PVA Meeting Recap – May 25, 2017

LCPS Superintendent Dr. Ewing says things like “y’all,” and “let teachers teach”

Dr. Greg Ewing warned us, “I’m from Georgia, so I say things like, ‘y’all,’ and ‘Lord have mercy.’” Dr. Ewing gained attention right away in the Las Cruces school community by also saying things like, “I am giving teachers, right now, permission to teach.” Recently, Las Cruces was mentioned as a top city to teach in (ranked 22 out of 689). Read more here.  

You can read Dr. Ewing’s bio here. He told us about how he looks at his job – through the eyes of a teacher (he was a teacher for 16 years). He said classroom needs have to come first. He also completely understands how top-down standardized tests are counterproductive (not to mention expensive!) and can destroy morale for students, parents, and teachers. He told us some harrowing stories of when he spent the day at schools on testing days (spoiler alert-it didn’t go smoothly).

Since it’s that season, we also heard some inspiring graduation stories. The principals did a great job facilitating graduations. Did you know we have nearly 600 homeless students in our district? These students often shower in the locker rooms, and the only meals the get are those provided in school. Dr. Ewing highlighted some of these students, who recently graduated, despite having to overcome such obstacles.

Finally, Dr. Ewing looks hopefully towards the special session for the budget to be resolved. He says salaries, transportation, and instructional materials are all at stake, but the district lobbyist reports that it looks like there will be no additional cuts. Nothing is certain, however, until the Governor signs the budget.    

For more information send email to Dr. Ewing.

KTAL Community Radio will be here Soon!

It looks like KTAL has a start date of June 21, reported Peter Goodman. With the uncertainty in print media, Peter suggested that we turn to our new non-profit community radio station. All views will be welcome. They will have news, music, politics, and more! Check out their Facebook page, make a contribution, and suggest content. “This is the community talking to itself,” said Peter.  So, please, support your local community radio station.

For more information send email to Peter.

City Councilor Jack Eakman loves the color Orange

When Jack Eakman sees orange barrels in the road, and/or has to slow down because of construction in Las Cruces… he get a great big smile on his face. So much so that he now loves to see anyone wearing orange – orange makes him think of the $140 million that the City is spending on infrastructure, and that makes him think of economic development, and that makes him think of people in Las Cruces living a better quality of life. So, he hopes you learn to love orange, too – he says, “Orange! What a great color!”

For more information send email to Jack.

County Commissioner Billy Garrett is working for the people

Billy wanted to thank people who came to the recent county commission meeting to support rural transportation (read more about the issue here). He also thanked Sherry Thomas, Commissioner Vasquez, and Commissioner Gonzalez for their support on the issue. He said what he’s heard from his constituents on the issue is that rural transportation is important to their health, safety, and general well being.

Billy also stated that people throughout the county have said that local government does have an important role in supporting the most marginalized communities, through programs like public transit, community centers, affordable housing, and infrastructure development. Billy continued, “The point is to make Dona Ana County a good place for everyone, because what benefits one, benefits all. This is the progressive spirit that motivates many of you, keeps me going, and makes a real difference.”

For more information send email to Billy.

Sharon Thomas is working for the people

Sharon Thomas talked about the May 23 County Commission meeting, in which 40 people spoke to the commissioners about rural transit. Every single person spoke in favor of transit, including the mayor of Sunland Park, a spokesperson from AARP, a spokesperson from the League of Women Voters, and many residents from around the area, including Anthony and Hatch. (Read Peter Goodman’s article about the meeting here.)

When she got home, her husband Dick Thomas, a poet, said, “That was a great poem.”

In the end, the amendment passed 3-2. Sherry wanted to thank people for coming to the meeting and said, “We are not done. We must keep up the pressure.” There will be a final budget discussed at the commission meeting on July 25.

For more information or to join her email list send email to Sherry.

LGBTQ March for Equality and Pride

Myra Llerenas, who is the founder of the Dona Ana LGBTQ Collective, announced a March for Equality and Pride, which will be happening June 11. She said we are at a critical moment and need to mobilize the LGBTQ and ally community to address the concerns of those who are targeted due to their gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, as well as immigration status, mental health, and/or have disabilities. She hopes you will come and support this new collective. Visit their Facebook page for more info.

Las Cruces LGBTQ March for Equality & Pride
Sunday, June 11, 10-12am
Plaza de Las Cruces

For more information send email to Myra.

No Cuts to Education. Period.

The President of the American Federation of Teachers was recently in Santa Fe, headlining a pre-special-session press conference. Here is what President Weingarten had to say:

“I am so honored to be in Santa Fe standing shoulder to shoulder with New Mexico’s educators and legislators who are making educational funding for our students- Pre-K through college a priority. Make no mistake; we are experiencing a punch in the gut to our students as the constant undermining of public schools and other actions by Governor Susana Martinez and Secretary Hanna Skandera mirror the cruel and callous cuts we are seeing on a national level under President Donald Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. Under the DeVos/Trump proposed federal budget, New Mexico would see millions slashed from essential programs. Martinez and Skandera need to help us fight those cuts; I ask them tonight to look in the mirror and take responsibility for failing to meet their obligation to public education and New Mexico’s children.”

Glenn Landers wants us to go further and make sure that our state legislators don’t allow any cuts to the education budget. He asks you to stay in close contact with them (i.e. call or email them!) and tell them, “No cuts to education! Cuts are simply intolerable.”

For more information send email to Glenn.

Concern for Dual-Credit Courses

Dr. Karin Wiburg (a distinguished education professor at NMSU) is a concerned grandmother since her 16 year old granddaughter, who needs 5 credits to graduate, and was told the dual-credit program at DACC was cancelled. She wants to know what parents-and grandparents-can do to advocate for their kids. Karin emphasized that research shows that dual-credit programs not only keep kids in school, but foster educational success and job skills.

For more information send email to Karin.

Introducing Connie, who has a word from Angelica, who wants to tell you about Gabe

Connie Chapman read a statement from State Representative Angelica Rubio, who could not be at PVA, as she was in Santa Fe for the Special Session. Angelica wanted say that she’s happy to announce that Gabe Vasquez will be a candidate for City Council, District 3. She is also happy to say that Gabe has Olga Pedrosa’s endorsement (Olga is the current District 3 councilor–she is not running for re-election). Angelica asks you to consider knocking on doors for Gabe and/or “give $30 for District 3.” Visit the campaign website here.

For more information send email to Connie.

Gabe Vasquez for City Council, District 3

Gabe introduced himself and announced that he is running for City Council, District 3. He spoke about growing up in Ciudad Juarez and El Paso and learning English as a second language. After getting a degree from NMSU, Gabe worked as a business editor for the Las Cruces Bulletin. He is currently the southern New Mexico coordinator for the New Mexico Wildlife Federation. Visit Gabe’s campaign website here.

Also, check out this article Gabe wrote about the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument or this article Gabe wrote about New Mexico’s Hispanic heritage and protecting our public lands. (You can find more like these here.)

For more information send email to Gabe.

Mark your calendars for the ProgressNowNM Progressive Summit

Lucas Herndon announced that there is a date for this year’s Progressive Summit! There will be panel discussions, breakout sessions, and a great time had by all. Don’t miss it. Stay tuned for even more details to follow.

ProgressNowNM Progressive Summit
Saturday, July 15, time TBD
Dona Ana Community College, East Mesa Branch

For more information visit the Facebook page, or send email to Lucas.

Southern NM New Progressives have been busy!

Vice-Chair of the SNMNP, Antoinette Reyes, wanted to emphasize that the group has been active! For example, here are some of the things they’ve been up to: they co-sponsored the March for Science and the Climate March, they put on a candidate forum for the Dona Ana Soil and Water Conservation District election (which was televised and rebroadcast on KRWG), and they have had monthly meetings with specific themes such as protecting our public lands, immigration, and alternative economic systems. They will meet in June and the theme is transportation.

They invite you to get involved:

Southern New Mexico New Progressives – public meeting
Saturday, June 10, 2-4pm
Branigan Library, Roadrunner Room

For more information visit their Facebook page, or send email to Antoinette.

Why won’t City Council Pass this Resolution?

Vicki Gaubeca, from ACLU-NM, spoke about how ACLU-NM’s Regional Center for Border Rights is urging the Las Cruces City Council to pass a Welcoming Community and Freedom City Resolution. The Resolution “affirms our city’s commitment to protecting civil rights and public safety for everyone.” She said the Doña Ana County Commission, the Las Cruces Public Schools, the City of Santa Fe, and the City of Albuquerque have passed this resolution, and it’s supported by NM CAFé, Catholic Charities, and the Hope Border Institute. So, she asked, what’s stopping the Las Cruces City Council? She asks you to call your councilor and tell them to support the resolution. Read a Sun News article about this issue here.

For more information visit the Facebook page or send email to Brian Erickson.

Junt@s Vamos – Fundraising for Cancer Treatment

Charlotte Lipson spoke about Cristina Coronado Flores, who has founded Junt@s Vamos (“Together we go”), to help breast cancer patients in Juarez travel to Chihuahua or Mexico City for treatment. Cristina Coronado Flores is an activist and breast cancer survivor herself. Charlotte is hoping to help her get a 501c designation. If you would like to help or want to donate to the cause, make out to checks to Cristina Coronado Flores and put Junt@s Vamos on the memo line. Send checks to: 3808 Mondale Loop. Las Cruces, NM 88005-1000.

For more information send email to Charlotte.

Cockroaches will still probably outlast us all

Who will win the survival game, what with the rapid rate we’re destroying Earth, the glaciers melting, and certain political parties completely in denial? Will insects outlive humans or vice versa? Alice Anderson says you need to check out the May 12, 2017 issue of Science and read two very thought-provoking articles, which report on the disappearance of insects and glaciers shrinking:

  1. P. 576 Where have all the insects gone?
  2. P. 580 Say goodbye to glaciers.

For more information send email to Alice.

Winner in DASWCD Landslide Craig Fenske says Thank You!

Craig Fenske, who received 68% of the vote in his race for Zone 4 of the Doña Ana Soil and Water Conservation District, thanked people who came out and voted or spread the word about the election. He is excited to be a part of this important Board. On another note, he wanted to mention that he went to a rally for a mother who had been detained by ICE. Her son was there. Incidentally, so was the LCPS superintendent, who spoke to the son, publically. Dr. Ewing said, “You will be protected and safe at school. I am a big man. I will protect you.” Craig said he was very moved. Now so are we, Craig!

For more information send email to Craig.

Pink Power Training

Rafael Reyes, who is the Planned Parenthood organizer for Southern NM, announced they will be doing an Organizer Training Workshop on June 24, all day. For safety reasons, you will find out the location once you sign up for the event. You will learn valuable organizing skills, so don’t miss out.

Planned Parenthood Organizer Training
Saturday, June 24, all day

Visit their Facebook page here.

For more information and/or to sign up for the training send email to Rafael.

Conversations with Democrats

Merrie Lee Soules announced that the topic of May’s Conversations with Democrats will explore the economic impacts of “the Wall” on our southern border. Patrick Schaefer, Executive Director of the Hunt Institute for Global Competitiveness will be the conversation leader.

Conversations with Democrats – The Wall and Money: Who Wins and Who Loses
Saturday, May 27, 12:00pm
Branigan Library, Roadrunner Room

For more information send email to Merrie Lee.

Renewable Energy Talk and a Free Buffet Dinner – how can you say no?

Steve Fischmann announced a fun upcoming event where you can help plan for 100% clean, cheap, renewable energy in Doña Ana County (plus, did he mention a free buffet dinner is involved?) The event invitation asks, “Are you tired of paying for expensive fossil fuel energy when we could have clean renewable energy for much less?” If so, then this is the event for you.

Mariel Nanasi of New Energy Economy, County Commissioner Billy Garrett, and Energy Advocate Merrie Lee Soules will lay out the issues in a panel discussion, and breakout groups will help develop an action plan specifically for our community.

If you want an active role in charting our energy future, this is the place to be! 

Renewable Energy: The Urgency of Now
The Launch for the 100% Renewables and a Just Transition Campaign
Tuesday, June 6, 5:30 pm
Good Samaritan, arts and crafts room
3025 Terrace Drive, Las Cruces

For more information check out the Facebook event page or send email to Steve.

DASWCD Winner Kevin Bixby wanted to say Thank You… and the Work Starts Now

Kevin Bixby, who received 65% of the vote in his race for Zone 3 of the Doña Ana Soil and Water Conservation District, thanked people who came out and voted or spread the word about the election. He hopes to get a public comment section added to the meetings. He has many ideas and needs your help to keep the DASWCD working for the people and for the good of the environment. So, stay involved and stay informed!

For more information send email to Kevin.

Iranian Americans to meet with Congressman Pearce

Do you oppose the “Muslim Ban?” If you do, Ali Scotten would like you to email him. Ali and a group of Iranian Americans will be meeting with Congressman Pearce to ask him to co-sponsor a bill focused on rescinding the Muslim Ban. On the day that they do this (which is TBD), Ali would like to flood the Congressman’s office with phone calls; you would say, “I am your constituent, I do not support a Muslim Ban, and I want you to co-sponsor a bill to rescind it.” Ali will let you know the day to contact Rep. Pearce.

For more information send email to Ali.

Filmmaker brings his film to UU Church

Elisa Sanchez announced that Unitarian Universalist Church in cooperation with Border Peace Presence, Pax Christi El Paso, and Veterans for Peace will be showing the film “Thirty Seconds to Midnight: The Final Wake-Up Call” by filmmaker Regis Tremblay.  The filmmaker will be at the showing and available afterwards for Q & A.

The event invite states: “Mr. Tremblay boldly states that humanity is on the brink of extinction. Nuclear power is not safe.  48 of America’s nuclear power plants are leaking and there is no way to get rid of nuclear waste. Climate change and global warming, if not mitigated immediately, will end the human experiment on earth sooner rather than later. This shocking documentary traces U.S. genocides, military interventions and wars from the 15th century to the very present. American Exceptionalism, Manifest Destiny, and the right to claim the earth and its resources as their own are the foundational beliefs that has humanity on the brink of extinction. The showing is free, donations are accepted to offset the filmmaker’s travel expenses, and time to speak with Regis Tremblay will follow the film.”

Tuesday, May 30, 2017, 7:00pm
Library of the Unitarian Universalist Church
2000 S. Solano, Las Cruces

For more information send email to Elisa.

Juneteenth Banquet

Joy Goldbaum announced the NAACP’s annual Juneteenth Dinner. County Commissioner Billy Garrett will speak on the theme of “Steadfast and Unmoveable.” 

“Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States.  Dating back to 1865, it was on June 19th that the Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free. Note that this was two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation – which had become official January 1, 1863…” (http://www.juneteenth.com/history.htm)

NAACP Juneteenth Dinner
Thursday, June 15, 2017, 6:00pm
Tickets are $50
Hotel Encanto

Checks made payable to Doña Ana County NAACP should be mailed to P.O. Box 1796, Las Cruces, NM 88004.

Joy also suggests you consider joining the NAACP! Check out the Dona Ana NAACP website here.

For more information send email to Joy.

No cuts to global education. Period.

Rich Renner is the local representative for Results, an organization focused on ending poverty. He spoke about the 263 million children who are out of school globally. Here is the action alert from Results:

Media Action: Tell Congress to Protect Global Education
Congress must say no to these devastating cuts!

The White House just released a national budget that includes extreme, unprecedented cuts to foreign aid. It spells bad news for the fight against global poverty.

But Congress holds the purse strings, and they make the final decision on our budget. Congress must say no to these cuts. They urgently need to hear from you!

It’s not an exaggeration to say millions of futures are at risk. One of the many things on the chopping block is the chance for millions of children to achieve their dream of, and right to, an education. A staggering 263 million children and youth are out of school globally. The White House’s response: eliminate the main account funding education. We need these appalling cuts to make headlines.

Take a few minutes to write a letter to the editor, then encourage your friends and family to write their own.

Together we can stop this – but only if we act now!

Rich asked that you contact Senators Udall and Heinrich and Rep. Pearce and urge “continued strong US leadership on global education via support for the Global Fund for Education.”

Senator Tom Udall
Senator Martin Heinrich
Representative Steve Pearce

For more information send email to Rich.

PVA Meets Again
Thursday, June 22, 7 p.m.
Munson Center
(followed by the annual PVA Party!)

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