Arnold-Jones wins open government award


Janice Arnold-Jones

State Rep. Janice Arnold-Jones has been awarded the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government’s 2010 William S. Dixon First Amendment Freedom Award for her successful efforts to force webcasting on the state Legislature.

Arnold-Jones was nominated by

The Foundation for Open Government hands out the award in several categories that include education, media, business, law and government – the category in which Arnold-Jones was recognized.

Here’s what FOG had to say about Arnold-Jones in a news release announcing the award:

“During the 2009 legislative session, Arnold-Jones risked violating House rules and upsetting her colleagues when she brought a video camera into two legislative committees and began webcasting the proceedings. Her bold action inspired media organizations and other House members to launch their own webcasting streams, and it paved the way for audio and video webcasting to gain wide acceptance among legislators. Just one year later, video-webcasting measures flew through the House, enabling citizens across New Mexico to keep a watchful eye on business at the Roundhouse.”

Others who were given the award this year were Norman Becker, New Mexico Mutual president and CEO; Winston Brooks, Albuquerque Public Schools Superintendent; attorney Hal Simmons; and Robert B. Trapp, managing editor of the Rio Grande Sun.

As I wrote in announcing that had nominated Arnold-Jones for the award in January, I considered not nominating her because she’s running for governor and I’m a journalist covering that race. Nominating Arnold-Jones for the award was not an endorsement of her candidacy for governor, and I didn’t want it to be interpreted as such – by her or anyone else.

In the end, however, as I wrote in my nomination letter, “it’s rare for an elected official to stand up to a broken system in such a courageous manner and start a movement that so dramatically changes things.”

“Such courage must be rewarded, and though this nomination is not, in any way, an endorsement of Arnold-Jones’ candidacy for governor, it is an attempt to recognize her important work to advance the cause of open and transparent government and to encourage other public officials to follow her lead,” I wrote.

That last part is the key: Arnold-Jones stood up to legislative leaders and risked violating House rules to do the right thing. Such courage is rare. Nominating Arnold-Jones for the award was simply an attempt to recognize her for doing the right thing, and to encourage other public officials to do the same.

16 thoughts on “Arnold-Jones wins open government award

  1. Sugar, I appreciate your response to my question. Although I understand that you had a difference of opinion with Republicans in accordance with your job, I feel that a comment of “I have never voted for a Republican” is one of the major issues with people voting in this State. This goes for both Democrats and Republicans. I have always felt that it is best to vote for the candidate that I feel is best suited for the position, instead of voting straight down the party line because I don’t like the other party. I think that this kind of voting is dangerous and is what has put NM in the position it is now. In the last 70 years only 1 Republican has held the Attorney General and Secretary of State position and look at the issues we are facing now. Something needs to change.

  2. NorthernPride

    April 7, 2010 • 7:52 pm .Sugar, may I ask why you have never voted for a Republican?

    To start with I am a member of the Operating Engineers Local #3 and it seems the Republicans were always on the wrong side of organized labor. I was a very good operator who could have worked for any company, but it was the strengh of belonging to a union that provided for my family. Also my talent as an operator provided for the union so it worked out for both of us. I belive in good paying jobs for people and with a little extra cash people make they will use it in the community to buy goods and services that will enrich the community as a whole and not a select few.

  3. Ched, I know you are an Arnold-Jones partisan, but I’m sure you know that APS is a major political entity in New Mexico Not to mention that the Rio Grande Sun won the award for keeping government accountable. And the press release clearly states that Becker is an “open-government advocate” who won for his “commitment to openness has informed Becker’s service on government policy commissions and community-organization boards.”

  4. Richard C

    In fairness to Heath, this website is called NMPolitics,
    not NMEducation, not NMBusiness, not NMLaw, and not NM Journalism, the other categories for award.

    Wouldn’t you agree that it makes sense therefore to be most interested in the NM “Government” category.

  5. Janice is the only Republican I would like to see elected, if Diane doesn’t win it. I would never vote for her because she is a Republican and I have never voted for a Republican.

  6. Heath, would you not agree that if you saw another journalist all but ignore four recipients of the award and concentrate on one who 1) they nominated and 2) is running for higher office that you would think it showed bias?

    This site is obviously tilted towards two gubernatorial candidates (Arnold-Jones and Martinez, who get glowing write ups every few days) at the expense of all the others.

  7. Have you listened to what the other candidates say about open, transparent government?

    Weh is going to take a baseball bat to Santa Fe and clean it up. Yeah, that’ll work… NOT! Republicans will still be in the minority. The only way to advance government is to reach across the divide of disagreement. Being open and transparent between the legislative and executive branches in particular is of utmost importance. Gaining trust through respect is next. Weh is not oriented to either of those. I’m still trying to figure out what charging up a hill in Vietnam and killing people has to do with governance… the baseball bat is a metaphor for a Marine that knows how to kill…. not how to build!

    Martinez talks and talks and talks some more about prosecuting bad guys. That was the central theme of her speech to the attendees of the State Republican Party Pre Primary Convention. Well… she should be running for state attorney general. Since Gary King only seems interested in prosecuting business owners, maybe Martinez could’ve taken on the pay to play bad guys instead. Governors don’t prosecute crimes. Period.

    Domenici Jr, son of liberal Republican Senior Domenici. Well, he has that going for him.

    Turner. Nice, nice guy. Too young to be effective. Speaks platitudes well but no experience. Has good ideas. Should take a back seat and run in a few years…

    Janice. Wow. The only one who walks the talk on open and transparent government and pretty much everything else. She is spot on with Ethics, Energy, Education and Economy. She is the ONLY one who can beat Diane Denish. The others are playing a fools game for thinking their money will net them a win.

  8. Rep Janice Arnold-Jones has promised that if she elected, there will be government in Santa Fe that is transparently accountable to the people. Transparently accountable government is fatal to public corruption and incompetence.

    There is no legitimate agenda, conservative or liberal, that does not move forward on the day that government is truly transparently accountable to the people.

    There is no doubt that she has the competence, character and courage to keep her promise. Look at the courage and conviction that keeps her going 100% on her campaign against such formidable obstacles.

    It’s a no-brainer.

  9. Here’s the FOG news release, which includes info about the other recipients:

    Government Watchdog Announces
    2010 Dixon Award Winners

    April 6, 2010

    A school superintendent and a state legislator will be among those honored by the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government at its annual awards ceremony June 12.
    “These five advocates truly believe in government of, for and by the people, and they act on that belief,” NM-FOG Executive Director Sarah Welsh said. “There are plenty of people who pay lip service to transparency and accountability. These five really walk the walk, and their actions make it easier for everyone to be informed and participate in government.”
    The 2010 William S. Dixon First Amendment Freedom Award will be presented to the following five recipients:
    · Government: Janice Arnold-Jones, State Representative for District 24. During the 2009 legislative session, Arnold-Jones risked violating House rules and upsetting her colleagues when she brought a video camera into two legislative committees and began webcasting the proceedings. Her bold action inspired media organizations and other House members to launch their own webcasting streams, and it paved the way for audio and video webcasting to gain wide acceptance among legislators. Just one year later, video-webcasting measures flew through the House, enabling citizens across New Mexico to keep a watchful eye on business at the Roundhouse.
    · Business: Norm Becker, New Mexico Mutual President and CEO. Becker is a staunch open-government advocate who consistently champions the philosophy of transparency in his roles as a business leader, community volunteer and public-policy advisor. His widely admired management style is marked by open and constant communication at all levels – even when that means fielding tough criticism from stakeholders. That commitment to openness has informed Becker’s service on government policy commissions and community-organization boards, and has insured that when he’s around, transparency is never in question.
    · Education: Winston Brooks, Albuquerque Public Schools Superintendent. Since becoming superintendent of APS, Brooks has made openness a priority. He has presided over open hiring processes; released a comprehensive report of classroom-level test scores; allowed media coverage of a contentious town-hall meeting; disclosed high-profile personnel decisions and appealed an NMAA decision to ban the public and the
    media from a high-school basketball game. In good times and bad, Brooks’ first reaction has been to release information and to speak openly and frankly about APS affairs.
    · Law: Hal Simmons, Private Attorney. Simmons has served as counsel to the New Mexico Press Association and the New Mexico Broadcasters Association for 40 and 35 years, respectively. In that capacity, he has advised countless journalists on freedom-of-information and First Amendment issues – often at no charge. A lifelong advocate and expert, Simmons has been a one-man “foundation for open government” since long before NM-FOG was founded.
    · Journalism: Robert B. Trapp, Rio Grande SUN Managing Editor. As managing editor of the Rio Grande SUN, Trapp more than upholds that paper’s 53-year tradition of fighting for public information in Rio Arriba and northern Santa Fe counties. And at a time when most newspapers are struggling just to keep their doors open, let alone take up legal battles, Trapp has devoted significant financial and personal resources to freedom-of-information fights. In 2009, the SUN filed two lawsuits to force public agencies to disclose routine financial information; it won one of those suits last month. For the Trapps, fighting for access is a family tradition – Robert E. Trapp, Trapp’s father and the SUN’s publisher, won the Dixon Award in 2003.

    (Full disclosure: Sarah Welsh worked for the SUN for three years before becoming the NM-FOG executive director. She was not a voting member of the selection committee for the Dixon Awards.)

    The five recipients were selected by a panel of NM-FOG Board members. The award, which has been given since 2002, honors NM-FOG co-founder and longtime Board member William S. Dixon. Dixon was a brilliant attorney and leading defender of the First Amendment and public rights under the New Mexico Open Meetings Act and Inspection of Public Records Act.
    “Battling the culture of secrecy is so important, but it can be a rough, thankless and obscure task,” Welsh said. “If you’re in it for the long haul, you’d better have a keen intellect and a great sense of humor. Bill Dixon had both in spades. We celebrate his memory and we celebrate those who continue the fight, day in and day out. Their dedication and resolve serve as an inspiration for anyone who cares about the future of New Mexico.”
    The Dixon Award Ceremony and Benefit Dinner will be held June 12 at the Albuquerque Marriott. Individual tickets are $60, and sponsorship opportunities are available. All proceeds benefit the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit or call (888) 843-9121.

    * * *
    FOG is New Mexico’s leading advocate for transparency in government. Its mission is to defend the public’s right to know and to educate citizens and government agencies about their rights and responsibilities under New Mexico’s open-meetings and open-records laws. Founded in 1989 by veteran Associated Press reporter Bob Johnson, FOG has a strong record of bringing sunshine to the halls of power. It is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, member-supported organization that draws broad membership from the general public, business community, elected officials, journalists and lawyers.

  10. Finally, a politician who can walk the talk. This is great news for Representative Arnold-Jones. She is willing to go out on a limb for the voters. She took some serious heat for this effort, and it was well worth the effort. Way to go.

  11. The last I heard … Arnold-Jones is the only recipient who is running for governor at a time when open government and transparency is the main issue. Maybe … THAT is the story? But I’d LOVE to hear about the Winston Brooks write up – the guy who heads up an organization that refuses to provide information to public inquiries … i can’t wait to read about that one.

  12. Kudos to Rep. Janice Arnold-Jones, who dared to stand up to the “old boy’s network” and the Democrat establishment in the House on behalf of the people! Her actions sparked a mini-revolution and last session, the House and Senate both passed bills to open up the system to everyone, rather than keep these committee hearings (whose committee chairs often shifted dates and times without notice) in the darkness where mischief occurred. Now they are ALL Webcast, thanks to Janice’s brave act of civil disobedience.

    Her actions in this case, and in many others where she cried “foul” at the House Speaker’s illegal and unconstitutional acts, show she has the guts and the knowledge to make positive things happen on day one as governor – and without on-the-job training.

  13. Very much deserved, Representative Arnold-Jones! Congratulations! We appreciate you nominating her, Heath. Good choice!

  14. You say this isn’t an endorsement then all but ignore the other four recipients of the award, as if she is the only winner. Journalism?