Charlotte Little was going to be Albuquerque’s first Native American city clerk – until her past troubles with the taxman came to light and she went into damage-control mode.
“I have decided to withdraw my name from consideration for the position of City Clerk,” she wrote in an email earlier this month. “I am so grateful to have been considered by Mayor (Tim) Keller and do not wish to bring any unnecessary distractions to the role.”
Little’s swift withdrawal when she was questioned by the Journal about the nearly $180,000 she failed to pay in federal and state taxes and penalties and interest from 1996 to 2003 almost masked the biggest question in this unfortunate ordeal – almost.
That question being, what type of vetting has the Keller administration done on the dozens of people the mayor has already appointed to critically important executive positions at the city? The Keller administration isn’t saying whether it knew about Little’s financial troubles before making the appointment, opting, instead, to issue an emailed statement:
“We respect Charlotte’s decision to withdraw her name from consideration for the City Clerk position and wish her the best in her future endeavors,” Keller spokeswoman Alicia Manzano said. She would not speak to the broader question of whether Little had been vetted and whether the administration had been aware of the tax liens before the Journal raised the question.
For the sake of city taxpayers, we sure hope the Keller administration is vetting all of its appointees and that the process includes both criminal background checks and a search for any tax liens that prospective appointees may be dealing with. These appointees are, after all, the people charged with managing million-dollar budgets, supervising thousands of employees and keeping the city safe. Failure to have a robust screening system in place would be negligent.
To be clear, we’re not suggesting that only individuals with spotless records should be eligible to fill the city’s top positions. But at a minimum, Keller and his administration should know about any skeletons in a prospective employee’s closet so they can make an informed decision on whether to move forward with the hire.