Editorial: Public deserves to hear truth from Mesalands

On Nov. 1, Mesalands Community College Board of Trustees Chairman J. Bronson Moore signed a letter informing college President Mildred Lovato that she'd been fired.

The letter was not made public.

Five days later, in separate interviews with Quay County Sun Senior Writer Thomas Garcia and Editor David Stevens, Moore insisted Lovato had not been fired.

She had been placed on paid administrative leave, Moore said repeatedly. She had not been fired, he said repeatedly.

Then why, he was asked, did Mesalands Director of Public Relations Kimberly Hanna announce Lovato's firing? Oh, no, Moore declared; Hanna was mistaken. Lovato was on administrative leave and had not been fired, he insisted again.

When Moore's comments appeared in last week's Quay County Sun, Hanna contacted this newspaper to say our story was incorrect. Lovato had, in fact, been fired, she said, and produced a copy of minutes from the Oct. 31 board meeting that showed board members had fired Lovato on Oct. 31.

Moore did not immediately respond to multiple phone calls to explain the discrepancy.

Then, on Monday, he finally did answer. Moore said he "misrepresented" Lovato's status to our staff because he didn't know if she'd received the letter announcing her firing.

"I didn't want her to read about it in the paper," he said.

So Moore lied to the reporters?

"Whatever you think, I don't give one hoot," Moore said. "Write it up however you want to."

What he doesn't grasp is we want to write the truth, not lies.

We understand there are legal concerns that impact personnel decisions in government entities. And we understand some public officials think it best to let their community speculate on what's happened rather than be upfront about it.

Government transparency is always best, in our view. The public responds and decides better when it knows what happened.

We neither understand nor respect government officials who intentionally "misrepresent" the truth. Certainly, what Moore blatantly ignores is how to respond. In short, there is a big difference between replying "No comment" to a question rather than to outright lie in saying, "She has not been fired."

We're disappointed he can't seem to grasp the concept of truth.

Moore said Monday the college has not heard any response from Lovato regarding her Oct. 31 dismissal, made for reasons that Mesalands officials still have not made known. And the Quay County Sun staff has been unable to locate her for her side of the incident.

So what is left are a lot of unanswered questions about Lovato's dismissal. We will seek those answers through formal public information requests, continued attempts to locate Lovato and other interviews with Mesalands officials.

Hopefully, no other public employees will choose to "misrepresent" the truth to Quay County residents as did J. Bronson Moore.

Taxpayers deserve honest answers from their public servants.

Unsigned editorials are the opinion of the Clovis Media Inc. editorial board, which includes Publisher Ray Sullivan and Editor David Stevens.

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