On Thursday, the New Mexico Children, Youth, and Families Department held a policy advisory council meeting/press conference where it announced that its meetings would be closed to the public.
“Sunlight is the best disinfectant – words from the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis that still ring true today – except it seems for a special council formed by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham to address the dysfunctional Children Youth and Families Department,” wrote the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government (NMFOG).
“The New Mexico Foundation for Open Government (FOG) strongly urges the committee to reconsider and adopt a resolution opening all the meetings, and we know from experience it can be done,” the group wrote.
“As the goal of the CYFD committee is to make recommendations to generally improve the safety and well-being of children in the care of the child protective services system, FOG believes any attempt to engage in a public decision-making process without including the public is a violation of the public’s trust. It is basically a question of accountability and being transparent – something CYFD is sorely lacking,” it continued, noting that The New Mexico Open Meetings Act (OMA) “is dependent upon an informed electorate for the benefit of all New Mexicans.”
Others criticized the futility of the meeting itself, with Rep. Stefani Lord (R-Sandia Park) writing, “No solutions to stop our vulnerable children from being neglected, raped, abused, tortured, and killed at this CYFD meeting. They will think about ideas to recruit and retain workers and foster care parents and meet again in a month. ZERO urgency to save these children right now! These kids don’t have time for roundtables and discussions. I presented over a dozen bills to fix things immediately, and [Gov. Lujan Grisham] had them all pushed aside and promoted these talking heads.”
Although the governor-appointed board claims to be working on solutions, many are asking for more urgency in attempts to reform the broken Department. Gov. Lujan Grisham has refused to call a special session to fix issues with CYFD, despite in previous years calling special sessions for much less pertinent issues, such as legalizing recreational marijuana sales in the state.