After a month's vacation, city councilors returned on Aug. 2 and ripped through legislation like a squad of superheroes. Crying “One for All and All for One,” they passed every bill unanimously.
Brad “Mr. Clean” Winter carried the administration bill scouring the city's Commercial-2 zones free of new adult businesses while easing prohibitions in manufacturing zones.
Sally “The All-Seeing Eye” Mayer's bill authorized video cameras for the city's two Animal Services buildings in hopes the cameras will prevent dog thievery and protect workers unjustly accused of animal cruelty.
Michael “The Renovator” Cadigan carried the administration's bill authorizing $6 million in bonds for a comprehensive upgrade of the Albuquerque Convention Center.
And Martin “The Pre-Emptor” Heinrich nipped sneeze inducing trees in the bud, along with dangerous, derelict buildings and badly behaved bars. Heinrich attempted to prevent future condemnations with an ordinance that sets licensing and inspection standards for vacant buildings. Another bill required a nuisance prevention agreement before issuing or transferring a liquor license. A third bill sponsored by Heinrich and Cadigan revamped the city's tree regulations.
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Wildflower area residents have protested the sport for nearly three years, saying the flying discs are dangerous, and golfers trespass in their back yards to retrieve them. Larry Caudill, president of the Wildflower Area Neighborhood Association, said he'd collected 82 discs from his back yard.
Disc golfers noted the financial benefit to the city from their fellow players and said their organized events weren't to blame for trashing the park.
Councilor Eric Griego said the Parks department never moved on issues--dog parks, soccer fields or disc golfing--until there was a crisis. Griego later requested that the Audit Department review policies, procedures and management of Parks and Recreation. The amended bill banned disc golfing in Wildflower Park immediately and specified that the city report in 60 days on a more appropriate location.
I must confess, I'd never heard of disc golf before, but it sounds like a decent sport. That doesn't mean the city's vast majority of nondisc golfers should have to support it, any more than they should have to pay golfers' fees on regular courses or team fees for other sports.
Roland Malan, representing the national Association of Inspectors General, explained the difference between auditors and inspectors. Audits are public surveys of a broad range of records and activities. But inspections begin privately from specific tips, complaints or suspicions and then broaden when necessary, collecting evidence that may lead to criminal charges. Malan said care should be taken not to hire a "cowboy" for the Inspector General job who would run amok.
Rick Foley and Bob Casey of R.C.I. Inc. said the city already used their firm to do independent investigations. Asked about conflicts of interest, Casey said city entities that hired R.C.I. never instructed them to restrict the scope of an investigation. Griego requested a two-week deferment for further work on the bill.
Yes, indeed. Very seldom has the city considered a position so dependent on the character and experience of the person who holds the job. It's not "Who watches the watchers?" but "Who chooses the watcher?" and "What is the public perception of the watcher's integrity?"