If you blinked, you might have missed the laid-back, less-than-an-hour Albuquerque City Council regular meeting of March 19, 2018.
Pamela Herndon, along with others from the Southwest Women’s Law Center, accepted a proclamation declaring March as Women’s History Month. Here in the US, Women’s History Month got started as International Women’s Day in 1911. President Jimmy Carter turned it into a week in 1980, and Congress made it official in 1982, expanding that to a whole month in 1987. The idea is to recognize and honor the uncountable ways women have contributed to life on this planet. President Carter spoke the simple truth when he said this about women and their role in history: “Too often the women were unsung and sometimes their contributions went unnoticed. But the achievements, leadership, courage, strength and love of the women who built America was as vital as that of the men whose names we know so well.”
Councilors Pat Davis and Klarissa Peña read the proclamation and reminded us that New Mexico had our first female Secretary of State in 1923, and that currently 25 of the 52 appointed positions at city hall are filled by women, and 4 of the 9 council seats are held by elected women.
Nevertheless She Persisted is this year’s overall theme according to the University of New Mexico’s Women’s Resource Center. The WRC has several events planned including an evening of women in music videos screening party on March 28, and a panel discussion on March 29. Check out: news.unm.edu/
Union fire employees got a 1.5 percent raise but it was not without contest. Councilors gave fire union employees a 1.5 percent raise in July and promised another 1.5 percent if gross receipts taxes were good. But gross receipts are down and the city faces a $40 million shortfall. The city’s chief financial officer said there is no source of funding in the future for the roughly $450K a year in reoccurring expenses. This is why three Councilors said no. “I think we are foolhardy to put something in that we don’t have a budget for in the following year,” practical Councilor Trudy Jones said. A similar measure died on a tied vote at the Council’s last meeting.
The raises will only cost about $211,000 for the rest of the fiscal year. The fiscal year starts July 1. Diego Arencón, president of the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 244 said the dedicated fire union employees appreciate the support as the city works together to get a handle on public safety crises. Firefighters, paramedics and medical technicians are often the first emergency personnel on scene, and respond to a wide variety of calls from fires of all kinds to cats up power trees to the most horrendous, bloodiest crimes the city has seen.
A second part of the resolution approved $761,000 to go towards affordable housing projects. The resolution says an estimated 50 percent of Albuquerque households are rent-burdened (rent is more than 30 percent of their household income), making affordable housing a real need in the metro area.
A lively round of applause sounded out for the city folks who are taking seats on city boards, commissions and committees: Andrea Plaza will join the Housing and Neighborhood Economic Development Committee; Patricia L. Chavez will take a seat at the ABQ Volunteers Advisory Board; Giovanni Haqani will lend his talents to the Cable Franchise and Hearing Board; Gwen Colonel and Bernadette Miera will help tackle issues on the Housing and Neighborhood Economic Committee and Dr. Sylvia M. Ramos will share her knowledge on the Old Town Portal Market Advisory Board.
Attention to those listed above. No more hosting or organizing political forums for city boards, commissions or committees. The hub-bub started when the city’s police oversight board set aside time for a mayoral candidate forum. This made Councilor Brad Winter grumpy and the Council agreed, passing this measure saying: “The hosting of political forums is not within the intended scope of any city board and commission, and such forums could jeopardize the public’s impression about the neutrality or objectivity of the City’s boards … applying otherwise scarce public resources to support political activity in any form is poor public policy.”
• Councilors will take up giving tickets to those who park cars in the bike lanes along city streets.
• Councilor Borrego wants to make a reversible driving lane along Paseo del Norte in her district to help alleviate traffic. She said people are spending too much time in traffic and should be home with their families.
• A measure urging the New Mexico State Legislature to support the End of Life Options Act giving terminally ill people medical aid in dying is in the works.
• Extending the cable franchise agreement’s expiration date until October 1, 2018 while the contract is negotiated is the intention of the Council.