Victims of domestic violence got a proclamation declaring October Domestic Violence Awareness month at the Oct. 13 Albuquerque City Council meeting. The recognition hopes to shine some light on this often suffered-in-silence social affliction. Councilor Diane Gibson sponsored the acknowledgment, saying domestic violence includes willful and violent abusive behavior of all kinds—including psychological abuse—towards household members. She said that 20 people in the United States are abused by intimate partners every minute; one in three women and one in four men have been physically abused. The cost to US employers is more than $5 billion a year. Gibson said that in 2017 the Albuquerque Police Department answered 7,772 domestic violence calls. Let’s join the Council and give a shout-out to the Domestic Violence Resource Center that provides critical help for those caught up in the cycle of violence.
Councilors unanimously approved the next step in handing out a $6 million industrial revenue bond package they approved last month for TaskUs. An intent to issue the bonds was unanimously approved by eight of the nine City Councilors; Councilor Isaac Benton was excused from the meeting. The global customer support and service company plans on leasing a big chunk of the First Plaza Building Downtown to provide office space for 700 employees. Bernalillo County is on board by giving TaskUs $2 million in similar incentives. Some of TaskUs clients include Eventbrite, GoodRx, Tindr and Hotel Tonight, along with many other national companies. The $9 million in building renovations will include cool things like an employee rest lounge, along with a market to pick up a few groceries and a gym recreation area. Employee salaries will range from $26,000 to $40,000. Check out taskus.com.
After getting the green light by the city’s Development Commission, Councilors called a special meeting for Thursday, Oct. 18 at 5pm, to debate giving media giant Netflix $4.5 million under the Local Economic Development Act. The mega media company is in negotiations to buy Albuquerque Studios located in the Mesa del Sol development south of town. ABQ Studios has nine sound stages, production offices and a back lot. The studio is also home to REELZ, a digital and satellite network that has produced shows at the studio. Netflix will continue the lease with REELZ as part of its agreement.
The company is asking for $10 million in state LEDA funds as well. Netflix is currently the world’s largest producer of original media content. This will be the company’s first production hub in the United States. Netflix says it will spend nearly $1 billion over the next 10 years providing upwards of 1,000 media industry production jobs annually. Netflix is not new to New Mexico as it has filmed several productions here such as “Longmire,” “Messiah,” “Daybreak” and others. LEDA funds are intended to entice job-creating companies to locate in New Mexico and can only be invested in hard assets such as land, buildings or infrastructure. That qualifier in the rules is in case some company does not perform, so that those assets stay in New Mexico. There are also sufficient claw-back provisions attached to make sure a company does what it says it will do. This one appears to be a no-brainer, and the City Council presumably will jump at the opportunity to add this fine feather to our city’s cap. Who knows, soon we could see the Obamas walking around town wearing Lobos t-shirts, producing Netflix content, or something like that.
A handful of items pertaining to the city’s election laws were deferred. The proposed changes include amending the election code to clarify who constitutes a candidate, changes in filing campaign finance statements and rules about city contractors making campaign contributions. Another proposed change would move the city election date to November from October in odd numbered years. Also deferred is the call for a special municipal mail-in election to include the Democracy Dollars Charter amendment and any other propositions.
City Councilors approved:
• Another extension of the Cable Franchise Agreement for three more months while city folks work out negotiation details. There has not been any news for a long time regarding what is going on with the city’s cable franchise agreement, which funds the city’s public access channels.
• Issuing $35.7 million in Metropolitan Redevelopment Bond money to fund Broadstone Northpoint, a planned 226 apartment housing project located at 9100 San Mateo Blvd. NE. The site is currently a blighted, vacant piece of property. Once the property is up to snuff and full of people it is expected to generate about $600,000 in annual property taxes.
• Putting up $60,000 for the Bernalillo County Criminal Justice Coordinating Committee and $150,000 for housing vouchers for the re-entry supportive housing program for 700 formerly incarcerated inmates of the Metropolitan Detention Center. This is per a recent agreement with the county. The programs have been deemed way more effective than the costs of homelessness and cycling in and out of jails.
• Updating portions of the city’s technical building codes to get the city in line with state plumbing codes.