Newly sworn City Councilor Pat Davis said he had on his rookie hat for his first Albuquerque City Council meeting on December 9. Democrat Davis was elected last November to fill retiring Councilor Rey Garduño’s Southeast Heights seat at the government table. In the annual changing of the guard, West Side Republican Councilor Dan Lewis took the president’s gavel with Democrat Councilor Klarissa Peña sitting as Council Vice President. Councilor Isaac Benton will chair the council’s budget committee.
Councilors approved millions to go towards resolving some police department issues. $5 million will go towards settling litigation with the Albuquerque Police Officers Association; $2.7 million to give raises to patrol officers; and $500,000 to give retention bonuses to seasoned officers. The pay bump for street cops will make the average base pay for patrol officers $58,240 a year. About 50 lower rank officers nearing retirement will be eligible for a $10,000 incentive to stay with the department. Paul Broome, chief negotiator for the police union said settling the lawsuit will finally resolve issues that have been outstanding for many years between the union and the city. The lawsuit alleges that in 2010, the city withheld approved raises to the rank and file. The $5 million settlement will be dispersed to officers who were union dues paying members in 2010. This comes out to be about $5,000 for each eligible officer.
Free to Breastfeed
Councilors amended the city’s Public Indecency Ordinance to remove any doubt that it is okay for women to breastfeed in public. Councilor Ken Sanchez asked if anyone had ever been cited under this criminal ordinance for breastfeeding in public. City staff said not to their knowledge. City staff explained this amendment will clarify that it is not a criminally indecent act to breastfeed a child in public.
City Councilors failed to overturn Mayor Richard Berry’s veto of a resolution outlining how to go about doing Bosque Trail work. Berry and his administration said current trail work has to be done before the spring nesting season. Opponents say the work can wait until the end of nesting in September to allow the agreed upon public input process to continue.
Councilor Brad Winter channeled his inner high school principal by verbally spanking Chief Operations Officer Michael Riordan regarding public involvement in Bosque projects. Winter supported the city moving forward but warned the administration he will introduce legislation to stop the project if he hears that the public process is being circumvented. “If I were you I would work very, very hard to get that public input,” Winter scolded. He went on to urge the rest of the Bosque Working Group to resolve their differences.
Weeds in Eden’s Garden?
Councilor Diane Gibson questioned Police Chief Gordon Eden about his appointment of Major Jessica Tyler to head the Albuquerque Police Academy. Gibson said she was concerned that Tyler had been hired shortly after her resignation from the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office. Tyler allegedly was under investigation at the sheriff’s department for alleged policy violations. Tyler claims the investigation was retaliatory in nature because she filed a sexual harassment complaint prior to her resignation. Chief Eden defended hiring Tyler to run the training academy by saying she was intelligent, proven and a capable law enforcement leader.
Main Street Credits
Newbie Councilor Davis co-sponsored his first resolution to show council support for the reintroduction of state House Bill 583 and Senate Bill 414 in the upcoming legislative session. The bills propose that businesses that are within the state’s Main Street districts be eligible for state cultural property income tax credits. The city’s designated Main Street areas include the Nob Hill and the Downtown area. The resolution says property owners who get tax credits are more likely to rehabilitate historic properties.