Pronews 7 Investigates: Conflict in Curry County - Part II

Right now, a power struggle at the Curry County Courthouse between the clerk and other county employees is causing discord among civil servants and elected officials. Last night we told you about allegations of serious recording errors at the clerkâ??s office, and how the Curry County Clerk Rosalie Riley told Pronews 7 that this controversy is all part of a political agenda.

The Curry County Courthouse is ground zero for a political infighting between elected officials over alleged errors at the clerkâ??s office. Over the summer, the county decided to take action after alleged errors started to become a serious problem, especially after a number of staff left the office.

â??For a while, she had a pretty much veteran staff that knew the ins and outs of it and as those people left the problems increased,â?? said Curry County Commissioner Tim Ashley.

What we tried to do is get some previous employees of that office who had many years of experience to come back and train the employees in the clerkâ??s office,â?? said Curry County Commissioner Ben McDaniel.

The clerk, Rosalie Riley and her Deputy Aleta Tittle said that these employees that returned to train their staff were unhelpful, hostile, and overstepped their legal bounds by attempting to remove some of the clerkâ??s responsibilities.

â??I am also the arm of the state, and when you start stepping into my business here, youâ??ve also stepped into state business,â?? said Riley.

The county eventually backed down, and the clerk currently runs her own office. The clerk maintains that the office was hostile because she ran against veteran employees such as Beni Dampier, who has since left the clerkâ??s office. Dampier instead said that the errors became a problem because the clerk doesnâ??t understand the responsibilities of her job.

â??I believe she doesnâ??t understand the procedures and why we do them, and he wants to change them or make them different in order to improve the service, but the service was good to begin with,â?? said Beni Dampier.

We also spoke to two other veteran employees, Misty McBride and Georgia Hailey, who echoed what Dampier told Pronews 7.

â??Our main frustration is that the clerk and her deputy were not open to learning,â?? said McBride.

â??It was a stressful and a hostile work environment,â?? said Hailey.

Riley and Tittle gave a different account of the story told by former employees. They said that the clerkâ??s office employees were bullied by Ms. Hailey, and theyâ??ve been ostracized by many people in the building from other departments. They believe that is a manufactured controversy and that this political infighting is undermining the publicâ??s trust

â??I am a taxpayer, and when I look at from that standpoint it doesnâ??t make me feel trusting,â?? said Tittle.

Riley is going to remain the Curry County Clerk, because she is an elected official. In New Mexico, there is no oversight over clerkâ??s offices and there is no way to remove a clerk without a recall election. Riley plans to remain in her position for the remainder of her term.

â??I am going to finish my job and I am not going to let these guys come in here and over this office and tear it up, theyâ??re just not going to do it,â?? said Riley.

The Clerkâ??s office said that errors are corrected in their database before documents are recorded, while the commission and the assessorâ??s office said something must be done to maintain the countyâ??s business reputation, and ensure the best possible services for Curry County taxpayers.