Burque is a great place to work, live and play. That is, if one believes an enthusiastic presentation given at the Feb. 5 Albuquerque City Council meeting. Councilor Klarissa Peña was excused from the quick, yet impassioned meeting.
A much-needed bucket of good news was parlayed by Tania Armenta from VisitAlbuquerque.org. Here are just few of the good things she culled from national and global media outlets about our Rio Grande metropolis: Albuquerque is one of the best places in the country to travel to and features attractions like stunning wines, lots of local beer and the Paseo del Bosque bike path. The city is also one of the best cities for active families; it’s pet friendly; we have clean air; it’s a great place for creative people and Burque is one of the best ‘under the radar’ hip cities. Armenta painted a rosy picture, saying tourism jobs are at an all-time high, employing about 40,000 people in the city over the last few years.
While all of that can be offset by dwelling on problems common to every American city, like poverty, substance abuse, property crime, auto theft, homelessness and so on, Burque is still an enchanting place to explore and reside. Councilor Isaac Benton thanked all the people working in both public and private tourism businesses.
Albuquerque Police Officer Ryan Holets and his wife, Rebecca were given honors for adopting the infant of a drug addicted mother. The Holets were guests at the recent State of the Union address where they were given a well-deserved shout out. Last year, while working as a field training officer in his Southeast area beat, officer Holets came across a very pregnant couple injecting heroin.
Subsequently, that night, the Holets made a quick decision, followed by real action, when they decided to adopt the couple’s baby into their family—which already had four children, including an infant. The couple also helped the baby’s birth parents get off the streets and into a recovery process.
Officer Holets thanked the Council for the recognition. He also acknowledged the courageous steps taken by the baby’s birth parents, Crystal and Tom, by giving up their baby so she could have a better life. “We don’t think we are special people. We didn’t do this with the thought that anyone would know. We ask that all of us recognize the humanity of those who are suffering, especially under addiction. Like the resolution says, this has “shown us true compassion” and “brought hope to each, and every one of us.” The couple named the baby girl Hope.
A mean-spirited and ignorant citizen disrupted the Council meeting and was evicted from the chambers after repeatedly yelling racial slurs, and that he hated people of a certain ethnicity from south of the border. After several polite attempts by Council President Ken Sanchez asking him to please stop, he left the room screeching racial epithets, followed by a police officer and a member of the Council staff.
Another feisty, but polite, exchange from a passionate citizen took place about how the new pedestrian safety law is unfair by making it a crime to give money or food to panhandlers at intersections. Councilor Trudy Jones jumped in to claim that the pedestrian safety bill does not keep anyone from giving money or food to people. She said all one should do is to ask the person to meet you in a nearby safe place away from traffic hazards. “We are not telling you that you cannot in any way offer help to anyone in need,” Jones argued.
A couple of people with experience on both sides of the law were appointed to the Police Oversight Board. Chelsea Van Deventer, who has worked at the public defender’s office for the past five years, and James Larson, a retired federal Secret Service and Dallas area law enforcement officer, will take their seats at the civilian police board at its next session.
Councilor Pat Davis, who was a cop for a short while, thanked members of the Albuquerque police department for working with other area law enforcement agencies in a recent multi-agency sting to tackle the problem of auto theft in the city.
A year-old proposal to raise the tax on gasoline died a quiet death due to lack of Council action. Councilor Isaac Benton sponsored the bill about a year ago. The 2-cents per gallon tax would have generated $4.8 million and gone to much needed road repairs around the city. Councilor Benton channeling his inner Terminator said it’ll be back, because the city needs the bucks.
Nuevo Atrisco, a new affordable housing project, was approved for the city’s Westside. The 88-unit project will be adjacent to the new Patrick Baca Library located at Central and Unser, and use about $2.5 millions of Workforce Housing Trust funds.