PVA Meeting Recap – April 22, 2010

School-Community Gardens

City Councilor Olga Pedroza reported on the progress of school-community gardens in her district. The public schools, NMSU, and community groups are working together to create gardens at Lynn, Sierra, Hermosa Heights, and Conlee Schools. They have completed needs and desires interviews at the schools and are now ready to hire a paid coordinator, develop curriculum, and recruit community volunteers.

Councilor Pedroza emphasized the need for community volunteers to be involved in all aspects of the project from digging to grant writing. She invited interested people to contact her by email.

Unified Action Update—Otero Mesa

Cheryl Frank, PVA’s Unified Action coordinator, reported that 55 people called Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, asking that Otero Mesa be declared a National Monument. Jason Burke, the action sponsor, reported that no decision has been made on National Monuments and Otero Mesa is still in the running. Details for this Unified Action details are here.

For more information send email to Cheryl or Jason.

April Unified Action—Finish Main Street Downtown

Cindi Fargo of the Las Cruces Downtown Partnership introduced the April Unified Action. The goal is to let our city councilors know that citizens support the completion of the downtown revitalization project. Full details and background information for this Unified Action are here.

For more information send email to Cindi or call here at 575-525-1955.

“Green Shift” for Las Cruces

Al McBrayer reported that the single stream recycling center at Sam’s Club is now taking in 80 tons of garbage per week (up from 30 tons before single stream). Curbside recycling is getting ever closer to a reality; officials are currently reviewing bids and evaluating three curbside container choices.

The Sun-News has begun publishing a Recycling Connection column every Wednesday written by Suzanne Michaels of the South Central solid Waste Authority.

For more information send email to Al.

Green Chamber of Commerce

Gary Camuñez announced that the Las Cruces Green Chamber of Commerce’s Green Chamber’s First Friday lunch series continues on May 7, noon to 1 p.m. at La Fuente restaurant. Topics of discussion will be arts-based developmnet in southern New Mexico and commuter bus lines running between college campuses and local neighborhoods. For information or to reserve your place, call Connie Falk at 575-527-1534.

Gary also announced a plant giveaway on Sunday, April 25, from noon to 4 p.m. (or until all the plants are gone). The giveaway will be held at the community garden at Spruce and San Pedro. Las Esperanzas, Inc. and Local Solutions/Las Cruces are sponsoring this event. If you have donations (seeds, seedlings, garden supplies), they will be distributed to community garden projects.

For more information send email to Gary or call him at 561-702-3772.

Volunteers for Billy Garrett

Pat Aguirre, volunteer coordinator for Billy Garret, invited people to join the hard-working campaign. She was looking for people to canvass, write endorsement letters, and display yard signs.

For more information send email to Pat.

Kudos for the McBrayers and Rep. Steinborn

Al and Terri McBrayer have been named recycling activists of the year by the New Mexico Recycling Coalition. The group named Rep. Jeff Steinborn recycling legislator of the year. Awards will be presented at the state convention in Albuquerque, June 22 and 23.

For more information visit NM Recycling Coalition on the Web.

WellPoint, Healthcare, and Rep. Teague

Steve Fischmann, New Mexico state senator, recalled that after Representative Teague voted against the Affordable Care Act, he justified his “no”  vote by saying that the bill didn’t do enough. Steve suggested that now would be a good time to hold Teague accountable, and to ask him what steps he will support to prevent insurance company abuses such as the practices of WellPoint. This huge insurance company flags policy holders when they are diagnosed with breast cancer and begins a search for cause, however flimsy, to rescind the person’s health insurance coverage. (Reuters’ coverage of the WellPoint story is here.)

For more information send email to Senator Fischmann.

Joel Cano for Magistrate Judge

Joel Cano asked for support as he runs for Magistrate Judge, Division 6. He stressed his 22 years’ experience with the Las Cruces Police Department, where he successfully fulfilled a wide range of jobs. He welcomed all volunteers to help with his campaign and noted that he has two opponents in the primary election June 1.

For more information visit the campaign Web site, CanoForJudge.com, and look for Joel on Facebook.

Rep. Teague’s Agenda

Ginette Magaña of Congressman Harry Teague’s Las Cruces office brought news of the congressman’s priorities. He has passed the Energy Jobs for Vets Act, celebrated Earth Day, voted for the cap and trade bill that promotes clean energy, and passed the Energy Jobs for Vets Act. Biofuels Digest has named him to the top ten list of those in U.S. government who “walk the walk” when it comes to renewables and bioenergy.

For more information send email to Ginette or call her at 575-649-6430.

Operation Free

Chuck Tyler of Operation Free described this national group’s work to employ veterans in renewable energy jobs. He spelled out the threat to national security posed by our reliance on foreign oil and made clear how veterans are in a unique position to appreciate the link between national security and clean energy.

For more information visit Operation Free on the Web or send email to Chuck.

Where Have All the Charismatic Megafauna Gone?

Alice Anderson recommended Steve Nicholl’s latest book, Paradise Found: Nature in America at the Time of Discovery. The book chronicles the amazing abundance and diversity of flora and fauna in America at the time of the European’s arrival and offers a path to repair some of the damage that we have done.

The book, published by the University of Chicago Press in 2009, has gotten positive reviews and is available at Branigan Library. You can read an excerpt here. The Washington Post review is here.

Bill McCamley for PRC, District 5

Bill McCamley had two pieces of good news: 1) he is the only Democrat running for the Public Regulation Commission, District 5, in the June 1 primary and 2) he has qualified for public funding.

He acknowledged the widespread disappointment in Rep. Teague’s “no” vote on health care and  urged us to keep in mind that Teague has been “great” on energy, veterans’ issues, and transportation. He suggested that PVA invite Teague to speak and participate in a Q and A session.

For more information send email to Bill or call him at 575-496-5731.

A Shout Out for McCamley

Leonor Delgado observed Bill McCamley’s monitoring of the election in the newly incorporated city of Anthony. It was a long day with no breaks, and she declared that Bill did a first rate job.

For more information send email to Leonor.

Voter Protection Needs You

Gerald Gammel spoke of the importance of having fair and well-qualified poll workers and poll watchers. He urged all who are able to join the Voter Protection cadre which is now headed up by Leonor Delgado and Marci Beyer.

For more information send email to Gerald.

Health Security Act

Of the Affordable Care Act, Maury Castro observed, “It’s not a panacea, but it’s a heck of a milestone.” He went on to speak in favor of the Health Security for New Mexicans Campaign and suggested it should be considered as a cost-effective alternative to the insurance exchanges that states will be required to establish under the new health care law.

For more information send email to Maury or call him at 575-541-6099.

Democratic Women at Work

Terri McBrayer announced that the next meeting of the Democratic Women of Doña Ana County will be held Saturday, May 1, 10 a.m., at the Farm and Ranch Museum. The group publishes an email newsletter every Monday and will include announcements from Democratic candidates who need volunteers or have events to publicize.

For more information call Terri McBrayer at 575-541-9667.

Judge Linda Vanzi for NM Court of Appeals

Judge Vanzi asked for our support as she runs for election to the New Mexico Court of Appeals. She was appointed to the court in 2008 and has served for 14 months. More information about her experience and qualifications is available on the Web at VoteVanzi.com/.

For more information send email to Judge Vanzi or call her at 505-264-9413.

Richard Silva for Magistrate Judge, Div. 4

Judge Silva asked for our support as he runs for re-election, noting that he has six years experience in the magistrate court and he enjoys the work. He faces one Democratic opponent in the primary election June 1.

For more information send email to Judge Silva or call him at 575-524-2814.

Health Security Strategy Meeting

Martha Stephens announced a meeting on Saturday, April 24, to find ways to build support for the Health Security Act in our part of the state as well as ways to monitor and lobby our legislators and insure that they support the act.

For more information send email to Martha.

Lawrence Rael for Lt. Gov.

Lawrence Rael, in his fourth visit to PVA, summarized his record of service and invited all to read a position paper in Democracy for New Mexico, which points out his work for progressive values including education, the environment, and civil rights.

For more information visit Lawrence on the Web.

The Tea Party Invites a Liberal

Bob Diven recounted his adventures at the April 15 tax day celebration, where Tea Partiers lined up to discuss the issues with him. Bob’s reflections on the experience are on YouTube–titled “Tea Party Bob”.

Sermons, cartoons, book reviews, lapel pins, and more are on the Web at the Church of Bob.

Support Arturo Uribe

Anita Allen announced her intention to picket in support of Arturo Uribe, a Mesquite community activist who is appealing a jury verdict in favor of Helena Chemical. Arturo has been protesting the chemical company’s violations of air quality laws and pollution of ground water. Anita invited others to meet and plan with her.

For more information send email to Anita Allen.

Chris Salas for Brian Colón for Lt. Gov.

Chris Salas, staffer for Brian Colón’s campaign, announced that Brian will be in Las Cruces Saturday, April 24, for several events including breakfast at Ono Grindz. He noted that Brian had recently received endorsements from AFSCME (American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees) and IBEW (International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers). He referred to allegations of push-polling and stated that Colón’s campaign had never and would never engage in the practice.

For more information visit http://www.electcolon.com/.

Amigos de los Robledos

Cathie Leslie of Amigos de los Robledos spoke of the group’s continuing efforts to stop the construction of a wastewater treatment plant near the Rio Grande. She noted that Representative Steinborn has been extremely helpful to the group. Their Web site, NoSewer.WordPress.com, has maps, background information, and a calendar of coming events.

For more information send email to Cathie.

Speak Up for a Vibrant Downtown

Don Kurtz spoke in support of this month’s Unified Action. He explained that the city council will meet soon to prioritize projects for the next two years. “A vibrant community needs a vibrant downtown,” he said and asked that we let the council know that the completion of the downtown revitalization is important.

For more information send email to Don.

We Need SWEC, SWEC Needs Us

Elizabeth Dunning of SWEC (Southwest Environmental Center) reported that the organization depends on member donations and, in the current economy, member donations are substantially down. She reminded us of the work that SWEC does to protect endangered species, the river, and the Otero Mesa. She asked that we remember to give.

For more information send email to Elizabeth.

Billy Garrett For County Commission, District 1

Billy reported that he has been talking to citizens throughout District 1 and finding that “people do care about this place.” He is hearing from people who want good government, protection for the environment, and protection for those in the most need. Billy reminded us that 40 days remain before the primary election and said that his campaign needs and welcomes volunteers.
For more information send email to Billy, call him at 575-915-5755, or visit him on the Web.

Judge Mannie Arrieta

Judge Arrieta explained that judges may seem “bland and boring” because they are prohibited from campaigning about specific issues or soliciting money. Even so, he was far from boring as he asked us for our support in retaining him on the District Court bench.

For more information send email to Judge Arrieta.

Rep. Joseph Cervantes

Rep. Cervantes called the recent 2010 legislative session “disappointing” and expressed deep concerns about the cuts to public education and the teaching positions that will be lost. “The damage we’re doing is irreparable,” he said. He ended by citing a few of the positive accomplishments of the session–open conference meetings, anti-fraud measures, voter protection improvements, and the $10 million annual allocation for colonias.

For more information send email to Rep. Cervantes.

First Ever Onion Festival

Sandy Katayanagi announced the first ever Mesilla Valley Onion Festival which will be held April 24 and 25. The festival is put on by students at Doña Ana Community College

For more information visit the Onion Festival Web site (which includes dozens of onion recipes from professional and student chefs) or send email to Sandy.

Voter Protection

“I’m here to promote good voters,” Diane Lilley said and spoke of the urgent need for able, responsible people to volunteer for voter protection, whether as poll workers or watchers. She pointed out that this is a redistricting year and therefore even more important than usual to elect the best candidates. She urged us to get our friends to the polls.

For more information send email to Diane.

Remembering Kent State and Jackson State After 40 Years

Jason Burke announced his intention to honor the fortieth anniversary of the Kent State and Jackson State massacres and invited like-minded people to join with him to plan a commemoration. May 4 is the anniversary day.

For more information send email to Jason.

Still Time to Win That 2010 Prius

Ella Nelson announced that SWEC has Toyota Prius raffle tickets for sale. The tickets are $100 each, but only 400 tickets will be sold. She said that SWEC is the only local nonprofit and that every penny of proceeds from the raffle will stay in Las Cruces.

For more information send email to Ella.

Our next meeting will be
May 27, 2010, 7 p.m.
Munson Senior Center, 975 S. Mesquite

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