Alibi V.17 No.7 • Feb 14-20, 2008 

Council Watch

Warp Speed

The snowflakes came down fast, Council President Brad Winter talked even faster, and city councilors cleared the Feb. 4 agenda in two hours, including maximum yak time from the usual clutch of public speakers. Councilor Sally Mayer was excused.

Councilor Debbie O'Malley secured approval for the necessary loans and contracts to move forward on workforce housing for the Sawmill Community Land Trust. Another O'Malley bill mandating an 18-month notification before mobile home park owners evict tenants passed unanimously. The bill resulted from the long fight to save the homes of the more stubborn Del Rey Mobile Home Park residents, who resisted owners’ efforts to get rid of them by basically wrecking the park's amenities, clearing the way for high-priced homes.

As ominous weather reports came in from APD, Councilor Isaac Benton deferred his bill calling on the city to stop spending money on throwaway plastic bottles of water for city employees. Benton said, "I have a very short drive home, but others don't."

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Issue Council's Take Reporter's Take
Cradles Adrift

Last fall the Cradle Project was introduced with considerable publicity. The unique, Albuquerque-centered art installation will feature a thousand representations of empty cradles donated by a thousand artists. The cradles will be auctioned, with the money used to help an estimated 48 million children in Africa orphaned by poverty and disease. The installation, planned for the monumental blacksmith shop building in the Barelas railyard, would include a wall of slowly falling sand to symbolize lives in danger of being irrevocably buried.

Cradle Project director Naomi Natale said the city, having bought the railyard building, will not allow them to use it for the installation. Artist Barbara Grothus said the installation will be so large it will require 20,000 square feet, and few Albuquerque buildings can accommodate it. Chief Administrative Officer Bruce Perlman said there had been no written contract for the Cradle Project when the city acquired the railyard property. Perlman said the city had a contract with a film company that might run beyond the summer date of the installation, depending on the screenwriters' strike. The wall of falling sand could also represent the unending rivers of money we pour into red tape, destruction and general nonsense. Part of the exhibit's power promises to come from its emphasis on the lives that can be saved with just the stuff we throw away—scraps fallen from the table of our thoughtless excess. The cradles and cribs will be made of scrap materials. Besides offering the required volume of space, the railyard buildings reinforce the theme, being for all practical purposes throwaways that were headed for demolition.

Two water conservation bills were on the agenda. g/[/url]the Cradle Projec deferred a bill aimed at reducing landscaping water waste by regulating sprinkler systems, limiting water-thirsty varieties of turf and plantings in existing developments and banning them in new developments in favor of xeriscaping. The bill also encourages rainwater collection and discourages automatically offering water in restaurants and changing linens every day in lodgings.

The other Cadigan bill, passed unanimously with minimal discussion, gives the state engineer control over non-potable water lying more than 2,500 feet below the surface of the Earth.

Development heavy-hitters paraded to the speaker's podium to thank Cadigan for deferring the water regulation bill and to express dismay that they had not been consulted before the regulations were written. Lynne Anderson of the are feet, and few Albuquerque buildings can accommodate said the bill would have "an enormous negative effect financially." Regarding the state engineer bill, Cadigan said exploration companies have already been drilling deep wells into brackish water that lies below the water table. Oversight of such waters is excluded from regulation, with possibly serious consequences to water tables or land above. The Albuquerque area is already overbuilt far beyond its natural carrying capacity, with water being the limiting factor. When residents are already slated to start drinking river water—with or without black mold and sea monkeys—the proposed standards against wasting water seem reasonable.

It makes sense for the development community to boost the effectiveness of the standards. They certainly have an incentive, since reducing runoff and excessive toilet flush volume would seem a far more desirable option than permanent moratoriums on building. Regarding both bills, while a piece of property may be individually owned, the water table is shared by all of us.
Traffic Cameras

Racing to a close, councilors passed Ken Sanchez' bill reducing traffic camera fines for speeding and running red lights to the rate charged for officer stops. The new bill also eliminated seizure of some vehicles and allowed community service in lieu of fines.

Councilors ect d, ard bu and O'Malley said a majority of their constituents supported the cameras. O'Malley urged voters to contact the uquerque building and oppose the proposals for the state receiving the fine money. The bill passed unanimously.

This may be the last word on the cameras. It shouldn't be. Councilors should at least base the program's survival on eventually getting honest figures showing whether the cameras actually reduce collisions.