Back in the day, the city had a media campaign based on a shout-out to citizens. That phrase, shouted joyfully on radio spots, teevee promotions and throughout Burque on billboards and buses was “Good for You, Albuquerque!”
That period of hopefulness—signaled by phraseology and owned as a matter of pride by local politicians looking to turn the tide on a city perpetually in a state of malaise—was temporarily replaced by conservative governance under the aegis of the Berry administration.
So it’s good to know that the hopefulness is back. The One Albuquerque program, initiated and maintained by the current progressive administration, has become the basis for a lot of super decent doings in The Duke City.
That fact is easy to forget here in the news department. Not because the problems this city has are overwhelming or intractable. They’re just so dang visible, and many a grizzled and grumpy news editor will tell you that a fire is always brighter than the reflection of light in the tears of a citizen’s eye.
Or something like that. Since this is a celebratory week here at Weekly Alibi, what with the publication of Best of Burque 2019, we thought this would also be an appropriate time to brief our loyal readers on the best of what is happening in this city and how much has already been turned around as this city progresses toward a future we can all live with, in peace and prosperity.
Holy Week, which just passed, marks a time of reflection and action for Christians here in Burque, but also provided a high watermark for the city lovingly bent toward helping our neighbors to the South.
During the week that culminated in Easter Sunday, the City’s Office of Immigant and Refugee Affairs announced that it aided 100 asylum seekers. The City of Albuquerque is providing basic support resources—in conjunction with faith communities across the state, the City of Las Cruces and the community group Indivisible Nob Hill—to make these refugees’ journeys less stressful and more humane.
Last month, Mayor Tim Keller called on all Burqueños to come together in support of these people in our city. In conjunction with Holy Week festivities, Keller noted, “For many of us, it is our faith that guides us to helping others, no matter where you're from, the color of your skin or who you love. Holy Week is a poignant reminder that we must stand for the least among us. These families have traveled thousands of hard miles to legally apply for asylum in our country and to forge a new life for their families. We have seen many Burqueños step up to help in recent weeks by donating and volunteering. Local faith organizations of all types have also stepped up in a huge way and have led the support for these folks on their journey.” Good for you, Albuquerque!
Fiscal Year 2020 begins in July and the Mayor’s office has released a proposed budget for that determinable future. Overall, the budget figures on the use of $1.1 billion in funding to make all sorts of cool things happen, but there is definitely an emphasis on public safety in the administration’s 229-page document.
A letter from hizzoner, prefacing the programmatic and monetary details of the proposal, reiterates a team philosophy, with Keller writing to the city that “Working together, we have begun to take control of our public safety problems and lay the foundation for a vibrant and forward-thinking environment to nurture, retain and attract businesses and families. But we still have a long way to go. Our focus for the fiscal year 2020 budget is doubling down on successful investments in the areas of public safety, youth opportunity and economic development, while continuing to innovate and maximize the use of our resources.”
That “we” attitude is particularly encouraging, especially since one of Keller’s objectives is to equip APD for modern community policing by providing for better communications though equipment upgrades, more competent hires and most importantly continued compliance and progress in meeting the requirements of the Department of Justice Settlement enacted in 2014.
Keller’s budget indicates that 47 percent of general fund expenditures would go to the police and fire departments, with APD receiving $205.4 million and AFD getting $92.9 million.
Additionally, the document laudably calls for spending city funds to combat underlying social problems that are very likely the root of increased criminality in Albuquerque.
Funding homelessness programs counts a lot and the Keller Administration is on board with funding programs to provide emergency shelter as well as healthcare, substance abuse treatment and transition assistance to our neediest citizens. Keller’s budget also addresses affordable housing, a key step to ending poverty and lowering the crime rate.
Keller’s budget also hones in on improving opportunities for living-wage jobs and growing the economy, root problems that were pretty much ignored during the Berry administration—much to the chagrin of the city’s voluminous working poor—except as examples of trickle-down economics in action. Funding here would include $2 million to replenish the Local Economic Development Act (the fund that was used to successfully incentivize Netflix, Top Golf and TaskUs operations in Burque) and $1 million to fund the Increment of One Job Albuquerque Training Program that the city runs in coordination with CNM.
Then, there’s the part about the raise. Under Keller and Company’s legislation, city employees would get a 2 percent raise. Good for you, Albuquerque!
Besides the brightness reflected in Keller’s budget—which we urge the City Council to pass with little revision—an announcement by Councilor Pat Davis spells more progress with a city also preoccupied with economic sustainability.
In announcing a new citywide organization determined to bring together innovators of all sorts, Davis—who sponsored the appropriation process—wrote our news desk to tell us about a grant-funded startup.
The new Innovate Business of Albuquerque Association is the product of a grant offered by the city last year to help promote collaboration between innovative and sustainable businesses, according to Davis, who explained, “Just like the city itself, local businesses in Albuquerque are finding ways to put the values of sustainability and innovation to work in the way they do business. As we looked across the landscape of business associations in the city we saw a real opportunity for environmentally conscious and innovative businesses to learn from each other, leverage their economic impact for more sustainable legislation, and to elevate them as leaders in the new way we see our local economy. By partnering with the Santa Fe Green Chamber of Commerce, we were able to borrow best practices and apply them to create an Albuquerque-led initiative to support our largest developers and solar companies down to the Central Avenue startup restauranteur who wants to limit their environmental footprint.” Good for you, Albuquerque!
Last of all, but most joyfully found in this week’s good news mailbag, a note from the city about this year’s Summerfest schedule. In case you want to know, Summerfest is just that, and boy, oh boy, does it draw rocking bands and awesome local audiences.
This year’s lineup was a total surprise to me. It includes monsters like NoLa’s Dumpstaphunk and legendary Americana purveyors the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. But the highlight for this Red Octopus-loving psychonaut will be the opportunity to finally be able to sing along to a live performance of “We Built This City” by Starship, a band formerly known as Jefferson Starship, which as we all know borrowed their heavy-lifting engines from none other than Jefferson Airplane. Wow, really? Well, sorta. We’ll fill you in about Summerfest in our upcoming Summer Guide. Until then, good for you, Albuquerque!