Ignoring The Neighbors

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Greg Payne's column on the City Council's rejection of a building project on Walter Street in Huning Highlands (Payne's World, Feb. 19-15) omits any mention of the specific grounds on which the project was opposed by the Huning Highlands Neighborhood Association (not by “a couple of neighborhood activists”). Apart from zoning questions raised (which this writer cannot pretend to understand), there were other objections which, if Mr. Payne had paid any attention to them, would have made clear grounds of the councilor's “difficult to explain” and “irrational” negative votes on the plan.

The proposed project may be small in tract development terms, but the neighborhood itself is small; its buildings are for the most part single-family Victorian homes. New structures on a much larger scale would in fact have significant visual impact. Drawings submitted for the Walter Street project show a massive three-story, three-unit structure which would dwarf many of its neighbors, ignoring the fact that this is an Historic Overlay District where preserving the original look and scale of the streets is a crucial consideration—that's what “historic overlay”means.

Suggestions for changes were made, such as redesigning the building as two living units instead of three. This would permit more setbacks and design features, to lessen the battleship look of the structure as presented. But such ideas were dismissed out of hand by the developer, and not for the first time. This project has been around for a while, and has been rejected before because its proponents have shown absolute inflexibility in the face of the neighborhood's considered objections and ideas for ways to bring the proposed building into reasonable scale for its physical context.

Infill is a great idea and a sound growth goal for any city, but forcing an unwanted, inappropriate structure into an established historic neighborhood is not the way to do it. Councilors Griego, Mayer, Loy and Winter are to be congratulated for holding the line on the visual integrity of a handsome historic area in the heart of Albuquerque.

Oh No, Not Nader!

So Ralph Nader is running for president again. Two explanations are possible. Either his egotism has reached such monstrous proportions that he's actually insane, or he's been working for the Republicans all along.

Remember, this is the man who told us there was no difference between Bush and Gore—and many Alibi readers believed him. It's officially time for all Nader voters to put on sackcloth, pour ashes over their heads and parade through Nob Hill, chanting, “I was wrong, I'm sorry. I was wrong, I'm sorry.”

Love Is What Matters

For a few hours on Feb. 20, 2004, New Mexico recognized the legitimacy of same-sex marriages. Hundreds of gays, lesbians and transgender people flocked to the Bernalillo Courthouse and waited in line for their marriage licenses. Why? Because they love each other, are committed to each other and share the hopes, dreams and love of any other couple wishing to form an exclusive relationship.

As Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) in Albuquerque, we applaud the actions of the Sandoval County Clerk, and state that our sons, daughters and friends who are gay or lesbian or transgendered have as much right to make that commitment without government interference as any heterosexual couple.

Marriage is a sacrament or agreement that two loving people bestow upon each other. We do not regard gender as an issue here. What is important is their love and desire to live together in a committed life-long relationship.

Author Andrew Sullivan wrote: “Marriage has become a way in which the state recognizes an emotional commitment by two people to each other for life.

And within that definition, there is no public way, if one believes in equal rights under the law, in which it should legally be denied homosexuals.”

In no way should same sex marriage threaten the institution of heterosexual marriage. In fact, by embracing and including all in its benefits, we are saying that marriage is an enduring institution that stands the test of time, societal evolutions, cultural changes and religious expectations. To exclude gays and lesbians, is to selfishly deny some 1500 benefits, and greedily hoard a false sense of higher ground. It is announcing and agreeing that marriage is so weak an institution that it must be limited to only certain people.

We stand with our gay and lesbian sons and daughters on this issue, and call on all New Mexicans to support same-sex marriage because it is the right thing to do.

The Legal Cage

I have been in love with certain men. I treasure mutually passionate romance with a man, but I do not want a license from any state for my deep romantic connection with him. I want him to stay with me because he wants to stay with me—not because he feels stuck with me in a legal cage called marriage or civil union. If we part, I do not want to sue him and I do not want him to sue me.

Many miserable legally married couples stay chained together for decades because they fear court battles, spending thousands of dollars for lawyers, being branded as marriage rejects if they break up. Legal marriage requires our pledging life-long romantic commitment to only each other.

I aim to tell the truth and not to make foolish promises. Do I ever know myself or him or the future well enough to know for sure we both will do well with only each other until death? Like many persons, I am able to be openly, honestly and deeply in love with more than one person. Legal marriage for me? No way!

Censure Bush Now

I ask our U.S. Senators, Pete V. Domenici and Jeff Bingaman, to censure President Bush for misleading us into war.

According to his own cabinet member Paul O'Neill, President Bush was hungry for war with Iraq from his first days in office. Bush then ran a campaign of misinformation and hysteria that led America into an unnecessary war.

Before the war, Bush was repeatedly and accurately advised there was no credible evidence that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction. Rather than listen to experienced people, our president, his staff and supporters conducted smear campaigns by leaks and innuendoes against the truth tellers, destroying careers and endangering lives.

Then Bush recklessly led us into a war that so far has cost over 500 American lives, left 3,000 seriously injured and wasted tens of billions of dollars. A war so poorly planned that even the Army War College has condemned it.

Our senators should vote to censure President Bush; concerned citizens should contact them to request they vote to censure.

Sunshine Sound

I'd love to write about the promoter's (of the Feb. 17 Floetry and the Erykah Badu concert) failure to communicate why concert-goers had to wait two hours for the concert to begin, but this has to take a back seat to the sound system of the Sunshine Theater.

Sitting in the balcony above, the vocals and instrumentals swirled in a swampy mixture below and sounded like an amped up drive-up ordering speaker at McDonalds. Sure, the venue has great qualities: view to the stage, alcohol service, easy access to bathrooms (for men) … but in the 21st century, one would hope that a $45 ticket would buy a system that could deliver more than a vocal and instrumental “wall of sound.”

I love Badu and Floetry. It's just too bad the visual presentations didn't have the support of a great sound system.

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