PVA Meeting Recap – May 24, 2007

The meeting opened with good news on three issues that PVAers have supported individually and through our Unified Actions.

Otero Mesa

Cathilia Flores reported that Senator Pete Domenici has contacted the Director of the BLM and Representative Tom Udall has joined Senator Jeff Bingaman in calling on the Secretary of the Interior to defer oil and gas permitting/leasing on the Otero Mesa until ground water resources are more thoroughly investigated. Cathilia urged us to keep working on Representatives Pearce (202-225-2365) and Secretary of Interior Kempthorne (202-208-3100). For more information contact Cathilia at cathilia@gmail.com.

Health Security New Mexico

Vicki Simons reported that the long-awaited preliminary results of a state-sponsored independent study (by the well-respected Mathematica firm) comparing three health coverage options indicate that the universal coverage provided by the Health Security Act would be the least expensive option, would cost less than our current patchwork system, and would also cover the 400,000 New Mexicans currently insured! To read a summary of the findings, click here. Powerful interests are already aligning to contest and oppose universal care as we approach the final Mathematica report on June 21. Good news for now, but we have to be ready to advocate strongly for universal coverage. Contact Vicki for more information at vrsimons@comcast.net.

Wilderness Areas for Doña Ana County

Neri Holguin reported an agreement among 19 conservation, sportsmen, and community groups that have joined together to call on the federal government to designate several new Wilderness Areas in Doña Ana County, including in the Robledo Mountains, the Las Uvas Mountains, the Organs, and the East Potrillo Mountains. This is a great step forward in the process, showing the widespread community support for wilderness that the federal government had requested. To read a Sun-News editorial praising this action, click here. For more information contact Neri at neri_holguin@tws.org.

May Unified Action—East Mesa Annexation

Judy Zimmerman reported that over 100 people participated in this month’s Unified Action, which called on the Las Cruces City Council to delay the proposed annexation of several thousand acres on the East Mesa and to put off accepting a master plan and attendant zoning until critical shortcomings, including a flawed process that allowed little citizen and stakeholder involvement, were addressed.

Steve Fischmann of the Quality Growth Alliance detailed what happened at the May 21 city council meeting at which the annexation issue was decided. The council voting 6 to1 in favor of the annexation, master plan, and zoning. Only Councilor Ken Miyagishima dissented. Among the victories for quality growth advocates was an agreement on the part of the developer to set aside 249 acres for school sites, a much higher allotment than had been previously included. Important light was also shed on odd dealings in the State Land Office and on the need for improvement in the city and county approval process for large subdivisions. Most importantly, there has been a general change in consciousness as to the importance of the various government entities working with the public to chart our growth and development.

There were also excellent reports from frontline participants in the community effort to shape the East Mesa project: Terry Miller, Tamie Smith, Judy Zimmerman, and Charlotte Lipson. Charlie Scholz, who serves on the city Planning and Zoning Committee, also briefly commented about the process and some positive things that may come out of it.

For a full report on East Mesa annexation outcome and its implications, visit the Quality Growth Alliance Web site or contact Steve at stephen.fischmann@gmail.com.

County Commission Chair Karen Perez

County Commission Chair Karen Perez spoke briefly about current county issues and responded to questions, most of which had to do with issues surrounding growth and development. Karen said that the current rapid release of State Land Office lands via business planning leases effectively subverts the regional comprehensive plan—a joint project of the city and county, which will be completed in 2010. She expressed hope that agreement can be reached among the city, county, state, and Bureau of Land Management to better control large land releases so that concerns about water availability, traffic impact, drainage, and other key concerns can be addressed.

As usual, Karen explained the complexities of planning and engineering infrastructure in a way that held us all rapt, and everyone was encouraged by her leadership in the county, and by what can be accomplished if we keep thinking together.

Microcredit Lending Bank

Connie Richardson announced the good news that we are already halfway toward raising the $5,000 needed to start our own Microcredit Lending Bank in a developing country, at which point the bank will continue to function indefinitely using that money to make small capital loans to local people. As a special inducement, an anonymous donor has agreed to match up to $1,000 in accumulated donations by PVAers, so please contact Connie at connie00@comcast.net to make a contribution on your own behalf or as a gift for someone else.

Juneteenth Celebration

Tim Reed invited everyone to the annual Juneteenth Celebration on Saturday, June 16, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Apodaca Park. This celebration, sponsored by the Las Cruces NAACP and other community organizations, will feature a variety of activities and what Tim assured us will be the best barbecue you’ve ever eaten, all for only $6! You can get tickets at the door, or by contacting Tim at tphipps@zianet.com.

Fundraiser for Jeff Steinborn

Len Gambrell spoke about Jeff Steinborn’s fine performance as a legislator and his consistent support of progressive legislation. He invited us to a fundraiser on Jeff’s behalf that will be held at the home of Len Gambrell and Lori Miller in Mesilla on Saturday, June 9 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Len reminded us that Jeff is in a swing district in which a Democrat has not been re-elected in over 30 years, so Jeff needs our help to fend off a conservative challenge in 2008. For tickets, contact Len at gambrell@uwec.edu.

Colonias Development Council

Cruz Hernandez of the Colonias Development Council reported on the struggle currently being waged by the Chaparral community against a large landfill which is slated to be built amidst a group of homes. To help raise money to pay attorney fees for that effort, the CDC is having a yard sale on Saturday, June 2. PVAers can donate any items they have by contacting Cruz at albertico60@yahoo.com.mx or by dropping the material off at the Colonias Development Council, 1050 Monte Vista in Las Cruces.

Women for Peace

Vickie Aldrich announced that the Mother’s Day gathering for peace was such a success that Las Cruces women and other good mothering people will continue to gather on the second Sunday of each month at 1 p.m. at Pioneer Women’s Park to stand and put hearts together for the world’s children and grandchildren and the generations beyond them. The next gathering will be Sunday, June 10, at 1 p.m. at Pioneer Women’s Park.

Vickie also talked about their work for a federal Department of Peace, which they’ve recently discussed with staff at Steve Pearce’s Las Cruces office. For more information about any of these activities, please contact Vickie at tphipps@zianet.com.

Democracy Classes

Anthony Avallone reminded us of the importance of democratic principles and announced a community education class on democracy that will begin on the evening of June 6 at the Doña Ana Community College. For information, contact Anthony at afavallone@zianet.com

Bill McCamley for Congress

Bill McCamley reported on his bid to unseat Steve Pearce in the 2nd Congressional District. There have already been mailings from the Republican camp which seek to discredit Bill and distort his record. Bill’s response has been to work harder than ever, with a goal of raising $150,000 by the end of June. He stressed the importance of telling everyone we can win this seat! To participate in the campaign or to make a contribution, contact Bill at billmccamley@zianet.com.

AFSCME at NMSU

Rafael Najera spoke on behalf of the AFSCME workers at NMSU, thanking the PVA for its continuing support and singling out area legislators Nate Cote, Joni Gutierrez, Antonio Lujan, and Jeff Steinborn for their strong advocacy on behalf of the union. AFSCME organizer Troy Mickins also spoke about current union efforts. For more information, contact Troy at troy36@gmail.com

New Mexico Centennial

NMSU history professor Jon Hunner invited us to help plan New Mexico Centennial celebration, which will take place in 2012. A wide variety of activities are being discussed, including an oral history project and much more. An oral history workshop will be held August 11. If you would like to participate, contact Jon at jhunner@nmsu.edu.

Pride Day 2007

Jim Moore announced the annual Pride Day parade and picnic, which will take place on Saturday, June 16, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Pioneer Women’s Park. The parade will begin there at 10 a.m. and then return to the park for food and festivities. There will also be an art sale at the Holy Family Parish Church that day from 1 to 4 p.m. in support of the Normal Heart newspaper and community. For information, contact Jim at freebird2020@comcast.net.

E2 Energy Fair/Environmental Justice

Janet Darrow thanked everyone involved in the E2 Energy Fair, recently held on the Downtown Mall. There was a wonderful turnout and everyone was excited about the possibilities for using renewable energy in our own community.

Janet also announced the formation of a group started by people inspired by the recent J. Paul Taylor Environmental Justice Forum. Among the group’s initial projects will be support of the Chaparral community as they work to stop the landfill scheduled for their neighborhood. For more information or to participate, contact Janet at janetdarrow@comcast.net.

Monitoring the City Council

Tamie Smith, who has been keeping track of the Las Cruces City Council for years, expressed appreciation for our recent interest in council activities and offered to keep us posted about important issues and votes as they are scheduled. If you would like to receive occasional updates from Tamie, get on her mailing list by contacting her at inorbit@prodigy.net

Common Cause Annual Luncheon

Dolores Halls announced that the annual luncheon of Southern New Mexico Common Cause will be held at the Mesilla Valley Best Western Inn on Thursday, June 14, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.  Special guest Attorney General Gary King will speak on “Ethics in State and Local Government.” Tickets are $15. To make reservations, contact Mike McCamley at 505-524-0018 or McCamley@aol.com.

The next PVA meeting will be
Thursday, June 28, 7 p.m. at the
Munson Senior Center, 975 S. Mesquite
(there will be no PVA meeting in July)

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