MONTEREY BAY, CA – Here’s a big shout out to the techies at the city of Albuquerque GOV-TV for their live streaming of City Council meetings. This makes it possible for civic geeks like this reporter to keep up with all the Council excitement when on the road and while the Pacific Ocean rolls its waves in the background.
The Albuquerque City Council was absent President Dan Lewis thereby handing Vice President Klarissa Peña the gavel for the Council’s regular Feb. 17 meeting. Council members were in group hug mode, passing all of the items debated unanimously. Councilors went into executive session to discuss pending litigation with Public Service Company of New Mexico over rate revisions. Even with the secret pow-wow the meeting blew by in record time of just about two hours.
After weeks of public comment urging the city to end its sister city relationship with Rehovot, Israel, City Councilors got an answer about how this designation is determined. Chief of Staff Gilbert Montaño said the Sister City board is an independent, non-profit organization with a 15-member board. The mayor and Council appoint the members. “As far as a country being selected, it is the board vote only,” Montaño said. “It is designed to be an independent board.”
Councilor Diane Gibson has a new hero. Gibson honored Albuquerque city resident Mary Lovato. Lovato turned 95 on Valentine’s Day. Gibson said Lovato is an outstanding community role model. Lovato worked at JC Penney for 40-plus years, was married for 60 years and has never missed voting in any election. Lovato accepted the honor with four generations of her family surrounding her. Asked about the honor bestowed on her, Lovato humbly replied, “This is just awesome.”
Councilors Isaac Benton, Pat Davis and Brad Winter took Chief Administrative Officer Michael Riordan to task over the changes in the millions needed for the proposed Albuquerque Rapid Transit project along Central. The plan’s cost seemingly rose from $100 million to $119 million. The city administration was asked for an explanation. “It has always been $100 million for the ART and the additional $19 million is for the added amenities along the route,” Riordan said. Those include sidewalks, landscaping, lighting and other community concerns, he said. Councilor Winter said that the ART project is a very hard sell in his Far North East Heights district. “I understand it is the mayor’s project, but we have many road projects that need to be done in my district; I want some help for them.”
The Downtown arts scene got a long deserved boost with an official designation to the Albuquerque Downtown Arts and Cultural District. This will allow historic property owners to double the value of their tax credits and increase the ability to get money from economic development, MainStreet and other grants and loans. The area is from about 10th Street on the west to Broadway on the east and Coal on the south to Lomas on the north. This designation as a cultural district has been in planning since 2008. The first step is to apply for a $50,000 grant to come up with a master plan.
Miranda Viscoli from New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violence gave a sobering presentation on gun violence in New Mexico. “Our sole purpose is to prevent gun violence, we are not here to take away anyone’s guns,” Viscoli said. Some of the stats Viscoli shared included the fact that New Mexico has the ninth highest death by firearm rate in the United States. From 2001 to 2010, 2,932 people were shot and killed in New Mexico. Guns are the second leading cause of death for kids under 18. The ugly gun violence stats are shocking. NMPGV hands out gun trigger locks for free. They will also come to any event or meeting to share information and gun locks.
“It just takes someone that watches NOVA.”
“The people out there want something different; start thinking different.”
“We are all more than the worst thing we did or almost did. We can change.”
“This is horrific but not new.”
“When is the cable board going to be reinstated?”
“All that is done here is in vain. This federal flag represents the federal reservation not the federal republic.”
“I know that APD knows where I am every minute of the day.”
“We go around Downtown cleaning up murder weapons.”
“Two minutes is never enough time.”