Councilors Cadigan and Mayer sponsored a resolution supporting the Coalition for the Valle Vidal's efforts to permanently close the valley to oil and gas leasing and development.
At the Feb. 22 meeting, councilors unanimously approved a $300,000 contract with artist Michael Metcalf to provide sculptures for the I-40/Louisiana Blvd. interchange. The Metcalf project is described as two assemblages of 30-foot-high bronze and stainless steel spires rising from boulder bases. Councilors voted to fill two Board of Ethics and Campaign Practices seats vacated by Isabel Cabrera and Seth Heath. Councilor Michael Cadigan nominated retired lawyer and former EPC member Alan Schwartz. Councilor Craig Loy nominated air traffic controller Joe Maguire, a graduate of St. Pius High School and the U.S. Naval Academy. Councilor Brad Winter nominated pharmaceutical salesman and former Council candidate Sander Rue. Schwartz and Rue won the two places.
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Playing "Sardines" The State Legislature refused to fully fund two new Westside high schools. Councilor Cadigan moved a bill eliminating impact fees for school construction, citing the need for new facilities on the Westside, where enrollment is exploding as total APS enrollment remains flat. The bill would, in effect, have the city pick up the roughly $1 million impact fee for each new high school.
Council President Martin Heinrich said he was concerned about "development chasing schools" on the Westside. Councilor Ken Sanchez said he didn't think APS had done its job on the Westside. Councilor Isaac Benton added a sunset clause in case other funding appeared. Sanchez amended the bill to apply only to Westside schools. The bill passed unanimously.
Eastside schools need students. Westside schools are bursting. Nobody wants to forcibly bus kids across the river. Councilor Cadigan wanted to offer parents incentives to send their children to Eastside schools. A new high school costs approximately $100 million. For that amount, the city could pay 1,000 Westside students $1,000 every year to attend Eastside schools for the next 100 years, not counting interest.
Destroying Paradise Councilors Cadigan and Mayer sponsored a resolution supporting the Coalition for the Valle Vidal's efforts to permanently close the valley to oil and gas leasing and development. The 100,000-acre wonderland located northeast of Red River in the Carson National Forest provides trophy elk hunting and is a home to the native Rio Grande Cutthroat Trout. The area generates income from hikers and horseback riders that sustains the surrounding communities. The Valle Vidal, donated to the American people in 1982 for the benefit of wildlife and outdoor recreation, is widely used by Boy Scouts from nearby Philmont Scout Ranch. Jim O'Donnell, representing the Coalition, cited a long list of municipalities, counties, chambers of commerce and over 370 businesses in northern New Mexico that opposed coal bed methane drilling in the valley.
O'Donnell said that last year 65,000 people submitted comments opposing the proposed 500 well pads and 1,000 miles of road. O'Donnell said every year, visitors to the valley pump $3-5 million into the local economy. He said gas that's potentially recoverable from the valley is about enough to meet the national demand for 11 hours. Six other speakers representing hunting and conservation organizations urged protection of the valley. Councilor Cadigan said the recoverable energy probably equaled the amount saved if everybody went home and switched off a light or two. Councilor Mayer said, "We're not going to get anything by destroying this." The bill passed unanimously. Cadigan asked whom people should contact. O'Donnell said legislation to protect the valley was waiting on Rep. Heather Wilson and encouraged citizens to urge her to cosponsor the bill.
Contacting Wilson might do some good--she's in a tough re-election fight against Democratic Attorney General Patricia Madrid, and the GOP bosses have given her a longer leash to make centrist gestures. The struggle to protect our national lands now falls entirely on the states. The federal Bureau of Land Management is forcing its wildlife biologists to process drilling permits instead of protect habitat. The Bush administration has rescinded the Roadless Rule over enormous public protest, is suing the State of California for trying to reduce vehicle emissions, is selling off public lands, is weakening protections for air and water, and is lying about science. The City of San Francisco just started a program to generate methane gas from dog poop deposited in city parks--sounds a lot more reasonable than destroying the Valle Vidal.
Who? Me? Drunk? Councilors unanimously approved a $200,000 state grant to expand APD underage drinking enforcement by the Party Patrol. Bill sponsor Brad Winter said "Party Patrol" was an unfair name, since the APD unit has grown tremendously while reducing efforts to break up underage parties.
Sgt. Harold Medina said availability of alcohol for underage drinkers was the main problem. He said rumors that the patrol chases drunk kids into cars "are killing us." He said the patrol had tightened up documentation procedures on who allowed them entry into a house, and if police were denied entry, they left.
Nearly a year ago, the Alibi reported on incidents where Party Patrol officers allegedly overstepped limits by entering homes without permission, where the people partying were all over 21. It sounds like procedures have been tightened in the intervening months, but scrutiny is the best policy.