With a few tears and reassurances, Debbie O’Malley attended her last Council meeting on Monday, Dec. 3. She was elected to the Bernalillo County Commission in November, filling the seat vacated by U.S. Rep.-elect Michelle Lujan Grisham.
“I’m not going far,” O’Malley said to attendees in the chamber. “I’ll be here next week as a commissioner.” O’Malley thanked her constituents and staff for all their work over the last nine years. She thanked her fellow councilors, saying even though they may disagree on policy issues, they worked together to get many things done for the city.
The mayor will appoint someone to fill the vacant spot. Councilor Isaac Benton, who was redistricted out of his seat, has thrown his hat in the ring.
Families of men shot by the Albuquerque Police Department showed up en masse to express gratitude that the feds have launched an investigation into APD. The family members showed appreciation for the councilors who supported a Department of Justice probe and blasted councilors who didn’t. “The will of the people will always be stronger than the will of self-serving elected officials,” said Ralph Arellanes, president of the New Mexico chapter of the League of United Latin American Citizens.
The Council president’s gavel was passed from Trudy Jones to Dan Lewis. Ken Sanchez will take over the role of vice president from O’Malley, and Brad Winter will serve as the budget committee chairman. O’Malley thanked Jones for her streamlined and tightly run meetings.
|Issue||Council's Take||Reporter's Take|
|Report CardIs Albuquerque becoming a thriving, sustainable, culturally diverse community? Councilors heard a short presentation from members of the city’s Indicators Progress Commission about how Albuquerque is faring. The IPC produces a progress report every four years. It's often bulky and not easy to distribute to the public. In 2008, it was 184 pages long.||Councilors said they liked this year’s colorful, 12-page report. There was no real discussion about the contents—just the format. The Council typically uses the report to establish priorities and goals, and it informs budget decisions, according to the city’s website.||The report has lots of information yet to be digested. A print edition provides a snapshot, but the new user-friendly website abqprogress.com will make it easy to see how Burque is doing compared to similar cities. At a glance, two improvements in the last four years stand out: First, fewer senior citizens are living in poverty and second, Burqueños get a lot more exercise.|
|The WireCouncilors weighed a measure banning barbed wire from residential areas. Materials that are designed to inflict injury “present an uninviting image and create safety hazards,” according to the ordinance. Spiked or curved wrought iron or other barrier landscaping would still be permitted.||The proposal was approved, and property owners have six months to remove their barbed wire. Councilor Benton carried the measure, saying he understands wanting to protect homes, but barbed and razor wire in residential areas is not needed and makes the city look bad.||Some local wire collectors think barbed wire is beautiful and collectible, representing the taming of the Wild West. But around urban homes, it does look a bit warlike, so it’s probably a good idea to keep it out of neighborhoods.|
|Stalled WheelsThe Council considered reorganizing the advisory board overseeing the Barelas Rail Yard improvements. It was recommended that the nonprofit Wheels Museum become a nonvoting member and more neighbors and state-level representatives be added as voting members.||Benton said the board has not been functional because of the Wheels Museum’s involvement. Some people spoke in support of taking the museum off the board since it has an economic interest in the Rail Yard. Other people said it was the museum that got things moving so far. The Council postponed making a decision, saying more info is needed.||This sounds like a low-level personality conflict among the Rail Yard’s board members. An easy solution is to add a couple of seats to give neighbors input, make some ground rules and move on. The area is a gem, and it’d be great to see this renovation done right. The Rail Yards could be a boon to the city and state.|