Alibi V.13 No.27 • July 1-7, 2004 

Council Watch

Filling Shoes

James Lewis, the city’s next Chief Administrative Officer
James Lewis, the city’s next Chief Administrative Officer
Stacey Adams

Following the announcement of Chief Administrative Officer Jay Czar's decision to leave office at the June 21 council meeting, Mayor Martin Chavez appointed James B. Lewis as new CAO, effective July 1. Lewis' current position as chief operations officer tops a résumé that stretches from the U.S. Department of Energy to a previous Albuquerque mayoral race.

Chavez appointed Diana Dorn-Jones as new chief operations officer, Lewis' old job. Dorn-Jones has a background in banking and currently heads the South Broadway Development Corporation. Chavez noted that Dorn-Jones had probably put more people into housing in Albuquerque than the Bank of America. Both appointments were approved unanimously. Councilor Sally Mayer was excused.

Some City Council members have been working on an economic development plan that gives smaller local businesses a chance at the benefits usually bestowed on large corporations. Two bills sponsored by Councilor Eric Griego passed unanimously, setting the development plan in motion. The Council also authorized design for a $2 million BMX track and velodrome to be built in the sports complex area.

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IssueCouncil's TakeReporter's Take
What's That Strange Smell?
Drug busts of meth labs often leave behind a mess of toxic chemicals. Councilor Craig Loy sponsored a bill to make property owners instead of taxpayers liable for remediation costs.
State Rep. Rory Ogle, an Albuquerque Republican, spoke in favor of the bill. Councilor Brad Winter wanted to go even further and confiscate the lab property. The original bill passed unanimously.If a drug lab located on a rental property is raided, the clandestine operator must make restitution to the property owner for cleanup costs. Uh, good luck collecting that money Mr. or Ms. Property Owner.
You're Staying How Long?
Motels along Central Avenue attract a lot of crime, but they also provide housing for indigent families. Councilor Martin Heinrich sponsored a bill requiring some motel owners to complete a program called Crime Free Rental Housing Training.
The bill requires training for managers if the motel rents 10 percent of its rooms for stays of 30 or more consecutive days. Heinrich said money was available for staff to oversee the program. The bill passed unanimously.Albuquerque desperately needs these Central Avenue motel rooms, because we desperately need facilities to keep borderline homeless people from falling over the edge. Trying to fix the problem beats tearing down this usable housing.
You're Launching When?
For several years Eclipse Aviation Corporation has received help from the city toward starting a facility to build small corporate jets on the Westside near Double Eagle II airport. Councilor Michael Cadigan sponsored a bill securing $45 million in industrial revenue bonds for Eclipse to buy equipment for the plant. The company estimates it will create 300 high-paying jobs.
Jacqueline DuBose of the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce (and the Citizens for Greater Albuquerque fiasco) said Eclipse was "a wonderful asset to our community." Councilor Debbie O'Malley asked how much the bonds would cost in lost tax revenue. Deirdre Firth said that the taxpayer cost would be $770,600 but that the city expected to receive $2.1 million in tax revenues generated by Eclipse operations. The bill passed 8-0.In the '70s, the magic bullet to improve your quality of life was higher insulation R-values; in the '80s, boosting our immune systems; in the '90s, technology training. In the 21st century in Albuquerque, it has been Eclipse--through thick and thin, through vaporous financing, through finding that the miraculous little engine that could, actually couldn't. Let's hope the demand for corporate mini jets lasts longer that the demand for Hummer H2s.
You Said What on the Air?
Congress and the Federal Communications Commission have used the Justin Timberlake-Janet Jackson Superbowl Tack-O-Rama to crack down on broadcast content. Eric Griego sponsored a memorial calling for balance. The nonbinding memorial states: "We encourage the Congress and the FCC to proceed very cautiously in their efforts to regulate speech mindful of the implications of their potential actions and of the balance between the fundamental right of freedom of expression and the public interest."
A representative from 94 Rock read a letter from disk jockey TJ Trout and noted that "People are losing their jobs for saying 'penis' on the air." O'Malley said, "I will support this bill, but I am very discouraged by the language on radio and TV." Councilor Martin Heinrich said, "We need to take the public airways back for the public," and added that there was a lot of "hateful stuff" on AM radio. The bill passed 8-0. Note: Two days later, the U.S. Senate voted 99-1 to allow fines of up to $3 million a day for obscenity on the airways. Note No. 2: The Reporters Without Borders organization has just ranked the United States as No. 32 for freedom of the press.Censorship always begins by saying it wants to protect children from obscenity, and it always morphs into suppressing political dissent faster than seems possible. Howard Stern spouted obscenities for years, but he only got into serious trouble after he started blasting George W. Bush. Our national dialog is reaching terminal hypocrisy when Congress goes screaming neon bug-nuts over Janet's one-second tit flash, yet tries to ignore and suppress pictures of Iraqi women being forced to bare their breasts in Abu Ghraib.