ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The city of Albuquerque defended a book it commissioned chronicling Albuquerque’s response to COVID-19 but now it’s facing new criticism from the inspector general claiming the project was a misuse of city funds and broke some rules. The IG suggests the city spent nearly $100,000 on the project that quote “promotes administrative achievements” and has questionable “value”.
Funded by Albuquerque tax dollars and published last year, author Joline Guttierez Krueger’s, “City at the Crossroads” book has been plagued by controversy from the beginning leading some city councilors to call for an investigation into how and why it was made. “These are the kinds of investigations that the FBI should probably be looking into and maybe that’s the next stop in this IG’s report,” said Albuquerque City Councilor Dan Lewis.
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Now, the IG’s office is weighing in after an independent investigation. While the IG says it could not prove the city violated the anti-donation clause or purchasing rules, the investigation did find evidence that the book was a “misuse or waste of taxpayer dollars”. The IG calculated the project’s total cost to the city at around $97,000. The report also said the idea that someone would search out a book that promotes administrative achievement during a pandemic appears to be a waste.
“It doesn’t surprise me the inspector general found that there was wrongdoing, a misuse of funds,” said Lewis.
Refuting the IG’s findings, the city said the purpose of this book was to promote Albuquerque voices during an unprecedented time in history, not administrative achievements. The Keller administration also notes the book will continue to be available at libraries for years to come.
Finally, the report notes evidence of possible favoritism and a conflict of interest in hiring the author and that the city needs to tighten up on rules on how money can be moved from government funding into the One Albuquerque Fund.
698 books were printed, as of June of this year 91 copies have been sold.
The city’s Arts and Culture Director Shelle Sanchez sent News 13 this statement rejecting the IG’s conclusion that the book was a “waste or misuse of city funds:
The Department of Arts & Culture stands behind and supports this book project, the author, and the exceptional effort that went into the book’s creation. Books like this one are important and lasting resources. Arts & Culture regularly publishes or co-publishes books centered on arts, culture, and exceptional times in our city’s history, and we will continue to do so. We strongly object to the Office of Inspector General equating “misuse or waste” with “profit,” as it is inaccurate and misleading. The OIG does not provide clear or objective evidence to substantiate the allegation of misuse or waste of public funds.
The OIG has demonstrated biased behavior, overreach of authority, and failure to adhere to established auditing protocols, raising serious concerns about their impartiality. A recent change to the OIG ordinance has created a structural lack of independence, violates national standards, and has further politicized the office.Dr. Shelle Sanchez, director of Arts & Culture
Albuquerque City Councilor Dan Lewis sent this statement:
“The Office of the Inspector General substantiated serious allegations that the Mayor misused and wasted public funds. Among other findings of misuse and waste, the report specifies the City spent more than $97,000 to create a book and sold only 91 copies to the public.
The administration does not appear to take the findings seriously when they dismiss this damaging report as “sharing their short book report.” Unfortunately the Mayor ignored and ridiculed the investigation.
The Inspector General should forward findings to the appropriate law enforcement partner such as the FBI and U.S. Attorneys office.”Albuquerque City Councilor Dan Lewis