Alibi V.13 No.42 • Oct 14-20, 2004 

Council Watch


Next up for the City Council—impact fees! Stay tuned.
Stacey Adams

While Mount St. Helens threatened fireworks, the Oct. 4 Council meeting considered Albuquerque's own volcanoes, went sub-ballistic regarding a missile, and saw two of the city's most level-headed officials vent giant steam clouds at each other.

More peaceably, Councilor Martin Heinrich commended PNM on the first anniversary of their Sky Blue wind-generated electricity program. Councilor Eric Griego named the flag of the former Republic of Vietnam as the official flag of the Albuquerque Vietnamese-American community. And Councilor Sally Mayer kissed it up with a terrific puppy named Petri who's available for adoption from the Westside animal shelter.

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IssueCouncil's TakeReporter's Take
Circle K the Wagons Heinrich's resolution to protect convenience store employees from crime recommended more lighting, bulletproof glass, and having two workers on the graveyard shift. The bill encourages the state to pass legislation, and looks toward beefing up city safety measures regardless of the state's actions.A speaker remembered her sister, a convenience store clerk who'd been abducted and murdered by a criminal who went on to kill another convenience store worker. A couple of attorneys representing the families of victims advocated stronger safety measures. The bill passed unanimously.One attorney said the number of workers killed in the service industry was higher than the number of workers killed in heavy industry. Left unattended, the problem will only grow worse as more Americans are forced into service jobs. Forget exotic bugaboos like anthrax. Protect the clerks.
MissileTow After seeing zero progress urging the National Atomic Museum to work with Old Town neighbors to lessen the visual impact of its 53-foot tall rocket, Councilor Debbie O'Malley introduced a bill restricting outdoor museum exhibits to the height of their associated building.The Old Town community hates this thing, or approves it by a slight margin, depending on who you ask. Museum Director Jim Walther said they'd followed the existing process and none of the proposed compromises were acceptable. A deferral passed unanimously. I keep trying to get upset about this (God knows, the thing's a honking eyesore), but I keep flashing a scene from some old black and white movie where hundreds of peasant women in babushkas hitch ropes to a giant ICBM and drag it into the sunset.
Ride the Free/dom Train/Bus Miguel Gomez's bill authorizing free city bus rides on Election Day, Nov. 2, passed unanimously. A similar measure proved to be very successful two years ago.Members of several get-out-the-vote organizations spoke in favor. Chief Administrative Officer James Lewis said Mayor Martin Chavez was in support of the plan.If you don't vote, you're a clueless, clammy, gormless wittol. Seriously, don't vote and you lose all rights to complain about wages, health care, global warming or boot camp.
Fantabulous Vista de los Fuegos Muertos Subdivisions are planned or under construction on the northwest mesa near the volcanoes. Heinrich moved a six-month moratorium on issuing new permits to allow land use planning for the Volcano Cliffs area before more construction begins. All projects currently permitted or underway can go ahead. Heinrich said, "We've been building first, planning later, then paying enormous amounts to retrofit infrastructure." Representatives of the Volcano Cliffs Property Owners Association opposed the bill, saying sufficient planning already existed. Westside residents favored the bill.Cadigan said the city had not made Volcano Cliffs a priority and that the Planning Department wasn't doing any planning. Department head Richard Dineen said money had not been budgeted to do the study. Dineen said the moratorium interfered with the marketplace and put the area at an economic disadvantage. O'Malley said, "If I had my way, we wouldn't build in this sensitive area." Gradually, criticism veered toward the administration. Griego said, "This administration has fought the Planned Growth Strategy." Lewis said he couldn't allow the insults and insinuations of the Council toward the administration. Cadigan said the Council's duty was to provide oversight of the administration.Eventually the scene degenerated into a gavel-pounding confrontation, but everyone calmed down and the bill passed 6-3, Tina Cummins, Mayer and Craig Loy opposed. Normally I'd say that anyone who uses the word "paradigm" ought to be bitch-slapped down Central from Tijeras Canyon to the river, but here goes: We need a new housing paradigm. The one we're using has served magnificently for decades, but those were decades of relatively small population growth and seemingly endless available land. This relatively simple bill slammed Albuquerque's leaders once again into confrontation over a fundamental question: What is the city's definition of planned growth?
Who Stopped COPS? Cadigan introduced a memorial urging restoration of funds for the Community Oriented Policing (COPS) program, which put thousands of officers on neighborhood beats. The Bush administration's 2005 budget cuts COPS funding by 87 percent.Saying "Homeland Security probably ought to start at home," Cadigan noted that the city was trying to make up hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost COPS funding. Heinrich said the program contributed over $60 million to New Mexico police. The measure passed unanimously.So where did you think the money was coming from for all those Bush tax cuts for the over $200,000 crowd? This Tinkerbell administration is cutting everything from veterans' care to National Park maintenance to environmental cleanups.