What could Councilor Cadigan be thinking? Could it be: “Boy that Cliff Richardson sure is a moron ... no wonder Marty wants him on the ethics board.” Probably not, but after watching the ABQPAC hearings, that’s what we were thinking.
With Councilor Brad Winter absent, the Dec. 6 council meeting lasted just over two hours. Winter's flight home was held up by bad weather in Chicago and Councilors deferred 14 bills along with the scheduled election of a new president. Winter is considered the leading presidential contender, certain of votes from Republican-realtor Councilors Sally Mayer, Craig Loy and Tina Cummins. Council President Michael Cadigan will support Winter, who supported the extension of Paseo del Norte in Cadigan's district last year. If Councilor Miguel Gomez, who supported Cummins for vice president last year, tacks to the right again, Winter will receive at least six votes from the nine-member council.
Two competing bills establishing an Inspector General position were postponed. Councilor Eric Griego's bill allows the Council greater say in picking board members who will control the oversight position, while Mayor Martin Chavez's bill, carried by Sally Mayer, gives the mayor's office the upper hand. Having finished all items by 7:15 p.m., with Winter somewhere over Oklahoma, current President Cadigan joked, "I want to be Vladimir Putin," and adjourned the meeting.
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Garbage In, Garbage Recycled Griego and Councilor Martin Heinrich collaborated on a bill instructing the Solid Waste Department to work with private contractors to recycle computer equipment rather than dumping it in a landfill.
The junked equipment-monitors, hard drives, speakers and printers might contain lead, mercury and PCBs. The aim is to salvage it either for raw materials or use by schools, charities and job training enterprises. The bill passed unanimously.
Something may be out of kilter when we're sitting around playing Minesweeper on machines more powerful than those NASA used to send men to the moon, back when we explored space instead of snipe hunting WMD.
Tapping the Brakes on Vehicular Insanity Hybrid vehicles require much less gasoline since they use electric motors for city driving, then use gasoline engines to recharge their batteries during highway travel. They also produce far less pollution.
Heinrich sponsored a bill allowing hybrid vehicles with city IDs to park free at metered spaces for the maximum time allowed at a parking meter. Thereafter the vehicle must be removed for eight hours before parking in the same space. The bill passed unanimously.
It would be nice if the more efficient models, such as the Toyota Prius, got a bigger break than the GM and Ford models coming on line that only make standard SUV mileage slightly less stupid. But that's a quibble.
Doing It Unto the Least of These Griego sponsored a memorial urging Gov. Bill Richardson and the Legislature to fully fund state Medicaid benefits over the next year. The bill says that "the New Mexico Human Services Department needs approximately $100 million added to the Medicaid budget to maintain Medicaid benefits and services at current levels" for the over 420,000 New Mexicans enrolled in Medicaid. Medicaid was under-funded during the last fiscal year by about $40 million.
Speakers said that New Mexico gets three federal dollars for every dollar the state puts into Medicaid, and that the money funds approximately 44,000 local jobs, mostly in the Albuquerque area. Dr. Lynne Uhring, a South Valley pediatrician and president of the New Mexico Pediatrics Society, said, "The possible cuts that the Medicaid Advisory Committee are considering are truly terrifying." The memorial passed 7-1, Loy opposed.
Since it now seems apparent that the color-coded terrorist alert system was completely unconnected to anything other than George W. Bush's approval ratings, can we set up an alert system for the physical, mental and social onslaughts most likely to kill Americans? How about this: Blue = Labeled "at risk;" Green = Falling through the safety net; Yellow = First name basis with the police; Orange = Needs full time professional care; Red = Dying.
Board of Ethics Appointments A couple of positions need filling on the city's Board of Ethics and Campaign Practices. The board last attracted attention during the uproar over Mayor Martin Chavez's ABQPAC problems concerning contributions from city contractors. The mayor appointed outgoing board member Cliff Richardson to fill another member's vacant seat. Cadigan appointed Sally Davis to fill Richardson's vacant seat.
The council noted as received the mayor's appointment of Richardson, a civil engineer at Kirtland Air Force Base and neighborhood association activist. During the Ethics Board's ABQPAC hearings, Richardson characterized the mayor's actions as honorable and above board, and was the lone vote exonerating the mayor of all wrong-doing. Loy said he submitted a name for the Ethics Board but had heard nothing in response. The Davis appointment passed 7-1, Loy opposed.
Mayer questioned whether Sally Davis's tenure as former director of Common Cause was a partisan activity. Heinrich said Common Cause endorsed campaign finance limits, not specific candidates. Griego said that board member Seth Heath worked for the Republican Party of New Mexico. It's a valid question but almost impossible to regulate. Is someone active in the Chamber of Commerce disqualified because of probable Republicanism?