The Executive Committee is charged with setting the general meeting agenda, selecting the monthly Unified Action, and managing the organization’s finances. In addition, they are required to present an annual report on the state of the PVA. The 2006 Annual Report was authored by Jim Moore, approved by the Executive Committee, and presented to the group by Ann Gutierrez.Ann stressed that everyone is welcome to participate in Executive Committee meetings, which are held at 5:30 p.m. on the second Thursday of each month at the Mesilla Park Recreation Center. Comments and suggestions may also be communicated to current executive committee members by phone or e-mail.
Legislative Response Team
The Legislative Response Team, which was so successful during the legislative session last January, is again in action in 2007. 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 on key votes involving progressive legislation. Already over 60 participants have signed up. If you would like to join them, please contact Response Team coordinator Jim Moore at email@example.com. Many issue leaders will be assisting Jim by tracking legislation and identifying key votes as they come up. Several spoke briefly at the meeting. Please contact the following people if you want more information about the legislative agenda in a particular area:
- Ban on cockfighting
- Repeal of the death penalty
- Clean energy
- Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender (GLBT) issues
- Health Care Reform
- Public Financing of Elections
- Minimum Wage and Labor Issues
- Small Farms Institute/Sustainable Agriculture
Connie Richardson reported on progress toward the establishment of a microcredit lending bank, which would loan small amounts of capital (average loan $100) to people in a village of some developing country. (Bangladeshi economist Muhammad Yunus won last year’s Nobel Peace Prize for originating the concept of microcredit banking.) Our local effort is affiliated with FINCA, and the local committee has already raised $1,000 of the $5,000 needed to have a specific bank opened as our own 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 at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chris Hines urged everyone to sign up for the monthly PVA Unified Action, which is the one time during the month when we bring our collective weight to bear on behalf of some kind of progressive issue or legislation. You can use the PVA Web signup form to become a Unified Action participant.
Steve Fischmann thanked all Unified Action participants for their role, as part of an Emergency Unified Action in January, in convincing the Las Cruces City Council not to sign a projected long-term franchise agreement with El Paso Electric until renewable energy requirements and other consumer-friendly provisions have been considered. Clearly our deluge of opposition—councilors reported receiving well over 100 e-mails opposing the renewal—was a key factor in the council’s decision.
Mark your calendar, because this month’s Unified Action requires our calling Governor Richardson on February 1 or 2, as part of a statewide call-in to convince him to get behind the Health Security Act.
Candidates for School Board
Two candidates for the Las Cruces School Board made presentations at the meeting, seeking our support in the upcoming election on Tuesday, February 6. The candidates, with web sites where you can get more information about their background and positions, are listed below.
Bonnie Votaw, District 4, Bonnie’s Web site
Connie Phillips, District 5, Connie’s Web site
Working Groups, Other Organizations and General Announcements
Contract Talks at NMSU
Diane Foglizzo of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) reported on their on-going frustration with the NMSU administration’s unwillingness to negotiate in good faith on a new contract. They had just filed a complaint with the state labor board, and will be sending members to Santa Fe to lobby on Monday, January 29. For more information on this issue, phone Diane at 202-297-9195 or send her an e-mail.
John Hamilton reported on efforts by the City of Las Cruces and NMSU to improve pedestrian safety in the city. John is the main citizen-pedestrian involved in this process and he can be contacted at 526-2042.
Rebekah Garcia, the newly elected president of the NMSU College Democrats, brought us up to date on the activities of this busy and highly effective group. She also thanked PVA’ers financial support of the Giving Tree project in which three needy families received help over the holidays. The College Democrats won first place among all campus groups in raising money for this project. For more information about the College Democrats you can contact Rebekah.
J. Paul Taylor Social Justice Symposium
Brigitte Hines announced that the J. Paul Taylor Social Justice Symposium will be held March 29 to 31 on the NMSU campus, and that opportunities are still available to present papers at that event. For more information, send e-mail to Bri.
Health Care Working Group
Sharon Thomas spoke in favor of the Unified Action on behalf of the Health Security Act, and also gave an overview of the health care plans currently being studied by the State of New Mexico:
- the Health Security Act,
- a Massachusetts-style voucher system, and
- a plan which continues the current health care paradigm, with an expansion of Medicaid to more families.A report from the firm contracted to study these options will be out in April, with recommendations of the Health Reform Commission going to the governor in June, and legislation to be considered in the 2008 session. For more information, contact Sharon at email@example.com.
Public Regulation Commission
Ed Fulmer reminded us that another elected body makes important decisions that affect our lives, including the Public Regulation Commission, which will decide on a large rate increase petition by El Paso Electric later this year. To find out more about the PRC and for excellent coverage of energy issues in general, go to Ed’s blog at http://alternativecomment.blogspot.com/.
Win Jacobs, vice chair of the Las Cruces Housing Authority, informed us that the current troubles involving the Housing Authority at the state level have nothing to do with the Las Cruces and Doña Ana County Housing Authorities, which continue to do very good and important work in providing our citizens with affordable housing. For more information, send e-mail to Win.
Doña Ana County Wilderness
Nathan Small filled us in on the current state of negotiations for the creation of wilderness areas in Doña Ana County. The special committee of “stakeholders” convened by the City of Las Cruces was not able to reach a consensus plan, but Nathan indicated that he thinks there is a larger consensus in this area, and that is for protection of large areas of wilderness in the Organ Mountains and other important areas. He will keep us posted on what we have to do to bring that larger consensus to bear on the decision-making process, and also invited us to come on Saturday hikes into Broad Canyon and other beautiful areas. For more information, send e-mail to Nathan.
Peter Ossorio had two things that he wanted to communicate to PVAers—thank you for our strong effort in Voter Protection in the 2006 election (which included the efforts of 35 people just among the group in attendance at the meeting), and start early which are the key words to remember as we look to 2008. Peter urged people interested in protecting the vote to attend Democratic Party Central Committee meetings, the next of which, on Thursday, February 15 (at a building directly east, across the downtown mall, from the Democratic Headquarters) will feature a discussion of this issue. For information on that meeting or on Protecting the Vote efforts generally, contact Peter at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Impeach George Bush and Dick Cheney
Anita Allen reported on efforts to support a resolution in the New Mexico Legislature that calls for the impeachment of President Bush and Vice-President Cheney. for more information, send e-mail to Anita.
Opening on Library Board, District 5
Sue Brown announced that there is an opening on the Branigan Library Board for someone who lives in City Council District 5. Interested people should contact District 5 Councilor Gil Jones at email@example.com.
Anthony Avallone announced that he will be teaching a class on Democracy as part of the Doña Ana Community College continuing education program. The class will meet on the first 3 Wednesdays in February from 6- 8 pm. More information about the class is available from Anthony at 524-8915.
Organizing Childcare Workers
Maria Francisca-Torres announced AFSCME plans to organize childcare workers in this area, especially the thousands of independent childcare workers in this area, so that they can receive regular training, work under established state standards, and be able to bargain collectively in negotiations concerning per-child subsidy paid by the state. If you would like more information, or would like to be involved personally in this project, call Maria at 773-335-9682 or send her an e-mail.
Spaceport Meets Camino Real
Mary Helen Ratje reported that land for the proposed Spaceport will include an area crossed by the historic Camino Real, the oldest road in the United States, and it’s not clear that the Camino Real and its historical resources will be adequately protected. Mary Helen will be tracking this issue for us— for more information contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bri Hines reported on the citizen resistance that was faced by Curbside Recycling at community forums, but vowed that the quest for a viable recycling program in Las Cruces will not be abandoned. She requested help in carrying the flag on this project over the next few months – if you would like to help out or want more information, contact Brigitte at email@example.com.
Community Organization Workshop
Lynn Rodenhuis of AFSCME reminded us of the Community Organization Workshop that the union will hold on Saturday, February 3, from 9:15 a.m. to 5 p.m., at the Munson Senior Center. There will be a wide variety of participants, including people from AFSCME, the Colonias Development Council, the NMSU AFSCME chapter, NMSU students, and PVAers, and the focus will be on analyzing the local power structure and seeing what projects we might be able to focus on together. Lunch will be provided. If you want more information or would like to participate, please contact Lynn at LRodenhuis@afscme.org.