’Twas the night before the midterm elections on Monday, Nov. 5 when the Albuquerque City Councilors plowed through a lengthy agenda sprinkled with cool cars, less litter and houses of hope. The stacked seven-page Nov. 5 agenda took three and a half hours to clear the table.
If you get the urge to throw a piece of trash or a cigarette out the car window you better think twice. City Councilors are taking littering up a notch. Councilor Cynthia Borrego sponsored a bill to raise the civil fines associated with littering. The approval bill had to be deferred because it was amended so it will be back for approval at the next meeting. The proposed higher fines are $250 for a first time tosser, $350 for the second and $500 for each repeat offense thereafter. Cigarette butt tossers will face $250 fine for the first frajo tossed then $500 for each one thereafter.
Councilors approved a development agreement to move forward in constructing a 42-unit supportive residential project for residents with behavioral health issues. HopeWorks and YES Housing, Inc. are partners in the proposed project located at 1215 Third Street NW. The proposed $9 million village will have one bedroom units and provide on-site services for low income, homeless people with mental or behavioral issues. There will be 24-hour professional staff with on-call access mental health providers and the developers will work with area neighbors to address their concerns. The collaborative project is being funded by city, county, state and federal pots of monies.
It is no longer illegal to take a slow drive along Route 66 after Councilors unanimously approved repealing an anti-cruising ordinance that said cruising was a threat to public safety.
A task force was put together last year to look at responsible cruising. They worked with police and other city peeps to come up with recommendations such as a standard code of ethics for car clubs, public service announcements about traffic laws and coming up with a tactical plan to address traffic issues.
A resolution was also approved setting in motion the development of a special interest vehicle club program to coordinate, promote and work with the city on many issues connected to vintage and historic cruising car club events. This was done at the urging of co-sponsor Councilor Klarissa Peña, who enjoys taking a slow Sunday drive down Central Avenue in her vintage pink Cadillac.
Meeting goers heard an update from the Police Chief Mike Geier on the first positive report in years, presented by Dr. James Ginger—the Federal Monitor appointed by US District Judge Robert Brack to oversee the police department reform process. The report shows that the department is improving its compliance numbers. “The compliance efforts we have observed during this reporting period differ substantially from those we had observed earlier in the monitoring process,” Dr. Ginger said in his report.
As noted in our post-election news plans on the previous page, a town hall regarding the reform process and how it is going will be held from 2 to 4pm, Saturday, Nov. 10 in the East Complex of the Albuquerque Convention Center. Mayor Tim Keller, Dr. Ginger, Police Chief Geier and other Department of Justice officials are said to be on-hand at the briefing.
To add a little hullabaloo to the meeting, two constituents received a police escort out of the meeting after the first one refused to leave the podium when his two minutes were over and the second one started heckling in support of his associate. Council President Ken Sanchez was not having any of this public misbehavior and said the pair will be banned for 30 to 90 days under the city’s trespassing ordinance.
The state’s Open Meetings Act does not guarantee citizens the right to speak at public meetings but most public bodies do allow the public to speak but with time and other limits. Content cannot be limited as citizens have a First Amendment right to speak freely. The Burque City Council president reads the rules regarding how to behave and how public comment will go down before each meeting commences.
Veterans got a shout-out ahead of the Nov. 12 observation of Veteran’s/Armistice Day. The real Armistice Day is the “11th hour of the 11th day of November 1918” which is when Germany and the Allies signed a truce ending World War I. The day was changed to Veteran’s Day in 1954 after World War II. Veteran’s Day honors the service of all military veterans. Don’t confuse it with Memorial Day which is for those who died while in military service, or Armed Forces Day which honors those currently serving in the military.
Other Council proclamations recognized the New Mexico Lions Club chapters for Diabetes Awareness Month; the 40th anniversary of the Albuquerque Arts Board and to the March of Dimes for Prematurity Awareness Month.
A hand full of residents were appointed to city advisory boards and councils. Barbara Carmona-Young and Joie Glenn were appointed to the Senior Affairs Advisory Board; Brandi Stone is now a member of the ABQ Volunteers Advisory Board and William A. Moore has been appointed to the Transit Advisory Board.