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Friday, November 24, 2006

a final word on patricia madrid

I personally don't find myself all choked up over Patricia Madrid's loss to Heather Wilson. At the moment, I'm quite peeved with the AG's office and fixing to make a stink just as soon as I figure out the best way. As our readers know, Dan Frosch has been writing, for four months, a series on the problems with health care in the prisons. Several months ago, we were told, by the Department of Corrections, that several records we had requested, in writing, did not exist. It became clear, subsequently, that they did exist. I filed, then (a few months ago) an extensively documented complaint with the AG's office, stating my belief that the NMDC had violated the Open Records Act. Lo and behold, it's been over two months, so I called the AG's office to speak with Asst. AG Mary Smith, with whom my case had been referred. I was told, by Smith, that she had not done anything yet. The first step, she said, was to send a letter to NMCD and have them respond to my complaint. This had not happened yet. Once that happened—and she said she didn't know when she would do that—it would probably take several more months before anything else happened. And Smith made it rather clear that not only could she not tell me when this might happen but, if I was reading her tone correctly, she didn't consider it very high priority (well, that's not just a tone thing, I mean how much time does it take to write a letter?).
Meanwhile, the Legislature has ordered an audit of Wexford and the prison health care, so I don't think it's too much to ask that the AG might hold up its end of the bargain. After all, when a government agency denies records exist, it's usually not a great sign, yes?
So, during the elections, I brief both AG candidates on the situation and both committed that, if elected, they would support creating a time period in which the AG has to respond to these kinds of complaints. And I asked Gov. Richardson if he would support that as well and he said yes. The sad thing is that it would have taken very little effort for the AG to send NMDC a letter and they should care enough about upholding the law to do so.