ALBUQUERQUE N.M. (KRQE) - It could be the fix to a big problem News 13's Larry Barker exposed earlier this year of city employees - working separate jobs - on city time.
Now a city councilor says it's time to make sure it doesn't happen again.
Councilor Dan Lewis is pushing for change by sponsoring a proposed city ordinance. The ordinance would put the City Clerk's office in charge of monitoring Albuquerque's Hearing Officers.
It's a position that's been riddled with controversy after a News 13 Larry Barker investigation exposed two officers taking tax payers for a ride.
Officers rule on citizen complaints for everything from handicapped parking tickets to DWI car seizures and zoning issues, but they answer to no one. The officers in Barker's spotlight were paid between $75,000 to $100,000 a year by Albuquerque.
Barker discovered Anita Reina and her boss Roberto Albertorio were collecting those full-time city salaries, yet skipping out on city time to cash in on side jobs. Something that's illegal unless the mayor approves.
Reina was leaving her city job to cash in as a judge at the San Felipe Pueblo, and Albertorio was running a private law firm from his city office.
"The desire is to put the office closer to the people," said City Councilor Dan Lewis. "More accountable to the people and yet still remaining it's independent function."
A judge appoints the hearing positions but they aren't monitored afterward.
Not all of the city councilors like the idea. City Councilor Debbie O'Malley discussed the idea with News 13 in June.
"This is a knee jerk reaction," she said. "That's not independent of the city. I don't believe you can have a fair hearing if your boss gets to decide what actions to take."
Lewis claims the abuse of taxpayers dollars, exposed by News 13, is proof the hearing officers need to be looked after by someone. It's also an idea Mayor Berry said he supports.
Both Anita Reina and Roberto Albertorio resigned in the wake of Larry Barker's investigation.
The city council could make a final vote tomorrow. If passed the legislation would go into effect immediately.
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