Minimum Wage Debate Still Unsettled
Sixteen months ago, the leaders of New Mexico Communities in Action and Faith (CAFé) made a decision to work towards increasing the minimum wage for workers within the City of Las Cruces. If the City Council would not increase the minimum wage (to at least $10.10 by 2017), then the CAFé staff wanted the question put to the voters in the 2014 general election. In order to put the question on the ballot, CAFé organized the gathering of 6,000 signatures in 30 days. (They needed 2,257 valid signatures.) On August 5, City Council approved the certification of the necessary signatures.
Things then took a strange turn. On September 8, three city councilors (Silva, Smith, and Levatino) plus the mayor (in spite of their earlier objection to increasing the minimum wage) voted to raise the minimum wage thereby keeping the question off the November ballot. Three of the city councilors (Pedroza, Small, and Sorg) voted against this ordinance, so that the question would be on the ballot and go to the voters.
The newest ordinance passed by the City Council would raise the wage to $10.10 per hour (as well as raise the wage for tipped workers) in a three-stage process beginning in January 2015. However, before the meeting was over, Pete Connelly, city attorney, assured city councilors and the mayor that the new ordinance would have to be “reconciled” with the previous ordinance passed in June. Read more about that here.
CAFé Director Sarah Nolan spoke about the motivation behind her organization’s ballot initiative. “Our motivation has always been equality, justice, and opportunity. We seek to show people that their city believes that they matter. What are the barriers we face? There is no vote [on minimum wage] now. But there is still an election. CAFé intends to turnout every voter who signed the petition.”
Sarah emphasized that taking away the question on the ballot means the voters have no voice and have been disenfranchised by the City Council. That is why CAFé will still work to get out the vote and protect the increased minimum wage ordinance as it was written. CAFé has retained a lawyer to make sure the Council follows the law and keeps the “spirit of the ordinance intact.”
Journalist, blogger, and lawyer Peter Goodman has researched the concept of reconciliation. He said that reconciliation is generally for courts, but if the City Council wants to use this flimsy excuse, then it’s not complex. According to Peter’s research, it’s written in black and white: the later-enacted statute governs and stands.
Former State Senator Steve Fischmann praised CAFé’s efforts. “This was not an easy thing to do,” he said. “These [ballot initiatives] aren’t done every day and it’s a difficult process. Plus, minimum wage is a controversial issue.” He said that raising the minimum wage is popular among voters. The Council did not want it to come to a public vote and he is disappointed in the city councilors who deliberately stopped the process of democracy. “This is a violation of public trust,” Steve said. “We have abandoned civil government. Put it to a vote. CAFé played by the rules. City council did not.”
September Unified Action
The upcoming general election is crucial to determining the kind of state and country we will live in for at least the next 2 years. Our personal involvement with political campaigns can make a big difference in state and local elections.
Candidates and campaigns need help to get their message out, so this month we are asking you to:
1. volunteer time for a candidate or campaign-related activity, and/or
2. make a contribution to a candidate of your choice
Complete information about this unified action is here.
Magistrate Court Judge Kent Wingenroth Thanks PVA
Judge Kent Wingenroth is running for reelection, and while he is unopposed, he still wanted to come to PVA and say hello and talk about his role in our community. He was appointed in 2006 and said it’s been a true honor to serve the people. He said his job is to protect everyone’s rights, to listen, to communicate, and to apply the law.
For more information send an email to Kent.
Kerry Kiernan for NM Court of Appeals
Candidate for New Mexico Court of Appeals, Kerry Kiernan, said he’s been a practicing lawyer for 32 years. He believes judges should focus on quick and fair resolutions, and he is mindful that judges make life-altering decisions. He explained that his opponent was appointed by Governor Martinez in 2011 but then lost his election in 2012 to Monica Zamora. When another judge retired, Governor Martinez again appointed Kerry’s opponent. You can read more about Kerry Kiernan on his website.
For more information send an email to Kerry or call 505-750-2469.
Integrity Is the Name of the Game at CAFé
Offended by the attacks on community organization CAFé at a recent City Council meeting, Rich Ferrary said that Sarah Nolan, CAFé director, epitomizes integrity. Rich and his wife Joanne worked for CAFé for a few years, lobbying in Santa Fe on behalf of the minimum wage campaign. However, when Joanne set out to run for office, Sarah said they would have to separate themselves from CAFé, since CAFé is non-partisan. Rich respects Sarah for protecting the goals of CAFé and objects to the attacks launched at the organization. They are a great organization, he said, worthy of respect.
For more information send an email to Rich.
Into the Mind of Bob Diven
If you get the Las Cruces Sun-News, you have probably seen editorial cartoons by Bob Diven. Bob talked about his process of creating these cartoons, how he tries to reflect on the actions of the policy makers and what those actions look like from the layperson’s perspective. Bob also mentioned that we might want to keep our eyes open for a large outdoor art installation near the Farm and Ranch Museum. We certainly will, Bob!
For more information send an email to Bob or call 575-642-7445.
Fundraiser for SWEC
Kevin Bixby announced that the Southwest Environmental Center will hold their annual fundraiser.
Saturday, September 27
6 to 10 p.m.
Main Street, between Las Cruces and Griggs
Food, beer, live music, dancing under the stars
“This event is an important source of funds for SWEC’s work to protect wildlife and wild places,” Kevin said. Among other things, SWEC works to protect Mexican wolves and the Otero Mesa. They will be working actively to ban coyote killing contests.
For more information send an email to Kevin or call 575-522-5552.
Voters to Decide Whether the Second Biggest City in NM Should Have Great Public Transportation
Sharon Shoemaker encouraged people to vote yes for transit on the upcoming general election ballot. She argued that public transportation makes a difference to all residents in our area because for every $1 invested in public transportation, a $3 to $4 economic benefit is generated for the community. People use public transportation to shop, get to medical care, get to work, visit family, go to college, etc. Sharon said it’s time for our city to have convenient and predictable public transportation, so get out and vote yes in November. Click here to get a bus schedule.
Click here to read Sherry Thomas’s guest column in the Las Cruces Bulletin: “Transportation tax vote makes good economics.”
For more information send an email to Sharon.
Ratepayer Advisory Committee Comes to Final Agreement With City
Ron Johnson, member of the Ratepayer Advisory Committee (RAC), announced that solid waste fees are now finalized. Whereas the city asked for a 30% increase for residential and small business customers, the RAC negotiated the increase down to 6%. You can see the full details of the plan here. (Click on Comprehensive Rate Stipulation-August 7, 2014.)
For more information send email to Ron.
Nelson Goodin for Magistrate Judge
Nelson Goodin, who is running for election to magistrate court, said the voters should consider his experience, integrity, and honesty when choosing their Division 1 magistrate judge. “Experience and integrity matter,” he said. He encouraged people to participate in the unified action and get behind a candidate.
For more information send an email to Nelson.
Demonstrations Planned to Support New Women’s Health Clinic
Jan Thompson said she couldn’t stand by and let the attacks on the new Whole Women’s Healthcare clinic go unanswered. She said she wants Las Cruces to know that “we welcome affordable, compassionate women’s healthcare that is teen and LGBTQ friendly, and that provides family planning and reproductive choice counseling and services.” She emphasized that demonstrations will be peaceful and positive.
To support the pro-choice demonstrations, go to 3900 E. Lohman (in front of Club Fitness and Dion’s Pizza):
Saturday, September 27, 1 p.m.
Saturday, October 4, 1 p.m.
3900 E. Lohman
For more information send an email to Jan.
Fundraising Events for Enrique “Kiki” Vigil: Car Shows and Country Music!
Paul Martinez announced two upcoming events to support candidate for sherriff Kiki Vigil:
Saturday, October 4
Car show: 4 to 6 p.m., Dinner/Dance 6 to 10 p.m.
$20 per person, food & live entertainment (Animmo Band & Rio Bonito Band)
2750 Old Farm Road, Mesilla, NM
Contact Melanie Altuna-Vigil 575-496-4020
Friday, October 17
Doors open at 6:30 p.mm, $20 per person
Country artist Terry Bullard performing
Ramada Palms, 201 E. University Ave.
For more information visit Kiki Vigil’s website.
Mariaelena Johnson for State Representative, District 53
Candidate for State House, Mariaelena Johnson, said her campaign is energized for the last 40 days before Election Day. However, Mariaelena needs help getting her message out to the voters, and the best way to help is to canvass or phone bank. Her district encompasses Chaparral, parts of the East Mesa, White Sands Missile Range, Holloman Air Force Base, and a small part of Alamogordo. She said she is ready to represent the people, and as an organizer, an educator, and a mother, she feels she is the best candidate to give a voice to the people of House District 53. To volunteer, call 575-618-7282 or visit her campaign website.
For more information send an email to Mariaelena.
Do You Have a Billy Garrett Bumper Sticker?
County Commissioner Billy Garrett, who is running for reelection (District 1), said the words of encouragement that he gets from supporters make a big difference during the campaign season. Billy spoke about the Regional Planning Initiative (click here for more about that) and said good changes take place because of “people, places, and politics.” Billy emphasized that we need thoughtful leadership to drive positive change, which is why he’s running for reelection and why he hopes Beth Bardwell will be elected for District 3. Billy has an opponent in the general election and said he would appreciate any time people can spare to support his campaign, as well as help getting out the vote.
For more information send email to Billy or call 575-915-5755.
If You Have Some Free Time, Pat Aguirre Has Some Ideas for You
Pat Aguirre is the field coordinator for County Commission candidate Beth Bardwell. Pat said she is looking for volunteers to help canvass. If you can give 3 to 4 hours of your time, Pat would be very appreciative and it would make a big difference. Beth could not be at PVA because she was being honored at a “Women in Conservation” presentation given by Audubon New Mexico.
Pat also announced a Meet and Greet in support of Senate majority whip and candidate for State Auditor Tim Keller and candidate for State House Joanne Ferrary:
Monday, September 29, 6 to 7:30 p.m.
At the home of John and Pat Aguirre
3508 Saddle Rock Rd, Las Cruces
Suggested contributions: guest $25, supporter $100, host $250
For more information send an email to Pat.
Judge Lisa Schultz for District Court Judge
District Court Judge Lisa Schultz asked people to vote yes to retain her so that she can continue serving the community. She is proud of the work she has done in the last eight years and hopes to continue. For example, she raised the issue of women being patted down by men and had that process changed so that women were patted down by women. She says she will continue to stand up for people and fight for a just system.
For more information call Lisa at 575-640-1344.
Judge Conrad Perea for Magistrate Court Judge
Magistrate Court Judge Conrad Perea, who would appreciate your vote for retention, spoke about what is done at the magistrate court. He explained it is the “smaller court,” compared to district court. There are currently six judges in Dona Ana County (soon to be seven) and they handle approximately 40,000 cases per year. They take cases with a maximum claim of $10,000. These judges also handle traffic cases, DWI cases, domestic violence cases, and misdemeanors.
For more information send an email to Conrad.
Eight Ways to Help State Representative Candidate Joanne Ferrary
When Joanne Ferrary, who is running for State Representative in District 37, is asked about economic development, she says southern New Mexico can do the following: among other things, increase the minimum wage, expand transit, improve education (with better teacher salaries and early childhood education), and get innovative companies to invest in the area–such as companies that deal with solar/wind/geothermal energy.
Joanne has a close race and would appreciate any help on her campaign. She listed eight ways to help her. Eight is the theme, since Joanne lost by eight votes in 2012. (1) You can tell eight friends to vote for Joanne, (2) recruit friends and neighbors to volunteer, (3) sign up for as many volunteer shifts as you can, (4) canvass your neighborhood if you live in her district, (5) write a letter to the editor, (6) register voters, (7) sign up to get out the early vote (GOTV) in October, and (8) dedicate time on Election Day to help get out the vote for Joanne. To volunteer, email or call: firstname.lastname@example.org or 575-635-0324.
For more information send an email to Joanne.
Fundraiser for Conservation Voters New Mexico
Theresa Westbrock announced a fundraiser for CVNM, “the premier lobbying group in New Mexico for issues impacting the environment and natural resources.” CVNM puts out the Legislative Scorecard every year and is a credible organization that all the legislators are familiar with. Enjoy good people, and good food and beer, for a good cause.
Friday, September 26, 5 p.m.
At the home of Steve Fischmann & Sandy Katayanagi
4848 Deadwood Camp Court, Las Cruces
$250 Champion, $100 Hero, $50 Ally, $35 Friend
For more information send an email to Theresa.
ACLU-NM Praises County Commission Resolution
Cynthia Pompa, ACLU-NM field organizer, said, “Good news! Our Doña Ana County Commission passed a bipartisan, unanimous resolution called “Safe Community for All Residents” stating that “routine enforcement of immigration law is not the job of county employees.” You can read more about the issue and the resolution here. This is a step in the right direction, Cynthia said, and explained that victims of crimes (such as domestic violence) are often afraid to notify the police out of fear of being profiled.
For more information send an email to Cynthia or call 575-572-0664.
ACLU-NM Contends Family Detention Is Wrong
ACLU-NM policy advocate, Brian Erickson, gave a report about the current state of family detention centers, notably the detention center in Artesia. He said the children are losing weight, they are ill, and they are depressed. The conditions are inhumane and this is not how to treat people who have come to the United States seeking protection and help. Brian recommended the following links to get more information:
Brian also announced the following event:
Convocation on Immigration and Humanitarian Migration
October 11, 5 p.m.
Annunciation House, 1003 San Antonio, El Paso
For more information send an email to Brian or call 575-572-0664.
Treasurers, Sheriffs, and Councilors … Oh My!
Peter Goodman said that we should look for a recall effort of County Treasurer David Gutierrez. You can read Peter’s blog about this issue here, where he lays out the full situation. Peter encouraged people to support Enrique “Kiki” Vigil for Sheriff; he was impressed that Vigil did not run with an undersheriff. Finally, Peter said that if a city councilor wants to display real integrity, then any city councilor with a clear conflict of interest in the minimum wage vote should abstain from further votes on the issue.
For more information visit Peter’s website.
Branigan Library’s Selection of Books About Abortion Is Limited
With the abortion issue currently making headlines in Las Cruces, Alice Anderson said that she wanted to read more about the issue in general. She was surprised to find that the library had very few books to choose from. She said books about abortion have been discontinued and that you have to ask for inter-library loans. Alice recommended the following:
Reagan, Leslie. (1997). When abortion was a crime. University of California Press.
Reiter, Jerry. (2000). Live from the gates of hell: An insider’s look at the anti-abortion movement. New York: Prometheus Books.
For more information send an email to Alice.
Judge Schultz Is Keeping Hope Alive
Anthony resident Carol Buschick said she was losing hope in government and in the system altogether, but knowing Judge Lisa Schultz has restored her faith. “Lisa inspires light and is full of positive energy,” Carol said. She hopes you will vote to retain Judge Schultz in the upcoming election, and she reminded everyone that she needs 57% of the vote to be retained.
For more information send an email to Carol.
One More Thing … About Four Things
Steve Fischmann had a final word about a few things:
- Vote for Judge Schultz – “She is courageous.”
- Vote for Joanne Ferrary, Billy Garrett, and Beth Bardwell – “They are the future and we must elect them.”
- Come to the CVNM event on September 26 (see above).
- Get out and vote!
For more information send an email to Steve.