By Carolyn Carlson
— Johnny Tapia was the headliner at Monday, Jan. 7 City Council meeting. Though the five-time world-boxing champion died on May 27, he was present via a touching video and spoken tributes. “If it weren’t for the gym, I’d probably be back in (jail),” Tapia said from the screen. “No matter how many times you fall, you can still pick yourself up.”
Councilor Ken Sanchez’ bill to name the gymnasium at the Wells Park Community Center after Tapia passed on an 8-to-1 vote. Councilor Trudy Jones voted against it and said she is sorry for the family, but there are some people who “we hold up honors like this for and some that we don’t.”
Tapia’s widow defended her husband: “People like to judge Johnny. We are not asking for sainthood. We are asking for a memorial. Johnny did not judge. He loved all of New Mexico equally. He brought so much inspiration across the world. This should be done huge because that is how he did it for Albuquerque.”
Others who spoke in remembrance of Johnny recalled his humbleness, friendliness and love for Albuquerque. “There are a lot more great things to say about Johnny Tapia,” up-and-coming boxer Josh Torres said. “He was loving, caring and inspiring to the kids.” Tom Crego, Tapia’s longtime mentor who’s known as“Pops,” donated a life-size statue of Tapia doing a back flip. Councilor Rey Garduño said he was sorry he did not know Tapia very well. Garduño read some of the lyrics from Paul Simon’s “The Boxer.”
Topic: Move Along
Councilors were asked to pass a couple measures that begin the process of eliminating the Fourth Street Mall between Central and Copper. The pathway was meant to connect Central with Civic Plaza with a walkable thoroughfare of shops and cafes.
There was no discussion, no public comments, no presentation by city planners, just two quick approvals giving the city the green light to develop a one-way street with shops and cafes linking two busy areas of Downtown.
This ought be a more useful thing to do with the Fourth Street Mall. It seems the unspoken problem is really that the area has become a gathering spot for homeless people. Changing the area won’t help give folks a place to hang out during the day. It just pushes them out into other spots.
Topic: Election by Mail
The Council was asked to approve a March special election. Voters would choose by mail whether to raise the margin to win in mayoral and City Council elections from 40 to 50 percent. If no candidate got 50 percent or more of the vote, a runoff election would be held.
Councilors asked some questions of City Clerk Amy Bailey and Assistant City Attorney Greg Wheeler about whether they had to decide right then to hold the election. Wheeler said yes, otherwise the group bringing forth the issue would file a lawsuit. The measure passed.
City Clerk Bailey said the mail-in election will cost about $600,000, and the last mail-in election was in 1999 for a gross receipts measure. Garduño said mail-in elections have a higher turnout nationally. If that’s the case, maybe we should hold more elections this way.
The next meeting is Monday, Jan. 21, at 5 p.m. in the Council Chambers in the basement of City Hall. Watch it on GOV TV 16 or at cabq.gov/govtv.