City worker appeals firing, gets lesser punishment

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ALBUQUERQUE, NM (KRQE) – A former Parks and Recreation Department manager was fired for nearly running over an employee with a work truck, then appealed and got a lesser punishment.

Last week, the city settled his case.

Former shooting range manager, David Sanchez, testified to the city’s personnel board in March 2016 about a former employee whose complaint cost Sanchez his job in November 2015.

Hearing documents state the frustrations between Sanchez and Robert Short escalated in September 2015 when Short — a union rep — wanted to take vacation time during the busiest event at the shooting range, the National Law Enforcement Shooting Competition.

Sanchez said, “No,” so Short went to the union and got the day off. He also called in sick the next day.

When Short went back to work, Sanchez went to see him at the trap and skeet range parking lot and reportedly drove at him in his work truck, stopping just a couple feet in front of him.

“He recklessly drove his city vehicle at Mr. Robert Short in a threatening and intimidating manner,” Assistant City Attorney Ian Stoker said at the hearing.

Sanchez argued that he never sped toward the worker; that he just drove and pulled up next to him.

Sanchez was fired, but his attorney argued the city never launched a formal investigation, didn’t interview witnesses or send out any investigators to reconstruct the scene and look for tire or skid marks. Plus, he discredited Short for his “insubordination” to Sanchez in the past.

“He was very antagonistic toward Mr. Sanchez and sought to get rid of Mr. Sanchez at the range,” attorney Ray Twohig said at the hearing.

In August 2016, the personnel board reversed Sanchez’s firing and suspended him for 90 days without pay.

Sanchez’s lawyer said his client started working as an account representative for the Solid Waste Department and received back pay for the time he was off work after his firing.

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