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City unhappy with road work

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Councilor: Montezuma, Lopez streets not done right

By Martin Salazar

Months after the city awarded a contract for road improvements at Lopez and Montezuma streets, the job has been completed. But the governing body isn’t happy with the outcome.

Councilwoman Tonita Gurule-Giron raised the issue during last Wednesday’s City Council meeting, saying that there are a tremendous amount of grooves in the pavement. She said she inquired about the situation and was told that Franken Construction, which won the city contract, subcontracted the work on those streets to Rocky Road. Gurule-Giron said the grooves were caused by a roller that wasn’t working properly.

Mayor Alfonso Ortiz agreed that the streets weren’t done correctly. He said he, City Manager Timothy Dodge and Councilman Joey Herrera met with the engineer overseeing the project to discuss the problems. Ortiz said the streets were not done according to specs, and he added that the engineer will be meeting with Franken Construction to discuss the issue since it was a Franken contract.

“Myself, the manger and the governing body are sure dissatisfied with the project,” Ortiz said.

Gurule-Giron has been questioning city staff about the work on Montezuma and Lopez for months. On Wednesday she objected to not being included in the meeting with the engineer.

Both Ortiz and Herrera responded that it was an impromptu meeting and that Herrera just happened to be having lunch with Dodge.

In other business, the Council unanimously approved the appointment of Ann Marie Gallegos as finance director and Pamela Marrujo as housing director. The two appointments were included in the Council’s consent agenda, meaning that there was no discussion on the appointments prior to the vote.

Gallegos’ appointment is somewhat controversial. She has previously worked for the city twice, and was fired both times. She filed suit after she was fired the first time and received a settlement. She also was working for former state treasurer Robert Vigil when he was indicted on federal corruption charges.

The appointments of Gallegos and Marrujo received the unanimous support of the city’s unions, though some members of the public, including Lee Einer, have criticized Gallegos’ appointment.

Also at Wednesday’s meeting, the Council:

• Approved a resolution adopting the state and federal procurement codes. As a Home Rule Charter, the city has the ability to develop its own procurement procedures.

• Signed off on zoning changes for two properties owned by Matias Martinez Jr. The first zone change was for an 11.92-acre parcel of vacant land located southwest of the Civic Center and north of Legion Drive. Martinez had previously hoped to develop the property so he petitioned the Council several years ago to change the zoning from residential agricultural zone to a general commercial zone. Issues with the property prevented any development from taking place, so he recently petitioned the city to change the zoning back to what it was to decrease the tax burden. The other property is located at 2522 Hot Springs Boulevard. Martinez had previously hoped to build a strip mall on the 1.82-acre property, but the land has remained vacant. The Council approved changing the zoning of that property from a general commercial zone to a multi-family residential zone.

During the public input portion of the meeting, Einer criticized the city for its decision to remove political signs that are on the public right of way.

“What we have here is selective enforcement,” Einer said.

He noted that under the city’s own ordinance, political signs aren’t supposed to go up more than 60 days before the election, yet the city has decided to allow primary candidates to post their signs early, in violation of the ordinance. Yet the city is choosing to enforce the public right of way provisions.

He accused the city administration of using city resources to try to hurt Gurule-Giron’s campaign.