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Who will hold Los Alamos County accountable?

September 16, 2018

Some Democrats are calling on former Regional Coalition of LANL Communities Executive Director Andrea Romero to step down from the House race, but who is calling on Los Alamos County employees and county councilors to step down (“Group asks AG to launch criminal investigation,” Aug. 12)?

As fiscal agent, Los Alamos County ultimately was responsible for improper reimbursements with public funds. The Regional Coalition of LANL Communities board members had their lavish parties and trips, but Los Alamos County approved them and provided some of the funds for them.

On Jan. 17, after the county was alerted to the Inspection of Public Records Act request, Los Alamos Deputy County Manager Steve Lynne assisted Romero and Regional Coalition of LANL Communities Chairman and Santa Fe County Commissioner Henry Roybal in attempting to amend the travel policy to allow reimbursements that already had been made (“Agency’s use of public funds flagged,” Feb. 25).

Coalition board members called for an executive meeting Jan. 18 to approve this new policy. They got caught red-handed trying to change the rules after they had been broken. According to Adams + Crow Law Firm, “Los Alamos corrective efforts not only reflect poorly on county officials … but may constitute efforts to intentionally mislead others and/or conceal misconduct.”

Further, one should note that the Los Alamos County Council chairman and vice chairwoman both strongly objected to the investigation requested by Los Alamos County Councilor Susan O’Leary and former County Councilor James Chrobocinski. Los Alamos County Council Chairman David Izraelevitz said: “I was extremely disappointed with Councilor O’Leary’s comments toward the actions of Vice Chair Chandler and I … From the Adams+Crow interim presentation, there seems to be no factual basis to believe that anyone on Council or County staff acted with malice or bad intent.”

As a donor to her campaign for New Mexico House representative, Izraelevitz “further defended [Council Vice Chairwoman Christine] Chandler and hoped that after the County completed its investigation, the Coalition would be a stronger, more professional organization.” Since Los Alamos County funded the investigation, he thought the results would confirm Chandler’s emphatic claim, “no indication of wrongdoing.” He thought wrong.

County Manager Harry Burgess, Lynne, and councilors Rick Reiss and Chandler are named in the investigation for violating state laws and constitutional provisions.

The question is, who will hold Los Alamos County accountable for negligence and incompetence, as well as potential theft and fraud of our tax dollars?

Lisa Shin is the Republican candidate for the New Mexico House of Representatives for District 43.

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