Monday, June 4, 2012

Public Profile and News Paper Ads

To cover a little more in depth the "Primary candidate questionnaires" that were published recently in the Alamogordo Daily News as well as my advertising that is currently running in the paper.
I mentioned that I feel the two top issues in this election are the lack of even a basic understanding of Government operations, and the budget.
I firmly believe that any government body is by far much more effective if they have public involvement and operate in an open manner.
Currently County Commission meetings are held mid week in the daytime.  This is not at all convenient for the public in general to attend and become involved. Not that it would really matter, as if you follow the Commission agendas you will find that public comment is "not permitted during regular commission meetings"
New Mexico state law is very clear on what is allowed to be discussed behind closed doors in executive session. The list of permitted discussions is very limited in nature. Every agenda that I have looked at in the last year lists topics that are outside the permitted discussions.
Topics to be discussed in executive session must be listed on the agenda and be in specific detail. Frequently the listings are very vague. When questioned as to the specific nature of the topic I have been told "that is in executive session. If the commission makes a decision they will announce it after the session is over" By law, decisions are not allowed to be made in executive session. All votes must be made in public.
Discussion between a quorum of the commission that relates to county business is limited to legally published meetings. In the case of Otero County a quorum consists of 2 members.
A check of Commissioner Rardin's county paid for cellular phone finds that the commission is talking to each other on average of every other day. Frequently records show phone calls to one commissioner, immediately followed by a phone call to the other. While there is no hard proof that county business is discussed during these phone calls, it's hard to believe they are talking about the weather.
Fiscal responsibility. Paying over $12,000.00 in a year to one commissioner (Commissioner Rardin) in travel expenses is irresponsible. In looking over the documents related to these trips you find that some of them are questionable to say the least.
For example. A trip to Arizona where Commissioner Rardin gave a public talk at a church in regards to his desire to "take over the forest"  What did this trip bring to Otero County?
A five day trip to a conference in Reno Nevada. Commissioner Rardin made this trip along with five other county employees. Commissioner Rardin and three of these employees attended the full five days, and all stayed at the same motel.
Three of these employees collected between $935.80 and $967.00 in per diem. Commissioner Rardin was paid $1,596.27 with few receipts submitted.
In the most recent financial audit the auditor stated "The county is not in compliance with the per diem act and is not providing proper stewardship of public funds"  This was in reference to the 21 audit "findings" or faults with the way the county is using tax dollars. 
A salary study needs to be done in Otero County. We create a new county department and pay employees to kill coyotes and feral hogs at a rate that is higher than what some of our Law Enforcement officers are making, then there is a problem. This new department is costing the tax payers about three times the amount that was previously being paid for a long term, highly effective program to do the same job.
It's time to bring some much needed financial accountability back to Otero County

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