Alibi V.19 No.51 • Dec 23-29, 2010 

Council Watch

Cars for Coppers

Police union president Joey Sigala had a last-minute Christmas wish for the City Council at its Monday, Dec. 20 meeting. He asked the Council to put a little something in the Albuquerque Police Department’s stocking and consider reinstating a take-home car policy. Sigala said the officers have offered to chip in $20 a week, which would generate about $187,000 annually to help offset the overall cost. He also said the plan to end the vehicle benefit for about 180 officers come Jan. 1 would cause financial hardship.

“What we are asking for is a stay of execution,” he said.

Chief Administrative Officer David Campbell said the car policy costs the city about $600,000 every year, so there would still be a $400,000 tab. Campbell said the city will sit down with the police union to see if finances have changed and if the numbers will support allowing take-home cars again in the future.

The Nob Hill Main Street Program is competing with about 1,300 other communities, vying for two awards worth about $250,000. Councilor Rey Garduño asked everyone to support the Pepsi Refresh competitive grant process. The money would add solar lights to the numerous alleys and clean up 30 city blocks of alleys, sidewalks and streets. Three murals are also part of the plan, as well as more informational signs. The awards will go to the top two communities showing the most support. Garduño said as of Dec. 20, Nob Hill was ranked about 135 in the competition. “That means we have a good chance,” Garduño said, “but we need more support.” You can click to vote each and every day at until just before midnight on Friday, Dec. 31.

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Pat Down Prospects

Councilors were asked to approve Dan Lewis' proposal to study hiring private security contractors to replace the Transportation Security Administration at the Sunport. Airports can choose private screeners, but they would still be subject to TSA oversight and procedures, including full-body scans and pat downs. Several airports—including Kansas City, San Francisco and New Mexico's own Roswell Airport—have opted out of using TSA. City administration opposes the idea, saying Sunport security is running fine and there is no need to change it.
Councilor Trudy Jones said the resolution harshly criticized TSA without explanation. Councilor Debbie O’Malley took an “if it is not broken, don’t fix it” approach and said she did not understand the point of the resolution. Lewis argued there would be more flexibility and better customer service. He tried to save his resolution by asking to postpone the vote until the Council’s concerns could be addressed. But councilors batted down the measure in a 6-3 vote. Don Harris and Michael Cook supported the resolution along with Lewis. There are many problems with the TSA screening process. I was shocked the first time I had to choose between the full-body scan or pat down. While leaving it up to each airport to have its own screeners could lead to better customer service, it won’t change the invasive policies, and it might leave the door open for increased racial or cultural discrimination by some locales. Airport customers across the country should continue to demand TSA (and the federal government who gave TSA its power) not only listen to their concerns and suggestions but make reasonable decisions on security measures.