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District 2 Newsletter

June 19, 2018 Newsletter from City Councilor Isaac Benton

Hello Neighbors,

Nearly two years ago the City of Albuquerque and Bernalillo County came together to form the Behavioral Health Initiative (BHI) to find new solutions to the behavioral health crisis in Albuquerque.  We convened experts, physicians, first responders, providers, families, and people living with mental health and/or substance abuse issues to identify and design programs are most needed in the metro area to address the unmet needs of people living with behavioral health issues.  Read a summary of progress and programs online.  A link to the County’s BHI website is also included.


The next City Council meeting is Monday, June 18 at 5:00 pm in the Vincent Griego Chambers, basement level of City Hall:  Agenda

  • Police Oversight Ordinance O-18-23 (Benton, Winter):  This bill amends the Police Oversight Ordinance to make changes recommended by the Police Oversite Board (POB) to the Council and to modify the ordinance for consistency with the DOJ settlement agreement.  It increases the annual Civilian Police Oversight Agency (CPOA) budget in order to hire a data research analyst and a community engagement specialist, allows the POB to get unedited raw data from APD, gives the POB subpoena power, changes the requirement for the Chief’s response to POB disciplinary action recommendations, and allows the POB to make policy recommendations to the council.  This bill will be introduced at Monday’s meeting and will be referred to the Finance & Government Operations Committee for a hearing in August.


Rio Grande & Candelaria Roundabout:

Having worked on the 11-year-old roundabout project for six years now, I’m in the habit of being informed by constituents of every crash that occurs there.  The original Federal Highway Safety Improvement Program grant was awarded to the City under previous Councilor Debbie O’Malley and Mayor Chavez’s administration.  Without question the progress towards construction of the project has been excruciatingly and unacceptably slow, but not for lack of effort by me and city staff.  I’ve struggled to keep North Valley residents accurately informed of its status, as it is reported to me.
It should be noted that under Albuquerque’s form of municipal government, as your city councilor I can’t  just “build it already”, manage the project or compel the administrative actions needed to move more rapidly. Despite my constant prodding, those are the responsibilities of the city’s administration (executive branch) not the council (legislative branch).  Also, without timely actions by four key entities (not counting the Feds) a Federal grant project cannot proceed:  City Council, the regional Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), the City Administration and the NM Department of Transportation (NMDOT).
Federally-funded projects must be placed on the regional Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) by votes of City Council and the regional MPO.  After taking office in District 2 I’ve had to accomplish that twice after the project stalled under my predecessor Roxanna Meyers and deadlines passed. NMDOT is tasked by the Feds with administering the grant and must approve City’s administrative milestones having to do with right-of-way acquisitions, utility relocations, final design, etc. NMDOT’s process has been remarkably slow and difficult to work with, even for the City’s capable project manager Debbie Bauman, who deserves a medal for her efforts.
By the conclusion of the term of Mayor Berry’s administration, Ms. Bauman had accomplished all the necessary purchases of right-of-way. The final agreement for construction between City and NMDOT was left on Mayor Keller’s desk for signature.  It was signed in March of this year as another NMDOT deadline loomed – a major milestone. The NMDOT continues to move slowly with a few remaining approvals to allow us to put it out for bids.
Over the years, my office has several times reported the Administration’s “estimated” schedules for bidding and construction, which as we know have not come to pass.  Thus I am reluctant to suggest when construction will begin. However, we have now received all of the necessary certifications from the state to construct the roundabout.  We are now told that “this fall the Water Authority will initiate a utility improvement project at the intersection, and following the completion of that project the roundabout will be put out to bid, with construction to projected begin in Spring of 2019.” 

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Isaac Benton
City Councilor, District 2