Less than three months after he was reassigned from his position of deputy county manager to become Santa Fe County’s public works director, Tony Flores abruptly resigned last week.
Santa Fe County refused to provide a copy of Flores’ resignation letter Monday.
“Requests can be made here,” county spokeswoman Carmelina Hart wrote in an email that included a link to the county website where requests can be filed under the New Mexico Inspection of Public Records Act.
Hart, who did not return repeated telephone messages for comment, also declined a request for an interview.
“The county does not routinely comment on personnel matters,” wrote Hart, who only answered inquiries by email. “What we can say is that we recognize the importance of interim leadership until a permanent director is found.”
Hart wrote that Gary Giron, who has been the county’s Finance Division director since April, will fill in as interim public works director.
“He has twenty-five years of executive and administrative experience in the areas of senior leadership, operational, and financial management in non-profit, healthcare, and government agencies,” Hart wrote about Giron, who served as executive director of the New Mexico chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association before joining the county government.
Efforts to reach Flores were unsuccessful.
Flores served as deputy county manager for several years before he was moved to the Public Works Department in July. He had also served as facilities director, purchasing director and capital projects manager during his tenure with the county.
After Flores was reassigned to public works, Diego Gomez, a projects engineer, accused him of abusing his authority and creating a hostile work environment.
“In a directors meeting on Tuesday July 30 Mr. Flores screamed at the top of [his] lungs for over 30 minutes,” Gomez wrote in the email obtained by The New Mexican. “Some of his statements were as follows, ‘I am not [expletive] here because I want to be here. I’m here because you [expletive] don’t know how to do your [expletive] job, and I have until December to clean this place up. If I go down, I’m taking every one of you with me.”
Less than a month later, Joe Gonzales, a utilities manager, quit. Gonzales complained of what he called belligerent and unprofessional conduct and said the environment under Flores was too hostile to continue to work for the county. Gonzales said the situation was so bad that he left the county without another job lined up.
At the time, the county defended Flores, saying he had an established track record of project management. The county also said the reassignment was a “lateral move” — not a demotion — necessary to bring robust management to all county projects.
“Whenever a management change is made to address identified issues, I would expect that some staff will not like the changes made to address the issues or will feel criticized because of the existing deficiencies,” County Manager Katherine Miller said in a statement last month. “Different managers also have different styles, and some staff do not like firm, direct leadership, which Mr. Flores provides. This too is to be expected.”
Follow Daniel J. Chacón on Twitter @danieljchacon.