We spent more than an hour with Mayor Martin Chavez, but we didn’t have room to print everything we talked about in the paper. (See the original article here.)
The mayor is proud of Warehouse 508, he says, which was born out of his belief that kids shouldn't mix with alcohol. "I love the Launchpad. It's a great place. But I didn't like the idea of 21-year-olds spilling into the mosh pit with 17-year-olds." He's also glad to have shut down Club 7. "That place is gone, and they're never coming back. That guy's going to have to do time, and that was our doing."
Warehouse 508 will be a place where young people can express themselves and not be interfered with by adults, he says. Community centers are not the environment kids are looking for, he adds. "They want something a little more funky, a little more in tune with where they're at in their lives."
The old Icehouse is a perfect location for 508, says Chavez, because it's next to Youth Development Inc., The Cell Theatre and Wool Warehouse. When it's complete, he says, "then we can have our debate about whether Launchpad should have alcohol or not. But I'll feel comfortable that I've got a place where I can say, Be yourself. Rock 'n' roll."
"I've set a goal of zero landfills by 2030,” he says.
The curbside recycling program is a failure, Chavez says. It's a hassle to sort recycling and set it out. Until a couple years ago, there was no curbside recycling for apartment centers or other multi-family units. Commercial recycling has been implemented in a limited places, he adds.
In some pilot areas, the city is testing a system where residents don't have to sort. Recycling increased 80 percent in those regions. The problem, he says, is he can't take the program citywide without a rate increase of about $2.50 per month. No politicians will support that increase this close to an election, he speculates.
GLBT issues/Domestic partnerships
"A community that celebrates diversity has a high percentage of creative people. It's economically good to be diverse," says Chavez.
The first hate crimes ordinance in New Mexico was passed during his first term, he points out. There are also benefits available for domestic partners of city employees.
His opponents accused him of campaigning on the city's dime when he appeared in this year's Pride parade with a host of city workers bearing Mayor Martin Chavez T shirts. But, as he says, aside from once when he was out of town, "I've been in every single Pride parade and every single AIDS walk." This year, the two were combined along the same route.
The city is a sponsor of the parade. "I get letters about that. People don't like it. 'I'm a taxpayer and I don't want you supporting those people.' "
Though there's not a lot that can be done to support domestic partnerships at the city level, and though it's politically touchy to talk about, Chavez says he supports such unions. "We need everybody at the table," he says. "Discrimination doesn't suit us."
We don't call it an arena, Chavez corrected the Alibi. It's a Regional Events Center. His opponents, he says, have come out publicly against the idea. But he says "it's something that's truly transformational." It should be located Downtown because that's where arenas have been the most successful. "It's not just what you make at the gate. It's what happens to the businesses around it. "
There's been an erosion of convention visitors' business because we lack hotel space, he adds. Also, "our Convention Center is frankly not the best." The new complex would include a hotel and convention spot. But how will we pay for it? "There's going to have to be an one-eighth of a cent tax increase to pay for it. We looked at every model. I'm going to argue my heart out. I'm going to sell it."
"With the policies that exist coming out of Washington, the state, the local level and at the PRC [Public Regulation Commission], it's really clear that alternative energy is going to explode in the city of Albuquerque if we do it right," says Chavez.
A third of the municipal supply is alternative energy, he adds, with 20 percent of it wind and 10 percent of it nuclear. The city signed onto Kyoto protocol early, he says. Most of our emissions come from buildings, and the City Council passed a new green building code Monday, Aug. 3.
The city is in the process of developing a climate action plan, which can be viewed online. The mayor's looking to reduce our carbon footprint 80 percent by 2050. For more on sustainability, check out this site.
"The city has become a leader in these areas," Chavez says. He'll be traveling to Copenhagen in December for the next round of Kyoto talks.
Chavez sketched a vision of the modern rail line. It would run from the Alvarado Transportation Center in Downtown Albuquerque, up to The Pit and Isotopes Park, on to Sunport and then comes back down through the UNM/CNM area. Someday, he'd like to see it expand to the West and East sides of town. "You have to make sure the first line is well thought out and is successful, because if you don't succeed in the first phase, there's no second phase."
Rail increases property values and development along its routes, he adds. The first link would cost $130 million, which could come from the federal government. He compares that to the estimated price tag for fixing the Paseo del Norte/I-25 interchange, which is $350 million.
Traffic, he says, works fine 20 hours a day. But the other four, it's a mess. "You can take your $350 million at a time and build your infrastructure to accommodate those four hours, or you can disperse the traffic across the grid, which is more cost effective."
Rail, he adds, is a backbone, with the buses and Rapid Ride feeding into it. "You don't have to take everyone out of their car. Get a few on alternative transportation, and the traffic grid works once again."
The Rail Runner, he finishes, couldn't find any proponents—until the day it opened.