Will there be a spot on the unification commission for Geraldine?
With Councilor Eric Griego showing up late, Councilors Brad Winter and Craig Loy leaving early, and Councilors Michael Cadigan and Miguel Gomez not appearing at all, the Feb. 18 council podium resembled a busy take-out window.
The Council deferred three appointments to the Police Oversight Commission because a bill currently in committee would expand the POC from seven to nine members, one from each city district. Also deferred were an amendment allowing xeriscaping even if neighborhood covenants require turf, and an ordinance authorizing purchase of Bosque land to preserve it from development.
The Council repealed an effort to sue the state for giving control of Albuquerque's water to the city-county Water Utility Authority. Councilors expected the state Legislature would pass an acceptable compromise, but the House killed the compromise. A bill establishing rules of procedure and qualifications for a Land Use Hearing Officer passed unanimously. Another bill increasing the acreage to be developed at the former Albuquerque Indian School property also passed, in spite of Griego's concern that it might draw federal offices away from Downtown.
And Laura Mason, formerly the Council's Senior Policy Analyst, officially became the new Head of Council Services, replacing Mark Sanchez who is now at the Water Utility Authority.
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Mars Needs Women The state constitution requires a second effort to unify Albuquerque and Bernalillo County, and thus requires a second unification charter commission. At an earlier meeting councilors noted that the county's five appointees were men, and that the commission needed some diversity. The Council proposed a five-person slate comprising environmental non-profit employee Bianca Encinias, Claudia Isaacs from the UNM School of Architecture and Planning, former Council candidates Mary Molina Mescall and Sander Rue and Ceil Van Berkel, former president of the Taylor Ranch Neighborhood Association.
Saying she had a "wonderful, wonderful person" she had wanted on the commission, Councilor Sally Mayer questioned the openness of the selection process. Laura Mason said the Council and mayor had both submitted lists, and they tried to find names that were on both lists in common. O'Malley said Cadigan, the Council president, had sent out two e-mails pertaining to the matter. Mayer said her home e-mail had been out of service. Griego and Heinrich said their suggested names hadn't made the list either. Heinrich said Cadigan was "in the unenviable position of trying to herd nine cats and the mayor as well." The bill passed unanimously.
Hats off to five brave new commission members. The state constitution calls for a second try at city-county unification, but we may end up with separate county and city approvals necessary to unify, and if unification passes, or doesn't pass, what about the Manny & Bill muddle basically handing control over the city's water and zoning to the county? And will there be any water to argue over anyway, what with drought in the San Juan basin? Or ... excuse me while I go take a headache remedy.
Many Eggs, Many Baskets After the last Council election, councilors laid out a series of initiatives that included creating incubators for small local businesses. Michael Passi of the Family and Community Services department presented an update on an incubator study. He quoted consultants that said the city showed a high degree of entrepreneurship, and that the more local the resources used, the fewer the restrictions.
Griego commented that there was "a disconnect" between the city's level of education and training and its salary levels and poverty rates. At the end of the evening a representative from WesstCorp outlined that group's proposal for an incubator in East Downtown designed to provide affordable space and create jobs paying $11 per hour or more for low income residents.
Well, good. Smaller, local businesses do not generally bring in mid and upper level people from outside, move operations back to East Coast headquarters, or ship 90 percent of their jobs overseas. Guess what? Mexico is now starting to lose its $2.70 per hour manufacturing jobs to 70 cent per hour Asian workers.
Wall Wailings Property line walls are proliferating on the Westside. Cadigan sponsored a bill imposing a 30-day moratorium on permits for building walls and fences along streets until the new design standards now in progress are in place.
Mayer objected to the moratorium, saying if a wreck knocked down her fence, it would take 30 days to begin a replacement. Westside Coalition President Joe Valles said the "most odious, hideous" thing about the walls was that "they blocked all views of your own mountains." The bill was deferred.
Amongst the chains of chain stores on Coors, the single sign that we are indeed in New Mexico was the view of the mountains. How dismal are we willing to make life for people who already live here to accommodate those who may move in later?