Susana’s answer to the ruling stopping publishing the names of state employees? Just move it over to another site
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One day after an Albuquerque judge ordered the names of rank and file state employees taken off the state’s Sunshine Portal, Gov. Susana Martinez told Capitol Report New Mexico on Tuesday (July 24) the names will go back up — only on a different site not called the Sunshine Portal.
“At this time we’re working to see which site it can be moved to easily,” Gov. Martinez said.
So can the state find another portal to do this through? “Sure,” Martinez said, “and we’re going to.”
On Monday, District Judge Valerie Hulling ruled in favor of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) union that argued the law creating the Sunshine Portal, which includes the job titles and salaries of state employees among other items of public information on the site, should not post the employees’ names.
The union’s attorney argued that some state employees say they don’t want their names listed for privacy and security reasons — although the names can be obtained through requests under the Inspection of Public Records Act (IRPA).
Martinez maintained Tuesday that putting the names on a different website instead of the Sunshine Portal does not violate the judge’s ruling.
“The public deserves to know,” Martinez said. “They’re the ones that pay those salaries … It’s unfortunate that that’s not possible [after Judge Huling's ruling] and it has to be moved to another site.”
As to concerns about personal security?
“Of course we would be open that kind of exception,” the governor said, “but to remove 20-plus thousand classified employees and say, we’re not going to let you know who they are, and what they get paid really isn’t fair to the public.”
We’ve got a phone call into the attorney from AFSME to get his reaction. We’ll post it as soon as we hear back.
Update: AFSCME attorney Shane Youtz told Capitol Report New Mexico on Tuesday afternoon: “If that’s her [Gov. Martinez] right under the law, that’s her right under the law. The Sunshine Portal law said she could not put in employees’s number under the Sunshine Portal. If she has a legal right to do that, that’s her decision … we’ve successfully had three writs of mandamus against the governor in a year and a half. We want her to comply with the law.”
After yesterday’s ruling, a number of open government advocates expressed their disappointment.
“We believe this makes public information harder to find,” Gwyneth Doland of the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government told the Santa Fe New Mexican, “and we believe public information should be as available as possible. The fact is, people are online and it should be there.”
State Sen. Sander Rue (R-Albuquerque) was one of the driving forces behind the legislation creating the Sunshine Portal through the Roundhouse in 2010 and says he’ll re-introduce a bill in the upcoming session to expand the law to include public employees’ names along with the other data.
“It’s going to be an interesting internal debate,” Rue said by phone Tuesday and pointed to a controversy at the end of the administration of then Gov. Bill Richardson as one of the reasons why he thinks the issue is important.
In the last few months of Richardson’s final term in office, a number of exempt state employees — in essence, political hires who serve at the pleasure of any given governor — were transferred and became classified employees, which it makes it much more difficult to remove them from their jobs.
The Albuquerque Journal went through a lengthy and expensive fight to obtain the names of some state employees who were said to have been let go but the Richardson administration would not release their names, claiming they had no records. An official review released in May of this year reported that the Richardson administration likely violated the IPRA.
“We’ve seen how governors and executives can game this,” Sen. Rue said. “There’s something wrong with that. Maybe the janitor’s name shouldn’t be named, I don’t know, but the important question is, where to do you draw the line? This, after all, is public information and it can already be accessed [through an IPRA request].”
Posted under Capitol Report.
Tags: AFSCME, Albuquerque Journal, American Federation of State County and Municipal Workers, Bill Richardson, Capitol Report New Mexico, Gwyneth Doland, Inspection of Public Records Act, IPRA, Judge Valerie Huling, New Mexico Foundation for Open Government, Sander Rue, Santa Fe New Mexican, sunshine portal, Susana Martinez