News NM - City Council Meeting Summary

NewsNM Posse Report  - City Council Meeting for July 19, 2010

Presentations and Proclamations:
· The Pet of the week was presented by the local animal shelter
· The Mayor recognized a local World War II veteran and bomber pilot.
· Councilor Sorg presented an 11 minute video on residents complaints targeted at developers causing dust and dirt issues in Las Cruces. No mention of desert conditions, low humidity, agriculture, or the inherent need to clear land associated with new construction.
· Robert Kyle, City Staff member, spoke on pending Erosion Control Ordinances. He said the City Code should address health issues, non-compliance with Federal Clean Air Act and potential EPA non-attainments status which could result in a loss of federal funding. Existing ordinance adopted in April 2000 is inadequate, lacks clarity and enforcement is difficult. He is proposing new ordinances that are more definitive and enforceable. They will be conducting dust tests in Districts 5 & 6. The City, as well as the public, must be in compliance with ordinances and he claims a larger staff is necessary to proactively enforce the ordinances. Councilor Sorg said this is a “quality of life” issue and it will be expensive but he feels the expense is necessary. Councilor Thomas said the restrictions and definitions in the Draft are confusing. Councilor Silva didn’t like the organization of the draft document. This discussion continued for more than 75 minutes.
· Robert Caldwell, new Community Relations Coordinator spoke about the duties and responsibilities of his new position which became effective July 1st. It was the consolidation of the old Special Events Coordinator and Public Relations Coordinator positions.
Public Participation: (Began at 2:58 pm)
1. Eddie Binns wants to extend the test area for dust control to the property he is developing on Del Rey Blvd. He cautioned the City about the tax consequence for dust control on City owned property. He pointed out that most of the dust studies conclude only 18-20% of dust comes from development.
2. John Moscato commented that a dust control ordinance will have a significant economic impact and will add approximately $6500 to $10,000 per lot. This will significantly impact affordable housing. He also mentioned that more than 6,000 construction workers are now unemployed in the Las Cruces area.
3. Russ Warner reiterated that the City must be held to the same standards in regards to dust control. He said the ordinances must have teeth in them and that the City should not hesitate to file mechanics liens against property owners.
4. Ryan Davis expressed concerns about the Municipal Court system requiring elderly residents to stand out in the high heat for over 3 hours to pay their fines. He blamed “Queen” Judge Miller-Byrnes for the problem. He wants the City to appoint additional judges to provide better service.
5. Sam Wydner commended the Transportation 2040 plan for being bicycle friendly. He objected to the temporary traffic light at Roadrunner Parkway and Golf Course Road, expressed his concerns about the danger of using the new crosswalk near Veterans park, and made a tearful plea with his daughter at his side because she cannot ride her bike to school on Roadrunner parkway because there is no bike lane. Councilor Thomas stated she is still working on some solution to narrow Roadrunner Parkway to add bicycle lanes.
6. The Mayor addressed the Council and commented that they should all be concerned about the economic impact dust control mitigation will have on the developers in the current economic times and that the Council should proceed with caution.
Resolutions and/or Ordinances for Consent Agenda
Items #4 & 8 were removed from the consent agenda and all others were approved by a vote of 7/0
Resolutions and Ordinances for discussions
1. Items #4 concerned a grant adding $5,000 to the existing $14,000 grants to do a test project on solar compacting trash bins for recyclable times at City Hall. It was approved by a vote of 7/0.
2. Item #8 concerning a $40,000 grant from New Mexico Department of Transportation for the Union Avenue/Stern Drive intersection. The project total is $101,000 This was approved by a vote of75/0
3. Item #10 approved the transfer of a liquor license to Pic Quik Stores for the 1501 E Amador location. It was approved 7/0.
4. Item #11 approved the authorization of $1,100,000 for furnishing, dishes, pot and pans, miscellaneous equipment, etc for the new Convention Center. No funds come out of the General fund but instead come from the CVB fund and construction contingency funds. It was approved 7/0.
5. Items #12 & 13 were discussed together. Item #13 would change the City Code to change 29 mandatory court appearance fines into “penalty assessments” which would enable citizens to mail in the fine rather than make a mandatory court appearance. This was passed 7/0.
6. Item 12 would have changed the offense of using a cell phone while driving to a “penalty assessment” and would change the fine to a single amount of $126 for each offense. Councilor Connor objected and said this was too much. After some discussion the fine was set at $56 (parking violation level) plus the required $36 court costs. It was passed 5/2 with Councilor Small and Mayor Miyagishima voting NO. They thought the fine should be set at the minimum “moving violation” category of $76.


Armstrong Williams - Decline of the NAACP

The NAACP approved a resolution recently condemning the Tea Party's fringe element of their movement for "explicitly racist behavior." It would require a flow chart the likes of which have not been seen since the days of health reform to explain all of the ways this is wrong. For starters, the mere act of criticizing a black president is not racist. Nor is it racist to raise the public consciousness to the very important issues of spiraling debt, misguided bailouts, and a series of social policies that may bankrupt the country. Our nation benefits from uninhibited discussion about these serious issues. Read more:


Full-body scanners: Travelers Can Expect Long Lines

We were thinking of making a trip back to Maryland to visit family late next month. This story might give us reason to pause and re-think how badly we want to go. Apparently as long as you exclude intelligently profiling for the most likely terror suspects, there is no end to the hassles and indignities TSA (officials pictured right) are willing to put all traveler's more here:

BP Keeps Well Shut as Leaks Found Inconsequential

    BP Plc plans to keep its Macondo oil well in the Gulf of Mexico shut today after the U.S. government found that leaks at the site pose no threat. The escape of methane gas is “inconsequential,” and pressure inside the well is slowly rising, a positive sign that BP won’t need to reopen it and discharge more oil, National Incident Commander Thad Allen said yesterday at a press conference. A seep 3 kilometers (1.9 miles) away isn’t from the well, he said. Read more here:


Iran Accuses US and UK of Supporting Terrorism

    Iran is vowing to hunt down a Sunni separatist group which claimed responsibility for a double suicide bombing that killed 28 people at a mosque in the south-eastern city of Zahedan. Jundullah – Arabic for "the soldiers of God" – said it carried out the twin attacks yesterday at Zahedan's grand mosque in retaliation for the execution of the group's captured leader. Provincial officials said a further 167 people were injured, some of them critically. Three days of mourning were declared. General Hossein Salami, deputy commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guards, claimed in Tehran today that the victims "were martyred by the hands of mercenaries of the US and UK". Read more here:

Denis Prager - Race Card No Longer Trump

When Barack Obama was elected president of the United States, every prominent conservative I know was unhappy that a left-wing Democrat had been elected, but was very happy that a black had won. Among conservatives, the general thinking was that it was good for America, good for blacks, and good for the world to see that America -- so often, in the conservative view -- unfairly criticized as racist, could and did elect a black man as president. Read more here:

Heath Weighs In on Gubernatorial Race founder Heath Haussamen - I want to clarify a couple of things after thinking some more about two commentaries I wrote last week on the problems both gubernatorial candidates face. Democrat Diane Denish isn’t Bill Richardson. Republican Susana Martinez isn’t Sarah Palin. Read what he has to say here:

Slain officer call lured police to site, mayor says

From The El Paso Times - JUAREZ - By Maggie Ybarra and Adriana Gómez Licón Terrorism, similar to that found in the Middle East, has taken root in North America's most violent city. Drug cartels orchestrated a Thursday car bombing that lured police to a fabricated homicide call at a busy downtown intersection. A car exploded, killing three people and injuring seven others. Rigged in the car was Composition 4, or C-4, a plastic explosive often used by the military, Juárez Mayor José Reyes Ferriz said. Officers were lured into the deadly trap Thursday night when they thought they were responding to a homicide, Ferriz said. Officers were dispatched thinking a city police officer was slain on the busy 16 de Septiembre Avenue. Reporters also traveled to the scene thinking it was an attack on an officer. Police and paramedics arrived at the scene and noticed that the man posing as a police officer was still alive. Other officers became suspicious when they noticed that the man was not wearing a badge and that his belt was different than the official police uniform. They proceeded to treat the area as a crime scene. Three rescue workers began to treat the decoy. "They were working on him ... about four meters from the car. Then, additional federal police officers came and the car then exploded," Reyes Ferriz said. Read more

Dolores Connor - on News NM at 7:30am

The spotlight on the North Sonoma Ranch Boulevard fiasco now know as the "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" (photo below right) shifts to City Councilor Dolores Connor (left) this morning at 7:30am on News New Mexico. Councilor Connor has not yet made her position known on the controversy that has, so far, kept $10 million in private road building funding (through the New Mexico Finance Authority) from being accessed to finish construction of the four lane thoroughfare on the north side of Las Cruces near Monte Vista Elementary School.
In the wake of Mayor Ken Miyagishima's comments about the delays and previous reports on this site, Councilor Connor will try to explain why all the efforts to get this job-creating project going have been derailed. Mayor Ken Miyagishima is scheduled to appear on NewsNM on Wednesday morning at 8:00am.


Star Parker - Investment Choices

    Suppose you had a choice to invest in one of two competing business plans. Behind one plan are billionaires Jeff Bezos and Michael Dell, who are investing their own money in it. Bezos and Dell are two of the country’s most successful entrepreneurs. Both got rich founding and building bold, innovative companies – and Dell Computer. The second plan is supported by Senate majority leader Harry Reid and House speaker Nancy Pelosi and they are financing it with other people’s money – taxpayers’ money. Read more here:

Treating Symptoms?

Attorney General Gary King is still considering whether to take his fight to force two nonprofits to register as political committees to the U.S. Supreme Court. He’s also exploring ideas for amending state law so that its requirement that groups disclose funding sources passes the constitutional test. Read more here:

Retire at age 70? Young people may have to under plan

By David Lightman for McClatchy Newspapers - WASHINGTON — Young Americans might not get full Social Security retirement benefits until they reach age 70 if some trial balloons that prominent lawmakers of both parties are floating become law. No one who's slated to receive benefits in the next decade or two is likely to be affected, but there's a gentle, growing and unusually bipartisan push to raise the retirement age for full Social Security benefits for people born in the 1960s and after. The suggestions are being taken seriously after decades when they were politically impossible because officials — and, increasingly, their constituents — are confronting the inescapable challenge of the nation's enormous debt. Read more:

Progressive - We Need to Put a High Price on Carbon

Author Bill McKibben's quote, "We Need to Put a High Price on Carbon," is on the cover of the August Issue of Progressive Magazine. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, Bill McKibben explained why he believes this effort is critical. Read more here:

Senate Set to End Stalemate and Extend Jobless Aid

WASHINGTON — Senate Democrats are poised to break a partisan stalemate on Tuesday over extending unemployment benefits for millions of Americans who have been jobless for six months or more, but the fight seems certain to continue playing out as a defining issue in the midterm elections. Read more:

Thomas Sowell - Race Card Fraud

Credit card fraud is a serious problem. But race card fraud is an even bigger problem. Playing the race card takes many forms. Judge Charles Pickering, a federal judge in Mississippi who defended the civil rights of blacks for years and defied the Ku Klux Klan back when that was dangerous, was depicted as a racist when he was nominated for a federal appellate judgeship. No one even mistakenly thought he was a racist. The point was simply to discredit him for political reasons-- and it worked. This year's target is the Tea Party. Read more here: