• A clocktower-mini-library combo is Raynolds man's stay-at-home project
  • Against the dark times, a solitary luminaria burns on Escalante
  • Transit Advisory Board met online without a method for the public to join
  • ABQ Ride solicits mask and PPE donations
At 14th and Park, clocktower-mini-library combo takes shape
The clocktower-mini-library, in the works for years, has made dramatic progress in recent weeks. The three clocks pictured are cardboard placeholders for the real thing. The project is slated to finish in about a month.
For years, Phillip Reu had wanted to put up a clocktower in his yard, at the corner of 14th and Park. His wife, Laura, meanwhile, wanted to put in a mini-library.

And so, an unusual combo plan was born. But that plan sat on the shelf for a while.

"With all the kids and my job and everything else it has been hard tackling a project of this size," Reu says. 

Then came the coronavirus and an hours reduction to about two-thirds of his normal workweek. Motive and opportunity finally met, and he made rapid progress.

A mechanical engineer by trade, he restores antique clocks as a hobby. "I always thought it would be cool to have an outdoor clock," Reu says.

Soon he will: The three real-live clocks that will replace the cardboard placeholders pictured above are on order, and the project should be wrapped up within a month or so. The clocks will even be backlit, so they'll be visible at night.

The construction process, Reu reports, has been enjoyable and all the more social thanks to the many others who are stuck at home as well. 

"I have never talked to so many of my neighbors," he says.
Against the dark times, a solitary luminaria burns on Escalante
S.J. Sanchez has put out a single luminaria every night for a few weeks now. Above, the view looking northwest toward the Albuquerque Country Club.
Like much of greater Albuquerque, S.J. Sanchez was disappointed last Christmas Eve when rain mostly put a stop to the annual luminaria tradition - a particularly popular event in her Huning Castle neighborhood.

But there was nothing to be done about it, so she fished the still-usable candles out of the soaked bags and put them away. Then, while doing some housework a few weeks ago, inspiration struck.

"I always think of them as so hopeful in the darkest part of winter and I thought, 'oh, we need a little light right now,'" Sanchez says. "I think it's inspiring. It's very New Mexico."

For Sanchez, lighting a luminaria is a kind of personal meditation, and if it projects a little all-purpose goodwill to the rest of the universe, so much the better.

"I kind of like to end my day that way - sending some blessing, some gratitude," she says.

She compared it to the teddy bear hunts happening around the world - another quiet signal of fellowship in an era when that's not so simple.

Sanchez, who has about a month's worth of candles left, heartily recommends that others with rained-out stashes follow suit.

"Absolutely," she says. "Join in our new twist on our old tradition."

Transit Advisory Board met without members of the public
The Transit Advisory Board, a panel of citizens set up to provide feedback to the city on public transportation matters, met via Zoom last Thursday without providing a method for members of the public to join - despite recently-published guidelines spelling out the need to make sure such gatherings remain open and accessible.

ABQ Ride did publish this agenda on the board's city web page, but the document did not provide links to join or view a stream of the meeting, or contact information which could be used to obtain that information.
 The only mention it made of the unusual virtual format was a note that read "This meeting will be held electronic [sic] pursuant to Mayor Keller's instructions that Boards meet using virtual teleconferencing platforms."

Those instructions from the mayor are an apparent reference to this April 5 memo from the Office of the City Clerk, the city's legal department, and the Office of Constituent Services, which at least as of last week was linked to from the top of the city's main web page for its approximately 80 boards and commissions. The memo relays guidance from the New Mexico Attorney General's Office, which says that even in the event of an emergency virtual meeting, "notice of the meeting must still comply with the mandates of the [Open Meetings Act], and it should contain detailed information about how members of the public may attend and listen via telephone, live streaming, or other similar technologies - this should include such detail as relevant phone numbers, web addresses, etc."

Though the memo references the state Open Meetings Act, city spokeswoman Jessie Damazyn told DAN that the transit board is not actually subject to that statute. "However," she said, "we know that all boards play an important role in the city and we are always looking for ways to improve the transparency of all boards and commissions. This is a challenging time for government at all levels, and we are working with boards to identify the best methods to continue to meet to conduct essential business during the COVID-19 pandemic ... We are also working with all boards on an ongoing basis to develop appropriate notice to the public regarding this technology."

While not subject to the state law, city boards and commissions still fall under the rubric of city ordinances, which mandate that boards and commissions post online "all changes in the annual schedule of meetings; notice of special meetings; and notice of emergency meetings, giving the time, date, and location of each meeting."

ABQ Ride needs masks, other PPE
Facing a worldwide shortage of more conventional personal protective equipment, ABQ Ride customer service representatives and maintenance workers with sewing skills have lately been drafted into making masks for bus drivers and other front-line transit workers, Director Danny Holcomb said last week. The effort, he hopes, will mean that every staffer who needs it will have at least one mask by today. A larger supply of professionally-manufactured masks should arrive in the next couple of weeks he said, but in the meantime, the department would happily take donations if anybody has any spares. 

"We'll take whatever PPE we can get," Holcomb said.

Anyone interested in donating masks, gloves, or other safety supplies can contact Assistant Director Stephanie Dominguez at 505-331-0253.

Downtown Albuquerque News covers greater Downtown, which we generally define as the area created by I-40, the Rio Grande, and the railroad tracks. We publish weekdays except for federal holidays. If someone forwarded DAN to you, please consider subscribing. To subscribe, contact us, submit a letter to the editor, or learn more about what we do, click here. If you ever run into technical trouble receiving DAN, click here.
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