election


Opinion

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 centto fund social services for the addicted, homeless and mentally illand 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 residentsnot just city folkwill 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 memesespecially those featuring Mark Twain's belief that voting makes no differencetake 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.

Opinion

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 marijuanawhich is a far cry from actually decriminalizing marijuanais 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 issueswhich overlap and are at the root of immense suffering, both for those grappling with these afflictions and those impacted by resulting crimemust 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 initiativesgranting 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.

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V.23 No.22 | 5/29/2014
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Primary Fight 2014

Both parties gear up for November’s battle royale

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Candidates from both parties have opened their pocketbooks to get your votethe race is on!

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Feature

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news

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.

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Music

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.

Blaze Foley - "Oval Room"

Alice Cooper - "Elected"

Sonic Youth - "Youth Against Fascism"

Magazine - "Motorcade"

They Might Be Giants - "James K. Polk"

Camper Van Beethoven - "Sweethearts"

Devo - “Whip It”
The Minutemen - "If Reagan Played Disco"

Bongwater - "Reaganation"

Country Joe & the Fish - "Superbird"

Peaches - “Fuck or Kill”
Gil Scott-Heron - “B Movie”

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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.

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