City council holds first exec session, Councilor Carson weighs in

This story has been updated from the version that was posted online to include comments from Alamosa City Councilor Michael Carson.

ALAMOSA - At Wednesday night’s council meeting, council members took the first step in learning more about the concerns raised by Alamosa Police Department’s former Police Chief Ken Anderson, including the reasons he cited for resigning from his position. At this point, three executive sessions have been scheduled so far focusing on the challenges Anderson said he encountered under the supervision of Alamosa City Manager Heather Sanchez.

During Wednesday night’s executive session, council members spoke with the city’s department heads, all of whom are supervised directly by Sanchez, as well as individuals on the next tier of the supervisory chain. Beyond that, nothing more is known.

Executive sessions are, by state statute, held in confidential settings where members of the public are legally prohibited from attending due to the nature of topic to be discussed.

When asked for his comment on the importance of the process of interviewing department heads and what he hopes to learn, Councilor Michael Carson stated,

“This is just the beginning of a process that I feel is going to take a while. I don’t feel that communication with department heads just one time is going to fix any issues in the long run. WE’re going to have to go through this interview process and then set up  more formal or more regular meeting with department heads.

“Without divulging too much, it’s too early for me to gauge exactly what direction we’re going to go. I think it’s the beginning of a process that is going to become something more permanent, in my opinion. That’s already something that I’ve pushed, that we become much more involved in communications.

“I like the information gathering process. We’ve made people comfortable but we’re putting people on the spot. We can’t get good information that way. We have to make this more regular where people can air their issues – if there are any – without the fear of being fired.

“I think we have to create policy around this. If we don’t, we won’t protect our employees and create the kind of environment we want.”

While specific content of an executive session is confidential, who attends those meetings is public knowledge and, when asked, City Manager Sanchez provided a list of names as well as a notation that each individual was scheduled to speak with council for about 30 minutes.

The people who spoke to council Wednesday night included Holly Martinez, City Clerk; Leanne Lounsbury, Director of the Finance Department; Andy Rice, Director of Parks and Recreation and the Library; Bill Stone, Chief of Alamosa Fire Department; Kathy Woods, Director of Economic Development; and Rachel James, Director of Development Services.

Sanchez also provided a list of additional upcoming executive sessions and public work sessions that have been scheduled, initially proposed by Sanchez in the November 1 meeting when Anderson resigned and designed to further look into all areas he raised prior to his resignation.

Sanchez noted that, following Wednesday night’s session, an additional meeting had been added that was not on the schedule previously planned. The complete list – at this point – of upcoming meetings includes:

November 22nd, 6:00 p.m. - Executive Session Meeting with Department Heads

November 29th, 6:00 p.m. - Executive Session Review of Direct Report Information

December 6th, 7:00 p.m. - Regular Meeting, agenda item to provide input on characteristics needed for Police Chief

December 13th, 6:00 p.m. - Work Session to meet with Center for Restorative Programs to discuss the Let Everyone Advance with Dignity, formerly called Law Enforcement Diversion Program

December 20th, 6:00 p.m. - Executive Session Meeting with City Manager

January 31st, 6:00 p.m. - Work Session for Discussion of Concerns Raised During the Police Chief's Resignation.

A final report on council’s findings is not expected to be created and made available to the public until the end of January, 2024.