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Honeymoon may be over at City Hall

Metro BeatThe honeymoon period between Mayor Tim Keller and the City Council appears to be coming to a close.

Keller, who took over as Albuquerque’s new mayor on Dec. 1, and his staff were criticized during Wednesday’s council meeting for their decision to postpone a series of community meetings on the new Integrated Development Ordinance, a massive rewrite of the city’s zoning regulations adopted by the council in November and slated to go into effect in May.

Notice of the meetings was sent to about 10,000 individuals, but the Keller administration later posted on the city website that those meetings had been canceled, according to Councilor Pat Davis.

“The issue is that the mayor really has not had an opportunity to get a complete thorough briefing on the IDO itself from the staff, No. 1,” Chief Operating Officer Lawrence Rael told the council. “No. 2 is that we had wanted to ensure that we, as an administration, understood what these meetings were about and how they were put together. We fully intend to move forward on the meetings at some point.”

Davis asked Rael to reconsider and to hold the meetings that had been scheduled.

“I’m concerned about folks who now look at this and say, ‘Oh, this sort of validates the concern that this is going to lock us out of the process,’ ” he said.

Rael said he would discuss the matter with Keller, but he noted that, “The mayor obviously just began his term, so I think you all can fully appreciate his interest and desire to understand the IDO process and what you all and the previous administration had begun.”

That response didn’t sit will with Councilor Trudy Jones.

“We need to go beyond saying this has been a very short transition period,” she said. “Yes, it is, but you knew from the beginning it was going to be a very short transition period. This is an extremely important piece of legislation. It took multiple years to make it happen, and I would like to know from the administration, hopefully within the next few days, when you expect to reschedule these, not just, ‘We’re looking at it. We need to be briefed.’ You need to be briefed, and you need to do it quickly.

“This is a piece of legislation the City Council passed with deadlines on it, and we would like to see when you are planning on starting these meetings since you have canceled them,” Jones said.

HIRING UPDATE: At the same meeting, Councilor Brad Winter asked how the hiring process was going for the new department directors, noting the lack of directors at the council meeting.

“It’s going,” Chief Administrative Officer Sarita Nair responded. “We have acting directors in all the departments, so there aren’t any rudderless or captainless ships out there. This is an important process. We want to make sure we take our time and do it right.”

Martin Salazar: msalazar@abqjournal.com

 

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