November 04, 2008
AG Rules Against
By Juan-Carlos Rodriguez
Journal Staff Writer
A South Valley acequia association
repeatedly violated the state Open Meetings Act and the Inspection of
Public Records Act, according to the Office of the Attorney General.
According to a letter of
determination issued by the office Friday, the Los Padillas Acequia
Association has failed, since its incorporation in 2006, to annually
adopt an open meetings resolution, something all public bodies, from
the city and the county on down, must do. In addition, the association
either created insufficient or no minutes from their meetings on four
Acequia association President
Robert Kyzer said the association will have a lawyer review the
Attorney General's Office's document and therefore had no comment at
Los Padillas residents Susan
White, Gerald Padilla and Mike Gadler filed the Open Meetings Act and
Inspection of Public Records complaints with the Attorney General's
Office earlier this year because they felt the association had not
followed proper procedures as it came into being.
White said she feels “slightly
vindicated” about the letter of determination issued by the office.
“I look forward to (the acequia
association) doing everything by the book,” White said.
The letter states that any actions taken
at a meeting that violated the Open Meetings Act are invalid. However,
the letter says that could be remedied if the association holds a
properly noticed meeting “at which it must adopt an open meetings
resolution and address past problems with providing reasonable notice
of its meetings and preparing and adopting minutes that comply with the
The association must report back
to the Attorney General's Office about the meeting.
Also according to the letter, the
association violated the Inspection of Public Records Act by taking
eight weeks to turn over records requested by White, Padilla and
Gadler, who wanted copies of the minutes of past meetings.
A public body that receives a
request for public documents has 15 days to turn them over to the
requesting person. If the request will take longer than three days to
process, the public body is required to send a written letter notifying
the requester of that delay and stating when the inspection may take
place or when the body will respond to the request.
The letter says the association
must post a written notice of the right to inspect public records at
its office, or, since it doesn't have one, at a public place.
According to the letter, if the
association follows the directions to fix the past problems, the
Attorney General's Office will take no action against it.
The New Mexico Interstate Stream
Commission has also requested an Attorney General's opinion about
whether an acequia association may receive legislative appropriations
if it exists within the boundaries of the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy
The Los Padillas Acequia
Association and seven other acequia associations in the South Valley
received legislative appropriations in the amount of $220,000 during
the 2007 legislative session. All of that money is still being held by
the commission until the Attorney General's Office issues some
copyright 2008, The Albuquerque Journal