Recently, I found myself defending an article that I wrote and was published in the Alibi letters section last month. I was seated along with about 20 other civic leaders around a conference room table. Our monthly neighborhood association coalition meeting started on time, following the agenda on topics of importance and interest to the residents of this particular Northeast City Council district.
Then, like an unexpected gust of wind, fashionably late and trailed by her assistant, our city councilor made her entrance. (I envisioned a scene right out of The Wizard of Oz.)
Yes, the same city councilor who has over the past few years avoided questions and explanations regarding her actions, arrived to demand answers and explanations with a "What have you got to say for yourselves" kind of attitude, brandishing copies of e-mails and newspaper articles authored by various constituents including myself. These materials were universally critical of her lackluster performance over the last three years and the councilor intended to answer these criticisms in an aggressive, intimidating manner that could only be described as "Helmsly-esque." Nevermind that these aggressive attacks were more suited for opposing candidates in an election year than for volunteer leaders who donate their time and energy to solve problems in their neighborhoods. It was time for her to have her say!
Others spoke out against the spirited volley which ensued. Was a district coalition meeting the appropriate place for what could only be called campaigning or even political grandstanding? Was it the proper venue for addressing criticisms by personally attacking critical constituents? It appeared that our councilor (tax collector) walked into a hornet's nest. One does not walk into a room full of people and throw a skunk on top of a table and not expect repercussions.
In an election year, one would think that making amends and working with your constituents would make perfect sense, not continuing with the same old condescending, "Who are you to question me" attitude. Imagine, a city councilor coming to a civic meeting with one agenda in mind; to personally challenge a neighborhood president on his observation, his opinion, of her performance and voting record. Imagine, if you will, a city councilor coming to a meeting with the sole purpose of intimidating those who disagree with her pandering to developer powerbrokers and ignoring the people who elected her. How dare we? How dare her! But then again; who comes to a gun fight with a knife?
City Council District 7 is in trouble. Divided by adversity and contempt, our district has been abandoned, sold out, and left with a legacy of higher taxes, higher fees and rate increases. The district's general appearance is deplorable, as if it were forgotten like East Berlin after the war. Drive it, live in it, and look around. Tell me councilor: Do you like what you see? Or don't you ever visit your district?
The winds of change are in the air as this year's election fast approaches. With two other formidable candidates in the hunt, I'd venture to bet that our councilor's political days are numbered; about 167 to be exact.
Kevin S. Smith Albuquerque
This is a note of thanks and appreciation for the wonderful article you wrote about Dual Language Programs in New Mexico [RE: "Get Smarty," Christie Chisholm, March 3-9]. Your information was accurate and so clearly written that I heard many comments from the community saying that they really understood the concept fully. So often education receives a sound bite or superficial reporting ... thank you for not doing that! My staff was excited to see the positive information being published about a subject that they feel so passionate.
Cynthia Challberg-Hale Principal of Longfellow Elementary
I'm stunned to learn that more speed humps have been installed in Four Hills, with no notification to affected residents, in spite of last month's ordinance requiring such notification. Is the City Council merely an advisory board passing legislation that you choose whether to enforce?
After the speed humps were installed last September, you said that you'd review them in a year. Now I see that you're trying to push back this review until after the election. By delaying a comprehensive traffic safety study, you are jeopardizing the lives of thousands of Four Hills residents, while leaving the city open to potentially devastating lawsuits. That is irresponsible stewardship of both our safety and our city.
Rebecca Loring Albuquerque
I truly enjoyed your article in the Alibi about HB 805 [RE: "Shafting Albuquerque," Jim Scarantino, April 7-13]. You obviously took the time to investigate all of the factors and people involved in pushing this bill. However, I wanted to make sure you were aware of the medical marijuana bill that did not pass because it was held hostage for HB 805. SB 795, sponsored by Cisco McSorley, sailed through the Senate and two House committees. It was scheduled on the House floor calendar each of the last six days of the session. And each day it was skipped by the Speaker. On day two, we were told that the impact fees bill had to get through McSorley's committee, Senate Judiciary, before his "med mj" bill would be heard on the House floor. I was the chief lobbyist for the medical marijuana bill. When the clock finally ran out, I was heartbroken, not only because of the politics that prevented the bill from being heard, but also for the patients that had worked so hard to ensure this bill's passage and who will have to worry about being arrested for another year.
As advocates, we were caught in the middle of this unbelievable situation. If the bill had been heard on the floor, it would have passed overwhelmingly. We had far more votes than we needed.
We will be back next year and will work hard to ensure that the bill does not meet the same fate.
Reena Szczepanski Director, Drug Policy Alliance New Mexico Santa Fe
Cheap and Tasty
On page 31 of the Best of Burque 2005 issue [April 7-13], in the Sushi Gen ad "Tuan Roll" is listed at half price for $1.97. I think it is just a misspelling for tuna. Or, "Tuan" is a first name for a Vietnamese male; at that price, it is a very good eat. Ha ha.
H. N. Albuquerque
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