Neighborhood activists and other Santa Fe residents are raising concerns about Mayor Javier Gonzales’ nominees for the Planning Commission, which reviews land-use proposals within the city.

At least one city councilor said he plans to vote against confirming Vince Kadlubek and Daniel Werwath on Wednesday, and other councilors say they either have questions about potential conflicts of interest or haven’t decided how they’re going to vote.

City Councilor Joseph Maestas said he is concerned about the “timing and optics” of the proposed appointments. He referred to the nominees’ “association with some very recent controversial developments” that have gone before the commission, specifically a proposal to build a 452-unit apartment complex off Agua Fría Street next to Frenchy’s Field Park.

The commission rejected that proposal on a 4-2 vote in February amid neighborhood complaints about the proposed density and traffic impacts. Developers said the El Rio development was designed to appeal to young professionals with affordable rents and amenities such as electric car-charging stations, bike storage and access to the Santa Fe River Trail.

Kadlubek, a founding member of the Meow Wolf artist collective who served as a volunteer on the mayor’s campaign, spoke in favor of the project at the commission hearing, and Werwath wrote a Facebook post describing residents who testified in opposition as an “angry mob.”

“I’m getting a lot of emails from concerned citizens just about the way this looks,” Maestas said, “and I tend to agree with them.”

City Councilor Bill Dimas said he plans to vote against confirming the pair. Like Maestas, Dimas said the council had requested that the city advertise openings on commissions, boards and committees, which didn’t happen in this case.

“I’m sure that we have a lot of people in this community who are a lot more qualified and who don’t have any kind of special interest in being on this particular commission,” Dimas said. “And this is one of the most important commissions that we have in the city, so I think that we need to advertise it and select the best qualified for that position for transparency reasons.”

The mayor and councilors have been getting emails from residents who question whether Kadlubek and Werwath, chief operating officer of New Mexico Inter-Faith, an organization that aims to improve housing options, should be appointed.

Kadlubek, who is an ardent backer of the mayor, has no land-use experience. Werwath is working with the city on a housing project that could end up before the commission. Werwath said he would recuse himself from voting on that project and others he has worked on.

Werwath’s comments on Facebook concerning the El Rio project have generated the most criticism. After the commission turned down the development, Werwath wrote: “Makes all the community work I do feel sort of hopeless when a community board would rather value an angry mob than the best interest of the entire community and the professional planners at the city who make recommendation to the planning commission. Its [sic] also a travesty that the only way to provide meaningful input is to attend meeting and sit in a room full of vitriolic people.”

Marilyn Bane, who serves on several community boards and advocates for neighborhood protection and historic preservation efforts, sent the mayor and council members an email stating that she hoped Werwath’s comments disturbed them as much as they did her.

“There was no angry mob. The neighbors who testified were not vitriolic,” she wrote. “They were concerned about the impact on their lives and the effect on their neighborhood. Seems to me that’s fair, and worthy of being heard by thoughtful City Commissioners.”

Rick Martinez, president of the Neighborhood Network, an umbrella organization for neighborhood groups, asked the mayor and councilors to deny Werwath’s appointment. “A person who already believes that the public is an angry mob has no place sitting on the Planning Commission,” Martinez said.

City Councilor Peter Ives said Tuesday he hadn’t read his emails yet but that he planned to vote to confirm Werwath and Kadlubek. “Daniel has a good depth of experience with such issues given his current position,” Ives said. “Vince is new to the process, but I think there’s a lot to be said. He’s been very engaged in Santa Fe.”

Gonzales had also nominated Aaron Borrego, a real estate broker who is related to the mayor by marriage, for a seat on the Planning Commission. But Borrego withdrew his name from consideration Monday.

The mayor is seeking replacements for former Chairman Tom Spray, who resigned last year, and Lisa Bemis and Dan Pava, whose terms expired in June 2014.

The mayor is poised to make additional appointments to the nine-member commission in June when the terms of five other commissioners — Michael A. Harris, Lawrence Ortiz, John Padilla, Angela Schackel Bordegaray and Renee Villarreal — expire, according to the City Clerk’s Office.

“At least with this round of appointments,” Gonzales said Monday about Kadlubek and Werwath, “I believe that both individuals come with unique experience that will add to the diversity of the Planning Commission and allow for discussion on places for younger people to live in the future here in Santa Fe. In June, there will be a new set of appointments … and it’ll give us an opportunity to reach out to neighborhoods and to other interest groups in Santa Fe to allow them to come in and participate in the Planning Commission process as well.”

Contact Daniel J. Chacón at 986-3089 or dchacon@sfnewmexican.com. Follow him on Twitter.

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(24) comments

Jack Rush

Let's see Donado, you say whites have no soul, gay people are commie scum, I'm waiting for you to say something bad now about Black people, you know it's like you're playing bigoted billards and you want to clear the table. Oh BTW, that wasn't me hitting on you, you're bit overweight and old for me, just a preference mind you, I'm sure Mr. Right is out there for you.

Comment deleted.
Pierce Knolls

"You do understand Donado that you are considered a fool around town right?" - What, did you take a poll? I often find the guy interesting and insightful.

"Now we [k]now you're a racist as well." - Is a white guy criticizing other whites really a racist?

I enjoy watching Mayor Javier's bought sycophants defend his corrupt cronyism with empty name-calling.

Amy Moya Munoz

I love the headline on the first story where it tries to make it appear that Javier Gonzales is doing something new and innovative. What exactly is new in northern NM and Santa Fe about appointing your political cronies and relatives to a board so the politico can control it? Talking is Javier's strong suit; not walking the talk.
I would rather know that those proposed for membership would agree to read and enforce the law as it is written--not to get to an outcome--all too familiar at the city and in our court systems.

Dennis Romero

I'm not the forum police, and the SFNM staff do a decent job of moderating this forum.

I have to say this, though, can we all please try to understand and respect each other's opinions and perspectives without making things personal?

We're all members of the same community, and even though we may disagree with each other, we can still be kind and respectful to each other.

End rant - sorry.

Donado Coviello

You should be sorry you wimp. You whiny buzz-kill and just as all the idiots here were having a vigorous good-time debate as envisioned by our Founding Fathers you come along and try to crush the First Amendment with kindness. What a jerk!

Dennis Romero

I don't believe I said "don't debate." I said "stick to the issues."

As far as your name calling - well - I'm here in town and not going anywhere. I hope we have the pleasure of meeting in person at some point.

Rod Lievano

Disappointing. Nominating friends and family. Reward support, and pack the commission. Is this cronyism, naivete, or ineptitude?

Pierce Knolls

"...the El Rio development was designed to appeal to young professionals with affordable rents and amenities..."

Shouldn't we be trying to create jobs for these young professionals before we start building them housing?

Donado Coviello

I nominate George R.R. Martin for the planning commission instead of his flunky newcomer Anglo Kadlubek.

Andrew Lucero

[thumbup]

Jeff E Green

Correction: Vince Kadlubek is a native Santa Fean. He happens to be a talented artist and music promoter, and a loyalist to the mayor, who has no land use planning experience. Objectively, I would much prefer to see the mayor appoint a couple of environmentalists to the Planning Commission, and I'm concerned about these 2 nominees' support for the controversial El Rio project. But I'll defend Vince against baseless personal attacks. And even if he was a newcomer to Santa Fe (which he's not), so what? That shouldn't disqualify him or anyone else from serving the city.

Jay Baker

Mr. Green,

I agree that policies and perspectives should be the issue in cases like this, and NOT personalities.

Since you're willing to defend Mr. Kadlubek against personal attacks from others, are you also willing to defend other's from Mr. Kadlubek's personal attacks? I say this because he is only too willing to attack others on a personal level, vice debating the merits of opinions and perspectives.

I look at his personal attacks against both Bill Dimas and Patty Bushee during the election as unprofessional, disrespectful and downright mean.

Looking at his background, he has no experience or expertise in his skill set to be appointed to this committee; therefore, his nomination, in my opinion, should be disapproved by the Council.

Mary Bonney

I have to agree, Jay. i've been the recipient of an attack by Vince - it was unwarranted and very mean, and he went on to twist his words even more so in a public social media format. I was shocked and had to block him - after wishing him well and suggesting he had much to learn before diving in any deeper into the political arena. I do think he has a lot to offer, but as a witness to some very bad behavior, I would not say he's ready to fully participate in any real government process.

Donado Coviello

"Correction: .... is a native Santa Fean."
But you're not a native Jeff EEEE Green are you, how would you know if he is? In fact this town is full of white people who lived here all their life and will never be native Santa Feans not because they're white but because they lack the heart, soul, and respect to be a native Santa Fean.You and old Vince are classic spun Wonder Bread in a land of homemade organic tortillas.

Pierce Knolls

George R.R. Martin needs to spend less time playing celebrity philanthropist and get to work finishing his books.

Billiam Rodge

Vince has lived here his entire life and has accomplished so much for Santa Fe's culture using nothing but his work ethic. If you're going to sling personal attacks like that at least come up with one that has some substance.

Jay Baker

Here is a non-attack:

I look at Mr. Kadlubek's personal attacks against both Bill Dimas and Patty Bushee during the election as unprofessional, disrespectful and downright mean. I also look at his tendency and willingness to personally attack others online and in person to defend the positions of the Mayor, rather than debating the merits of policies and proposals. In short, Mr. Kadlubek is not mature enough to handle this appointment - that is an opinion, not a personal attack.

Looking at his background, he has NO experience or expertise in his skill set to be appointed to this committee; therefore, his nomination, in my opinion, should be disapproved by the Council.

Donado Coviello

Freakin' slacker and his politics suck.

Pat Shackleford

What does this position pay? I haven't seen any mention of compensation, if any.

Staff
Daniel Chacon

Pat,

These are volunteer positions.

Thanks for posing the question.

Daniel

Pat Shackleford

Thanks, Daniel. Without knowing that, it's hard to know where to target requisite outrage.

Pierce Knolls

In New Mexico, "volunteer position" means that you get paid in cash stuffed in greasy paper bags passed to you in a dimly lit municipal parking garage.

Pat Shackleford

Ah yes, the good old days. Now, you have to assume that you (or at least your vehicle) will be captured on multiple surveillance cameras while making the appointed cash rounds anywhere downtown.

Pierce Knolls

I bet the political class still knows about a few dark and unobserved cubbyholes around town, like in the Rio Chama's cigar lounge.

Welcome to the discussion.

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