The Answer My Friend Is Blowing In The Wind

State District Court Judge Alan Malott has tossed a challenge to Albuquerque’s minimum wage ordinance filed by defendant business owners against minimum wage workers who were forced to file a class action lawsuit to enforce Albuquerque’s minimum wage ordinance without any assistance from the city.

(See June 2, 2017 Albuquerque Journal, Section B, “Challenge to ABQ minimum wage law tossed; Judge says litigant filed complaint late)

The Defendants in the case are the former restaurant owners of Kelley’s Brew Pub who sold the restaurant to another firm and Kelly’s is now under new management.

The Defendants alleged the minimum wage ordinance enacted in 2012 by voters “was presented to voters in an unlawful, misleading and deceptive manner” and was “therefore void and unenforceable as a matter of law”.

Judge Mallot did the right thing by dismissing the claim.

This is a major court victory for Albuquerque’s working class with no thanks to Mayor Berry and the Albuquerque City Council.

The City of Albuquerque and the City Attorney’s Office should be aggressively defending the minimum wage ordinance and should enforce it, but they never have done it.

In 2012, by a two-to-one ratio, voters in the City of Albuquerque decided to raise the City’s minimum wage from $7.50 per hour to $8.50 per hour.

Albuquerque’s minimum wage is now $8.80 an hour.

In 2012, Republican Mayor Richard Berry, the Republican Albuquerque City Councilors and the business community opposed and campaigned against the minimum wage voter initiative.

After enactment of the City’s minimum wage ordinance, Mayor Berry did not object to, albeit instructed, his appointed City Attorney saying the City did not have the resources to enforce the law against all businesses who violated the minimum wage law.

The current attitude of City Hall is that workers need to go to court on their own at their own expense to enforce the minimum wage ordinance and that is why the class action lawsuit was filed by waitresses and waiters.

The existing minimum wage ordinance is a city ordinance that needs to be enforced by the city and the city attorney’s office and not leave workers hanging out to dry and to fend for themselves at their own expense.

Not many minimum wage workers can afford to hire an attorney to go to court and enforce the provisions of the city’s minimum wage ordinance.

Since enactment of the city’s minimum wage ordinance, where have all our Democratic City Counselors gone?

Not a single city councilor who call themselves Democrats, including City Councilors Pat Davis, Diane Gibson, Ken Sanchez, Klarissa Pena and Isaac Benton haver ever demanded the Mayor or the City Attorney’s Office to enforce Albuquerque’s minimum wage ordinance.

All five (5) of our Democratic City Councilors have acted more like Republicans than Democrats when it comes to Albuquerque’s minimum wage.

Our Democratic City Counselor’s support of Albuquerque’s minimum wage is blowing in the wind.

Every single business in Albuquerque is required to register and have a license to do business and must agree to adhere to all enacted city ordinances and laws.

Businesses cannot pick and choose what laws and City Ordinances they want to follow.

The City Attorney’s office and Planning Department have the authority to enforce existing ordinances.

The Planning Department issues licenses to do business in Albuquerque and has code enforcement responsibility.

Businesses licensed by the City can be ordered to follow the minimum wage law or the City will take court action to have their business licenses revoked and secure Court Orders to shut down the businesses for violating the law.

The Mayor and the City Attorney’s Office needs to do the right thing and enforce the existing minimum wage and not force worker’s to fend for themselves.

All candidates for Mayor need to articulate not only where they stand on Albuquerque’s minimum wage but if they intend to order the Planning Department and the City Attorney’s Office to enforce it.

All candidates for City Council need to articulate where they stand on Albuquerque’s minimum wage and if they support funding for the Planning Department and the City Attorney’s Office to enforce it.

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Pete Dinelli was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He is of Italian and Hispanic descent. He is a 1970 graduate of Del Norte High School, a 1974 graduate of Eastern New Mexico University with a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration and a 1977 graduate of St. Mary's School of Law, San Antonio, Texas. Pete has a 40 year history of community involvement and service as an elected and appointed official and as a practicing attorney in Albuquerque. Pete and his wife Betty Case Dinelli have been married since 1984 and they have two adult sons, Mark, who is an attorney and George, who is an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). Pete has been a licensed New Mexico attorney since 1978. Pete has over 27 years of municipal and state government service. Pete’s service to Albuquerque has been extensive. He has been an elected Albuquerque City Councilor, serving as Vice President. He has served as a Worker’s Compensation Judge with Statewide jurisdiction. Pete has been a prosecutor for 15 years and has served as a Bernalillo County Chief Deputy District Attorney, as an Assistant Attorney General and Assistant District Attorney and as a Deputy City Attorney. For eight years, Pete was employed with the City of Albuquerque both as a Deputy City Attorney and Chief Public Safety Officer overseeing the city departments of police, fire, 911 emergency call center and the emergency operations center. While with the City of Albuquerque Legal Department, Pete served as Director of the Safe City Strike Force and Interim Director of the 911 Emergency Operations Center. Pete’s community involvement includes being a past President of the Albuquerque Kiwanis Club, past President of the Our Lady of Fatima School Board, and Board of Directors of the Albuquerque Museum Foundation.