Alibi V.21 No.42 • Oct 18-24, 2012 

Council Watch

Rain on Downtown’s Parade

Did Nob Hill steal the annual Twinkle Light Parade out from under Downtown and Old Town? Councilor Isaac Benton took Cultural Services Director Betty Rivera to task about the location switch at the Monday, Oct. 15 meeting. Rivera explained the route change happened after business owners complained about blocked roads and said parade watchers just wanted to come in their stores to use the restroom, not to buy goods or services. Rivera said Cultural Services decided to adopt the roving Summerfest model and try different neighborhoods. Councilor Rey Garduño said Nob Hill did not actively petition for the change, but the area is happy to host. The parade will be held on Saturday, Dec. 1, at 5:15 p.m. It will start at Central and Washington and proceed to Johnson Field at the University of New Mexico.

Councilors postponed a decision on zoo admission fees so they can come to a compromise with the city’s administration. The Mayor’s Office already raised the price from $7 to $10 for adults. At the last meeting, Councilors Ken Sanchez and Debbie O'Malley said that was too high. Both sides agree that the zoo needs more revenue ASAP in order to keep up with much-needed maintenance. They just can’t agree how to get there. The measure will be back on the table in a couple of weeks.

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Monday, Nov. 5, 5 p.m.
Council Chambers in the basement of City Hall
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Issue Council's Take Reporter's Take
Strip Club Scrutiny

New regulations on sexually oriented businesses with live entertainment (strip clubs) were on tap. The bill included a ban on closed-door VIP rooms, and beefed up licensing requirements and employee record-keeping. A previous draft of the bill included a ban on touching during lap dances, but that was dropped. The most recent version includes a requirement that every bathroom and dressing room have information on how to contact the National Human Trafficking Resource Center. Supporters said these new rules would discourage prostitution, human trafficking and other problems related to these businesses.
One public speaker told the Council that sex work does not equate to sex slavery. Councilors Dan Lewis, Benton and O’Malley (in a a rare fit of bipartisanship) sponsored the bill and said they were not trying to legislate morality but create a safer environment for workers and patrons. Councilors Trudy Jones and Rey Garduño voted against the measure saying there was no evidence human trafficking happens in these businesses, and they should not be singled out. Albuquerque Police Chief Ray Schultz suggested otherwise, saying “I urge the councilors to drive through the parking lots and side streets around these establishments to see what can go on.” Councilor Jones said if the city is cracking down on adult entertainment, landscaping businesses and hotels should be looked at as well for human trafficking. The measure passed 7-2. In essence, this bill makes it possible for the city’s police department or anyone from the city, like a zoning official, to enter a strip club and demand to see a list of people working there, with names, addresses, birth dates and other personal information. The New Mexico chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union has said it has a problem with this aspect of the new regulations because it treats those who choose to work in this business as if they are guilty of something. We all should have a problem with this even if we don’t approve of adult entertainment. Both Chief Schultz and Commander Doug West admitted during the meeting that there was no evidence human trafficking had been found in the city’s strip clubs and that there are state and federal agencies already in place to handle human trafficking arrests if evidence comes to light. The city should be focusing on keeping people safe across the board, not violating the privacy of those who choose a profession that’s perfectly legal but which others find distasteful.
Synthetic Drug Ban

A bill outlawing the sale of spice and bath salts was up for approval. The measure was originally introduced during the summer but had to be tightened up after input from police and other city departments.
In a unanimous decision with little discussion, councilors approved the ban. They also included a three-strikes provision that allows the city to yank a business license if a shop is cited for selling the stuff three times within five years. I agree with Councilor O’Malley who said these are dangerous drugs that don’t need to be openly sold. She pointed out that one never knows what is really in them, and they could cause psychotic episodes in the user and harm to people the user comes into contact with. (It should be noted that the Miami face-chewer didn't have bath salts in his system, according to a toxicology report.)