UP thumb ... KEEPING IT OPEN. At one time, the Luna Community College Board of Trustees regularly held meetings behind closed doors. In fact, the board would open its doors for its monthly meeting and vote on a few items, then retreat into closed session, often for more than an hour. Members of the public and various employees were stuck outside while the big guys talked in secret.
Now it looks as if President Pete Campos, who took office last summer, has changed that practice. At last week’s monthly meeting, the board never closed its doors. That’s refreshing. And according to the college officials, closed sessions are now a rarity for the trustees.
With this new openness, the board can build trust with the community.
DOWN thumb ... A FLIMSY CASE. A month ago, Mayor Tony Marquez made a big stink about former Utilities Director George DuFour’s adjustment of customers’ bills, even referring the matter to the state attorney general’s office. The adjustments were the reason that DuFour was shown the door, the mayor told the public.
But it turns out the mayor’s case against DuFour was pretty flimsy. It was based on a so-called administrative regulation drafted by then-City Manager Les Montoya nearly two decades ago. The policy required that the utilities director get approval from the city manager for all adjustments. But there is no evidence that the City Council ever ratified Montoya’s directive — in other words, the policy doesn’t have the force of law.
So, Mr. Mayor, what’s the real reason you fired DuFour?
UP thumb ... NO MORE LAWYERS. The city has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars — perhaps millions — over the last few decades on attorneys to fight the acequias and the Storrie water users. But there’s nothing really to show for all that money.
To the credit of the mayor and the City Council, the city is turning away from the traditional strategy of depending on lawyers. They are actually talking directly with the other stakeholders on the Gallinas River. In fact, the council recently voted to end the city’s longstanding litigation with the Storrie Project Water Users Association. This decision was based on a very simple tenet: Let’s work together.
DOWN thumb ... SOLVE THE PROBLEM. Residents in the area of the city’s transfer station are unhappy with trash blowing onto their properties. Part of the problem appears to be the lack of doors on one of the bay areas. As it stands, the city’s solid waste department has its employees clean up the blowing trash. It would be cheaper to buy some doors.
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AND WE QUOTE
“I had a $44 steak, and I’m still chewing on it.”
— Abelino Montoya, a member of the Luna Community College Board of Trustees, referring to the $88-a-person meal on the college’s dime that he attended a few years ago. The Optic uncovered the expenditure as part of a series of stories on Luna’s spending.