The first person to go was Robert Ortega, who had served as the boundary commission's interim commissioner for five months before Ramirez and was its chief administrative officer until February.
"When Duran came in, he said he wanted to be the administrative officer, which was my job, and he wanted me to look at my options, including early retirement," said Ortega
A 12-year veteran who had worked as one of the commission's top engineers before going into management, Ortega
took sick leave after being moved to what he
called a do-nothing, special assistant position.
"The independence didn't matter much as long as people with integrity held the position," Ortega
said."But anybody with an evil intent can really wreck havoc, which is what we're seeing now."
About two years ago, the federal Office of Personnel Management determined that the boundary commission should be separated from the civil service system that provides some job protection to federal employees.
"That makes the independent agency quite independent, and as an employee, you lose a lot of rights," Ortega
Although there is an administrative grievance process, the final decision on employment matters belongs to the commissioner.
In addition to Ortega
, other top-level employees have been transferred, given transfer orders and quit or retired rather than move, been terminated or removed from their jobs pending administrative action.
...Ballesteros, who is working on a master's degree in divinity at the University of Phoenix, has joined Ortega as a minister at the Holy Spirit of Hope Independent Charismatic Catholic Church.