Alibi V.13 No.25 • June 17-23, 2004 

Council Watch

Almost a Triple Crown

The City Council practices the fine art of common sense and moves to keep combustible elements out of the Bosque.
The City Council practices the fine art of common sense and moves to keep combustible elements out of the Bosque.
Stacey Adams

The June 7 City Council meeting seemed close to scoring unanimous agreement on every bill. Councilors Brad Winter and Craig Loy were excused, leaving seven members racing for the historic goal. It looked like a sure thing coming into the home stretch, but then the next to last bill regarding a city Personnel Board appointment hit the table around 9 p.m. By this time, Councilors Sally Mayer and Tina Cummins had also vanished from the track, leaving only five members galloping toward agreement. Four voted down the appointment, but Council President Michael Cadigan supported the bill and became Albuquerque's Birdstone, wrecking the unanimous record.

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IssueCouncil's TakeReporter's Take
Hatching Jobs
The Women's Economic Self-Sufficiency Team has been seeking to purchase property near Downtown for a business incubator serving several dozen clients. At least 51 percent of the clients will be classified as low or moderate income. WESST Corp asked the council to approve aid from the Urban Development Action Grants in the form of a $1.3 million loan.
Councilor Gomez challenged the proposal repeatedly, but supporters cited WESST Corp's excellent record and said the bill had been fast-tracked because the opportunity to buy the most suitable property was about to run out. Councilor Debbie O'Malley said, "Given the subsidies we give huge corporations, this loan is not a big deal." The bill passed unanimously.This particular loan was restricted to a federally designated "Pocket of Poverty" area. Gomez and Councilor Martin Heinrich pointed out that the poverty boundary was defined 25 years ago and no longer accurately reflects conditions. Michael Passi of the Family and Community Development Department said it was possible to update the designations. Good idea. Support reality whenever possible.
Fireworks Fizzle
It's summer, it's dry and it's flammable. Cadigan moved an administration bill putting a moratorium on campfires, smoking, open burning and fireworks in the Bosque and other recreational areas and city "wildlands."
The moratorium will be extended if there's no rain during its current 30-day run. Also, aerial fireworks are completely prohibited within the city. The bill passed with no opposition.Even a representative of a promotional event company supported the bill. After last year's disastrous Rio Grande bosque fires, just get your fireworks fix from TV or the Kirtland display.
We Were Not Amused
A bill sponsored by Councilors Miguel Gomez and Eric Griego directs $400,000 from the Metropolitan Redevelopment Fund to the West Central and Atrisco area for a variety of development efforts. Several community members spoke in favor of the bill.
Passage of the bill had been delayed by neighborhood objection to a proposed amusement park nearby. Gomez amended the bill to specify instead a venue offering "arts, entertainment and cultural resources." The bill passed unanimously.It was encouraging to see citizens stave off a specific proposal that would destroy their quality of life while retaining initiatives that promise economic vitality. And Gomez seemed finally satisfied at getting some redevelopment money for District 1.
The Unclear Act
A bill currently in Congress shoves part of the burden of enforcing immigration laws onto state and local police departments and threatens to cut some funding for localities that don't knuckle under. The Federal Department of Sanctimonious Naming has titled this abomination the Clear Law Enforcement for Criminal Alien Removal Act, or the CLEAR Act. (Maybe they'll name Bush's belief that he can authorize torture the Ominibus Unilateral Cruel and Hellacious Interrogation of Evildoers Act, or the OUCHIE Act.)

Griego sponsored a resolution opposing any legislation that would use Albuquerque police to enforce federal immigration policies or use municipal resources to apprehend people solely on immigration reasons.

Twenty-one people spoke opposing the CLEAR Act and supporting Griego's bill. Many expressed concern that the federal bill would discourage immigrants from calling police for protection against domestic violence or other crimes. One speaker noted, "The governor is absolutely against the CLEAR Act." Others noted that the proposed bill would undermine the trust necessary for community policing, thus endangering officers. Another speaker said more work would be dumped onto local law enforcement by the feds when funds were already spread thin.

Chief Administrative Officer Jay Czar said the city supported Griego's bill and that Mayor Martin Chavez planned to co-sponsor a similar bill at an upcoming conference of mayors. Griego's bill passed unanimously.

This clueless goober of a bill was introduced by U.S. Rep. Charlie Norwood (R-GA) and U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) in their respective chambers.

For family reasons, I visit Mississippi frequently. The influx of Latino immigrants working in factories, starting restaurants, harvesting crops and doing other entry level jobs is seriously freaking out Dixie's white locals. After all, they've never had to handle the complexity of discriminating against two minority groups at the same time.

I can't shake the suspicion that this remarkably bad bill has more to do with giving local police the go-ahead to hassle Latinos in the Southland than with seriously fighting terrorism.