Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Susana Won't Seal Her Records

Here's a promise we'll have to check four or eight years down the road.
Is this where they're keeping the Richardson records?

Gov. Susana Martinez said Tuesday that she won't follow the example of Bill Richardson -- and reportedly every governor since 1967 -- and seal all her office's documents.

Richardson in December gave his records to the state Record Center and Archives only on the condition that only he and three former staffers would have access to them.

"It's unfortunate that that's what they decided to do," Martinez told reporters at a news conference. "I think it's important that we be as transparent as possible, certainly with the business of state government. If there's anything in there that may have been privileged we would take a careful look at it, of course always leaning toward the necessity of providing information to the public."

Also on Tuesday, Sarah Welsh, director of New Mexico Foundation for Open Government, also took a stance against the records sealing

"We are looking at the various laws governing this, but at first blush it is surprising and concerning to me that an outgoing governor would be granted the authority to seal off huge chunks of the public's business for eight years.

"It's one thing to restrict access to private, personal records that are donated to the state for posterity," Welsh said. "It's another thing to withhold records that rightfully belong to the public, now and forever. These records were paid for with taxpayer dollars and they document the official work of our public servants. We have the same interest in seeing them today as we did six weeks ago, or six months ago, when they were clearly subject to public inspection."

Welsh added, "I don't think the State Records Center is trying to hide anything ... they've always been pro-open records in my experience, like most librarians. Seems they were just interpreting the statutes as best they could and being guided by long-standing practice."

My story in Wednesday's New Mexican is HERE.