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City Council votes to audit APD monitor

Copyright © 2017 Albuquerque Journal

Councilors voted 5-3 in favor of a measure that directs auditors to review the performance of a court-appointed monitor overseeing the Albuquerque Police Department’s reform efforts.

Councilors passed the measure just a week after a federal judge rejected the city’s allegation that the independent monitor is biased against APD and told both sides to “hit the reset button” in their contentious relationship.

The resolution appropriates $25,000 to the city’s Office of the Internal Audit for the review “to ensure that costs paid are reasonable and necessary based on the work performed” since the city hired James Ginger in January 2015 to oversee police reforms.

“It’s bad timing,” said resolution opponent Councilor Diane Gibson, who joined Councilors Klarissa Pena and Isaac Benton in voting against it. “It looks like sour grapes.”

The measure’s three co-sponsors – Councilors Brad Winter, Ken Sanchez and Don Harris – said the resolution is intended to ensure that taxpayer funds are being spent properly.

Councilors Dan Lewis and Trudy Jones joined them in favor of the resolution. Councilor Pat Davis was absent.

“We have paid Dr. Ginger over $3.1 million over three years,” Sanchez said. “We are looking at two more years of paying Dr. Ginger. He will be here as long as we must comply with that settlement agreement.”

A federal judge appointed Ginger as independent monitor under a court-approved settlement between Albuquerque and the U.S. Department of Justice.

As of June 2017, the city had paid about $3.3 million, of the $4.5 million budgeted under the agreement, according to the resolution.

The measure comes at a time of growing rancor between Ginger and the city, which earlier this month filed a motion alleging that Ginger is biased against APD.

U.S. District Judge Robert Brack dismissed the motion in a hearing last week, saying the allegations of bias were “insufficient to disqualify Dr. Ginger.”

Brack also said he was “tired of the toxicity,” and slammed the city for secretly recording a March 2016 meeting between Ginger and a police administrator, without Ginger’s knowledge.

Supporters of the resolution said councilors have the right to ask questions about Ginger’s performance under the contract.

“We just want to ask reasonable questions and get reasonable data,” Harris said.

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