noted for, is seen among three of the most powerful leaders of the upper chamber: Minority Floor Leader Sen. Stuart Ingle, left, R – Chaves, Curry, De Baca, and Roosevelt Counties and Majority Floor Leader Sen. Michael Sanchez, right, D – Valencia County talking with Senate Finance Committee Chairman Sen. John Arthur Smith, center, Hidalgo, Luna, and Sierra Counties at the close of the 2011 Legislative session about what the conference committee to resolve the driver's licenses was doing when the 12:00 deadline arrived. Smith reported the House indicated a willingness to move, but the Senate wasn't.
Cameras and political campaigns
The art of kissing babies during political campaigns has all but disappeared now the most you might find is GOP US Senate candidate Heather Wilson adjusting the bow on a little supporter's dress.

Though political parties have adopted rules requiring open meetings and events, the nature of the modern campaign and the reliance on political advisors whose only concern is to win at all costs, Party rules are not even considered an annoyance. On all sides today, such operatives and candidates are cutthroat. The ever-changing nature of how money enters the political process only exacerbates the situation.

However, the Supreme Court continues expanding the conventional thinking of the past few decades that money is speech: corporations, unions, and political action committees are people who may “speak” with huge amounts of money.

The First Amendment's, peaceably assemble, clause means that people may associate, the government may not demand to know with whom people meet, and using the free speech clause, such gathered people are protected in their political speech. In order to make such speech recognized, peaceably assembled people are free to spend their money in the commercial arena, especially for radio, television, and newspaper advertisement, other printed matter, and in all the ways political or social campaigns go about spreading their message.
Former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson abandoned the Republican Party when television networks refused to allow him to participate in debates.
Johnson joined the Libertarian Party at a press announcement in the New Mexico Capitol Rotunda and announced he would run for president as a Libertarian.
After the announcement Johnson took questions from the press and people in attendance until he answered every question.
Political photo opportunities are tightly staged. Seldom is a photographer granted the fly on the wall access to either a candidate or politician, as Diana Walker, above, who photographs for Time magazine had with then Democratic primary Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's visit to Albuquerque, or her photo essay of Clinton as Secretary of State.
Video Trackers
Also known as a part of opposition research, where campaigns or political parties try to discover every position statement, every word ever uttered, written or, in the case of a legislator, every vote cast, on every issue.

Trackers carry video cameras and record every comment made during an opponent’s campaign.

There are analysts who examine every word, to: understand their opponent’s philosophy, message, strategy, tactics, to assess strengths, weaknesses, and to plan how to capitalize on such information.

The uses of trackers information, ranges from archiving position speeches, to making attack or what is known as negative advertising.

“Negative ads are the most honest,” Republican Party operative, Steve Kush, left, “because they have to be fact based.” If you look at the next negative ad or mailer, you will notice footnoting next to the claims being made with references cited to follow up.

Kush has held a number of positions from: Bernalillo County Party's executive director, he is currently on the executive board, as political director, to having been campaign director for Janice Arnold-Jones’ primary run two years ago. Prior to that Kush helped Chris Christie’s 2009 primary and general election in New Jersey’s gubernatorial race.

"Negative ads work," Kush said.

Trackers may be best known for capturing a comment Sen. George Allen, R – Virginia, made during a reelection campaign, when he called a tracker a racially insensitive name.

The National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee compiled a guide to help campaigns deal with; the internet, bloggers, and social media.
The woman, upper left, is Lindsey Miller. She is a paid Democratic tracker who is following former GOP Rep. Heather Wilson during her Senate race.

Zachary Ogaz, upper right, is employed by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee to follow and to video-record Republican New Mexico Congressional District 1 candidate Janice Arnold-Jones’ campaign appearances.

Ogaz’ work is posted as NM01RawFootage on YouTube.

Former New Mexico GOP Executive Director Sergio Garcia, lower left, covered Lt. Governor Denish announcing a proposal for ethics reform in State Government, with Rep Al Park D – Bernalillo and University of New Mexico Law School Ethic Professor Antoinette Sedillo-López, on the steps of the State Supreme Court Building. Denish was campaigning for governor, as much as she was announcing a position as Lt. Gov.

Ogaz, has since moved on as a tracker and has enrolled in law school.

Miller appeared at a small gathering of Arnold-Jones’ campaign volunteers and told the candidate that she was replacing Miller for this event. Miller said she had not heard Arnold-Jones’ stump speech, would she give for her camera.
Arnold-Jones hit the bullet points and then engaged the male companion of Miller in a discussion of who he was and how he came to New Mexico, Miller realized that the two of them were making a really good image of Arnold-Jones campaigning and signaled for the man to get out of the picture. He didn't.

As a matter of disclosure:
My efforts with Arnold-Jones are as a long-term editorial documentation of her political efforts, now in its sixth year, and I grant her campaign access to my archives of her.

Many times individual campaigns have nothing to do with hiring trackers for their opponents; the parties, at the national level, are engaged in providing such services.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee’s DSSC Races – 2012 Races to Watch, See what Republicans are doing in New Mexico has a transcript headlined:
Heather Wilson at Carlsbad GOP Monthly Meeting 6/21/12
(10:45)           There’s one guest here who’s not really my guest but Lindsey is here from the Democratic Party. She follows me around the state, it looks like she’s not using her camera, but I usually warn people if you don’t want to end up being a 30 second television commercial on behalf of the Democratic Party, I like to warn people. Lindsey is not with me, although we got to know each other a little bit. She obviously beat us here today because she did not have car trouble.

The Republican guide makes a warning that rings close to my feelings:
One last thing: Don't get sued. There are copyrights, trademarks and privacy laws. Be careful, give credit and pay the fees to use a photo. It's worth it to do so, the guide states, "rather than taking the chance of defending your actions in court."
National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee

It would be nice if the Republicans, Democrats, TEA Party, third party operatives, and political action committees, would take note; as GOP leaning, news radio’ blog site,
News New Mexico, has lifted my work, the Democratic NM01RawFootage site has lifted images of mine to cover their posts, local blog, Progress Now New Mexico, and their spin off blog, Wilson Watch, have ripped off a couple of images, the Tea Party Tribune, and Publius NM.

Previously, when challenged, such groups start by swearing they honor intellectual property rights, but such pleas of innocence are vacuous.

Trackers have been reported on in the media; here are some examples.

This story appeared in the Boston Globe, May 22, 2012, by Stephanie Ebbert, Candidates wary as opposition cameras roll.
… “Every word they’ll use in some kind of negative commercial and it’s shameful,’’ (Massachusetts Republican Sen. Scott) Brown later said, according to the Eagle-Tribune newspaper.

The political equivalent of paparazzi, trackers have been used for at least 16 years in Massachusetts, since the 1996 Weld-Kerry Senate race. But this campaign season, with the Brown vs. Warren contest emerging as one of the most closely watched in the country, two media-savvy candidates have found themselves dodging the ubiquitous cameras, even demanding they leave.

On March 3, 2012, in the CROWLEY POLITICAL REPORT Elections may come and go but politics never stops, editor Brian E. Crowley wrote a post headlined, Republican Adam Hasner embraces his Democratic video tracker.

On August 11, 2011, America’s Party News posted an article by Steve Schulin “Video - Kansas City Councilman Skaggs assaults ‘tracker’ outside Democratic Party HQ” from their State Parties - America's Party of Missouri.

On July 16, 2012, the County Buzz by Tim Vandenack posted an article, Video trackers get cold shoulder at Walorski, Mullen U.S. House rallies.

On July 12, 2012, POLITICO posted, Congress GOP unnerved by Democrats' candid camera techniques.
NIKON noise
The mirror in a single lens reflex camera, above with a bluish tint, allows a photographer to look through an eyepiece into a reflex prism, down onto a mirror, which is in the direct path of light captured through the lens, allowing for it to be focused, and to observe the image that will become a photograph once the shutter is triggered.

When the shutter is depressed, the mirror has to move out of the way of the path of light so the image coming through the lens can expose the film or electronic image sensor.

The moving mirror's trip up and out of the way prior to and during the exposure causes the distinctive sound. When the exposure is complete the mirror returns to its down position in cameras that have, "instant return mirrors".

Nikons are not the nosiest cameras I own; Hasselblads, right, are much louder.

The Hasselblad's mirror, being a two and a quarter inch square, only slaps up before an exposure and due to its size makes significantly more sound.

However, Hasselblads are not as well suited for news work as are the Nikons.

The sound of Nikons and Canon cameras can be compared to Herald trumpets announcing that there is news happening in this place.

It is not that photographers attempt to make noise or to cause a distraction; it is a compromise and a price associated with gathering images used in providing information or news.

Cameras provide pictures in a similar manner as do microphones in providing sound and audio. Microphones are a visual distraction in pictures and cameras create a noise, some find distracting.
In 1959, Nikon introduced the Nikon F single lens reflex camera with a lens mount, female body on left and male lens on right, which has not radically changed in 52 years. Though cameras and lenses have changed and improved, virtually every Nikon lens built over the years will still attach to a Nikon body of today. (There are only a handful of specialty lenses, which will not fit the newer cameras.)

One only has to watch television coverage of a news event or press conference to hear the sounds of Nikons or Canon cameras.

Nikon has been the first choice of professional photographers for decades - in fact, Nikon cameras and lenses have been behind more Pulitzer Prize-winning photographs than all the other camera brands combined.

Nikon was not my first choice, because at age 13, I didn't know anything about cameras, and all I could afford on my savings from throwing a weekly newspaper, the Air Force Times, on Amarillo Air Force Base, was a used $35 camera.

I would come to learn about Nikons; when 17, I bought a Nikon F with a Photomic T meter.
Above, is my current system of a dozen of the 20 some Nikons I have owned and some of the 20 plus lenses. Staring at the bottom are four cameras from the 1960s - 70s era Nikon F film series. Next row up includes a Nikonos II, underwater camera, and a Nikon FE2. The third row up, are the digital Nikon D1, film Nikon F4, and F5. On the left tripod is a Nixon D2H; on the center and right tripods are both Nikon D2X models. The lenses run from 16mm to 800mm and include prime and zoom lenses. The zoom lenses cover a range from 17mm to 300mm.

J. Ramón Palacios wrote:
From 1942 to 2001, out of 97 Pulitzer Prizes, counting both Spot News and Feature photography, 57 were won with a Nikon; 10 were for the next closest winning 35mm brand, Leica, most of them with Nikkor lenses; 5 wins with a Canon. Before 1962, the medium format Speed Graphic cameras dominated the photojournalism scene.
I have photographed under almost every imaginable circumstance a photojournalist can be in; OK, so I haven’t shot a war.

Except for the law of survival, and not withstanding the Geneva Convention; there are no rules in covering a war.

The following series of photographs have all been taken with Nikons.

In the summer and fall of 1969, while attending the New York Institute of Photography, I worked on personal project documenting the United Nations headquarters in New York City.
The General Assembly, above, has to be the best venue for photographing public meetings.

The room is designed to be the world-class forum it is. The lighting is high intensity and even across the room. There are two floors for: UN interpreters, in-house television (that makes its feed available to any member nation upon request), to television news and still photographers. The facility rivals any professional sports press box. Every meeting room is similarly equipped. Photographers were able to move to several locations to be able to cover almost any angle, including from the back of the room.
United Nations' Staff Photographer Yutaka Nagata, far left in front of the dais, introduced me to photographing public meetings by documenting diplomatic sessions.
Nagata taught me that photographing for a large bureaucracy or government could prove frustrating and difficult.
The New Mexico Supreme Court Rule 23-107. Broadcasting, televising, photographing and recording of court proceedings; guidelines, are well established, but are at the discretion of the trial judge.

I photographed in Albuquerque Municipal Court by arrangement with then Presiding Municipal Court Judge Paul T. Demos, above center, moments before court session. The picture was taken for a recruiting project for the Albuquerque Police Department circa 1978. He allowed me free movement to photograph inside the bar.
I have photographed New Mexico District Courts both with and without prior arrangement, but never more than moments before court began.
Second Judicial District, Bernalillo County District Court Judge Richard Knowles, above left, presides over an appeal of Vecinos Unidos De Nuevo Mexico (New Mexico Neighbors United) vs. Mayor Martin Chávez, ABQPAC, City of Albuquerque Ethics Board, complainants Andraes Valdez and Rose Tijernia. Attorney Tony Jeffries, right with his client, Valdez, rear.

New Mexico Thirteenth Judicial District, including: Sandoval, Valencia, and Cibola Counties, then District Court Judge Louis McDonald, right, officiated in the case of 67 marriage licenses issued on a non-gendered basis by the Sandoval County Clerk.

The resulting publicity became grounds for highly charged emotional and legal challenges.

The case, captioned, State of New Mexico, ex rel. (N.M. Attorney General) Patricia A. Madrid and Sandoval Board of County Commissioners vs. Victoria Dunlap Sandoval County Clerk, in her official capacity, was brought before McDonald.

There was no resolution by court order and attempts to mediate the issues failed.

Some 64 licenses were filed and the marriages recognized.

Dunlap’s term expired January 1, 2005, and a new County Clerk, Sally Padilla was sworn in.

The Attorney General changed the defendant's names on her complaint from Dunlap to Padilla. Padilla promised she would never issue a same sex license, and the case was dismissed.
I have never attended a Court of Appeals Session, either in Santa Fe, above, in the Supreme Court building or the Pamela B. Minzner Law Center, below, at the University of New Mexico Law Center.
I photographed the New Mexico Supreme Court without prior arrangement.
This is the Journal's Thompson, below, photographing the high court with one of two Nikons he used that day.
I have never made prior arrangements, 24-hours in advance with any court, and would be unlikely to try.

The guidelines are written stricter than most courts are willing to apply.

If the parties in the case raise no objections, the courts are less stringent in applying their guidelines.
Photographing the legislative process

I recall being impressed by the work of Washington Post Photographer James Atherton, especially for is working portraits taken during the U.S. Senate Watergate Hearings.

Atherton passed away late last year and his work was featured in this retrospective.

Working under the US Senate rules, he was able to get quite close to his subjects and make impressive images.

The four television networks (ABC, CBS, NBC, and PBS) broadcast one feed on a rotating basis, had set up the lighting at the Watergate Hearings. One seldom gets such good light to photograph under.
At the close of the 2012 Regular Session of the Legislature, members of the media surround Senate Minority Floor Leader Stuart Ingle, R – Chaves, Curry, De Baca, and Roosevelt Counties, asking the perennial question, what, if anything, was accomplished.
January 21, 2010 then freelance: writer, radio, and television correspondent Peter St. Cyr, New Mexico Senate Republican Spokeswoman Diane Kinderwater, and Albuquerque Journal Photographer Morgan Petroski, watch Rep. Joseph Cervantes D – Dona Ana County presenting a bill he sponsored before the Senate Rules Committee.
Four journalists, above, covering a Senate Rules Committee meeting are: Associate Press Political and Government Reporter Barry Massey, Albuquerque Journal Staff Writer Dan Boyd, then Santa Fe Reporter Staff Writer Corey Pein, and then New Mexico Independent Writer Matthew Reichbach.

Photographing the legislature, County Commission, and City Council meetings, are very similar because their tasks are the same; to write legislation.
Coverage in the Bernalillo County Commission/Albuquerque City Council chambers over the years, demonstrates the varied methods photographers have used. Clockwise, from the upper left, a photographer, I only saw once, covering Geraldine Amato. He too pictures from within the area between the public podium and the dais, though he did not block the view of any member of the panel, then stood in the aisle, again blocking no one's view. Albuquerque Journal Photographers, Roberto Rosales, and Adolphe Pierre-Louis use telephoto lenses to seek possible images, from the north wall. The woman photographed a group receiving a Council proclamation. Journal photographer Jim Thompson prepares a camera during a meeting.

However, it is the size of the community and the interest in the local topics are what drive the amount of attention to any public board. The more controversial an issue, the more likely there will be greater attention.
Photographing executive functions

The reality of continuous political campaigning has become a fact of life. Long gone is the era of the "Vagabonds" when between 1914-24, Henry Ford, Harvey Firestone, naturalist John Burroughs, and Thomas Edison invited others including sitting United States Presidents Calvin Coolidge and Warren G. Harding to go on an annual motoring and camping trip, where they would discuss business and government.

Ford, Edison, Firestone and his son, Harvey, Jr., Ford, Burroughs, cotton-picking plant pathologist expert Professor R. J. DeLoach, and for a time Edward N. Hurley of the United States Shipping Board were engaged in the exact thing that now has a wide swath of the American electorate so upset – Corporate power directly involved in governmental power broking at the highest levels.

In later years, the wives of the industrial titans and presidents joined the activities.
Seldom can one observe a chief executive involved in the hushed whispers usually reserved for the closed door atmosphere, but here is New Mexico Governor Martinez, above, speaking to a political confidant at a bill signing ceremony, not wishing to be overheard.
When a Governor offers a State of the State address at the annual opening to a joint session of the Legislature, the media is out in force. No other event is likely to attract such a huge presence in the government drama.

Inaugurations are formal political events drawing media like magnets.
Above, the January 1, 1971, New Mexico inauguration of Gov. Bruce King, Below, the second inauguration of President Richard Nixon, January 20, 1973.
Torrance County Manager Ansley grants an on-camera interview to KOAT TV's Todd Unger and photographer Eric Williams, who has taken a job in Portland, Ore.
Federal Executive Branch's Cabinet members, United States Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr. of the Department of Justice, above center at the podium, with Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet A. Napolitano, right, and the Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy R. Gil Kerlikowske as part of the Executive Office of the President, hold a press conference.

The State of New Mexico's Constitution calls their branches of government departments. It is a strange choice because within the Executive, the word department is also used to describe the organizations headed by governor appointed secretaries.

There are seven constitutionally elected offices in the State’s Executive Department:
Office of the Governor Susana Martinez;
The Public Regulations Commission is a five-person elected board and listed as part of the Executive Department.

There are 28 Cabinets and Departments listed in the Governor's administration, which include the Office of the State Engineer and the State Personnel Office.

The Executive Branch Department also has a large number of: Commissions, Offices, Boards, Collaborative(s), Authority(s), Divisions, Councils, Bureaus, Associations, Programs, and Administration(s).

During the 2010 Government Restructuring Task Force, a chart was compiled identifying some 380 plus different state-funded entities across all of state government.

There are 89: Public, Municipal, Consolidated, Independent, City, County, and Valley School Districts in New Mexico; all with elected school boards.
Then Public Education Department Secretary Veronica Garcia conducted an emergency meeting to mediate a dispute between Albuquerque Public School Superintendent Winston Brooks and NM Southwest Learning Center Charter School’s founder Scott Glasrud, which now has four school campuses.
Southwest Aeronautics, Mathematics, and Science Academy held a press conference announcing the acquisition of the building the formerly housed the Eclipse Aviation training center located at Double Eagle Airport.
Top government officials, from the State and City, along with supporters, spoke.

New Mexico Economic Development Department Cabinet Secretary Jon Barela, below left, represented Gov. Martinez.
 “As Economic Development Cabinet Secretary, one of the greatest needs I hear from job creators is availability of highly trained and skilled workers,” said Barela. “If New Mexico is going to continue to be a prime location for aerospace, engineering and technology jobs, we will need high-performing schools like SAMS Academy to educate our children so they are able to compete with not only kids from around the country but around the globe for these good jobs.”
Albuquerque Mayor Berry, above right, spoke about the cooperation with the school in providing the building.
Above, is a 1972 inter-agency press conference held by: the Bernalillo County District Attorney’s office, New Mexico State Police, Albuquerque Police, and Bernalillo County Sheriff's Departments following El Grito Del Norte newspaper reporter Antonio Cordova and Black Beret Rito Canales killings by officers from: State Police, Albuquerque Police, and Bernalillo County Sheriff's Departments, during an armed burglary of an I-25 construction site's dynamite storage shed.

Lesser political subdivisions, of the state, counties, municipalities, towns and villages, all are made up of many departments providing the entire range of service from: police, fire, and other emergency services to the most minor service government might provide.
One such political subdivision is the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District, above, taking public comments on use and distribution of water.
Even the University of New Mexico's Faculty Senate's meeting calling for a vote of no confidence in top administrators, generated a large media interest and was subject to public scrutiny.
Elected and appointed officials photographing citizens acting as the press.
Then Albuquerque Public School Board President Martin Esquivel, right, using his cell phone to record a discussion when Ched MacQuigg was ejected from the August 25, 2010, APS Audit committee meeting.
Albuquerque Police Department's Mayoral Protection Detail Sergeant Louie Sanchez photographs me photographing him while accompanying Mayor Chávez to the main library for an event with then Sen. Obama as a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Sanchez may not photograph me, or anyone else, for a police purpose unless he has reasonable suspicion that I was involved in, or about to, or have just committed a crime.

I had done none of those things.

Sanchez’ photographing is also violating several sections of the Albuquerque Police Department General Orders, especially:
Police Press Relations
Department policy is to support the fundamental principles of the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, as it pertains to the rights of the news media and the public. The police department is committed to informing the community and the news media of events within the public domain that are handled by or involve the department.

Gathering of Criminal Activity Information

Collection of Information to be Legal, Relevant

B.         Information will be collected on a subject only when there is reasonable suspicion that the subject is engaged in criminal activity, and the information is relevant to that criminal activity.

D.        Unless the information is necessary and relevant to the investigation of criminal wrongdoing, information will not be collected on any individual or organization based on any of the following:
1.            Ethnic background or race;

2.            Support of unpopular causes;

3.            Religious or political affiliations; or

4.            Personal habits or lifestyles.

Though these are technical violations of department policy and recognizing the paranoia, concerning me, Chávez previously expressed to Sanchez.

It might just be an attempt by Sanchez to intimidate me; I instead turned it into an exercise of “hide and seek.”

Having lived on both sides of crime scene tape and having photographed true criminal revolutionaries and suspects, I am hardly going to start throwing rocks at having my picture taken so all in the Mayoral Protection Detail knew who I was.
New Mexico Court of Appeals Judge J. Miles Hanisee, center, uses his smartphone during an Albuquerque TEA Party meeting to make images when former Rep. Heather Wilson spoke about her GOP candidacy for US Senate and Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry spoke about why the bond to renovate the I-25 and Paseo del Norte intersection that was tied to a sportsplex, know as ABQ the Plan, failed in a recent municipal election.
Rio Rancho Police Department’s Public Information Officer John Francis uses his phone to photograph President Obama’s visit to the local High School.
My Take
This story is not over yet, far from it.

The First Amendment's prohibition against, “abridging… the right of the people peaceably to assemble, all political gatherings, for that matter, ALL gatherings are based on this constitutionally protected point.

Governments at many levels and their elected representatives don’t live up to their oaths of office when they fail to understand what the First Amendment means.

In the events cited in this posting the words. “…or the right of the people peaceably to assemble,…” take precedence.

Any time two or more people are in a public place, they are considered to have assembled; as long as they are peaceful, not violent, government has no reason to attempt to control their activities.

The State statute reads:

Unlawful assembly consists of three or more persons assembling together with intent to do any unlawful act with force or violence against the person or property of another, and who shall make any overt act to carry out such unlawful purpose.

Whoever commits unlawful assembly is guilty of a petty misdemeanor.

The City of Albuquerque ordinance is a little more specific:
§ 12-2-6 Unlawful Assembly.
Unlawful assembly consists of the gathering together or assemblage of three or more persons for a common purpose which either:
(A)      Creates a clear and present danger or an immediate threat of substantial harm to persons and/or property.

(1)       When an unlawful assembly occurs, as defined in this section, an order to disperse shall be given by a police officer in such manner as can reasonably be expected to give actual notice of said order to persons either directly or indirectly involved in such unlawful assembly.

(2)       Refusal to obey an order to disperse within such time as is reasonably required for the assemblage to physically disperse after such order is given or willful and open resistance to said order shall constitute a violation of this code; or

(B)      Manifests a common intent to do any unlawful act or acts by force or violence against the person and/or property of another. Participation in an unlawful assembly to further such unlawful purpose shall constitute a violation of this code.
During the first session of the new Congress under the Constitution March 4, 1789, the drafters of what became the First Amendment, were intent on protecting political speech, the most objectionable form of expression they understood. However, they knew that even the most objectionable speech had to be protected, so that all other speech would also be protected.

The U.S. Supreme Court has crafted an exception to the First Amendment, in the form of a: time, place, and manner restriction test to accommodate peaceable assembly. The exception cannot be based on content of the speech or behavior as long as the speech and behavior do not otherwise violate the law, such as disorderly conduct, fighting or rioting.
If this post's series of pictures shows nothing else, it should demonstrate the wide variety of opportunities where cameras and recording devises saturate our culture and the perverse thinking and the lengths that government will go to get around the most basic right that. "We the People," have carved out for ourselves by prohibiting our public servants from trying to control our... thoughts, speech, writing, meeting and complaining.
The right to document what we see in public is not bound by age or occupation, as this young man takes a picture at a political rally for then Congressional candidate Patricia Madrid in 2006 while rubbing shoulders with Journal Photographer Roberto Rosales.
Nor does it matter what side of the barriers one is on in their coverage of political events, like these two citizens, top and three photojournalists, bottom, at the same Obama event August 8, 2008, at Rio Grande High School.
On January 10, 2012, Gov. Martinez and her Public Education Department Secretary-designate Hanna Skandera attended a press conference at Rio Rancho’s Maggie M. Cordova Elementary, to announce the first baseline grades for schools in the recently passed A-F School Grading Law.
A group of students from the school, with hand-made “Press Passes” on lanyards around their necks, with clipboards for note-taking, and digital cameras, were present to cover the governor’s visit.
They were fun to watch as they interacted with KRQE reporter Celina Westervelt, who showed them the television camera. The students modeled the behavior of the news media.
I motioned for the young photographers to join me at the front of the room to get a side angle picture of the dignitaries. I didn’t show them any bad habits.
If only one of these students has their interest stimulated by the journalism, photographic, or even the political bug, then the school will have deserved the “A” grade the governor announced it received.

On May 14, 2012, United States Attorney General Eric Holder's, left, U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Special Litigation unit wrote a letter to the lawyers in the case of Christopher Sharp v. Baltimore City Police Department, et. al., to guide them during an upcoming settlement conference before U.S. District Court Judge Paul W. Grimm.

… it is the United States’ position that any resolution to Mr. Sharp’s claims for injunctive relief should include policy and training requirements that are consistent with the important First, Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights at stake when individuals record police officers in the public discharge of their duties. These rights, subject to narrowly-defined restrictions, engender public confidence in our police departments, promote public access to information necessary to hold our governmental officers accountable, and ensure public and officer safety.

In this letter the Department of Justice took an unprecedented position of outlying their belief of what a government policy they would consider to meet the civil rights of citizen photographers:
F. Police departments should not place a higher burden on individuals to exercise their right to record police activity than they place on members of the press.
The Supreme Court has established that “the press does not have a monopoly on either the First Amendment or the ability to enlighten.” First Nat. Bank of Boston v. Bellotti, 435 U.S. 765, 782 (1978). Indeed, numerous courts have held that a private individual’s right to record is coextensive with that of the press. A private individual does not need “press credentials” to record police officers engaged in the public discharge of their duties. See e.g., Glik, 655 F.3d at 83 (“The First Amendment right to gather news is, as the Court has often noted, not one that inures solely to the benefit of the news media; rather, the public’s right of access to information is coextensive with that of the press.”); Lambert v. Polk County, Iowa, 723 F.Supp. 128, 133 (S.D. Iowa 1989) (“It is not just news organizations . . . who have First Amendment rights to make and display videotapes of events—all of us . . . have that right.”). The First Amendment “attempt[s] to secure ‘the widest possible dissemination of information from diverse and antagonistic sources,’” including the “promulgation of information and ideas by persons who do not themselves have access to publishing facilities-who wish to exercise their freedom of speech even though they are not members of the press.” New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254, 266 (1964).
This principal is particularly important in the current age where widespread access to recording devices and online media have provided private individuals with the capacity to gather and disseminate newsworthy information with an ease that rivals that of the traditional news media. See Glik, 655 F.3d at 84 (“[M]any of our images of current events come from bystanders with a ready cell phone or digital camera rather than a traditional film crew, and news stories are now just as likely to be broken by a blogger at her computer as a reporter at a major newspaper.”).

BPD’s general order appropriately does not place a higher burden on individuals to exercise their right to record police activity than in (sic.) places on members of the press. Policies should not establish different guidelines for media and non-media individuals. BPD’s general order includes language that accomplishes this goal:
“Members of the press and members of the general public enjoy the same rights in any area accessible to the general public.” Id. at 4.
“No individual is required to display ‘press credentials’ in order to exercise his/her right to observe, photograph, or video record police activity taking place in an area accessible to, or within view of, the general public.” Id. 
Duo pictures (1) above are of then KOAT TV employees Nate Luna, top, using his smart phone to capture an Obama campaign event for his own social media use.

KOAT Reporter Mike Garofalo, Photographer Paul Hyso, uses his cell phone at the arrival of GOP presidential nominee John McCain and vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin, September 6, 2012.

Luna and Garofalo were shooting and disseminating news to their own followings in a sub-surface medium, essentially scooping themselves and their employer.

KOAT TV would impose a ban on Peter St. Cyr when he became their assignment editor in March 2010. He suspended his blog, What's the Word.

He continued to report via his twitter account on news items until after the August 11, 2010, Susana Martinez Education Reform Press conference, when, because he asked two questions, then Martinez Campaign Manager Ryan Cangiolosi shut down the questioning.

St. Cyr wasn’t outside the propriety of the unwritten rules of journalists at a press conference, but Cangiolosi decided he would only allow one question per journalist. MacQuigg had a question and had not been recognized by Martinez, until Cangiolosi shut down the press conference. Martinez gave MacQuigg a sympathetic look, but didn’t over rule her staff to take his question.

There was some grumbling about St. Cyr getting two questions amongst other journalists and he told me that KOAT management barred him from attending any further press conferences on his own.

He left KOAT in October 2010 and joined with Bryant Furlow in creating Veritas New Mexico.

Upon joining KOB TV to become the producer of 4 on your side St. Cyr stopped contributing.

His last posting on Veritas NM was June 30, 2011, “Union talks continue as contracts expire.” The site went dormant in August 15, 2011.

St. Cyr maintains his twitter account and does some reporting and plugs upcoming stories. His What's the Word blog is active, if not sporadic.

Duo pictures (2) are, Edgewood Editor and Reporter Leota Harriman, above left, and Edwina Rae “George” Hewett, right, use small video cameras to record the Torrance County Commission meetings.

Staying with Commissioner Freyburger’s sport’s metaphor, triptych pictures (3) are of Albuquerque Isotopes fans using cell phone cameras to capture images of, top, a Miss Albuquerque, who threw out the ceremonial “first pitch” posing with Bobby Tyler Henson, who caught the pitch; a man, middle, photographing his relative, participating in an on-field contest, between innings, and a fan, who slipped down to the front row to get a shot of a favorite player.

There may always be some clown, like Harry Canary, above, a “Zooperstar” entertaining at a recent Albuquerque Isotopes Baseball game, who took umbrage at being photographed and retaliated. My friend and old police partner Rocky Nogales used his smartphone to video the inflatable caricature of the late great Harry Caray, radio announcer for the Chicago Cubs. Canary honed in on me and sprayed "silly string" onto my camera. Once I determined that he had not hit the glass, what else could I be, but bemused.

The Torrance County Board of Commissioners, Commissioners Freyburger, and Commission Clerk Jones, in particular, must tolerate a certain level of what they term a distraction in favor of the right to gather news.

The Torrance County Board of Commissioners, Commissioners Freyburger, and Commission Clerk Jones, in particular, must tolerate a certain level of what they term a distraction in favor of the right to gather news.

If the Code of the West is to inform city folk of the noise, smells, and scarcity of services in the rural parts of Torrance County, and asks for an understanding and tolerance of such inconveniences, those propagating the code, should also recognize they are part of a Constitutional Republic and a State, which follow the rules of law; they apply to them also.
If Government and Commissioners don’t want the “intrusions of urban users” coming to visit, to remind them of, and to defend the Constitution, through a demonstration of how the exercise of the First Amendment looks, they only have to follow it.

Torrance County Attorney Wallin was good to his word, the Commission did not implement a resolution prohibiting (or restricting) recording of their meetings.


Karen Conant said...

Great journalism

Janet Fedor said...

A lot of work, research went into this piece. It does show that even in very small towns, corruption does take place without any regard for the citizens who pay their wages. Training is needed: NM Preamble and the U.S Constitution. With all of this happening in my small town of Estancia, how can any of us trust our large Federal government? We cannot and must keep vigil,ask questions and stand up for our rights, country and the town we live in.