Governor Martinez’ attempts to force County Commissions in SD39 to violate law and stifle the democratic process
In what can be considered one of the worst violations of NM state statute, Governor Martinez sent notice to numerous County Commissions yesterday instructing them to schedule “emergency” meetings to nominate a replacement Senator in SD39. She sent out these notices with full understanding that NM Statute 10-51-1 F stipulates that the meetings should NOT take places without at least 72 hours’ notice. The Open Meetings Act is in place to ensure that the general public has enough time to be informed about the actions of their local government so that they can take part in the process.
“The Governor’s actions in this matter are reprehensible and are advocating for a clear violation of our democratic process,” stated DPNM Chairman Sam Bregman. “With less than 7 days left in the legislative session, this blatant move orchestrated by the Governor and her Republican cronies in the Senate show that she is willing to go to any length necessary to achieve her political goals. With critical bills involving worker’s rights, women’s rights, our education system and numerous others still being debated in the Senate, Governor Martinez clearly did not like how things were going for her and implemented a deceitful plan to give her an added advantage. Unfortunately, her plan relies on the public idly standing by while their rights get trampled on. She needs to know that the people of New Mexico will not stand for these kinds of tactics.”
The NM Open Meetings Act states. “Except in the case of an emergency or in the case of a public body that ordinarily meets more frequently than once per week, at least seventy-two hours prior to the meeting, the agenda shall be available to the public and posted on the public body’s web site, if one is maintained.”
The statute also states, “For purposes of this subsection, “emergency” refers to unforeseen circumstances that, if not addressed immediately by the public body, will likely result in injury or damage to persons or property or substantial financial loss to the public body.”
Looking at both of these clauses, it is clear that the law requires 72 hours’ notice before a meeting of the County Commission occurs and it is equally clear that these meetings would not be considered an emergency under state law.