Keep Albuquerque’s District 3 Intact
Dear Alibi ,
If you don’t live in City Council District 3, why should you care how the City Council is going about redistricting? Maybe because it’s the most local example of how government works.
These districts are the closest form of representational government that we have. They matter at a very fundamental level, and any hint that redistricting decisions are being made for political reasons and not for the best interests of this city’s residents should be offensive to every resident, whether you are directly affected or not.
District 3 includes Downtown, Barelas, the University neighborhoods, and a very small part of the South Valley. A new Westside district is warranted, but the South Valley connection is being used to justify the shift of District 3 to the Westside. Where would that leave the current District 3 residents? Lumped into District 2, which appears to be largely commercial and industrial in nature.
District 3 plays a unique role in the city’s history—early Albuquerque WAS what later became Council District 3. It is clear that the neighborhoods in this district share many challenges and other common interests.
By supporting Plan L, the City Council is on a track that ignores the best interest of its citizens; the new District 2 would be so diverse that the term “schizoid” might apply. An alternative plan, Plan V, lessened the impact on existing districts by merging one of the four districts in the Northeast Heights into the three others to free up a Council position for the Westside. This is a more valid approach and was the one taken 10 years ago.
I would hate to see District 3’s distinctive character, history and needs diluted by folding it into a dissimilar area. Citizens who agree should let the City Council know right away since the councilors will likely act on this matter shortly.
History at the Center
Dear Albuquerque City Councilors,
Spruce Park Neighborhood Association requests that the redistricting of the Albuquerque City Council follow the basic form of Plan V, not Plan L. We are part of the community of interest created by the central historic neighborhoods, the area that constituted most of the city around 1940. Spruce Park is located west of the University of New Mexico, bounded approximately on the north by Lomas, on the south by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and on the west by I-25. As the first Country Club Neighborhood in Albuquerque, we are on the National Register of Historical Places. Most of our homes were built between the two world wars, in styles that echo the earlier architecture of England, France and the Mediterranean countries. Our residents maintain the original characteristics of these homes despite the extra effort and expense involved because we enjoy their beauty and wish to contribute to the city as a whole. This architecture is irreplaceable.
At the conclusion of the series of public meetings that was held throughout Albuquerque, the chair of the redistricting advisory committee, Mr. Michael Montoya, noted that the strong desire to preserve our historic urban core has formed a major theme of public opinion. This indicates a nonpartisan desire to preserve areas that help define a citywide sense of place. However, as one of the oldest parts of Albuquerque, we historic neighborhoods also have concerns, such as aging infrastructure and excess traffic, which need carefully coordinated solutions. For example, most of our Spruce Park streets were created before 1929, the first year in which the number of registered vehicles in the entire state reached 70,000. Now 72,000 vehicles per day drive to UNM and CNM, and it is not surprising that our neighborhood is overwhelmed by a volume of traffic that no one could have imagined when our homes were built.
Since the historic neighborhoods are primarily in the present District 3 and Plan V maintains much of this existing organizational structure, we regard it as the best option to continue the progress that has already been made toward meeting the urban core needs. Plan L would be disadvantageous to Spruce Park because the District 2 councilor who would assume representation of our area, Debbie O’Malley, is already thinly stretched. In fact, she commented on Jan. 19 that Plan L is unfair to residents of the proposed District 2 for that reason: It concentrates too many diverse needs in one district. This would also mean inadequate funding.
In accordance with the fifth redistricting principle, communities of interest, we ask that you support the preservation of Albuquerque’s historic urban core through restoration of Plan V. Your nonpartisan support for this crucial concern would be greatly appreciated.
[Re: News, “Growing Pains,” Feb. 2-8] As a member of District 3 for over a decade and a 505-er all my life, I find this very disturbing news. People who live in this district (UNM, Barelas, Downtown and parts of Nob Hill) are different regionally from other parts of Albuquerque. We have the right to a representative that deals directly with our wishes and needs in our community. Traffic, arts, commerce, education and community events are condensed in this area. Adding this district to an even larger area is not the answer. I am going to write Richard Berry and my council leader. I hope you do too.
[Re: News, “Growing Pains,” Feb. 2-8] I agree that District 3 should be left alone. Though small, it must be a full-time job to be that city counselor given the density of population and commerce, greater infrastructure needs and even social challenges not really seen in other districts. I'd rather have a counselor who has the time and resources to focus completely on the city's center. If others agree, raise a stink here and in the Journal and include the social medias. There are five counselors who have the majority vote, so you can start there.
Ode to a Big Box Store
How many Bosque creatures lose
when big box stores have won?
Oil, plastic bags and grease
is what they'll nest upon.
How many hours must we hear
the booming trash compactors?
The squealing brakes from semitrucks
drowning people's laughter.
Children dodging traffic
along the nature trails,
exhaust and fumes from idling cars
causing lungs to fail.
They told us that your big box store
would be made of adobe.
We won't be shopping in your isles,
we're not buying your story.
The solar panels on your roof
never get connected.
Your concrete village atmosphere
we hope will be rejected.
You promised us a line of trees
to hide your towering walls,
but it would take a thousand years
for trees to grow so tall.
You claim to provide lots of jobs.
How many work part time?
Discrimination, health care cuts
are not your only crime.
Murders, drugs and carjackings
in your parking lots.
Miles of asphalt in the sun,
stinking, scorching hot.
Are any products local?
Do they come from far away?
We all know that money talks
and beauty fades away.
Our beloved local businesses,
like Furr's and TLC
are only empty storefronts now,
thanks to big box greed.
We find it fascinating
that you pay no state taxes!
But if we pass Senate Bill 9,
you just might lose your axis.
The cranes, herons and eagles,
our treasured Bosque culture.
The only species that will thrive
is your commercial vulture!
Prophecies of 2011
I have in front of me a copy of Benjamin Radford’s 2011 predictions [Feature, “Psychic Predictions, Past and Future,” Jan. 6-12]. Is there any way to verify if any of them actually came true? My guess would be zero or close to it; his own estimate would probably be around 90 percent correct. Which of us is closer to the truth?
Writer Ben Radford responds: I appreciate Jack keeping me on my toes! I offered to write a follow-up for the Alibi, but we did the 2012 Mayan thing [Feature, “It’s the End of the World as We Know It?” Jan. 5-11] instead, and I never researched a follow-up. Jack's correct that some of my predictions were wrong, but here are some I got right from a quick search: 1) In August an earthquake struck in Peru and Brazil. 2) China was a UFO hotspot in 2011, including in August when a UFO caused planes to be diverted from the Chongqing Airport. 3) In April, hydrochloric acid leaked from a train tanker and evacuated homes in El Paso County. 4) Clarence Clemons, sax player for Springsteen’s E Street Band, died June 19, as predicted. Nowhere near 90 percent, but much higher than zero percent! After all, I'm not psychic!
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