By Tony A. Archuleta
Following another round of heated public comment aimed at the Sierra Joint Office on Aging board of directors, a trio of Truth or Consequences City Commissioners, along with City Manager Juan Fuentes, last week reassured the public that things are moving in the right direction.
“The question that we have before us is whether SJOA continues to provide the services or whether another organization (provides) them,” Fuentes said during the Tuesday, Aug. 12 city commission meeting, referring to a myriad of services overseen by the SJOA, from meals to transportation to homecare.
“It is in our best interest that we try to work with the executive director (the SJOA’s newly-hired Tony MacRobert) to make sure that these services continue,” the city manager said, adding Elephant Butte City Manager Alan Briley and newly-hired County Manager Bruce Swingle are also being brought up to speed on the still contentious issue.
Comments by Fuentes, along with Mayor Sandy Whitehead, Mayor Pro-tem Steve Green and Commissioner Kathy Clark were offered four days after a communitywide meeting Friday, Aug. 8, during which officials from the Area Agency on Aging and Aging & Long-Term Services Department were present to answer questions and to report on the current state of affairs.
The SJOA board, appointed by local units of government, has come under fire in recent weeks following the resignation of executive director David Crader and the walkout of several employees. The independent Senior Advisory Council to the SJOA has also alleged misappropriation of funding sources on the part of the board and previous directors (not including Crader).
Mayor Pro-tem Green, who was among the commissioners in attendance at the Friday meeting, said he came away with two major impressions.
First, Green said, state officials want the city, as fiscal agent, to take greater interest in “financial oversight of the way SJOA is run.”
Second, the SJOA’s bylaws are “absolutely horrific. They do not serve the board well.”
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