In The Matter of T. Zane Reeves….
On Tuesday, May 1, 2012, City of Albuquerque’s CAO Robert Perry sent notice to Dr. T. Zane Reeves informing him that “effectively immediately” he had terminated the city’s contract with Dr. Reeves. This action comes after the city’s personnel board denied having any jurisdiction over the city’s issues with Dr. Reeves. Astonishingly, Mr. Perry’s action comes after district court Judge Nan Nash denied the city’s effort to obtain a restraining order against Dr. Reeves from hearing any more city personnel grievance appeals hearings. Having failed in all other areas where an objective review of the city’s allegations against Dr. Reeves were found to be without merit, Mr. Perry simply, and some say personally, took matters into his own hands and fired Dr. Reeves.
For over twenty years, Dr. Reeves has been a hearing officer for the city of Albuquerque. Under the city’s Merit System Ordinance, employees who receive discipline in excess of five days off (and up through termination) may grieve and appeal their discipline though an administrative hearing. The hearing is run much like a bench trial with the city represented by a department executive and city lawyer and the grievant represented by a lawyer. By city ordinance, the hearing is presided over by a “hearing officer” who acts much like a trial judge. While paid by the city, the hearing officer is an independent contractor and is hired as a neutral third party to determine facts and render a recommendation. This recommendation is then taken into consideration by the city’s personnel board which either upholds or declines to follow the hearing officer’s recommendation. Hearing officers are hired on a competitive basis and are generally lawyers, academics, or certified arbitrators.
Dr. Reeves is a retired UNM professor and holds a Ph.D in political science from the University of Southern California. He is a member of the prestigious National Academy of Arbitrators and has been recognized as the most competitive candidate to operate as a hearing officer for the City of Albuquerque. Dr. Reeves travels the country hearing cases as an arbitrator, training arbitrators, and holding administrative hearings.
On February 6th, 2012, Dr. Reeves rendered a recommendation concerning former APD officer Russell Perea. Dr. Reeves recommended to the city’s personnel board that they reinstate Mr. Perea because the city failed “to demonstrate employee wrongdoing, much less that he deserved to be discharged.” It was during this hearing that Deputy Chief Allen Banks was caught lying under oath, and where the testimony by Chief Ray Schultz, Deputy Chief Paul Feist, Commander Doug West was successfully challenged and defeated. Following this decision the city embarked on what can only be described as a smear campaign full of intimidation and retaliation. The city claimed Dr. Reeves’ recommendation was the result of internal bias. The city’s evidence that he acted with bias consisted of the following: a 2011 editorial concerning the Wisconsin labor/management crisis, post hearing ex parte communication with labor union representatives, and soliciting buyers for his book on Hungarian victims of the Holocaust.
The city (through lawyer Rebecca Wardlaw who failed the city in the Perea hearing) argued that these elements comprised a “pattern of conduct” and are proof of Dr. Reeves’ bias and thus invalidated the Perea decision and compromised any future hearings held by him. The city argued unsuccessfully in front of the personnel board and an openly irritated Judge Nash that these elements were proof of his bias and that such bias was in conflict with the state’s code of judicial conduct. Upon failing in all other regards, Mr. Perry then took matters into his own hands, and by absurdly claiming victimhood at the “stacking of a deck”, arbitrarily terminated Dr. Reeves’ contract.
Reviewing this matter in daylight presents many troubling issues. But instead of repeating what the personnel board and Judge Nash have already done, determine that the city’s arguments hold no merit, we are concerned with the larger picture this effort raises:
-If the city is so concerned with reinstating Russell Perea, why are they NOT appealing
the personnel board’s decision? The city makes no effort to dispute Dr. Reeves’ findings.
-If Russell Perea’s reinstatement is not the target of the city’s efforts, what was Dr. Reeves scheduled to hear that the city so desperately sought his removal?
-What will be the chilling effect upon the other independent hearing officers by the city’s arbitrary action to terminate Dr. Reeves’ contract?
-Because the city breached Dr. Reeves’ contract by wrongfully terminating him, what liability has the city burdened the citizens with?
-What additional liability has the city burdened the taxpayers with by contaminating the hearing process with their arbitrary and threatening behavior and thus prejudicing all pending and future grievants from having fair and impartial hearings?
-Dr. Reeves’ past decisions include upholding the termination/discipline of many APD officers including Ben Kirby, Al Walck, Anthony Zambrano, John Messimer, Lt. Paul Rees, and Sgt. Bret White, given this action by the city, do these parties (or estates of the parties) now have new claims against the city?
-The “interim” chief hearing officer Stanley Harada’s objectivity was challenged when he summarily dismissed red-light camera tickets in the spring of 2007 when confronted by the media, can we expect him to similarly fold under the pressure of Mr. Perry? (our Eyes also tell us Mr. Harada almost lost his law license in a malpractice claim where he missed a statute of limitations deadline.)
In the matter of Dr. Reeves, our recommendation is the time has come to hold Mayor Berry, Robert Perry, and Mayor Berry’s police chief, Ray Schultz, to the same level of scrutiny they so comfortably hold on others. Given the unfolding and on-going saga of ex-APOA president Filiberto “Joey” Sigala, we’re sure to see the threads of stolen money, stolen property, and other criminal issues cross over from APD’s 5th floor to City Hall’s 11th floor…but this time it is agents of the New Mexico State Police following the trail…we wonder if they will see what is an obvious pattern of bias, intimidation, and quite frequently illegal conduct.
Quote of the Day
Does this sound familiar? This is right from the dictionary and seems to describe Albuquerque, Berry and Schultz. Fascism (f ash ,izem) noun An authoritarian right wing system of government and/or social organization. (in general use) extreme right wing, authoritarian, chauvinistic and/or intolerant views or practices. Fascism tends to include a belief in the supremacy of one group over another, national, ethnic, especially social strata or monetarily; a contempt for democracy, an insistence on obedience to a powerful leader, and a strong demagogic approach. Compliments of one of our Eyes