FOG appoints new leader

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By Carol A. Clark

Leonard DeLayo replaces Bob Johnson, the first and only executive director of the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government (FOG), who died recently at age 84.

DeLayo is an attorney and longtime school board member in Albuquerque.

“Leonard has the background and legal training and a strong desire to promote open meetings and open records and that makes him a good match,” said Jack Swickard during an interview this morning.

Swickard is a FOG board member, longtime newspaper man and current president of the Triton Group in Roswell.

FOG is an educational and charitable organization designed to help the general public, students, educators, public officials, media and legal professionals understand, obtain and exercise their rights including:

• First Amendment rights;

• rights and responsibilities under the New Mexico Open Meetings Act;

• Inspection of Public Records Act;

• Arrest Record Information Act, and

• rights under the federal Freedom of Information Act.

“I appreciate the appointment by the board of directors and am encouraged, as well as excited, to build upon the Foundation established by Bob Johnson and others,” DeLayo said in a letter to FOG members. “Together I think we can take this Foundation from its current position into one that is sustainable, credible and forceful in its efforts to impact public policy as well as protect, preserve and advance the right of the public to information and open government.”

DeLayo said FOG is only as strong as its membership and he hopes to work to expand membership to become more broadly based, inclusive and representative of the New Mexico community.

FOG was created to fill a specific need because public officials and public agencies in New Mexico were – and some still are – often disdainful of the public’s right to know and of the laws intended to insure public access to government decision-making, DeLayo said.

The organization was incorporated in June, 1989, and received 501(C)(3) recognition Dec. 6, 1990.

According to its history, the inspiration for forming FOG came from the New Mexico Legislature in 1987 when a member of the House Judiciary Committee told witnesses at a hearing on proposed improvements in the Inspection of Public Records Act that the media are just “a special interest group” and do not represent the public.

About 71 percent of FOG’s individual members are from the general public.

The organization has only one employee, the executive director, who carries out all operational, educational and fund-raising activities with assistance and advice from the board of directors.

The board consists of 25 directors drawn from journalism, law, education and the general public. Every section of the state is represented.

Fourteen lawyers form a hotline team that provides pro bono advice for members on problems of access to either meetings or records. These lawyers are available to answer other First Amendment questions as well.

Fog, located in Albuquerque, handles more than 1,000 hotline telephone calls annually.

To discuss open meeting and public records issues, visit online at nmfog.org.