ACLU steps into Gila Case

As near as I can tell, the American Civil Liberties Union has no particular stake in water policy. But the venerable champion of free speech is wading into the rancorous New Mexico debate over the possible diversion of water from the Gila River. Lauren Villagran writes (behind surveywall):

The American Civil Liberties Union said Wednesday it will defend former Interstate Stream Commissioner Norm Gaume in the countersuit launched against him by the agency he once led.

Gaume sued the Interstate Stream Commission in October, alleging the commission violated the Open Meetings Act in its deliberations regarding the future of the Gila River. The commission later countersued, claiming Gaume intended to hold up a decision that had to be made by the end of last month.

“The ACLU feels this is a very dangerous precedent that if allowed to stand could silence New Mexicans and render transparency laws meaningless,” said Daniel Yohalem, a Santa Fe civil rights attorney working with the ACLU to defend Gaume.

More background here on the issue from former Albuquerque Journal reporter John Fleck.