Albuquerque Journal from Albuquerque, New Mexico on March 17, 1990 · Page 37
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Albuquerque Journal from Albuquerque, New Mexico · Page 37

Albuquerque, New Mexico
Issue Date:
Saturday, March 17, 1990
Page 37
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NEW MEXICO m .$..- Saturday, March 17, 1990 Albuquerque Journal Page 3, Section E Crowd Hears Fired School Chief Fight Allegations By Ralph Dohme I, JOURNAL CORRESPONDENT CARLSBAD Former school superintendent Roger Harrell got his long-awaited chance to refute allegations of wrongdoing that led to his firing earlier this week. About 200 people listened intently for more than three hours Thursday as Harrell and his attorney, W.T. Martin Jr., challenged a 23-item list of allegations released publicly by the Carlsbad school board. Reading from what he said was 179 pages of documentation supporting his client, Martin said the board's accusations are "absolute falsehoods." While Harrell and Martin were explain- Panels To ing the claims of innocence at the Carlsbad Civic Center's auditorium, about a dozen Harrell supporters were distributing bumper stickers reading "Recall School Board." Harrell, 54, was school superintendent for almost 12 years before he was fired Monday following accusations of fraud, misuse of credit cards, operating a personal for-profit business on school time, incompetence and insubordination. "The hurt and stress was almost unbearable," Harrell told the audience. "The' shame, humiliation and aching heart was something never before experienced by me. Never had anyone hinted I was doing anything wrong." Harrell has filed suit in District Court, asking the charges be withdrawn and that he be reinstated. The suit claims his constitutional rights to due process were violated and that the board made allegations of a criminal nature that should have been made in confidence so Harrell could prepare a defense. Responding to the allegation of getting double reimbursement for per diem expenses, Martin said during Harrell's 11 years as superintendent he filed about 25 travel vouchers annually and that such vouchers are often filed weeks in advance and don't reflect circumstances beyond the traveler's control. He outlined several instances of changes and added that some times reimbursement checks are lumped with several vouchers. "In his 11 years he's filed hundreds of travel requests and the board's auditors could only find two errors. Harrell didn't notice the error, the bookkeeping department didn't notice the error, and the board didn't notice the error when it approved payment," Martin said. Regarding charges that Harrell bought gasoline for his airplane for private use on school credit cards, Martin said he has documentation to prove that Harrell's travel claims were related to school business. He added that in July 1988, Harrell inquired about his air travel reimbursement status and the staff discovered he was entitled to an additional $1,143.58 that he hadn't claimed. Martin also said there is documentation verifying that Harrell was present at the school-related functions the board charges he didn't attend. "I made mistakes like anyone else, but I never intentionally, fraudulently, knowingly or negligently filed false claims," Harrell said. Other allegations disputed by Harrell include mismanagement of the school's cafeteria program, unfair equal opportunity and hiring practices, racial discrimination, nepotism, conflict of interest in regard to buying equipment and operating an unlicensed air taxi service. Debate ona Ana-Mexico orts of Entry By Bill Diven OF THE JOURNAL'S LAS CRUCES BUREAU LAS CRUCES Formal discussions on opening international ports of entry between Dona Ana County and Mexico will begin next week in Arizona, a State Department official said Friday. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the ports of entry at Santa Teresa and Anapra are on the agenda for the three-day meeting beginning Wednesday in Tucson. The meeting is a regular semiannual session of a joint U.S.Mexico working group on international bridges and ports of entry, he said. The working group will begin discussion of technical issues related to the ports, but final decisions on the ports will be made by the presidents of Mexico and the United States or their designees, the official added. Co-chairmen for the working group are Richard Howard, director of the State Department Office of Mexican Affairs, and Ambassador Luis Wybo, Mexico's director general of border affairs. U.S. members represent the Customs and Immigration Services, the Gen eral Services Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Departments of Transportation, Commerce, Agriculture, and Housing and Urban Development. Also Friday Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., released a diplomatic note sent from the State Department to Mexico's Foreign Ministry Feb. 27. The note acknowledges a Jan. 17 message from Mexico expressing interest in the two Dona Ana County ports and agrees technical studies must be done first. Those studies include traffic projections, information on land use, and industrial and residential development, water resources and environmental effects. "We're optimistic the Santa Teresa and Anapra ports are making real progress," Bingaman told a Las Cruces Chamber of Commerce breakfast meeting. However, Bingaman said the two projects should stand on their own merits and proceed as they are ready. Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., said in Las Cruces Friday the binational group has become busier since Congress, prodded by the Arizona and New Mexico delegations, has appropriated more money for border improvements. -TV " -ill 7. . ir Ww I A I , 1 " ; 7 ' A .If.? ; i f.- fJ ' S5k"' mrrti r 1 BILL DIVEN JOURNAL lhem Dales Forklift operator Jackie Melon maneuvers three 500-pound Compress Inc. in Las Cruces. The company processed 60,000 bales of cotton onto a trailer for indoor storage at SWIG bales of upland and pima cotton during the harvest AG's Chief Digest Investigator To Resign COMPILED FROM JOURNAL STAFF AND WIRE REPORTS By Leah Beth Ward OF THE JOURNAL'S CAPITOL BUREAU SANTA FE Tom Gillespie, director of the investigations division for the state attorney general, said Friday he's resigning effective March 30 to pursue private sector opportunities. Gillespie, 42, joined the office of Attorney General Hal Stratton in February 1988. Previously, he was director of the state Law Enforcement Academy. Gillespie said he formed a company in 1988 that trains police officers and he now has received an offer in the private sector to continue that line of work. He said he'd been planning to leave the Attorney General's Office for several weeks. "I've got some contracts that I can't really talk about and that are in the training area and outside of the country," he said. The company Gillespie formed has received contracts to train police in Honduras. Gillespie, who has been a street officer in Detroit and police chief in Las Vegas, N.M., said his plans to leave aren't related to recent strife in the Attorney General's Office over any criminal investigations, including its probe of the shooting death of Mountainair police officer Steve Sandlin in May 1988. "We all realize there's been some things going on and my timing isn't perfect, but it has absolutely nothing to do with the Sandlin case," he said. Stratton said he's sorry to lose Gillespie. "He, against my will, decided to do some things in the private sector. He's a great cop." Stratton said he hasn't given any thought yet to a replacement. But he said Fred Smith, who is rejoining the Attorney General's Office as director of special prosecutions, will bring investigations experience to the office in Gillespie's absence. Smith, who previously held the same post with the attorney general, has been directing the Civil RICO Narcotics Enforcement Project for the National Association of Attorneys General ij; Washington, L.C, since July 1968. Smith rejoined the office Friday. Farmington To Appeal Ruling FARMINGTON The city of Farmington plans to appeal a recent 12-person District Court jury decision that found Gerald Stansbury innocent of violating the city's obscenity ordinance. The decision came in Stansbury's appeal of a Farmington Municipal Court decision that found him guilty of renting two X-rated videotapes to customers at his store, Video City. Assistant City Attorney Dave Thomsen said the decision to appeal was made Tuesday during a closed meeting of the Farmington City Council. He expects the case to be appealed to the state Supreme Court. Thomsen said he plans to base the appeal on several points, among them jury selection. The law, he said, doesn't provide for a jury in an appeal case. 3 Confederate Soldiers Identified SANTA FE The Museum of New Mexico said three of the 31 Confederate soldiers killed in a Civil War battle near here have been identified, and descendants of one man have been notified. The remains were identified as Maj. John Shropshire, 28; Pvt. Ebineezer "Abe" Hanna Jr., 17; and J.S.L Cotton, 20. They were from Texas and enrolled in the 4th Regiment Texas Mounted Volunteers, most of whom came from near San Antonio, said Museum of New Mexico Director Thomas Livesay. The identification process for the soldiers who died in the battle of Glorieta Pass in March 1862 matched physical evidence with data from historic journals, letters and muster rolls, Livesay said. The remains of the 31 soldiers were discovered in 1987 in Glorieta. Four descendants of Hanna were located and told about the identification, Livesay said. $3 Million Given To Fight Drugs WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Justice has awarded $3 million to New Mexico to help local law enforcement efforts in the war against drugs, Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., said Thursday. The funds will be used to continue seven regional multijurisdictional drug task forces; to create and fund three new narcotics trafficking task forces, and for additional enforcement efforts, Domenici said. "Those who sell drugs and those who fuel the demand by buying drugs will be held accountable for their action," Domenici said. The grant, up 187 percent over last year, was awarded under the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988. Carruthers' Daughter Engaged SANTA FE Gov. and Mrs. Garrey Carruthers' daughter, Carol Lynn Carruthers, has become engaged to marry Fred Owens-by of Folsom, N.M. Owensby is the son of Stewart and Sue Owensby of Folsom. The couple have set the wedding for May 26 at St. John's Methodist Church in Santa Fe, the governor's office announced. Carol Carruthers, 21, is a graduate assistant in economics at New Mexico State Uni versity. Owensby also attends NMSU and is a wildlife sciences major. Si. . Carruthers Forest Service Seeks Comments SILVER CITY The U.S. Forest Service wants citizens' comments about how to manage elk and cattle on New Mexico's public lands. A nine-member task force has been formed to help develop a management plan for elk and livestock in the Gila National Forest, Dave Dahl, forest supervisor, announced this week. The group's focus will be on Catron County, he said, because it appears to have the most serious problem of increasing elk herds competing with cattle for forage. Comments and requests for periodic updates on the task force's work should be sent to Paul Boucher, Wildlife Biologist, Silver City Ranger District, 2915 Highway 180 East, Silver City, N.M. 88061. Watts Grand Jury Heard Testimony On Officer's Death By Colleen Heild JOURNAL STAFF WRITER A special Torrance County grand jury convened to investigate misconduct in the Torrance County Sheriffs Department also heard testimony about the fatal shooting of a Mountainair police officer in 1988, according to statements made Friday during a court hearing in Albuquerque. The grand jury also issued witness subpoenas suggesting it was inquiring about the former Torrance County sheriffs deputy who helped trigger the prosecution last year of Sheriff Gary Watts and three of his officers, Watts' attorney Paul Kennedy indicated Friday. The activities of the grand jury surfaced during a pretrial hearing on the pending civil removal case against Watts. Before it disbanded Feb. 28, the grand jury issued an accusation that there was cause to remove Watts from the job he has held since 1989. The grand jury accused Watts, 41, of gross negligence in the performance of his duties and of being drunk at an Estancia bar and restaurant while in uniform early Jan. 1, 1989. District Judge Edmund Kase of Socorro on Friday set a tentative trial for May 7 in Estancia, the Torrance County seat. District Attorney Lee Deschamps of Soco rro is prosecuting the case, which is a civil matter. Watts and Sheriffs Lt. Ron Grist had faced criminal burglary and larceny charges at the time the grand jury began its separate investigation. The Attorney General's Office dismissed the criminal charges for lack of evidence on Feb. 23, just days before the grand jury's term was to expire. The grand jury was empaneled after more than 200 Torrance County residents signed a petition last December seeking an investigation of Watts and of alleged misconduct ; in his department. During its term, the grand jury also issued a criminal indictment of Watts on charges of filing a false accident report for a Mountainair resident which was later dismissed. The grand jury also indicted undersheriff Bobby Chavez on charges of using department credit cards and vehicles for his personal use. That case is still pending. Kase said Friday the grand jury heard testimony about the May 7, 1988, fatal shooting of Mountainair rookie patrolman Stephen Sandlin. Sandlin, 21, was found shot in the head with his service revolver at his side inside the Mountainair police station. To date, there has been no official ruling on how he died, but investigations by the Attorney General's Office and the FBI are con-" tinuing. Opponents File Petitions To Recall Gallup's Mayor By Patrice Locke JOURNAL CORRESPONDENT GALLUP Mayoral recall petitions with approximately 1,300 signatures were turned in to the city clerk's office Friday morning, petition drive organizer Linda Tiley said. Tiley mounted the recall effort following Mayor Ed Munoz's January threat to post billboards on highways entering the itate warning motorists that New Mexico ii the drunken driving capital of the country. Mufloz later said that he would not push for the billboards, but had used the suggestion as a way to focus public and legislative attention on drunken driving problems in the state. Tiley said the recall "has absolutely nothing to do with liquor issues" in Gallup. "This has to do with our town and the way he (Munoz) has hurt this town," Tiley said. The billboard idea, she said, "was just the last straw." j Tiley said she and others are tired of the mayor's "temper tantrums" and with what she called his determination "to have everything his own way." Munoz was not available for comment Friday, but he has said earlier that he would welcome a recall vote. "It's time for a showdown," he said. About 870 valid city voter signatures are needed to force a recall election, according to the city charter. That's 20 percent of the votes cast in Gallup for the last gubernatorial race. If enough petition signatures are validated by the clerk's office, an election would have to be held within 30 days, city attorney Jim , Parmelee said. But in order to oust Munoz, at least 2,246 people would have to vote in favor of the recall, because the charter stipulates that-recall hinges on a vote of the majority of the people who voted in the last mayoral election. Munoz's second consecutive term in office will end next spring Because there is less than a year left in that term, a successful recall would lea'e the four-member, city council responsiUie for choosing a successor to complete the term.

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