It hides essential information from taxpaying public
You may remember Dr. Patricia Norris, a veterinarian who was accused of killing hundreds of healthy hens, roosters and chicks in raids on New Mexico ranches.
Norris and her cohorts on state Attorney General Gary King's Animal Cruelty Task Force claimed the birds were part of cockfighting rings and had been trained on steroids that could contaminate the food chain.
Norris and the other raiders used King's name and influence to obtain search warrants. They falsely claimed that one raid in San Juan County would lead to felony charges against ranchers. Then they stormed onto the ranch with armed law officers and even a police helicopter.
These bullies capped their vigilantism by massacring birds that had not been tested for steroids or any other source of contamination. After all the killing and chaos caused by King's task force, no charges were filed against the ranchers.
That is because state law requires direct sight of birds engaged in combat for criminal charges of cockfighting to be filed. King's out-of-control raiders had proof of nothing.
Norris, portrayed by her apologists as a benevolent veterinarian, participated in raids that killed more healthy birds than cockfighting in New Mexico ever did.
King, right, a Democrat who is running for governor, finally realized that the raids were not such a good idea for a man with lofty political aspirations. There also was the small point that governors ought to follow laws, not wink at people who stage raids violating the Constitution.
While King ducked for cover and hoped nobody would notice the animal blood on his hands, Norris came under fire professionally.
Ron Barron, president of the New Mexico Game Fowl Association, filed two complaints against Norris with the state Board of Veterinary Medicine.
It finally did a sham of an investigation and cleared Norris last month. In the inaccurate account given by the board, Norris "euthanized fighting roosters."
Those crack investigators ignored the fact that the roosters were not fighting, and that Norris also helped kill hens and chicks and destroy eggs.
Just as important, the board did not address allegations that Norris violated federal drug laws by carrying animal poisons outside her practice area.
The Board of Veterinary Medicine tried to keep the case against Norris secret. It tries to block sunshine from all complaints against veterinarians, treating its own as a privileged class.
Lawyers accused of misconduct are identified by the state Supreme Court. Ordinary men and women accused of theft or assault or speeding see their names splashed into the public record at courthouses.
Yet the Board of Veterinary Medicine, a state agency that should be answerable to taxpayers, buries allegations of wrongdoing against its state-licensed members.
Norris' name surfaced only because Barron disclosed it and we wrote about it. This led to whining by the board that its system of confidentiality was violated.
Good enough. We intend to publicize the names of all veterinarians who are investigated on allegations of wrongdoing.
Otherwise, these good ole boys and girls on the board just might cover up for one another. Who knows when one of them, just like Norris, might be accused of carrying narcotics across the state in violation of federal drug laws?
Barron wanted a copy of the board's ruling on Norris. One Frances R. Sowers, executive director of the Board of Veterinary Medicine, claimed that it is not a public record.
Barron should appeal her high-handed pronouncement.
But wait. Attorney General King is supposed to be the defender of the public when it wants to review emails by public officials or written records of decisions that were reached in public meetings.
King has done a remarkable job of withholding emails involving the Animal Cruelty Task Force. And because King was shoulder-deep in the cases where Norris killed birds, he might not be sympathetic to Barron's interest in collecting details of the investigation.
A great attorney general would take up for Barron and the taxpayers. But we have Gary King, who allowed himself to be used by Norris, Heather Ferguson and the others on the Attorney General's Animal Cruelty Task Force.
King created a monster. Now it is haunting him.
Sowers' letter to Barron follows, unedited.
Board of Veterinary Medicine
Rebecca J. Washburn, DVM Chair
Frances R. Sowers, Executive Director
June 17, 2013
New Mexico Gamefowl Breeders Association
1011 East Fairground Road
Artesia, New Mexico 88210-9738
Re: Ronald Barron v. Patricia Lynne Norris, DVM, Complaint No. 13-15
Dear Mr. Barron:
The New Mexico Board of Veterinary Medicine met at its regularly scheduled meeting on June 14, 2013; the Complaint Review Committee presented Complaint No. 13-15 anonymously. After discussion and careful consideration, the board voted to dismiss the complaint finding no violation of the Veterinary Practice Act. The board's decision is final in this matter.
Complaint No. 13-15 is now closed and is not considered a public record under the Inspection of Public Records Act.
If you have questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.