Alibi V.18 No.11 • March 12-18, 2009 

Council Watch

Hastened Expiration

Councilor Michael Cadigan called out Mayor Martin Chavez and his administration for not issuing a public statement about the 13 bodies excavated from the mesa. Councilor Ken Sanchez said he spoke to Albuquerque Police Chief Ray Schultz about the situation, and the chief is willing to keep the Council updated. Councilor Trudy Jones gave a shout-out to Schultz, who was sitting in on the meeting, and requested an update right then and there. Chief Schultz declined, saying he would prefer to talk with the councilors about the case in a one-on-one setting out of public view.

A consent agenda of about a dozen items was approved in the blink of an eye. Items on the list included revenue reports, the acceptance of various grants and a couple appointments to the Bicycling Advisory Committee.

The Council deferred making a decision on extending the city’s soon-to-expire quarter-cent transit tax. Sanchez proposed continuing the tax for six more months in order to keep the money flowing until voters have the chance to decide whether to renew it. A quarter-cent tax adds about 25 cents to a $100 purchase and funds the busses, among other transit-related projects.

Critics of the tax have urged the Council to give residents a break and let it expire. Supporters have said the tax is still an important source of money for road repairs and more.

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Issue Council's Take Reporter's Take
Save the Family Pet—Councilor Rey Garduño sponsored a memorial that supports a legislative bill that would protect family pets from dangerous domestic violence situations. State Rep. Rhonda King, whose family is from rural Torrance County, is sponsoring House Bill 434 with the help of her cousin, Attorney General Gary King.

Eighty-five percent of domestic violence victims have reported incidents wherein their abuser also kicked around the family pet, according to the Council’s memorial. Battered women shelters often do not allow guests to bring their pets. The memorial states that half of those who have experienced domestic violence say they didn’t leave their home because of fears their pets will be harmed or killed by the abuser.

The bill allows domestic abuse survivors to get an order of protection that includes their pets. It also authorizes police to remove pets from homes when the battered partners leave.
All of the councilors were in favor of supporting this memorial. Councilor Sally Mayer said it was a “big bummer” that women’s shelters do not accept pets along with the displaced women and children. She added that it is a tragedy that abusers use family pets to threaten and control people.

Councilor Don Harris questioned how the legislative measure would actually work, saying, “An animal does not have the same ability to flip open a cell phone and call 911.” Garduño explained the bill would clarify existing law and give the police or animal welfare workers the legal right to go into a home to remove a pet.

Ed Adams, the city’s chief administrative officer, said the Animal Welfare Department will shelter pets as long as necessary if there are no family members or friends who can take them in.
If the Legislature approves this bill, New Mexico will become the 12th state in the nation to pass this type of compassionate protection for family pets.

While living in rural Torrance County for more than 15 years, I saw women who not only had children to protect from abusers but animals as well. All too often, they would stay in violent situations because they had nowhere to go with their pets and livestock.

An unofficial rescue group formed that took in dogs and cats left behind. I sheltered a couple of dogs overnight while the owners escaped a heated, abusive situation. The gratitude in the eyes of those women, children and dogs still warms my heart. Hopefully, such a rescue group is already in place in the Duke City or one will be created to save some of the displaced animals from taking a trip to the city’s animal shelters.
Ease Up on the Sandwich Boards—City Councilor Michael Cadigan sponsored an ordinance amendment that modifies the city’s ban on small sandwich board-type signs. The bill gives the use of these signs back to mom-and-pop businesses that have fewer than 10 employees.

The signs must be less than 10 square feet, must be taken down daily and can’t have balloons or wind-generated devices like inflatable dinosaurs attached.
Councilors agreed the city does not need a proliferation of tacky little signs popping up throughout the city. But they added that in these tough economic times, small businesses need ways to draw in customers.

Councilor Don Harris asked if there would be a whole row of these little A-frame signs at the numerous strip malls in town. Cadigan said possibly, but since the signs will be permitted, it will be up to the Zoning Department to look at requests case by case.
Several small business owners spoke in favor of this amendment, saying these sidewalk signs help them get their messages out to consumers.

As one of those consumers, I appreciate being able to see daily specials or sales before I walk into a business. I wonder if this amendment covers the human sandwich board stationed daily outside Bandido Hideout on Central?