Gov. Martinez Relaunches Internet Access to Employee Salaries Court Ordered Removed from Sunshine Portal
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Governor Susana Martinez has kept her promise to provide easy access to information on the salaries of state employees after a judge had ordered her to remove from New Mexico’s Sunshine Portal the names of almost all the people on the state’s payroll. Judge Valerie Huling of the Second Judicial District Court less than a month ago ordered Martinez to remove the names of classified employees, meaning those employees within the state’s civil service. The judge’s ruling meant that of the state’s more than 26,000 employees, only the names of little more than 1,000 political appointees could be published on the Sunshine Portal.
Martinez, a former District Attorney, read the ruling to not prohibit the publication of the full list of state employees elsewhere on the Internet.
The day after the judge’s ruling on July 23, Governor Martinez said that she would simply republish the same information at another site on the Internet. Martinez points out that the information is already public and there should be no legitimate objection to making it easily available to taxpayers. When initially launched the Sunshine Portal provided only the names and salaries of political employees. Martinez added the names of classified employees on December 14, 2011. The union filed its suit the week of Jule 15, 2012. Just five weeks later, Judge Huling issued her ruling, a very fast track considering the usual backlog for civil litigation in the state’s district courts.
Today the Martinez administration followed through on the Governor’s promise and launched a web page within the state’s general web portal that provides the same information, in the same searchable format that had existed on the Sunshine Portal before Huling’s ruling. New Mexico Watchdog received this statement from Scott Darnell, the Governor’s spokesman:
As you know, the judge in this case ruled that the Sunshine Portal Act did not allow for classified employee information to be displayed on the Sunshine Portal website itself, but it was widely acknowledged that this is public information and therefore may be displayed on another site. As we’ve said previously, we plan to once again push for legislation in the upcoming session to clarify in statute that all employees should be displayed on the Sunshine Portal; until that happens, we will continue to make the State Employee Listing available on this new site.
That site is http://employees.newmexico.gov.
The order requiring Martinez to remove the names of classified employees from the Sunshine Portal had been the objective of a lawsuit filed by District Council 18 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. Calls to Shane Youtz, the attorney who represented AFSCME District Council 18, and Connie Derr, the union’s executive director, seeking their response to the Governor’s action were not returned before publication of this story.
Immediately following Judge Huling’s ruling, New Mexico Watchdog and the Rio Grande Foundation launched a website that replicated the information the judge had ordered to be removed from the Sunshine Portal. Our website merely preserved the public information available on the Sunshine Portal before it was crippled by the judge’s ruling and made it available on-line in a searchable format. That website is located to the right of the New Mexico Watchdog homepage at nmtransparency.org.
Related story: Salaries for Classified NM Employees Again Available On Line
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Tags: AFSCME, AFSCME District 18, Connie Derr, Governor Susana Martinez, Judge Valerie Huling, New Mexico Watchdog, Rio Grande Foundation, Scott Darnell, Shane Youtz, sunshine portal