Reject The Porker

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A charter for city-county unification was soundly rejected last November, and this year Bernalillo County voters are going to say “yes” or “no” to a new version. And again, voters are being asked to buy a pig in a poke, with minimal input into its structure and operation.

The main arguments for replacing the existing Albuquerque and Bernalillo County governments with a unified government is to reduce cost, eliminate duplication of effort, improve accountability, and improve responsiveness of government to its constituents.

The new government will almost certainly cost Bernalillo County taxpayers more than what it currently costs to operate the two separate governments. The number of administrators in the larger unified government will be increased, as well as the number of employees required to provide services to the citizens of Bernalillo County. Residents of the city of Albuquerque will comprise 80 to 85 percent of the subjects of this new government and will pay a major portion of these increased costs.

Elected officials are responsive and accountable to voters, appointed officials are not. Individuals hired by a manager, who also can fire them, will follow the dictates of the manager rather than the voters. This proposed new government will be administered primarily by appointees and there is no plausible reason to believe that it will be more responsive to its constituents

The unified government will not have term limits for the mayor, commissioners, sheriff or clerk! If term limits are not spelled out in the charter for this government, then there is no legal requirement for term limits under the New Mexico Constitution. Not having term limits could make changing this government very difficult, which is one very good reason to reject it.

Our two current governments sometimes compete with one another, which is good. These two governments are structured differently and provide us choices, which is also good. This gives individuals moving into Bernalillo County real choices regarding the type of local government under which they will live. We should retain our current two governments and the choices that they provide and again soundly reject this proposed unified government for Bernalillo County.

Just The Facts, Ma'am

Cheney said that he’d never suggested “there’s a connection between Iraq and 9-11.” As the Washington Post and Boston Globe stated [Oct. 6], Cheney has repeatedly insinuated and “strongly suggested” that Saddam Hussein was behind the 9-11 attack.

Second, Cheney mislead the voters with his statement that “900,000 small businesses will be hit” by the tax cuts Kerry and Edwards propose. As the Washington Post reports [Oct. 6], ” [t]his is misleading. Under Cheney’s definition, a small business is any taxpayer who includes some income from a small business investment, partnership, limited liability corporation or trust. By that definition, every partner at a huge accounting firm or at the largest law firm would represent small businesses. According to IRS data, a tiny fraction of small business “S-corporations” earn enough profits to be in the top two tax brackets. Most are in the bottom two brackets.”

Third, Cheney stated that the first time he’d ever met Edwards was when he’d walked on stage for the debate. This zinger is untrue. Cheney and Edwards have met in public at least twice. They met when Edwards escorted Elizabeth Dole to be sworn in by Cheney as senator and at the National Prayer Breakfast. At the breakfast, Cheney even called Edwards out by name, starting his remarks with the words, “Thank you very much. Congressman Watts, Sen. Edwards, friends from across America and distinguished visitors to our country from all over the world, Lynne and I are honored to be with you all this morning.”

Westside Story

How rank can our government be? First, a Westside developer attempted to pave a temporary road through the Petroglyphs in the middle of the night without public notice. Only then—when they were caught doing this—did the issue of a road through the Petroglyphs become open for public discussion. And after the citizens of Albuquerque—through the ballot in October 2003—voted no to a street bonds package which defeated funding for a road through one of Albuquerque’s most sacred sites, our city government still finds it worthwhile to waste our time with another vote.

Set aside this fact that the city of Albuquerque government is not following the will of its citizens, and look at the proposed road itself. It is claimed that a road through the Petroglyph National Monument will alleviate traffic congestion on the west side of town, making commutes quicker and safer. If that were the intent, why is the city not making plans for public transportation to get more cars off the road?

It is also claimed that there is no alternative location for the road. If that were true, then the city needs to make a clear decision and honor the sacredness of the Petroglyphs, not the affluent residents who can afford to live outside the city, drive cars and commute to and from work everyday.

And most laughable, supporters of the road say that the road is essential to the city’s economic development. I guess poor people—mostly people of color—and shoddy roads in significantly poorer parts of the city do not factor into the equation when it comes to economic development.

The real issue here is money, power and race. This road is a boon only to the corporate developers who will profit from a road through the Petroglyphs and the politicians, including Mayor Chavez, who depend on the developers’ money for support. Sadly the story is not new; it is manifest destiny now cloaked in different terms. How rank must our government be before things begin to change?

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