Pronews 7 Investigates: Conflict in Curry County

Right now, the Curry County clerk is facing a great deal of political pressure over alleged recording errors. Two County Commissioners and the County Assessorâ??s Office told Pronews 7 that the clerkâ??s office has had problems since the Curry County Clerk Rosalie Riley took office, and that they are concerned that these recording errors could damage the countyâ??s credibility.

While County Clerks in New Mexico are elected positions, it is not typically a politically charged job. This has not been the case for the Curry County Clerk, Rosalie Riley. Her tenure has been rocked by accusations of serious recording errors, personnel issues, and sustained conflict with other departments. Riley said that this isnâ??t about real problems, itâ??s about politics.

Riley said that from the moment she was elected Curry County Clerk, her office environment was tense because she ran against two longtime employees at the clerkâ??s office.

â??People hate change period, and two of the people that had worked in this office, I ran against them, and I was a nobody and I won,â?? said Riley.

Two Curry County Commissioners said that this is nothing personal, that thereâ??s a real problem with recording errors coming out of the clerkâ??s office.

â??There have been many recording errors that have taken place with property transactions, recording of deeds, and so forth,â?? said Commissioner Tim Ashley.

â??One title company brought us a list of errors that was 30 pages long,â?? said Commissioner Ben McDaniel.

We sat down with Candace Morrison, the Curry County Assessor, who said that these errors are affecting her officeâ??s ability to carry out business as usual.

â??These errors affect all of the county records,â?? said Morrison. â??When thereâ??s an error on their side, I canâ??t reflect ownership records, so Iâ??m not taxing the right person, and the treasurer canâ??t send a bill to the correct owner.â??

The clerkâ??s
Chief Deputy Aleta Tittle said that these concerns are based on a poor understanding of how their procedure works.

â??Many of these people who have these concerns have not made an effort to come into the office and see for themselves whatâ??s going on," said Tittle.

Riley told Pronews 7 that the commissioners and other county officials donâ??t understand that sometimes title companies and other private companies have access to preliminary information or the first â??rough draftâ?? that has not yet been proofread. She said that the final product is reliable, but that can take up to twenty-four hours to produce.

â??The next day we start our proofing and we go over that with a fine tooth comb,"said Riley. "

We go over that to check for filing, description, spelling, everything.â??

The County Assessor Candace Morrison and the county commissioners disagree with Riley and said that these errors are putting the countyâ??s reputation at risk, inviting lawsuits and are creating a nightmare for Curry County taxpayers.

â??Whenever you go to purchase a home it needs to have clear title or the title work canâ??t be guaranteed,â?? said Morrison. â??If you ever go to refinance or sell the property, youâ??re going to have major problems down the road, and all of that is going to have to be corrected and you could have to get attorneys involved.â?? â??It could create a nightmare down the road if itâ??s not addressed in a timely manner.â??

Riley maintains that this controversy is all about politics.

â??There is an agenda, I canâ??t put my finger on it, and I have my suspicions, but I will not roll over and take this silently,â?? said Riley.

For the next half of this report, weâ??ll look at the ongoing power struggle that is taking place between the clerkâ??s office and other county officials, and weâ??ll also talk to former employees from the clerkâ??s office about what they believe is causing the conflict in the Curry County Courthouse.