(Special thanks to Bri Hines last month and Ann Gutierrez this month for excellent notes about the meetings!)
Current working groups
Elections and Securing the Vote
Peter Ossorio announced that the current list of people who will be poll workers for the county has been released, and all should have received notification. The political parties, too, will be recruiting poll watchers and challengers – for information on working at the polls in any capacity, contact Peter at firstname.lastname@example.org
Framing the Issue
Monica Torres invited people to join the re-framing group, which most recently has been helping frame issues for Al Kissling’s Congressional campaign. Al’s campaign is looking for good issue framers to write letters to the editor and to constituents on his behalf. For more information, contact Monica at email@example.com or Martha Loustaunau at firstname.lastname@example.org
Nancy Mackie-Harris reported that Albuquerque has passed a minimum wage ordinance, which means that both Santa Fe and Albuquerque has passed laws that establish a living wage. For more information about other state and local initiatives in that area, contact Nancy at email@example.com
Local Environmental and Quality of Life Issues
Steve Fischmann and Bill McCamley reported on very encouraging activities by the County/City Extraterritorial Zoning Authority, in which new development may be brought to a halt beyond Wisner Road on the East Mesa. In addition, the ETA is trying to develop a system by which BLM land can be effectively zoned before it is released for public sale, thus providing for needed natural areas as part of an overall development plan. For more information, contact Steve at stephen.fischmann@gmail.
John Nelson reported that the PVA website, http://www.pva-nm.org/, can be accessed by simply typing the words “progressive voters” into Google where our site is third out of more than 5 million entries. It’s easy now to tell friends and other interested people how to find us on the web. For input on the website, agenda, Unified Action, and all other infrastructural aspects of the PVA, contact one of the Committee members or come to the next Executive Committee meeting, listed under Upcoming Events on the website.
New Working Groups
Health Care Reform
Sharon Thomas announced the formation of a Health Care Reform working group, which will provide downstate support for, and coordination with, state health care reform initiatives, including the local New Mexico Health Security group and Health Action New Mexico. To get involved or for more information, contact Sharon at firstname.lastname@example.org
Anthony Avallone is interested in working with others to understand the true meaning of Democracy. He will conduct a morning seminar on the topic on Saturday, May 27. To get involved, or for more information, contact Anthony at email@example.com
Ellen Mangan will coordinate a group interested in developing a city or county-sponsored dog park, where dogs can run freely and socialize with other canine friends. To get involved, or for more information, contact Ellen at firstname.lastname@example.org
Other Organizations and General Announcements
Health Care in New Mexico
Charlotte Roybal of the statewide coalition Health Action New Mexico traveled from Santa Fe to address the PVA about the current state of health reform in New Mexico. Health Action New Mexico joined several other organizations to push, in the most recent legislative session, for a comprehensive study of the cost of various health care insurance options, so that legislators can decide on the best plan for New Mexico. There was disagreement between the governor and some legislators over composition of that study group, and eventually the bill didn’t pass. This kind of comprehensive study remains the goal of Health Action New Mexico and many of their allied groups. During a spirited question and answer session that followed, a number of other good observations were made. Charlotte can be reached at Croybal@aol.com, and people interested in participating in the state coalition can do so most easily through the PVA working group dedicated to that task, by contacting Sharon Thomas email@example.com
Staff Unionization Drive at NMSU
Kathy Sowa and Genevieve Bauer talked about current efforts by NMSU classified and professional staff to unionize under the auspices of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). While NMSU could have accepted the union cards turned in by the majority of eligible workers who had already filled them out, the administration has insisted on a vote, which will take place in May. Kathy and Genevieve cautioned us not to automatically believe what we read in the Sun-News about the process, and to understand the many obstacles the administration has placed in the workers’ path. At the same time, they announced that NMSU has entered its employees into the state health plan, as urged by the organizing committee, resulting in large savings for employees on health insurance. If you would like to help in this final push by the union, by participating in phone banks or other activities, contact Lynn Rodenhuis at LRodenhuis@afscme.org or the AFSCME office at 523-5438
Jeremy announced the annual Hunger Banquet at NMSU, on May 2nd, from 6-8 pm in the Doña Ana Room, on the 3rd floor of Corbett Center on the NMSU campus. A hunger banquet is a very powerful small-scale enactment of a global reality, and is free and open to everyone. Make a reservation by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
NARAL Pro-Choice America
Diane Door announced that the NARAL Pro-Choice America Luncheon will take place on Tuesday, May 9, 2006 from 12:00 P.M. to 1:30 P.M in the Brazito Room of the Ramada Palms de Las Cruces, 201 E. University Ave. The featured speaker will be NARAL Pro-Choice America’s President Nancy Keenan. For more information, or to buy a ticket, call Diane at 496-3332.
EMERGE New Mexico
Vicki Simons announced the formation of EMERGE New Mexico, a training series for women who would like to be involved in politics and might consider running for public office. Lt. Governor Diane Denish and Attorney General Patricia Madrid are the coordinators of this group – for more information contact Beth Bardwell at email@example.com
New Mexico Wilderness Alliance
Nathan Small of the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance reported that Doña Ana County has some of the largest areas slated for wilderness protection in the whole nation. Noted wilderness advocate Doug Scott will be appearing at the Southwest Environmental Center at 2 pm on Saturday, May 13 on Making History: Protecting Doña Ana County’s Wildlands – for more information contact Jeff Steinborn at firstname.lastname@example.org
Fred Williams, who attended the PVA meeting with three others from Deming, announced their intention to activate Luna County Democrats, especially in support of Congressional Candidate Al Kissling. For more information, contact Fred at 505-544-4043
Addicted to War
Rus Bradburd, sporting an “Athletes against the Iraq War” t-shirt, offered free copies of a book called “Addicted to War.” Contact Rus at email@example.com if you’d like a copy.
Brandon Armendariz announced that a Progressive Rally will take place on the Horseshoe of the NMSU campus, on Espina Street, this Friday, May 5th, from 10 am -2 pm. This event, coordinated by the Campus Democrats, will bring together a wide variety of progressive campus groups for fun, food, music and politics. It’s something we won’t want to miss – for more information contact Brandon at firstname.lastname@example.org
Jean Ossorio discussed changes to the Endangered Species Act, currently being considered in Congress, and asked us to contact Senator Jeff Bingaman at http://bingaman.senate.gov/Contact_Me/e-mail_form.htm to urge his continued support of an undiluted Endangered Species Act. For more information, contact Jean at email@example.com
All candidates for public office, of any party affiliation, are welcome at PVA meetings. Candidates themselves receive three minutes to address the group, and their representatives receive 2 minutes. Candidates who would like to post information about their campaigns on the PVA website can send that information to John Nelson at firstname.lastname@example.org
Candidates and candidate representatives who appeared included:
– Al Kissling, candidate for Congress in the 2nd Congressional District. For more information, contact him at email@example.com
– Jim Baca, candidate for State Land Commissioner. For more information, contact Jim at firstname.lastname@example.org
– Olivia Garcia, candidate for Magistrate Judge. For more information, contact Olivia at email@example.com
– Jeff Steinborn, candidate for State Representative in District 37. For more information contact Jeff at firstname.lastname@example.org
– Bill McCamley spoke of the importance of upcoming County Commission races, particularly the importance of electing Karen Perez in District 3, and either Oscar Vasquez Butler or Chris Jaramilloin District 1. For more information, contact Bill at email@example.com
– Melba Coyne spoke on behalf of Gary King for state Attorney General. For more information, contact Melba at firstname.lastname@example.org
– Rhonda Brown spoke on behalf of E. Shirley Baca for Public Regulation Commission. For more information, contact Rhonda at email@example.com
– Micaela Cadena expressed gratitude to the PVAer’s who supported the Los Mesilleros ticket in Mesilla, which was victorious in all three races.
– Don Kurtz reported that John Nelson was named to the Mesilla Board of Trustees to replace a trustee who resigned in the wake of the election.
Glenn Landers of the Southwest Environmental Resource Center reported that 71 people sent “I did it” messages back indicating that they had completed last month;s Unified Action. Glenn expressed deep appreciation for this example of grass roots democracy in action.
This month’s Unified Action is a special one: one year ago, our first Unified Action helped rescue the fledgling Curbside Recycling program in Las Cruces, by helping convince our city councilors to initiate a second pilot project, thus keeping the program alive. Now, the councilors are about to decide whether to make curbside recycling permanent throughout Las Cruces! Their study session on the issue is on Monday, May 8th, so we need to take the action this week. It’s an easy one — the same message can be cut and pasted into emails to the mayor and councilors, or the same basic message can be left on their voice mails. For details go to http://www.pva-nm.org/ua_apr_06_curbside_recycle2.htm
And, as always, please let us know “I did it” via the link on that page. Opportunity to speak out on issues and concerns.
We had ten minutes or so for other issues and concerns, and several were raised for our consideration.