The state Court of Appeals ruled that government agencies who fail to adequately respond to requests for public records could be fined up to $100 a day.
The Santa Fe New Mexican reports the ruling ended a years old lawsuit filed by animal welfare activist Marcy Britton alleging the Attorney General’s Office failed to produce 350 emails in response to an Inspection of Public Records Act request in 2009.
The ruling reverses a previous judgment made in 2015 that denied Britton any damages on the grounds that the Attorney General’s Office responded within the time frame allotted by law. In the new decision, Court of Appeals Judge J. Miles Hanisee wrote that without a penalty, “there exists no incentive for a public body to do anything more than provide a perfunctory ‘response’ to a request no matter how incomplete and inadequate.”
The case has moved to District Court, where a judge will decide if the Attorney General's Office is responsible for a fine.
NYPD Commish Talks Crime in ABQ
Last week New York City Police Commissioner James O’Neill offered advice to law enforcement officials looking to lower Albuquerque's high crime rate.
According to the Albuquerque Journal, O’Neill spoke at an annual meeting held by the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce after recently visiting Albuquerque's Crime Strategies Unit. The unit is comprised of analysts and investigators studying local crime trends for the District Attorney's Office. Local prosecutors believe it will lead to less prosecutions overall but will bring down worse offenders.
O’Neill told officials that he believes crime can be easily reduced with a few strategies. New York City restructured some of their precincts to be more aligned with neighborhood boundaries. Officer patrols have been shortened and that time is spent attending community meetings instead. Low-level offenses are not enforced so officers can focus on people who commit the worst crimes.
Mayor Tim Keller said Albuquerque has already begun adopting some of O’Neill's strategies.
Education Reforms Suggested
Lawmakers were presented with a number of options for reforming New Mexico's public education system after a judge ruled the state failed to provide a sufficient education for at-risk students.
Earlier this year, Judge Sarah Singleton ruled that the state had until April 2019 to address educational funding issues or face intervention by the state judiciary.
Education Week reports the Legislative Education Study Committee met last week to hear plans from lawyers representing the suit's plaintiffs. Suggestions for reform included the expansion of the state's “K-3 plus” program to include 25 additional days of schooling each year, extending the school year to 190 days for all schools and discontinuing teacher evaluations.
Attorneys also want to restructure the Public Education Department to ensure “multicultural and linguistically appropriate education” for at-risk students and require future education secretaries to have experience with multicultural education.