We appreciate newly hired Española City Manager Kelly Duran helping City Clerk Anna Squires with her public document request duties. He’s a swell guy that way.
What we don’t appreciate is Duran jumping in to help when he lacks the knowledge of records laws and court decisions that ultimately affect them. It’s understandable that city management would be cautious in releasing documents regarding several police officers being put on leave and/or being investigated. However, case law has made it clear that complaints against police officers are public record. Ask the New Mexico State Police, whom we successfully sued for the same type of documents in 2012.
Target letters from Police Chief Louis Carlos to a cop are clearly public records. A target letter informs the officer he is under investigation.
Although we don't know why Carlos would open an investigation into the two top cops, it's a good guess Greg Esparza's plethora of excessive force complaints have come home to roost. SUN staff writer Wheeler Cowperthwaite has written extensively, over the past three years, about Esparza's tendency to Taze first, ask questions later.
It's shameful that an Albuquerque television station reworking our old stories brought the chief to take action.
Gallant is likely being targeted for being truthful in a statement to another police department when it was checking references on someone under Gallant. The cop in question is one of the winners in the video we wrote about a few weeks ago. Why all of the cops in that video aren't gone is something for another discussion.
We must assume Duran took over Squires’ job so he can walk that delicate tight rope between angering the local newspaper or the officers on leave (or not on leave, it’s not clear), who are being investigated.
Duran hand-picked his audience to hold a meeting regarding release of the records. His old pal Sally Baxter, who always backed up his wrong-headed actions regarding personnel files had to be there. And of course the guy who gave him his job, Mayor Javier Sanchez.
Glaringly absent: the city attorney and the city clerk. The prior would have legal knowledge, the latter has been doing the job for about four years and her name will be on the suit, should it be filed.
It’s almost as if he avoided the erudite and chose those who would either agree with him, or acquiesce to his argument, no matter how far afield of the law it is.
The city was just sued for the exact same reason. Apparently, the learning curve is too steep for our new city manager or he’s trying to keep too many (and the wrong) people happy.
Duran should stick to what he was hired to do and leave the city clerk’s job to the city clerk, and she should release the public records.