SANDOVAL COUNTY, N.M. (KRQE) – Sandoval County Commissioners are looking to help whistle-blowers share their concerns safely and anonymously.
Sandoval County has nearly 500 employees that work within the county. Two commissioners are proposing creating a questionnaire that would give all of those employees a chance to report issues they have with their department or supervisors without fear of retaliation.
Sandoval County Commission Chairman Don Chapman says this “Climate Assessment Questionnaire” is something that has been on their minds since the beginning of the year. He says there isn’t anything like this in place right now in the county.
Currently, employees have to report issues through a chain of command, face-to-face with their supervisor.
Commissioners say this questionnaire will give employees a chance to bring up issues, good or bad, without being singled out.
“Right now, they don’t feel that they have a proper grievance process to hear their complaints or they’re afraid to speak up,” said Block.
Commissioner Jay Block says they will take a look at the results to see if there are any systemic issues related to leadership, improper conduct, abuse or fraud. They will then handle it from there.
Block’s goal is to create a push for transparency at all levels of the government.
Commissioners will also be discussing establishing a code of ethics ordinance to hold every county employee accountable.
“We had a particular situation come up at the county in regards to elected officials going into county positions. It’s legal but to me, it just didn’t seem right. The chairman supported me and the other commissioners are supporting me to getting this ethics and conduct ordinance for us as elected officials to prevent us from going into county jobs right after we get out of office. I think it’s important to have some space between there whether it’s a year or six months,” said Block.
“There are some code of ethics ordinances out there that address this very thing. We don’t have that in place in Sandoval County so I think it’s appropriate that we look at that and pass an ordinance that addresses that,” said Chapman.
Not up for discussion yet, but something else on their radar, is establishing an independent ethics commission run by citizens. It’s a commission where anybody who is engaged with the county whether it be an elected official, a director, or county manager, will be able to go to the ethics board with a complaint if it’s appropriate to do so.
Commissioners are going to be discussing and considering the questionnaire their meeting Thursday night. If they come to a consensus, they’ll put a draft together to vote on in April.