Legislative Response Team
Jim Moore, captain of the Legislative Response Team (LRT), reported that the team is functioning well and has already weighed in on a wide variety of legislative issues in Santa Fe. Legislators report heavy call volume whenever an alert has gone out, and progressive issue leaders throughout the state are delighted with the strong southern New Mexico response on this session’s important issues. The LRT numbers over 80 participants, including 11 new members from the Campus Democrats. In response to an e-mail alert, team members make one or two phone calls to the offices of key legislators, urging a yes or no vote on targeted bills. It’s easy and effective, and it only lasts three more weeks! To participate, contact Jim Moore.
Don Kurtz described the highly successful emergency Unified Action in January, which has brought new flexibility to El Paso Electric’s dealings with the City of Las Cruces.
Cathilia Flores thanked PVAers for the over 100 calls made to Governor Richardson in support of the Health Security Act. This was our regular January Unified Action. This month’s Unified Action will be a special call that—at a strategic moment—will be requested by the Legislative Response Team in support of, or opposition to, an especially important bill before the legislature. If you are already a member of the Unified Action team, you will receive the Action at the appropriate time.
Small Farms Institute Committee
Specially featured at the February meeting was a visit by Connie Falk and Sandy Geiger of the Small Farms Institute Committee. The Institute will be developed in cooperation with New Mexico State University and Doña Ana Community College and will have close affiliation with Heifer International. It is designed to support the thousands of small farms in New Mexico and to promote sustainable agriculture in the region. Bills to fund the institute are sponsored by local legislators Andy Nuñez in the House and Mary Kay Papen in the Senate. To help get the bills passed, keep an eye on Legislative Response Team alerts. To be involved in the institute’s development, contact Sandy.
Third Annual J. Paul Taylor Social Justice Symposium
Several speakers reminded us about the annual J. Paul Taylor Social Justice Symposium, which this year will focus on Environmental Justice. The symposium will be held March 29-31 on the NMSU campus. For a schedule of events, visit the symposium Web site.
Connie Richardson reported the Microcredit Lending Bank, which will loan small amounts of capital (average loan $100) to people in a village of some developing country, is moving steadily toward its goal of $5,000. This amount will launch our very own PVA microcredit bank, complete with regular reports to us about how the money is being spent. If you would like to participate or want more information, please contact Connie or visit the working group Web page.
Community Radio Stations and Public Access
Radio and television producer Kyle Johnson came from Silver City to urge us to take advantage of the opportunity to create a progressive educational/public affairs radio station in Las Cruces. An FCC license is currently available, and Kyle could help us go out and get it. He will also help us create Public Access channels on our local cable TV menu. For information on either of these exciting opportunities, contact Kyle. For more information about public access statewide visit the Web site of the New Mexico Coalition for Community Access Television.
Good Life Democrats
Charlotte Williams spoke about Good Life Democrats, which works from the premise that all should be treated with courtesy and respect for our intrinsic human value, and which acts to empower individuals and families. For more information, contact Charlotte.
Lenore Delgado is working with Peter Ossorio on Voter Protection, and they are already hard at work building a solid cadre of poll workers for 2008. If you would like to be a poll worker in upcoming elections, please contact Peter or Lenore.
Colonias Development Council
Veronica Carmona and Irma Castañeda of the Colonias Development Council and Vecinos Unidos de Chaparral spoke about upcoming hearings to determine whether Chaparral residents will be able to block a large landfill slated for their community. The Otero County Commission has already adopted a resolution opposing the project and the Doña Ana County Commission will consider a similar resolution at their meeting on Tuesday, February 27 at 9 a.m. at the County Building on Motel Boulevard. If you would like more information about this important community action, contact Veronica.
Opposition to the Mandatory Community Treatment Act
Al Galves spoke out against HB 609, the Mandatory Community Treatment Act, which would allow the state to forcibly administer anti-psychotic drugs to individuals judged to be mentally ill and dangerous to themselves or others. Many of these drugs have horrifying side effects, even as they would allow society to gloss over other, more effective treatment alternatives. For more information about this issue and about the New Mexico Advocates for Treatment Solutions, contact Al.
Impeachment of George Bush and Dick Cheney
Steve Klinger, Kyle Johnson, and Anita Allen all spoke at different points of the meeting about efforts currently underway to impeach the President and Vice-President via a little-known procedure that can begin at the state level, and which mandates at least a one hour discussion of the subject in the U.S. House of Representatives. There was to be a hearing on the New Mexico Senate bill for impeachment on Sunday, February 25, and attendees were urged to call Mary Kay Papen in support of that measure. For more information contact Steve, Kyle at or Anita.
New Programming at KRWG
John Hamilton asked for others to join him in advocating for new programming at KRWG radio to which the community could contribute. If you’re interested, call John at 526-2042.
Energy Fair in Las Cruces
Lou McCall announced that the Southwest Energy Alliance will be hosting an Energy Fair on Saturday, May 12 at the north end of the Downtown Mall. There are already 40 exhibitors signed up, and it should be a great event. People who would like to be sponsors of the event, who would like to help out, or who would like more information can contact Lou.
Bargaining Progress at NMSU
Troy Mickins of AFSCME reported good news from the ongoing struggle to get the NMSU administration to bargain in good faith with the union. The Labor Board accepted AFSCME’s complaint on behalf of the Head Start workers on campus and instructed NMSU that they couldn’t exclude them from raises given to everyone else. The next rally in support of the union will be Thursday, March 8, at noon on the NMSU horseshoe. For more information, contact Troy.
Recycling in Las Cruces
Bri Hines reported that recycling is not dead in Las Cruces! The city is going to appoint a task force with a member from each district in the city to really think about how Las Cruces can develop a viable recycling program. She urged those of us who have not already harassed our city councilor on the subject to write e-mails in support of the concept of curbside recycling. A single message can be sent to the mayor and all councilors via CityCouncil@las-cruces.org. To get involved in advocating for Las Cruces Recycling, contact Bri.
Nathan Small reported that progress continues toward the establishment of wilderness areas in Doña Ana County, and that he will continue to inform us as to what we need to do to make these wilderness areas a reality. As an added bonus, the Wilderness Alliance is leading walks into beautiful natural sites in the area every Saturday morning. To find out how to join one of these hikes, contact Nathan.
Kissling for Congress
Al Kissling announced that he is going to be a candidate for U.S. Congress in the Second Congressional District in 2008. Among his key areas of focus will be universal health care and revision of the No Child Left Behind Act. He passed out a survey to determine our interest in various issues and invited us to join him in his campaign. If you would like to get involved, visit Al’s Web site at or call him at 505-522-2970.
Ben Luchini described the movement toward Restorative Justice, which involves approaching criminal activity by bringing offenders and victims together so that a person who has harmed another can have the opportunity to repair the harm and make it right. It can be used in schools, neighborhoods, and families, and as part of the formal criminal justice system. To work with others who want to develop restorative justice alternatives, contact Ben.
Help for the Homeless
Nancy Anderson spoke about the importance of developing fair treatment of homeless people, and especially children of homeless families, by supporting two pieces of federal legislation which would revise the definition of “homeless” to include families living in motels and other transient living facilities. If you would like to find out how you can support these bills, or to find out more, contact Nancy.
Don Kurtz pointed out the decisive power of volunteer participation in elections, citing the recent election of Nate Cote and Jeff Steinborn to the House of Representatives, Karen Perez to the County Commission, and Bonnie Votaw and Connie Phillips to the Las Cruces School Board. He urged us to turn our attention to the November city elections in which there will be races for mayor and three council seats. Of special interest may be District 4, where Councilor Steve Trowbridge is not seeking reelection. To see a map of District 4 go to http://www.las-cruces.org/council/district4.shtm. If you or anyone you know might be interested in running for elective office, contact Don.
Democratic Party Precinct Elections
Gayle Radom announced that elections for precinct officers in the Democratic Party will take place at 6 p.m. on Thursday, March 22. The County Convention will take place on Thursday, April 5, and the State Convention will take place here in Las Cruces on Saturday April 28. For details, contact Gayle.
PVA Lunch Bunch
Zell Cantrell reported steadily growing attendance at the monthly meeting of the PVA Lunch Bunch. Everyone is welcome for an hour or so of unstructured conversation over lunch. Join the group on Thursday, March 1 at 11 a.m. at The Shed restaurant on Valley, a half mile or so north of Avenida de Mesilla. For more information, contact Zell.