I am a regular viewer of the KNME show called New Mexico In Focus. I have it set on my DVR to record each episode and then I watch it at my leisure. The Public Broadcasting show features local news in both a documentary format where an issue is discussed at length or featured in a documentary type format for the first half of the show usually led by co-host David Alire Garcia, and then the second half of the show features a round table discussion led by Gene Grant.
As part of the round table discussion the show has a segment where a topic is given by Gene Grant and then two or three panelists discuss the topic however the entire question is only given 60 seconds for total discussion.This is where my blog post titled "Has the legislature become beholden to the media" was the 60 second topic. I have to say I was very disappointed in the commentary. I know its only 60 seconds but instead of discussing the questions posed in my blog the panelists debated whether I as sheriff had any business discussing the topic or having a blog?
The panelists were:
Teresa Cordova, UNM Architecture & Planning Dept.
Daymon Ely, Attorney
Jim Scarantino an Attorney and columnist for the Albuquerque Journal
Former Sandoval Co. Commissioner Marco Gonzales who is also an Attorney for the Modrell Sperling Law Firm.
Before I get into my response to their comments here is an excerpt of the show which contains the 60 seconds I am discussing. The whole show can be seen here.
Now I brought up the whole subject of what lobbyists do in comparison to what I observed from the media in the last session of the legislature in particular to spark discussion. I am actually glad to see that has happened. I allow comments on this blog and I write the blog to engage in discussion on local and national topics and try to be honest and forthright in my blogging. This blog is not intended to be sanitized for political purposes and is not intended to be a campaign web site. It is also not the blog of the Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office. Now I do discuss law enforcement and crime issues but those who read this blog regularly know that is not all I discuss.
OK, lets get into discussing the individual comments from the panelists. Jim Scarantino says "there must not be crime in Santa Fe County since Sheriff Solano has time to blog and engage in issues that don't involve his office"
Wow, OK, Jim Scarantino besides being a recovering attorney (his words), Writes in blogs and media outlets all over the Internet. From New Mexico Liberty.com, to Duke City Fix.com, and on to Heath Haussamens blog as well as the Albuquerque Journal. He writes on a variety of subjects and often preaches free speech and open government. Well Jim whats more open than an elected official freely and openly discussing issues and accepting comments in an open forum like a blog? And because I am a Sheriff does that mean that I am only qualified to discuss law enforcement issues? Jim if we go by that logic then how qualified are you to write about the drug wars? Have you ever fought against the distribution of drugs and the deaths and destruction they cause?
Now I actually read your columns and enjoy the discussions but I would never question your ability or right to discuss issues outside the realm of your day to day job. I am a father, a grandfather, a former business owner, a back yard auto mechanic, a woodworker, I can weld, do plumbing, electrical, I write short stories and fiction novels, I am a Democrat who listens to republican radio and TV shows, I hunt, I fish, I have hung out and talked politics and guns with Ted Nugent, discussed law enforcement with President Clinton, discussed the heroin epidemic in New Mexico with President Bush and yes I have lobbied for bills in the legislature and I have even written columns in print. My point is I am more than just a Sheriff, But most of all I am an American who's free speech is guaranteed by the constitution I have taken an oath to uphold. It is that free speech that allows me to speak about the media, the legislature, and sometimes even about law enforcement on this blog.
Next on the Line panel to discuss my blog was Daymon Ely an Attorney. He said about me " He is a sheriff in law enforcement and not in the area of media and how things work in that world, He is trying to make a point but it would be better time spent doing his job." Now I am writing this post at 4:00 am on Sunday Morning. Most of my posts are done at night although I do post occasionally during the day. A blog post usually takes me about 15 minutes to write and I post about 2-3 times a week. I am Sheriff 24-7 , 365 days, five hours, and 49 minutes a year (this is the actual average number of days per year including leap year), the job of sheriff is not a Monday through Friday, eight hour a day job. I take it very seriously and anyone in the media who deals with me on a daily basis knows I answer my cell phone day or night weekday or weekend so in effect I am always working. Guess what? I still have 45-90 minutes a week to blog. I also deal with the media every day for the last 7 years so I think I am qualified to discuss the media, I am not saying I am always right in my opinions and discussions but then neither are lawyers, reporters, or others always right either.
Finally the only one who got it right. Teresa Cordova of the UNM Architecture & Planning Dept. said of my blog post "What he is discussing is what is the role of the media in policy making, to what extent do policy makers listen to the media?" Bingo, give that women the gold watch! Now the media and bloggers got all caught up on the part of my blog post where in comparing and contrasting the media's role in the last legislative session I compared them to lobbyists. They latched onto that part of the blog and did not pay any attention to the fact that in my opinion the media should be a watchdog over government and should be careful of becoming part of the government process such as lobbying or shaping public policy through the stories they write. Now I may be totally wrong in the opinion of some or all the media but that is what my blog is about, throwing out there my opinions and thoughts and getting some feedback. Teresa is the only one who bothered to even tackle the subject of my post instead of just attacking the writer.
In my humble opinion the others only attacked me and my blog rather than my opinions and thoughts. I would have much rather heard a real discussion about the role of the media in shaping and influencing the policy makers through their columns, blogs, and newscasts. Oh well, I guess its time to get off my soapbox and go catch some bad guys. I will try and make my next blog post about law enforcement but if I decide to go astray forgive me.
One final note: I hope this post did not come off as angry, I really am not. I am actually happy that so much discussion came out of these posts and I have enjoyed the debate. My wife says I love a good argument and you know what? Shes right :-)