Council Watch: Change the channel
 Alibi V.20 No.45 • Nov 10-16, 2011 

Council Watch

Change the Channel

Supporters of Quote ... Unquote, Inc., showed up in force at the Monday, Nov. 7 City Council meeting.

QUQ operates public access TV channel 27 and Encantada channel 26. Late last month, the nonprofit was told it was out of a gig, and a five-year contract was awarded to uPUBLIC.

QUQ Executive Director Steve Ranieri told the Council, “We have some serious problems with the bidding process.” In an interview with the Alibi, he said experience was weighted less than usual, which handed uPUBLIC an edge [“End Quote?” Nov. 3-9, 2011].

Other commenters at the Council meeting expressed dismay at the loss of many long-standing shows. Others talked about how it seemed city administration has been contentious with QUQ during the last few months. Nan Sanchez spoke passionately about her show, which is aimed at people, like her, with developmental disadvantages. “I have had a show for the last seven years,” Sanchez said. “I ask you guys to support channel 27. I’m serious.”

This issue was not on the agenda, but the Council will have to approve it before it goes into effect. Councilors did not take up the issue at this meeting, and it is not clear where they stand on the change.

The next meeting is set for 5 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 21, in the Council Chambers in the basement of City Hall.

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Issue Council's Take Reporter's Take
Bye-Bye Red Eye

Councilor Dan Lewis sponsored a bill repealing the red-light camera ordinance. He’s long been an opponent of the program. Councilors were asked to follow the voters’ directive and remove the city’s 14 red-light cameras. October’s election results were not binding, but Albuquerque voted firmly against the lenses.

The program has been in place for about seven years, and at first it generated money for the city. In 2009, the Legislature standardized ticket prices and started siphoning profits into state coffers. In January, researchers from the University of New Mexico suggested that if yellow lights were longer at intersections with cameras, there would be fewer crashes. So the lights were lengthened. Another side effect: Fewer tickets were issued. As a result, the program started losing money in 2011.
The ax fell with a 5 to 4 vote in favor of repealing the cameras. Lewis said voters made an informed choice when they sent the message to the city to get rid of the cameras. Lewis and Councilors Don Harris, Michael Cook, Ken Sanchez and Rey Garduño said regardless of their opinions, they ought to listen to the public and eliminate the program. Councilors Trudy Jones, Brad Winter, Isaac Benton and Debbie O’Malley said the program makes city streets safer, according to some studies. There are other viable ways to make the intersections safer.

That aside, how the Council voted is more interesting. For the first time in a while, this was not a partisan split. A couple of councilors said they were elected to make decisions for constituents based on what is best for the whole.

Winter said the election results in his district support the program, so that influenced his vote. Benton said the voter turnout was too low to get a good read on what residents want overall, so he voted to keep the cameras.
Other Items Introduced:

A measure that would allocate money to the Heroin Awareness Committee and the ¡explora! children’s museum from Philips Semiconductor’s clawback funds.

• A bill that would make it the responsibility of property owners to pull weeds in the spaces between property lines and curbs or alleys.

Two bills that would annex 100 acres on the south side of I-40 and west of the Unser Diversion Channel in the Atrisco Land Grant. The zoning would establish light special use and commercial businesses.
• The Council approved the bill, giving ¡explora! $26,000 and the Heroin Awareness Committee a little more than $100,000.

• Councilors approved this rule, showing support for citizens taking a little more responsibility in beautifying their neighborhoods.

• The annexation was approved. Sanchez said this was a wise move and has been in the works for a while.
• Heroin has been a silent killer in Albuquerque for decades. One of the projects on tap is a video about the dangers of opiates. It would behoove the committee to look into progressive ways to deal with the problem.

Alleys should be rescued by neighborhoods and turned into gardens, walkways, dog parks and other public spaces, just as the Valley’s ditches have been reclaimed.

• The city should annex as much of the former Atrisco Land Grant as possible. The area is steeped in New Mexico history.