By Mike Neas – Periodically some of us find ourselves wondering how to make ourselves heard on a specific issue. More often than not this is with regard to political issues and decisions that can affect our daily lives and the health, safety and general welfare of the public. This reference to “the health, safety and general welfare” of the public is often included within the written content of various statutes and ordinances and is included in our US Constitution and the New Mexico Constitution.
In order to be heard we might need to research certain documents that led to decisions that we want to reference, or make comment on, or question interpretations. This research in itself might cause many of us to throw our hands up and change our minds about speaking out. But research can be very rewarding especially in its educational value. Instead of taking someone else’s opinion as gospel, our own research can lead us to know that others among us have interpreted incorrectly, or are possibly just ignorant of the real facts.
Sometimes we might encounter interpretations of the rules we live by that are arbitrary, or capricious, another term that is important in researching an issue. This happens occasionally with bureaucratic decisions as in planning and zoning decisions. Also sometimes when volunteers are interpreting things like residential restrictive covenants on architectural committees, personal agendas can cloud decisions. A liberal interpretation as opposed to a literal interpretation can often times lead to confusion which might require one to read and reread the document or documents involved in a question.
It is up to us all to protect our rights and even the rights of others when we feel strongly.
We are the “somebody” in; Why doesn’t somebody do something about this? We can’t always leave it up to others to get it done for us. They may need us, or they may be busy elsewhere at the time. And the time is now. We can’t continually procrastinate when there is work to be done. But where do we start? Who do we talk to?
The New Mexico Legislature begins a sixty day session on January 17, 2017. The NM legislature website www.nmlegis.gov is loaded with very important information and a visit to the Roundhouse and committee hearings is well worth the free price of admission. And in between hearings see our Capital art collection which is possibly the best collection of taxpayer owned art in New Mexico. The following list and links are just a beginning resource that can help us get started in participating in our system and making a good government work for us all:
The www.nmlegis.gov website can link you to • Bill Finder • Find Your Legislator • Districts • Senate’s Webcast • Interim Committees. The very important NMSA statutes already in existence which we are expected to live by can be found at http://public.nmcompcomm.us/nmnxtadmin/NMPublic.aspx.
Check out these links and learn more about the legal world that we live with. I will also create an article discussing the important public transparency tools known as the federal Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), the New Mexico Inspection Of Public Records Act (IPRA), and the New Mexico Open Meetings Act.