TMS Board Meets with PED

By: Bill Whaley
12 October, 2011

Editors Note (Deep Background, Santa Fe). News about TMS arrives as if it were enigmatic pronouncements–not unlike medieval theological discourse about dogma and doctrine. Read the watchers report below for some indication of chicanery. Yesterday, a Taos Friction reader reported that TMS had blocked access to this site like China according to teachers. This is good news because it means that the reported effects here are validated by their causal agents there… The board and super are, indeed, paranoid lest the news get out.

For instance, below Coca-Ruiz refers to a meeting with PED below on Oct. 7.

As Deep Background and according to Flavio, our agent at PED, the state was taking the measure of TMS’s finance department and prepared to take-over the financial operations of the local district. But finance employees pleaded for pity and patience from PED. PED had apparently “discovered” an extra million dollars in the TMS budget and questioned the Super and board members in attendance about unecessary cuts to teachers’ salaries. (We don’t know whether board members violated the Open Meetings Act. Such petty issues are the purview of Mighty Matt at the local weekly.) Two union representatives, reportedly, were in attendance at the PED meeting with the TMS board.

If you’re a teacher, you must ask yourself whether your union representatives, Superintendent, and board members are decieving you or are deceived themselves–due to ignorance, incompetence, or something worse. PED put off a decision on the take-over until the current audit, due early last summer, is completed, probably in December. As the Baston report noted, the TMS finance department reports and its coordination with Human Resources and the Department of Instruction have been suspect for years: No internal controls. Highly placed TMS personnel have been observed “gambling” at casinos—which raises red flags about the lack of a trial balance and incomplete current audit report. (At one time, it took County Government three years to get a probitive audit done, due to shenanigans from the past.)

The majority of the board members are safely ignorant of the “doings” at CRAB Hall though they meet, in all probability, regularly in “rolling quorums” and rubber stamp actions by administrators, who have a stranglehold on the throats of the teachers and the union. Contrary to the conventional wisdom, the problems at TMS cannot be blamed on Republicans—though Martinez appointees have uncovered eight years of democratic wrongdoing both statewide and local among the school systems. See Journal stories on Special Ed scandals, etc. during the last year.

TMS not transparent on school board attorney RFP #1101-002

By Lorraine Coca-Ruiz

I attended the Taos Municipal Schools board meeting yesterday, one of the items of the agenda School Board Attorney RFP #1101-002, six law firms submitted bid proposals.

The board voted overwhelmingly 4-0. Board member Stella Gallegos was absent.

While the board gave their reasons for their attorney preference the bid amounts was not disclosed.

Mr. Tomas “Chuby” Tafoya stated “I personally support Cuddy & McCarthy for their experience, they are not the cheapest, but they have the biggest staff and are knowledgeable in schools law.

Mr. Jason Silva stated “Because the Anderson is not from the state, I am in favor of Cuddy, McCarthy because of the school law quality at one point they served the district.

Mr. Zach Cordova “I also choose Cuddy & McCarthy, I like their proposal, background, and because they have been here in the passed.

Mr. David Chavez “I saw similar views on Anderson Walsh; Cuddy seems to be more knowledgeable on districts concerns.

Mr. Rod Weston “Based on extensive work in New Mexico, their experience their contacts with Public Education Department the quality of representation they have provided in the passed I recommend the Cuddy & McCarthy law firm.

As per state statutes 13-1-76 Definition: professional services.

“Professional services” means the services of architects, archeologist, engineers, surveyors, landscape architects, medical arts practitioners, scientist, management and systems analysts, certified public accountants, lawyers, psychologists, planners, researchers, construction managers and other persons or business providing similar professional services, which may be designated as such by a determination issued by the state purchasing agent or central purchasing office.

In my opinion the following procurement state statutes were not followed:

13-1-107, Competitive sealed bids: bid opening.

Bids shall be opened publicly in the presence of one or more witnesses at the time and place designated in the invitation for bids. The amount of each bid and each bid item, if appropriate, and such other relevant information as may be specified by the state purchasing agent or central purchasing office, together with the name of each bidder, shall be recorded, and the record and each bid shall be open to public inspection.

13-1-108, Competitive sealed bids: award.

A contract solicited by competitive sealed bids shall be awarded with reasonable promptness by written notice to the lowest responsible bidder.

13-1-116. competitive sealed proposals: Disclosure: record
The contents of any proposal shall not be disclosed so as to be available to competing offers during the negotiation process.

13-1-117, Competitive sealed proposals: award.

The award shall be made to the responsible offers or offerors whose proposal is most advantageous to the state agency or local public body, taking into consideration the evaluation factors set forth in the request for proposals.

If you have any questions or concerns on the bid process you can call or email Lawrence Maxwell State Purchasing Agent & Director, (505) 827-0482

Although the board did not reveal the eight law firms’ competitive bid proposals two bid proposals were mentioned, while the vote were taking place, Walsh Anderson Brown Gallegos & Green P.C. and Cuddy & McCarthy, LLP.

The Cuddy and McCarthy law firm represented the school district for many years until the board discovered that they lacked a contract with the firm. Legal expenditures had exceeded the state Procurement Code’s “small purchases” provision. The previous board decided to seek competitive proposals.

On November 10, 2010 the board voted to hire the Brown Law Firm because of school and public experience. Their bid proposal was ($175.00 per hr.) And the highest bid was Cuddy & McCarthy ($190.00 per hr.). In the

It was stated in the superintendent’s report that the 4.5 percent pay reduction for non-bargaining unit employees will be the same as the other employees.
Friday, October 7, Superintendent Weston, Board Members, and staff visited PED.

The superintendent reported good news; No budget reduction for Special Education department this year concerning the special audit. The coordinator has been given the green light to hire special education teachers.

Pending the out come of 2008-2009 audit, more employees might be hired as soon as the audit is complete.

Rod Weston gave special thanks to Finance Department employees for preparing for the PED visit and Human Resource Coordinator for working on the salary schedule.

No bad new was reported by the superintendent.

I’ll be watching