Alibi V.19 No.23 • June 10-16, 2010 

Council Watch

Berry, Berry Bad

A hundred or more people carrying flowers, white crosses, flags and heart-shaped cardboard signs showed up at the Monday, June 7 City Council meeting. They were protesting Albuquerque’s policy of allowing federal officers to check the immigration status of everyone who is arrested.

Councilor Dan Lewis had planned on introducing a resolution calling for the federal government to enforce immigration laws and tighten up the border. He pulled the resolution shortly before the meeting.

The demonstrators slipped in quietly after the Council had begun its business, filling empty chairs, then standing along the back walls before spilling out into the lobby. Their message: Mayor Richard Berry's agreement with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) makes undocumented workers fearful of police and turns immigration into a political football. The signs reminded the city that immigrants contribute to the tax base, too. One read, “The Mayor's Policy is Berry, Berry Bad for Public Safety."

When Rev. Daniel Erdman of the Iglesia Congregacional Unida Church addressed the Council, all of the protesters stood. “The Albuquerque community cannot be divided," he said. "Immigrants cannot be blamed for what is wrong with our community. We celebrate our differences, and our tradition of diversity expresses the best of ourselves.”

He said the demonstrators stand against any political tactic that makes immigration criminal for those who violate a social code while looking for a better life. They renounce the terminology of calling someone an "illegal." And they want to work toward civility, unity and humanity in our city.

Send your comments about the City Council to
Issue Council's Take Reporter's Take
Extreme Makeover: Blight Edition

The Clayton Heights and the Near Heights metropolitan redevelopment plans were up separately for approval. Clayton Heights encompasses the area around Isotopes Park and the airport. Near Heights is the Kirtland area along Gibson and San Mateo. The plans include streetscapes, improved traffic plans and spruced-up parks.
A handful of residents spoke in support of the plans. Councilor Isaac Benton said he hoped the changes would turn around the negative images of both areas. Councilor Rey Garduño said the districts would not only be improved, but the entire city would be a better place. The bills passed unanimously. Both of these areas have been designated as “blighted” by federal and local governments. Being called “blighted” can have its upside, as it allows for increased federal redevelopment dollars to flow into the neighborhoods. This is a good deal for these key regions of the Duke City that need an urban makeover.
Santa’s Bag of Transit Money

A measure to redirect $20 million set aside for the Paseo del Norte and I-25 rebuild was introduced. The money will be put back into other city transportation projects. The city set the cash aside in anticipation of $340 million in federal stimulus money that never came through. Projects will be selected by the full Council after discussion.
After hearing from the administration and asking some questions, the Council approved putting the $20 million back on to the city’s streets. Longtime Council meeting attendee Silvio DeAngelo spoke against the measure and said the city is still spending cash it does not have. “This is not a Santa Claus bag of money,” he said. I can see DeAngelo’s point. In light of a multimillion-dollar deficit, the city doesn’t have money to throw around. But the $20 million was generated by the quarter-cent transportation tax and should be spent on fixing potholes, improving streets and maintaining public transportation in the city.