Legislators Sum Up the 2013 Session–It Was a Little Surreal
Three senators and two representatives were present to share their perspectives on the recently concluded legislative session at the Roundhouse in Santa Fe.
Senator Bill Soules reported that his minimum wage bill is waiting to be signed by the governor. He passed the K-3 bill and sponsored and passed several bills and memorials pertaining to renewable energy. You can follow him on Facebook, where you will find his blow-by-blow account of the session.
Senator Joseph Cervantes declared that the water crisis in New Mexico is serious. The water from the Rio Grande is now going to Texas. Further, Las Cruces uses twice as much water per capita as Santa Fe and way more than El Paso. Joseph says we need to cut our water usage and face the reality that we are not in a drought–these are normal conditions for a desert. More information about New Mexico water issues can be found here.
Joseph said that he was finally able to persuade former Representative J. Paul Taylor to come to Santa Fe and be recognized for his contributions to the people of New Mexico. Joseph speculated that Paul’s motivation was the chance to sell copies of a new biography, J. Paul Taylor, the Man from Mesilla; book sales will be used to support the Taylor Family Monument.
Senator Mary Kay Papen, newly elected president pro tempore of the Senate, explained that her new position required numerous meetings with the governor, international and statewide delegations, and committees. Hence, she missed some votes. She carried many bills and memorials (42!). She agreed with Senator Cervantes about the water issue being critical and said they have established a new subcommittee to study water issues specific to the lower Rio Grande.
Representative Jeff Steinborn introduced bills regarding selection of university regents (according to a University of Michigan study, New Mexico is next to worst in the country when it comes to choosing regents ), recycling, manufacturing in New Mexico, voting rights, an audit of the game and fish department, and more. He tried to keep an eye out for the “shenanigans” in Santa Fe, especially those related to ethics and the tax code.
Representative Mary Helen Garcia observed that constitutional amendments seemed to cause a lot of controversy during this session. She explained that as the chair of the Voters and Elections Committee, she does not like legislation that involves constitutional amendments because they are costly for the state and make for a long and complex ballot that is confusing to voters. That is why she voted against the marriage equality and minimum wage constitutional amendments. [During the session, she issued an explanation of her position, and the full text of her statement can be read here on Grassroots Press.]
Street Painting Festival Returns to the Farmers’ Market
Bob Diven, artistic director of Avenue Art New Mexico, announced the second annual street painting festival.
Street Painting Festival
Saturday, April 27, 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Main Street in Downtown Las Cruces (south end)
Artists of all ages will create paintings in chalk on the street. Guest artists create showcase paintings and children have a special area for playing and creating. You can see 45 beautiful photos from Avenue Art 2012 on Facebook. Full information about the day is at downtownlascruces.org. There is no entry fee, all supplies are provided, cash prizes are awarded, and sponsors are always needed.
Climate Change Is Real and, By the Way, the Science Is Irrefutable
Councilor Gill Sorg continued to spread the word that climate change is real. Among the many facts and figures he gave in his two minutes, was the fact that carbon dioxide has increased 30% in the last 100 years. He spoke about the hockey stick graph, which is a controversial topic, as can be seen by reading the comments below this article.
Local Food Is Good for You and the Whole Community
Peter Goodman encouraged everyone to eat and buy local food. He said you can go a step further and ask your grocery store and the restaurants you frequent what they have that’s locally grown. Peter recently found that Si Italian proudly serves locally grown food.
Peter encouraged people to make use of Sound Off in the Las Cruces Sun News, noting the recent Sound Off campaign to discredit our newly elected district attorney and the fact that everyone seems to read Sound Off.
Peter’s photographs of Japan will be at the Aralia Gallery from April 5 to 30.
Sakura Showers, Images from Japan
Opening: Friday, April 5, 4 to 9 p.m.
Aralia Gallery, 224 N. Campo
Empowerment for Women and Girls
Carli Romero announced that she has started a nonprofit organization aimed at the empowerment of women and girls. Several community courses are scheduled.
Women, Food and Money
Tuesdays, April 16 to June 11, 6 to 8 p.m.
Practical Alchemy Facilitator Training
June 6 to 9
Democrats Will Hold Annual Dinner at Ramada Palms
Gayle Radom announced that Speaker of the House Ken Martinez will be the guest speaker at the Doña Ana Democrats annual dinner. Former Senator Mary Jane Garcia will be the honoree.
Doña Ana County Democrats Annual Dinner
Friday, April 5, 2013, 6:00 pm.
Ramada Palms de Las Cruces, 201 E. University Avenue
$50.00 per person
Support Sensible Gun Regulation
Charlotte Lipson asked people to call Senators Heinrich (202-224-5521) and Udall (202-224-6621) while they are home in New Mexico (until April 7) and ask them to support sensible gun regulation. Charlotte’s sources tell her that the senators are receiving far more calls from the gun lobby than from constituents who support regulation. The score is 80% to 20% in favor of the NRA.
This alarming site is keeping track of gun-related deaths (nearly 3,100) since the Sandy Hook shooting in Newtown on December 14, 2012.
Emilio’s Food Truck Needs You
Veronica Carmona announced that the Alliance for Political Asylum Seekers is supporting a small business for Emilio Gutierrez, a Mexican journalist seeking asylum. Emilio has refurbished a food trailer and will be selling food at the Farmers’ Market and other venues–shave ice in the summer and hot food in the winter. He is asking for loans of $500, for which he will sign a promissory note. Loans will be repaid with interest. He has already raised $4,000 of the $7,000 needed to equip the trailer with a generator, stove, fridge, etc.
More about Emilio’s case and the Alliance for Political Asylum Seekers is here.
SWEC Has Some Slightly Good News About Wolves
Trisha Snyder, field organizer for the Southwest Environmental Center, announced that SWEC is currently concentrating on the reintroduction of the Mexican Gray Wolf. She reported that the number of wolves is up from 68 to 75.
Also, get your raffle ticket! Only 400 tickets will be sold in SWEC’s raffle to win a Toyota Prius. The drawing is April 21.
A New Water Lawyer Is Coming Down the Pike
Theresa Westbrock reported that she recently visited with Xochitl Torres-Small, who is studying law at the University of New Mexico. Xochitl is doing wonderfully well and is focusing on water law. More good news: she will be returning to Las Cruces with her degree and water law expertise.
J. Paul Taylor Social Justice Symposium Looks Again at Quality of Life
Billy Garrett announced the 2013 J. Paul Taylor Social Justice Symposium on April 5 and 6. Each spring the College of Arts and Sciences at NMSU sponsors the symposium, which focuses on issues of social justice and challenges for our region. This year’s symposium will follow up on the event last year and address quality of life as a social justice issue. The objectives of the 2013 Symposium are as follows:
To establish a broadly shared understanding of what “engagement” means and why it is important to quality of life improvement, to showcase how NMSU and others are doing it successfully, and to lay a foundation for future engagement.
To build on the concepts introduced at the 2012 symposium and the work that has been done since. This will include developing a local “Empowerment Congress”–a powerful model that uses public engagement to achieve community goals.
To demonstrate the potential of engagement by using it to advance work on public transportation, a critical need for Doña Ana County.
The conference will include residents from throughout Doña Ana County. Participation is free. Breakfast and lunch are provided. All are welcome.
Learning About Engagement
Friday, April 5, 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Corbett Auditorium, NMSU
Using Engagement to Improve Transportation
Saturday, April 6, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Las Cruces Convention Center
To register or ask questions send email to Mariaelena Johnson or call her at 575-915-0583.
Ouida Touchon Paintings Depict Taylor Home Interiors
The Taylor Home Interiors by local artist Ouida Touchon are based on vignettes that the artist finds visually appealing and significant in their ability to “capture Mr. Taylor and his late wife Mary’s welcoming environment in their home and also their remarkable collection of art and textiles of New Mexico and Latin America.”
Sales will benefit Friends of the Taylor Family Monument, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation and interpretation of the monument.
Taylor Home Interiors: Paintings by Ouida Touchon
Opening Reception: Friday, April 5, 5 to 7 p.m.
Showing through April 29
Main Street Gallery, 311 North Main at Las Cruces Avenue
Solid Waste Matter Matters
Billy Garrett announced that the South Central Solid Waste Authority will be having community meetings in April. There will be special information stations at each meeting to address various topics including the overall waste management system, proposed revisions to the Corralitos Regional Landfill permit, proposed upgrades to the transfer station infrastructure, proposed changes to solid waste finance and operations and the waste disposal ordinance, and available public education programs aimed at encouraging recycling and curbing illegal dumping. The Las Cruces meeting will be April 16.
SCSWA Community Meeting
Tuesday, April 16
6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Doña Ana County Government Center
845 North Motel Boulevard
See the complete schedule here for meetings in Radium Springs, Hatch, Chaparral, and Anthony.
Don’t think “garbage.” Think “We have the opportunity to make this a great place with a great environment.” For more information on how this works, send email to Billy or call him at 575-915-5755.
Ready to Run Gets Women Candidates In Shape
Cheryl Frank announced that the Ready to Run New Mexico/Texas Borderlands: Campaign Training for Women Conference is April 12 and 13 at the Women’s Intercultural Center in Anthony, New Mexico.
Ready to Run is a political training model created at Rutgers University. From the Ready to Run Web site:
Created by the Center for American Women and Politics to train women in candidates, Ready to Run™ is a non-partisan campaign training program to encourage women to run for elective office, position themselves for appointive office, work on a campaign, or get involved in public life in other ways. . . . The program demystifies the process of running for elected office, encourages more women to mount campaigns, and introduces them to elected and appointed leaders, campaign consultants, and party officials in their state to whom they can turn as they get ready to run. CAWP’s model curriculum covers fundraising, positioning oneself for elected office, navigating the political party structure, media training, the nuts and bolts of organizing a campaign, mobilizing voters, and crafting a message.
The conference fee is $25, which includes the Friday evening reception, keynote speech (by Mary Jane Garcia), and a full day of training workshops on Saturday. Lunch is provided. Scholarships and lodging are available. Contact Mary Carter for lodging and scholarship requests.