Alibi V.21 No.37 • Sept 13-19, 2012 

Council Watch


Noticeably absent from the Wednesday, Sept. 5 City Council agenda were the families of men killed in officer-involved shootings. Meeting after meeting for more than a year a half, a dozen or more family members have showed up to speak about problems within Albuquerque Police Department.

The Council honored local firefighters who went to New York City to help after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Councilors removed several items from the short agenda before tackling what remained of the gutted meeting. They approved, on an 8-to-1 vote, a measure that waives the city’s voter identification requirement for the November election. Councilors said this was necessary in order to put the Paseo interchange question on the ballot. The city has this requirement, but the state does not, which created a legal hurdle. Councilor Michael Cook voted against the move.

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Monday, Sept. 17, 5 p.m.
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In a wave of a municipal magic wand, two controversial items disappeared. Councilors were slated to consider bypassing voters and authorizing a $50 million bond sale for an overhaul of the I-25 and Paseo del Norte interchange. They said since their split on the issue hadn't changed, there was no reason to waste time in debate. Instead, citizens will decide, and the issue will be on the ballot Nov. 6.

Councilors also yanked a proposal to ask voters in November about whether to raise the city’s minimum wage by a buck.

There was zero public discussion about pulling the minimum wage question off the agenda. Members of Organizers in the Land of Enchantment said they would file a lawsuit in District Court. Outside of the meeting, several councilors said there was concern over a typo in the ballot summary where the words “employers” and “employees” were switched, making the proposal and petitions read as if the employees would have to pay the employers the higher wage. They also said they were unclear if they had to pass a resolution to get it on the ballot, since several years ago a similar measure was put before voters without a Council resolution. Over the summer, more than 25,000 residents signed petitions asking for a public vote to raise the city’s minimum wage from $7.50 to $8.50. City Clerk Amy Bailey said the petitions had been certified, and there were enough valid signatures to move the question forward to city voters. District Court Judge Nan Nash denied the request to put the measure on the ballot after an emergency hearing Monday, Sept. 10.

This is a mandate from the public and should have been treated with a little more respect. A discussion of the proposal should have been held by the Council. Instead the public was left with the impression that some backroom deal had been worked out by the Council, and that does nothing to instill trust.