Eye of the Storm
 Alibi V.17 No.11 • March 13-19, 2008 

Council Watch

Eye of the Storm

While world crises loomed, historic presidential primaries sizzled and trials for courthouse kickbacks stalled, the March 3 Council meeting moseyed along.

Councilor Ken Sanchez introduced a bill attempting a compromise with Gov. Bill Richardson that would allow Albuquerque sufficient funds from red-light camera fines to keep the program going. The governor signed a bill on March 5 that sends most of the camera fines to the state. 

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

Issue Council's Take Reporter's Take
Aftermath of a Tragedy

Last December, Tak Yi and Pung Yi, prominent members of Albuquerque’s Korean community, were murdered in their home. Two traveling magazine salesmen were arrested for the crime. In response, the Chavez administration sent a bill to the Council creating a No Knock list. The list would bar door-to-door solicitors from visiting city residents who had put their names on it.

Asst. City Attorney Greg Wheeler said Integrity PGM, the company that hired the alleged killers, had not applied for a soliciting permit. Wheeler said Integrity’s sales force used high-pressure techniques on elderly people and falsely claimed money from magazine sales would go to Iraq veterans and children’s cancer treatment. Wheeler said the proposed law is compatible with laws in other cities.

Councilor Michael Cadigan said everything banned by the new bill was already against the law, and if the existing law had been enforced the tragedy might have been averted. Wheeler said the new law made prohibited solicitations liable to civil actions. Cadigan said the new law, if passed, would make legitimate door-to-door businesses such as insurance sales illegal. He said people could get the same results by putting a No Solicitations sign on the door.

Councilor Debbie O’Malley said she had concerns the bill might make the city liable if someone whose name was on the list had a troublesome solicitation. She said she shared Cadigan’s concern that the new law reflected a “Let’s do something, anything” response to the Yi tragedy. The issue was deferred for 30 days.
One of the Yi sons spoke eloquently about hoping the bill would help stop what happened to his parents from ever happening to anyone else.  

But most of the Council raised legitimate objections to the bill as written. Councilor Don Harris noted a difference from No Call lists was that addresses changed more frequently than phone numbers. Councilor Trudy Jones said the good guys would follow laws already on the books while the bad guys would ignore the new law. Councilor Sally Mayer said after the Council’s experience with red-light camera fines she wanted more information about how the law would be administered and funded and about the proposed database. Seems like the better route would be amending the existing law.
TIDDs—Back Where They Belong

Councilors Cadigan, O’Malley and com/news/200 sponsored a bill calling on the Chavez administration to create one or more tax increment development districts (TIDDs) for the core city, specifically Downtown, Fourth Street or the Barelas/Railyard area.
Benton said inner-city areas were much harder to develop than land on the fringe. Cadigan said core TIDDs were being used successfully all over the country. O’Malley said TIDDs were created for core redevelopment. The bill passed unanimously. Although state ons spoke eloquentl and others put the brakes on $629 million in fringe development TIDDs for s to t, the tax subsidies are much too lucrative to disappear for good. They should be directed at core city redevelopment first.
Meeting Yourself Coming and Going

Councilors approved an administration bill to hire the engineering firm sed-rape-califor to begin work on Lead and Coal along the stretch from Broadway to Washington.
After various people on a Lead-Coal task force supported the bill, the Council passed it unanimously. Benton said the first phase of work would probably include re-striping the one-way streets to include two traffic lanes, a bike lane and a parking lane. A completion date has not yet been established. Traffic moves too fast through the residential neighborhoods along the avenues. On the other hand, Lead and Coal are the only effective east-west corridors between Central and Gibson. They may become more congested when work gets underway.
Who Knew?

Cadigan asked Chief Administrative Officer Bruce Perlman whether the city was reimbursing n-accused-rape-ca for unsold tickets on nonstop flights to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Perlman said the payments were not reimbursements but a risk-sharing agreement with Frontier for the new flights, and the payments had so far been minimal.
Cadigan speculated that routes to Mexico City or Guadalajara would be more likely to bring wealthy Mexicans to Albuquerque to shop, bringing some return on the city’s investment. Perlman said the return flights were about as full as outbound ones. Cadigan asked how many returnees were simply Americans coming back from vacation. We non-corporations are soooo missing out on city goodies. Why couldn’t some of these empty Puerto Vallarta seats the administration is paying for go to deserving citizens—students and teachers of the month, police and fire personnel serving above or beyond the call of duty, or even those who sit through long Council meetings?