On this page is a county response to the state audit taken from the minutes of a commission meeting.

4.         A Presentation Regarding the Corrective Action Pursuant to Finding of Special Audit by the Office of the State Auditor – County Attorney John Caldwell discussed.

 Chairwoman Saldaņa-Caviness – Next we have A Presentation Regarding Corrective Action Pursuant to Finding of Special Audit by the Office of the State Auditor.  County Attorney, Mr. Caldwell, will discuss.

 Commissioner McCamley – Madame Chair.  Are we doing anything?

 Chairwoman Saldaņa-Caviness – Hold on Commissioner McCamley.

 Mr. Caldwell - Madame Chair, Commissioners.  While we’re waiting for IT to come in and enter their password I would like to make a suggestion for your consideration.  It seems that many members of the public believe that our County Legal Department is not unbiased or unprejudiced in the allegations against the County Treasurer.  I would suggest and I would welcome the review by an external attorney to review these allegations and bring back recommendations to this Board.  The County Treasurer indicated that he has retained an attorney and intended to seek the money that he had paid back to the county.  I welcome that litigation.  I think the County Treasurer will be unsuccessful.  But again because of the allegations of bias and prejudice I would like to suggest to you that you consider directing the Legal Department to retain outside counsel for a second opinion as to the criminal conduct of the County Treasurer.

 Chairwoman Saldaņa-Caviness – Thank you Mr. Caldwell.

 Commissioner Butler – One question Madame Chair.

 Chairwoman Saldaņa-Caviness – Commissioner Butler.

 Chairwoman Saldaņa-Caviness – Are you suggesting, John, co-counsel?  To be co-counsel?

 Mr. Caldwell – Madame Chair, Commissioner Butler.  No, not co-counsel.  I welcome an entirely independent review. 

Chairwoman Saldaņa-Caviness – Commissioner Curry.

 Commissioner Curry – Madame Chair.  As a member of the Audit Committee I feel like that would be appropriate.  It’s not the goal of the Audit Committee to judge or anyone, but to pass on the findings to those that would responsible to take a look at it.  And because there seems to be a very large feeling among the public, and there is a possibility of conflict of interest, I have no problem and think it is a good idea for the County to go ahead and hire outside counsel to come in and to handle this situation.  Someone who isn’t political, you know, an apolitical attorney to come in and takeover.  Our attorney feels like that’s what he would like to have done and I’m assuming that he’s wanting to excuse himself from this and I think we should respect that and jump on this as an opportunity to elevate the status of independence, and for the County Manager to seek outside assistance.  I think it’s a good idea.  A step in the right direction.  And I personally have no ill feeling at all toward our County Attorney.  I feel like he’s very professional and has done a professional job.  I’ve seen the information he’s presented in the audit meetings and I have felt that it’s independent, yet I think it would be advantageous to hire an outside counsel and bring that in and so take it off his shoulders and put it on an independent outside authority.  And I think that’s proper.  Thank you.

 Chairwoman Saldaņa-Caviness – Thank you Commissioner Curry.  I guess my only concern is how much is it going to cost us, number one.  And if we can find, I guess, an attorney that would be willing to do it for free it’s even better.

 Mr. Caldwell – Madame Chair, Commissioners.  I found in the legal field you get what you pay for.

 Chairwoman Saldaņa-Caviness – Oh oh.

 Mr. Caldwell – I think that we can find something well within the County Manager’s authority.  And I want to assure this Commission that I am apolitical.  I vote for Republicans.  I vote for Democrats.  I vote for . . . members of the Green Party at one time.  So I’m about as apolitical as a person can be, but I am troubled by the comments made by numerous people in the community and I just think that to show that this has been an independent investigation that direction should be given to the County Manager to retain outside counsel.

 Chairwoman Saldaņa-Caviness – Okay.

 Commissioner Butler – Madame Chair.

 Chairwoman Saldaņa-Caviness – Commissioner Butler.

 Commissioner Butler – I do concur with Commissioner Curry on this.  I think . . . this Commission formed the Internal Audit Committee to make it a grade above in terms of the County’s integrity.  County’s integrity to address the issues, the myriad number of issues that have come forward, the allegations made.  You know without having those allegations substantiated with any foundations of fact, you might say.  So if we have an outside attorney it would yield to making that Committee independent from any allegations towards any County manager, County counsel or any Commissioner having any persuasive powers over that committee only because we’ve been appointed by this Commission to participate on that committee to insure that the accounting and the fiscal matters of this county are appropriately addressed.  So I would concur with Commissioner Curry.

Chairwoman Saldaņa-Caviness – Thank you Commissioner Butler.  Mr. Caldwell.

 Mr. Caldwell – I’m ready to begin the presentation.  I’m going to move fairly quickly through the Special Audit because it’s going to be a little bit tedious and I think boring.  But management believe that since the audit report had just been provided to us and then to the public . . .

 Commissioner McCamley – Madame Chair.  May I ask Mr. Caldwell to speak more into the microphone?  He’s going in and out.

 Chairwoman Saldaņa-Caviness – He will do so.

 Commissioner McCamley – Thanks.

 Mr. Caldwell – Since the audit report had been provided to the County for comment back in Feb. . . . late February and we provided our response in early March at the direction of the Board, the State Auditor then released it to us in early March and to the public 10-days later.  But we would like to tell the Board what we have done and at their direction and on our own prior to the audit report.

 There are three (3) allegations that had been referred to the District Attorney for further investigation.  I need to . . . for everyone to understand that referral for further investigation is not a finding of criminal conduct.  It is simply . . . the State Auditor believes that there are allegations, which may constitute criminal conduct.  His office is unqualified to make that determination so they refer it to a District Attorney.

 As to the first finding, which was referred for further investigation, no member of this current Commission was sitting on this Board at the time this incident occurred.  No current member of management was sitting in management.  There is liability that was created as to the secondary agreement.  If you remember there was an issue of bonds in 1999.  Subsequent to that issue there was a second agreement entered into between the county and two private entities.  The private entities agreed to make up any shortfall in revenue that was anticipated or earned by the county.  In making these payments the county agreed at some point in the future to repay the loan and to pay 3% interest.  And that was not contemplated in the issuance of the bonds.  And that’s the finding of the State Auditor.  Just so you know that county management has booked this debt.  It is correctly reflected on the county’s financial records.  And so that is the corrective action.  But again, I want to remind the public and the county that no current member of the Board was on the Board at this time, nor was any current management director.

 The second finding that was referred for further investigation, again because there are allegations which may constitute criminal conduct, was discovered and corrected by the current Director of Utilities Department before the State Auditor even came down to investigate.  And all the entries were correctly booked before the State Audit.  What happened is when the State Auditor came in and looked at the records, he saw the corrected . . . his office saw the corrected entries, found that that was in error, or a finding, and reported it through the State Auditor.  Again, management found it and corrected it prior to the State Auditor.  The responsible staff was reprimanded and eventually resigned from the county.

 (Somebody’s going to have to tell me how to figure out how to go back.  You were saved Amy).

 The third allegation referred for further review to see if there was criminal conduct is the Procurement Code Violation and the awarding of the architectural contract for the new County building.  It’s the county’s position that the former Board of County Commissioners received the evaluation criteria as listed in the RFP.  But the County must admit they did not insure compliance with those criteria.  We cannot tell the public that they were followed, but we can tell the public that in the packet provided each member of the Commission the proper evaluation criteria was there.  And then we failed to document the record.  And these are two mistakes that are being reviewed, further reviewed by a District Attorney.

 An allegation of unethical behavior by county officials.  And this has been addressed by one of the public speakers during Public Input that there was an attempt to influence a subdivision application outcome by a Commissioner.  This was reported to the County Manager, it was investigated and once the proper procedure was outlined to the Commissioner it was accepted.  The two employees who were interviewed during this investigation reported exactly what the County Commissioner did and reported that once he was told what the proper procedure was, he accepted it and there was no further issues with that Commissioner on that issue.

 The request for irrigation ditch maintenance servicing a Commissioner owned property.  This inquiry was actually made prior to this, the investigation showed that this inquiry was actually made prior to this Commissioner being elected to office.  The County had approved a subdivision near this Commissioner’s property and the people who lived in that subdivision would travel across the irrigation ditch.  The inquiry was, “Does the County not have a responsibility to repair damage done by occupants of a subdivision that it approved?”  Again, the investigation showed that when the Commissioner was told the proper procedure, explained about the Anti-Donation Clause, it was accepted and there was no other issue.

 The last allegation of unethical behavior by County officials circumventing the Procurement Code during the new County Complex bid process.  It was decided by management that the evaluation should be performed by the Board of County Commissioners.  And it is true that the evaluation, or the determination arrived by the Board of County Commissioners was different than the evaluation arrived at by the Selection Committee.  Again, if you’ve ever participated in a bid or a Request for Proposal evaluation you see the spread of points awarded to each bidder or to each proposer, this is not an unusual occurrence.  But again, management, the County does admit that it did not document the record appropriately and as fully as it should have.

 This again speaks to the County Commissioner that was subject to part of the State Audit.  The third allegation refers to the former chief of Procurement Department and to the Finance Director.  The investigation revealed that the allegations were made by a former employee who had been disciplined for procurement violations and it was a ‘he said, she said’ matter.  Having been a prosecutor or an attorney involved in criminal law for my first 8-years out of law school, when you have that it’s difficult to make a finding that is determinative, but you can discuss and give direction to the Director and to the Manager.  That Manager was disciplined on another matter, which we will talk about later.

 Land Appraisals were not obtained.  County failed to obtain the land appraisals for the new Administrative Complex.  The staff that was involved in the failure to obtain those appraisals was reprimanded and/or resigned.

 Non-Compliance with Land purchased for the new County Complex.  Failed to enforce the Request for Information.  It is true that the RFI that was submitted lacked a site map, certificate of zoning, or Phase I environmental report.  And that the BOCC’s approval was not based on information that met the criteria.

 Chairwoman Saldaņa-Caviness – Mr. Caldwell, will you please hold on.  I would ask that you please put your phone, cell phones, on vibration or off.  They are very disruptive.  Mr. Caldwell.

 Mr. Caldwell – It is true that at the time the site was selected it was not within the city limits, city limits of Las Cruces.  There is disagreement as to this last part there, “potential for fines”, and I’ll discuss that now.  For the failure to have the documents that were required, staff was reprimanded and some of them resigned.  The staff member who was responsible for this was at that point the Chair of the Republican Party.  I mean again, is it a political issue or not?  But that’s who it was and that person was reprimanded and resigned.  The BOCC was provided the criteria in the selection.  The Legal Department, and to the gentleman who talked about the Legal Department obstructing the state audit report or the investigation, I’d just like to clarify.  I was not the County Attorney at that time.  I came aboard after every allegation had already occurred.  The then Legal Department approved the purchase outside the city limits.  And just so the public knows and the Board knows, I don’t think the law is clear that that was a violation of the law.  I think that I could argue both sides of that position.  And fortunately for us the city annexed it and by doing it this way county management saved the county over $200,000.  It’s difficult to argue with that.

 Providing key documents regarding land acquisition.  There is no doubt that there were not . . . appraisals were not done.  However, it was represented to County management that appraisals had been done, and that in fact an environmental study had been done.  The director’s of both those departments were reprimanded and no longer work for the county.

 Detention Center contracts not properly approved and enforced.  The County entered into five (5) contracts without taking the necessary measures to ensure that they were properly executed.  And the county staff failed to present contracts for renewal at the proper time.  It was the County Manager who brought this to the Board long before the State Auditor came down.  It was the County Manager who discovered and corrected this action.  The two (2) director’s involved and the one (1) department manager were reprimanded.  The two (2) director’s chose to resign, the department manager was suspended for two-weeks without pay.  And this is the same department manager who made allegations against the Finance Director.

 Bond attorney services not properly procured.  This is something that Commissioner Butler has challenged me on on a number of occasions that the law should be black and white.  And this is one of those areas where it is not.  Again, I could argue ethically either position that bond counsel is paid out of bond proceeds and therefore is not subject to the Procurement Code.  And that was the legal advice given to the County Manager by the then Legal Department at the time.  Now the State Auditor disagrees with that and says that it’s public funds anyway, and therefore, you should comply with the procurement process.  We just selected a bond counsel and at the direction of the Board we chose to avoid any appearance of impropriety so we did use the procurement process.  We did a Request for Proposals and it was selected.  But again, I disagree with the State Auditor in that this finding is as clear as they would portray it.  Again you see different legal positions, and again the latest bond counsel contract was procured as interpreted, as statute interpreted by the State Auditor.

 Misuse of public assets.  It is agreed that the county was parking its equipment on private property.  It is agreed that when the county removed its equipment it graded the property to return it to its prior condition.  Understanding that there were allegations made that additional improvements were made.  There was an investigation and the investigation found that there were no improvements made by the County.  Management has since this time implemented a requirement for a written agreement.  So now when we need to use someone’s private property to store our equipment, rather than bring it back to Las Cruces we can leave it protected on someone’s private property, we will have a written agreement.  Now, I disagree again with the State Auditor that having a written agreement obviates any legal liability by the County because we still are going to be responsible to our private owner for any damage that we cause on their property unless that property owner waives it, which I’m not sure why any private property owner would do that.

 Solid waste fees not billed.  And again, at some point in time, I can’t remember if it’s 19 . . . or excuse 2004 or 2003, the Board decided by motion not to collect solid waste fees anymore.  Well the solid waste fee requirement was implemented by state statute, or excuse me, by a County ordinance.  And to stop collecting solid waste fees that ordinance had to be amended, a hearing had to be noticed, you had to wait so many days and then you could implement the new, or lack of fee, not collecting fees.  What happened is staff implemented the no fee policy immediately upon the passage of the motion.  The County agrees that this was a violation of state law.

 Commissioner Butler – County ordinance.

 Mr. Caldwell – County, well, county ordinance, but you also violate state law because . . . I mean state law imposes the duty to enforce your ordinances so.  At a closed session approximately 3-months ago, or maybe 2-months ago, the BOCC gave direction to County staff to go out and collect the fees that are owed.  We are in the process of collecting current data and we intend to collect the fees, and we intend to pursue those residents who do not voluntarily pay the past due fees.  We intend to pursue it in litigaton.

 Flood levy fees were incorrectly assessed.  And as you know, the County has refunded taxpayers for the 2003 overpayment.  We’ve made the credit adjustment in the 2004 tax bills, we, you know, adjusted the software, we’ve run several runs to be sure that it was running properly.  So we believe that that issue has been taken care of.

 Open meetings violations.  The Board of County Commissioners used paper ballots to select an architectural firm.  There is no, per se, violation of state statute or the Open Meetings Act for using paper ballots.  It is, however, inappropriate not to record the vote of each commissioner and that was the violation.  The Open Meetings Act violations for not having the minutes prepared timely.  County management hired an outside court reporting agency and we have brought the minutes into compliance with the Open Meetings Act.  One of the difficult tasks for the County Clerk is that the Board now requires primarily verbatim minutes and it takes her staff significant time to prepare those.  But we are in compliance and we will be in compliance today by the end of the meeting.

 Incorrect payments.  This is two (2) payments.  One made to the audit firm for the Doņa Ana Mutual Domestic Water Consumer’s, excuse me.  There’s too many waters there.  Consumer’s Water Association over billed the County late charge penalties.  The auditor that was overpaid has returned the pay to us.  The Legal Department has spoken with the Mutual three (3) times over the last 6-weeks.  Part of our problem is our documentation has been boxed up for the move, but the Mutual has agreed to repay the money once we both determine what the proper amount is.  And we don’t know, the County does not know that the $1,203.09 is the exact figure, but if the interest rate used was that interest rate cited by the State Auditor, we know that there was an overpayment.  But again, in speaking with the manager of the Mutual, and for the record, the Legal Department and the Utilities Department does not deal with the President of this Mutual on these issues.  We deal directly with the Manager of the Mutual and she has indicated to us there is no problem repaying the amount.  We just need to determine exactly what the amount is.

 Salary increase is not properly documented.  Currently there is a policy that all salary increases must be reviewed and approved by the County executive facilitator and this is the process implemented by County management to avoid this problem in the future.

 We have an Internal Auditor.  One of the concerns of the State Auditor was that our Internal Auditor be independent.  The Internal Auditor reports directly to the Internal Audit Committee.  And as you saw this morning, the Internal Audit Committee reports directly to the Board of County Commissioners.  They do not go through County management.

 Other issues that were raised was Department Director turnover.  The position of management is that it has increased accountability.  It has brought us into Open Meetings Act compliance.  I believe that we’ve not had any allegations of Open Meetings Act violations over the last 18-months.

 Procurement compliance.  In my other life I was a Federal Agency Attorney who dealt with the Federal Acquisition Regulations almost on a daily basis and we had a system in the Federal government where you had a Contract Officer.  This was not an attorney, but it was someone who was well grounded in contract law, rules and regulations.  The county management here has adopted the same type of process.  County management hired a Contract Coordinator.  I have worked closely with that person, as well as the Purchase Manager over the last 18-months, and I believe that we have a very sound contract process.  However, I don’t want anyone to be so naīve to believe it will never make a mistake again because we’re only human.  I saw them occur in the Federal government; I saw them in the private world when I consulted with businesses, but we have a system in place that I believe will bring the highest level of competency in the procurement to the county.

 Other investigations.  There’s comment in the State Auditor’s report about the IRS.  The only issue they were looking at was whether the interest on the bonds was tax deductible.  We have received a letter from the IRS.  They have determined that that interest is tax . . . excuse me, tax free, not tax deductible.  I’m sorry.

 Mr. Haines – Reviewed expenditures.

 Mr. Caldwell – And they reviewed expenditures and the only violation they found . . . so there you actually have kind of a disagreement between the IRS and the State Auditor.  The report also refers to a Las Cruces Police Department investigation concerning bookshelves that were paid for prior to being received.  I did investigate that and determined that there was a violation of the Procurement Code.  And this is why I want the Board to permit me to take the recent allegations to the Sheriff’s Department because I was very disappointed in the investigation of the Las Cruces Police Department.  I believe that having our Sheriff who is responsible to the voters of our County and to the residents, investigate allegations of criminal conduct is more appropriate.  It also, the State Audit report also refers to additional Open Meetings Acts violations.  Those were corrected in April of last year, I believe.  We had to come back before the Board, and even though some of the members who were present during the violations were no longer here we had to recreate for the record the . . . what happened and the votes over at least four meetings.  And that has been taken care of.

 So basically, that is what the county’s response has been to the State Auditor’s findings.  Again, we are working, continuing to work on some of them, but we hope to have them resolved within the near future.  I’ll stand for questions.

 Chairwoman Saldaņa-Caviness – Thank you Mr. Caldwell.  I will allow Public Input.  I will allow four people to come forth and convey your message.  I will allow two from this side and two from this side.

 Commissioner McCamley – Madame Chair.

 Chairwoman Saldaņa-Caviness – Commissioner McCamley.

 Commissioner McCamley – Before we go to public input I’d like to make some comments on the audit, if that would be appropriate.

 Chairwoman Saldaņa-Caviness – By all means.

 Commissioner McCamley – From everything I’ve seen about this audit, and both you and I, Madame Chairman, weren’t around for any of this stuff so everything we’ve seen is basically . . . has been the examination of the audit.  The State Auditor, the job of the State Auditor is to do preliminary investigations to find out if there’s any appearance of any wrongdoing.  And from what we are able to see of the audit, out of all of the issues that have been brought up by the State Auditor, only three (3) of them were actually referred to the State Police.  And those three are the ’99 Water Bond agreement about the interest, which as Mr. Caldwell pointed out the IRS did an investigation and found that there was no wrongdoing.  So there’s a disagreement between the IRS and the auditor.  But when the IRS is actually on you side that’s probably a good thing.  The improperly used money from the ’99 Water Bond was repaid.  Was it improperly used?  Yes it was.  There was a recognition of that impropriety and it was repaid as soon as it was found.  And so the only thing that I can really see is that if part of this audit that added any sort of status still is something we should look into is the procurement of the architect for the new building.  Now, should these things be addressed?  Yes they should.  But I would like to point out, I would like to point out that this Commission and the people in the staff of the County are not investigatory authorities.  We are not prosecutorial authorities.  Other people have that role.  The District Attorney, the State Attorney General, various police agencies have the role of investigating and then prosecuting.  And if the State Police decide that there’s not enough evidence to turn over to a District Attorney to prosecute, then I’m not sure what other courses of action we have.  Now from what I understand and from what I’m getting out of this audit is that the only thing left was the procurement of the architects for the Administrative Complex.  Now, like I said Madame Chair, you and I weren’t around and other Commissioners were.  I’m of the assumption though that in this country people are innocent until proven guilty.  And from . . . what I would like to see from people in the public concerned about this audit is two things.  The first is evidence.  If there is any hard evidence that can be presented before this Board, or better yet, an agency with the actual authority to look into this stuff and then have that turned over to a prosecutor who can prosecute it in a court of law, then bring it forward.  Bring the hard evidence forward because from what I see from this audit it is not hard evidence.  And the things that were taken into account that did have hard problems are being corrected, as far as I can see, to every imaginable level.  So if there’s something that needs to be brought forward that isn’t there, bring it forward, air it out, let’s see it.  And once that is done, or let’s say that there is no evidence, but people still feel like they need to do something, bring forth recommendations on what you would have us specifically do based on hard evidence.  Because from what I understand right now this is in the hands of people that are investigating and prosecuting, (inaudible).  So if there is evidence bring it forward and we will consider it in its entirety.  And number two, if there are options that we can pursue bring them forward and we will pursue those.  I did write in that letter that we should avoid the merest hint of impropriety and I stand by that comment.  And since I’ve been on this Board I have been extremely proud, extremely proud, of the way this Board is handling through this.  We have gone out of our way to avoid impropriety or any sort of procurement issue including the bond (inaudible).  We have gone out of our way, and if everyone will remember, it was over a year ago when we were talking about the casino, and there was even a hint that we going into . . . that if we went into closed session that there was a problem.  We didn’t even talk about it.  And then next we came back and talked about it in Open Session.  I’ve been very proud of the way this Board has handled itself over the past year-and-a-half that I’ve been involved on it.  But I must point out, Madame Chair, and I will point this out, that this is an election year and so therefore, I stand by my comment that if there is any hard evidence or hard suggestions that are reasonable, and based on evidence, we should consider them.  But if this is a . . . if this is being brought up by a certain group of people for a political purpose based on an election, then I find that a little reprehensible.  I do.  So once again, Madame Chair, let us base our comments and let us base our actions on hard evidence that we can see from this, or hard evidence that is additionally brought forward for a specific reasonable recommendation.  And, Madame Chair, that is what I’m going to use to make any decision I can do.  Thank you.

 Chairwoman Saldaņa-Caviness – Thank you Commissioner McCamley.  Any other discussion by the Commissioners before I open it up to the floor.  Okay, again.  These are the rule of engagement for this particular item.  We will have two (2) people from my left side and two (2) people from my right side.  I ask you to please be respectful.  You will address your comments, your questions, to this Board, not to staff.  We’ll take it from there.  And again, please be respectful.  You have 3-minutes to convey your concern and hopefully it’ll be a good discussion.  Mr. Warner.

 Mr. Russ Warner – Russ Warner.  I retired in 2000 from one of the largest financial institutions in this country after 40-years of services.  I can’t tell you the hundreds of audits I’ve signed off in those years.  And I’m telling you Mr. Caldwell is right on target when he says, he talks about audits being challenged.  An audit is not cut in stone.  It is a finding by an auditor, internal, external, whatever.  And I can tell you when you get an audit back from a State banking department it’s pretty thorough on their part.  And we have had them overturn many, many times.  And all I’m telling you is audits are not cut in stone.  Thank you.

 Chairwoman Saldaņa-Caviness – Thank you Mr. Warner.  Sir.

 Mr. Earl Nissen – Earl Nissen.  I just listened to you talk about wanting, the possibility of having independent attorney come in to rather look at all of this.  But is it correct that it was stated that this would be within the purview of the County Manager to hire that person?

 Commissioner Curry – It has to do with . . .

 Chairwoman Saldaņa-Caviness – Commissioner Curry.

 Commissioner Curry – No, that has to do with the recent Audit Committee . . . the hotline information that we received on the Audit Committee and the allegations that have been made against the Treasurer of this county, that were investigated by the County Attorney and the information brought to the Audit Committee for our review.  We did review that information and as a result of that investigation, and we recommended sending that on to the authorities.  But the County Attorney is under fire from different people who claim that he has a vendetta against the Treasurer and so he feels that the information is being gathered from these various groups of people that have come forth with this information against the Treasurer should be investigated by an independent attorney so that it will not seem as if, in that case, that those allegations that are being brought forth against the Treasurer would seem like they are being brought by either a Democrat or a  Republican favored type of situation.  So that is the independent attorney that we were recommending hiring.  And by going through the County manager that is the issue on . . . if you look at a lot of the past audit findings with regard to proper procurement the idea is there that whoever picks this attorney, this has got to go through the proper procurement channels.  Not that the County Manager is going to out and pick an attorney, but he oversees the procurement process in this county.

 Mr. Nissen – So who would actually select that person?

 Chairwoman Saldaņa-Caviness – Mr. Caldwell, would you help me with that?

 Mr. Caldwell – Madame Chair, Commissioners.  I will obtain a number of names to provide with either a list of resume or a CV and we’ll review that.  To avoid an appearance I would encourage that that person probably be a member of the Republican party, an active member of the Republican party so we can avoid this issue because this process has not been political and I would welcome review by anyone.  If Dan Bryant is available, or will make himself available, he is the Chair of the Republican in Lincoln County I believe.  But I don’t know if he has the time, or I don’t know if he feels like this would be a conflict, but I would invite him to do it.  But we will select someone who is well qualified.  Unfortunately, sometimes when we look for outside counsel we cannot find a local.  And the last outside counsel that we hired was from El Paso.  So because every local attorney that we consulted felt like they were conflicted out or did not want to become involved in a conflict issue. 

Chairwoman Saldaņa-Caviness – And I would suggest that maybe that’s where we look.  Have somebody from El Paso do it where they’ve got no dog in any bite.

 Mr. Nissen – Aside from that issue, it would seem to me that there’s a bunch of citizens who would like to have somebody other than, and all due respect to your report, about how these allegations have been handled, and so on.  I still think you need to go through somebody independent to take a look at even who ought to be prosecuted.  In other words, somebody from the State Auditor’s office, somebody from the Attorney General’s office, or somebody, to give us direction, the citizens, to figure out just where all this, you know, is leading itself.  So I would plead for some interpretation of that so that we could be guaranteed that this would be a very independent check out because we’re trying to take a look at and reestablish ethics and so on in this county, you know, and I would hope we could find somebody that could do that.  Thank you.

 Chairwoman Saldaņa-Caviness – Yes sir.  Thank you Mr. Nissen.  Okay, now my right side.  Okay, seeing none we will move on then.