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 V.14 No.39 | September 29 - October 5, 2005 

Council Watch

Arrrrr, Me Hearties!

City Councilor Eric Griego’s bill, designed to relieve Westside congestion, passed with an amendment that killed the bill’s proposal for a one-year moratorium on residential building permits.
Wes Naman
City Councilor Eric Griego’s bill, designed to relieve Westside congestion, passed with an amendment that killed the bill’s proposal for a one-year moratorium on residential building permits.

Regrettably, councilors failed to conduct their business in buccaneer lingo on International Talk Like a Pirate Day, Sept. 19. But they didn't completely forego lusty swordplay. Councilor Debbie O'Malley asked why the $500,000-plus for the Tricentennial Towers the city is building at the I-40 and Rio Grande intersection didn't come before the Council. John Castillo of the Municipal Development Dept. said the money came from a variety of sources, including G.O. bonds, rather than the 1 percent for the arts funding overseen by the Council.

Many community leaders supported Councilor Eric Griego's bill initiating planning for a more prominent and appropriate memorial to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., which passed unanimously as did Griego's bill setting new requirements and incentives for renewable energy.

Several councilors moved bills implementing the extension of University Blvd. south to the Mesa del Sol area. Councilor Tina Cummins moved a bill providing a $300,000 appropriation to the Emergency Shelter Services Program Strategy for the Women's Community Association.

Send your comments about the City Council to laura@alibi.com.

IssueCouncil's TakeReporter's Take
Keelhauling the Rabble During public comment, Carter Bundy of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees blasted a recent newspaper ad sponsored by the Coalition to Expose Ballot Deception, which comprises the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce, the Hispano Chamber of Commerce and various business organizations. Bundy said the ad completely misrepresented the minimum wage ballot initiative by saying it would allow the general public to enter a workplace and open records to the public.Councilor Griego said an administrative official claimed any member of the public could go in and check a business's records, but in reality, only the city attorney could access private wage records. He said employees could only be approached in a nonwork area such as a parking lot or sidewalk. Councilor O'Malley referred to the ad statements as a red herring and baloney. Councilor Martin Heinrich said he was disappointed in the business groups' tactics. Cummins said an AFSCME flyer challenged first amendment rights.Remember the urban legend about gang members hiding under women's cars in parking lots and slashing their ankles? This bilge is on the same level. The business community would have more credibility if they just said, "Hey, we don't want to pay our employees more." Read the actual bill at abqlivingwage.org. The relevant bits are Section 5, Items A and B. The claim about excluding handicapped people exaggerates a clause that the law shall not apply to anyone who is already the subject of a New Mexico Department of Labor certificate, exempting them from the current minimum wage.
Lashed to the Poop Deck The owner of the Wyoming Mall site has proposed demolishing existing buildings on 25 acres of the site to make way for a Wal-Mart SuperCenter and other businesses. The Environmental Planning Commission approved the site plan for subdivision and building permit by a 6-2 vote. Traffic impact and preliminary air quality studies were submitted to the city. Various parties opposed to the Wal-Mart as currently designed appealed the approval to the Council. Councilor Sally Mayer recused herself.Councilor Michael Cadigan tried unsuccessfully to defer the appeal until after the election. Appellants George Painter and Edward Glenn, who is running for the District 7 Council seat against Councilor Mayer because of the way the Wal-Mart situation has been handled, said the traffic impact studies showed that congestion would increase, with no viable remedy. The city said traffic at a fully occupied Wyoming Mall would be worse, and the developers had agreed to pay for mitigation devices. With Councilors Griego, O'Malley, Heinrich and Miguel Gómez supporting, the appeal failed on a 4-4 vote, allowing construction to go ahead.Wal-Mart attorney David Campbell, who praised the "Wal-Mart charrette," also argued that different sales activities clustered under the proposed big-box roof constituted the required mixed use, combined with various businesses in the neighborhood. In April, Councilors Cummins, Cadigan and Craig Loy, who approved the Wal-Mart in spite of questions about mixed use, voted down a proposed, far more diverse renovation of Coronado Center on the grounds that it failed to meet mixed-use requirements.
Ahoy, Westside! Prepare for More Boarding! Councilor Griego moved a revised bill designed to relieve Westside congestion with new traffic mitigation and land use regulations, prioritized planning for the Southwest Mesa, public input and first claim on CIP funding. But the item that drew the most strenuous opposition was the bill's call for a one-year moratorium on issuing new residential building permits and subdivision approvals.Opposing the Westside moratorium, the city's Economic Development Director Fred Mondragon said Westside construction directly created over 9,000 jobs in 2004. Councilor Gómez opposed the moratorium, saying it would eliminate housing impact fees in District 1. Councilor Cadigan amended the bill to kill the moratorium, and the amended bill passed 5-4, Councilors Loy, Brad Winter, Mayer and Cummins opposed.Oh, yes, by all means, we must continue implementing seriously messed up and unsustainable practices if they provide jobs. But bigger factors than a moratorium may slow down Westside homebuilding: rising interest rates, hurricane-depleted building supplies, sky-high energy costs and Bush's attempts to implement national bankruptcy.
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