Albuquerque City Councilors were busy during their last two regular meetings. The Burque government leaders met March 1 and Feb. 17, clearing the decks of important business such as spending money, making board appointments, talking trash and racial equity in capital outlay projects.
March came in like a lamb, so that means it will go out like a lion? Speaking of going out, Councilor Don Harris announced prior to the March 1 meeting that he would not be seeking re-election for his District 9 seat, which takes in parts of the Northeast and Southeast Heights along East Central. He and Councilor Isaac Benton hold the line for longest currently serving councilors, as both were first elected in 2005. Harris said he wants to spend more time with his family and on his law business.
Dumped trash got some attention with a presentation about some sites on the Westside, more specifically the Southwest Mesa of the metro area, where illegal dumping is a real problem. The Illegal Dumping Partnership was created with the city and Bernalillo County along with more than 16 government agencies, quasi-government agencies, law enforcement, utility companies and nonprofits to address the growing problem of humans’ trash ending up where it should not be. Education to change behavior is a core part of the campaign. It looks like a good start. But if education and deterrence doesn’t work with mega-litterbugs, then send out the badass badges. We will keep our eyes on their mascot dude, Carlos Coyote, who will be the star of a comic book.
Deputy Chief J.J. Griego did a short presentation for the Council regarding the 2018 to 2020 National Incident Based Reporting System. In a nutshell, crimes against property dropped overall during these three years. Crimes against a person—which include crimes committed against people and crimes against society, including weapons, drugs and animal abuse—went up by a couple of percentage points. Good to see sex offense crimes going down. But homicides by guns shot up dramatically in 2019 to 80 and held just under at 76 homicides in 2020. To check out the full presentation, it’s on the City Council’s YouTube Channel.
The City Council:
*Did some bean-counting and money-moving and came up with a funding plan in the range of at least $2.2 million for some awesome, priceless gems of open space acquisitions to include Calabacillas Pueblo III, Diamond Rock/Four Hills and Poole Property.
*Amends and funds a $35,000 update to the 2014 Social Service Gap Analysis Study, which will help guide future policy makers on how to close the gaps in providing behavioral health services. Much-needed services fill in the gaps.
*Approved a resolution supporting the Legislature passage of a bill criminalizing sex crimes done by peace officers, against inmates in correctional facilities as second degree felonies. Guess from reading the resolution there was not a penalty for this crime of sex and authority. Yeah, it’s about time.
Councilors deferred several sexy items to upcoming meetings. One was the Healthy Families and Workplaces Ordinance. A statewide measure is working its way through the State Legislature. Another item bumped was setting up a Healthy Communities, Public Health and Sustainability Policy Task Force. Still another was to do with the excess parking ticket money that is being generated and how to spend it without making it look bad to the public or the ones who paid their tickets. Stay tuned.
The mid-February meeting didn’t bring a long list of actions but did put some important policies on track to be on the books.
Racial equity in funding future building projects that are put on the city’s Capital Implementation Program or CIP. Why is this important? The ordinance, if Mayor Tim Keller signs it, will give city planners who put together the CIP access to a series of maps that show the location of underserved neighborhoods. The information will include rates of poverty, unemployment and education levels. These maps will help planners find the best places for community centers, parks and other public spaces.
Councilors passed a resolution outlining what to do in case the police chief gets gone and a new one is not appointed for more than 45 days. The Council would like the mayor to send them an executive communication with the status of the search, how the vacancy was advertised, level of interest in the position by qualified persons and the anticipated time frame of a permanent appointment.
Stand Up Time
The last couple meetings brought out some stepper-uppers to voice their opinions on the city’s boards and commissions. Those appointed include Jim Maddox to the Airport Advisory Board; Hodgin Serrullo, Patricia Salisbury, Harris Balkin, Jennifer Jackson, Don McIver and Brendan Miller to the Transit Advisory Board; Andrea Plaza, Robert J. Vigil, Margaret Lopez, Robert Nelson and Richard Nordhaus to the Housing and Neighborhood Economic Development Committee; Andrew Lipman to the Urban Enhancement Trust Fund; Eric Olivas and Eric Nixon to the Civilian Police Oversight Agency Board; Augustine Chris Baca to the Albuquerque Museum Board of Trustees; Jennifer Brown to the Early Head Start Program Governance of Advisory Committee and Robert Cialone to the Affordable Housing Committee.
The next meeting of the City Council is set for 5pm on Monday, March 15. Watch it at GOV-TV at cabq.gov or on Comcast Cable Channel 16 or on the city’s YouTube channel.