County Commission Offers Alternative to Berry's Tender Mercies
On Friday, Aug. 29, Mayor Richard J. Berry made history. In his YouTube communiqué debut, Berry became the first Albuquerque mayor to veto an election amendment. According to Berry's statement, R-14-91 contained proposals he couldn't "in good conscience" allow Albuquerque citizens to vote on. Translation: Berry claims his ethics prevented him from permitting us to weigh in at the polls on a) raising sales tax one-eighth of a cent—to fund social services for the addicted, homeless and mentally ill—and b) to reduce criminal penalties for the possession of less than one ounce of marijuana.
R-14-91 also contained ballot initiatives to a) grant the City Council approval authority over the Mayor's hiring of police and fire chiefs, b) change the voter-initiative process to prevent costly special elections and c) a bond proposal to fund "metropolitan redevelopment." In layman's terms, Berry's veto was a political strong-arm tactic to get the City Council to drop the tax increase and penalty reduction initiatives. Otherwise, these other three issues wouldn't get to voters. And it worked. On Wednesday, Sept. 3, the Council compromised (read: caved).
And that, as they say, could have been that. But on Friday, Sept. 5, the Bernalillo County Commission issued a press release calling for voter input on the tax increase and marijuana penalty reduction initiatives that Berry nixed. In the release Commission Chair Debbie O’Malley said, “It’s critical that we hear directly from the people about how to move forward on these two issues that have such a major impact on our community. We need to look for ways to divert people with serious mental illness out of jail and into treatment instead. This issue impacts all of us and Bernalillo County residents are ready to talk about solutions.”
In the same release, Commissioner Maggie Hart-Stebbins states, “Better access to mental health services and marijuana penalties are clearly on the minds of Bernalillo County residents. Both of these issues have a significant impact on public safety and county government so it makes sense to give the voters a say in this community discussion.”
The County Commission will convene on Monday, Sept. 8, at 10am to make a final decision on which questions voters will get to address. That's where you come in. O'Malley and Hart-Stebbins want your input on the tax and marijuana penalty initiatives. Based on the overwhelmingly critical responses to Berry's veto video and the veto post on his Facebook page, many of you have something to say. So say it. If the Commission adds these initiatives to the ballot, all Bernalillo County residents—not just city folk—will have an opportunity to make a meaningful difference in creating local public policy.
These are difficult times for our city, and we appear to be at a crossroads. It's easy to be cynical. But rather than reposting memes—especially those featuring Mark Twain's belief that voting makes no difference—take a few minutes this weekend to engage your representatives on issues that matter to you. To facilitate that conversation, scroll on for quick links to contact O'Malley and Hart Stebbins. Use your voice. It's more powerful than you know.
Click here to email Debbie O'Malley or call her at (505) 468-7027.
Click here to email Maggie Hart-Stebbins or call her at (505) 468-7108.
The Revolution Will Not Be Posted On YouTube
Berry's historic veto endangers Albuquerque's future
Albuquerque Mayor Richard J. Berry made history yesterday. In addition to debuting a YouTube communiqué strategy, Berry became the first mayor in Albuquerque's history to veto an election amendment. According to the announcement, Berry vetoed R-14-91 because he couldn't "in good conscience" allow citizens of Albuquerque the opportunity to vote on a) lessening criminal penalties for possession of marijuana in quantities of one ounce or less and b) raising the Albuquerque gross-receipts tax rate one-eighth of a cent to fund social services for addicted, mentally ill and homeless citizens.
In this historic address, Berry cites his unwillingness to sign a bill that would raise taxes without any "clear and concise plan" on how to spend resulting funds and "flying in the face of state and federal law" by decriminalizing the possession of an "illegal drug." And the big, bad "illegal drug" is ... marijuana, a drug so innocuous even notoriously conservative local media outlets refer to it by slang terms like "pot" or "weed."
Deferring a vote on lessening penalties for possession of marijuana—which is a far cry from actually decriminalizing marijuana—is rather short-sighted, but the greater injustice in this veto is stalling funding for a citywide crisis of addiction, mental illness and homelessness. These three issues—which overlap and are at the root of immense suffering, both for those grappling with these afflictions and those impacted by resulting crime—must be at the core of any "urban renewal" strategy.
The City Council can override Berry's veto with a vote of 6 to 3. Three other ballot initiatives—granting the City Council approval authority over the Mayor's hiring of police and fire chiefs, changing the voter-initiative process to prevent costly special elections and a bond proposal that would fund "metropolitan redevelopment"—are also included in Berry's veto. Within the scope of these combined, largely progressive initiatives, consider the urgency of funding social services for our city's homeless, mentally ill and addicted residents when communicating with your City Councilor. If you're not sure who that is, find out here.
For my money, raising sales tax one-eighth of a cent, from 7 percent to 7.125 percent, is a prudent investment in the future of Albuquerque. And if lessening criminal penalties for possession of marijuana allows Albuquerque law enforcement to focus on addressing the institutional failures clearly outlined by the US Department of Justice and preventing violent crime, so much the better. Whatever your opinion of the ballot initiatives proposed in R-14-91, let your City Councilor know what you think. This is an issue that deserves your attention and civic engagement ... even on Labor Day weekend.
Primary Fight 2014
Both parties gear up for November’s battle royale
The Daily Word in traffic-stop mom details, bitcoins, Rob Ford's war and -no kidding- Walmart is asking for donations to help their impoverished employees
Today Albuquerque decides whether to ban late-term abortions
Taos District Attorney says the New Mexico State Trooper who shot at the traffic-stop mom won't face criminal charges.
Local home movie footage of JFK's 1962 visit to Albuquerque.
UNM has doubled the cost of parking at Lobo games.
The DEA says a Pagosa Springs businessman with ties to Albuquerque is suspected (but not accused) of laundering significant amounts of drug money through his hot springs resort.
Walmart has provided donation boxes in Walmart stores to raise money to help Walmart employees in need over the holidays.
"Selfie" is the Oxford Dictionary word of the year.
Not all Swedes can piss in Jagger's mouth.
The best. James Brown. Interview. EVER.
Late-term Abortion Ban Voting Starts Now
Junk science-based ordinance gets its weeks in court of public opinion
The Daily Word in the Albuquerque mayoral election, copper mining, a negative assesment of NSA data-collecting and the Devil and Antonin Scalia
The New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions is overwhelmed by claims from workers furloughed during the government shutdown.
A bunch of truckers are planning to congest DC beltway traffic on Friday in protest of the government shutdown.
The one nay-saying member of a panel charged with passing weaker regulations for copper mining has stepped down, which is a victory for Susana Martinez.
A redesigned U.S. $100.00 bill goes into circulation today.
It is 300 years after the Age of Reason and an American Supreme Court Justice believes the Devil exists.
Ohio is considering banning "gay conversion therapy."
The Tesla electric car is big in Norway.
The 2013 Nobel Prize for Physics was awarded today.
It’s Called Voting
You should try it sometime
The Daily Word in Kenya's mall siege, the McCluskey trial and Viagra mishaps
“Breaking Bad” took home the big prize last night.
A hearing today for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is aiming to decide whether prosecutors will seek capital punishment for the Boston marathon bombing, since the state of Massachusetts does not have a death penalty.
A body found on Saturday evening in western New Mexico is believed to be an 83-year-old man by the name of Howard Bassett who went missing a week ago during a flood in Mogollon, but authorities haven't confirmed the identity.
The prosecution is scheduled to wrap up their case today in the trial of John McCluskey, who is accused of killing an Oklahoma couple in 2010.
Just some highlights from Albuquerque's mayoral debate, which was televised last night. The election happens on Oct. 8, so don't forget to cast your votes.
Let it be known that if you take too much Viagra, bad things can happen.
Demonstrators Denounce Anti-Abortion Shills on Civic Plaza
A coalition of abortion-rights activists, local politicians and members of the Jewish community held a rally Tuesday afternoon in downtown Albuquerque to denounce and demand protection from domestic terrorism. About 200 people gathered on Civic Plaza and listened, as rally organizers blasted out-of-state anti-abortion activists for terrorist acts, including inappropriate protests and demonstrations at the New Mexico Holocaust & Intolerance Museum, a birthing center and the office of a local family physician.
The rally comes little more than two weeks after teens from a California-based teen anti-abortion group converged on the museum, holding a large banner declaring, “ABQ: America’s Aushwitz [sic],” while others passed out graphic photos of aborted fetuses and “wanted-style” postcards with pictures, names and addresses of local doctors. The teens were in town as a part of a public-awareness campaign supporting a proposed ballot measure to restrict late-term abortions within Albuquerque city limits.
While former Lieutenant Governor Diane Denish, the rally's first speaker, gave a brief account of life before Roe v. Wade, a female rally-goer could be heard shouting, “NO MORE COAT HANGERS.” Denish recalled the days when women had to take “desperate measures” to end unwanted pregnancies.
“I am a mother of two daughters and a grandmother of two granddaughters, and I want them to have the same rights to safe abortion that has been legal for the past 40 years,” she said.
The measure, if approved, would outlaw abortions after 20 weeks, unless medical professionals deemed the pregnancy a threat to the mother’s health; it would not allow exceptions for cases of rape, incest or severe fetal anomaly. Albuquerque voters will have to decide the measure during a special election, because there isn't enough time for the City Council to approve the resolution for October’s upcoming ballot.
The Daily Word in English royalty, Bigfoot, and the "I Dream of Jeannie" guy died
Someone stole a Navajo blanket from a Santa Fe resort.
Slate wrote the least entertaining Bigfoot piece ever.
Boxer Hector Camacho died from his gunshot wounds.
A naked guy spent three happy hours on top of a statue of Prince George in downtown London.
Have the remains of cruel and hunchbacked Richard III been found under a parking lot in Leicester?
Check out hacker syndicate Anonymous' video message to Karl Rove about stealing the Ohio election.
It is now law that people shall wear pants in the streets of San Francisco.
On this day in 1864 aristocratic dwarf Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec was born.
The Daily Word: why George Takei is mad at facebook; how Republicans can be surprised at the Obama victory; what happens when weed is legalized in Seattle
A New Mexico company is selling Breaking Bad bath salts.
The family of Albuquerque attorney Mary Han is suing APD, claiming police screwed-up the investigation into her purported suicide.
Is fracking in Rio Arriba County's future?
Albuquerque city councilors may overturn the minimum wage increase that was approved by voters last week.
George Clooney won the election for Obama.
Seattle Police Department explains the marijuana laws that will go into effect December Sixth.
You will probably not be allowed to hunt giant octopus in Seattle's Puget Sound anymore.
The 2011 World Press Photos contest winners.
Denmark is getting rid of the "fat-tax" that was applied to certain foods last year.
This song celebrating Thanksgiving may cause you to step in front of a bus.
George Takei joins the ranks of Facebook users angry about the money-grubbing EdgeRank filter.
Obama was declared the winner of the presidential contest in Florida.
Does fact checking matter if politicians continue to lie after their fabrications have been exposed?
Republicans were surprised Romney lost because they believe Rush Limbaugh and Fox news.
On this day in 1969 Sesame Street premiered.
Aural distraction from them ol' Election Day blues
Music has a long and storied history of serving as a medium for political messages. From folk to punk to electro, musicians with politics on the brain have turned up the mic and bared their souls to willing ears and open minds. Listen to 12 presidential and politically themed tracks below. And please don't forget to rock the vote, y'all.
4th Party Roundup
Yeah, yeah, Bronco Bama and Mittens Whatever. Surely some of you are as sick as I am of the non-stop coverage those guys get and are wondering how the OTHER candidates are doing.
No, I don’t mean that Gary Johnson, Jill Stein crap either. I’m talking about the candidates with integrity! The candidates with boots on their heads, with magical flying reindeer, with no mouths whatsoever, and who may or may not actually exist!
Sadly, things aren’t looking so good for our below-the-ballot candidates:
Hello Kitty, by virtue of her London birth (!) is disqualified from seeking office.
Santa Claus sold us out and is endorsing Jill Stein.
And finally, Vermin Supreme openly admits that a vote for him "is a vote completely thrown away." (Although we all get ponies if he wins!)
Screw it, I'm voting for Pogo.
The Daily Word in Mullet vs. beard, man vs. fish, woman vs. sandwich and Fiona Apple vs. The Man
New Mexico's Spaceport development has problems.
Yes, you can play golf at the Angola Penitentiary golf course.
The ex-controller of the New Mexico Finance Authority has been indicted.
Unintentional, run-away double entendre strikes when Jill Biden introduces the Vice-President.
The Rio Arriba County Sheriff's Department planned to buy a boat three days after cutting hours of service due to lack of funds.
150 years of lesbians photo gallery.
Verdict in the Amish beard-cutting case: "Mullet guilty in beard case."
A woman ate a "Stellanator" in Omaha.
A weird effigy of Obama was lynched in Austin.
This may be the first good, in-depth news item about bath salts.
Groundbreaking video illustrates the best way to clean mushrooms.
Not so groundbreaking: we are running out of fish.
An Intel worker called the police because a coworker put a "kick me" sign on his back. And people kicked him.
Some companies are instructing employees NOT to use work email after hours.
Snoop Dogg was the celebrity guest on The Price is Right yesterday.
Like many before her, Fiona Apple was busted for pot possession at the Sierra Blanca border checkpoint.
Hypnotic map of the 2012 presidential election swing states.
The Daily Word in election results, rain and scoopable chicken
Yesterday's election results here.
Assassination plot #587 against Afghan President Hamid Karzai foiled.
Some good news for Democrats.
Can having incompetent lawyers invalidate your death-penalty sentence? I'm asking for a friend.
House Republicans triple the budget to defend the Defense of Marriage Act.
Anonymous may or may not attack the New York Stock Exchange.
Andrew Breibart tries to link President Obama to the New Black Panther Party.
Nazis are being hunted again in Germany.
Astronomers use science the test the legend of Frankenstein's birth.
Israeli scientists win the chemistry Nobel prize for the discovery of quasicrystals.
Meet Sesame Street's new food insecure muppet.
Disney will be releasing more animated classics as 3D re-releases.
NBA preseason is cancelled as labor talks put the rest of the regular season is in jeopardy.
I thought this was a crazy fever-dream, but Popeye's is introducing scoop-shaped chicken nuggets.
Ten classic books that were originally rejected by publishers.
It turns out buying groceries at a drug store is a bad deal.
This year's 20 best microphotos.
Are your Facebook statuses interesting?
WIll this current season be the last for The Simpsons?
Two restaurants frequented by my creepy uncle are locked in a legal battle.
Hey Emily, did you see the Coen brothers are making a TV show?