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I am writing in response to the article “Probe Points to Developing Trend.” I have never seen the report, which the Monitor relies upon so I cannot comment on that report, its author or purpose. But I do disagree with many of the statements contained in the article and to the extent those statements are derived from a report I contend the report is false and inaccurate.
I cannot comment on any advice I gave to the county in my capacity as county attorney but I will say that it is the proper role and duty of the county attorney to advise all county staff on legal issues regardless of whether the staff likes the advice. Opposition to legal advice is almost inevitable because the advice of counsel does not always agree with the wishes of the staff.
The article implies that conflict within the organization is based upon gender and yet it does not even mention the well-publicized conflicts within and among the senior staff when Donna Dreska was the county administrator.
The two county attorneys before me were both women as were the two county administrators before Max Baker. Yet that era was fraught with internal strife and divisiveness which resulted only in litigation, cost to the taxpayers, and the eventual ouster or departure of all involved. A fairer characterization of the “trend” would be to say that there has been conflict among the senior staff regardless of gender and that the trend is to periodically purge the senior staff rather than resolve the conflicts.
Contrary to the impression given by your article, I found the current staff at Los Alamos County to be among the most competent and professional individuals I have ever encountered in my many years of public service. It is my personal belief that Tony Mortillaro is and has been an asset to Los Alamos and that the county will not be best served by once again terminating him or other senior staff in response to pressures from disgruntled employees.
I would discourage the citizens of Los Alamos from repeating the follies of the past. Periodic purges of the senior staff do little to advance the taxpayer’s interest and only serve to continuously uproot the core of the organization. In my opinion, the county would be best served by allowing the county council to assess the senior staff performance based upon the merit of their work. Continuously submitting to the threat of litigation is a poor way to make decisions about your top management.
Former county attorney