The Albuquerque City Council had a light agenda at its Monday, Nov. 24 meeting. Council President Don Harris and Councilor Brad Winter were absent.
Public comment was moved to the end of the meeting, and rules about addressing the Council were handed out. Among them: Speakers cannot give their two minutes to someone else.
The Council did manage to confirm the appointment of a city attorney, David Tourek. His résumé sports about 20 years as a government lawyer. Since 2003, Tourek's been the state's assistant attorney general. He says he is not political and has worked with both Democrat and Republican administrations. Tourek assured councilors that he will act independently of pressures from either the Mayor’s Office or the Council. He will be paid $130,000 annually.
The to-do list shrunk further still when councilors postponed re-appointing Independent Review Officer William Deaton. He's charged with examining complaints leveled against the Albuquerque Police Department.
A retired state and federal judge, Deaton has served in the Independent Review Office since 2007. The office makes recommendations to the chief of police, who can follow them or ignore them at his discretion. APD also has its own Internal Affairs system to examine complaints from a procedural standpoint.
Councilors have not made their positions known on this re-appointment, but it may fall along the usual partisan split, with the five right-leaning councilors approving Deaton. He cleared former Public Safety Director Darren White of any wrongdoing surrounding Kathleen White's single-vehicle car accident. Since then, several councilors have indicated that they may want to replace Deaton.
Deaton got caught in the media spotlight that was trained on the White mess. His résumé includes a long career in the public and private practice of law. It would be too bad if politics came into play, and he was replaced for reasons unrelated to his performance.
The next meeting is set for 5 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 5, in the Council Chambers in the basement of City Hall.