Alibi V.29 No.8 • Feb 20-26, 2020 

Newscity

City Councilor's Trip Questioned

The News Monkey

A trip to the East Coast taken by Albuquerque City Councilor Klarissa Peña has raised some concerns after it was revealed to have cost more than any other trip taken by a city councilor over the last four years.

According to an investigative report by KOAT, Peña went to a conference for city council presidents in Philadelphia last summer. She also visited New York City and Washington, D.C. while on the same trip. While it's standard for the city to cover the costs of such trips, this one raised a number of concerns when it was revealed that it cost taxpayers $6,351 in total.

According to receipts, the city spent $3,290 for train trips, $960 for daily meal allowance, $2082 for hotels and $18 for cab fair on the trip, which lasted nearly two weeks. Peña told reporters that she had to take a train to Philadelphia, because she has a fear of flights. She booked a family cabin on the train and took her husband and two grandchildren along. The family stayed at a Ritz Carlton hotel while in Philadelphia.

Once the conference had concluded, Peña and her family took a train to New York City, where they stayed at a hotel in Times Square for two nights before going to meet with members of the congressional delegation in Washington D.C.

Peña said she did not violate any city policies and was on official business while in Philadelphia and Washington D.C. She told reporters that while her family's stay in New York City was not related to official business, it was cheaper than taking a train back to Albuquerque, waiting two days, then taking a train to Washington D.C.

The mayor's office reportedly confirmed that the expenses were approved. It's unclear if an official complaint has been filed against Peña.

Sanctuary Status Could Affect Grants

The US Justice Department is reportedly threatening to withhold anti-crime grants if Albuquerque maintains its status as a sanctuary city for immigrants.

The Associated Press reports that the Justice Department reached out to the Albuquerque Police Department about funds available under Operation Relentless Pursuit, an initiative to combat violent crime in seven of America’s most violent cities. The Agency reportedly offered up to $71 million in grant funding to help hire new police officers, pay overtime and provide equipment.

But the top federal prosecutor for the district of New Mexico, US Attorney John Anderson, wrote an opinion piece in the Albuquerque Journal that said the funds would come only under the condition that the city reconsider its sanctuary policies.

The city has not applied for funding under Operation Relentless Pursuit.

Judge Approves Penal Reform Settlement

Last week a federal judge approved a settlement that ended a 40-year-old civil case that enforced reforms in New Mexico's prisons.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that the Duran Consent Decree was signed in 1980, imposing rules that brought the state's prisons up to constitutional standards. In 1991, a new agreement removed most of the decree's provisions.

Last week, a federal judge approved a settlement that would end the Duran Consent Decree as long as the state moves about 300 inmates to prisons with more capacity, requires regular exterminator visits, prohibits punishment for reporting sexual misconduct and bars facilities from operating at 120 percent of their capacity.