City officials trade barbs

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By David Giuliani

City Councilman Andrew Feldman says he still doesn’t have the documents from the case against the now-fired utilities director, George Du Four.

In pushing to dismiss Du Four last week, Mayor Tony Marquez said the director had violated city ordinance by approving adjustments to customer bills. He provided no other details.

Feldman and Councilwoman Diane Moore voted against firing Du Four, while council members Morris Madrid and Cruz Roybal supported the dismissal. Marquez broke the tie in favor of firing Du Four.

“I hear that papers containing allegations against George, as furnished to (Councilman) Morris Madrid, are floating around town,” Feldman said in an e-mail late last week to Marquez. “Since George has been dismissed, I would like to be furnished with a copy of the material that Morris had in his possession at the last meeting.”

Feldman said in the e-mail that he has asked for the documents but that Marquez hadn’t provided them.

“I think it is time for you to come clean with the allegations and the grounds you had for dismissing George,” he said.

Feldman said he hears that some of the documents have to do with him and Tony Valdez, a member of the Luna Community College Board of Trustees. Feldman is a Luna employee.

Feldman said that at the request of Marquez, he addressed a situation involving a sudden spike in Valdez’s bills.

“I approved nothing nor directed Mr. Du Four to act in an illegal manner with respect to Mr. Valdez’s account,” Feldman stated in the e-mail.

Du Four said his department only adjusted bills in situations where customers were overcharged.

Marquez said Feldman should be aware of the problems.

“Andy Feldman should know as he has been intimately involved in the daily operations of the utilities department, and employees have reported Andy has been at the utilities department on an almost daily basis,” the mayor said in an e-mail to the Optic Monday. “It does not take a Ph.D. to distinguish what is right or wrong.”

Marquez’s statement amounted to an allegation that Feldman, who is the chairman of the city’s utilities department, has been micromanaging city government. That has been a charge leveled by both Feldman and Moore against Marquez.

Marquez said he has received complaints from customers and referred them to then-City Manager Sharon Caballero and Feldman.

“I expect customer service, not favors,” the mayor said.

The mayor said that he is seeking a state attorney general’s investigation to determine if there was any wrongdoing in connection with adjustments to customers’ bills.  

Feldman denied being at the utilities department on an “almost daily” basis.

“In this role as facilitator, I have acted in the best interest of the city to help customers and the utilities department resolve issues and settle disputes,” Feldman said. “While it is true that the mayor has asked me to be involved in certain customer disputes, his further allegations are deceptive and untrue.”

He acknowledged that he and the mayor have disagreed on a number of issues lately.

“I only ask that the mayor make his case with fairness, integrity and in a professional manner. If he is incapable of doing that, then it is out of my control,” Feldman said.