Pictured left to right, City Councilors Michael Cadigan, Eric Griego and Brad Winter are all seeking elected office on Oct. 4. Cadigan is seeking re-election; Griego and Winter are running for mayor.
At the Aug. 15 meeting, Councilor Craig Loy's bill banning cruising Downtown and Councilor Sally Mayer's massive revision of the city's animal ordinance were postponed. Another Mayer bill that added foxtails to the list of banned weeds passed.
After years of negotiations, the city and the Indian Pueblos Federal Development Corporation finalized agreements on developing land near the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center in Councilor Debbie O'Malley's district.
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IssueEvery Day's a Holiday
Following recent news reports that the Oct. 4 municipal election falls on Rosh Hashanah, Councilor Mayer wanted to put an initiative on the ballot to forbid scheduling elections on Jewish holidays.
Councilor Michael Cadigan said the bill had to be enacted on Aug. 15 to make the upcoming ballot. Director of Council Services Laura Mason said open meeting laws forbade enacting it without prior public notice.
Oct. 4 is also the first day of Ramadan. While the month of fasting and prayer does not prohibit voting by Muslims, it might block campaigning, since it requires shunning false speech, backbiting, gossip, idle talk or obscene words.
IssueThe Civilian Evidence Room?
Councilor O'Malley used a local TV news report (link to report at alibi.com) to argue that the administration had altered the public record when a garbage rate hike bill the Council voted down 4-4 was improperly changed to a Do Pass during a trip through the City Clerk's office. O'Malley called for an investigation by the Inspector General.
Council President and mayoral candidate Brad Winter proposed an investigation by the D.A.'s office. City Attorney Bob White said the document was not altered but that a cover sheet was attached saying that it had passed. Councilor Martin Heinrich called for a second hearing.
My favorite argument came from Councilor Loy, who said the D.A.'s office can't investigate all cases because of a tight budget, so it shouldn't investigate a complaint against Mayor Chavez because that would mean somebody else's case wouldn't be heard.
IssueDear Homeowner: We Have Exciting News
The U.S. Supreme Court decision Kelo v. New London expanded the definition of "public good" to include economic development, allowing a local government to use its eminent domain power to condemn private properties and turn them over to a private developer. Councilor Eric Griego sponsored an ordinance to ban the taking of an occupied residence for economic development unless the home was blighted or a nuisance.
Councilor O'Malley asked if occupied properties allowed to deteriorate by absentee landlords could be condemned. Councilor Griego said, "The designation 'blighted' would take care of that." City Attorney Bob White said the bill differed from state law, which allowed entire areas to be designated as blighted. Councilor Cadigan asked if the bill applied to partial takings, for instance, a one-foot strip of right-of-way. Griego asked for a second hearing.
You can't make this stuff up. According to various news reports, the city of New London now claims that the people evicted by the lawsuit, originally filed in 2000, owe five years of back rent because they have been living on city land for that long. Also, the New London Development Corp., hired to facilitate the deal, is trying to buy their homes for what the properties would have sold for in 2000.
IssueAlbuquerque Ain't Austin
Councilor Griego moved two bills; one to create a Department of Youth to consolidate youth services and to identify a funding source for the Sports, Arts and Music Initiative. The other bill would set up an Office of Music within the Office of Economic Development, which Griego compared to the state and local offices expediting movie productions.
Chief Administrative Officer James Lewis wanted to delay both bills. Councilor Cadigan objected to both on grounds that the city charter delegates organizing city government to the executive branch. Councilor Mayer called for a second hearing on the Department of Youth bill. Councilor Tina Cummins called for a second hearing on the Music Office bill.
So with the mayor trying to torpedo the Downtown music scene by banning all-age venues that sell liquor, and Loy trying to rein in bass-thumping cruisers only in the Downtown area, are they targeting all music or just that preferred by youth? Would they go for youth symphonic groups or polka bands? Mmmmm, accordion groupies! Hot!
IssueKeeping Loopholes Loopy
As the regular adjournment time of 10:30 p.m. approached, Councilors Cummins, Mayer and Loy voted not to extend the meeting long enough to discuss Councilor Cadigan's voter ID bill. If passed, Cadigan's bill would supersede Mayer's ballot initiative, which ignores absentee voting. Cadigan's bill requires absentee voters to also show a photo ID.
Councilor Cadigan's bill might still be voted on before the election. However, Councilor Griego said that a backlog of about 40 bills had been on the agenda for at least three meetings, and that it was unfair to citizens who kept coming to Council meetings to speak, sat there all night, and then saw their bills deferred.
Councilor Loy then said, "Maybe if we didn't campaign up here we'd have time," apparently referring to Councilor Griego's mayoral bid. Griego said he wouldn't campaign for himself if Loy would stop campaigning for Mayor Martin Chavez. While Loy has not endorsed Chavez, his votes usually support Chavez' wishes.