Thursday, December 24, 2009

Roundhouse Roundup: I Blogged the Sheriff

A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
December 23, 2009

Virtually every political figure in 2009 has Twitter and Facebook accounts in addition to their regular Web sites. Some have blogs. And, as I've said in the past, nearly all of the ones I've seen are painfully dull.

So I like to call attention to political webcraft that rises above the ordinary.

One political blog that's often fun to read is Santa Fe County Sheriff Greg Solano's . Solano, who is a Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor, has maintained a personal blog for several years. He's taken some ribbing from some in the law enforcement community for being "the blogging sheriff," but that hasn't stopped him.
This week I engaged in a little extracurricular debate on Solano's blog. He had a post in which he defended the governor's refusal to release the names of the 59 exempt employees who were laid off because of the budget crisis.

As a reporter, I normally don't take stands on issues — except freedom of the press, policies on open records, government transparency, etc., where any claim of objectivity is inherently false. So I responded to Solano.

It was a friendly, respectful exchange. Unlike the old Saturday Night Live spoof, neither of us called the other an "ignorant slut."

What I really like is seeing a politician willing to engage in such conversation with the press and the public in general — using his own words, not the language of press releases.

And I like when a politician is willing to publish views directly challenging his own. (Solano moderates the comments, which means he can delete any he doesn't like. But he apparently isn't deleting comments on the basis that someone merely has a contrary opinion.)

As politicians get more involved on the cyberspace front, I hope more of them use the Web to directly engage the public — not to just push a canned message.

Essential services: While the Governor's Office won't say which exempt employees were laid off, we know one who wasn't. That would be Sharon Maloof, state Film Museum director.

Both myself and my New Mexican colleague Robert Nott have written about the fabulous film museum — which has no exhibits and only infrequent programs. (It does have a Web site, though, which appears to have been updated as recently as September.)

But the museum has not completely escaped the budget hatchet. Recently, state Cultural Affairs Secretary Stuart Ashman told Nott that Maloof's salary has been drastically reduced — from $88,000 to $55,000.

Maloof, who previously worked as deputy secretary of the state Tourism Department, plans on retiring in June, Ashman said. After that, Filip Celander, former curator of CCA Cinematheque, will take over the day-to-day operation of the old Jean Cocteau theater at the Santa Fe Railyard, where the Film Museum is housed.

"If the economic situation improves any, we will then bring in a director more closely connected to the film industry," Ashman said. "With a neutral operations manager like Felipe and his experience at CCA, we will be able to incorporate more programming than has been seen in the past."

Ashman said the state isn't going to close the museum.

But it is closed today. This is the first of five furlough days for state employees and all state museums are closed. So if you want to go to the Film Museum to not see exhibits, you'll have to wait until next week.

King of all media: I've recently recorded a couple of 2009 wrap-up programs in the broadcast media.

Next week on KUNM, 89.9 FM, you can hear me along with several other New Mexico journalists discussing the events and issues that kept us busy the past 12 months. The show airs at 8 a.m. Dec. 31.

Then, at 10 a.m. Jan. 8, I'm the guest on Issues and Answers with Diane Kinderwater. That's KCHF-TV, Channel 11. The show will be rebroadcast at 10:30 that night, 10 p.m. Jan. 9 and 6:30 p.m. Jan. 10.