Iguana statue-stealing school board member in Pojoaque gets a slap on the wrist
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By Rob Nikolewski │ New Mexico Watchdog
POJOAQUE – The iguana got pilfered but got a pass.
The school board member who admitted to stealing a sculpture of an iguana from outside a casino bar was given a mild reprimand from colleagues on Tuesday night and will remain on the .In a special meeting that took all of five minutes, the board voted 5-0 (including a vote from Romero) to issue a statement saying it “does not condone the actions of Board Member Romero,” but the board no authority to force Romero’s resignation and that “ultimately Board Member Romero is responsible to the voters.”
“I look forward to this being over because we have important things to do here,” Romero told after the vote was taken.
Board president said he considers the matter closed.
“It’s up to him what he does,” Ortiz said. “This was a statement we had to make.”
Back on Sept. 26, Romero was caught on surveillance video picking up the bronze iguana statue estimated to be outside the Red Sage Bar at the
Deputies found the sculpture in the living room in Romero’s home the following day. Romero later said he had been .
Despite Romero having two misdemeanor DWI convictions between 1991 and 2003, Santa Fe District Attorney Angela “Spence” Pacheco didn’t press charges and has placed Romero in a pre-prosecution program, where non-violent offenders can avoid conviction by meeting certain requirements.
“Since there are no charges against him, there’s nothing we can do as a board,” Ortiz said.
But if, say, a Pojoaque Valley High School basketball player had stolen something, wouldn’t he or she be immediately kicked off the team?
“That’s not necessarily true,” said Romero, who was re-elected earlier this year to a four-year term. “If that happened to somebody outside, in their personal life, (school officials) would have to take a look at those things.”
Ortiz said he’s received mixed reaction from Pojoaque residents over the Romero incident. “Some have expressed concern and others have expressed support for him,” Ortiz said.
Indeed, there doesn’t appear to be much outcry, judging from the fact that last week — in the first school board meeting since the incident came to light — nobody came forth during the public comment period to make any statements about the Romero incident. At Tuesday night’s special meeting only one member of the public appeared and made no comment to the board.
“I hope that the voters see that the actions that I conduct myself in when it comes to school board business don’t have anything to do with my personal life,” said Romero, who unsuccessfully ran for the Santa Fe County Commission in 2010.
Here’s the security video of Romero leaving the casino with the inert iguana under his arm:
Contact Rob Nikolewski at and follow him on Twitter @robnikolewski