N.M. Newspaper Files Lawsuit for Release of City Documents

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The Daily Times and the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government are suing the city of Farmington for refusing to release applications for the city manager’s position.

The lawsuit, filed Monday in state district court, requests the applications under the Inspection of Public Records Act. The newspaper and the foundation were denied access to the documents earlier this month.

The city has refused to release the applications until 10 finalists are chosen, claiming that making the applications public would jeopardize the candidate pool by not maintaining confidentiality.

The city has received 90 applications. Officials expect to choose the finalists by April 5.

Sammy Lopez, publisher of The Daily Times, said the media has traditionally served as the watchdog of government.

“We can only do that if the government will provide public records needed to examine procedures and decisions,” he said. “It’s the basic foundation of our society in America, and as a newspaper we feel an obligation to continue that role.”

Mayor Bill Standley has not returned repeated calls seeking comment.

On Friday, the newspaper and the foundation also filed a complaint with the state attorney general’s office and requested an opinion on the matter.

Phil Sisneros, a spokesman for the attorney general, said a letter was drafted Monday requesting more information from both sides.

“I’ve said this before, but it is a fact-finding process,” Sisneros said. “We’ve heard quite a bit from The Daily Times, but I’m not sure we’ve heard from the city yet. It will take more time before we rule on the request.”

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