Council Watch: Back To Work

Carolyn Carlson
4 min read
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Upon their return from a month long summer break, Albuquerque City Councilors faced a relatively light meeting agenda on Aug. 3. But that didn’t mean the three-hour meeting was a walk in the park.

Who Let the Dogs Out?

Councilors tackled tough issues including a quick discussion about proposed changes to Angel’s Law, the city’s “dangerous dog” ordinance. A number of people spoke out about some recent attacks by dogs considered to be dangerous. One of the animals had been adopted out of the city’s shelter as a known aggressive dog. One man spoke about his small dog being mauled to death on its leash by several big dogs while out on a walk. City Attorney Jessica Hernandez said a number of changes are in the works to tighten up Angel’s Law to make it more effective at controlling dangerous dogs and their owners.

Legislating Labor?

Councilor Ken Sanchez got approval to have a fiscal impact study done on a proposal sponsored by Councilors Isaac Benton and Klarissa Peña that would help ensure Albuquerque workers are treated fairly. The Fair Workweek Act would require employers to do a number of things to provide more stability for the most vulnerable workers. The act would require employers to set work schedules three weeks in advance, pay employees for unexpected changes, and provide paid sick leave, among other requirements. Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Terri Cole said the proposal has caused a panic across the city’s business community. Supporters of the bill say it would create a more stable work environment, especially for part-time workers, who often have small children at home. Mayor Richard Berry has said he would veto the bill if it lands on his desk. Councilors Benton and Peña said they are okay with a fiscal impact study and with input from the business community. It is their intention to help, not hurt, the business community.

Top Cop Chat

Albuquerque Police Chief Eden took some questions from the council about what can be done about repeat criminal offenders. Chief Eden said he is trying to get state lawmakers to make some changes in the state’s criminal code that governs decisions judges make in the courtroom. The chief says he would like a much tighter ‘three strikes law’ and allowing victims to testify at bond hearings, even though the latter has little to do with the property or cash that ensures the accused shows up for trial. Chief Eden said there is a disturbing trend locally, and nationally, of non-violent property criminals turning into violent offenders, but he did not address the disturbing local and national trend of defunding rehabilitation efforts for previously non-violent, mentally ill, addicted, hungry people without access to jobs. This issue has become red hot due to some recent incidents where repeat offenders were out on plea deals, or out on bond, and committed violent crimes, including killing a Rio Rancho police officer and several violent carjackings.

Public Cop Chats

A couple of councilors had questions about how the Community Policing Council meetings are doing. The chief referred to Celina Espinoza, the police department’s communications and community outreach director. Espinoza said the meetings are well attended and many good ideas are coming out of the meetings. The policing councils are based out of the six police area command centers. The formations of the policing councils are mandated by the city’s agreement with the Department of Justice. For more information on the policing council meetings, check out the city’s website at

BioPark Bucks

Councilors approved putting a 1/8 of 1-percent gross receipts tax question on the October 2015 ballot. The tax bump would raise about $17 million a year for 15 years. The money would go to much needed renovations and improvements at the BioPark. The BioPark includes the zoo, aquarium, botanical garden and Tingley Beach. The tax is about 13 cents on each $100 purchase. We won’t even miss the pennies and the BioPark will continue to grow and improve.

The next regularly scheduled meeting of the city council is set for Monday, August 17, in the Council Chambers, which is located in the basement of City Hall. You can also view it on GOV TV Channel 16 or at

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