Council Bite: Don’t Say “Light Rail”

Don’t Say “Light Rail”

Carolyn Carlson
3 min read
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City Councilors zipped through the city’s Monday, Dec. 21 business, bringing the last meeting of 2009 to a close in less than two hours.

Issue: The Train That Might

The agenda was light to begin with, and councilors made it even fluffier when they deferred a discussion on being allowed to weigh light-rail options.

Council’s Take— The previous Council made a law that without voter approval, no city entity can think, talk, plan or in any other way consider light-rail transportation. The pending resolution says the Council and city staff are allowed to ponder light rail but still have to get voter approval before any project moves forward.

Reporter’s Take— The resolution makes the situation better, but it is still shortsighted to limit planners as they peer into the future and try to meet the city’s growing transportation needs. We elect people to do this work so that we, the voters, do not need to micromanage every aspect of city planning.

Issue: You’re Fired

Councilor Brad Winter wanted to sack the city’s longtime Washington lobbyist John O’Donnell, arguing that the guy hasn’t done anything for Albuquerque in the 15 years he’s lobbied in the nation’s capital. Winter said we need to make sure we get the best bang for our buck from a lobbyist.

Council’s Take— Councilor Ken Sanchez defended O’Donnell, saying he has been effective. It looked like Winter was hoping to get some support from the Berry administration on this ouster effort. But Chief Administrative Officer David Campbell reminded Winter that O’Donnell has been working for the last six months without a contract, and it is not a good thing for the city to fire him mid-fiscal year. Campbell said the administration will look at the lobbyist position and consider putting it out for bid when this contract expires the end of June. Winter changed his mind and voted to approve O’Donnell’s $90,000 contract.

Reporter’s Take— This seems reasonable. It would be cold to ax this guy after 15 years of service and months of letting him twist in the wind without a contract.

Issue: Cleaning Up the Neighborhood

The Council gave a frustrated property owner a break when it reversed a denial of a building permit for several townhomes/apartments. Architect and developer Knight Seavvy can begin his project near Coal and University, which might encourage neighbors to spruce up properties in the area between UNM and CNM.
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