The August meeting opened with a review of the idea behind the PVA Unified Action, which is the one coordinated political action (usually a letter or email sent to an elected official) which participants take each month. It has been highly effective. For more about the Unified Action, including how to participate, click here.
Diana Bustamante, Veronica Carmona, and Bri Hines reported on last month’s Unified Action, in which over 75 PVAers called Secretary Ron Curry of the New Mexico Environment Department, asking him to deny a permit for a large industrial waste facility in the community of Chaparral. Diana, Veronica, and Bri reported that, thanks to community pressure, the landfill company has agreed to locate the facility over 3 miles away from the nearest homes in the community. While thanking us for our contributions to this great victory, they cautioned us that the waste assault on communities in Southern New Mexico continues, especially with a large landfill proposed for Sunland Park. They will keep advocating for local communities and will keep us posted about their progress.
Nathan Small of the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance presented this month’s Unified Action, which involves emailing or calling five local officials who have supported the Citizens’ Wilderness Proposal in the past, but who are now receiving great pressure to back away from their commitment to wilderness. To participate, click here.
Roots and Shoots
Former Land Commissioner Ray Powell came from Albuquerque to tell us about Roots and Shoots, the program started by Jane Goodall to inspire young people around the globe to plan and implement community-based projects that help people, animals, and the environment. To find out more about this remarkable project visit the organization’s Web site at http://www.rootsandshoots.org or email Ray.
Domenici—Don’t Dim Our Future
Shrayas Jatkar of the Sierra Club visited from Albuquerque to kick off the Las Cruces phase of the “Domenici—Don’t Dim Our Future” campaign, which calls on Senator Domenici to support national renewable energy standards, which he has almost single-handedly helped defeat in Congress in the past. Shrayas provided yard signs and bumper stickers to support the project. For more information go to the Sierra Club’s Web site for the Don’t Dim campaign or send email to Shrayas.
Global Nuclear Energy Partnership
Vic Blair visited from Roswell to talk about the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership, which is seeking to build a facility to reprocess spent fuel rods from nuclear power plants. Two of the eleven sites being considered are in Southeastern New Mexico, and in the meantime, Southeastern New Mexico is being considered for a long-term storage facility for spent nuclear fuel. There are a wide variety of safety problems associated with a large number of shipments coming through our community. For more information email Vic or visit the GNEP Web site.
Labor Day Breakfast
Gayle Radom invited everyone to what is always one of the premier political events of the year, the Labor Day Breakfast sponsored by the Democratic Party of Doña Ana County. Four hundred people are expected on Monday, September 3, at 9 am at the Ramada Palms de Las Cruces (the former Holiday Inn) to honor labor and to hear keynote speaker, Attorney General Gary King.
Criminal Justice Task Force
Al Kissling outlined the continuing good work of the Criminal Justice Task Force, which is focusing on intelligent solutions to the “incarceration binge” our society has been involved in over recent years. The next meeting of the task force will be on Tuesday, August 28; for more information, email Al.
Microcredit Lending Bank
Connie Richardson announced that all is proceeding well in the establishment of the PVA’s own “Our Village Bank” in Malawi, and in a few months the first loans will be made to village-level entrepreneurs. Investors in the village bank should receive an acknowledgement by September 1. If you do not receive an acknowledgement or if you would like more information, email Connie.
Mexican Gray Wolf
Jean Ossorio updated us on the status of the Mexican Wolf restoration project. Governor Richardson recently weighed in on behalf of the project. Jean announced a great opportunity to go out for a day with wolf biologist Ellen Heilhecker of the New Mexico Game and Fish Department as she tracks and monitors wolves in the wild. The cost is $74 if you are a lucky winner. The application fee is $6. Participants will be selected by lottery, and all details are available at the NM Fish and Game Web site. Hurry, though, because the deadline for applying is August 27! For more information, you can also email Jean.
Las Cruces Planning and Zoning Commission
Charlie Sholz announced that city Planning and Zoning Commission meetings will be televised on Comcast Channel 5, the local government affairs channel, beginning in September. Charlie urged our continued participation in city planning activities via the P&Z Commission, and announced that the next meeting will be at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, August 28, in the City Council chambers. For more information, email Charlie.
Organizing at Albertson’s
Matt Russow of the United Food and Commercial Workers union asked for our support in their efforts to gain union representation for workers at the Albertson’s store on Telshor and Lohman. He passed out petitions which we could ask friends and family to sign, and which will be sent to Albertson’s management, showing community support for union representation at that store. Matt encouraged us to shop at the Albertson’s on Lohman and let the workers there know that we hope they will support the union when they vote on September 13. Workers at the Albertson’s on El Paseo and Idaho are already represented by the UFCW. If you took petitions and would like to return them when you’ve gotten signatures, or if you would like more information, email Matt.
Southwest Environmental Center—Save this Date!
Bri Hines announced that the annual fundraiser for the Southwest Environmental Center will be held on Saturday, September 29, starting at 6 p.m. on the downtown mall. This delightful event will feature food from a variety of Las Cruces restaurants, locally produced beer and wine, music, dancing, and much more. Tickets are $45 in advance and $50 at the door and are available from Bri at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SWEC is also auctioning off a brand new Prius hybrid car, with the drawing scheduled for the night of the fundraiser. Tickets are $100 and only 350 will be sold, so one of us has a great chance of driving off in a brand new Prius. Raffle tickets are also available from Bri.
SWEC has been doing good work for all of us for many years, and this is the time of year when we get to step up and contribute, while having a great evening out with friends. See you there!
Kissling for Congress
Jane Asche reported on progress by the Al Kissling for Congress campaign, which will host a gathering of Al’s friends and supporters on Sunday, September 9, from 2 to 6 p.m. For information, email Jane.
Quality Growth Alliance
Bob Hearn reported on the activities of the Quality Growth Alliance, which came into being in response to the East Mesa annexations and has formed into a solid, active group promoting sensible growth principles in Doña Ana County. The group is nonpartisan and intends to be deeply involved in Vision 2040, the new process underway to develop a city-county comprehensive plan over the next two years. For more information, email Bob.
Mary Lujan reported on the recent meeting of the Democratic Women of Doña Ana County, where 50 women gathered for a brunch at the Farm and Ranch museum, ever mindful of the principle that “When women vote, Democrats win.” The state convention of Democratic Women of New Mexico will be held October 27 in Albuquerque, and the national meeting will also be held in Albuquerque in May 2008, where Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have already agreed to speak. For more information, email Mary.
Consideration of Animal Rights
Win Jacobs reminded us of the importance of treating animals well, specifically the dogs and cats who share our lives. A special tragedy is the fate of surplus and abandoned pets, and Win has information on a wide variety of programs designed to address the problem, including reduced-cost spay and neutering. For more information, email Win.
A Role for County Residents in Municipal Elections
Steve Fischmann reminded us that city decisions affect county residents, who need to be deeply involved in the upcoming Las Cruces municipal elections. Steve has stepped up to coordinate volunteer participation by county residents in municipal campaigns. To participate or for more information, email Steve.
Safe and Sane Fireworks
Bill Corbett reported that the Doña Ana County Commission voted to draft a Safe and Sane Fireworks ordinance in response to a heavy outpouring of support for the measure at their August 14 meeting. The question now is whether there will be exemptions for year-round vendors, and Bill asked us to urge our commissioners to go ahead with an all-encompassing ordinance, covering year-round vendors as well. For more information, email Bill.
Candidates in Las Cruces Elections
There was an enthusiastic outpouring of support for the Las Cruces municipal candidates who came to the PVA meeting to introduce themselves and to ask for our support as we move toward the November 6 elections. They included:
(Remember that the PVA is nonpartisan and does not endorse candidates or specific issues. We appreciate the willingness of candidates and elected officials to step forward and work for our common good. All candidates and elected officials, of whatever party or viewpoint, are welcome at the PVA, and welcome to talk with us and to solicit support.)
Chris Hines announced that Rebekah Garcia-Burton is the winner of this year’s PVA Scholarship for study at New Mexico State. Rebecca is also the Chair of the College Democrats at NMSU. Special thanks to Bri Hines for her hard work and creativity in establishing the PVA Scholarship and securing its funding.
A Special Birthday
Jon Hunner announced that the next day (August 24) was J. Paul Taylor’s birthday, and a rousing chorus of “Happy Birthday” ensued.
PVA Lunch Bunch
Zell Cantrell announced the next gathering of the PVA Lunch Bunch, which meets once a month for lunch and progressive conversation. The next lunch will be at 11 a.m. on Thursday, August 30 at the International Delights restaurant in the shopping center at Idaho and El Paseo. For more information, email Zell.
Janet Darrow announced that the 2007 New Mexico Bioneers Conference will be held in Santa Fe from October 19-21. The Bioneers movement seeks to create a place for New Mexico communities and organizations to connect, collaborate, and create cross-community support for the pressing issues we face in the state. For more information on this great conference visit the conference Web site or email Janet.
Dog Park Success
Ellen Mangan reported that the Dog Park Coalition, launched by Ellen at a PVA meeting a year and a half ago, has been successful in establishing a Dog Park for Las Cruces, which will be located near Meersheidt Center. Thanks to the coalition’s hard work, the signatures of 3,000 citizens, and capital outlay money from state legislators Mary Jane Garcia, Joni Gutierrez, and Jeff Steinborn, the park will be a reality in the very near future. For more information, email Melanie Brooks.
The next PVA meeting will be