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District 2 Newsletter - August 1, 2016

Hello Neighbors,

July is considered a “month off” for City Council, but I’ve been quite busy this month.

On July 28th, I hosted a community meeting with APD Independent Monitor James Ginger, attended by around 60 people, to hear about the progress toward APD reform. Here’s a link to a Journal story about the latest progress: APD reform hits high note.

As your representative on the City’s legislative body, I’m very dependent on our APD Area Commanders and I do support APD’s effort to put more officers on the beat instead of behind desks. It’s important to note that in the past, and including this Police Chief, the Mayor appoints a chief without consent of the Council. However, last year voters changed that, and in the future Council will have advise and consent with respect to the appointment of a chief.

A major present concern is with the recruitment and retention of APD officers since their numbers are very thin.

The civilian oversight structure for APD was completely rewritten last year and the Council took very seriously the new process of selection of the Civilian Police Oversight Board members and the executive director of the Civilian Police Oversight Agency. I’m optimistic that this new structure will result in much improved police oversight.

I’m also optimistic that by the end of this year, we will have a new District Attorney who will be taking a fresh look at police use of force.

I also encourage you to participate in your Community Policing Council (CPC).

Also this month I attended in Pittsburg the convening of Local Progress, which included over 100 local elected officials from around the country. We discussed important current matters in local government, including police/ community relations, state preemption of local authority (e.g. minimum wage and paid sick leave), participatory budgeting, public transportation, strategies for working with grassroots community groups to advance social causes, and helping a new generation run for local office.

We heard from Pittsburg Mayor William Peduto and United States Representative Keith Ellison of Minnesota (pictured above), who addressed us the morning after the tragic shooting of the Dallas police officers.

We also joined over 1,000 representatives of social justice organizations at the 2016 People’s Convention, which was held concurrent with the convening. North Carolina NAACP president Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II addressed the crowd (pictured below).

Legislation of Interest

  • 25% Solar by 2025, R-16-36 (Davis, Benton) requires that the Energy Conservation Council (ECC) recommend a new solar energy standard for the City of Albuquerque, establishing a goal of getting 25% or more of the City’s energy from solar by 2025.  The City is one of New Mexico's largest energy consumers and should be a leader energy efficiency and environmentally responsibility.  This bill was deferred in order for staff to conduct a fiscal impact analysis (FIA). I believe that the FIA will reveal that there could be an even higher goal, and that it may obviate the need for extensive work by the ECC.   R-16-36 will be deferred for an additional 30 days to the Wednesday, September 7 meeting to allow additional time for the completion of the FIA.  Additionally, we are working with members of the energy industry to identify ways of achieving the goal of 25% solar by 2025.
  • North Corridor MRA R-16-49 (Benton, by request) was appropriated $850,000 in the FY17 budget.  R-16-49 designates the North Corridor Metropolitan Redevelopment Area, roughly between the railroad tracks and 4th Street from Granite Avenue to the city limit and directs the Metropolitan Redevelopment Agency to prepare an MRA Plan for the area. Such a plan would bring benefits to public infrastructure and revitalization of the corridor.  This bill had its first hearing at Council’s Land Use Planning & Zoning Committee (LUPZ), which sent it to the full Council with a unanimous recommendation of Do Pass.   It is on the agenda for Final Action at next Monday’s Council meeting.
  • Bee City USA R-16-77 (Benton, Winter) designates Albuquerque as a Bee City USA (BCUSA) and commits the City to the standards of BCUSA to enhancing pollinator health and habitat.  This bill will be introduced next week to be considered at the August 15 Council meeting.  For more information about BCUSA, visit
  • Position on PNM Rate Case R-16-53 (Benton) passed and was enacted without the signature of the Mayor.  R-16-53 outlines the City’s position on certain aspects of the current Public Service Company of NM proposed rate structure currently before the Public Regulation Commission.  PNM is proposing a new rate structure that will affect the City’s cost of electrical power, as well as costs to residents and small business. The city is sharing resources for our representation in the case with Bernalillo County.  The County Commission also passed a resolution outlining this position.

Community Announcements

  • ART: We expect the judge’s ruling today in the lawsuits against the City over the ART project.  As you may already know, I do support the project.  Please see this Op-Ed in today’s Journal: ART a vital piece in city’s renaissance.
  • Citizens' Independent Salary Commission Position Openings:  Accountability in Government Oversight Committee is seeking applicants to serve on the Citizens’ Independent Salary Commission. The Citizens' Independent Salary Commission was created with the authority to set the salaries of the Mayor and Councilors.

Upcoming Events and Meetings

  • Girard Boulevard Complete Streets Master Plan:  Public open house to review and discuss plans on Tuesday, August 9 from 5:30 to 7:30 pm at the First Congregational Church, 2801 Lomas Blvd. NE.  You may drop by at any time – there will not be a formal presentation.

Project Updates

  • Girard Boulevard Complete Streets Master Plan:  Public open house to review and discuss plans on Tuesday, August 9 from 5:30 to 7:30 pm at the First Congregational Church, 2801 Lomas Blvd. NE.  You may drop by at any time – there will not be a formal presentation.

Isaac Benton
City Councilor, District 2

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