Claudio Tolousse Chills Out Zinc Bar

By Dylan R.N. Crabb

 

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PHOTO: Zinc Wine Bar & Bistro, Albuquerque, New Mexico, 11/21/2019.

Musician/Songwriter Claudio Tolousse jazzed up the Zinc Wine Bar & Bistro Thursday night.  No band, no back-up singers, just Claudio.  It was a chill performance.

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PHOTO: Claudio Tolousse Zinc Wine Bar & Bistro, 11/21/2019.

Albuquerque gets a negative reputation from news media pessimistic attitudes and too few people overlook the city’s gems.  From my own experience, the best neighborhood in the city is Nob Hill (surrounding the University of New Mexico) with a stretch of Central Avenue that caters to nightlife entertainment and chill brew hipsters.  The Zinc Bar is just one of the many hangouts where you can order a beer, listen to some guitar strumming, and forget about life’s troubles for a while.

Claudio Tolousse also hosts a podcast called Art Talk Music in which he talks about “all thing music” with a variety of musical talents.

Albuquerque Passes Clean & Green Retail Ordinance on a 5-3 vote.

By Dylan R.N. Crabb

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Inside the Vincent E. Griego Chambers prior to the start of the city council meeting.

The Albuquerque City Council met with a full house of spectators last night, forty-one of those people signed up to speak publicly in front of the Council on a specific item agenda.  Councilor Cynthia Borrego was absent from the meeting which brought the quorum down to 8 from the full 9-member council.  The spotlight was on the Clean & Green Ordinance, a local measure to “pressure businesses (Councilor Pat Davis)” into transitioning to more environmentally-friendly consumer containers.

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The Clean & Green Ordinance as listed on the council meeting agenda.

The ordinance was amended to a phased-in ban to take effect on 1/1/2020, rather than an immediate ban as a temporary reprieve for local businesses from the extra costs of transitioning away from cheap plastics.  In the meantime until January of 2020, plastic grocery bags and plastic straws will be available upon request of individual customers.  The ordinance was also amended to add a charge of ten cents onto customers asking for plastic bags as a way to encourage consumers to start transitioning to reusable containers.

Opposition to the ordinance came from the restaurant industry, specifically the New Mexico Restaurant Association, arguing that the current cost of transitioning from plastics would be to great on business owners and that consumer prices would inevitably increase as a consequence.  A counter-point to that argument was made by private citizens in favor of the ordinance, that the cost is already artificially low and that consumers should be paying more for the luxury of take-home containers.  A representative from the New Mexico Recycling Association also made an appearance to speak on behalf of the ordinance.

The proponents of the ordinance focused their arguments on the environmental impacts of plastic trash and claimed responsibility on governments to force the hand of businesses for the sake of the planet.  The counter-point to that argument focused on individual liberty and government over-reach, the responsibility of clean environments should be on individuals and businesses making better choices willingly rather than out of necessity.

The three Councilors who voted against the ordinance in the final vote were Councilors Brad Winter, Trudy Jones, and Don Harris.

New Mexico Relaxes Criminality of Cannabis, Maintains Control of Distribution

By Dylan R.N. Crabb

 

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed Senate Bill 406 into law this week, the new law institutes several measures into effect this year regarding the criminality of cannabis as well as its distribution.

“. . . local school boards and the governing bodies of charter schools shall authorize by rule the possession, storage and administration of medical cannabis by parents and legal guardians, or by designated school personnel, to qualified students for use in school settings . . . (NM SB406, page 1).”

The state will implement cannabis into schools for medical use under strict supervision and only to designated students.

The new will also amend the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act (the successful bill that legalized medicinal cannabis) to widen it’s umbrella for who can qualify as a cannabis patient/producer in the state, an individual cannabis patient/producer must still be licenced with the state’s Department of Health.

“. . . EXEMPTION FROM CRIMINAL AND CIVIL PENALTIESFOR THE MEDICAL USE OF CANNABIS. –

A.  A qualified patient or a qualified patient’sprimary caregiver shall not be subject to arrest, prosecution or penalty in any manner for the possession of or the medical use of cannabis if the quantity of cannabis does not exceed an adequate supply; provided that a qualified patient or the qualified patient’s primary caregiver may possess that qualified patient’s harvest of cannabis.

B.  A reciprocal participant shall not be subject to arrest, prosecution or penalty in any manner for the possession of or the medical use of cannabis if the quantity of cannabis does not exceed the limit identified by department rule.

C.  The following conduct is lawful and shall not constitute grounds for detention, search or arrest of a person or for a violation of probation or parole, and cannabis products that relate to the conduct are not contraband or subject to seizure or forfeiture pursuant to the Controlled Substances Act or the Forfeiture Act:

  1. a qualified patient or primary caregiver possessing or transporting not more than an adequate supply or a reciprocal participant possessing or transporting not more than the limit identified by department rule;
  2. a qualified patient or primary caregiver purchasing or obtaining not more than an adequate supply from a lawful source or a reciprocal participant purchasing or obtaining not more than the limit identified by department rule;
  3. a qualified patient using or being under the influence of cannabis; provided that the qualified patient is acting consistent with law;
  4. a qualified patient or primary caregiver transferring, without financial consideration, to a qualified patient or primary caregiver not more than two ounces of cannabis; or
  5. with respect to cannabis cultivated under a personal production license, a qualified patient or primary caregiver possessing, planting, cultivating, harvesting, drying, manufacturing or transporting cannabis plants or cannabis products as allowed by department rule; provided that a qualified patient or primary caregiver who possesses a personal production license shall not manufacture cannabis products using an oil extractor solvent that is stored under pressure unless the qualified patient or primary caregiver holds a separate license from the department permitting the person to manufacture cannabis products using an oil extractor solvent that is under pressure (NM SB406, pages 14-16).”

Individuals under 18 years of age can qualify for the medical cannabis program but it must go through the parents/guardian.

SB406 was sponsored by Senator Gerald Ortiz y Pino, a long-time advocate for cannabis as a medicinal and commerical product in the state legislature.

 

NM’s HB31 Amended to Protect Tips; Understandable but Flawed

House Bill 31, the “Phased-In Minimum Wage Increase,” has been amended to protect earned tips of restaurant servers.

The amendment reads:

“From the effective date of this 2019 act until July 1, 2022, an employer may pay a lower cash minimum wage rate pursuant to Subsection D of this section only if the employer can establish that for each week that an employee who customarily and regularly receives more than thirty dollars ($30.00) a month in tips works, the sum of the employee’s tips combined with the employer’s cashwage is not less than the minimum wage rate as provided inSubsection A of this section (NM Representative Miguel Garcia, NM Legislature, 2019).”

I think it’s logical for restaurant servers to react defensively to this bill as it was originally written but I think that reaction is based in an understanding that helps their employers take advantage of them.  As I’ve stated in previous postings here, a tip from a customer in any industry is not mandatory.  Even if a server demands a tip, the customer is not legal bound to provide one.  It is simply an expression of good faith on the part of the consumer toward the business worker.  I don’t believe that any worker’s pay check should be contingent upon the potential good faith of particular consumers.  All of the responsibility of worker pay should be on the business.  A separate “serving wage” for food servers creates a minimum wage double standard between the food service industry and every other industry and it is exploited by businesses whose bottom line is higher profits.

“You have the possibility for more money through tips so I’m going to pay you less than the standard minimum for every other industry.”

^ That is the logic behind this double standard, it essentially outsources responsibility to the workers themselves forcing them to become entertainers as well as food servers, begging for tips because they get paid less than other workers.

Customers in any food establishment should not be expected to supplement the wages of the servers and they definitely should not be guilt-tripped into giving a larger tip out of sympathy.  Businesses should pay food servers the same minimum wage as every other industry as well as let servers keep all the tips they earn from customers.

City Councilor Draws Mid-sized Crowd at Weck’s on Louisiana Blvd. @ Montgomery

By Dylan R.N. Crabb

 

Albuquerque City Councilor Diane Gibson organizes a regular event in her district to meet with city residents (posted on the city website).  The meet-up this morning was a very cordial one of a couple dozen or so concerned citizens albeit the majority of attendees were senior citizens.

I was not disappointed about who was in attendance but rather about who was not in attendance; only a handful of faces in the crowd looked younger than 40.  It baffles me that most individuals from my own generation have no interest in prospecting their local political processes.  Although cynicism is understandable, it is not excusable.  Regardless of the overwhelming burden of political activism on an individual, it is still necessary to at least attempt to understand the issues happening around you and make an effort to exert your influence (no matter how small it may be) on the people elected/appointed to represent you.  Governments do not stop operating simply because you choose to bury your head in the sand.  In fact, averting your eyes from government processes will only ease the temptation toward corruption on government officials, a temptation that pulls on every human in a position of power.

The group discussion began with the possibility of a land bank for the City of Albuquerque, basically a method for the city to identify vacant lots and run-down structures to acquire and flip for productivity.  There was a majority support for this idea as a main concern throughout the meet-up was blight and property values.  I asked Councilor Gibson about this so-called land bank being used to identify vacant lots and dilapidated structures to be transformed into new public parks, she said public parks could be a possibility but the main focus was on acquiring old and vacant homes to flip on the housing market.  I also asked Councilor Gibson about how the Council could improve the city buses, she replied that she would like to see a larger fleet of buses to reduce wait times at bus stops.  Councilor Gibson joked that she would probably be long dead before we saw more bridges constructed across the Rio Grande so a larger fleet of buses is the next best thing to reduce traffic on the roads; she said that she is a ardent supporter of public transit.  The meeting ended with a vibrant discussion on how the city can “go green” regarding his consumption and energy use, it seems to be an issue on a lot of residents’ minds which is hopeful for the future.

It’s Monday so be sure to set a new goal for the new week and try and be a better than person than you were last week.  We all have our “bad days” but, if we tackle life just a little bit at a time, we can get through anything.

NewWeekNewGoals

 

Counter-Productive Opposition to New Mexico’s HB31

By Dylan R.N. Crabb

 

Yesterday, New Mexico’s House Commerce & Economic Development Committee discussed House Bill 31, the “Phased-In Minimum Wage Bill” and a lot of people traveled to the capital to express their opinions in-person to the committee (there were plenty of people for it as well as against it).

A curious citizen can view the recorded committee session here.

The restaurant industry sounds the like the most vocal demographic in opposition to HB31 and much of the criticism against the bill seems to be focused on the fact that the merging of the serving wage with the minimum wage will likely mean less tips for restaurant servers.  The loss of high earnings of tips for a successful restaurant server is an understandable fear but I think this fear misses the point of the bill.  The purpose of the bill is to create a living wage for all employees.

As of 2016, there are approximately 7.6 million individuals in the nation classed as “working poor” (working but still living below the poverty line), according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics.  Why should anyone be living in poverty while they are working full-time or near full-time?

A tip is not a mandated exchange from a customer to a server, it is a voluntary gift supposedly based on the merit of the server’s work and attitude toward the customer.  It’s true that an employer in the restaurant industry is required by New Mexico law to make up the difference in a lack of tips to bring a server’s earnings up to the minimum wage level, but then why have two different minimum wages at all?  Why not dispense with the server’s wage entirely?  I’m confused about the double standard.

Why is it acceptable for a restaurant owner to outsource the burden of waiter/server pay to the consumers? 

 

MinWage Legislation Advancing in NM House Committees

By Dylan R.N. Crabb

 

House Bill 31, or the “Phased-In Minimum Wage Bill,” received a “Do Pass” recommendation from the House Labor, Veterans, And Military Affairs Committee and was referred to the Commerce & Economic Development Committee where it currently resides.

 

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Screen Capture from <https://www.nmlegis.gov/Legislation/Legislation?chamber=H&legType=B&legNo=31&year=19>.

 

The final committee vote in HLVMAC was 6 in favor and 3 against – the three members who voted against the bill are NM Representative Rachel Black (District 51), NM Representative David Gallegos (District 61), and NM Representative Tim Lewis (District 60).

NM Representative Antonio Maestas is the chairman the Commerce & Economic Development Committee, he has not yet scheduled House Bill 31 for a committee vote.

Could NM Workers get a Raise?

By Dylan R.N. Crabb

 

New Mexico Representative Miguel Garcia (District 14) has filed a bill in the state House of Representatives – HB0031.  If passed and signed by our new governor (Governor Michelle Lujan-Grisham), it would raise our statewide minimum wage to $10.00 and hour starting on July 1 of 2019; the following year (2020), the minimum wage would be raised again to $11.00 and hour; the next following year (2021), the minimum wage would be raised to $12.00 and hour; and from the year 2022 onward, the minimum wage would be evaluated every year to be aligned with the cost of living.  The potential law would measure costs of living based on the consumer price index as managed by the United States Department of Labor.