Council unanimously votes to oust city manager

Mike Linn

Gerald Depo no longer manages the city of Portales. The decision to fire the city manager came after a 45-minute executive session at Tuesday night’s city council meeting.
Public Works Director Tom Howell and City Clerk Joan Martinez-Terry will act as co-city managers until a replacement for Depo is hired.
“This is in the best interest of the city of Portales and where we want our city to go,” council member Ron Jackson said.
Council members would not comment on the reasons for firing the Pennsylvania native. And Depo did not immediately return a phone call made to his home Tuesday evening.
“It was the unanimous consensus of the council and the mayor that the performance of our city manager was unsatisfactory,” Portales Mayor Orlando Ortega said. “It’s in the best interest of the city of Portales that we relieve him of his duties effective immediately.”
Depo did not express any emotion or make any comments to the council after hearing the news. He walked out of city hall alone at the north entrance.
Depo came to Portales from Bloomsburg, Penn., in mid-August of 2002 with his wife after being hired as city manager.
Also at Tuesday’s meeting:
• The council voted to advertise requests for proposals for legal services for the city of Portales.
Council member Dianne Parker said the council wanted to make sure they were following a state procurement code that prohibits contracts for professional services from exceeding four years.
While the contract with Doerr and Knudson’s local law firm is on a month-to-month basis, it has been renewed since 1990.
Doerr and Knudson in July said their contract with the city was valid and they were not breaking state procurement code.
However state officials disagreed, and said requests for proposals for legal services must be sent out every four years.
• The council briefly discussed the possibility of paying for the demolition of the Saga and Hilcrest hotels, which have been inoperable for many years. City officials have termed them eyesores.
Martinez-Terry said she received a bid for $80,000 to tear down both motels and haul the debris.