Council Watch: Election Eve
 Alibi V.21 No.45 • Nov 8-14, 2012 

Council Watch

Election Eve

T’was the night before the election and all through City Hall, hardly a creature was protesting, no cops lined the wall.

There were many empty seats in the gallery at the Monday, Nov. 6 Council meeting. The usual dozen or more people speaking out against the Albuquerque Police Department dropped to just a handful. No other issues drew a crowd.

The Council heard a short presentation about how the renewable energy program is faring. Ken Mitchell, facilities division manager, said the city has initiated a number of conservation measures that save more than $1 million annually. Some of the changes include: ground- and roof-mounted photovoltaic solar arrays, solar thermal water heaters at city pools, LED light bulbs, and upgraded heating and cooling systems. Albuquerque spends around $18 million annually for electricity.

Looking for an interesting property? You may want check out the two of our oldest fire stations, which will be on the market soon. One station at High and Silver SE was built in 1925. It's valued at just less than $500,000. The other, on 47th Street and Central, was built in the ’50s and has been valued around $240,000. They're being replaced by two new facilities that are under construction. To see a fire station that has already made the transition to a busy restaurant, check out Duran’s Station on Menaul near Washington.

Send your comments about the City Council to

The next meeting
Monday, Nov. 19, 5 p.m.
Council Chambers in the basement of City Hall
View it on GOV TV 16 or at
IssueCouncil's TakeReporter's Take
Bucks for Ducks

The hot topic of the night was zoo prices. In September, Mayor Richard Berry impulsively raised adult admission from $7 to $10 before realizing he needed Council approval. Berry says the zoo requires more than $1 million extra to keep up with maintenance and upgrades to exhibits. Councilor Isaac Benton came up with a compromise bill to raise fees to $9—that’s between the mayor’s 10 bucks and Councilor Ken Sanchez’ proposal of $8.
Debate started with several proposals to generate revenue. But only one survived; Benton’s compromise bill passed on a 5-4 vote with Councilors Benton, Trudy Jones, Brad Winter, Michael Cook and Don Harris approving it. Councilors Rey Garduño, Ken Sanchez, Debbie O’Malley and Dan Lewis favored a smaller increase or no increase at all. Zoo ticket prices will be $9 for adults who are New Mexico residents, $12.50 for out-of-state adult visitors, $4.50 for seniors and $4 for children. Compromises are always good, especially with this divided Council. What’s really important, though, is that the zoo will get its much-needed funding boost. The compromise seemed to please zoo proponents who keep the best interest of the animals first and foremost.
Long List Kept Secret

The city’s consent agenda held 25 items including appointments to boards, committees and commissions. It also contained contract renewals and grant agreements. APD got an annual contract of $28,500 with Bode Aero Services to continue to offer office space at the Double Eagle Airport on the West Mesa. APD also received a $71,655 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice for two victim liaisons, as well as officer training to help combat violence against women. Two more grants were silently approved, giving APD another $741,000 for investigating drug crimes.
Unless a councilor requests an item be pulled off the consent agenda, there is no discussion of individual items, and all are passed with one vote. Councilor Garduño pulled two items for questioning. Those were the approval of Smith Engineering for a drainage project and the appointment of Pete Domenici Jr. to the city’s Water Protection Advisory Board. Garduño grilled Domenici about his career as a lawyer defending industrial polluters, but Domenici assured the Council that he would keep the best interests of city residents in mind. All of the items then passed with a unanimous vote. Consent agendas are supposed to be routine housekeeping. Lately, the Council’s consent agendas are packed with a dozen or more topics that should be teased out and discussed. The items might not be controversial, but they’re often things the citizens should know are being approved. Rubber stamping more than $800,000 for APD initiatives without discussion, for example, comes off a little shady.

If the Council stuffed fewer things into the consent agenda—or if the Council at least spent a little time reading the list out loud—it would go a long way in adding transparency to the process and increasing public trust.
Play Ball

Up for approval: An amendment to the Westland Sector Development Plan to allow for future schools, athletic fields, a park and other recreational spaces. The Westland plan encompasses about 1,700 acres south of the Petroglyph National Monument.
Councilor Sanchez commended Albuquerque Public Schools for its great work developing a $38 million Westside sports stadium. He said the stadium is about 50 percent done and looking good. Councilor Winter recused himself from the vote since he works as the APS operations manager and is involved in the project. “People from all over the city will be excited to come to the Westside to use these facilities,” Sanchez said. The measure passed unanimously.

It has been almost 50 years since Wilson Stadium was built and 75 years since Milne Stadium was built. These two have handled sporting events for 13 public high schools (and St. Pius) long enough. The new Westside stadium and adjoining grounds are a welcome addition to the city’s educational infrastructure. This type of building adds to the quality of life of residents in the area. Take a drive out to the Westside to see what’s new.