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Government can be efficient at times

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By Jay Miller

SANTA FE — What a great example of governmental efficiency and transparency. With a mere telephone request, Gov. Susana Martinez’s chief political advisor was able to get a list of all nonunion teachers in the state along with their school email addresses.
It required considerable work by at least two divisions of the Public Education Department. It was done so fast and efficiently that the PED information officer proudly attached an email message that went to his boss, the governor, her chief of staff and, of course, her chief political advisor.
Not only did everyone in that loop have reason for pride, all we ink-stained wretches now have reason for hope that our requests for public records can be acted upon as quickly. It is not what we are accustomed to from any administration that I can recall.
First, we are reminded that requests cannot be made verbally. They must be in writing. In the early days of email, that medium was not acceptable. Sometimes a prompt reply is received but usually an extension of time is requested, often by an attorney.
Much of the time the answer is that the record does not exist. Often that means that the data exists to answer the question but it has never been compiled in the form requested and the agency is not required to do that work for you.


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