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Friday, February 14, 2003

Around the Roundhouse

Staff and wire reports
    DAY CELEBRATES AFRICAN AMERICANS
    SANTA FE Today will be African American Day at the Roundhouse.
    Ernest Green, a former assistant secretary of Housing and Urban Affairs under President Jimmy Carter, is expected to be a guest speaker.
    Green was one of the so-called Little Rock Nine, who integrated Central High School in Little Rock, Ark., after the U.S. Supreme Court decision in the Brown v. Board of Education case.
    The third annual event will be marked with other speeches, dancing, drumming and singing.
   

    BILL RAISES OPEN MEETINGS FINES
    SANTA FE Violations of the open meetings law could be punished by increased penalties under a measure approved by a House committee on Thursday.
    The measure by Rep. Joseph Cervantes, D-Las Cruces, would increase the criminal penalty for an open meetings violation to $1,000 for each misdemeanor offense. The penalty is currently $500.
    In addition, the measure would allow civil penalties to be assessed against a member of a governmental body if a court determines the individual "willfully and knowingly" violated the law that requires meetings to be open to the public.
    The civil penalties could be up to $1,000 or the amount spent by the public body to correct any action that was invalidated because of the open meetings violation.
    Robert Johnson, executive director of the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government, supported the legislation.
    The Government and Urban Affairs Committee unanimously approved the bill. It still must clear the Judiciary Committee before it would go to the full House for consideration.