Council Watch: Sisterhood Revisited

The Council Discusses Israel, Drag Racing, Indigenous Peoples Day And More

Carolyn Carlson
5 min read
Sisterhood Revisited
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There could be a spat brewing over one of our 10 sister cities. A number of residents showed up to the Nov. 2 Albuquerque City Council meeting to ask the council to end our sister city relationship with Rehovot, Israel.

“By maintaining a sister city relationship with Rehovot, Albuquerque is enabling Israel’s human rights violations and abuses,” Stanley Hordes said. Hordes, along with a half dozen more speakers from the local chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace cited Israeli abuses against Palestinians as a reason to end the relationship. The group is also circulating a petition asking the council to pass a proclamation urging the federal government to stop US military aid to Israel until the Palestinian occupation ends. The group says $9 million of Albuquerque residents’ federal tax payments, out of a national total of $3.1 billion, go to support Israel’s occupation.

“We need to invest in our morals,” Samia Assad said. “Stop the bloodshed, stop the occupation and demand human rights for everyone.”

Burning Rubber

Several city councilors had smoke pouring out of their ears after John Von, a local underground street race advocate, rolled up to the podium. Introducing himself as the voice of the city’s street drag racers, he said a recent news report about a car racing down Tramway backwards and with their lights out was not one of his loosely organized group of older street racers. John Von calmly let the council know that while he and his other adult street racers do push the pedal on the city’s black top, they try to be as safe as possible when doing their midnight drags on remote streets. John Von is known for his YouTube channel 1320Video that hosts videos of Burque street car racers in action.

Councilors Trudy Jones, Diane Gibson, Dan Lewis and Don Harris huffed and puffed about how unbelievable, shameful and ludicrous it was for him to stand in front of them and admit to breaking the law. John Von responded that the drag racing law is unjust. He said he researched extensively for the crash data to support it and found none. He said the law is based on a perception. “How do you prove a drag race?” John Von said. He quipped that if the city was really concerned about safety they could work with the street racers and allow them to rent out the Double Eagle II Airport. West Side City Councilor Ken Sanchez said he liked John Von’s idea of the city letting the racers use the Double Eagle II Airport to host events and asked the administration to look into working with them. Chief Administrative Officer Rob Perry puffed a bit about danger to the public, but did agree the airport idea was safer than using Tramway and the freeways. But he quickly rebuffed the idea by saying he could not imagine the city’s liability if they opened up the airport to drag racers.

Adiós Columbus

In a unanimous sweep, outgoing Council President Rey Garduño finally got his Indigenous Peoples Day resolution passed, with accolades. The resolution formally establishes the second Monday of October, or the federal Columbus Day holiday, as Indigenous Peoples Day in Albuquerque. Last month, Garduño read a proclamation which was not signed by Councilors Dan Lewis, Trudy Jones and Don Harris. Sparks flew when Councilor Garduño said they were cowards for not signing the proclamation. This led to Councilor Lewis proposing to censure Garduño. They made up at the next meeting and all agreed to consider another attempt at an official recognition of Indigenous Peoples Day, which immediately passed this time. Councilor Lewis seemed to still be licking his wounds when he said that last month’s proclamation could have moved forward but for the unproductive comments and the quick way it was sprung on the council by Garduño. Regardless of all that, dozens of people spoke in support. A couple people spoke against the resolution claiming it was reverse racism against white people. Councilor Jones countered by saying that this resolution is not addressing Columbus Day and does not take away from one group to benefit another, but simply recognizes another group of Americans. Sam Gardipe of the Red Nation and a Pawnee responded that, “It is not about taking away from one group for another; this is about honoring the first people that were here.” New Mexico has 19 Pueblo tribes, two Apache tribes and the Navajo Nation that together make up over 10 percent of our state’s population.


Councilor Lewis, along with the other four Republican councilors, had a change of mind towards the end of the meeting. Lewis asked the Council to revisit the introduction of a proposal unanimously approved earlier in the meeting. The resolution asks the state legislature to allow voters to decide whether individual municipalities should be given the right to regulate “the right to keep and bear arms.” A 1986 amendment to the state Constitution says municipalities cannot regulate the right to bear arms. Councilor Diane Gibson is the sponsor of the bill.

Lewis said, “I want to go on the record as going against accepting this because it is unconstitutional.” The resolution was referred to a committee for further analysis.

Kudos from the Hood

Councilor Garduño and his wife Ilsa were honored with a proclamation naming the community garden space located at 1410 Wellesley SE as the “Project Feed the Hood Ilsa and Rey Garduño Community Garden”. The proclamation said the Garduños have been tireless advocates for District 6 and for food justice and sovereignty. Garduño will retire at the end of November when Councilor-elect Pat Davis will take over.

Send your comments about the City Council to The next City Council Meeting is set for Monday, Nov.16, 5 pm in the Council Chambers in the basement of City Hall. View it on GOV TV or at

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