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Letter To The Editor: Office Of The Sheriff – Let’s Work On This Now

on April 18, 2017 - 6:39am
Los Alamos

The following are my comments to County Council April 17, 2017.
I am here to comment on the Office of Sheriff and the Sheriff’s budget. I have to admit that I am dismayed that the budget for the Sheriff has not been reinstated since YOUR Question 1 ballot measure failed. The people of Los Alamos have spoken. We want the Office of Sheriff.  
The duties which were in place at election time in 2014 are the duties that the people elected the Sheriff to perform. The manner in which the duties were amended last year appears heavy handed and biased – stacked to get what some on the council want. I question the ethics of this.

I urge the council to take a step back. As an elected position, if the people of Los Alamos were unsatisfied with the performance of Sheriff Lucero, it was up to us to vote him or the office out in these last elections. We have decided for ourselves and​ appreciate your trust in this matter.
I was stunned to see that council had “fired” Sheriff Lucero’s staff. From my research, I could find that ONLY the Sheriff can hire and fire his staff. No one else can. This makes sense considering the office is to be autonomous and answerable to the people. Surely the Charter has emasculated the position and you have continued doing so with your actions, but I believe the citizens of Los Alamos will see over time the value of a local check on our local government. Every public entity needs this check for every public entity is vulnerable to corruption.
Last year when you delegated most of the Sheriff’s duties and budget to the LAPD, you had a personal financial impact on the Sheriff and his staff. For a council who wants to make sure every illegal immigrant is cared for and treated justly I have to ask why you think it’s ok to harm an elected official, his staff and their families through unjust means. Michael Beauchamp spoke eloquently in his Letter to the Editor in the last couple of weeks regarding how base people have become with an elected member of our community. He was referring to the public smearing of Sheriff Lucero, the Office and his staff. I would add to the financial impact of your actions as well.
The Police Chief and the Sheriff should be respected in their positions: one hired by you and the other by the people. I believe we should trust them to collaborate for the betterment of Los Alamos. This re-defining process is for the near future and I expect Councilor Pete Sheehey to move forward with his recommendations and involve the Police Chief, the Sheriff and trusted members of our community in this process. A new budget should then be addressed.
In the meantime, I recommend that the budget and duties that Sheriff Lucero was elected to perform in 2014 be reinstated per the will of the people of Los Alamos. I call specifically on Councilors James Chrobocinski and Sheehey to remain loyal to the people and the Office of Sheriff as you have been in the past. I call on Councilor Antonio Maggiore to honor his campaign promise and back the election results of the Question 1 initiative and I call on Councilors Rick Reiss, Chris Chandler, David Israelevitz and Susan O’Leary to reevaluate your positions and listen to the people of Los Alamos per the results of the Question 1 initiative and the last election, which Sheriff Lucero won.
Thank you.
My comments after this meeting and the 5-2 vote giving the Sheriff $15K and an office administrator for $58K pending “further discussion of the council”:

The 5-2 vote to approve the measley $15K recommended budget FOR NOW is pending the hammering out of the duties of the Office of Sheriff. Then and only then can his budget be adjusted. This could take months, according to one councilor, and will not be addressed in formal county meetings until June.  

Why the delay? The people of Los Alamos deserve an answer from Chair Israelevitz. No more monkey business – let’s work on this now!