February brought a mixed bag of weather to the Albuquerque City Council as it adjusted to a newly elected member and an empty seat left by Councilor Ken Sanchez’s January death.
Council President Pat Davis introduced a rule change to limit the number of proclamations or recognitions given out at each meeting and by each councilor. The idea would limit the number of recognitions to a maximum of four per councilor per year and two would be the total number at any single meeting. Proclamations are a long-standing tradition. They range from honoring city staffers, citizens, youth groups and teams of people fighting cancer to a wide range of causes. They are presented at the beginning of the meeting and those being honored are pretty always happy and honored to be recognized.
Councilor Davis said he brought this up to streamline meetings and manage time better to do substantive council business. Councilors Brook Bassan, Trudy Jones and Don Harris jumped on the bandwagon to limit this public interaction at a public meeting. Bassan flexed her muscles by both siding with Davis and giving a condescending nod to the Councilors who felt honoring and giving out proclamations to community members, groups and causes was just as important. “Proclamations are a nice perk for councilors,” Councilor Bassan said. “But they interrupt the democratic process.” Councilor Trudy Jones was the biggest supporter of this idea. She said when she gives out a proclamation, it is really very special, more like a medal of honor as opposed to a participation trophy. “The more we hand these out, the less they mean. The time spent at the meeting [is] to do the business of the people. Something does not have much value if there are too many somethings,” Jones said.
Thankfully Councilors Cynthia Borrego and Klarrissa Peña said what needed to be said. “I think it so important to give proclamations honoring community members doing good work. They are the ones out there making Albuquerque great,” Peña said.
Councilor Borrego earned the big high five of the night when she snapped back by saying, “We are not handing out proclamations like M&M’s.” Borrego reminded the Council that these are important to people. She said one of the women who got a breast cancer proclamation has died since then and the family said she, and they, were so honored for that time in front of the Council receiving the proclamation.
Council President Davis said he likes what he proposed best but will defer the rule change until the March 2 meeting to allow for more input on how to streamline the meetings. Public participation should not be limited at public meetings. Maybe one idea would be if the Councilors themselves could streamline their comments into concise statements instead of the sometimes roundabout rambling that takes place.
• Councilors formed a committee to look at internal city travel policies. The review came about after a Councilor took a city business trip combined with a family vacation and one of the local TV stations thought it was a good story.
• The Environmental Planning Commission approved a revised site plan for 69 homes on 23 acres located on Namaste Road called The Overlook By Oxbow development. The property is adjacent to the city’s Oxbow Major Public Open Space. This is a blow to open space and sustainable development.
• Burque is seeing too many gun-related killings. The end of 2019 racked up 82 homicides. In 2014 there were 30. So far 2020 has seen about 14 homicides. Another problem is the city’s homicide detectives tasked with unraveling things are struggling with an about 50 percent clearance rate of solving those cases. Folks from the city say there are now 11 homicide detectives compared with less than a handful a few years ago.
Kudos to these citizens for taking the time to put real effort into making our ‘Burque a better place or all with the following appointments: Rodney E. Bowe and Deborah Kuidis to the Public Safety Tax Advisory Board; Travis Davis to the Americans With Disabilities Act Advisory Council; Daniel J. Hedges and Christine A. Grover to the Municipal Golf Advisory Board; Pamela M. Chavez to the Arts Board; Ali Bidram to the Albuquerque Energy Council; Cathryn Starr, Douglas Mitchell and Dr. William J. Kass to the Civilian Police Oversight Agency Board; Donald G. Meaders to the Open Space Advisory Board; Eric Mendoza, Scott C. Anderson and John Lance to the Fire Code Board of Appeals; Ms. Robin J Allen, Josiah M. Hooten and Raul S Chavira to the Greater Albuquerque Bicycling Advisory Committee; Louis Carlentine to the Senior Affairs Advisory Council; and Nicholas T. Padilla to the Youth Advisory Council.