Mayor mulls terminating contract

By Clarence Plnk: PNT Staff Writer

Portales Mayor Orlando Ortega Jr. isn’t ready to pull the city out of the Eastern Plains Council of Governments because of an embezzlement scandal at the regional planning agency.

But the mayor says he does have some serious questions about what’s been going on at EPCOG and whether Portales should continue as a member.

Ortega raised his concerns late Tuesday, near the close of the city council’s first meeting of 2009. The mayor said he had “deep concern” about the alleged mismanagement of funds at EPCOG.

“We as a city government should not be associated with an organization that may be involved in corruption,” Ortega said.

Ortega was referring to an ongoing federal investigation into funding practices at EPCOG.

Lori Howard, a former EPCOG project manager, is charged with 34 counts of fraud, 24 counts of identity theft and 15 counts of forgery. She’s accused of embezzling