At least one city councilor didn’t take kindly to the statement issued by Mayor Richard Berry’s spokeswoman shortly after the council voted 6-3 last week to override the mayor’s veto of the city budget last week.
In her statement, Rhiannon Samuel said, “six city councilors, five of whom are up for election, voted for a budget that they admitted is utterly broken. Chalk this one up to politics – not good government.”
Among the concerns raised by the Berry administration was that the budget approved by the council could result in the city’s credit rating being downgraded because it’s not structurally balanced, meaning that projected revenues are out of whack with planned expenditures.
City Councilor Dan Lewis, who is running for mayor, fired back in a statement of his own the day after the vote.
“The damage done to the city of Albuquerque’s reputation by the current public safety crisis costs the city more in one day … than a credit watch would do over decades,” Lewis wrote.
“I overrode the mayors’ veto to give him one more opportunity to get this right. Neither the budget that passed nor the mayor’s compromise budget attempts to solve our public safety crisis and the damage it has done to job creation.”
City Councilor Klarissa Peña, who is running for re-election, explained her vote to override in a tweet: “Standing up for our first responders and city employees.”
Will voters read the fine print?
Proponents of the Healthy Workforce Ordinance showed up in force at last week’s City Council meeting to urge the governing body to do right by voters.
At issue is a ruling by state District Judge Alan Malott that the entire seven-page ordinance must be printed on the ballot. If approved, it will require Albuquerque employers to provide paid sick time off for their employees.
Proponents of the ordinance argue that the only way the city can fit the entire ordinance on the ballot is to print it in a font that is so small that it would be difficult for voters to read.
“We now face a rigged election unfairly impeded by individuals and business groups who stand against workers’ rights,” Alex Contreras told councilors.
She and other proponents of the sick leave initiative are asking that the city print a summary on the ballot and make the entire ordinance available in every voting booth.
“By allowing this issue to be printed in size 6 font, you are not ensuring that your constituents have the right to a fair election,” Contreras argued.
“With 6 point font, it’s not readable at all,” Rebecca Arana said. “No one is going to read it. They’re just either going to reject the question or skip it.”
But City Councilor Pat Davis said the criticism is premature because the council has not yet set a ballot, let alone the font size for the sick leave ordinance.
He also noted that “some councilors are working to file to intervene in the case in order to support an alternative option.”
Martin Salazar: firstname.lastname@example.org