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Hello Madam Presidents

The outgoing council president will hand the gavel to Councilor Cynthia Borrego to take over as president. Councilor Diane Gibson won the veep position over Councilor Basson. Councilor Klarissa Peña was elected budget committee chair. Looks like the dudes got shut out of the top three spots this go around.

Banning Hair Bullying

It may not be your problem, but it is someone else’s problem. And it needs to stop.

Following other state and federal leads, the City Council approved banning discrimination based on hair texture or hairstyle. The amendment would be made to the city’s Human Rights Ordinance, which prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age and physical handicap. The amendment includes not only natural hair—such as braids and afros—but burqas or other cultural headdresses. The CROWN Act, or Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural hair has passed the U.S. House of Representatives and is waiting for the Senate to take it up. The State Legislature is expected to pass a similar measure at its upcoming 60-day session on Jan. 19. 

Several public comments were made in support of passing this measure. One mother of an African American son who usually wears his hair pulled back but wanted to wear it in “its full glory” was bullied when he went to school with his afro. Aja Brooks from the New Mexico Black Lawyers Association said this was about creating respectful environments and that seven other states have already passed similar measures. Councilor Trudy Jones reluctantly voted for the ban but said she did not see it necessary to do this on a city level if the feds and state are going to do it. Like sponsor Councilor Lan Sena said, the City Council has the authority and should be local champions for this cause. Black women are 1.5 times more likely to be sent home from work because of their hair, and black women’s hairdos are perceived to be 3.4 times more likely to be unprofessional. We say rock those braids, afros, dreads, burqas, turbans, cornrows, headdresses or whatever hair thing makes you smile.

What Say You?

The most popular item garnering public comment was something that was not even on this meeting’s agenda. Memorial 20-6 urges the State Legislature to establish a state public bank, owned by and for the people of New Mexico, during the upcoming Legislative session. The memorial says a state public bank will promote public and private economic well being, enhance human and social capital, build and reinvest in a strong economic infrastructure. More than a handful of folks, including representatives from the credit unions and other interested organizations, said it was a good idea. Sounds like a winning idea, but this reporter would bet Bank of America, Wells Fargo and the other big bank bullys don’t agree.

It Ain’t Easy Being A Helper

We, here at The Paper., like to give the shout-outs to those who step up to take a seat on one of the city’s many citizen input boards and commissions. It’s not easy to stay connected and informed in the best of times, so it is even more admirable when folks volunteer to help in times of panic. Those doing their part to do the walk more than the talk are: Yvette Nunez to the Albuquerque Housing Authority Board; Bill Miera to the Albuquerque Development Commission; Joseph T. Griego to the Information Services Committee; Joseph Cruz, Richard Meadows, David Shaffer to the Environmental Planning Commission.

Quickies

  • A resolution asking for collaboration between the city, the county and the state on a very bad 4.9 mile stretch of State Hwy. 45, or Coors Blvd., between Central and Gun Club was deferred while the bill’s sponsor, Councilor Klarissa Peña, cleans up the language. The resolution does not include any funding, just encourages the city, the state’s Department of Transportation, Bernalillo County and Middle Rio Grande Council of Governments to work together to make the improvements needed along this very busy stretch of Coors. Like Councilor Peña said, Coors south of Central to Gun Club should have the same improvements as Coors north of Central to Alameda.
  • A residence nicknamed the Pig House will be coming down. The house on Mesilla NE near the Fairgrounds has been a problem for neighbors for years. Along with the clean up, city councilors urged that mental health and other support services be offered to the owner as well.
  • After a bunch of citizens complained about multiple parking fee increases done by the Mayor’s administration without Council knowledge, a resolution was passed requiring the mayor to give the City Council at least 90 days before implementing any fee or rate adjustment made outside of the city’s annual budget process. The mayor has authority to increase some city rates and fees without consultation or approval of the Council. Yet, it is the Council that takes some of the heat for these decisions. This does not mean the Council has to approve any rate or fee increases; they just need to be publicly documented beforehand by going through the Council and garnering public comment.

The next meeting of the City Council is set for 5pm on Wednesday, Jan. 20 due to the Martin Luther King holiday. Watch it at GOV TV at cabq.gov or on Comcast Cable Channel 16 or on the city’s YouTube channel.

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