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 V.16 No.48 | November 29 - December 5, 2007 

Council Watch

Land and Law

The Seventeenth City Council held its last meeting on Nov. 19, beginning with goodbyes and thank-yous.

Councilor Michael Cadigan sponsored a bill authorizing a hydrologic study for the Quaker Heights neighborhood with its still-rural unpaved streets and private utilities. Another bill appropriates about $750,000 to start buying lots in Volcano Heights for planned open space areas. Some of the lots have been locked up for decades awaiting planning. Both Westside bills passed unanimously.

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

Issue Council's Take Reporter's Take
"Just When Nutcracking Season is On Us"

Council President Debbie O'Malley and Vice President Sally Mayer exchanged Nambé ware plaques honoring their year of service. O'Malley thanked Mayer for presiding "when I was absent or walked out," while Mayer reminisced over parliamentary procedures. Outgoing committee chairs Isaac Benton, Martin Heinrich and Don Harris received gavels mounted on plaques. Benton said, "Just when nutcracking season is on us."
Councilors Heinrich and Craig Loy took their leave--Heinrich to run for the District 1 congressional seat, Loy for football, rebuilding classic cars and grandkids. Several councilors said the current Council has been more cooperative and cohesive than others in the past. Amy Whitling presented a certificate of appreciation from the Del Rey Neighborhood Association thanking the Council for saving their homes. As different as any two members of the Council, Heinrich and Loy both brought common sense to issues that usually generate more heat than light. Loy, a former policeman, often provided a reality check on bills that would do more to burden APD personnel and clog the courts than reduce crime. Heinrich injected balance, common sense and respect for all stakeholders into environmental and social justice issues, with impressive results.
Hey! Turn Your Dozer Off a Minute

Moratoriums will temporarily halt roadwork and new construction along Central from 10
th Street to Atrisco and along Fourth Street from Marble to Solar. Benton's Central moratorium has no deadline, while O'Malley's moratorium on North Fourth runs three months or until the almost completed North Fourth Street Redevelopment Study is finished.
Business owners along the routes and real estate interests protested the moratoriums. Numerous speakers from North Fourth neighborhoods supported the halt. O'Malley said, "Nowhere is anything that is going to 'destroy my business.' We're fighting misperceptions." Both bills passed 5-3, Councilors Mayer, Loy and Ken Sanchez opposed, Winter excused. Sympathy is due anyone whose business is suddenly threatened, but the North Fourth bill runs only three months and allows routine maintenance and minor renovation. Compared to the long ordeal of Volcano Heights property owners, the complaints, whether orchestrated or spontaneous, sounded a little silly. The Central moratorium needs a deadline, which Benton promised.
Check Your Guest List Twice

Sanchez moved a substitute for his bill charging home and apartment owners $100 per APD officer per hour or portion of an hour for officers who answer repeat calls to disruptive parties. The revision levies the fees beginning with the third offense within 90 days. It allows homeowners to obtain permits for possibly noisy but approved activities such as weddings. According to APD Chief Ray Schultz, 10 officers might show up for two hours if the Party Patrol is called out, amounting to a $2,000 fine. Schultz expected up to 11,000 calls by the end of 2007. He said many procedural details were still to be worked out.
Cadigan warned against setting up another law enforcement endeavor as a profit-making system that uses a hearing officer appointed by the same government that sets the fines. "What happens if someone can't pay?" Cadigan asked. Commenting on how our civil liberties have been recently diminished, he said, "We can't sacrifice more just to pretend we're doing something." He said the city needed to prosecute people who had loud parties and fully fund the party patrol.

O'Malley said that the Council was getting into murky waters. Heinrich suggested a deferral and Sanchez agreed.
This bill seems too cute by half, with too many questions. Which do you go after, the violation that pays a flat fee or a routine traffic stop? How do you determine the number of officers responding? What if a vindictive neighbor repeatedly calls APD down on fairly mild parties? Who defines a threat to "quiet enjoyment?" Why not just go through the existing due process and court system? Let's not turn more APD duties into enterprise operations like the airport or city golf courses. Or like 17th-century London debtors' prisons, where jailers made a nifty side income charging their hapless prisoners for food.
Like Cats and Dogs

The animal funding battle triggered by Mayor Martin Chavez' reorganization of Animal Services flamed out with Mayer's bill "unreserving" the $1.3 million set aside in her previous bill. Mayer said the administration had sent the required explanations.
Chief Operations Officer Ed Adams said the administration supported the bill. Loy said the reserving of funds was dangerous for the Council. O'Malley said, "We don't want to micromanage, but we are responsible for the budget." The bill passed unanimously. Well, good. It's a more logical campaign tactic than Chavez' accusation that his Senate primary rival, Rep. Tom Udall, was afraid to take on a "strong Hispanic candidate." Maybe Chavez' Senate run will reduce his O.K. Corral charades with the Council.
 
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