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One regret in anyone’s life could be letting colleagues know when your birthday is. Case in point: It was Albuquerque City Councilor Brook Bassan’s birthday, so a round of “Happy Birthday” was crooned by the rest of the council, via Zoom, before tackling a tiny agenda. It was a heartfelt attempt. A couple of interesting items were deferred, and all that was left was handing out some business boosting bonds, giving thumbs up to a bunch of board appointments and a short presentation by Ed Harness, executive director of Civilian Police Oversight Agency.

Two More To Go

After about three years of not enough eyes on the blues, the Albuquerque Police Oversight Agency is two seats away from having a full nine-member board. These are the folks looking at police use of force complaints. Timely as this is, since the beginning of the year, the city police department officers have racked up four police shootings so far with two fatalities and two additional people that have died in police custody.

There were two appointments to this important board on the April 19 council table. Both appointees are African American. One is Richard Johnson, whose appointment was deferred until the May 3 meeting. Gionne Ralph did get an approval vote and will join the agency in June. Executive Director of the Civilian Police Oversight Agency Ed Harness has said that by filling these vacancies it will help ease the workloads of the members and their subcommittees such as case review, personnel, community outreach and policy and procedures. Harness has said that once all nine positions are filled they can form a subcommittee to address training. The council, at a prior meeting, approved hiring two more investigators to do the snoopy work for the agency, which as Harness has said will help the agency continue to make progress.

Prior to the votes, Harness gave a short Zoom update on recent happenings. Here is what he presented in the Quarterly report from January 2021 to March 2021: Of the complaint findings, 29 were administratively closed, 11 were unfounded, one was sustained, two were not sustained and four were exonerated. There were 11 serious use-of-force findings that were exonerated and one that was sustained as a non-occurrence.

The CPOA was formed to hold the city’s police department accountable. The civilian board reviews complaints and use of force incidents.

We’re In The Money

A couple of local businesses reaped the benefits of Industrial Revenue Bonds. The first was El Encanto, d.b.a. Bueno Foods. We all pretty much love our chile, so there are no complaints here. The $10 million cha-ching will go toward more freezer space to hold  upgrades and other bling to make the red and green at its Barelas facility at 2001 Fourth St. SW. The company got another $500,000 from state Local Economic Development Act funds. There will be about 50 new jobs created to keep up with our hunger for red and green chile.

Affordable Solar Project facility at 3900 Singer Blvd. NE will be getting $8 million in IRB’s as well. These sunny people will be using the money to do some expansion and upgrades to their 25,000-square-foot facility near I-25 and Montgomery. This company plans on adding about 70 high paying jobs. Both of these are good investments in New Mexico products: sunshine on our roofs and sunshine growing our chiles.

A grounds lease and development agreement was approved with Theia Group, Inc for the development of a satellite manufacturing facility. The company will make satellites to monitor the earth at its 114-acre plot of land near the airport. Whoa! More eyes on us.

Stop The Hate

Haters gonna hate, and to counter that ugliness the council approved spending $77,000 to counter the effects of the increase in violence against Asian-American students of all ages. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is the second-leading cause of death among 12 to 18 year olds. Some 11.8 percent of Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander youth and 9.5 percent of Asian American youth have made at lease one suicide attempt. The monies will expand services to up to 100 additional youth as they return to in-person learning and dealing with COVID-19 stresses. The funding will go through the New Mexico Asian Family Center to implement the program.

Other Stepper Uppers

Councilors gave the approval to a grip of other folks making the commitment to take seats on one of the many city’s  boards and commissions. These fine folks are: Christine Glidden, Donald Couchman, Hilma E. Chynoweth, Pamela Weese Powell and Janet Samorodin-Mcllwain to the Albuquerque Museum Board of Trustees; Angela Alderete, Christina B. Walker, Collin Barnett and Jeanette E. Baca to the Biological Park Board; Gina L. Montoya, Neil R. Jackson, Nora Tocci and Ron Behrmann to the Balloon Museum Board of Trustees and Tony Monfiletto to the Indicators Progress Commission.

Next Time

Councilors pushed off the hot topic of putting a two-cent additional tax on each gallon of gasoline that is purchased in the city. The ordinance would send the question to the voters to decide whether to tax themselves in order to have the money to upkeep our roads, walkways and bicycle lanes. They plan on tackling this issue at the May 17 meeting.

The council plans on taking a look at a resolution mandating that the police department develop policies that will give victims of domestic violence the security of reporting incidents without being scared of being arrested themselves on unrelated misdemeanor charges or warrants. This is so folks in bad situations won’t be afraid of calling for help. This will be on the table May 17.

BOX: The next meeting of the City Council is set for a Zoom meeting at 3pm, Monday, May 3. 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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