Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Council Raise to Go to Voters
By Jim Ludwick
Journal Staff Writer
A pay raise for city councilors and a change in rules making it more difficult to remove city officials will be on the ballot in October.
Mayor Martin Chávez vetoed both measures, but councilors voted to override his vetoes Monday night.
Meanwhile, even as Chávez fought against new restrictions on recalls, a petition drive to recall Chávez has been launched.
The effort, headed by Downtown resident S. Pyke, requires 21,823 valid petition signatures from registered city voters. Pyke, who said "S" is his first name, said Monday that he hopes to use e-mail and a Web site to help attain the signatures.
He said he's angry about the mayor's recent decision to ban smoking outdoors on city property. "I got my paper that morning, sat on the front porch smoking my cigarette and got really upset," he said.
"There are enough people angry at the mayor who are registered voters. I could get the required number," Pyke said.
Chávez had little comment about the petition drive.
"We are a democracy. I would never do anything to discourage citizens from exercising their rights," he said.
In a statement issued Monday night, Chávez said the two veto overrides show "a policy disagreement between the administration and the City Council. The voters will decide what is the better course."
The pay raise, if approved by voters in October, would not apply to members of the council unless they win re-election.
Councilors would get the annual salary that the Legislature allows for Bernalillo County commissioners about $29,600. Right now, councilors get slightly less than $10,000.
Ken Sanchez, calling for an override of the Chávez veto, said the pay raise is justified.
"The decision will not be made by this council. The decision will be made by the voters of this community," he said.
An override, putting the issue on the ballot, was favored by Sanchez, Isaac Benton, Don Harris, Craig Loy, Debbie O'Malley and Sally Mayer. It was opposed by Michael Cadigan, Martin Heinrich and Brad Winter.
The change in rules for the recall process, if approved by voters in October, would increase the number of petition signatures that are needed to get a recall on the ballot. Recalls would stem from misconduct, compared with current rules that allow recalls to be launched for any reason.
Only Winter opposed the veto override. Harris left the meeting early and was not present when the vote was taken.
The election on Oct. 2 will also ask voters to choose four councilors, decide on approving bond issues and consider charter amendments.