Alibi V.25 No.47 • Nov 24-30, 2016 

Council Watch

Council Weighs in on APD and Thanksgiving

Also on agenda: consent and ditches

City Councilors Isaac Benton and Pat Davis get all patriotic
City Councilors Isaac Benton and Pat Davis get all patriotic

A light Thanksgiving agenda greeted a bare bones Albuquerque City Council at its regular Nov. 21 meeting. Councilors Isaac Benton, Trudy Jones and Klarissa Peña were excused from the meeting. Council President Dan Lewis along with Councilors Diane Gibson, Pat Davis, Brad Winter, Ken Sanchez and Don Harris put city business to rest in under two hours with little public comment.

Grilling the Brass

City Councilor Pat Davis led the questioning of Police Chief Gorden Eden and City Attorney Jessica Hernandez over a sworn affidavit recently filed in a police shooting lawsuit. The affidavit was filed by a former Albuquerque Police Department records employee. The affidavit accuses officers of altering and/or deleting lapel camera video, with the knowledge and blessings of some supervisors. Both of the city’s top brass heads said the original footage from officers’ body cameras are automatically retained intact by the department’s computer system once downloaded. Hernandez said the computer program creates an audit trail that can be viewed to show every time the tape was accessed. One Councilor asked about whether the footage could be altered prior to being downloaded. Hernandez didn’t quite answer clearly but she said there has not been any solid evidence to substantiate any of the allegations in the affidavit. She did say that in some cases the department does redact copies of the lapel tapes prior to releasing to the public.

Auto Theft Shuffle

Dr. Peter Winograd, a former University of New Mexico professor, did a presentation regarding his $68,000 crime study that was ordered by Mayor Richard Berry. His findings show that auto thefts dominate the city in regard to crime. Winograd reports that, in 2014, there were 3,000 plus stolen cars reported; 2015 saw 5,000 plus. He said he concluded that the rise in auto theft is due to repeat offenders getting out of the local jail as the county has worked to reduce overcrowding due to a federal lawsuit. Winograd’s study has been criticized by the director of the Institute for Social Research who said the correlation between his data and the rise in auto thefts is flawed. Attorney Peter Cubra, who is involved in the federal overcrowding litigation, reported that the study was wrong by implying that keeping people locked up prior to conviction is a crime deterrent.

As Council President Lewis’ gavel struck to adjourn the meeting, he wished everyone a Happy Thanksgiving.

Disclosure Agenda

The consent agenda is intended to be a catchall of the city’s minor, routine business that doesn’t need discussion. The items are all approved with one vote, unless one of the Council members pulls an item off the consent agenda for individual discussion and approval. The vague definition leaves open a way to get around disclosure of conflicts and provides a good way to hide serious and costly decisions. Robert’s Rules of Order don’t help much and should probably be updated to be more specific. This Council seems to routinely pack its consent agenda with a number of items that would be best discussed individually in front of the public. This meeting’s consent agenda was short but tucked into it was a written report from the mayor and his aides regarding a financial plan to fund the controversial Albuquerque Rapid Transit project currently being constructed on Central from Coors to Louisiana. There was no discussion of the written report and it was passed along with a lease approval, committee appointments and a report on the proposed Edith Waste Transfer Station.

Ditch Trails

There was some good news for city bicyclists, walkers and joggers when the Council approved the Alameda Drain and Trail Master Plan. The Alameda drain runs nine miles from I-40 along Second Street to its northern end. The Alameda drain will join the majority of ditches and drains throughout the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District as improved recreational trails. There are about 300 miles of ditches crisscrossing the North and South Valleys along the Rio Grande. About 10 years ago a similar Ditches to Trails plan was implemented to improve other ditch banks within the city limits.

Next Time

• Two public hearings were deferred along with an ordinance on how to deal with the growing number of vacant buildings in the city.

• Councilors deferred amending how the Council funds educational, cultural and social service projects.

• Councilors introduced a comprehensive bill expanding and outlining the availability of naloxone in public city facilities such as the zoo, libraries, the Sunport, senior and community centers along with many other city facilities. Naloxone is a drug used to reverse opioid overdoses.

As Council President Lewis’ gavel struck to adjourn the meeting, he wished everyone a Happy Thanksgiving.

Send your comments about the City Council to carolyn@alibi.com.

The next meeting
Monday, Dec. 5, 5 pm
Council Chambers in the basement of City Hall
View it on GOV TV 16 or at cabq.gov/govtv