After gunfire at prison home, former Corrections Secretary vies for long-closed warden job
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The former Corrections Dept. cabinet secretary who resigned after her boyfriend reportedly fired 14 times at rattlesnakes outside their prison-grounds home will compete for a warden’s job in Las Cruces that for several weeks has been listed as “no longer available” on the state jobs board.
Lupe Martinez’ resignation was announced Sept. 2, five days after suspended senior probation and parole official Larry Flynn blazed away at snakes near their shared home on prison grounds in Santa Fe. A statement from the office of Gov. Susana Martinez said the former cabinet secretary plans to compete for a Warden position at Southern New Mexico Correctional Facility.
“All Warden positions are classified and are subject to a competitive application and hiring process,” said.
But the competition for that job is not open, according to the state Web site. A search of the today for “Warden” turned up links to four postings, all which were listed between June 9 and July 14. When clicked, each of the links resulted in a message that said “The Job Opening you are trying to access is no longer available. Please select a different opening.”
Other recently posted jobs that were listed as available on the jobs board each include a deadline of about two weeks after the job was posted on the state jobs board.
that “All vacant positions to be filled shall be open for recruitment unless otherwise authorized.” The rules also state that “The director shall establish a means to effectively advertise and recruit for vacant positions” and that any qualified applicant shall have the opportunity to compete for vacant positions open for recruitment.
An executive assistant to State Personnel Board executive director Eugene Moser said she would forward an inquiry to the board executive. The Watchdog also e-mailed an inquiry and will report whatever reply state recruiters offer as to why the state’s online jobs board has long listed as closed a position the governor’s office indicated is open for applications.
UPDATE: Within a couple hours of our inquiry, the Watchdog received the following reply from director Moser:
“The position has not been filled and the state many times repost positions for a number of reasons. These include: delays in filling the position, the unavailability of applicants, the need to create a larger pool of applicants for consideration. The warden positions in Grants, Los Lunas and Las Cruces have not been filled and are in process to be reposted on the web-site. The reason that positions that are closed still show on the web-site for applicants to use is because of the search engine used through the state’s SHARE system. This is one of the reasons why the state is moving within the month to a more robust and user friendly application system.”
Two interim cabinet-level officers now lead the state Corrections Department. A department spokesman said to his knowledge Lupe Martinez and Larry Flynn no longer reside at the staff residence at the Santa Fe penitentiary. The state-police investigation of the Aug. 27 incident involving Flynn and gunfire at that house is still underway.
Flynn, who was already on suspension pending investigation of allegations he falsified time cards related to his work on a federal gang task force, reportedly fired a weapon after he moved a dog-house and discovered rattlesnakes. That’s according to Corrections Dept. spokesman Shannon McReady.
Five days later, Gov. Martinez’ office announced that Lupe Martinez had resigned. The cabinet secretary – the top officer of the department that employed Flynn – was widely reported to be Flynn’s girlfriend, as well as his housemate in her state-owned residence. Flynn had worked in a senior position with the state probation and parole department until he was suspended in May.
McCready said the investigation, conducted the state Dept. of Public Safety, could take 14 days. Discharge of any firearm on prison grounds is a “serious incident” that requires formal investigation, McCready said, though the policies governing discharge of firearms at state prisons are confidential.
In the mean time, Roswell Chief of Police Alfonso Solis has been acting as interim secretary at the Corrections Dept. A statement from the governor’s office said Solis could continue as an interim secretary for as long as three months while he and acting deputy secretary Gregg Marcantel conduct a nationwide search for top officials to lead the states prison, probation and parole system. Marcantel came to the interim post from his job as Deputy Secretary of the Department of Public Safety.
Scott Darnell, a spokesman for Gov. Martinez, said the governor herself requested the state police investigation of Flynn’s gun play “to see if any laws had been broken.” The governor also insisted on an administrative review related to the incident.
UPDATE: Shortly after the Watchdog posted this report, Gov. Martinez’ spokesman Scott Darnell replied to a last-minute inquiry about the warden’s job not being listed as available on the state jobs board. “(T)he position remains vacant and will be posted soon…” Darnell wrote.
“So, this assertion:’It would appear Ms. Martinez is competing for a job for which other recruits are being turned away at the state’s official online jobs board.’ Is not the case at all…” Darnell said in the e-mail reply.
The Watchdog followed up with an inquiry as to whether that position, or any of the other three warden positions listed in June and July had been filled at any time since they were posted. We will report replies to our inquiry (update to update: the administrations reply, by way of the state personnel office, is included above, inline with the relevant section of the story. And the vacant warden positions appeared on the job board with new deadlines shortly after this report was posted. For the Las Cruces job, the new “Please apply by” date on the Sept. 9 job posting is Sept. 16.)
For the sake of certainty, here’s a screen shot of the state jobs board as of Sept. 9when this story was posted, before the wardens’ jobs were reposted within about an hour of this story’s publication. The screen shot shows the message potential applicants receive if they search for the position of warden at the Southern New Mexico Corrections Facility in Las Cruces: