Ryan Laughlin of KOB TV did a great job covering the special Albuquerque City Council meeting which resulted in Mayor Keller receiving significant new powers. He also covered our lawsuit which was filed in the aftermath of the meeting and challenges the legality of the meeting and the powers delegated to the Mayor.
On this week’s podcast, Paul sat down with Charles Sullivan. An attorney, Charles moved to New Mexico from upstate New York several decades ago, largely for the weather. But, as you can read for yourself in his recent American Thinker column Charles is frustrated by the State’s politics and what he believes it has done to the State in terms of the overall economy, the education system, and crime.
Mr. Sullivan clearly loves New Mexico. He isn’t going anywhere, but he also has some tough love for the state he’s lived in for nearly 40 years.
Imagine, massive reductions in vehicle traffic as this photo of “The 405” during a recent “rush hour” in Los Angeles illustrates.
Massive declines in air travel as flights are canceled and people refrain from air travel.
And even slower population growth (long a quiet goal of the environmental movement) due to as many as 1.6 million deaths. That is obviously the reality we are living through right now due to the Coronavirus, but in many respects this is what environmental groups WANT to see happen as a means of reducing CO2 emissions.
Finally, while presidential candidate Joe Biden said recently that he wants to “ban new fracking”the fact is that due to dropping demand (see travel declines above) we may not see much fracking in the near future. Gas prices may be low, but New Mexico’s Permian Basin and oil producers across the nation are going to see massive reductions in jobs and states will see big declines in tax revenues. All of this is gleefully supported by radical environmentalists.
Less mobility, less economic growth, less freedom, and potentially even fewer people on the planet. For most of us it is an experience we are gritting our teeth and bearing while hoping it will end as soon as possible. For many in the environmental movement the current crisis is (at least temporarily) advancing their agenda of lower CO2 emissions.
This article appeared in the Albuquerque Journal on March 18, 2020.
Albuquerque City Councilor Pat Davis’s recent comments on expanding the city’s ban on plastic bags were out of touch, especially in this time of coronavirus.
The councilor recently said he wants to amend city law to get rid of plastic bags that are thicker than 2.25 thousandths of an inch. The thicker bags were exempted from the law for the simple reason they are considered “reusable,” but Davis thinks retailers and the public are abusing the situation and that it amounts to a “loophole.”
Davis recently stated, “If (retailers) keep bringing back new plastic bags, we’re going to keep banning them, and eventually they’ll get the message.” He anticipates the city will try to ban more bags this summer.
In the meantime, due to coronavirus concerns, major retailers are rightly emphasizing public safety above environmental concerns. Dunkin’ Donuts and Starbucks are just two of the largest companies that have disallowed the use of reusable cups due to health concerns.
Apparently Davis has no concern about the impact of the virus, which has disrupted all facets of American life. This isn’t mere hyperbole on my part. The problem with reusable cloth bags preferred by Davis and other opponents of plastic bags is real.
A 2018 report from Loma Linda University was based on an experiment in which researchers purposely “contaminated” a reusable bag with a harmless form of a virus. A single shopper then went through a typical grocery store, and the research team tracked the spread of the virus.
Quoting directly from the executive summary of the report, “The data show that MS2 spread to all surfaces touched by the shopper; the highest concentration occurred on the shopper’s hands, the checkout stand, and the clerk’s hands.”
Additionally in 2012 epidemiologists from the Oregon Public Health Division and Oregon Health & Science University published a peer reviewed article in the Journal of Infections Disease that documented a reusable grocery bag was the point source in an actual virus outbreak in the Pacific Northwest.
For years, people have simply believed that people will wash their bags. But recent runs on hand sanitizer and toilet paper show society doesn’t always act with balance. Loma Linda researches found only 3% of bags get washed. With companies prohibiting reusable cups as a precaution, we should at least temporarily suspend government-mandated use of reusable bags, a known and documented risk.
Far from “doubling down” on a plastic bag ban that is of dubious environmental benefit and may in fact be a threat to public health, Davis and the rest of Albuquerque’s City Council should consider ending the plastic bag ban at least until fears of the coronavirus subside. Of course, common colds, the flu and other illnesses are a constant threat, so the Loma Linda University study’s findings should be of concern to all of us.
Perhaps a more realistic assessment of the pluses and minuses of plastic bags and other items might be in order at City Council – and Bernalillo County which has an even more onerous plastic ban in place? We’re not holding our breath for an outbreak of sanity to occur alongside that of coronavirus, but we can hope and hold politicians like Davis accountable.
The Rio Grande Foundation is an independent, non-partisan, tax-exempt research and educational organization dedicated to promoting prosperity for New Mexico based on principles of limited government, economic freedom and individual responsibility.
Update: on the same day this article was published in the Journal, New York State put its plastic bag ban on hold for health reasons.
(Albuquerque, NM) – On Friday, March 13, 2020, the City Council of the City of Albuquerque announced that it would be holding a closed meeting the following Monday, March 16, 2020. At that meeting which occurred this past Monday, the Council amended its Emergency Powers Ordinance which has been on the books for several decades.
The Emergency Powers Ordinance contains numerous controversial provisions which, under New Mexico’s Open Meetings Act, residents of Albuquerque have a right to participate in with their members of the City Council.
The language of the Open Meetings Act is very simple. It states in part that, “…all meetings of any committee or policy-making body of the legislature held for the purpose of discussing public business or for the purpose of taking any action within the authority of or the delegated authority of the committee or body are declared to be public meetings open to the public at all times.”
The Rio Grande Foundation asserts in the lawsuit which has been filed in New Mexico district court that the City has violated the New Mexico Open Meetings Act by holding a City Council meeting March 16, 2020 without proper notice and without conducting such according to the provisions of the Open Meetings Act therein violating the Due Process owing to the citizens of Albuquerque.
Furthermore, the decades-old Emergency Powers Ordinance to which several amendments were made is itself unconstitutional. The Ordinance gave the Mayor power to restrict sales of firearms and ammunition. These provisions which were not amended on Monday violate New Mexico’s Constitution, which states:
“No law shall abridge the right of the citizen to keep and bear arms for security and defense, for lawful hunting and recreational use and for other lawful purposes, but nothing herein shall be held to permit the carrying of concealed weapons. No municipality or county shall regulate, in any way, an incident of the right to keep and bear arms.”
Said Rio Grande Foundation President Paul Gessing, “The Rio Grande Foundation understands that we are in a crisis situation right now, but laws like the Open Meetings Act and our State and Federal protections on the right to self defense were intended for crises.”
The Foundation’s lawsuit states that both the Open Meetings Act and the long-existing firearms restrictions violate New Mexico Law and should be considered void.
Paul and Wally give an update on the current situation: oil prices are close to $30. The Federal Reserve slashes interest rates to zero (rates were 1.75/1.5 at start of 2020).
While government is considering a number of “stimulus” measures, Paul and Wally wonder how government can stimulate the economy when Americans can’t really spend any money because virtually everything has been canceled?
Also, while traditional schools have been closed virtual options exist.
Paul and Wally address the State budget and what they expect to happen. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham vetoed a spending bill that would have appropriated $49.5 million to fund 216 road projects statewide, including funding for bike paths, safety enhancements and median landscaping in Albuquerque. Wally and Paul agree that a special session is still likely. When will/should it happen?
Does the virus justify mandatory paid sick leave? If so, what kind of leave policy?
Pat Davis wants to crack down on plastic bags. Could there be a worse idea?
Finally, channel 13 covers our successful complaint against Mayor Keller’s use of City website to campaign for Democracy Dollars:
RGF recently hosted successful Liberty on the Rocks in Albuquerque and Las Cruces.
We at the Rio Grande Foundation remain busy and active in this trying time and we also are working to keep government accountable and push back against government overreach. Here in Albuquerque an ordinance was passed that expands the Mayor’s powers to include times of health emergencies. This ordinance was passed very quickly and without a single public meeting on the issue and that concerns us.
But, thanks to State laws now in place, local ordinances dealing with guns and liquor provisions in the local ordinance that existed prior to its being amended last night WILL NOT impact gun rights. See our analysis here.
This story (in which RGF’s Paul Gessing is quoted) from KOB 4 TV deals with the ordinance prior to it being voted on:
This story which does not include video quotes RGF after the vote.
This story for which Gessing was quoted discusses the economic impacts of what is happening right now.
Finally, you ‘ll note that the video of Mr. Gessing is not in the usual setting. KOB TV requested a Skype interview due to virus concerns.
At last night’s (Monday’s) Albuquerque City Council meeting the Council passed this ordinance which expands the Mayor’s emergency powers. Among the specific provisions was an expansion of when these powers can be used. Here is the language, “[An actual or eminent outbreak, or reasonable threat of an actual or eminent outbreak, of any infectious disease that presents an unusual threat to the health or safety of the residents of the City, or threatens to unreasonably strain the medical or emergency service resources available in the City.”
The ordinance goes on to allow the Mayor to do the following:
(C) Order the closing of all retail package liquor stores and outlets.
(D) Order the closing of all bars and other establishments selling intoxicating liquor or beer by the drink.
(E) Order the discontinuance of selling, distributing or giving away gasoline or other liquid flammable or combustible products in any container other than a gasoline tank properly affixed to a motor vehicle said sale to be limited to not more than one gallon per motor vehicle, or in the alternative, order the closing of gasoline stations and other establishments, the chief activity of which is the sale, distribution or dispensing of liquid flammable or combustible products.
(F) Order the discontinuance of selling, distributing, dispensing or giving away of any firearms or ammunition of any character whatsoever, or in the alternative, order the closing of all establishments or portions thereof where arms and/or ammunition are kept for sale or distribution.
So, how does the City claim that the expanded ordinance “Does not allow the prohibition of sales of any item during a public health emergency.”
Simply put, the regulation of guns/ammo and liquor are preempted by the State of New Mexico and State laws supersede local laws. At least as it currently stands, these provisions of the expanded ordinance cannot take effect.
Of course, the existence of a national abortion policy (Roe v. Wade) has not stopped advocates on both sides of the abortion issue from having heated public debates over a 1969 New Mexico law which restricts abortion.
It would seem that many of these concerns and problems could have been avoided if City Council had taken some time to formulate this policy rather than introducing a bill on Friday and passing it on Monday in a meeting that was closed to the public.
The Albuquerque City Council is considering a “new” ordinance (actually amending its existing ordinance) to dramatically expand the powers of the Mayor to regulate or outright ban certain activities including public meetings and assemblies in times of civil unrest or potential civil unrest (or threatened epidemics).
The City ALREADY has a broad ordinance on the books which allows the Mayor to “Order the discontinuance of selling, distributing, dispensing or giving away of any firearms or ammunition of any character whatsoever, or in the alternative, order the closing of all establishments or portions thereof where arms and/or ammunition are kept for sale or distribution.”
The new version would expand those powers to allow for the Mayor to act in “An actual or eminent outbreak, or reasonable threat of an actual or eminent outbreak, of any infectious disease that presents an unusual threat to the health or safety of the residents of the City, or threatens to unreasonably strain the medical or emergency service resources available in the City.
The entire ordinance (which is currently the information that is not underlined or struck, that is the new material) is pretty aggressive. Do we want the Mayor to be able to take on a lot of new powers due to the “reasonable threat of an ’eminent’ outbreak?” It is a big question. There has been zero public debate or discussion on the issue and it will be voted on at the Council meeting the evening of Monday, March 16.
Because of said epidemic public comment is NOT being done in person at the meeting Monday night. Instead, you can use the following link specifically for this meeting to contact your City Councilors to let them know what you think.