This is supposed to be Secretary's week or as it has been renamed "Administrative Professional week or day". I will always remember this week as the week of misinformation. First on Sunday Commissioner Campos writes a letter full of misinformation, see my last blog post. Next I was shocked today at just before 3pm when I received calls from members of the media asking for my response to comments made by Commissioner Harry Montoya during the public Board of County Commissioners Meeting.
Commissioner Montoya apparently received entirely erroneous information on the incident which occurred last Thursday where two 18 year old males drove on to Pojoaque High School Campus with a shotgun behind the seat of their pickup. Instead of calling to check on the information he complained about actions of the Sheriff's Office which did not happen at the meeting. The commissioners comments were described to me as a Sheriff bashing tirade by some who were present at the meeting. When I learned of the tirade I sent my Under Sheriff and Major to address the comments at the meeting which was still underway. I was due in Magistrate Court and could not head right over. The good thing is court went quick and I headed to the commission meeting.
When I arrived "as quick as I could go and not speed or run red lights" I found the Under Sheriff and Major still waiting to speak. I waited and took the podium when the time came.
Commissioner Montoya had claimed the Sheriff's Office took 45 minutes to respond. Our first Deputy arrived on scene in 45 seconds. I had deputies posted at all mid and high schools in Santa Fe County due to rumors over the anniversary of the Columbine Shootings. The Deputy who arrived in 45 seconds had driven over to the nearby mid high as he was going back and forth checking on both schools.
Commissioner Montoya claimed that we refused to take the case and refused to let Tribal Police Officers handle the case under their cross commission issued by me. The truth is I wanted to make sure that who ever handled the case had jurisdiction to do so in order to ensure that the case could be properly prosecuted. Sheriff's Detectives had contacted the District Attorneys Office who decided at the time that we could not handle the case. The deciding factor was the fact that the two 18 year old boys were Native Americans and it was believed that the incident occurred on tribal lands. The crux of the debate was whether or not the school is or is not considered on tribal land. My office and me personally contacted the U.S. Attorneys Office, the F.B.I. , B.I.A., and A.T.F. in order to determine the best agency to successfully handle the case. It was finally decided that the Sheriff's Office would handle the case and this was after agreement was reached by District Attorney Henry Valdez whom I called on his cell phone as he was out of town and the Tribal Attorney Mr. Demolla. This process took nearly an hour but the two 18 year old boys were detained the whole time and the school and public were safe. These types of tribal jurisdiction issues plague New Mexico and other states and are often debated all the way to the Supreme Court.
Commissioner Montoya claimed I had revoked the Sheriff Cross Commissions of two Tribal Officers over this incident. I don't know where this came from but it is absolutely, positively, unequivocally and without any doubt what so ever untrue. This was never discussed, threatened, or even considered for one second. Where Commissioner Montoya got this from I have no idea. As I stated earlier Pojoaque Tribal Police did request that I let them handle the case utilizing our offices cross commission. This was denied based entirely on the decision by the District Attorney's Office and not for any personal or other reason.
Commissioner Montoya really should have just called me and asked questions about this incident. He would have found out that his information was inaccurate to say the least and we could have avoided a public spectacle caused when he went on a tirade over this issue in a public meeting. I have tried to convince the Commissioners that we need to get past our differences on the jail and work together. We are all elected officials and have to work with each other for the next two to four years depending on when each of our terms end. These kind of public fights especially over untrue issues only hurts our abilities to do the public business. I believe this whole public spectacle was a result of bad feelings remaining over the jail debate. Once again I offer an olive branch to the County Commissioners and ask them to put aside our philosophical differences over the jail and have a working relationship which allows us to get things done.
I am writing this on Tuesday evening, I will add links to Wednesdays news stories in the morning to the end of this blog.
New Mexican story on the dispute
P.S. HAPPY ADMINISTRATIVE PROFESSIONALS DAY TO ALL MY GREAT STAFF AND THOSE WHO SIT IN CUBICLES AND BEHIND DESKS ALL DAY DOING A GREAT JOB FOR THEIR BOSSES!