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Monday, January 08, 2007

I sit corrected

Phil Sisneros, the new communications director for the AG's Office (he was the head of Gary King's campaign) did just return my call and said he would look into things. So, we'll see.
Well, hell, I've talked about this complaint enough, might as well let you all read it. Can you believe we filed a complaint six months ago and nothing at all seems to have happened? Kind of makes it easy to see how things like the Robert Vigil brouhaha occur.
So, here's the letter:

Aug. 30, 2006

Office of New Mexico
Attorney General
Civil Division

To whom it may concern,

Please consider this letter a formal complaint against The Department of Corrections for what we believe to be violations of The Inspection of Public Records Act.
On July 12, 2006, Dan Frosch, a reporter with The Santa Fe Reporter, filed a public records request with Tia Bland, the public information officer for the DOC. Among the documents requested, SFR sought to review records of off-site medical referrals by Wexford Health Sources, which currently holds the contract for medical care in New Mexico prisons, and its predecessor, Addus. Additionally, SFR sought a list of all Wexford employees in NM. [see attachment A, #8, 9, 12]]
This state is required to know this information in order to monitor its contract with Wexford. However, on July 27, a response to our request from Bland denied several items, including #8, 9 and 12, on the basis that such information does not exist. [attachment B]
In a subsequent conversation with Bland, reporter Frosch inquired how such information could not exist when the state is required to know such information. He relays that he was told by Bland she would continue to attempt to supply this information. Frosch confirmed this conversation in an e-mail to Bland on July 27, reiterating that SFR still considered the information to be part of our
original request. Bland responded that she would try to have the information available “no later than next Thursday,” which would have been Aug. 3. [Attachment C, #1 (Frosch’s email) #2 (Bland’s response]
On Aug. 7, as SFR prepared to go to press with a cover story on Wexford [Attachment of story, “Hard Cell”], Bland, following a telephone conversation with Frosch, emailed the number of off-site referrals for Wexford [attachment D].
Clearly, the records SFR was initially denied, on the basis of them not existing, do exist, as the information was partially supplied by Bland when she was pressed repeatedly to do so. However, SFR has still not received the entirety of the information requested, and we wish to view the original records relating to off-site medical visits, so that we are able to assess them, as allowed under the law. We still have no way to verify the numbers supplied via email by Bland, nor do they represent the entirety of the information requested.
SFR refilled its request, in part, with the DOC on Aug. 24 [Attachment E] and received, on Aug. 28 (F), a response that implied the documents would be made available in 15 days. Although 15 days is allowable, we question it given that the records were originally requested more than a month ago. Further, we request the AG investigate the DOC’s original denial, as we believe it have been in violation of the law.

I am happy to answer any further questions on this complaint as needed.

Julia Goldberg

Enc: July 12 request from Dan Frosch (A); DOC response (B); Frosch/Bland email (C); Bland email, Aug. 7 (D); Frosch records request Aug. 24 (E); Bland response, Aug. 28 (F)

Cc: Bob Johnson, Foundation for Open Government; Tia Bland, Public Information Officer, Department of Corrections