Public schools serve as community hubs
Teacher and NEA-Las Cruces Board member, Cheryl Carreon, reminded us that the pandemic has closed school buildings. These public schools serve as community hubs while providing a myriad of resources and services to families. As our state works to reopen buildings, teachers are working diligently to create the online learning platforms which families will use when we move to hybrid partial opening. Teachers are also building relationships with students and families to ensure they have the resources needed. It is a lot of work! In order to reopen buildings, with decreased funding, it is critical that school buildings are safe. In a time when funding has been cut year after year, we still must ensure that buildings have proper ventilation, students are distanced, and there is proper personal protective equipment.
Cheryl emphasized that public schools are a cornerstone of American democracy. “The DeVos Legacy has hurt schools. Teachers fund most of their own classroom teaching tools and supplies. Our kids deserve the best we can give them and we must work to reopen safely,” Cheryl said. She added, “The largest union in the nation—National Education Association—is taking ACTION and needs our help to ask the Senate to pass the House Heroes Act to fund critical PPE needed to make schools safe for reopening.” Please click here to help.
For more information, contact Cheryl.
Reporting from the DNC (via Zoom)
Shirley Baca said, “It’s been an exciting and busy week attending the Democratic National Convention as a Delegate from southern NM. My Zoom and other social media skills have greatly improved; and even though I miss meeting many other delegates from all over the country, I have been excited by the messages that have been relayed by the many people who are attending virtually.”
Shirley continued, “The biggest and most important message, I am compelled to repeat to all of us at PVA: Get Out The Vote!! Call everyone you know so that they can request their mail-in ballots, or be sure that you, your friends, and your family all go out and vote. This election will be one of the most important elections in our lifetime and we can make a change if we all go out and vote. Su voto es su voz y !Si se puede!”
For more information, contact Shirley.
Outrageous $243 million subsidy proposal killed
Steve Fischmann explained that private investors developing the old Las Cruces Country Club site recently requested a $243 million subsidy in the form of a diversion of tax funds over 25 years. “The proposal was negotiated and supported by Las Cruces’ Economic Development staff, but their analysis was littered with poor assumptions and was inadequately researched. There was no evidence that a subsidy was needed to develop the site and the project provided little in the way of unique public amenities,” said Steve. Mayor Miyagishima and Councilor Sorg listened to constituent concerns and asked the tough questions. The developers finally withdrew their proposal. Questions remain about why the Las Cruces Economic Development Department negotiated and supported such a huge giveaway.
Yes, You Can Do Good!
Karena and Stew Oberman have been developing Yes, You Can Do Good!!, a portal to voter registration and engagement. The purpose of this portal is to identify volunteer and donation opportunities to help you get involved in the November election as well as identify sources of basic voter and election information. “We don’t want to reinvent the wheel, duplicate efforts, or work at cross-purposes with organizations that have a similar focus. But we do want to give you an easy way to discover a myriad of opportunities to help us get a positive outcome in November. New opportunities are posted regularly.” Karena and Stew have an ask of you: “If you feel this effort is valuable, we would greatly appreciate it if you could distribute our Yes, You Can Do Good!! link to your list of followers on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and any email list you feel is relevant. We welcome any thoughts, suggestions, additions, criticisms, etc. that you may have. We have very thick skin! Thank you for your help in taking action and in distributing Yes, You Can Do Good!! to help create a Blue Tsunami in November!”
KTAL Sizzling Summer Fund Drive
The board and volunteers at KTAL Community Radio wish to thank the community for your generosity during their third anniversary Sizzling Summer Fund Drive. Due to the pandemic, this year’s Roadrunner Revue Fundraiser, which was such a big success last year, had to be cancelled and it was hoped the Sizzling Summer Drive would replace the community revenue they rely on. To their complete astonishment, the on-air fund-drive brought in more than $10,000, helping keep KTAL Community Radio on the air. Many PVAers have been supporters of the first and only community radio station in Las Cruces; the KTAL board and volunteers are grateful.
Your support shows how much you value KTAL, so they will keep bringing you programming you want to hear. MaryAnn Digman is the new Monday host for Coronavirus Updates, there are several new music programs, and they’ve added the great national show, The Moth, featuring Iive storytelling. And with elections coming up, once again Peter Goodman and Walt Rubel will host all our local candidates on Speak Up Las Cruces starting next month. The schedule is on the website, lccommunityradio.org. Thank you again and keep listening!
Doña Ana Communities United provides a sense of community during pandemic
Mesilla Valley Timebank and Cruces Contigo are initiatives of Doña Ana Communities United (DACU), a community-based organization that works to advance health equity in Doña Ana County.
Mesilla Valley Timebank is a place where members of our community have agreed to exchange services with one another free of charge! This alternative economic practice relies on us contributing our talents as well as utilizing each other’s talents. The timebank positively impacts our health, helps members access needed services, builds connections with others, increases social cohesion, and much more! The next Timebank Orientation is Thursday, September 10, 5:30 to 7 p.m. via Zoom. Please visit our website (da-cu.org) to join.
Cruces Contigo keeps residents of Las Cruces connected during this time of physical distancing and beyond. The program pairs individuals who agree to connect with each other a few times a week. The goals are to decrease isolation and loneliness, as well as to prevent health emergencies.
Visit www.da-cu.org for more info, or call 575.323.1422.
Make sure your vote is counted
Mary Lujan encourages everyone to “plan your vote.” She notes that (paid) poll workers are still needed. If you or someone you know is interested, call Loreta (DAC Bureau of Elections) at 647-7428. Absentee ballot applications will be mailed to every eligible voter on September 8. You can also get one here. Mary spoke with the Doña Ana County Bureau of Elections, who spoke with the El Paso Post Office, who assured them that there will be no mail delays. (Still, mail it back sooner rather than later.) If you are nervous about the mail, absentee ballots can be dropped off at the Drop Box at the DAC Government Center. Three common reasons ballots are rejected: missed deadline to submit, unsealed ballot envelope, and missing signature on ballot envelope.
For more information, go to nmvote.org.
You can live-stream with the PVA group in Laramie, Wyoming!
Marian Erdelyi, who started a PVA in Laramie, Wyoming, is happy to report that the group continues to go strong. “PVA Laramie is heading into its third year! We have cancelled only one meeting in March due to the virus. Since then we have been utilizing zoom to continue to share the news. Our July meeting was dedicated to all candidates in the primary election. We had a great turnout–more than half of those running spoke at our PVA meeting. Most live but many via video. We are blessed to have a zoom master who is fluent in “zoom” and a professional videographer who helps with the tech stuff as well. We are now live streaming our meetings via our PVA Laramie Facebook page.” Marian hopes that by next year she and her husband Jim will be able to make their annual trip to Las Cruces and attend the PVA meeting, of course!
For more information, email Marian.
Get specifics to help you write a letter in support of Rep. Torres Small
With the help of several contributors, Laura Hebenstreit has assembled a spreadsheet of summaries of Xoch’s legislation and other efforts done on behalf of constituents from the 2018 election to the current date. Summaries are based on press releases with a link to the original source for more detail and authenticity. Thanks to Stew Oberman, Query Wizard, summaries can be searched by issue, group benefited, town, and/or county. They can also be searched by keyword or a string of capital letters (such as MOMS, which would bring up entries for the Rural MOMS Act). Search results can be emailed as a PDF to help provide you with specific information for letters to editors, social media posts, comments to news articles, etc. Examples of searches have included: actions benefiting Valencia County for postcards; actions benefiting Native Americans for letters to Tribal Leaders, and bipartisan legislation benefiting oil/gas workers for letters to editors. Retake our Democracy has a useful guide for writing letters to editors in their media kit: https://retakeourdemocracy.org/media-kit/. Contact Laura if you would like specifics related to an issue, voter group, or area of NM to help bolster your letter, phone bank calls, appeal to a professional organization, etc.
For more information, contact Laura.
Celebrating Labor Day
The Democratic Party of Dona Ana County will celebrate Labor Day virtually, and Chair Mona Trempe hopes you will attend. The event celebrates Union Labor, showcases Democratic candidates, and raises funds for DPDAC’s “Get out the Vote” efforts. This year’s event will be online due to the pandemic, but the program is as exciting as ever. This year attendees will not only hear from the honorees—U.S. Senator Tom Udall and the National Union of Hospital and Health Care Workers—but will also have “real time” remarks from Lieutenant Governor Howie Morales and Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver. And expect other surprise guests! There will also be a silent auction. Details of how you can join us in this fabulous event are on the DPDAC homepage: donaanademocrats.com.
Mark your calendars for this Democratic Candidate Forum
Debra Hathaway let us know that The Federation of Democratic Women of Doña Ana County invites you to join in their virtual Candidate Forum on Monday, September 21, from 6:15 to 7:15 p.m. “Part of our organization’s vision is to inform and educate our members and the public on issues and activities vital to our Democracy and encourage them to become involved in the political process. This is the reason for our Candidate Forum in September,” explained Debra. “Each candidate will be offered 5 minutes to share insights and plans on how to make our state a better place to live, work, and raise a family. Afterwards, we will open the floor for questions. We hope you can join our candidate forum on Monday, September 21, at 6:15 p.m. via Zoom.” Click here to join the meeting, or call: 1-346-248-7799 and use Meeting ID: 940 8375 4517.
For more information, contact Debra.
Help win back a key state senate seat for the Democrats
Paul A. Baca let us know that he is running to be the next State Senator in District 29, which covers most of Valencia County and a small portion of Bernalillo County. Born and raised in Belen, he is running against Greg Baca who defeated Democratic Majority Leader Michael Sanchez in 2016, and his victory would return that important seat to the Democrat column.
Paul is pleased to announce that Maria and Ernie Flores, Don Kurtz and Ann Gutierrez, Dr. Stephen Sanchez, and others will be holding a virtual fundraiser to support his campaign on Sunday, September 6, from 3 to 4 p.m. Please see the attached flyer (Don: I will get this link) for the Zoom link and information. If you would like to make a donation, please click here and for further information email Paul.
Support needed for for local Democratic legislative campaigns
State Representative (and House Majority Whip) Doreen Gallegos sends best wishes to all PVAers along with her hope that we are all staying healthy. She pointed out that all of our excellent southern legislators are facing opposition this election cycle. Their opponents are going door to door, raising money, and working with Trump’s coordinated campaign. None of us should take this election lightly.
Support from PVA participants has been key to all of our House Democratic campaigns and Doreen wants us to know that we are needed now more than ever! She is asking that you support our southern delegation by volunteering to phone bank, talking to your friends and neighbors, voting early, and sending financial help if you can. We are having to change the way we campaign and need your help!
For more information, contact Doreen.
The recent TIDD proposal for private development
Las Cruces City Councilor Gill Sorg wants us to know some of the details of the recent TIDD proposal that was recently withdrawn by the developer. In Gill’s view, the Royal Crossings TIDD would have ended up ‘giving’ millions of future GRT and property taxes to reimburse a private development’s infrastructure, while the private developer would keep all the profit. The benefits to the city, in Gill’s view, were not sufficient, especially when all other developers have to pay for their own infrastructure, and get it returned when they sell the properties to build on. Gill believes those future tax dollars should go to social programs and many other services instead of to the developers’ purses.
Gill argues that the property will be developed even without the TIDD, especially using other incentives, including the designation of a federal Opportunity Zone, for this infill development. He hopes the developer will return to discussions of the development and those possible incentives, which he sees as significant.
For more information, contact Gill.
This is a man who is on the phone a lot
Sen. Bill Soules wanted to give a campaign update. He says, “I am actively calling voters and people to donate to my campaign. I have made close to 2000 calls to date with very positive results. The main issues for voters are a change of leadership at the top, the virus, and education. Most voters are fired up to vote against Trump and his enablers, are tired of the virus but supportive of how the Governor and New Mexico have handled the pandemic, and want children back in school but only when it is safe to do so. Most are planning on voting by mail but concerned about the post office slow downs.” Bill acknowledges that this is a strange way to campaign but “we are doing the best we can at getting our message out, specifically, support for public education, protecting the environment, moving toward renewable energy, and prevention of child abuse and trauma.” Finally, campaigns are expensive and require volunteers and manpower. If you would like to donate time or money to help Bill’s re-election campaign, visit the website at billsoules.com, mail a check, or donate here. Checks can be mailed to:
Committee to Elect William Soules
5054 Silver King Dr.
Las Cruces, NM, 88011
For more information, visit the campaign website or call Bill at 575-640-0409.
Coffee & Conversation with Sen. Bill Soules
Speaking of Sen. Soules, Connie Chapman wanted to let us know that Bill has been holding informal Coffee & Conversation meetings (via Zoom) on several Sunday mornings. The next conversation is on Sunday, August 30th at 9:00am, when his guest will be Amanda Lopez Askin, the Democratic candidate for Doña Ana County Clerk. If you are interested in joining, send Connie an email and she’ll make sure you receive the Zoom sign-in information.
For more information, contact Connie.
A reason to reach out to our friends in Grant and Sierra Counties
Rick Lass reported that now that Democrat Karen Whitlock is on the ballot thanks to her successful primary election write-in campaign, she is working hard to earn the votes of Grant and Sierra County voters. And you don’t have to live in the district to donate or volunteer at www.karenwhitlock38.com. The campaign’s pollster told them that Karen’s opponent, Rebecca Dow, is the most popular incumbent he has polled about this season until he brought up her negatives, when things changed. The campaign is confident that hard work will create the blue tsunami to win this seat and others up and down the ballot. For more info, email Rudy’s campaign manager, Rick Lass, or call him at 505-920-0540.
Report from the frontlines of Rudy Martinez’s re-election campaign
With seventy days until Election Day and only six weeks until the county starts sending out absentee ballots, Rudy Martinez’s campaign is moving into high gear. If you’d like to join Rudy’s phone bank to swing voters, with a training scheduled for Tuesday, September 1 at 1 p.m., please RSVP to Ann at 575-524-2601 or firstname.lastname@example.org. To donate to Rudy’s campaign, please go to www.rudymartineznm.com or mail a check to Committee to Elect Rudy Martinez, PO Box 164, Bayard, NM 88023. For more info, or for a yard sign, please contact the campaign manager, email Rudy’s campaign manager, Rick Lass, or call him at 505-920-0540.
“Yes, it matters!” rides again!
Many PVAers and other southern New Mexico activists will remember the successful “Yes It Matters” door hanger campaign in 2018, that helped turn out over 5,000 infrequent non-presidential year voters in Doña Ana County. Terry Miller reports that this year the focus is on reaching out with personal “Yes, It Matters” letters to Democratic-leaning voters who have registered to vote since 2016 but haven’t been to the polls yet — thousands of new progressive voters who just need some encouragement to get into the game. If you’d like to help, please contact Terry.
Health Security for New Mexicans
Rosemarie Sanchez wanted to advocate for the NM Health Security Plan. Many PVAers are familiar with the Plan. As a reminder “Health Security for New Mexicans Campaign is a coalition of over 160 statewide and local organizations representing diverse interests. The Health Security Act (legislation to enact the Health Security Plan) would enable New Mexico to set up its own health care plan, structured like a cooperative, with freedom of choice of health care providers and a comprehensive benefit package. Governor Lujan-Grisham has declared her support for Health Security. The Health Security Plan guarantees universal health coverage and controls rising health care costs: a) reduces administrative costs for the state, b) lower drug costs through bulk purchasing, c) billing and insurance administrative cost reductions for hospitals and providers.” Rosemarie emphasized that what happens next is up to us. We can continue on the current path of rising out-of-pocket costs, escalating drug prices, hospitals on the brink of bankruptcy, or we can invest in the Health Security Plan.
Here is your trusty update on El Paso Electric (EPE) and the Public Regulation Commission (PRC):
Allen Downs said, “In hearings yesterday and today (August 26 and 27), the PRC considered a stipulation giving EPE permission to buy 70MW of solar for New Mexico only. This would help meet the Renewable Energy Act requirement that 20% of the electricity sold in New Mexico come from renewable sources. The requirement becomes 40% in 2025, 50% in 2030, 80% in 2040, and 100% non-carbon in 2045 (which means EPE can continue to use its share of nuclear power from the Palo Verde Nuclear Plant in Arizona). EPE has opened a rate case and the City, the County, Merrie Lee Soules, Phil Simpson, Rocky Bacchus or his company Yellow Bird Services, and five others, have moved to intervene. EPE requests include a 12.17% increase in residential base rates. EPE’s request for approval to buy a new 228MW gas-fired generator is still under consideration, so remember Merrie Lee’s battle cry: NO MORE FOSSIL FUEL GENERATION!”
For more information, email Allen.
Greetings from Rep. Joanne Ferrary
Rep. Ferrary says she hopes you are having a good summer, despite everything. “By this time in our campaign season, we would have knocked hundreds of doors, but instead we have called thousands of homes! I’d like to thank all the volunteers who have taken time already to help reach District 37 voters. I make calls between Zoom meetings for Interim Committees for Behavioral Health, Health and Human Services, Education Study Committee, Water and Natural Resources, and Disabilities Concerns. If you aren’t already on my info letter listserv that we try to send out each week, please email Pat Aguirre. Finally, please be sure to vote, by absentee ballot that you can mail or drop off, or early vote when the polls aren’t so busy.”
For more information, contact Joanne.
This is a woman who is on the phone a lot
Speaking of Joanne… her campaign field organizer, Pat Aguirre, said that in lieu of canvassing for Rep. Joanne Ferrary they are phone banking. “Next to door-to-door this is one of the best ways to reach out to our constituents. Of course, we are following the Governor’s orders to not walk doors during this campaign season; and we are abiding by that decision out of respect for our Governor, our community, and our families. Therefore, we need your help. Be a part of Team Ferrary and her success.” Here are the details: “Team Ferrary has been working for almost a month calling and talking with voters. If they are not available, we leave a message. We have a group of people who are faithfully committing 2 to 4 hours a week to making calls. We can work with anyone’s schedule in order to achieve our goal. You can make these calls using Votebuilder Virtual Phone Banking or paper lists. There is a 15 to 20 minute training session to use Virtual Phone Banking by Sasha Escudero, our assistant campaign manager. Pat Aguirre delivers and picks up paper phone banking lists on Sundays after 2:30 p.m. The need for additional callers is an ongoing situation–please, we only have just over eight weeks and need to support Rep. Ferrary to the best of our ability. Our community cannot afford the alternative.
For more information, contact Pat Aguirre at 575-532-5127 or (805) 208-0193.
What About Manny?
County Commissioner Manny Sanchez’s campaign has been busy working to reach voters within Doña Ana County’s District 5. He says it’s been an honor to serve the residents across the County and he would like to continue the progress that has been achieved since 2019 that includes:
- Starting the bus service from Las Cruces to Garfield and a pilot program for on-call paratransit service
- Working with the Army Corps of Engineers to start work building the Hatch Dam
- Investment into the Community Centers and improved public rental policy
- Begin installation of solar panels at the Detention Center & MVRDA
- Approving a vendor for the Mental Health Crisis Triage Center and progressing toward operating license
Manny has made it a priority to engage constituents by holding meetings in the communities of Garfield, Placitas, Radium Springs, Doña Ana, and Las Cruces and even more recently on Facebook Live. The campaign needs your support in the form of contributions and phone bank volunteers. If you can help or would like more information about Manny, visit his website. You can also help by sharing this information within your networks. Finally, Manny said, “It’s imperative that we all turn out to vote.”
Standing Up for Racial Justice
Vickie Aldrich let us know that a local chapter of SURJ (Standing Up for Racial Justice) has started in Las Cruces. SURJ is a national network of groups and individuals working to undermine white supremacy and work for racial justice. Through community organizing, mobilizing, and education, SURJ moves white people to act as part of a multi-racial majority for justice with passion and accountability. We work to connect people in Las Cruces and throughout New Mexico to efforts related to racial justice, indigenous solidarity, and more. This forum for actions and discussion provides a multiracial space to share resources and events, build relationships, and work towards change. We stand in solidarity, through coordinated action and peer education, with groups led by People of Color.
SURJ is geared towards white folks who want to get involved with racial justice and anti-racist work. We recognize that there are People of Color, Black people, Indigenous people, Biracial people, and Multiracial people who are in this group and we want to take extra care, especially as white folks, to hold ourselves and each other accountable to change our behavior if we act/speak from white supremacy, settler colonialism, and other systems of oppression. Above all, we support the experiences of marginalized people in our oppressive society. We next meet on Tuesday, September 1, at 7 p.m. via Zoom. For info on the national group: https://www.showingupforracialjustice.org/
For more information, contact Tim Reed.
“Spill the Beans” with Rep. Angelica Rubio
Before Covid19, Representative Angelica Rubio (NM District 35) held regular “Spill the Beans” meetings on various Saturday mornings over coffee at one of several local coffee shops in her district. Now, you can join in from the comfort of your kitchen table, in your PJs if you want. On Saturday, September 5, 10 to 11 a.m., Angelica will be in conversation with New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver. Listen in for all the up-to-date voter information. Early voting starts October 6, which is right around the corner. Watch social media for more information on how you can tune in via Zoom, and possibly on Facebook live, if the technological gods are cooperative.
For more information, contact Angelica.
Poverty and hunger in New Mexico
Rich Renner said, “Our Congress and the White House have failed to protect Americans everywhere, but especially here in New Mexico, from the consequences of the current pandemic. In New Mexico 27% of adults living with children report their children do not have enough to eat because they cannot afford sufficient food. Since February more than 400,000 New Mexicans applied for new SNAP benefits (food stamps) each month. In July 25% of New Mexican renters were unable to pay their rent or had to defer payment (think: increasing homelessness and its consequences). Additionally, on the global front, life-saving programs to treat TB, malaria and HIV/AIDS are disrupted due to the pandemic, and critical American leadership is missing.”
Here are some actions you can take: Send letters to the editor of our local papers calling on members of Congress and President Trump by name to #DoYourJob and #GetBackToWork to pass a fair and just COVID-19 deal now. Urge them to help protect renters ($100 billion in rental assistance and a national moratorium on evictions), reduce hunger (15 percent boost to maximum SNAP benefit), and support the global response to the pandemic ($20 billion). For members who support our priorities, thank them and encourage them to stand firm. For members who don’t, remind them of the cost of inaction (see CBPP’s new Hardship Tracker on what people are facing in New Mexico and/or data on COVID-19 and the Global Fund and global nutrition).
For more information, contact Rich (Las Cruces RESULTS).
A call for progressives to register as members of NM Working Families Party
Joyce Westerbur expressed her anger about an anti-progressive Republican being invited to speak at the Democratic Convention and her outrage about what she sees as the anti-progressive outlook of the Democratic Party. Joyce suggests that voters who share her feelings to do as she has done: change their registration to the NM Working Families Party. She will reluctantly vote for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris in the upcoming presidential election but will no longer contribute to the Democratic Party in any of its forms, instead contributing directly to individual progressive candidates.
For more information, email Joyce.
Antoinette Reyes has a few things to report
- Sunrise El Paso and Earth Works are interested in partnering with New Mexicans to oppose a new EPE gas plant in Chaparral. For more information about this campaign, sign up for a future or past onboard training at https://linktr.ee/sunriseeptx. You can also email SunriseElPasoTexas@gmail.com.
- The Sierra Club Rio Grande Chapter, New Mexico Interfaith Power and Light, Environment New Mexico, and Western Leaders Network recently met with U.S. Congressperson Ben Ray Lujan for discussion of Solving the Climate Crisis, a report by the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis. You can watch that meeting here.
- The New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) and the New Mexico Energy Minerals and Natural Resources Department (EMNRD) have released their draft methane rules (two separate but complementary rules). There are problems with both sets of rules, especially NMED’s ozone rule, which exempts 95% of the wells from oversight and leak detection requirements. Both departments have extended the comment period until September 16.
The Sierra Club is asking for a moment of your time to submit comments that will improve the rules. For instructions on how to submit comments or for information about other supportive activities contact Antoinette.
Music for challenging times
Don Kurtz has been calling on music to inspire him in these challenging times. In Anthem by Leonard Cohen there’s “I can no longer run with that lawless crowd/While killers in high places say their prayers out loud”: apt words to describe the decisions faced by millions of Republicans of conscience in this autumn of Donald Trump’s descent. A particularly moving rendition of Anthem by Julie Christenson and Perla Baralla is available here. And, as we move resolutely through the electoral tasks set before us, it never hurts to remember this wise refrain from the immortal Tammy Wynette and George Jones.
To share your own favorite sources of inspiration, email Don.