School board member stays — despite taking iguana sculpture

By Rob Nikolewski on November 21, 2013
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By Rob Nikolewski │ New Mexico Watchdog

POJOAQUE — Despite admitting taking a sculpture that’s 4 to 5 feet long from outside a casino bar,   remains on the .

Back on the night of Sept. 26, the school board member was caught on surveillance video stealing a bronze artist’s rendering of an iguana. In the first school board meeting since the story broke, Romero said Wednesday night he doesn’t intend to resign.

LEAPIN’ LIZARDS, HE’S STILL ON THE BOARD: Despite stealing a sculpture of an iguana from a casino bar, Jon Paul Romero is still on the Pojoaque school board.

“Right now it’s a personal matter and it has nothing to do with the board,” Romero told

He plans to remain? “Right now, that’s correct.”

At the end of the 3 1/2-hour meeting, the board scheduled a special meeting for next Tuesday to discuss the Romero incident. But school board president    told us he expects the board to ”issue a public statement of the board not condoning his actions” but won’t compel Romero to resign.

“As a board, we do not have the authority to force someone to resign from the board,” Ortiz said.

But board member thinks Romero should step down.

“We work really hard with our students to instill in them the basics and the importance of making good decisions,” Williams said after the meeting on the campus of Pojoaque Valley High School. “We tell them to abide by the rules and we look hypocritical when we, as board members, don’t.”

Romero has admitted to taking the sculpture Sept. 26 from the Red Sage Bar in the . Security cameras captured the incident and broadcast the video.

Here it is, courtesy of the :

When asked if he embarrassed the board, Romero said, “I embarrassed myself, but it’s a personal matter and I’m dealing with it accordingly.”

Earlier this month, Romero told Ortiz he had been drinking and that he .

Sheriff’s officers found the bronze iguana — estimated to be worth thousands of dollars — on the living room floor of Romero’s home.

The case was referred to the office of . Pacheco has sent Romero to a where first-time non-violent offenders can avoid charges and prosecution by meeting certain requirements.

But this isn’t the first time Romero has run into trouble.

When Romero made an unsuccessful bid for the Santa Fe County Commission in 2010, court records showed six drunk driving arrests between 1991 and 2003; he was and his driver’s license was .

Romero’s attorney, that Romero’s DWIs are misdemeanors.

“He’s taking responsibility, and he’s going to enter the (pre-prosecution) program,” Clark said.

But Williams said Romero should resign.

“He’s worked really hard, he’s done a good job and he’s dedicated but the issue is, you have to be accountable,” Williams said.

Contact Rob Nikolewski at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @robnikolewski

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