Sunday, May 28, 2023

City Council Watch: Councilors Make a Wish List


Albuquerque city councilors negotiated among themselves to get their dream projects into the city’s general obligation bond and capital improvements plan, then gave some love to lowriders and cruisers.

Wish List

A $200 million general obligation bond wish list was approved, but not without some compromise and shifting of funds among projects. The approved list will go to the voters this fall for a final green light.

Some of the takeaways include the passion for the Albuquerque Museum. Apparently the council cut $2.5 million out of $3.25million in funding for a planned education center at one of our shining cultural gems.

Dr. Sherri Burr, an at-large trustee for the Albuquerque museum, said she has heard from people across the city who are concerned about the cuts to the museum. “We are educating students from all over the city,” she said. “Studies have shown students who are exposed to arts-rich education are less likely to commit crimes, and they are more likely to graduate from college. As my constituents say - give the money back.” This reporter says let's do way more youth art education and less youth incarceration.

The Council listened and reinstated $2.5 for the museum's Art Education Center.

Tackling homelessness was high on the minds of the governing body as well. The Gibson Health Hub got $5 million restored after much debate about whether the money should go to more affordable housing so that there is housing after someone leaves the Gibson Hub. In total, the Gibson Gateway Center is slated for $10 million. There is $7.5 million for affordable housing, $1.5 for a youth homeless shelter.

Other projects making the list include: $21 million for public safety projects; at least $43.9 million for various road projects including citywide, much-needed sidewalk improvements; $15 million for storm and other drainage or water projects; $30 million for parks and recreation along with numerous other infrastructure projects. You can check it out at then vote "yes" next November.

The list will go back to Mayor Tim Keller who had this to say in a press release, “In general, we appreciate the compromise reached tonight and will review the final details to make sure this package will help address public safety, homelessness, and infrastructure issues in Albuquerque without increasing taxes.” Hmm, we sense some line-item vetos ahead.

Lowriders 4-Ever

Councilor Klarissa Peña, again sporting those dynamite hoop earrings, sponsored a memorial, or message, to the state Legislature to consider making the lowrider car a state symbol. Peña cruises low in her very own 1959 Pink Cadillac. This reporter looked up the list of about 29 state symbols. There is a state necklace, guitar, tie, 7 faunas including the state reptile, the fascinating whiptail lizard; two foods; three floras; five songs and five insignias. There is also a railroad, a ship and an aircraft. So it makes perfect sense to add the lowrider to the list.

Cruise On

In a related matter, Councilors substituted and then approved for transmitting to other communities the Cruising Task Force’s analysis and policy brief. The analysis encourages other municipalities to repeal their bans on cruising. In 2018, ‘Burque councilors lifted the ban on cruising, making the city the first in the nation. Since then three other cities have done the same. Councilor Pēna has been a vocal advocate to erase the stigma that can go along with lowriders and cruising. Some of the ideas are for municipalities to develop car club recognition programs and designating cruising boulevards or routes. Heck, way back in the day, cruising Central or Montgomery was like looking at Instagram.

The next meeting of the Albuquerque City Council is set for 5pm on May 1. For more information, agenda and video meeting links go to


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