Alibi V.20 No.38 • Sept 22-28, 2011 

Council Watch


Third time’s the charm? On, Monday, Sept. 19, the Council took another shot at passing a version of a resolution citizens have been demanding for months. The Council unanimously passed a compromise measure “affirming that the City Council and the mayor will work cooperatively and collaboratively with the Department of Justice should it choose to conduct a comprehensive review into whether there has been a pattern or practice of civil rights violations by the Albuquerque Police Department.”

That’s not quite the way the original was written. Mayor Richard Berry vetoed the first attempt, which directly asked the Justice Department to come probe APD.

The Council heard an hour and half of public comment on the topic that included two elementary aged girls, Christine and Allegra. They read a moving statement about the 14 sons, fathers, husbands, brothers and friends who were killed by the department in the last 20 months. “They did not have to die,” they said.

Rob Perry, the city’s chief administrative officer, said the city is already working with the Justice Department, which will make its own decision on whether to investigate.

In other business, the Council deferred rolling back the green-energy building codes put in place by former Mayor Marty Chavez. It also put off approving changes to the electronic sign ordinance. This will allow more time for councilors and the public to review the proposed sweeping changes.

The Council told the administration to speed up its search for a new city attorney, while John Soladay officially became the city’s chief operations officer. Soladay has been with the city since 1999 and most recently served as the director of the Solid Waste Management Department. Councilors said they were pleased to have him on board. His new position bumps his annual salary from $107,000 to $120,000.

The next Council meeting is set for 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 5, in the Council Chambers in the basement of City Hall.

Send your comments about the City Council to
Issue Council's Take Reporter's Take
Police Oversight

A discussion of reports by the Independent Review Office, which oversees APD, came late in the Council meeting. The annual report says there were 272 citizen complaints filed against the police department in 2010. The 2011 first-quarter report says there were 67 in the initial three months of the year.
Councilors voted to accept these two reports even though Independent Review Officer William Deaton was not present to field questions about them. Councilor Rey Garduño said it was hard to get answers without the report’s author there.

Deaton is helpful and informative, with knowledge and an experience base from which to pull. He has been under scrutiny after his review of former Public Safety Director Darren White that said White didn’t interfere after his wife’s car crash. So it would have been good to have Deaton on hand to answer questions.

Putting these types of items early on the agenda and requesting that report writers be present would be useful to all.

The Council considered a memorial supporting a ban on the use of steel-jaw leghold traps, strangulation snares and lethal traps for animals on state public lands. The memorial says a large number of “nontarget” creatures—wolves, dogs, cats, river otters, eagles, deer and even humans—are maimed or killed by these types of traps. The Council passed the memorial by a 7 to 1 vote. Councilor Debbie O’Malley didn’t vote. She’d been excused after the dinner break.

Councilor Trudy Jones said this is not a ban on trapping, just on ultra-cruel methods of trapping. She said she has seen what happens when animals are stuck in these traps and chew off their feet. Councilor Dan Lewis stood up for the trappers and said there were enough regulations in place to monitor this issue. The Council approved sending the message to the state with Lewis voting against it.

I was put off by local fur trappers and dealers who spoke in favor of using these inhumane traps to kill wild animals. Who wouldn’t be? They claimed one of their markets is made up of local Native Americans who use the furs in their ceremonies.

I’m not sure if their customers would like the manner in which the animals are killed. Kudos to the Council for sending this message to the state and joining the likes of the Humane Society of the United States in declaring these type of traps to be inhumane.