PVA Meeting Recap – January 29, 2015

CAFé Update

Sarah Nolan reflected on CAFé’s work on the minimum wage and goals for the future and put her remarks in perspective by telling us that she was raised on the adage, “If you want to see God laugh, tell him your plans.” She said CAFé is building strong ties with city and county officials and exploring ways to strengthen the minimum wage ordinance that was passed. Issues of concern for the year ahead include mental health, Medicaid expansion, and immigration, and training a cadre of diverse community leaders.

For more information send email to Sarah and call her at 575-520-1624.

Opposing the Recall

Violet Cauthon summarized what is happening for and against the recall of City Councilors Pedroza, Sorg, and Small.

On the pro-recall side we have New Mexicans for a Better Tomorrow, a well-funded group that hired Jeffrey Isbell as an organizer and started the petitions to recall Councilors Pedroza, Sorg, and Small. They accuse the three councilors of “unethical behaviors” but do not identify any behavior that would warrant a recall. The group is registered with the New Mexico Secretary of State and details of contributions are published there.

Those opposed to the recall have not been sitting still. They held a press conference that was widely covered by local news media. Mayor Miyagashima made calls of support to residents of the districts in question. Many letters to the editor have appeared in the Sun-News and the Bulletin. The next step will be to challenge the petition signatures. If enough valid signatures were collected there will be a recall and a vigorous campaign to defeat the recall.

For more information send email to Vi and call her at 575-373-0571.

Unified Action: Join the Legislative Response Team

If you join PVA’s Legislative Response Team you will know what’s happening of importance in the State Legislature this session. Cheryl Frank, the LRT coordinator, will send you an email letting you know what the issue is, who should be contacted, how, and when. Your calls and emails will arrive in the right places at the time when they will do the most good. Your voice will be part of a large chorus and much harder to ignore than if you were singing all alone.

For more information send email to Cheryl.

Maury Castro Running for School Board, District 4

Maury Castro asked for support in his bid for a position on the school board. He said his decision was influenced by his son, a special education teacher who retired early from Albuquerque Public Schools because of untenable conditions in the schools. Maury referred to his master’s degree in education and his many years of administrative service.

For more information send email to Maury and call him at 575-571-1923.

Teen Birth Rate Drops! in Doña Ana County

Earl Nissen announced the great news that teen pregnancy decreased by 50 percent for 15 to 17 year olds in Doña Ana County in the period from 2007 to 2013. Earl described the efforts of the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Work Group, which succeeded in replacing abstinence-only with comprehensive sex education. The group also created school-based health centers in all but one district high school.

For more information send email to Earl and call him at 575-496-3405.

Casa de Peregrinos Celebrates 35 Years of Giving

Nancy Anderson, a volunteer with Casa de Peregrinos, reported that they have been providing food for the hungry in Doña Ana County for 35 years. Last year they distributed two million pounds of food and started outreach to rural areas in the county. They are planning an anniversary celebration and fundraiser with donations of $35 suggested (as a starting point).

Casa de Peregrinos Celebrates 35 Years of Giving
Builders’ Source Appliance Gallery
760 W. Palms (across from County Govt. Bldg.)

For more information send email to Nancy and call her at 575-647-1735.

VP for Academic Affairs Urges Yes Vote for Doña Ana Community College

Monica Torres, vice president for academic affairs at Doña Ana Community College (DACC), asked that we vote yes for both ballot questions to support operations and capital expenses for the college. She made it clear that voting yes does not increase the tax rate. She spoke of the DACC’s contributions to the community including workforce education, education for students who will continue at 4-year colleges, community education, ESL and GED classes, and support for small businesses.

For more information send email to Monica and call her at 575-640-2878.

Now Is the Time to Get Ready for 2016 Election

Elisa Sanchez introduced herself as a woman from a working class background whose values are aligned with Democratic Party values. She said she is not going to be saying, “Those lazy Democrats! Why didn’t they get out to vote?” She is going to be working to get ready for the 2016 election.

For more information send email to Elisa and call her at 575-532-9148.

NAACP Heads Restoration of Community Cemetery

Terri McBrayer announced that the Doña Ana Branch of the NAACP has launched a campaign to restore the segregated cemetery located on Hernandez Street behind Loma Heights Elementary School. The cemetery was the only burial place for African Americans during the days of segregation. The NAACP is working with city officials, community leaders, and NMSU and welcomes support in the form of time, money, and materials.

For more information send email to Terri and call her at 831-435-9747.

Las Crucens Against the Recall Is Up and Working

Pat Aguirre announced that Las Crucens Against the Recall is up and running and ready to accept volunteers as well as cash donations. The group is working in support of Councilors Pedroza, Sorg, and Small; the three are targeted in the recall attempt funded by New Mexicans for a Better Tomorrow.

For more information send email to Pat and call her at 575-532-5127 or 805-208-0193.

City Prepared to Evaluate Recall Petition Signatures

Peter Goodman advised that the next 7 to 10 days will be critical in the recall process. Petitions will be coming in and signatures must be carefully examined to insure that they are legitimate and not fraudulent in any way. The signature gathering stage has been marked by a variety of false claims.

Peter submitted that the people behind the recall are making a concerted effort to take over all local elected offices. For one example, Troy Tudor, candidate for school board in district 4, is a key player in NMFABT. You can read more about Troy on Peter’s blog, Views from Soledad Canyon.

For more information send email to Peter and call him at 575-521-0424.

Southwest Chief Needs Public Support and Funding

Vickie Aldrich asked, “Who here has ridden a train?” Hands went up and train ride memories filled the room. The Southwest Chief needs funding from the New Mexico legislature in order to complete track upgrades. The legislature needs to know that constituents support train and bus travel in New Mexico.

For more information send email to Vickie and call her at 575-541-9093.

Transit Project Alive and Well after Ballot Defeat

Sharon Thomas brought an optimistic update on public transportation for Southern New Mexico. She explained that it is not unusual for the first referendum on public transit to fail (as ours did last November). There will be another referendum. In the meantime, the South Central Region Transit District is hard at work and making progress. Commissioner Wayne Hancock is now chair of the SCRTD Board and Councilor Greg Smith is treasurer. The city and county are working together to improve public transportation throughout the county and they have funds for some new buses.

For more information send email to Sharon and call her at 575-644-2517.

Precinct Meetings and Regional Water Plan Need Citizens Like You to Get Involved

Beth Bardwell spoke of the need for citizens to be involved in the work of the community. She named two excellent opportunities. First, Democratic Party Precinct Meetings will be held March 26, a 6 p.m. Attend and be involved at the grass roots level; think about being a precinct chair. Second, our regional water plan is now being updated and there are work groups studying all the aspects of our water use and needs. Ordinary citizens are welcome to participate.

For more information send email to Beth and call her at 575-418-0288.

Judge Kent Wingenroth Rules . . . from the Bench

Judge Wingenroth thanked PVA for providing a nonpartisan forum for candidates. He noted that he was first elected to Magistrate Court in 2006 and is now beginning his third term there.

For more information send email to Kent.

Judge Conrad Perea Vouches for Merit of DACC

Judge Perea spoke in support of DACC and urged us to vote yes on the ballot issues funding the college. Conrad said he has been an adjunct professor at DACC and knows firsthand the extraordinary stories of the students, the challenges they face, and how the college serves them and provides opportunity.

For more information send email to Conrad and call him at 575-621-9427.

Las Crucens Against the Recall Has Some Dedicated Volunteers

Joanne Ferrary thanked all those who supported her campaign for the state legislature. She urged us to get ready for the possibility of a recall election by making financial contributions and volunteering time and talent.

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

Connie Phillips for School Board

Connie Phillips asked for support in her bid for reelection to the Las Cruces School Board, District 5. She noted her 8 years’ experience on the board, her knowledge of the school budget, programs such as early college high school, and the school construction projects during her tenure on the board. She said she would bring experience and continuity to the board.

For more information send email to Connie.

New Mexico In Depth Is to Awesome As Food Tax Is to Appalling

Theresa Westbrock conveyed a message from Peter Ossorio stating his firm opposition to reinstating the tax on food, an issue that is under consideration by some legislators in Santa Fe. Peter provided a slew of Web references: Fix the Food Tax favors food tax, Think New Mexico opposes food tax, a petition in opposition to food tax, and recent coverage of the issue.

Secondly, Theresa thanked Heath Haussamen of New Mexico In Depth for providing copies of their Legislative Guide, which has all you need to know to be informed about the current legislative session. She recommended checking out New Mexico In Depth, an award-winning online journal, dedicated to in-depth (of course!) coverage of the New Mexico’s most pressing issues.

For more information send email to Theresa.

Cheryl Frank Endorses Edward Frank, aka Dad, for School Board

“What was your favorite standardized test?” Cheryl asked, “And what did you learn from it?” She then spoke in support of her father, who is a candidate for the school board, district 5, pointing to his years as a teacher (39) and his balanced approach to testing and teacher evaluation.

For more information send email to Cheryl and call her at 575-650-7607.

Democracy Is Hard

Billy Garrett said thank you (he was reelected in November) and also, “Democracy is hard.” He shared some reflections:

  • Support groups that engage in democratic processes through information and advocacy.
  • Elected officials will not be able to vote the way you think they should on every issue. Respect them. Give them some slack to govern.
  • Vote for the best candidate you can every time you have a chance, and work with those who are elected.
  • A recall is for those elected officials who have truly violated the public trust.

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

Volunteers Wanted to Advocate for Foster Children

Brandie White of Mesilla Valley CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) announced an introductory meeting for those who may want to become court-appointed advocates for children. She spoke of the urgent need for adults who will advocate for children who have been victims of abuse and neglect—the most vulnerable members of our community.

For more information send email to Brandie and call her at 575-527-0035.

Edward Frank for School Board

Ed Frank asked for support in his bid for school board, district 5. He said he had “learned a few things” in his 39 years of teaching. He said that practicing for tests and taking tests is eating away at teaching time. He expressed concern that teachers are being evaluated on variables over which they have no control.

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

Who Wants to Go for a Trimotor Ride and Be a Patron of the Arts?

Bob Diven said he was going to talk about the massacre of the staff of “Charlie Hebdo” last week, but then the meeting was canceled due to the snow storm, so instead he is talking about airplanes—and you can read his piece about the massacre in Paris on the Sun-News website. Bob revealed that he is an experimental airplane enthusiast and invited everyone to an Experimental Aviation festival and possibly a ride on the Ford Trimotor, aka The Tin Goose. See the event calendar for details.

Bob mentioned that you can find him at Patreon.com, a website that enables ordinary people to support local artists.

For more information send email to Bob and call him at 575-642-7445.

Colonias Development Council Seeks Bilingual Members

Martha Loustaunau announced that she is a new member of the Colonias Development Council and noted that one of the group’s concerns is securing assistance for the 20,000 people in Doña Ana County who are eligible to become citizens. Martha said the board is seeking new members. Anyone who is bilingual may apply.

For more information send email to Martha and call her at 575-524-4586.

Get Behind a Bill to Ban Coyote Killing Contests

Tricia Snyder announced that the Southwest Environmental Center has a bill to ban coyote killing contests. She urged us to contact members of the conservation and judiciary committees.

For more information send email to Tricia and call her at 575-522-5552.

Good Things Happening in Las Cruces Right Now

Councilor Nathan Small spoke in support of Doña Ana Community College and heaped praise on his current intern, a student there. Nathan reminded us that economic opportunities are expanding in the city and that it would be a good thing to spread that word around.

Nathan mentioned a few of the good things happening. Our exemplary Community of Hope has funding for improvements to their facility. Franco Whole Foods is bringing 160 new jobs to their LEED-certified plant and planning on being good neighbors with the Community of Hope. Community garden plots are widely available thanks in large part to the work of Councilor Olga Pedroza. The city is at the forefront of energy efficiency and sustainability.

For more information send email to Nathan.

Castro and Frank for School Board

Linda Crippen expressed concern that the Las Cruces Public Schools administration is no longer treating teachers as professionals. She endorsed school board candidates Maury Castro and Edward Frank.

For more information send email to Linda and call her at 575-373-5343.

All Things in Moderation

Steve Fischmann said he favors testing in moderation. “Excessive standardized testing is bad for students and teachers,” he suggested.

For more information send email to Steve.

Schools Are in Trouble—Vote!

Bruce Hartman endorsed Maury Castro and Edward Frank as the school board candidates best able to step in and get much needed change in the district. Bruce described Maury as a modest man who would not be likely to tell us his remarkable life story. From Bruce’s account we learned that Maury dropped out of high school, worked in the mines for 13 years, went to night school, got a GED and a bachelor’s degree, and went on to earn a master’s degree in educational psychology. He has 22 years of public education experience as a teacher and administrator.

For more information send email to Bruce.

Attack of the Plutocrats

Carl Zimmerman provided some comic relief by pointing out that Progressive Magazine, in their article “Attack of the Plutocrats,” neglected to mention that Pluto has been downgraded and is no longer considered a planet.

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

Castro and Frank for School Board

Glen Landers added his voice in support of Maury Castro and Edward Frank for school board. He said the district was currently exceeding the state-required testing and including use of sick leave as part of a teacher’s evaluation.

For more information send email to Glen and call him at 575-525-0491.

PVA Meets Again
Thursday, February 26, 7 p.m.
Munson Center

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