Councilor seeks probe into book on city - Albuquerque Journal

Councilor seeks probe into book on city

An Albuquerque city councilor wants an investigation into a recently published book about the city’s response to the pandemic and racial unrest of 2020, raising questions about the project’s necessity and adherence to policy.

Councilor Dan Lewis on Wednesday asked the city’s Office of Inspector General to look into whether the city – which paid the author and covered other book-related expenses – followed city purchasing rules and whether the book itself, “City at the Crossroads: The Pandemic, Protests and Public Service in Albuquerque,” served any public purpose.

“I request an evaluation of whether the finished product satisfies any requirements that the use of public funds be limited to public purposes consistent with legitimate needs of the City, as opposed to any other potentially non-City, or personal purposes,” Lewis wrote in his memo to Inspector General Melissa Santistevan, who works independently from the mayor and City Council.

Lewis in an interview said he did not see the public purpose of the book, calling it “weird” and noting that it highlights Mayor Tim Keller’s personal experiences.

Keller wrote the book’s introduction; his wife, Elizabeth Kistin Keller, penned the foreword.

There are 36 photos of the mayor in the book and the second chapter – called “The Metal Mayor” – is about him.

Lewis said he does not think the book adequately reflects the hardships felt across the city during the pandemic, including the plight of small-business owners.

“It’s not objective, it’s not journalism and it’s one-sided,” Lewis said of the book. “It doesn’t give the true picture of what happened to our city during that time.”

The Mayor’s Office, asked about the requested investigation said, “At best, these comments are a disservice to the local leaders, writers, and creators who worked hard to capture these unprecedented and critical times in our city. At worst, it’s another attempt from a former mayoral candidate who has been deeply biased against anything this administration does.”

City Arts and Culture Director Shelle Sanchez in an interview last month said the city paid author Joline Gutierrez Krueger $44,640 for her work on it, and that the city had proactively reached out to Gutierrez Krueger and other potential writers when deciding on an author.

A former Journal columnist, Gutierrez Krueger struck a deal with the city while still working for the newspaper but without its knowledge. Journal policy expressly prohibits freelance work for governmental entities due to the potential conflicts of interest it creates.

Asked for the other book-related costs, Sanchez previously referenced $6,000 for shipping and printing 500 copies, and $500 for the cover art licensing fee. The nonprofit One Albuquerque Fund paid another $1,500 to design the book, Sanchez told the Journal last month.

But Lewis’ memo to the OIG notes that Gutierrez Krueger’s 2021 contract and supplement agreement with the city allowed expenditures up to $66,000, and another contract with a different vendor – Amanda Sutton – added $50,400.

Lewis alleges that it was a “split purchase” – using two contracts for the same project – writing in his memo that a single professional services contract for over $100,000 would generally require putting a project out for public bid.

Asked Wednesday about the other contract and the city’s total book-related expenditures, a city spokeswoman cited $50,079. That includes Gutierrez Krueger’s pay – which was below the contracted maximum – and such other expenses as printing.

She said Sutton’s aforementioned contract was for multiple projects, and that her developmental and copy editing for “City at the Crossroads” represented only about 40% of her workload. With that addition, the city’s expenditures for the book would total $73,239. Sutton began working for the city after her contract ended.

Home » ABQnews Seeker » Councilor seeks probe into book on city

Insert Question Legislature form in Legis only stories

Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email

taboola desktop

ABQjournal can get you answers in all pages


Questions about the Legislature?
Albuquerque Journal can get you answers
Email addresses are used solely for verification and to speed the verification process for repeat questioners.
Photos from the funeral for Archbishop Emeritus Michael Sheehan
ABQnews Seeker
Meet the former Alamogordo resident making a big impact ...
ABQnews Seeker
He grew up in New Mexico, ... He grew up in New Mexico, so it was no surprise Houston Astros prospect Quincy Hamilton looked at home in Isotopes Park this week.
Five factors to consider as United takes "professional approach" ...
ABQnews Seeker
Save the long-odds conversation for someone ... Save the long-odds conversation for someone else. United's players and coaches don't want to hear it.
UNM's Museum of Southwestern Biology to display collections at ...
ABQnews Seeker
From 4-9 p.m. Wednesday, June 14, ... From 4-9 p.m. Wednesday, June 14, the public is invited to "Evolution Revealed: An Open Collections Event."
Hundreds pack Santa Fe cathedral for Archbishop Sheehan’s funeral ...
ABQnews Seeker
Achbishop Emeritus Michael J. Sheehan died ... Achbishop Emeritus Michael J. Sheehan died June 3 at age 83. Here's how he was remembered.
Barelas Park reopens after nearly $2 million renovation
ABQnews Seeker
Barelas Park reopened to the public ... Barelas Park reopened to the public Wednesday with many new features.
New Mexico State Police officer accused of sexually assaulting ...
ABQnews Seeker
A State Police officer was arrested ... A State Police officer was arrested Friday in the alleged sexual assault of a 20-year-old woman while the two were on a New Mexico ...
Solomon Peña to remain in custody, judge rules
ABQnews Seeker
A judge said he could find ... A judge said he could find no conditions of release that would reasonably ensure the safety of the community, despite a defense attorney's contention ...
Proposed rule for public lands expected to have outsized ...
ABQnews Seeker
A coalition of conservation and outdoor ... A coalition of conservation and outdoor recreation enthusiasts is urging New Mexicans to support the proposal. Opponents, in turn, question whether the rule will ...