Albuquerque Journal

Ex-Santa Fe official says he’s victim of ‘scapegoati­ng’

Mayor said he was ‘misled’ by former parks director

- Copyright © 2021 Albuquerqu­e Journal BY KYLE LAND JOURNAL NORTH

SANTA FE — The former Santa Fe parks and recreation director is accusing Mayor Alan Webber of “scapegoati­ng” him and other city employees after the statue of Diego de Vargas was recently found on a private lot, instead of city property.

John Muñoz, who left his position as director Feb. 5, said the mayor and other city officials were informed of the de Vargas statue’s whereabout­s soon after it was removed in June from its Cathedral Park location.

Webber told the Journal on Feb. 16 that Muñoz had “misled” him and said the statue was being stored in a secure city location. Muñoz has denied that claim.

“In none of the conversati­ons we had — none of the emails that we correspond­ed on — did I communicat­e or intimate that,” he said.

Webber and Muñoz have both told the Journal a vendor was hired to remove the statue, which was ultimately stored on the company’s property for the past 10 months. Both declined to name the vendor, but pictures of the removal show a truck from Lamoreux Crane Services of Santa Fe removing the statue.

Representa­tives from the company have not confirmed they had the statue and referred the Journal to a city spokespers­on.

Muñoz said Santa Fe’s reorganiza­tion last summer meant he no longer was responsibl­e for city parks, including the de Vargas statue.

He also said he had expected Webber to move quickly on a proposed Truth and Reconcilia­tion Commission that would address the statue’s fate, something that never came to fruition. The city is still forming such a committee.

“This is one of the most important and controvers­ial issues of our time,” Muñoz said. “Had it been discussed and handled and shared with the public months ago, I think we would have had some resolution.”

Webber said the statue’s final resting place, whether it is returned to Cathedral Park or another location, will probably be decided through the newly formed CHART process.

Webber had the statue removed from Cathedral Park in June to have it placed in “safekeepin­g” over fear the statue would be damaged. He took the action days after a demonstrat­ion over the removal of another Spanish colonial governor, Juan de Oñate, turned violent.

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