Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

PRC short on transparency, accountability

If you were a public servant entrusted with ensuring that New Mexico utilities and ratepayers get a fair deal, and you found out that instead of investigating a whistleblower’s allegations of Internet porn surfing at your place of employment your staff investigated the whistleblower, then tucked the investigation away in a horse trailer, then was fined $25,000, would you:

A. Call news coverage of the payment a “trap” of “bad press?”

B. Agree that staff was right to check out the whistleblower and keep you out of the loop?

C. Tell the staff lawyer to sit down and shut up?

D. Say you don’t have a problem with the PRC paying the bill, just with the Albuquerque Journal finding out about it before you? Or

E. Demand to know “how our money’s spent. How many more surprises will we read about in the newspaper?”

Based on the above real-life reactions from current Public Regulation Commission members regarding the porn-surfing horse-trailer scandal, New Mexicans are one for five when it comes to accountability and transparency on the PRC.

Apparently, based on comments made by four of the commissioners, the professional qualifications for new members haven’t inspired some of the current crop.

Pat Lyons: “We don’t need to elaborate on bad press. They just pick on the PRC.”

Ben Hall: “I don’t have a problem with us having to pay what a judge orders. I just hate to read it in the newspaper.”

Karen Montoya: “Had the media not picked up on this case, this would never be an issue right now ... we all need to calm down.”

Theresa Becenti-Aguilar, who chairs the PRC, told the staff attorney to keep his comments about the issue to himself.

Only Commissioner Valerie Espinoza, who was publicly ridiculed at the meeting by Lyons for getting upset over both the $25k in sanctions and not knowing about it until Journal UpFront columnist Thom Cole called her, said she was “proud to fall into that ‘trap’ of accountability and transparency.”

Unfortunately, that so-called trap hasn’t snagged her colleagues.

— Albuquerque Journal

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