PVA Meeting Recap – February 26, 2015

Community Radio for Las Cruces

Nan Rubin and Peter Goodman briefed us on 101.5 FM, the community radio station that is about to take to our airwaves. They explained that the Southwest Environmental Center applied for and received a license to build a low-power FM community radio station. Now, an independent group has formed to set up a new nonprofit organization to operate the station. They envision a station that genuinely reflects the diversity of our community. They plan on all kinds of discussion, music, programs for all ages, an all-night show, and more. Everyone is invited to an open house to learn more about the station, share your ideas and wishes, vote for call letters, ask questions, and, on top of all that, enjoy some refreshments.

Las Cruces Community Radio Open House
Saturday, March 14, 9 a.m. to noon
Southwest Environmental Center
275 North Main Street

To be part of community radio, attend the open house, make a contribution (secure online contributions included), volunteer your ideas and your talents, follow them on Facebook, and sign up for their mailing list.

For more information send email to Nan or Peter.

Legislative Response Team

Cheryl Frank reported that the PVA’s Legislative Response Team is keeping up with all the most important issues facing the legislators in this year’s 60-day session. To join the LRT, simply send a request to Cheryl. She will let you know what issues need our support, who should be contacted, and how. Your calls and emails will arrive when and where they will do the most good.

For more information send email to Cheryl.

Juneteenth Celebration Welcomes Vendors

Liz Rodriguez-Johnson announced that the Las Cruces NAACP is planning a better-than-ever expo for their annual Juneteenth Celebration. They are inviting vendors to participate in the all-day event, which will include a health fair and a student science program. Vendor tables, for goods or information, are $50.

Juneteenth Celebration
Saturday, June 20, all day
Hotel Encanto

To reserve a vendor table or for more information, send email to Liz and call her at 575-312-5677.

Health Security for New Mexico Is Still Kicking

Maury Castro expressed his appreciation for the support he received in his successful campaign for the Las Cruces School Board. He noted that there is “lots happening” and a chance to bring about change for the better. On a different note, he asked us to call Joseph Cervantes and other members of the judicial committee and let them know you support Health Security for New Mexico (SB 152).

For more information send email to Maury.

Greetings from a School Board Veteran

Maria Flores, who has served for six years on the school board, said she is feeling optimistic that the board can come up with fair evaluation procedures for teachers and improved policies for testing students. It was noted that on Monday, March 2, students at local high schools plan a protest of the district’s stance on testing.

For more information send email to Maria and call her at 575-644-9612.

We Pay 20% More than El Paso for EPE’s Electricity

Allen Downs explained that El Paso Electric is charging New Mexico customers a lot more than they charge Texas customers—about 20% more. EPE will soon appear before the Public Regulation Commission to request another rate increase. Allen asked that we let our city councilors and county commissioners know that we want an advocate who will speak for us before the PRC and get us a better deal. Allen’s fact sheet is here.

For more information send email to Allen and call him at 575-915-6969.

Let the City Council Know You’d Like Fair Rates from EPE

Rocky Bacchus elaborated on the need for fair rates from EPE. He plans to present information to the City Council at their March 2 meeting and has a slew of facts and figures to demonstrate by how many millions EPE is overcharging New Mexico.

For more information send email to Rocky and call him at 575-650-1075.

No Recall for District 5 Councilor Gill Sorg

Joanne Ferrary assured us that if there is a recall election in District 5, an army of volunteers is ready to support Councilor Sorg. Joanne invited all interested citizens to join this effort.

For more information send email to Joanne and call her at 575-649-1231.

Whistleblower Protection Act Plus a Recall Update

Peter Goodman spoke of the importance of the Whistleblower Protection Act (HB 532) and asked that we let Rep. McMillan and other legislators know how we feel about it.

A few basics about the recall effort: Petitions were turned in to the city clerk on February 6 and she has 20 working days to review and validate the signatures. If there are insufficient valid signatures, the recall group has 15 more days to gather additional signatures.

For more information call Peter at 575-521-0424 or 510-282-6690.

What Money Can’t Buy

Pat Aguirre assured us that those who oppose the recall are working plenty hard. She issued a huge, enormous thank you to the volunteers who reviewed thousands of signatures. It was painstaking work and no one was paid to do it. She read the names of the dedicated citizens who did the work.

For more information send email to Pat and call her at 575-532-5127.

Update from Councilor Sorg

Gill Sorg reported that the city councilors had braved the cold to visit the legislators in Santa Fe. He noted that Soil and Water Conservation District election will be held in April. He assured us that he plans to keep his seat on the city council and that the council will continue its commitment to smart growth, complete streets, appropriate impact fees, and fair minimum wage for workers.

For more information send email to Gill and call him at 505-358-3773.

Pro-choice Rally, Free Concert, and Pen Still Mightier than Sword

Jan Thompson, in an admirable show of efficiency, announced three events: a pro-choice demonstration; an ongoing letter-writing group; and a concert by Roy Zimmerman, who writes and sings funny songs about fracking, torture, creationism, same-sex marriage, guns, marijuana, abstinence, ignorance, war, and greed.

Pro-choice Demonstration
Sunday, March 1, 1:30 p.m.
On Lohman in front of Club Fitness

Letter Writing Group
Sponsored by Citizens Climate Lobby
Second Monday of each month (except March 16), 7 p.m.
Unitarian Universalist Church Library

Roy Zimmerman Concert
Monday, March 9, 7 p.m.
Unitarian Universalist Church

For more information send email to Jan.

Update from Ed Frank, Brand-New School Board Member

Ed Frank—in anticipation of our community radio station (101.5 FM) going on air—said he was going to get his car radio fixed. He urged us to sign up for the Legislative Response Team: “It’s easy and it makes a big difference,” he said. He vowed that the school board will be working hard on the pressing issues. “You’ll be hearing from us,” he promised.

For more information send email to Ed and call him at 610-888-6116.

Big Thank You for Caring About School Board Election

Bruce Hartman thanked everyone who worked on the school board election. He referred to his many years of experience as a teacher and, from that vantage point, he said, not glibly, “This is a difficult time for teachers and schools.” He expressed confidence that the new board will try to tackle the challenges.

For more information send email to Bruce and call him at 575-496-9508.

How to Win a Fight with a Liberal

Carl Zimmerman recommended “How to Win a fight with a Liberal,” a book by Daniel Kurtzman. Carl said he is reading Kurtzman in preparation for the big election coming up so he will be aware of all the cunning strategies that conservatives will be employing. [FYI: Kurtzman first wrote “How to Win a Fight with a Conservative.”]

For more information send email to Carl and call him at 575-522-1935.

Keeping a Good Bill Down

Sandy Katayanagi had good news and bad. HB 425, a bill that Steve Fischmann (her husband) has been working hard for, died in the Regulation and Public Affairs Committee. That was the bad news. The good news was a free concert at her place of employment:

For the Love of Music: An Evening with Randy Granger
Friday, February 27, 7 to 9 p.m.
Doña Ana Community College, East Mesa Campus

For more information send email to Sandy.

“The Attacking Ocean” Is for Those Who Want Climate Change Facts and the Big Picture

Alice Anderson informed us that the Comprehensive Plan is up for review and does not thus far say a work about climate change. She recommended “The Attacking Ocean” by Brian Fagan (551.48/Fag, available at Branigan Library) as an excellent discussion sea level rise caused by global warming.

For more information send email to Alice and call her at 575-523-5179.

What if They Gave the State of the County Address and there Was a Full House?

County Commission Chair Billy Garrett invited us to attend the State of the County Address. Julia Brown, county manager, will outline achievements of the past year, and Billy will talk about the future. Billy said he wonders what it would be like to have the commission chambers packed for a non-controversial session. For those who cannot join in the effort to pack the house, the session will be videotaped and available at a later date on the county website.

State of the County Address
Monday, March 9, 12:15 p.m.
County Commission Chambers
Government Building, 845 North Motel Blvd.

For more information send email to Billy and call him at 575-915-5755.

Piatigorsky Foundation Brings Classical Music to Good Samaritan and More

Susan Fitzgerald, another paragon of efficiency, covered three topics. First, she invited everyone to a free concert of classical music (cello and piano) sponsored by the Piatigorsky Foundation.

Cello and Piano Concert
Saturday, March 28, 6:30 p.m.
Good Sam Auditorium
3025 Terrace Drive

Second, she said she had many years of community radio experience under her belt and was looking forward to volunteering with 101.5 FM, perhaps to do interviews. She said it would be satisfying to interview PVA’s speakers and give them more than two minutes to talk.

Third, Susan announced that students plan to protest the school district’s testing policies on Monday, March 2, at 8:30 a.m. Adults are welcome to join them.

For more information send email to Susan.

Ossorio Update

Peter Ossorio, continuing a trend, made three succinct points, all in under two minutes. First, he expressed his pleasure at seeing many new faces at PVA. Second, he brought the news that 109 Mexican Gray Wolves have been reintroduced into the wilderness in Arizona and New Mexico. A new “wolf rule” from the Fish and Wildlife Service is in effect. The rule has upsides and downsides and can be viewed here.

And third, Peter brought a startling government subsidy to our attention: the cost of grazing cattle on private land is $18 per animal unit month. That much grazing on public lands costs—can you guess?—$1.69.

For more information send email to Peter and call him at 575-522-3112.

Update from County Assessor’s Office

Paul Ponce, from the Doña Ana County Assessor’s Office, reported that the office is currently preparing the notices of property value that will be mailed by April 1. He reminded us that we have 30 days to protest the valuation and/or to claim exemptions (head of household, veteran, etc.). Helpfully, he explained that the property valuations are arrived at by “mass appraisal techniques,” but if you question the valuation, the assessor’s office will evaluate your property individually.

For more information send email to Paul and call him at 575-525-5504 (w) or 575-642-4355 (c).

Distinguished Speaker on Climate Change

Dael Goodman announced a climate talk that will focus specifically on what climate change means for us—right here in southern New Mexico—currently and in the future. The speaker is Dr. David Gutzler of UNM Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences. Dr. Gutzler is an expert on extreme weather events, climate variability, and long-term climate change projections. He is especially interested in the impact of weather and climate change on southwestern North America.

Lush N Lean: Climate Change, What the Research Tells Us
Tuesday, March 24, 6 to 8 p.m.
WIA Building, 340 North Reymond Street

For more information send email to Dael.

“This Changes Everything” Is Well Worth Reading

Yvonne-Magdalena Flores recommended Naomi Klein’s “This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate,” a book that was described by the New York Times reviewer as “the most momentous and contentious environmental book since “Silent Spring.”

Yvonne was skeptical that the book would be available at Branigan Library. [According to worldcat.org, she got that right. The following nearby libraries have the book: NMSU, El Paso Public Library, and UTEP.]

For more information send email to Yvonne.

EPE Favors New Power Plants Over Reducing Use

Allen Downs added to his EPE critique the news that EPE is looking to build four new power plants. A better alternative would be to reduce peak demand by offering better rates for low-demand use.

For more information send email to Allen.

March17 Deadline to Declare Your Candidacy for Soil and Water Conservation District

Peter Goodman announced that the Doña Ana County Soil and Water Conservation District elections will be held soon [May 5, 2015]. The commission has the opportunity to make decisions that have a significant impact on our environment—for better or worse. If you’re interested in running, the deadline is March 17. Peter offered to help interested candidates sort out the process.

For more information call Peter at 575-521-0424 or 510-282-6690.

In Defense of Branigan Library

Alice Anderson was prompted (see “This Changes Everything”) to defend Branigan Library. She acknowledged that she has been critical of some library policies but said they have a good selection of books about climate change and people should go to Branigan and see what they have.

And on that note, the meeting was adjourned.

PVA meets again
Thursday, March 26, 7 p.m.
Munson Center

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