The Case of Janice Arnold-Jones: Let the Sun Shine In

Sometimes right is just right – it doesn’t matter which side of the political aisle you’re sitting on.

I was struck by that old adage last week when I talked to Rep. Janice Arnold-Jones, an Albuquerque Republican who has stirred up the New Mexico Legislature this year with her dogged efforts to broadcast legislative committee meetings live on the web.

Maybe in a year we’ll all be chuckling about it how silly it seems, but right now, Arnold Jones is taking serious heat from some fellow legislators for her desire to drag New Mexico into the digital age. New Mexico is one of just a handful of states that doesn’t already broadcast legislative proceedings live.

When I interviewed Arnold-Jones, I was inspired by her willingness to push the rules of the chamber and make her colleagues mad – really mad – in her quest to do the right thing.

Unlike some legislators, Arnold-Jones is keenly aware that the legislature is public, and that lawmakers have the responsibility to keep their constituents all over this sprawling state apprised of what’s going on in the Roundhouse.

Not many of the ‘just folks ‘ who live in New Mexico have the luxury of taking time off to go to Santa Fe and watch as the laws that affect every one of them are made. But as debate rages about ethics reform and pay-to-play scandals, voters are more anxious than ever to know exactly what goes on in the halls of state government.

Arnold-Jones knows that. She meets with her constituents regularly and she listens to and respects their concerns.

I asked her why she’s webcasting the committees she sits on, and her answer was simple: because her constituents asked her to.

“The citizens are so smart – if you listen to them, they will tell you exactly what to fix. I get irritated when people say citizens don’t care and citizens don’t know. They do!”

We here at Clearly rarely end up on the same side as our more conservative legislators when it comes to the issues we’re most passionate about.

But in this elemental struggle between flooding government with light or keeping it in shadow, we think Arnold-Jones is a real champion.

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One Response

  1. It is too bad that neither the Republicans nor the Democrats were willing as a party to sponsor the costs for webcasting from the legislature. Could it be that the powers to be are not in touch with what the people really want?

    When are we going to realize it isn’t a party issue it is a attitude issue.

    We the people want transparency. It isn’t a bad thing. It is good for everyone except those with something to hide.

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