Alibi V.14 No.17 • April 28-May 4, 2005 

Council Watch

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The First Amendment: “  Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
The First Amendment: “ Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
Tim McGivern

After slogging through a Committee of the Whole meeting, councilors tucked into their regular April 18 agenda. Councilor Sally Mayer's bill reinstating the community mediation program passed unanimously, as did Councilor Martin Heinrich's bill requiring that city buildings over 5,000 square feet meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards. Councilor Tina Cummins' bill bringing Albuquerque fire safety regulations in line with the recently adopted International Fire Code passed unanimously. And Councilor Craig Loy got a unanimous go ahead for his bill allowing a disabling "boot" to be placed on the vehicles of first-time DWI offenders. Councilor Eric Griego again pushed the Downtown arena negotiations, calling for either a viable financing proposal from Arena Management Company or a new bidding process. Councilor Miguel Gomez, hinting at a competing plan, called for a second hearing, once more halting the bill.

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IssueCouncil's TakeReporter's Take
Did Brian Darling Pass Through Burque?
Councilor Michael Cadigan sponsored a bill calling for a bus rapid transit study for Coors from Cottonwood Mall to Central, a critically needed service if there ever was one. An administration amendment changing the funding source for the study drew an interesting question.
Cadigan asked who had drafted the amendment. The administration pointed to Chief Financial Officer Gail Reese, who replied, "Ms. Reese has no clue." Cadigan withdrew the mysteriously orphaned amendment and the proposed study bill passed unanimously.Albuquerque is so much classier than Florida. An anonymous memo circulating among Senate Republicans touted Terri Schiavo as "a great political issue" to excite their pro-life base. Right-wing bloggers labeled the memo a Democratic dirty trick until Brian Darling, legal counsel for Mel Martinez (R-Fla.), confessed authorship.
Will Peak Oil Help?
Loy's cruising bill gave the Council the power to pass resolutions designating areas of the city as no-cruising zones. A previous Council action defined cruising as going from point A to point B more than three times in a two-hour period. The debate kept returning to the difficulty of controlling dangerous behavior without criminalizing harmless driving, and to the point at which noncriminal behavior becomes disruptive through the sheer numbers participating. A few councilors reminisced about their own cruising days.
Gomez worried about minority youth being specifically targeted. Loy, a former APD Captain, replied, "If law enforcement wants to target a specific group, they don't need a cruising bill to do it." Heinrich asked if the bill included a sunset provision. City Attorney Bob White said the Council could include a time limit in any resolution creating a no-cruising zone. Griego said he'd seen "incredibly inappropriate" cruiser behavior, adding the bill targets "kids we haven't done a lot for." Saying he was troubled that neither cruisers nor business owners, had showed up to speak, Griego asked for a second hearing. Young people have been cruising ever since they got access to cars. The motives don't seem to have changed much: nothing else interesting to do, checking each other out with an eye to hooking up, wanting to do various things not allowed in adult-supervised venues. And then there are the criminals using the cruising crowd for camouflage. But what about rising gas prices? By now, even those folks who don't feel right about themselves unless they're driving a Hummer have caught on. Bicycle cruising, maybe?
And Your Point Is?
Cummins requested a special audit of the Office of Council Services because, "We ask other divisions to be audited." Cummins had no specific reason other than saying the City Council should be held to the same level of scrutiny.
Director of Council Services Laura Mason said the Council was on the audit list, but the year's audit plan hadn't been devised. Cadigan said audit requests usually directed the audit office on what to look for, but this bill didn't. The bill passed unanimously.Hey, in an election year what councilor will vote against such a squeaky clean bill? Maybe the Frist and Delay judge-bashing crowd will jump on the bandwagon and demand that justices serve a jail term because, well, they sentence others.
If a Protest Falls in the Forest
After the police overreaction to protests against the U.S. invasion of Iraq in March 2003, the city worked with all parties involved to adopt an updated ordinance titled the Albuquerque Free Expression and Parade Ordinance Pertaining to the Use of Public Property for Marches, Demonstrations and Parades.
Under the new bill, protestors don't need permits if they don't block streets, and protesting groups no longer have to pay for police protection. Several people spoke in favor of the new law. Cadigan remarked that April 18 was Patriots Day, commemorating the start of the American Revolution. The bill passed unanimously.Good. Recently protests have been "disappeared" with increasing severity. Protestors against the administration are herded into free speech zones far from media coverage. Huge anti-administration protests overseas are ignored. And only Bush supporters are allowed into his taxpayer-funded rallies.