ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Albuquerque City Councilor Dan Lewis is calling for a formal investigation into a book commissioned by the city, chronicling the mayor’s handling of the pandemic and racial tensions of 2020. It comes as we are getting a look at just how much the city shelled out for the book “City at the Crossroads.” It’s a story about the struggle the city of Albuquerque faced during the pandemic, commissioned and paid for by the city.
KRQE first told you about the book last month, and it was known that the city spent a chunk of change on “City at the Crossroads.” We now have a better idea of exactly how much. City records show the city shelled out at least $73,238.63 to write and publish the book.
The documents show Joline Gutierrez Krueger, then a columnist for the Albuquerque Journal, had a contract that could have paid her up to $66,000 to author the book. The city says they ended up paying her $44,700. The city says an estimated $20,160 went to Project Manager Amanda Sutton, to work on the book though she had a contract that could have paid up to $50,400 for the book and other projects.
City Councilor Dan Lewis spoke out Wednesday, calling for the inspector general to investigate whether the payments violated the city’s procurement rules. He also asked for an evaluation of whether the product was an appropriate use of public funds, and whether it filled a legitimate city need.
“It certainly appears that there could be some new violations and certainly, you know, violating the law or code,” Lewis said. The city has sold 78 copies of “City in the Crossroads” so far.
The mayor’s office sent KRQE this statement:
“At best, these comments are a disservice to the local leaders, writers, and creators who worked hard to capture these unprecedented and critical times in our city. At worst, it’s another attempt from a former mayoral candidate who has been deeply biased against anything this administration does.”Ava Montoya, Public Information Officer, Mayor Tim Keller’s Office
The Arts and Culture Department, which oversaw the publishing of the book, says they have published several books documenting the city’s history and will continue to do so. “Even if a city councilor doesn’t like it,” the department said in a statement.