Albuquerque city councilors did not get a lot approved at their Oct. 18 regular meeting, but they did proclaim October as Domestic Violence Awareness month, heard a report from the Bernalillo County District Attorney’s Office on Duke City crime, were teased by items for the next meeting and gave some love to pollinators and our sick aquatic friends.
Be Nice Month
Anyone can be a victim of domestic violence. According to stats presented in the proclamation 37 percent of women and 33 percent of men in New Mexico have been a victim of abuse by a domestic partner, with 35 percent of our children witnessing domestic abuse. State Rep. Pamela Hernden, along with other representatives from various domestic violence entities, Zoomed in for the presentation. They encouraged citizens to be nice to each other, educate themselves and others on domestic abuse and to support the organizations on the front lines helping.
Crime Report or Damage Control
Adolfo Mendez, chief of policy and planning at the Office of the Second Judicial District Attorney gave a detailed presentation on crime in the metro area. He started the presentation by saying that crime, overall, is down. But violent crimes like homicides are up. He said violent crimes make up a small proportion of overall crime but have a big impact. Stats he presented show that there were 84 homicides in 2019 and 76 homicides in 2020. So far in 2021 there have been over 90 homicides. People are angry, and they have weapons it seems. Mendez said that the District Attorney’s Office almost always moves to detain a suspect in a crime if a firearm is involved. “The presence of a firearm inherently makes the crime more dangerous,” he said, stating the obvious. He said overall state district judges grant about 50 percent of the prosecution’s request for detention across the board.
Mendez seemed to be throwing some shade on local judges whom he said stats show did not grant as many requests for detention. There was a lot of information and statistics and ideas for changes that the Legislature can make to tighten up detention issues. He also kept referring to New Jersey as some sort of example of a better way to do things. The Paper. will be taking a closer look at what was presented at this meeting in an issue in the near future.
Sharks and Bees
Two separate items gave attention to the city’s pollinators and sharks. Councilors approved a grant from the state Department of Agriculture to the city’s Parks and Recreation Department of $20,000 to continue the pollinator project at Quigley Park and Xeric Park. This buzzingly good project aims to educate folks by example by planting pollinator-friendly flowers to increase the bee population. In 2016 Albuquerque became the first Bee City USA in the Southwest. This is a pollinator-friendly designation that is intended to improve local conditions for bees and other beneficial flower-lovers so we all can continue to have food.
Sick sharks and other aquatic animals are going to get a new place to hang out and get better after councilors approved accepting Mayor Tim Keller’s recommendation for a $100,000 site Feasibility and Schematic Design document for an aquatics/shark quarantine facility at the BioPark. The facility, required by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, will be available to treat both fresh and saltwater swimming things. The city documents say it is also in the best interest of the BioPark/Aquarium to preserve its collections. The money comes from the BioPark Gross Receipts Tax that voters approved to help upkeep our gem of a BioPark, Aquarium and Botanical Gardens.
Let Me Introduce You
The sexiest items on the agenda were not even on this agenda but in the Letter of Introduction for the next meeting’s agenda, which won’t happen until after the Nov. 2 election.
Councilor Isacc Benton is proposing to require COVID-19 vaccines for Albuquerque police officers and firefighters because of their high level of interaction with the public. The proposed legislation amends the current emergency declaration by saying that public safety employees must provide proof of vaccination or a documented religious exemption or show negative test results on a weekly basis. The opposition was quick to surface, with police and firefighter unions saying they will oppose the bill as it could cause many public safety personnel to leave the departments. This will certainly cause fireworks at the next meeting.
Also introduced was an item for a ground lease between the city Aviation Department and the e-commerce giant Amazon for a 30,000-square-foot air cargo facility at the Albuquerque International Sunport. This is in addition to the five-story fulfillment center and sorting center near Atrisco Vista Boulevard and Interstate 40. Rumor has it that the owner was listed as “Project Bronco” for the airport project. Maybe a herd of stallions will show up to deliver our goods.
More Next Time
The grip of deferrals until after the Nov. 2 election included: a proposed amendment to the City Budget Ordinance, an inter-governmental agreement to include Albuquerque Public Schools as a voting member in the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Government Commission and reaffirming a strong commitment to end the drivers of crime including criminal firearm use and recidivism.
Councilors appointed Shawn L. Penman to the Accountability in Government Oversight Committee; Julie Radoslovich to the Metropolitan Parks and Recreation Advisory Board; Hodgin Serrullo and Don McIlver to the Transit Advisory Board; Dubra F. Karnes-Padilla to the Senior Advisory Board and Lindsey Kay to the Veterans and Military Affairs Advisory Board.
The next meeting of the City Council is set for a Zoom meeting at 3pm, Monday Nov. 3. Watch it at GOV-TV at cabq.gov or on Comcast Cable Channel 16 or on the city’s YouTube channel.