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Windcrest officials deal with various personnel issues

September 25, 2018

Personnel matters dominated the Sept. 17 Windcrest City Council meeting, with council receiving an update on its searches for a new fire chief and new city attorney.

Windcrest Mayor Dan Reese quelled discussion on a controversy that arose last month concerning the city’s board of adjustment.

At its Aug. 20 meeting, council voted 3-2 to remove three members — Veronica Dixon, James Martin and Allan Thompson — from the board of adjustment after Councilman Jim Shelton objected to the manner in which recent board of adjustment meetings were handled.

Reese told the council at the Sept. 17 meeting that no further action needed to be taken because the terms of the three positions occupied by Dixon, Martin and Thompson had expired.

“We will not be taking any action on the board of adjustment tonight,” Reese said. “I apologize for the tardiness of this, but apparently those three members’ terms had lapsed.

“As I understand it, the three members who were removed … would not be reinstated. We would still need to take action to replace them,” he added.

The three had been removed despite city ordinances that state a member of the board of adjustment can be removed only after receiving a written notice and after a public hearing. Neither of those steps was taken prior to the removals, via the 3-2 vote last month.

Martin spoke to the council and chastised city staff for failing to notify the members of their removal.

“If it was a two-year term, that’s great. But somebody should tell the people, they shouldn’t hear it by rumor,” he said. “That’s why you have a city manager and a city staff. They need to do their job.”

Martin, who said he was asked to serve on the board by former Mayor Alan Baxter, said the three members who voted last month to remove him — Councilmen Gerd Jacobi, James McFall and Jim Shelton — initially voted to approve his appointment to the board.

“I want to know why they picked on me, saying the things they did,” Martin said. “Is it because I signed the petitions for recall? That’s the only reason I can think of.”

Martin was referring to petitions circulated in the city that sought to recall Reese and Council Members Frank Archuleta and Joan Pedrotti. The petitions were not certified by City Attorney Mike Brenan after a number of signatures on the petition were found to be forgeries, including the names of two Windcrest residents who died in 2016 and 2018.

In other action, council declined to establish a selection committee to aid council in the process of hiring a new city attorney.

Brenan is leaving the attorney’s post on Sept. 30, retiring from the position after serving as its legal adviser for 29 years.

Pedrotti made a motion to form a citizen’s panel that would review applications and interview candidates in order to trim the field of applicants for council to consider.

Jacobi said if council appoints a committee for review, “it will kick (the process) down the road again, and we’re in the need of getting at attorney at this particular time.”

“I believe we, as council, can go ahead and look at the RFQs the same way and make a decision on our attorney,” Jacobi added.

After the defeat of Pedrotti’s motion by a 3-2 vote, with Archuleta joining Pedrotti in support, no other action was proposed.

Reese reminded council that Brenan offered to serve the city on legal matters, as needed, after his Sept. 30 and until the city chooses his replacement.

In its effort to hire a new fire chief, the council voted unanimously to readvertise the position, with a job description and more requirements for certifications included in any job posting. After applications are received, the city’s fire chief review committee will reconvene to review the potential candidates.

jflinn@express-news.net

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