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Mayor discusses issues impacting Roswell

Mayor Dennis Kintigh

Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record

Roswell Mayor Dennis Kintigh last week visited the Roswell Daily Record office to discuss issues impacting the city and its residents.

Daily Record editor John Dilmore and reporters Alison Penn and Tim Howsare sat down with Kintigh for a conversation that included questions provided by RDR staff and others.

The first part of the interview with Mayor Kintigh was published in Sunday’s edition. Below is the second part of the RDR staff’s conversation with the mayor.

RDR: Are you going to run again in the Alien Chase race? (Editor’s note: The city’s Parks and Recreation Department hosts the Alien Chase Saturday, July 7. The Chase, part of UFO Festival activities, features a 10K run, 10K walk, 5K run and a 5K walk.)

Kintigh: I am undecided yet.

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RDR: What led you to choose Judge Brackeen? (Editor’s note: Eric Brackeen was recently appointed as the city of Roswell’s new municipal court judge).

Kintigh: Excellent question.

I got eight applicants — and if you’re going to ask me who they all are, I’m going to have to say, “I’ll get back to you” … We did four interviews on Friday the 11th … and then four on Friday the 18th. The “we” was myself, Magistrate Judge K.C. Rogers, and former City Councilor Jason Perry. Former Councilor Perry had been chair of the legal committee, so the three of us. And, we narrowed it down to three very strong candidates, very impressive. Then I chewed on it some more, brought in two (of the candidates) for two final interviews on Monday the 21st.

Basically, there were issues at municipal court — and there’s been issues for a very long time. Judge Mallion (the previous municipal court judge) changed that, so when I appointed Judge Mallion about three years ago, he walked into a situation where there were challenges. Historically, there have been some issues, which had received the attention of the Judicial Standards Commission, which is a disciplinary body for judges. In fact, if I’m not wrong, Judge Mallion will have been the first municipal court judge in at last 26 years who has not been the subject of a serious Judicial Standards Commission investigation.

RDR: That’s interesting.

Kintigh: Not interesting, it’s depressing.

So the question became, what are we hoping to accomplish? While their questions continue to be about how the budget’s run, staffing levels, alternative sentencing, hours of operation, there’ve been some questions raised by certain councilors — where do we really want to go? And where we want to go is to see a continuation of this positive trend.

Judge Mallion attempted things like evening hours. He did Tuesday evenings for a while to try and make it more accessible for people. Didn’t stick, didn’t see any impact.

Some people are concerned the court’s not open on Fridays. That’s true, but it’s open during the lunch hour, Monday through Thursday. In other words, staff comes in and works nine hours. They work straight through lunch, so that’s 36 hours right there. They come in and do a half a day on Friday. That’s their 40 hours. It gives them a chance to catch up on paperwork, records, get that all done.

The police department does not issue citation appearances on Fridays. That’s a standard now. The potential does exist that there’s a concern for people wanting to come in and pay fines on Friday, and Judge Brackeen’s cognizant of that. What we may be able to get to is more of an online payment system. That, I think, needs to be explored. I know we’re doing it for water now. Let’s see where we go. …

The county is increasing the cost for the daily incarceration. The rate’s going up to $75 from $65. And we’ve had this philosophical discussion — I’ve shared this with others — municipal court is not a revenue source for the City of Roswell. I’m absolutely adamantly opposed to that. It is not a place where everybody needs to go to jail for a long time. Some people do need to go to jail for a long time, not everybody. What I have shared with Judge Brackeen, Judge Mallion, and they both fully embrace, is that this is a place where people are brought in for minor offenses and you get them to stop doing stupid stuff. Stop doing stupid stuff, get on with your life, move down the road. Some people get that message, some do not.

RDR: Has the city ever considered doing anything like the right-to-work ordinance that the county recently passed, and what are your thoughts in general about that? (Editor’s note: Chaves County recently became the fourth governing body in New Mexico, after Otero, Lincoln and Sandoval counties, to put into law provisions that prohibit unions from requiring people to join or pay dues or fees as a condition of employment.)

Kintigh: We, the city, passed a resolution in support of the state passing a right-to-work statute back in January, and that just was a very contentious meeting in which one councilor expressed a great deal of frustration at me, which was interesting. …

Now, my attitude on a lot of this stuff is — and this is a classic example — what the City of Roswell does in that sense really doesn’t matter. We could take the position, send it up, and in some ways it’s symbolic. Not that symbolism is frivolous, but we have to recognize what it truly is.

This is something that Councilor Perry was very adamant about, very serious about. So, he went through the procedures, got it through the legal committee and got it on the agenda, then we took action and it passed …

The county’s action is really based upon — I hope I get this circuit correct — it’s a Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals case involving a county in Kentucky, and the basic premise is that the Sixth Circuit maintains that counties have the authority to act in this area. I’m not sure that evolves all the way down to municipalities. In any case, that has not been adjudicated.

We have a lot of things we need to deal with — this is not one I want to get out on the tip of the spear about. If some other municipality wishes to do it, fine, dandy. The county, there is case law to support the position of the county commissioners. Recognizing not everybody’s happy with this, but there are now, I think, at least three if not four counties in New Mexico that have taken this position. We’ll see where it goes. But on this one, we have enough challenges.

I mean, let’s talk about the water, going back to the water lines. That, to me, is something I have got to focus on more so than right to work. The counties have pressed it. We need to do other work.

RDR: Did you ever get any feedback on the letter you sent regarding internet sales tax? (Editor’s note: Kintigh recently sent a letter to the New Mexico Taxation and Revenue Department seeking clarity on various aspects of sales tax being charged on internet transactions.)

Kintigh: I have never received a comment back from the state on that one. … I’m still waiting. I am still waiting.

RDR: Has the city progressed to being able to schedule work on Washington Avenue?

Kintigh: Washington between Country Club and 19th needs to be worked on, but cannot be begun until we get done with the Un-tana (Union-Montana) project. There’s only three north-south routes that traverse that part of the city: Washington, Union and Sycamore. Nothing else goes all the way through. So with the Union/Montana line down, we don’t dare.

We did do Sycamore for a while. That was a nightmare for a week while we put the large water line under.

We are going out to bid on Washington starting at Brasher going north and that, if I recall, is a complete rebuild … So that will start work. And the idea on that project is we, based upon the money we get primarily from the state, we go as far as we can each year. The more money we get, the further we go, but eventually rebuild Washington and … I think it’s Washington and Union.

RDR: Has there been any further discussion about the letter received from the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty? (EDITOR’S NOTE: The New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty contends that an ordinance being considered to regulate where homeless shelters can be located is too restrictive.)

Kintigh: I know we’ve had some discussion. I know there’s some talk about restructuring that ordinance to allow the temporary-type tents within certain restricted areas, but where that’s at, I can’t tell you right now. I don’t know.

RDR: Has the city navigated its way through issues with the smart water meters?

Kintigh: No, we’re not done yet. We’re still working our way through that. They’re doing a lot of work on that, but we’re not all the way finished yet and I’m not sure if it’s going to be another 60 days or 90 days. I’d have to check on that.

There’s been some frustration about water pressure. Those have had nothing to do with the smart meters. We had … within a 30-hour period four major water line breaks or leaks up here, and that has been the cause of the water pressure problems in certain neighborhoods. We just have some old systems, and part of the challenge is getting valves to replace the ones that fail. Where do we get them? How soon can we get them? Those kinds of things — and do we stockpile? Some of these are not cheap … none of them are cheap.

RDR: Is there anything we haven’t touched upon that readers might find interesting?

Kintigh: There’s been some drama about … where we are at with the veterans parade.

RDR: The Veterans Day parade?

Kintigh: There was some talk about that issue. There was some comments on social media. The city put out a response, as you recall, that hey, somebody wants to organize a Veterans Day parade? Come talk to us, and that’s basically it. Come talk to us. We’re happy to work with somebody. We really don’t want the city to be the lead on things like the UFO Festival, Cinco de Mayo … We want organizations to be the organizers, and then we can work with you. The Veterans Day parade would be an excellent example, too. What do you want to do? And, we will work with you. But come talk to us, sit down with us and bring a plan or a proposal.

RDR: Is there no one out there who’s planning one currently? …

Kintigh: Once again, there’s nothing official. We’re hearing that people are frustrated that — some individuals are frustrated that — the city is not organizing one when there has been one organized by private groups in the past.

And they’re like … you’re going to charge lots of of money for us to use for police and whatnot. Well, let’s have the discussion.

Let’s find out exactly what you want to do because that will define what the support level is, and then how much can the city support, and how much it can’t. You can’t do this vaguely.

We really need to sit down and have a serious discussion about what exactly does someone want to do.

Readers with questions they would like to see asked during future Q&A sessions can email them to editor@rdrnews.com.

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