The deferral came after two councilors suggested that giving the federally-funded contract to a company run by three APD employees was a conflict of interest.
City Council Takes a Closer Look at City Hall Conflict of Interest
BY DENNIS DOMRZALSKI
A City Council committee on Monday deferred action on a controversial, $131,000 sole-source contract for crisis intervention training for APD officers that Mayor Richard Berry’s administration wants to give to a nonprofit company that is run by three APD employees, including two who are on the department’s Crisis Intervention Unit.
The Finance and Government Operations Committee, acting on the request of the administration, put off a decision on the proposed contract until April 11. But the deferral came after two councilors suggested that giving the federally-funded contract to a company run by three APD employees was a conflict of interest.
“I’m having a hard time understanding this getting through the administration,” committee Chair Patrick Davis said. “This uses city employees and a nonprofit they created. It seems to create a conflict of interest that is in direct violation [of city regulations].”
Councilor Ken Sanchez also expressed concern over the fact that no other nonprofits were allowed to bid on the deal that Berry’s administration wants to give to the Crisis Intervention Team, Inc., which is run by three APD employees.
CIT was formed in 2012, and it has yet to file a full federal tax return, known as a 990, because it basically has been inactive and hasn’t gotten any contracts. The firm’s president is Nils Rosenbaum, who makes $113,942 a year as APD’s in-house psychiatrist. Its secretary is Leah Acata, and its treasurer is Matthew Tinney. Both are APD officers who make $58,240 a year, according to city records. Tinney and Rosenbaum are members of the city’s Crisis Intervention Unit.
APD Planning Manager Maria Garcia-Cunningham told the five-member committee that the contact is part of a $250,000 grant from the U.S. Bureau of Justice Assistance to provide video conferencing CIT training to APD officers in conjunction with the University of New Mexico’s Project ECHO tele-medicine program. CIT was included in the city’s grant application to the BJA, she said.
Garcia-Cunningham added that, based on BJA rules, the players, meaning CIT, can’t be changed, and if the city attempts to go to bid now, it could lose the grant. But, she added that “lessons have been learned” since the ABQ Free Press broke the story about the no-bid deal last week.
Davis suggested that the time for learning on the part of the city and APD is long past. He likened the deal to the $1.9 million contract that APD signed with TASER International for lapel cameras in 2013. Three city and state audits suggested that then-APD Chief Ray Schultz “greased” the way for that contract because he worked for TASER while still a city employee. And, a grand jury is investigating Schultz’s involvement with the deal for possible criminal violations.
“I feel we should have learned the lesson with TASER,” Davis said.
Garcia-Cunningham said she didn’t feel the CIT deal was a conflict of interest because all of the money will be used to hire a coordinator. None of will go to CIT’s officers, she said.
City Attorney Jessica Hernandez said the administration will use the 30 days to look at its procurement process.
Dennis Domrzalski is news editor of ABQ Free Press. Reach him at email@example.com.
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