spokesperson for the Municipal League says there is no specific requirement in the state laws requiring a mayor to give any notice to councilors about appointments.
In an interview, she was referring to the last Bosque Farms Village Council meeting when the council tabled Mayor Roger Baldwin’s appointments for three top positions.
Diane Lang, director of research and communications for the Municipal League in Santa Fe, said that the statue says the mayor shall present names at an “organizational meeting” which is usually the regularly scheduled council meeting.
She said the state statute reads: “the mayor shall submit names of appointments. If the council fails to confirm the appointments, the mayor shall bring up new names at the next meeting.”
Lang said that, in the case of Bosque Farms, where the council tabled the appointments, it would probably mean that the session would be continued at the next meeting, and the same names can be brought up for appointments.
“The statute doesn’t give a lot of guidance,” Lang said. “There is no requirement that a meeting be held separate from the regular meeting to consider appointments. The only requirement is that it be done at an organizational meeting, which can be the regularly scheduled council meeting. The only requirement is the mayor submit names.”
David Chavez, Bosque Farms attorney, agreed.
“The first meeting after the new council is elected is an organizational meeting,” Chavez said. “Under state statute, you appoint people on various boards and commissions and (you name) your appointed personnel.”
Reciting from state statute, Chavez continued, “the mayor shall submit the names of people to fill the offices of the municipality. If the governing body fails to confirm any person, the mayor shall submit the names of another person.”
Chavez said that in the case of the last council meeting, “they tabled it, they did not deny it,” so the same names can be resubmitted at the next meeting.
“They (the councilors) have the power to confirm or deny and to see if we have the money” in the budget, Chavez said. “The mayor appoints all boards and appointed officials who serve at the pleasure of the governing body.”
Also, he added, the council votes on the proposed appointments, and, if there’s a tie vote, the mayor can vote.
He added that there is nothing in the statutes of the Village of Bosque Farms requiring the mayor to give resumes to councilors or to notify them within a certain number of hours about a regularly scheduled council meeting.
Residents have asked what will happen to decisions being made by appointed boards when the council has not confirmed the appointments.
“If the governing board fails to confirm the appointed officials, they continue to act until the next meeting,” Chavez said. “It was tabled, it was not denied. My position is the government continues to function until the replacements have been made and approved by the governing body. At the next meeting, decisions need to be made, either confirming or denying. If it’s tabled again, they would continue to serve in that capacity until they are confirmed or denied.”
“It typically doesn’t happen this way. Decisions are made in a relatively short period. The municipality needs to have some continuity,” Chavez concluded.
Councilor Ken Hays made the motion to table the appointments, saying the newly-elected councilors (Ginger Eldridge and David Linthicum) needed time to consider the appointments. It is Hays’ position that an organizational meeting should have been held before the council session and that a list of names should have been submitted to the council before the meeting.
“We on the council assured the (present) appointees we fully supported them,” Hays said. “This is about the mayor refusing to have an organizational meeting, and the new councilors did not have the opportunity to review the resumes. The only reason I moved to table it was I didn’t have time to look at resumes. It had nothing to do with her (Harding).
“This is all about giving those people the opportunity to support them (the appointees). They ran (for office) to support the people and make intelligent decisions based on information. They’re nice people. I hate to see this happen. That was the whole thing, They tried to get information. They were thwarted,” Hays said.
“The residents come first. We have their interest in mind. We don’t want to fight. We don’t want to have problems. We are liable for things that aren’t done properly, and the two new people elected were wanting to get information to make decisions, not based on last minute information.”
Mayor Pro Tem Wayne Ake said he too was deeply saddened by Harding’s decision to resign.
“I’m deeply saddened for her to be put in a position that she needed to resign,” Ake said. “I feel terrible for the village residents. They’re the real losers. She’s a great person to work with. She works with employees evenings, nights and mornings.”
“They all knew who he was going to appoint. I was told they had no problems with these appointees. They knew who these people were. It is illegal for them to see confidential personnel files. They talked to all three. What more was there in a resume? Julia Olona was there for 10 years, Julie for a year and a half, Louie for nine months.”
Ake said that the village has had four mayors since its inception, and all four have been very good.
But, in every case, there has been “one group that is distractors of 10 or 20 people, and these councilors are listening to them. This is no different. This time, the councilors are part of it.”
“Residents should be upset,” Ake said. “These people are playing with their lives. Some employees are looking for other jobs. Ultimately, the losers are the village residents. It’s a glorious mess. People are stirring up trouble. I’ve been in this village for 22 years, and I’ve never seen it this vindictive. A few people have caused this problem. Louie (Burkhard) does not know what’s going to happen. Julia Olona has been here for 10 years. The mayor feels they’re qualified.
“We need to get past the finger pointing, the ‘your side, my side.’ They were not elected to cause Roger grief. They were elected to serve the people. We must get back to business, back to working with the mayor to get things done.”
Eldridge said that “this is not at all like how I would like to see things go. I feel bad about this situation. My understanding, as a new person, before we vote on things, we have to know what we’re going to vote on. We got a list of names with no explanation. None of the people in the position were on the list. At no time did I get any information about who was going to be appointed. These are the people who run the village. I just don’t believe I can vote for someone without knowing anything about them. If I put my name on the line, I have to be able to justify it.
“I wanted time to talk to these employees. It’s not an issue about Julie. My responsiblity is to know what I’m voting on. This is a horrible situation. It’s not what I want. On the other hand, I ran a campaign to uphold the law. I should have something in writing. Julie is a very valued employee, and I’m sorry she feels the way she does.
“I’m trying to avoid the blame game. For me, personally, I want to operate on facts. The fact is I just didn’t know who was going to be appointed. I asked at the village office. The mayor did not provide information.
“At the end of everything, my name is on the line. I need to be able to justify that. For me, if I vote for an employee, I want to know, when I vote for anything what we want out of our village employees. It’s not like I think her job was in question. It wasn’t. I needed the chance to think about the names that were put forth. I ran on the idea we need to be accountable and answer for what we do. If more people did that across the country, we would be in better shape. I feel bad for Julie. She’s a very valued employee. … You don’t walk in with two minute notice and expect to make a decision.”
Asked for his reaction to Harding’s resignation, Linthi-cum said Harding “made her feelings known in her resignation letter.”
“That’s fine with me, if she feels she has to do that. Nothing had changed with her job. She felt she had to resign. Nothing was taken from her. She was still performing her job. ”
Linthicum said he did not know Harding.
“There have only been a few times that I have spoken to her. She felt this was what she needed to do.”