(As always, we are indebted to Ann Gutierrez for taking such good notes at the meeting!)
Current working groups
Local Environmental and Quality of Life Issues
Steve Fischmann reported on the excellent mobilization by local environmental and progressive groups in encouraging the Las Cruces City Council’s unanimous adoption of the Public Lands Bill, which in turn — along with the resolutions of other governmental bodies in the area — stopped plans for a wholesale release of public lands for development purposes in Doña Ana County. The PVA’s activities, through the January Unified Action and our members’ participation at all stages of the process, were crucial to the success of this endeavor. The effort to sell off public lands will not disappear, and our goal of reasonable and sustainable growth in Doña Ana County will require constant vigilance. Please contact Steve at firstname.lastname@example.org to be a part of this effort.
Jim Moore reported that the PVA’s Legislative Response Team played a very important role in the recently-concluded legislative session in Santa Fe. Over 70 PVAers participated in this activity, making calls on minimum wage, the conservation bill, and other progressive issues. We weren’t able to achieve all our goals, but this was our first time participating in an organized way in legislative activities, and we’re already looking forward to the 2007 session.
Mary Carne reported on the Minimum Wage bill, and especially the bus trip that she and Cathilia Flores organized, an initiative that brought over 30 local progressives to Santa Fe for a day of intense lobbying on behalf of the working people of our state. Even though the minimum wage initiative failed, important gains were made, and we remain hopeful that a fair minimum wage will be enacted in a special legislative session, by local initiative, or in the 2007 legislative session.
Beth Bardwell reported (via Don Kurtz) on environmental and conservation issues in the legislature, especially the successful adoption of a Solar Energy tax rebate. The excellent Land, Wildlife, and Clean Energy billfailed, but again, excellent progress was made, and hopes are high for a good bill in the 2007 legislative session.
Mary Feldblum of Santa Fe reported on the Surface Owners Protection Act, which was amended into a bad bill, and which ultimately did not pass. She went on to describe the fate of a much-needed health care reform bill, which sought to establish a comprehensive study of possible health care models, and which was likewise amended into irrelevance before dying in committee.
In general, local representatives Joseph Cervantes, Joni Gutierrez, Antonio Lujan, and Andy Nuñez deserve special praise for their record at the 2006 session; Senator Mary Jane Garcia, too, stood with working people on the minimum wage when the chips were down. Republican legislators William “Ed” Boykin and Leonard Lee Rawson, and Democrat Mary Kay Papen were generally hostile to progressive legislation, and in several cases played active roles in its defeat.
Don Kurtz reported that the Executive Committee will, on a case-by-case basis, make the PVA membership list available to progressive candidates. Candidates or their representatives must come to an Executive Committee meeting to request membership lists for their districts. The lists, which will not include email information, will be available hardcopy only, and only for campaign purposes. If you don’t want your name included in these campaign lists please email “Don’t include me” to email@example.com Don also urged any interested people to attend and participate in Executive Committee meetings, including the next one on Tuesday, March 14th, at 5:30 pm at the MesillaParkRecreationCenter.
Protecting the Vote
Peter Ossorio reported on continuing efforts to recruit and train poll judges and monitors for the 2006 election, and extended special thanks to the College Democrats for their good support in this effort. To become an election judge or to help Peter in his efforts to assure voting rights in the 2006 election, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org
New Working Groups
Brigitte Hines announced plans to develop a $500 PVA Scholarship for New Mexico State students, which would promote awareness of issues involving social justice, environmental stewardship, and social welfare, and which would also pay for a class in government or governmental policy at NMSU or the Doña Ana Branch. If you would like to participate in the scholarship’s formation or administration, or if you would like to contribute to the scholarship fund, please contact Brigitte at email@example.com.
Other Organizations/and General Announcements
Military Awareness Committee
Tim Reed reported on activities of this organization, which grew from the former Peace and Justice Center, and which provides information for young people who may be considering military service. They are especially concerned about groups which are especially targeted by military recruiters, and want to make sure that those young people are fully informed. If you would like more information, contact Tim at 541-9093.
Election Reform Panel
Dolores Halls announced a forum on Election Reform, sponsored by the American Association of University Women and the League of Women Voters, which will be held on Thursday, March 2nd, 7 pm, at the MunsonSeniorCenter. Participants include Representative Mary Helen Garcia, Head of Doña Ana County Bureau of Elections Mari Langford-Pavao, and Representative William “Ed” Boykin. For more information, contact Dolores at firstname.lastname@example.org
Anthony Avallone announced a series of seminars on Democracy, where participants will explore the theory of a democratic government. For more information, call Anthony at 524-8915.
County Health Care Initiatives
County Commissioner Bill McCamley discussed important county health initiatives, including the establishment of a countywide help desk on health care, which can be reached at 1-877-827-7200. Callers can get questions answered about their own health situations as well an get an opportunity to describe problems with local health care providers. For more information, call Bill at 635-5146.
Chapter president Brandon Arrendaiz reported on a wide variety of important activities undertaken by the College Democrats, including meeting with Senator Jeff Bingaman about issues of importance, Q&A sessions with candidates Al Kissling, Nate Cote, and Karen Perez, and preparing ballots for the March 2nd Democratic County Pre-Primary Convention. For more information about the group and its activities, contact Brandon at email@example.com
All candidates for public office, of any party affiliation, are welcome at PVA meetings. Candidates themselves received three minutes to address the group, and their representatives received 1 1/2 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:
– Ralph Misquez, candidate for Sheriff. For more information, contact Ralph at email@example.com
– Gene Gant, candidate for the state Public Education Commission. For more information, contact Gene at firstname.lastname@example.org
Peter Ossorio spoke on behalf of Jeff Steinborn, candidate for State Representative, District 37. For more information, contact Jeff at email@example.com
– Micaela Cadena spoke on behalf of Mesilla Mayor Michael Cadena and former Mesilla Trustee Nora Barraza, who, along with Jesus Caro form a slate of candidates called Los Mesilleros in the March 7th Mesilla elections. For more information, contact Micaela at firstname.lastname@example.org
– Philip Zakahi spoke on behalf of Al Kissling, candidate for Congress in the Second Congressional District. For more information, contact Philip at email@example.com
– Diane Door spoke on behalf of Shirley Baca, Public Regulatory Commissioner, District 5. For more information, contact Diane at firstname.lastname@example.org
– Bill McCamley spoke on behalf of Karen Perez, candidate for County Commission, District 3. For more information, contact Karen at email@example.com
– Susie Rossman spoke on behalf of Stephanie Dubois, candidate for Public Regulatory Commission, District 2. For more information, contact Stephanie at Docdubois@aol.com
Chris Hines reported on the January Action, which was to call the mayor and city council members and ask them to support the Public Lands Bill. The Action was a profound success, as the council ultimately voted 7-0 in favor of the bill.No action was suggested for this month, following a flurry of activity in February, including calls generated by both the Unified Action and the Legislative Response Team. Chris announced that we will be using this month to consolidate our Unified Action procedures, and he began by explaining that any individual or group can submit a proposed Unified Action: the first step is to contact Chris at firstname.lastname@example.org. The deadline for starting the process is the 7th of each month. Ann Rohovec then explained the process by which we would be checking our communication channels. Each person who didn’t respond with an “I did it” message on the February action will receive a personal email from Ann, trying to verify that our Action announcements are getting through. If she doesn’t get a response, she will assume that the message is getting lost or caught in a Spam filter, and she will follow up with a telephone call. In this way we hope to make sure everyone is receiving UA information, and has an opportunity to participate in the Actions. Opportunity to speak out on issues and concerns
We had a full forty minutes to hear from our members, for two minutes each, on a wide variety of issues, viewpoints, and concern–which made for a lively and informative discussion.