Posted: Monday, December 22, 2014 8:00 pm | Updated: 9:27 pm, Mon Dec 22, 2014.
By Daniel J. Chacón
The New Mexican | 8 comments
Under public pressure, City Councilor Patti Bushee removed language calling for a franchise agreement with Public Service Company of New Mexico from a controversial resolution she is sponsoring.
“It’s turned into a red herring, so I’m happy to remove it,” she said Monday.
Bushee’s resolution calls for creating a climate protection plan and energy vision for the city. The resolution also called for establishing a team to work with PNM as well as New Mexico Gas Co. to craft memorandums of understanding that align with both plans and “recommend amendments and/or franchise agreements with PNM and NMGCO.”
Opponents of Bushee’s resolution argued that the franchise agreement would tie Santa Fe to PNM for years to come while the city is studying the possibility of forming a city-owned utility.
Bushee said City Attorney Kelley Brennan had advised her to include the franchise agreement language in the resolution, which Brennan denied.
“I urged you not to include negotiation of the franchise in the draft,” Brennan wrote in an email to Bushee on Monday. “You wished to retain it, to be consistent with the Minneapolis process you were using as your model, which was triggered by the upcoming termination date of their franchise agreements. I have verified this with [Melissa Byers, the city’s legislative liaison], who was a party to that conversation and shares my memory of it.”
Bushee’s announcement came the same day that ProgressNow New Mexico, a liberal-leaning group based in Albuquerque, released emails obtained through a public records request showing that PNM had a heavy hand in drafting the ordinance.
Bushee acknowledged that PNM played a role in crafting the resolution, but that it was hers and hers alone.
“There’s just a lot of reactionary misinformation and mischaracterization,” Bushee said.
Contact Daniel J. Chacón at 986-3089 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at Twitter at @danieljchacon.