Friday, May 16, 2014

ABQ City Council Coma Is Broken; Budget Plan Breaks With Berry On Key Issues, Plus: The One Thing You Need To Know About Cheney's Fund-Raiser For Martinez  

Public protests over the APD shootings is finally awakening the ABQ City Council to that and other matters that have been taking place under their noses but they have chosen to ignore, probably because of Mayor Berry's popularity rankings.

Take, for example, those huge pay raises Mayor Berry is giving his top aides while the rest of the city work force gets crumbs:

The mayor’s budget proposal calls for a 1 percent pay raise for regular city workers. With some of the mayor’s high-level staff getting raises of more than 20 percent, some City Councilors have a problem with that. The mayor’s Chief Administrative Officer Rob Perry recently got a 22 percent raise, he now makes $180,000. Deputy CAO Gilbert Montaño got a promotion and a 28 percent boost to his salary, bringing it to $105,000. APD Chief Gorden Eden is getting $158,000, $25,000 more than his predecessor, Ray Schultz. As Councilors put together their own budget, some Democrats are talking about the possibility of killing the mayor’s request for money that he says he needs to pay for those pay raises.

It will be most interesting to hear Berry's rationale for these out sized pay raises in a lousy city economy. And don't worry, Mayor. If you're still camera shy, you can phone in that answer from your bunker.

And lo and behold the smelling salts must really be working on Republican councilor and budget chairman Dan Lewis. He wants to double the amount Mayor Berry wants to put away to implement Dept. of Justice APD reforms from $1 million to $2 million. He wants to increase funding for programs for the homeless by $1 million and devote $900,000 more to social programs than Berry proposes.

Welcome, Dan. we've been waiting for you. The homeless and mentally ill are involved in many of the police shootings and without getting at that problem, we're not going to solve the crisis. And those 3 percent pay raises for the working class employees of the city are going to trickle into the local economy.


The Kirtland AFB jet fuel spill went national this week with PBS looking into the controversy that's developed over getting the leak cleaned up:

At Kirtland Air Force Base, a hole in a pipeline allowed fuel containing toxic chemicals to ooze into the soil, undetected for more than four decades. Special correspondent Kathleen McCleery reports on the efforts to clean up the leak, and the serious concerns that remain about drinking water contamination.

The Kirtland spill joins the fatal APD shootings and the WIPP radiation leak in giving New Mexico unwanted headlines around the world.


The main point the Alligators make about the forthcoming NM fund-raising visit of ex-VP Dick Cheney on behalf of Gov. Martinez is that it is not taking place in the ABQ media market. Cheney will be placed in Las Cruces where the visit will attract scant statewide attention:

Former Vice President Cheney is set to appear next month at a Las Cruces fundraiser for Gov. Martinez The fundraiser will be held at the Ramada Palms on University Avenue. Martinez, a former Doña Ana County district attorney, is running for her second term as governor and will face one of five Democrats vying for that party's nomination June 3.

Cheney's visit will be covered by El Paso TV which covers the Las Cruces area. The Cheney visit will probably attract protesters in Cruces, but many more of them if the event were held in ABQ.


Dem state treasurer hopeful Tim Eichenberg came with aT V spot as his race against John Wertheim for the June 3 nomination heats up. It's a positive ad with various endorsements of Eichenberg, a former Bernallio county treasurer and former state senator.

Wertheim's campaign says it has produced two TV spots and will come on the air Monday. Eichenberg has yet to make a TV buy but is expected to do so.

Wertheim came with a mail hit on Eichenberg this week, accusing him of leaving the county treasurer's office "in shambles" when he left it back in the 70's. Also, Wertheim calls himself the "real Democrat" in the race. Eichenberg's camp says the many endorsements of his candidacy by liberal Dems like former state Sen. Dede Feldman and Sen, Jerry Ortiz y Pino shows that even liberals that Wertheim is courting prefer the more conservative Eichenberg for the treasurer's slot.


The news:

They call it “pay as you throw,” and it could change the way City Hall charges for trash pickup. Mayor Berry’s administration wants Albuquerque to move to a system in which residents are charged different rates each month based on the size of their trash cart.

Now the write-up from former ABQ Journal editorial page editor Bill Hume:

I am trying to get my mental arms around this proposal by the city to charge people that agree to use a somewhat smaller garbage cart a somewhat smaller garbage fee. The assertion is that it will be cost-effective in terms of spreading the cost more closely onto the load of the individual homeowner. But consider its global implications:

--Big cart, little cart: It's the same number of stops for the truck; same time to pick up, empty and replace the big cart/little cart.
Little cart households: Nobody is likely to sign up for this unless they are pretty sure they will be able to get by with the smaller capacity container --which implies that they are comfortable that they have been putting no more than the smaller container total in their large container. So, is there going to be any savings in amount of trash to collect--or only in the amount of money to be collected from each trash generator?

Now, I have no objection in trying to figure out how to spread the cost of things more equitably on the consumers of those things -- but to sell this as cost-effective for the city strikes me as outright mendacity or total inability to think it through. I would charitably like to think the latter is the case -- but neither is particularly flattering to those who thought this up.

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