Cathilia Flores reported on last month’s Unified Action, in which over 70 PVAers called Senator Bingaman’s office urging him to support a three-year moratorium on drilling on the Otero Mesa. During the moratorium studies will be made of the groundwater reserves and other key resources. Cathilia was happy to tell us that Senator Bingaman heeded our calls and recently sent the BLM a letter calling for a three-year moratorium! If you want to thank Senator Bingaman, you can call him at 202-224-5521.The Unified Action is the one thing we do together every month, and it has been remarkably effective. If you want to participate, please sign up here for a monthly email notification of our Action!
East Mesa Annexation
Steve Fischmann gave background on the East Mesa Annexation which involves the proposed 6,000 acre addition to Las Cruces. The annexation is projected to add some 35,000 homes over the next 10 to15 years. Especially problematical is the way this was being moved toward a final decision with almost no public awareness or input. The plan would already have been approved by this time if not for the quick response of the Quality Growth Alliance, the hundreds of e-mails sent by outraged citizens, and a timely ruling by Attorney General Gary King, which advised the city to postpone final action until the May 21 city council meeting.
Steve explained that the Quality Growth Alliance (QGA) is not opposing annexation of these state trust lands or the adoption of a good master plan, but insists that we get a good plan that incorporates citizen input about the kind of community we want to have. The QGA is taking the lead on making sure this will happen by organizing public and stakeholder discussions with city planning staff, and by keeping track of concerns and possible resolutions in a wide variety of areas, including open space, arroyos, an environmental and economic analysis, traffic, affordable housing, schools, and water. The goal is to bring transparency and accountability to the council’s decision. To follow the arguments, go to the newly created Quality Growth Alliance Web site.
(This month’s Unified Action will involve the East Mesa decision, and will be— because of the fluidity of the situation—issued in the next two or three weeks.)
For more information, or to be added to the Quality Growth Alliance mailing list, contact Steve.
Victory at NMSU!
Lynn Rodenhuis announced, to the delight of everyone at the meeting, that the NMSU workers represented by AFSCME have won their new contract! Among the highlights, costs of health insurance for workers will be reduced by 50 percent over the next three years, and this cut will take place immediately for those workers making less than $25,000 per year. Lynn thanked PVAers for our petitions, letters of support, attendance at rallies, and everything else we did to show our solidarity with AFSCME and the workers at NMSU. To congratulate the workers or to get more information, contact Lynn.
Community Action Group
Veronica Carmona reported on the activities the Community Action Group. This group was initiated by members of the Colonias Development Council, AFSCME, and the PVA, with the result being a powerful and delightful mix of activists from across the county. The goal of the group is to provide mobilization, training, support, and common activities. The next meeting will consist of a power analysis training (plus potluck!) on Saturday, June 2, at 10 a.m., at the AFSCME headquarters, 120 Wyatt Drive. For more information, contact Veronica.
Stan announced that there will be a Peace Village July 9-13 for young people in grades 1 through 8. Registration will begin the first week of May. For more information contact Ann Nalls.
PVA Lunch Bunch
Zell Cantrell announced that the PVA Lunch Bunch will continue its effort against the forces of evil by gathering on Thursday, May 3, 11 a.m., at International Delights to share food and good conversation. For more information, contact Zell.
Colonias Development Council
Cruz Hernandez of the Colonias Development Council described the resistance of the people of Chaparral and Sunland Park against the landfills that threaten their communities. He reminded us that 75 percent of landfills are built in Hispanic and African American neighborhoods, and that environmental justice is a goal we all share. There will be an important public hearing on the Chaparral landfill on June 19. For more information, contact Cruz.
Connie Richardson reported that the microcredit bank group has raised $2,000 toward its goal of $5,000. They have set a June 2007 deadline for raising the full $5,000 needed to fund a Las Cruces-sponsored branch of the bank in a developing country. If the full $5,000 cannot be reached by that time, then another strategy will be followed, perhaps including a direct donation of the money to FINCA, an international leader in establishing microcredit banks. For more information contact Connie.
Health Care Reform
Vicki Simons reported that the Health Care Reform Study Group’s interim report to the governor came out this week. Some of the cost assumptions for the Health Care Security Act option were a little off and will be corrected, but in general the report looks good for the Health Security option. There continues to be strong support for the Health Security plan throughout the state, and everyone is looking forward to the final report of the Study Group later this summer. For more information contact Vicki.
Cathilia Flores also reported that there will be a training for people interested in organizing for passage of the Health Security Act on Saturday, May 5, from 10 a.m. to noon at the Southwest Environmental Center on the downtown mall. To participate in this dynamic group or for more information, contact Cathilia.
E2—The Energy Fair
Sandy Katayanagi reported about the upcoming Energy Fair, scheduled for May 10, 11, and 12. Scheduled speakers include Laura Ketchum of Environment New Mexico on May 10 and Ben Luce from the Coalition for Clean and Affordable Energy on May 11, followed by a day of outdoor exhibits on Saturday, May 12, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the center block of the downtown mall.
A highlight of the meeting was a report on the legislative session by our progressive freshmen representatives Nate Cote and Jeff Steinborn, along with special guest Representative Mimi Stewart from Albuquerque, a leader for House progressives, who came to thank us for working so hard to elect our fine Las Cruces delegation. Mimi pointed to case after case in committees where their votes made a difference in either advancing good legislation or killing bad legislation. She told us, “You must help them get re-elected.”
The PVA also welcomed current progressive representative Joni Gutierrez and former progressive representative J. Paul Taylor. Much appreciation was expressed to all of them for their steady support of renewable energy, environmental protection, health care reform, support for domestic partners, and many other issues important to progressives. Special thanks to Mimi for her strong leadership and to Nate and Jeff for their courage and commitment during their first session in Santa Fe.
Country Club Association
Connie Potter reported on efforts to save the land comprising the old Las Cruces Country Club. This tract of 110 acres in the center of the city is already a beautiful area with over 1,000 trees, and it’s important to retain it as a city park rather than let it be subdivided into housing units by a local developer. To get involved in this excellent project, contact John Stevens.
Reform of Criminal Justice System
Al Kissling announced the formation of a group supporting widescale reform of the criminal justice system, moving us away from current costly and ineffective practices toward a more enlightened, effective overall system. For more information on this initiative, contact Al.
John Hamiliton reported on continued progress toward addressing pedestrian safety issues in Las Cruces, singling out City Manager Terrence Moore for special thanks on this issue. For more information, contact John at 526-2042.
Mary Lujan reported that PVA and PVA Executive Committee member Brigitte Hines was named Outstanding Senior in the Government Department at NMSU and has also received a special scholarship for her research on recycling. Congratulations Bri!!
Bill McCamley for Congress
Bill McCamley announced that he is a candidate for congress in the Second Congressional District, the seat currently held by conservative Republican Steve Pearce. Bill cited his hard work on progressive issues and asked for our active support. To get involved in the campaign, contact Bill.
Ben Luchini reminded us of the Restorative Justice Presentation which will be held on Tuesday, May 1, at 7 p.m. at the Branigan Library. For more information about this program and Tuesday’s presentation, view the flyer or contact Ben.
Charlotte Williams sought co-signers of a letter she has drafted to be sent to administrators at the Las Cruces Public Schools, pointing to problems in school atmosphere based on the No Child Left Behind Act and other problems. For more information, contact Charlotte.
Women for Peace
Vicki Aldrich invited women to participate in a Mother’s Day Action sponsored by CodePink: Women for Peace that will take place on Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 13, at Young Park. For more information, contact Vicki.
Sweet Social Justice
Janet Darrow invited everyone to a Social Justice Social with a variety of desserts as special treats (!) on Saturday, May 5, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Peace Lutheran Church on Missouri. There will be an exhibit of Mayan weavings from women’s cooperatives in Chiapas and a presentation by Dr. Christine Eber of NMSU. For more information, contact Janet.
Nathan Small invited everyone to participate in weekend nature hikes sponsored by the Wilderness Alliance. The walks explore local natural treasures on Saturday and Sunday mornings. For more information or to get on the e-mail list announcing each weekend’s destinations, contact Nathan.
Steve Klinger reminded us that four out of seven Las Cruces city council seats are up for election in November of this year. He urged all of us who live in the city to consider running for those positions. Steve Fischmann echoed Steve’s remarks. If you have interest in running for city councilor or know of other people who would make good candidates, please contact Steve Klinger at or Steve Fischmann.
Jeff Steinborn brought us the happy news that curbside recycling is not dead in Las Cruces, and that the city recently set up a task force to study the issue over the next several months. A possible model is the new El Paso curbside program. If you would like to serve on the city task force or want more information, contact Jeff.
Gregg Henry stressed the importance of the PVA Unified Action, reminding us that this one thing we do together every month has tremendous impact. Don’t forget that you can sign up for the Unified Action here.
Mimi Stewart congratulated us on the energy and success of the PVA and urged us to keep going! For our part, we thank Mimi again for her inspiring presentation at this meeting and for her continuing work on behalf of progressive causes in New Mexico.