Bringing awareness to human trafficking and slavery got the shout-out at the Jan.19 regular meeting of the Albuquerque City Council. The proclamation was the first one sponsored by newly seated Councilor Renee Grout, who proclaimed January as Slavery and Human Trafficking Awareness Month.
Councilors recognized the New Mexico Dream Center (nmdreamcenter.org) and its founder Shelley Repp’s efforts to bring hope to the survivors of human trafficking. The NM Dream Center’s mission is to try to fill a gaping hole in services for homeless youth and trafficked minor children–not something folks like to think about but a real problem that must be addressed.
Chief Got A Grillin’
Took a bit to figure out what the problem was that Councilor Trudy Jones and others were a bit puffed up about. It appears the Albuquerque Fire Chief eased some standards to get what he felt were enough applicants to fill five vacant deputy chief positions. Several Councilors grilled the fire chief with the end result being to suggest they take this up in a committee to clarify policy changes such as these. Councilor Brook Bassan said it did not make sense. This was the best line of the ’round-and-’round discussion.
Things That Got Done
Among the items that got approved was to begin the process of creating a city Tourism Marketing District and a Business Improvement District intended to expand marketing opportunities and destination development in an effort to increase travel tourism to parts of our city. A committee will meet, come up with ideas and come back to the Council. Other city businesses getting the thumbs up included: Updating the Albuquerque/Bernalillo County Hazard Mitigation Plan which is required by FEMA and includes the city, county, Village of Los Ranchos, Village of Tijeras, the water authority, the conservancy district and the flood control people all working together to keep us safe from hazards.
Another piece of important legislation was approved to establish a redistricting committee to take a look at how the city’s council districts still work in light of the 2020 census. An idea to expand the Council to 11 members was shot down.
Long-awaited approval of the Master Development Agreement for the South Campus Tax Increment Development District was finally in the books. The area is about 337 acres and is made up of University of New Mexico land and some city land along University Boulevard from Basehart to Gibson. UNM has a vision for the area that includes shops, bars, restaurants, parks, city trails and more space for the science and technology park.
Councilors approved a popular item for those over 50 with the passage of the One Albuquerque Age-Friendly Action Plan intended to improve the quality of life for Albuquerque’s aging population. The resolution focuses on three key areas: age-forward economic development, age-inclusive city design and creating resilient networks to encourage healthy aging. Sounds like a bunch of feel-good stuff at this point. We will have to see what comes out of this initiative.
Approving a report and recommendations for options to create a BioPark admission assistance for low-income residents. The criteria suggested for new admissions are households with SNAP benefits, Title One students and families and community organizations and nonprofits. This is a feel-good idea put into action.
Things That Did Not Get Done
Some of the sexy items deferred were: proposed amendments to the Civilian Police Oversight Ordinance; proposed changes to the Intergovernmental Agreement for Albuquerque Bernalillo County Government commission to add Albuquerque Public Schools as a fully participating voting member; and the exciting task of voting on federal policy priorities. Councilors will take these up at future meetings.
No Veto Override
On a 1 – 8 vote, Councilors did not even get close to overriding Mayor Tim Keller’s veto of the Council’s amendments to the Open Space Trust Fund. Mayor Keller said one problem he had was to require 75 percent of the fund of about $7 million to go to a specific area of the city, in this case west of the Rio Grande. Mayor Keller is also asking to incorporate equity criteria when purchasing open space and to look for a better solution to address the long-term problems with the current trust fund.
There were only four citizens addressing the Council. The hot topics were supporting the One Albuquerque Age-Friendly Action Plan and approving the UNM South Campus Business Development District.
There was a good showing of citizens stepping up to volunteer time and energy to some of the city’s boards and commissions. Those include: Katherine Korte to the Personnel Board; Tony R. Johnson to the Metropolitan Parks and Recreation Advisory Board; Louanne Byrd to the Arts Board; Matthew Loehman to the Affordable Housing Committee; Lence Jorgensen to the Albuquerque Housing Authority Board; and Gary Eyster, Joseph Cruz and Jonathon Hollinger to the Environmental Planning Commission.
The next meeting of the City Council is set for a Zoom meeting at 3 pm, Mon., Feb. 7. Watch it at GOV-TV at cabq.gov or on Comcast Cable Channel 16 or on the city’s YouTube channel.