Motorcycles, more about helicopters and hundreds of new jobs highlighted the chatter of a quick and easy Sept. 17 Albuquerque City Council meeting.
Councilors not only approved putting a handful of millions towards a new police department helicopter but also towards providing cell phones to all sworn police officers. This will allow officers to contact language translators while out on calls involving non-English speakers. A wide variety of language interpreters will be on the other end of a specially set up telephone line to provide real-time interpretations for police officers. Apparently, the department has had to patch together funding to give officers cell phones to use on duty, this funding will fill in the gaps so there is no excuse for not being able to communicate with residents who speak non-English languages. Natalie Saing, the Ending Gender Based Violence Coordinator from the New Mexico Asian Family Center, said this was a step in the right direction in removing language barriers and building a more inclusive community.
Back to the chopper, Councilors asked quite a few questions about the need for the tricked out whirly bird. Longtime Councilor Brad Winter reminded everyone that he was there at the Council table 17 years ago when police pilots stood in front of him and asked for money to buy a $3 million helicopter that never quite worked right. Well it worked well enough to make that infamous October 2001 landing at a Westside Krispy Kreme donut shop to pick up some snacks.
Councilor Klarissa Peña said that due to a high crime rate, her South Valley/Westside neighborhoods are greatly impacted by the noise of police helicopters circling. She wanted to know how the new bird will be quieter. Police department pilot Will Taylor said the new bird is not necessarily quieter but will have super-fine cameras allowing it to fly higher—therefore not so much noise makes it to the streets. Councilors gave the thumbs up on this proposal, making Mayor Tim Keller happy as he took to Twitter to thank the Council moments after the meeting ended.
TaskUs Inc. received $1 million bucks in economic development incentives, to expand into 50,500 square feet of the First Plaza Galleria building Downtown. The global customer support and service company will provide just under 700 jobs. TaskUs clients include Hootsuite, moviepass, Tinder, Mailchimp, Hotel Tonight, Eventbrite and GoodRx to name few. The company has offices up and running in California, Texas, the Philippines, Mexico, Taiwan and now Albuquerque in its sights.
TaskUs plans on investing $9 million into Albuquerque offices. The company got $2 million in incentives last month from Bernalillo County in local economic funding and now a cool million from the city. The office space will be upscale Silicon Valleyish with a recreation area, a rest lounge, a market and gym areas. It is set to be open in about a year.
The money does not come without strings. Some of the things the company must do include having 695 full-time employees in place by the last day of December 2021. About 448 of those must be on board by the end of 2020. The proposed pay is an average annual salary of $31,000. Other clawback provisions include paying back 10 percent per year for the first 5 years along with penalties if the company does not maintain employment levels. Check out TaskUs at taskus.com.
Keep an eye out, it’s Motorcyclist and Safety Awareness Month. A proclamation was presented to members of the Turquoise Trails H.O.G Chapter in hopes of bringing more awareness to drivers to keep a look out for, and respect for, those rolling on two wheels. To learn more, Thunderbird Harley Davidson along with the Turquoise Trail motorcycle group host motorcycle safety classes and check-ups.
Bet you didn’t know that Sept. 17 was Constitution Day. Councilors gave a shout-out to the 231st anniversary of the drafting of the United States Constitution. A representative from the Daughters of the American Revolution was present. The proclamation reminds us that this important manuscript is not only our country’s most important piece of hemp paper it is also a symbol of democracy around the world—something that is being sourly tested by the current regime.
Community Schools Coordinators got some love and a week of recognition as well. Councilor Diane Gibson said community schools help struggling students succeed and the coordinators provide the vital link and continuity of service for vulnerable students. Representatives from ABC Community Schools were on hand to accept the proclamation.
Route 66 West Fest also got a shout-out. The Westside party is set for this Saturday, Sept. 22, from 10am to 4pm at the Alamosa Multipurpose Center. There will be all kinds of fun, music, a boxing exhibition, food and classic lowrider cars—all to promote the revitalization of West Central through our fine city. Sounds like a good time to take a cruise along Route 66.
Another group of residents were appointed or reappointed to various city boards and commissions, including Helen J. Atkins to the Albuquerque Museum Board of Trustees; Shawn P. Williams and Michael J. Cross to the EMS Providers Advisory Committee; Geoffrey B. Tweed to the Greater Albuquerque Recreational Trails Committee; W. Scott Appelman to the Balloon Museum Board of Trustees; Christopher Sedillo to the Veterans and Military Affairs Advisory Board; Dr. Karl E. Horak to the Biological Park Board; Laura Smigielski García to the Accountability in Government Oversight Committee; and Philip A. Snyder to the Lodgers’ Tax Advisory Board.