PVA Meeting Recap – June 25, 2009

This Month’s Unified Action—A Good Agreement with El Paso Electric

The Citizens for Energy Awareness presented this month’s Unified Action which is to urge our city councilors to sign a good franchise agreement with El Paso Electric. Specifically, the agreement should have a duration of not more than 5 years (not 15 as the electric company wishes) and El Paso Electric should do everything possible to enable public buildings to install solar facilities.

There was a spirited discussion period as members explored the complexities of the franchise agreement.

To participate in this month’s Unified Action, click here. If you have questions, send email to Bob Hearn.

RePower New Mexico

Kai Schwartz of RePower America-New Mexico gave an overview of the organization’s work to  get clean energy legislation on the books. New Mexico is one of 30 states with grassroots organizers educating people about the multiple benefits of clean energy.

Kai noted that Harry Teague’s vote in the House is critical for the ACES (American Clean Energy and Security Act), commonly referred to as the “cap and trade” bill. She urged us to let Representative Teague know our opinions about the bill.

For more information about Repower New Mexico you can visit the Web site or send email to Kai or call her at 847-902-6862.

Note: on Friday, June 26, the clean energy bill passed the House of Representatives, with Representative Teague’s support.  Many environmental groups have urged that we call Rep. Teague to thank him, at 202-225-2365.

For more background on this key energy bill, Ron Brownstein has a piece in the National Journal that looks at the red state/blue state divide on this important issue. The NY Times has a great map showing where the aye and nay votes fell on the energy bill.

Results of May Unified Action

Nathan Small reported on the May Unified Action which involved asking our congressional delegates to support legislation to protect wilderness in Doña Ana County. He noted that Senator Bingaman’s staff is currently meeting with all the stakeholders and working hard on the final details of legislation that is expected to be ready this summer. Senator Udall and Representative Teague noticed a definite surge in citizen feedback about wilderness.

It’s not too late to participate in this action. Details are here.

Unified Action Overview and Update

Don Kurtz gave a brief history of the PVA Unified Action and the role it has played in progressive change in our area. The Unified Action traditionally has involved having participants sign a “pledge” to participate each month unless they disagreed with the Action morally or politically, and to send an “I did it” when they completed the Action. When these practices were abandoned, participation fell off dramatically.

SO: we’re going back to the Unified Action sign up and to our request for “I did it’s” when you’ve completed the Action. Fifty people signed cards recommitting to the Unified Action, and new Unified Action coordinator Cheryl Frank will track the responses and contact participants regularly.

For a list of PVA Unified Actions over the past 4 years, go to the Unified Action archive. To sign up as a participant in the monthly Unified Action, and to receive a monthly Unified Action reminder, please send email to Cheryl Frank.

Democracy Now! for Las Cruces

Ann Gutierrez asked for signatures on a petition to bring Amy Goodman’s Democracy Now! radio news program to the lineup at KRWG. She will be presenting the petition in conjunction with the station’s next pledge drive. For more information, send email to Ann.

Picnic on July 4th

Greg Sowards invited everyone to attend an Independence Day picnic and march sponsored by the Las Cruces Tea Party. The picnic will be held at Young Park on Walnut Street beginning at 2 p.m. The march will take place at 4 p.m. For more information send email to lcnmTeaParty@yahoo.com.

Wolves—Help them while you vacation

Jean Ossorio reminded us that it’s time to go camping in wolf recovery country–the beautiful Gila and Apache National Forests. She explained that ranchers who graze their cattle on public lands are not required to clean up dead cattle. Scavenging on carcasses they did not kill lures wolves to areas with vulnerable livestock. If they kill domestic stock, they are at risk of being trapped or shot by the government. So! carry your camera and document livestock carcasses and wolf signs.

For information about which areas have wolves and where to camp and hike you can send email to Jean or call her at 575-644-7389. Visit the wolf Web site to keep fully informed about our most endangered mammal.

Obama-Las Cruces Connection/Organize for America

The Obama-Cruces Connection has planned many activities in the month of July to support health care reform. For more information, send email to Lloyd Covens.

Health Care Forum at Good Sam’s

The League of Women Voters is sponsoring a forum on health care reform to be held Wednesday, July 15, 6:30 p.m., at Good Samaritan Auditorium. John Ameriks, Vicki Simons, and Meade Kemrer will discuss the major health care reform bills that have been introduced in Congress. Their presentation will be followed by a question and answer period from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. For more information, send email to Vicki Simons or call her at 575-522-4813.


Al McBrayer announced some optimistic news for recycling in Las Cruces.

Starting in August, six Las Cruces public schools will participate in Waste In Place, a recycling curriculum for students in grades K-6 that teaches litter prevention, waste reduction, environmental stewardship, and more.

A big recycling celebration is planned for November 14.

A proposal to use all styrofoam serving trays and containers in school cafeterias will not be going forward.

For more information about recycling in Las Cruces, send email to Al.

Unions File Joint Suit

Donna Hill of AFSCME announced that the union has joined with three other unions representing state employees to file a suit against the state. The problem is that the New Mexico Legislature, in order to balance the budget, increased the amount that public employees must contribute to their own pensions and reduced the government’s contribution for the two years.

The Santa Fe New Mexican has an article about the lawsuit here. For more information, send email to Donna or call her at 575-640-2105.

Public Opinion

Jack Soules cited the polls showing strong public support for health care reform. He urged us to call our congressmen and let them know. Poll results can be read here.

Welcome to the White House

Vi Cauthon announced that she has a new morning routine—she writes a letter to President Obama while she drinks her first cup of coffee. Vi invited us to join her! Just click here (or Google “Welcome to the White House”) and let the president know what’s on your mind. Staff read all the the messages and select 10 each day to be read by the president.

Colonias Development Council

Verónica Carmona of the Colonias Development Council announced that Community Forums for Human Rights will be held in the month of July. The forums are the result of collaboration by a number of organizations including the ACLU, NMSU, the Mexican Consulate, and community groups in Chaparral, Vado, and Sunland Park.

Community When? Where?
Chaparral/Doña Ana July 18, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. 190 County Line Dr. Chaparral, NM
Sunland Park July 25, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. 102 Tierra Madre
Sunland Park, NM
Old Mesilla July 26, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Fountain Theatre, Mesilla, NM
Chaparral/Otero July  29, 6 to 8 p.m. To be confirmed
Vado Del Cerro August 1, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. 180 La Fe Ave. Vado, NM

For more information send email to Verónica or call her at 575-647-2744 ext. 1005.

Children in No Man’s Land

Children in No Man’s Land explores the plight of the 100,000 unaccompanied minors entering the United States every year. The film documents the journey of Maria de Jesus (13) and her cousin Rene (12) as they cross the U.S.-Mexico border and try to reunite with their mothers in the Midwest.

A panel discussion following the film will be led by Neil Harvey of the Department of Government at NMSU, Emily Carey of the ACLU’s Border Rights Project, and a representative from the Mexican Consulate.

The film will be shown at the Fountain Theatre in Mesilla on Sunday, July 26, at 11 a.m.

More Energy Info

Mark Westbrock noted that a popular criticism of sustainable energy is “rates will go up.” He urged us to take that criticism with a grain of salt, stating that there is a safeguard in place called Reasonable Cost Threshold (RCT). RCT guarantees that rates do not escalate too much in order for utilities to meet their state requirements. For example, currently the residential rate increase cannot exceed 1.6%, and El Paso Electric has projected a rate increase of only about three-quarters of 1 percent by 2011. The RCT increases by 0.2% per year until 2015, when it will top out at 3%. The RCT levels are set forth in NMAC 17.9.572.11.

A good resource for learning about RCT and incentives for renewable energy and energy efficiency is dsireusa.org. [Note: The latest RCT rule changes outlined above were not updated as of June 29, 2009. It’s still a good site!]

Show Solidarity with Iranian Demonstrators

Ella Nelson announced a gathering to show support for the Iranian protestors. Wear green, bring a sign, and meet at 9 a.m. on Saturday, June 27, at the corner of Church and Las Cruces Streets.

Las Cruces Convention Center Energy Grant

Bob Hearn announced that the City of Las Cruces has applied for a grant which will allow the new Las Cruces Convention Center to implement state-of-the-art clean energy measures. In addition to solar panels and energy monitoring capacity, there will be educational displays for the public. It is expected to become a destination for sustainable energy professionals, students, and anyone with a serious interest in sustainable energy. Nathan Small, city councilor, is one of the people who has worked hard to make this happen.

For more information, send email to Bob.

Gay Pride Celebration

Jim Moore announced that the annual Gay Pride celebration will be held at Pioneer Women’s Park from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, June 27. There will be live entertainment, games, food and craft vendors, and a walking parade. For more information  visit the Southern New Mexico Pride Web site.

Department of Peace

Tim Reed mailed in the good news that on Monday, June 22, the Las Cruces City Council voted 6-0 in favor of a resolution in support of HR 808, a bill to create a cabinet level Department of Peace and Nonviolence. Governing bodies in Albuquerque, Silver city, and Grant County have also voted to support the bill.

For more information send email to Tim. If you would like to be on the mailing list for the Department of Peace group in New Mexico, send email to Chris Aquino or call him at 575-313-2633.

PVA Takes a Break in July
Our next meeting will be
August 27, 2009, 7 p.m.
Munson Senior Center, 975 S. Mesquite

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