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Dec. 14: KSFR News files complaint against Santa Fe County Commission
(2007-12-14)
(KSFR) - To: The Santa Fe County Board of County Commissioners

From: Bill Dupuy
News Director
KSFR Radio News
Santa Fe, New Mexico

Date: Dec. 14, 2007

Subj.: Complaint about Private Meeting on Oil Drilling

"This is to register a complaint from KSFR News over the closed-door meeting called by Commissioner Paul Campos on the question of oil drilling in Santa Fe County.

"A closed-door meeting on a small subject of interest to a county commissioner is one thing. A closed-door meeting on a subject of broad community interest such as oil drilling is another, especially if the media is specifically banned from attending. While it is understandable the commissioner might want to get useful information for his own deliberations, there are a number of issues that make this particular meeting an affront to his constituents:

"1. The banning of the media from a meeting called by an elected official is outrageous. Commissioner Campos was within his rights not to hire a huge hall to accommodate hundreds of people, even if they were not allowed to speak. He could have the meeting in a closet. But the closet had better have room for reporters. To ban the media is contemptible. It is the public's right to know what is discussed in meetings of broad public interest, where the participants are hand picked and especially where the question is of such community concern.

"2. Having no publicly distributed written summary of the discussion after the meeting should be concerning to everyone. It would have precluded members of the public and the media from having to resort to piecing together disparate pieces of information. The commissioner and county officials must surely know that people will make every attempt to get information, and spread it, even if what they hear is not true.

"3. It's also a mistake not to have identified the participants and why they were invited. Again, we think we know who many, if not all of them, were. But we learned that through means other than disclosure by county officials.

"Further, the tone of the meeting seemed to have left a sour impression on some people there. Several participants told me they were concerned they would not get a seat at the next meeting if they spoke publicly on the record about this one. The Kremlin could do no better.

"Had Commissioner Campos returned my calls before and after the meeting, I would have considered him to have disclosed himself. He did not.

"Governments everywhere would prefer to operate in secret. They may like it but it looks suspicious to those on the outside. That is happening now in Washington. It should not happen in Santa Fe.

"With this complaint, I demand an apology to the people of Santa Fe, more disclosure and accountability from Santa Fe's public officials, and a pledge from them never again to consider a blackout on the public's right to know."

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