Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Cake and Punch vs. Pink Slip
By Jeff Proctor
Copyright © 2010 Albuquerque Journal
Journal Staff Writer
Bernalillo County public safety boss John Dantis and one of the top managers under his supervision are on the verge of leaving county employment — under very different circumstances.
Dantis is retiring at the end of the month, and an e-mail was sent to more than 1,500 people, including top Bernalillo County officials and commissioners, inviting them to a cake-and-punch send-off for him on July 27.
That's the same day Dwight Dias, manager of the county's scandal-plagued drug and alcohol treatment facility known as MATS, is scheduled for a termination hearing.
Dantis said his retirement decision was based solely on personal and medical factors and unrelated to an outside attorney's investigation report that found nepotism and mismanagement at MATS, where Dantis was acting director and Dias was program manager.
The proposed termination of Dias stems from what County Manager Thaddeus Lucero called his "utter failure" as a supervisor and for lying to him in response to questions about Dantis' son, Jamie, who worked at MATS as a substance abuse technician.
The event for John Dantis will be in the basement of the city-county government building where the County Commission meets.
Sent by a secretary in Lucero's office, the e-mail invitation offers the opportunity to contribute "money towards a gift for John" and asks that donations be delivered to the secretary by Friday.
County spokeswoman Liz Hamm said the event was organized by "some of John's staff who donated their own money for a cake."
"It's all privately funded. There's no money from the county at all," Hamm said. "We normally do that when someone in a high position retires. It lets folks he worked with say, 'Goodbye, good luck.' "
John Dantis had accumulated about $160,000 in unused sick and annual leave by late June. Under the county's personnel rules, he may cash out the leave when he retires.
Dias received a termination letter July 12, according to Hamm.
Dias was among the recipients of the invitation to the send-off for John Dantis. Also invited were all five county commissioners, Lucero and Vince Peele, who worked under John Dantis as a key supervisor for the county's controversial Community Custody Program.
Peele, who also served as liaison between the program, which is similar to house arrest, and the courts, has been charged with bribery and conspiracy. He is accused of taking payments to get defendants into community custody.
An attachment to the e-mailed invitation for the send-off features a photograph of John Dantis on a motorcycle under the caption: "John is hittin' the road."