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Treasurer recall fails to get enough signatures

The effort to force Bernalillo County Treasurer Manny Ortiz into a recall election failed to gather enough signatures.

It was always a long shot, given that roughly 82,400 signatures were required. By contrast, it takes only about 14,000 signatures to propose legislation in Albuquerque through a petition initiative.

George Richmond, who describes himself as a good-government activist, said he collected fewer than 5,000 signatures.

He did succeed, of course, in calling attention to problems within the treasurer’s office.

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To begin the signature-gathering on a recall, Richmond had to win permission from a state judge. In January, District Judge Alan Malott ruled that there was “substantial evidence or probable cause” to believe that Ortiz had committed misfeasance or malfeasance in the management of county investments.

The County Commission and Ortiz had been at odds over the county’s investment strategy, and the county ended up suffering about $16 million in losses this year as it restructured the portfolio to minimize the risk of further losses.

The commission and treasurer eventually agreed to a new investment policy.

Ortiz said Thursday that he’s happy the recall is over.

“I am glad that this matter is behind us,” he said in a written statement. “We continue to move forward in a positive direction at the treasurer’s office and county.”

Albuquerque’s newly renovated Convention Center has landed a “futurist” conference scheduled next year.

Mayor Richard Berry and the Albuquerque Convention & Visitors Bureau announced Thursday that an event called the “Face the Future Conference” will be held Downtown for the next five years.

The conference has already lined up a host of speakers who will address the future of private space travel, robotics, investment and other topics.

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“From a meetings and tourism perspective, having a conference of this magnitude here opens the door for future high-level bookings, as well,” Dale Lockett of ACVB said in a news release. “Plus, the fact that the conference has agreed to let Albuquerque host for at least its first five years will provide a tremendously positive economic.”

The conference is scheduled May 5-6.

Bernalillo County commissioners have called a special meeting for Monday to decide whether to sue the secretary of state for refusing to allow nonbinding “advisory” questions on the Nov. 4 ballot. At stake are questions on reducing marijuana penalties and a tax to pay for mental-health services.

Dan McKay can be reached at dmckay@abqjournal.com.

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