Editorial: Who are ABQ's at-will workers really serving? - Albuquerque Journal

Editorial: Who are ABQ’s at-will workers really serving?

It’s nice work if you can get it — a Journal analysis shows Albuquerque has 6,911 full-time city jobs, with 589 of those employees appointed by, and serving at the discretion of, Mayor Tim Keller and his management team.

By comparison, there were 5,956 jobs, with 323 so-called unclassified positions, when he started in December 2017.

And while supporters in the administration can argue the city has taken on more responsibilities and needed to add staff, the question is why hundreds of these new jobs — 266 to be exact — are handed out/can be taken away by Keller rather than the department they work for?

And why do dozens — 55 to be exact — offer salaries of at least $100,000 a year, including two new associate chief administrative officers, three new associate directors and 16 new deputy directors?

We get that our police department is under federal oversight (117 new unclassified jobs), the Community Safety Department was created out of whole cloth (43 new unclassified jobs) and the city’s media team is trying to pump out information and respond to inquiries ASAP (12 new unclassified jobs).

But City Councilor Pat Davis is right: It leaves the impression of a top-heavy government with gigs that “more serve the agenda of the mayor than the day-to-day work of the city.” Councilor Dan Lewis, a harsh critic of Keller, goes further and calls the unclassified job growth “outrageous.”

Former Mayor Richard Berry increased unclassified jobs by 18% over eight years. It’s interesting Keller would oversee a 45% increase in jobs that lack union protections in almost five years.

That leaves one to wonder if the job growth truly reflects the needs of the city, as Chief Administrative Officer Lawrence Rael contends, or simply the wants of the mayor.

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.

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