Friday, November 06, 2015

Judge finds flaw in Gila diversion approval process

A state district judge has ruled that the Interstate Stream Commission violated the Open Meetings Act when approving two multimillion-dollar contracts involving a controversial diversion project on the Gila River in southwestern New Mexico. Norm Gaume, a former director of the Interstate Stream Commission, filed a lawsuit last year alleging the commission had violated the act in several ways, including by having four of nine commissioners on a subcommittee make decisions in secret and by awarding contracts without providing the public with an opportunity to give input. District Judge Francis J. Mathew of Santa Fe ruled Oct. 13 that the full commission, appointed by Gov. Susana Martinez, must retroactively approve the contracts with engineering firm Bohannan Huston ($1.4 million) and RJH Consultants ($2 million) for work on the project to divert water from the Gila River. The commission is scheduled to ratify those contracts and several other previously awarded contracts at a public meeting Tuesday in Albuquerque. In a partial win for the state, Mathew ruled that the commission’s approval of the contracts in public meetings before they were signed did not violate the state procurement code. He also ruled that the commission’s Gila subcommittee did not violate the state’s Open Meeting Act. Both sides claim they prevailed in the case and are trying to recover legal costs and court fees from each other...more

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