ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Albuquerque city councilors are going to try again – in a special meeting Monday – to consider legislation proposing a tax increase for social service programs and a plan to overhaul the police oversight system.
It’s intended to make up for the council meeting canceled earlier this week, when 13 protesters flooded into the mayor’s office to hold a sit-in, triggering a lockdown at City Hall. They were arrested on criminal trespassing and other charges.
Council President Ken Sanchez said the protesters can attend Monday’s special meeting unless there’s a court order saying otherwise.
A judge did ban one protester, David Correia, from City Hall after he was charged with battery on a police officer during Monday’s protest. Correia says the charge is without merit.
Sanchez said the council’s interim rules prohibiting signs and requiring comments to be germane to the agenda will remain in place.
There will be no general public comment period, when people can sign up to address the council on any topic they want, because it’s a special, not a regular, meeting. Speakers can still sign up on individual agenda items if they want to address the council on a particular bill.
Councilors are divided over whether to take up one of the biggest pieces of legislation on their plate: a proposal to abolish the Police Oversight Commission and replace it with a new “Civilian Police Oversight Agency” with a dedicated source of funding and some expanded power.
The proposal is jointly sponsored by Brad Winter and Rey Garduño, both of whom want action on it.
But others say the council should wait because the city is in talks with the Department of Justice about reforming Albuquerque’s police force. Some of the specific recommendations are expected to touch on civilian oversight of APD.
Councilor Sanchez suggests waiting.
“I think we need to take a step back and look at the recommendations of the DOJ,” Sanchez said. The legislation “must be near perfect when we finish this board.”
Garduño sees no reason for delay.
The federal investigation “shouldn’t conflict with what we’re doing,” he said. “Many of the recommendations are in large part included in the legislation.”
Also on Monday’s agenda is a proposal to impose a new one-eighth cent gross-receipts tax, which would add 12.5 cents to a $100 purchase. The revenue would be earmarked for helping people struggling with mental illness, homelessness or addiction.