PVA Meeting Recap – October 26, 2006

Working Group Reports

Local Environmental and Quality of Life Issues

Steve Fischmann was joined by Neri Holguin of the Wilderness Society and Nathan Small of the Wilderness Alliance to stress the importance of our attendance at the final public hearing on the creation of wilderness areas in Doña Ana County. That meeting will be Wednesday, November 1, 6:30 pm, at the Farm and Ranch Museum. At stake are proposals to shrink the Organ Mountain Wilderness area and the possibility of the release of large tracts of BLM land for rapid, poorly controlled development.

The presence of a large number of people at this meeting who are supportive of wilderness and thoughtful development is essential. To see a flyer about the November 1 meetings, go here. For more information, you can call Steve (635-9582) or send him an email.

Legislative Response Team

Jim Moore announced the reestablishment of the Legislative Response Team, which was so successful during the legislative session last January. As before, members of the team will be notified of important votes on progressive legislation, and will be asked to make short phone calls to the offices of our legislators, urging them to vote yes or no, as the case may be. Last year over 65 members of the team were influential in a number of key areas of legislation.

The team will move into operation when the legislative session starts in January, but Jim is signing up members now. To participate, or if you have any questions, contact Jim at freebird2020@comcast.net.

Dog Park Coalition

Ellen Mangan reported continued progress on the Las Cruces Dog Park. In addition, she announced a Pet Expo which was scheduled to take place at Young Park from 9am to 3pm on Saturday, November 28, with an amazing array of activities for pet owners and people who care about animals. For more information, contact Ellen at hippiegal@comcast.net.

Progressive Lunch Bunch

Zell Cantrell announced that the next meeting of the Progressive Lunch Bunch, a monthly lunch-time gathering for socializing and progressive solidarity, will be at 11:00 am on Thursday, November 2, at the International Delights Café, 1245 El Paseo (in the same shopping plaza as Albertson’s). For more information, contact Zell at veryprogressivezell@msn.com.

Microcredit Lending

Connie Richardson reported on progress toward the establishment of a Microcredit Lending Bank, sponsored by progressive Las Crucens, which would loan small amounts of capital to people in a village of some developing country. Bangladeshi economist Muhammad Yunus won this year’s Nobel Peace Prize for originating the concept of microcredit banking. Our local group will move into full activity in January. If you would like to participate, or want more information, please contact Connie at conniericha@peoplepc.com.

Health Care Reform

Vicki Simons reported on exciting progress in New Mexico health care reform–the Governor’s Task Force included the Health Security for New Mexico plan, which includes universal health care for all New Mexicans, as one of three recommendations to be studied in depth over the next year. In a task force dominated by representatives of the health care industry, the universal coverage plan received 11 out of 18 votes, while the next most popular plan received only 4. For more information, contact Vicki at vrsimons@comcast.net.

Southwest Energy Alliance

Steve Fischmann reported on a variety of activities by the Southwest Energy Alliance, including lobbying of the New Mexico congressional delegation on the threat of global warming, the development of a flyer on the tax benefits of purchases of renewable energy systems, and cooperation with the Sierra Club, the Southwest Environmental Center, and the Living Locally with Less Oil groups in staging a renewable energy fair in the spring. For more information, contact Steve at stephen.fischmann@gmail.com.

Other Organizations/Other Announcements

Spaying and Neutering of Pets

Winn Jacobs announced a free spaying and neutering of pets program, along with some very depressing statistics about the thousands of domestic animals euthanized each year by the county, a sadly necessary practice that costs the county hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. For more information about the spaying and neutering program, contact Winn at winjacobs@zianet.com.

Southwest Environmental Center

Kevin Bixby emphasized the importance of our contacting Senator Jeff Bingaman to communicate our opposition to drilling on the Otero Mesa, especially with the recent loss of a federal law suit to block that drilling. All it takes is a quick call to Senator Bingaman’s office, at (202) 224-5521, urging that Congress protect this important natural area. Kevin also reported progress on efforts to make the new City Building a model of energy efficiency. For information on either of these issues, or to participate in the Southwest Environmental Center’s important activities, contact Kevin at swec@zianet.com.

North Valley Neighborhood Association

Tamie Smith reported on efforts by the North Valley Neighborhood Association to control development north of Las Cruces, including a meeting and candidate forum on Saturday, October 28, from 3-5 pm, at the Doña Ana Fire Station. For information on the North Valley Neighborhood Association and its activities, contact Tamie at tamie.s@gmail.com.

League of Women Voters

Johnnie Aldrich reported that the final report of the Doña Ana County Election Review Panel report is available on the League of Women Voters website.

AFSCME

Troy Mickins of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) reported on the progress of contract negotiations for the newly unionized nonexempt (clerical, grounds, and physical plant) employees, which include proposals for a 30% wage hike over 3 years, so that NMSU employees can reach the same wage level as similar employees in peer institutions, a doubling of NMSU’s contribution to lower paid employees’ health care, and changes in the evaluation and grievance procedures.

In addition, AFSCME will begin an investigation into the viability of organizing childcare workers in Southern New Mexico – a group that suffers from extremely low pay under difficult conditions. For information, go to the AFSCME-NMSU website at http://www.afscmenmsu.org/ or contact Troy at info@afscmenmsu.org.

PFLAG Benefit

Jim Moore announced that tickets are on sale at Spirit Winds for the annual film and fundraiser for Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), at the Herschel Zohn Theater on campus starting at 6 p.m. on Saturday, November 4. For more information, contact Merlyn Risser at merlyn@zianet.com or check out the invitation/flyer.

Fantasy Congress League

Philip Zakahi wasn’t able to attend Thursday’s meeting, but he sends word from Washington, D.C., that he has initiated a PVA Fantasy Congress League, for any PVAers looking to get a different perspective on national politics. The league is hosted through www.fantasycongress.us. Players “draft representatives and senators to their team and score points when their members move bills. Anyone interested can go to the Fantasy Congress website or contact zakahi@gmail.com. When you visit the Fantasy Congress website, you can join the PVA league by scrolling through the leagues (in alphabetical order) until you find “PVA NM.” Congress goes into session on November 9.

Making a Difference – Campaign 2006

PVA Members’ Election Involvement

Judy Zimmerman reported on responses to the September Unified Action, which was for UA participants to volunteer for or participate in campaigns and activities directed toward the November election. Over 70 PVAers sent back an “I did it!” to indicate active participation in campaigns and election activities, and the total number was clearly much higher.

MoveOn.org

Renee Murray, a captain in MoveOn.org’s enormous national phone bank in support of progressive candidates in key Congressional races, urged PVAers to be a part of MoveOn.org’s “Take Off Election Day” program, in which 750,000 calls will be made to critical areas of the country. As few as 10 calls by each person on Election Day will make a difference. For more information, contact Renee at Reneemurray75@aol.com.

Protect the Vote

Peter Ossorio reported on the Protect the Vote program and urged PVAers to participate as poll watchers on Election Day for shifts as short as 6 hours. To be a part of this essential, democracy-preserving activity, contact Peter at ossorios@zianet.com. In addition, Peter announced the phone number of the new Voter Protection Hotline, 650-0387, available for help on any electoral difficulties, concerns, or questions pertaining to safeguarding the vote on Election Day.

Al Kissling Campaign

Terry Miller read a message from Al Kissling expressing his deep appreciation to PVAers for our support of his campaign. Anyone interested in helping on canvassing for Al in his courageous bid to unseat Steve Pearce, or for GOTV activities on Election Day, contact Terry at ratmiller@zianet.com.

Nate Cote Campaign

Connie Richardson reported that Nate Cote’s race in District 53, originally considered a long shot, is now down to a dead heat between him and his Republican opponent, according to a recently completed poll. Connie invited participation in this exciting campaign, including jobs as Election Day poll watchers and Get Out the Vote workers for $75 per day. Interested people can contact Connie at conniericha@peoplepc.com.

Al Kissling Ad in Bulletin

Charlie Scholz announced that he is collecting signatures and money for an ad in support of Al Kissling that will appear in next week’s Las Cruces Bulletin. If you want to participate, contact Charlie at cscholz@zianet.com.

Karen Perez Campaign

Ann Gutierrez reported on the high energy surrounding Karen Perez’s campaign for county commission, including a large canvass that was held the weekend before, in which many PVAers participated. Karen is recruiting people to be a presence for her for short shifts at key polling places on Election Day. If you would like to participate, contact Karen at Karenperezcampaign@comcast.net.

Jim Baca Campaign

Kevin Bixby underscored the importance of the state Land Commissioner position and urged us to talk to family and friends on behalf of Jim Baca, who is in a very close race, and whose election is crucial to the future of New Mexico public lands.

American Association of University Women

Dolores Halls reported that women vote at a disproportionately lower level in midterm elections, and asked us to participate in an AAUW program in which women will ask other women if they’ve voted yet, encouraging them to vote on Election Day.

Election Night Results Party

Don Kurtz announced that Melinda Whitley, Chair of the Doña Ana County Democratic Party, has extended a special invitation to all PVAers to attend A Great Big Election Night Party on Tuesday, November 7, starting at 6 pm, at the Beverly Hills Hall, at the corner of Hermosa and Griggs. There will be a large screen TV with national election results, a projector and screen for the latest local results, food, music, a cash bar, and plenty of Election Night solidarity. For a flyer and map to the Beverly Hills Hall, go to here.

Unified Action

Seventy-two people reported participating in the September Unified Action, which involved volunteering for, or contributing financially to, a progressive campaign. This will be the last Unified Action until January.

***Please note the change of date for our next meeting***
The next PVA meeting will be Tuesday, November 14, 7 to 9 pm, at the Munson Senior Center, 975 S. Mesquite. The PVA will be going back to our roots–our format will be the same as our very first meeting, in the wake of the 2004 campaign. Everyone who attends will have 2 minutes to comment on the results of the 2006 Campaign, or anything else they want. No one will speak twice until everyone has spoken once, and when we’ve said all we want to say, we’ll go home.

This is a very special meeting, and our last one until January 2007. Don’t miss it!

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