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City Council balks at more funds for DOJ negotiator

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — City Hall’s legal bill for negotiating with the U.S. Department of Justice on police reform is nearing $500,000.

But no one seems to have a firm handle on how high it will climb.

Albuquerque city councilors on Monday postponed action for one week on a proposal to add $280,000 to the contract of Scott Greenwood, a Cincinnati-based attorney who serves as the city’s lead negotiator with the DOJ. The extra money would have brought his total contract up to $500,000.

But the work he’s done already adds up to roughly that amount, city officials said. In other words, the contract is simply an attempt to catch up, and councilors said they’re concerned that there’s no clear limit in sight – that they’ll keep being asked to pay for work he’s already done.

“I think this contract is out of control,” Councilor Rey Garduño said.

Several councilors said it’s only fair to pay Greenwood for the work he’s done, which included negotiating a settlement agreement with the Justice Department for reforms in the Police Department. But they weren’t quite ready to approve the money without getting a handle on future expenses.

“I think it’s bad that he’s owed many months of payment,” Councilor Don Harris said. “We also owe it to our taxpayers to put the brakes on this.”

Greenwood wasn’t present at the council meeting.

Councilor Dan Lewis asked city staff to call him. Lewis renewed questions about whether Greenwood had any kind of relationship with Taser, including speaking at conferences for the company.

Taser is a contractor that provides body-worn cameras and electric shock devices for Albuquerque police.

Greenwood told councilors last year that he didn’t work for Taser and has “never received a personal nickel from Taser.”

City staff said they couldn’t reach Greenwood late Monday.

Postponement of the decision was passed 7-2, with Brad Winter and Trudy Jones in dissent.

In other action, the City Council:

• Voted down a resolution by Councilor Isaac Benton that would have asked the Bernalillo County Commission to grant the city a chance to provide input and coordinate on the county’s consideration of the Santolina Master Plan.

Opponents said it wasn’t within the city’s jurisdiction. Councilors voted 4-3 against the bill. Joining Benton in favor were Diane Gibson and Rey Garduño.

Brad Winter and Klarissa Peña didn’t participate in the vote because their employers own small pieces of land within Santolina. Winter is about to retire this week as superintendent of Albuquerque Public Schools, and Peña works for Youth Development Inc.

• Rejected an appeal from a company that didn’t win the right to redevelop the old De Anza Motor Lodge in east Nob Hill.

The winning proposal, a project called Anthea@Nob Hill, is to feature extended-stay lodging, in addition to restaurant and retail development. The company could complete the project by the end of next year.

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