Embattled county treasurer says he won't quit

Posted at: 12/19/2013 6:47 PM
By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4

Bernalillo County’s embattled treasurer faces another fight with the county commission Friday morning. That’s when they are scheduled to meet in special session to consider further restrictions on the way he makes investments with taxpayers’ money.  Treasurer Manny Ortiz says they can’t tie him down and he won’t quit.

After chairing a meeting of the county’s investment committee Thursday, Ortiz said the commissioners don’t have the legal power to clip his wings. The treasurer is the target of a state audit, the county is facing about $22 million worth of “paper” losses on bad investments, and the county’s purse strings are tied up in long term investments that Ortiz set up. Ortiz insists he won’t step down.

“I know I've had a lot of comments from the citizenry of Bernalillo County,” Ortiz said. “They all think I’m doing a great job, and I feel it myself. If I felt I was doing a bad job I might consider that but I don’t feel that way.”

The county commission has already voted “no confidence” in Ortiz, and tried to restrict some of his powers. They will try to clip his wings again on Friday.

“I think a lot of us feel we are at a crisis situation,” said Commissioner Maggie Hart Sebbins. “We have these investments, the value is dropping, and it appears the value will continue to drop. The treasurer just doesn’t respond to us.”

Some say the situation shows a flaw in the design of county government. County commissioners are supposed to create the budget and oversee operations, but independently elected officials like the treasurer, the tax assessor, and the sheriff can act against the commission’s wishes whenever they want to – and get away with it.