On Monday, the Albuquerque City Council, overseeing New Mexico’s largest city, will consider a motion allowing $500 fines and 90 days in jail for non-compliance with public health requirements.
The proposal, brought forth by Councilors Isaac Benton and Cynthia Borrego would charge all who “knowingly obstruct, impede with, or interfere with any City employee’s officer’s or agent’s enforcement of any public health laws, orders, or restrictions” with a misdemeanor, which is subject to a fine not exceeding $500 or by imprisonment not exceeding 90 days or both.
“It’s really important that we all work together but for the people who don’t feel like they can work with this, it puts another layer, basically, of enforcement,” said Councilor Cynthia Borrego, who serves District Five. “For people who are just resistant and have that sentiment that ‘I’m not going to cooperate’, unfortunately, we need to do something to bring those numbers down and that’s what this really is doing.”
“Borrego says, if approved, the bill could also include penalties like up to 90 days in jail for refusing to comply with the public health order. The bill’s co-sponsor, Councilor Ike Benton, tells us stronger enforcement is needed and he has concerns about public health directives being ignored, so he hopes this added city ordinance, on top of state law, will make people take the orders more seriously,” reported KRQE News 13.
The news comes as New Mexicans are already locked down due to the Governor’s public health orders, which have caused businesses to close and New Mexicans to stand in long lines to buy food and basic necessities at grocery stores.
If the Albuquerque City Council approves this measure, it would mean even harsher enforcement of the strict health orders and even less freedom for citizens. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s office previously called restrictions on grocery store capacities merely a “minor inconvenience” and long lines at stores “Republican talking points.”
The meeting will take place virtually on Monday at 3:00 p.m. More information about the meeting and to submit public written or live testimony can be found here. Citizens can contact Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller and the Albuquerque City Council to oppose the bill by contacting the councilors below:
Mayor Tim Keller: MayorKellerIQ@cabq.gov
Councilor Lan Sena, District 1: firstname.lastname@example.org
Councilor Isaac Benton, District 2: email@example.com
Councilor Klarissa Peña, District 3: firstname.lastname@example.org
Councilor Brook Bassan, District 4: email@example.com
Councilor Cynthia Borrego, District 5: firstname.lastname@example.org
Councilor Pat Davis, District 6: email@example.com
Councilor Diane G. Gibson, District 7: firstname.lastname@example.org
Councilor Trudy Jones, District 8: email@example.com
Councilor Don Harris, District 9: firstname.lastname@example.org