Mayor may have lost ally

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By David Giuliani

No answers. No return calls. Just silence.

During a City Council meeting this week, Councilwoman Diane Moore said she has struggled to get in touch with Mayor Tony Marquez. With the mayor sitting next to her, she said the mayor hasn’t returned any of her calls, even a message she left with Marquez’s wife.

“I hope to get a response back,” she said.

Moore has been upset with City Manager Sharon Caballero’s resignation last week. In leaving, Caballero criticized the mayor, saying he had been micromanaging city government. Moore agreed with that contention.

Moore said council members don’t need to use e-mail with the mayor, which is his preferred form of communication. She said e-mail may be bordering on violating the state Open Meetings Act.

Marquez didn’t explain why he hadn’t returned Moore’s calls, but he said his cell phone number is 426-5572 and that Moore has called that number before.

As for the e-mail, the mayor said Moore may have a point. He added that he hadn’t been aware of the series of e-mails between the councilwoman and Utilities Director George DuFour. That was an apparent swipe at Moore’s communications with DuFour about a controversial sewer project — e-mails that were reported in Wednesday’s Optic.

Councilman Cruz Roybal came to the mayor’s defense. Roybal said he had been trying to reach Moore for months, but she never returned his calls.

“We’re all guilty of something,” Roybal said.

The exchanges revealed a possible shifting of alliances on the council.

For years, Marquez and Moore have been close politically. Not long after she joined the council in 2006, she and Marquez, also on the council at the time, held a joint town hall meeting on a Saturday morning at City Hall.

Together, they publicly insisted that council members vote to reduce their salary level, which, at nearly $20,000 a year, was among the highest in New Mexico. They stood by the position, even as other council members criticized them.

When Marquez took the helm in March, Moore, along with Councilman Andrew Feldman, formed an alliance with the mayor. They backed his candidate for interim city manager days after the municipal election, while Roybal and Councilman Morris Madrid stood in opposition.

During a meeting in June, Moore and Feldman backed the Marquez administration’s proposal to fire six department directors, a controversial decision, with Roybal and Madrid in dissent. The council voted along the same lines in hiring Caballero as city manager.

Roybal has been most vocal in his opposition to Marquez, saying he didn’t trust him. However, in recent days, the two have appeared to warm up. They shook hands when Marquez entered the council chambers Wednesday.

And Marquez called Roybal to inform him about Caballero’s resignation last week — a courtesy apparently not granted to Moore. She found out when Caballero e-mailed her resignation letter.

Feldman still publicly backs the mayor, while Madrid maintains close contact with him.