Albuquerque City Councilors were all about music, dance and better health before tackling a robust agenda at their Nov. 7, 2016, regular meeting.
For 32 years, dancers of all abilities have been pirouetting at Burque’s Buen Viaje Dance Company. For this, the city proclaimed Friday, Nov. 11 to be “Buen Viaje Day.” The company is part of the VSA North Fourth Art Center, which is a contemporary arts center with an official mission to include people of all abilities and all disabilities. VSA North Fourth is affiliated with the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
The Council declared November to be “Diabetes Awareness Month.” According to sponsor Councilor Ken Sanchez, there are more than 240,000 folks in New Mexico with diabetes, including himself. In Bernalillo County alone, a whopping nine percent are estimated to have diabetes. Events planned include an awareness walk on Nov. 13 and the city’s “Healthy Lunch Day,” scheduled for Nov. 15
Some of the best young pianists in the world will be hitting the ivory keys here in Burque next week when the prestigious Olga Kern International Piano Competition comes to town. The event begins Sunday, Nov. 13, with an opening reception; there will also be a performance featuring competition finalists playing with the New Mexico Philharmonic Orchestra at Popejoy Hall on Saturday, Nov. 19. The event concludes at the National Hispanic Cultural Center on Sunday, Nov. 20. Mayor Richard Berry is so excited about this he issued an executive order proclaiming Nov. 20 to be “Olga Kern Day.” Daily events are open to the public and are being held at various locations including the National Hispanic Cultural Center.
In a report that sounded like another song and dance, Chief Operations Officer Michael Riordan gave a soft-shoe effort to answer a pressing Council question: What is the back-up funding for the already-in-progress, supposedly federally funded, $120 million Rapid Transit Project? Only $51 million has been guaranteed by the Feds. Riordan said there is no cause for worry because it would be an “historic event” if the Federal Transit Administration backed out of the recommended funding of the additional $69 million. The glitch is that Congress has not approved the FTA recommendations so the city is using its own money to start the 9-mile heavy construction project. Riordan said that our city is not alone in waiting for the rest of the money, and there are 7 other projects around the country waiting as well. In the end, Riordan didn’t propose a specific financial contingency plan. But he encouraged people to not be afraid of the mess and head to Central to support the businesses impacted by what could be 18 months of construction.
Councilor Pat Davis sponsored a bill which updates an existing law that says it is a crime to make any threat by face or phone, against public places, such as schools, sports arenas and other community gathering places. This bill updates the law to add making threats through social media outlets like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram a petty misdemeanor as well. A recent false social media bomb threat closed a Burque middle school for a day and cost taxpayers thousands for law enforcement and bomb squad folks.
City Councilors gave ProView, a local public access all-sports network a $25,000 bump. Steve Davis and Adam Diehl from ProView said they appreciate the support, and that their programming has been very beneficial to all of the area athletes and their families and fans. ProView broadcasts local games on Comcast public access channel 26. Diehl said they have put up 45 hours a week of new local content since they took over the use of channel 26 in August. He said they have gone from broadcasting 500 to 800 games per year.
Public comment has been fairly subdued during the last couple of meetings. That said some of this week’s comments included:
• “If we pay federal income tax, we pay to paralyze children who will never run again.”
• “Thanks for the A.RT. I am looking forward to my kids taking safe buses.”
• “Our actions speak louder than our words.”
• “Rapid rip off.”
• “You make me come up here and say absurd things.”
The Council also accomplished the following:
• Amended the Flood Hazard Control Ordinance to include the latest map from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
• Created a new city fire department basic life support rescue pilot project. This will help emergency medical folks to better handle the large number of drunk, substance abuse, or down and out calls that take away personnel and resources from other high priority calls.
• Approved the Coronado Metropolitan Redevelopment Plan which will guide development in the area roughly around Alameda and I-25.
• Approved amending the capital program to include a new gym for the North Domingo Baca Multigenerational Center on the far northeast side of the city.
• Authorized a special municipal election concerning public financing of mayoral candidates to run at the same time as the February 2017 school board election.
• Accepted but did not comment on reports from the city’s Civilian Police Oversight Agency, Office of Internal Audit and Office of the Inspector General.
• Put off a number of items including a tax increment district for the Petroglyphs area of the West Mesa.