1/15/08 UPDATE: Story picked up by DailyKos and the head of City's environmental health department gets fired gets transferred.

Here's a tantalizing thought in light of all those green Qs decorating our city of late:

Is the City of Albuquerque greenwashing?

Ahem. Given my intimate experience with the subject as the City's former webmaster asked to lead the creation of another sustainability site (not to be confused with the albuquerquegreen.com one now mysteriously missing but available on the wayback machine and as an image below), I should be seriously weighing in. Ideally without run-on sentences like the one above. Maybe later when I'm able to write something thoughtful...

Until then, read John Fleck's piece in the Sunday Journal (also available here) and tell us what you think.

More local coverage below

[Last updated: 1/15/08 10:30am]

Views: 47

Comment by Self Serve on January 14, 2008 at 7:25pm
I think a recycling program with city pick up would be grand-until it's easy to be green the bulk of abq won't be...
Comment by chantal on January 14, 2008 at 9:01pm
Personally, I'm with Scott on this one:

"The greening of Albuquerque is a good idea and necessary. Unfortunately, a politician has gotten a hold of it and well....this is the result. Were good things done? Obviously. Were gains made? Yes."

From all the research we conducted to put together cabq.gov/sustainability, it was clear that Albuquerque and actually Mayor Chavez (much as I wanted to believe otherwise) had in fact made significant strides towards a sustainable life here. I think that the Q marketing has cheapened it, making it suspect for many people, and that some statistically-challenged bureaucrats were overly eager to please the administration with glowing (and apparently unfounded) success stories.
Comment by Scott Hale on January 15, 2008 at 12:30am
One could build a pretty good argument that any gains that the "community" of Albuquerque has made has been in spite of itself. And, well, Marty.

It's tragic considering that in the early 90's we had a pretty good start and were well ahead of most comparable cities. I personally think that a lot of the environmental inertia is due to Marty's autocratic and dictatorial political style (NOT to be confused with leadership, in any sense). Until the community steps up and comes together, and manages our environmental sustainability/future instead of deferring to Marty's cronies and self-serving environmental dictates/mandates, I don't see how we can expect anything but more of the same.

Chantal, when I first saw the work you did on the city site I wanted to spit. Not because it wasn't great work and research, it was. What bothered me was the negative context of Marty and the sundry bureaucrats leading (there must be 50 or more Marty references) and the community following. That's not how environmental stewardship/leadership works, and in fact, that's not how most environmental progress in Albuquerque has been made.

I just reread the ABQ Sustainability site and there's all the elements of a great start for the entire community, both in what we have done and need to do. It just needs to be pulled and repurposed, with Marty and cronies grepped out, and replaced with the leadership and vision of the best the community has to offer when it comes to our future and sustainability.
Comment by chantal on January 15, 2008 at 8:54am
Scott, you raise some excellent points regarding the use of a figurehead (in this case, the Mayor) to sell sustainability.

Believe me, I wasn't happy about framing Albuquerque's sustainability story at cabq.gov/sustainability in what seemed to me a political context, but I also wonder if the visibility of leadership on a project is what gives it a face for most people. Think Steve Jobs (who definitely doesn't build all those iPods) being the public face of Apple.

Or maybe the concept of sustainability needed a leader *internally* to push it through the bureaucracy and break down the fiefdoms of information hoarding. Sadly, there's a good deal of inertia at City Hall so I can see how forcefulness is required to make something -- anything -- happen.

Anyway, I think using the frame of sustainability to guide decisions about local governance is admirable. I'd like to see leadership with long-term commitment to Albuquerque bring it all to legitimate fruition.

RE recycling, the City does have curbside recycling. Here's some more info:

Curbside pickup

About recycling in ABQ
Comment by chantal on January 16, 2008 at 8:21am
Robert, sounds like you may know more than I do, but here's what I learned about how govt works:

It's nearly impossible to fire anyone in City Govt due to liability issues primarily. Once someone is "tenured," having been there 6 months as a full-time employee, that person has a job for life. To me, this is one of the primary problems in our local govt because you can't reward good motivated people and you can't fire non-performers. Ignorance, laziness, complacency, and lack of relevant skills can only be reprimanded with a transfer in most cases.

Santistevan, like most Directors, is appointed at the will of the Mayor which I think makes it easier to can him entirely but I could be wrong.
Comment by chantal on January 24, 2008 at 4:38pm
Perhaps it's time for a governmental greenwashing category on this new website: greenwashingindex.com


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