Alibi V.28 No.12 • March 21-27, 2019 

Council Watch

The Council in March

City lawmakers on sovereignty, downtown, TV and the police

City Council President Klarissa Peña
City Council President Klarissa Peña
Eric Williams Photography

As the March winds wailed and blustered, Albuquerque became the first city in the US to officially recognize Native American governmental sovereignty. Councilors put the brakes on Downtown traffic and seek your input on proposed revisions to the city’s civilian police oversight ordinance.

We See You

The Council unanimously approved a measure that recognizes tribal sovereignty, and makes a clear statement that Burqueños stand strong with our Native American citizens. The amended ordinance establishes a government-to-government relationship with sovereign tribes in the area. The resolution expands the number from five to nine on the city’s Commission on American Indian and Alaska Native Affairs. Commission members will be chosen by tribal governments from Native American communities around the metro area including the Pueblos of Sandia, Isleta, Santa Ana and Laguna, along with the To’hajiilee Chapter of the Diné Navajo Nation.

The measure brings tribal representatives to city boards and commissions on matters that may impact the tribes. These are wide ranging, including addressing homelessness, public safety, environmental issues and business and economic opportunities. A representative from the All Pueblo Council of Governors said this was a great first step for all the entities to work together.

Slow Downtown

Albuquerque City Council dropped the speed limit Downtown to 20mph thereby designating the heart of Burque as a “safe zone.” The resolution was passed on a 7 to 1 margin at the March 4 meeting.

Our very own pink Cadillac-cruising City Councilor Klarissa Peña nailed it when she said that maybe the Downtown cruisers had it right all along. “We just want everyone cruising Downtown,” Peña said.

Councilor Don Harris uttered the lone nay, saying the measure might work against Downtown being a commercial destination because he said some folks already think coming Downtown is a hassle and this might make it more of a hassle.

Too much of a hassle to do what? To slow down and watch for pedestrians and tourists?

Councilor Isaac Benton sponsored the bill saying it came out of a 2014 Downtown walkability study. Benton said Downtown is laid out on a grid design with about 45 closely spaced intersections, and the measure will reestablish vitality via walkability. “It is good for business, it’s good for health, it’s good for everybody,” he said. Benton said the lower speed will help with New Mexico’s top of the national list in pedestrian injuries and fatalities, with more than 400 pedestrians struck by vehicles in 2018 in Albuquerque.

A map put out by the Mid-Region Council of Governments shows that most pedestrian injuries and fatalities caused by cars are concentrated along the Central Avenue corridor.

Mayor Tim Keller agreed that the new speed limit should take effect mid-to-late April and cost about $70,000 to implement. With the new speed limit will come new signage and restriping to create a shared roadway for cars and bicycles and an expected increase in electric scooters.

Community Cable Dealings

How is it that the same business that was found to be non-compliant in its running of the city Community Cable channels, can then change its name to reapply and beat out three other professional media organizations? This was a question put to the Council by a concerned citizen. The Council called up the Cultural Services director who spoke mainly jibber-jabber-government-jargon but never really answered the important questions being posed.

Her major points seemed to be that things are being done differently, the city will have more say about what ends up on the public access channels, yet there will be more opportunities for contractors to provide original content. It would have been helpful if she would have followed the who, what, when, where and why rule of effective communication.

Through an agreement between the city and Comcast Cable, the city has access to four channels—channel 16 or GOV-TV, which the City operates. Channels 26, 27 and 96 are being operated by uPublic Studios. Comcast pays the city 44 cents per cable user per quarter. This generates millions but does fluctuate depending on the number of Comcast cable subscribers. The current contract to operate the channels expired in October 2017 and has been extended repeatedly while the city administration tries to figure out what to do.

The complicated history of our community cable channels goes back nearly 30 years. In 2011, former Mayor Richard Berry’s administration gutted the channels by ousting longtime operator Quote…Unquote, which had cultivated a lot of local content some of it pro-gun, some pro-marijuana, music from all genres, live-your-life-naked shows, art shows and the list goes on and on. Lawsuits were filed and drama ensued.

But at this date, many years since Quote…Unquote was replaced, our community cable channels only redeeming local quality is the outstanding local sports content generated by ProView Networks, who we hear was disqualified from the operator bidding process. Yet the one found to be unfit made it through the process as the sole choice? Channeling Ricky Ricardo: “Lucy! You got some ‘splainin’ to do!”

Police Oversight Input

City Councilors want to our eyes focused on police issues, so they are asking for the public to participate in a special meeting set for March 21 regarding significant changes to the Police Oversight Ordinance.

The proposed ordinance has been amended a few times in an effort to stay in compliance with the US Department of Justice consent decree after the city Police Department was found to have a pattern and practice of using excessive force.

Some of the amendments give the civilian oversight board more teeth by providing them more access to documents, video, audio, interviews and any other information the board may need to investigate civilian complaints about police use of force.

Weekly Alibi will be taking a closer look at the important ordinance changes.

Send your comments about the City Council to carolyn@alibi.com.

A special meeting of the Albuquerque City Council to discuss changes to the civilian police oversight ordinance will be held
Thursday, March 21, 5 pm
The next regular meeting of City Council will be held
Monday, April 1, 5 pm
Both meetings will convene in the
Vincent E. Griego Chambers, Albuquerque Bernalillo County
Government Center
View it on GOV TV-16 or at cabq.gov/govtv