NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – An Albuquerque law firm is preparing a lawsuit against the state’s Child, Youth, and Families Department. They say the agency has broken its promise of more transparency in the department. Attorney Jacob Candelaria, of Candelaria Law LLC who is filing the lawsuit, says enough is enough. He says a new committee should not be a reason to keep things behind closed doors.
CYFD has been called out for its lack of transparency in recent years. Now they are being called out again.
Candelaria said, “It’s not going to do better until they open their doors and let the public in to really see what’s going on, and really try to develop an explanation of how we fix such a failed agency.”
The department’s new Enhancing Delivery of Services steering committee was formed when Secretary Barbara Vigil took over for Brian Blalock last year. Blalock resigned following a scandal of secrecy when the department was caught using a messaging system designed to delete conversations. Vigil promised more transparency within CYFD.
Then last Wednesday, that new committee held its second meeting closed to the public. Candelaria says that is a violation of the Open Meetings Act. “What the Open Meetings Act contemplates, is that there is certain business that is done in public,” said Candelaria.
The attorney says he is preparing a lawsuit against the department following this meeting. He says it is time for change within the department. “To keep everything very secret until a pre-approved sanitized and public relations glossy report is released; that is just simply not good enough. This agency needs top-down dramatic reform,” Candelaria said.
The committee has since posted the notes from that meeting on CYFD’s website.
The minutes of the meeting have not been released. News 13 reached out to CYFD and they said because the lawsuit has not yet been filed, they cannot comment further.