Legislative Response Team
Jim Moore summarized a very successful season for the Legislative Response Team. There were 82 regular participants, with many other participants activated through more informal networks, including political activists at the Unitarian Universalist Church, the College Democrats, and the Stonewall Coalition at NMSU. Legislators and capitol staff all reported that our calls were definitely noticed whenever an LRT alert went out.
Among the victories were a minimum wage bill, the defeat of subsidies for the Desert Rock coal power plant, and establishment of the Small Farms Institute. A number of other important bills, including domestic partnership legislation, were passed by the House and await consideration by the Senate during the current Special Session. For a complete rundown on the outcome of bills the LRT was involved with, go to the 2007 LRT summary. For more information about the LRT, contact Jim Moore.
After recent Unified Actions at the local and state level, this month’s Unified Action turns to the federal level, where we are contacting Senator Jeff Bingaman to seek a moratorium on drilling for oil and natural gas on the Otero Mesa. To participate in this action, proposed by Cathilia Flores of the Southwest Environmental Center, visit the Unified Action for April .
A large crowd at the PVA meeting enjoyed hearing a wealth of information concerning the Spaceport project. This information was provided by Bill McCamley who spoke in favor of the Spaceport, Junior Billstone who raised concerns, and by members of the audience who contributed greatly to the discussion. Early voting for the Spaceport is currently underway at the County Building and all regular polling places will be used on Election Day, Tuesday, April 3. If you have questions or want more information, you can send e-mail to Bill McCamley or Junior Billstone.
Joe Alexander urged us to attend a special open air mass in El Paso at 2 p.m. on Saturday, April 14. The theme will be Justice for Immigrants: One Table, One People. The mass, which is part of the Voice for the Voiceless series, will be conducted by Cardinal Roger Mahoney, Archbishop of Los Angeles, and will be held in the street in front of Annunciation House, on the corner of San Antonio and St. Vrain in El Paso. For more information, send e-mail to Joe.
Health Reform in New Mexico
Vicki Simons reported on progress made on the Health Security Act in the New Mexico legislature, an act which will provide comprehensive health care for all residents of the state. The Act made it through several committees before finally stalling in a finance committee— this was the best showing for the Health Security Act yet, and it reflects the steadily building momentum of its support throughout the state. Not this session, Vicki told us, but soon. For more information, contact Vicki.
Wolves and the Wild
Nathan Small announced that the Mexican wolf reintroduction program will be considered by the New Mexico Game and Fish Commission at 9 a.m. next Wednesday, March 28 at the Mesilla Valley Inn on Avenida de Mesilla. In preparation for this important meeting, there will be a Wilderness Coalition briefing and sign-painting party at the Southwest Environmental Center, on the downtown mall at Las Cruces Street, at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, March 27. Pizza will be provided. Wolf reintroduction enjoys wide support among New Mexicans, and it’s important that wilderness lovers let the commission see that support at the Wednesday meeting. For information on wilderness-based activities, contact Nathan.
PVA Lunch Bunch
Zell Cantrell announced that the PVA Lunch Bunch will meet for socializing and unstructured conversation at 11 a.m. on Thursday, March 29 at the Paisano Cafe in Mesilla (near the Mesilla Lorenzo’s). For information, contact Zell.
South Valley Alliance
Mitch Boyer introduced the South Valley Alliance which is especially active on social, economic, and environmental issues affecting rural communities south of Las Cruces. For more information, contact Mitch.
Pat Taylor announced that a series of hands-on workshops will be held this spring and summer for people interested in building with adobe and using traditional plastering techniques. He also announced that there will be a town meeting in Mesilla to discuss plans for the Barela-Taylor Museum on the plaza, which will be held at the Town of Mesilla Town Hall on Tuesday, March 27, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. For more information contact Pat.
Organizing Child Care Workers
Rosa Soto of AFSCME and Dora Dorado of the Colonias Development Council spoke on the campaign to organize the 4,000 independent child care workers in New Mexico, many of whom work for as little as 70 cents an hour, with no insurance or other benefits. For information, contact Dora at 505-805-2427.
Small Farms Institute
Jeff Graham announced that the Small Farms Institute is now a reality and he thanked PVAers and participants in the Legislative Response Team for their support of the legislation. The legislation was sponsored by Rep. Andy Nuñez in the House and by Senator Mary Kay Papen in the Senate, and key support was provided by Rep. Jeff Steinborn. The wheels are in motion, and Jeff and others in the sustainable agriculture movement will be working hard in cooperation with NMSU and other agencies to build a successful institute. For more information, contact Jeff.
Weekend Wilderness Hikes
Joshua Holguin of the Doña Ana County Wilderness Coalition invited us to participate in weekend hikes into area wilderness sites, sponsored by the Wilderness Alliance. This is a great way to renew ourselves as we rediscover local natural treasures. For more information call 505-527-9962 or contact Nathan Small or Joshua.
Democratic Precinct Positions
Mary Lujan came to the PVA meeting after attending her local precinct meeting, where she noted that many precinct officer positions went unfilled. Jim Moore offered to help match interested PVAers with open precinct positions. If you’re interested, please contact Jim.
Ben Luchini described the process of restorative justice, in which criminal offenders are brought into contact with the victims of their crimes so that real understanding of the impact of their offenses can be understood, amends made, and community restored. He asked whether people were interested in attending a local workshop on the subject, and finding that we were, he said he will work on scheduling one. For more information contact Ben.
Chris Hines announced that there will be a large Energy Fair on Saturday, May 12, on the Downtown Mall. The fair will feature demonstrations and information about clean energy, renewable fuels, conservation, energy efficiency, and much more. For more information, see the Energy Fair flyer.
NMSU Organizing Drive
Lynn Rodenhuis gave us an update on contract talks for AFSCME workers at NMSU. The University is finally bargaining more seriously, with three full days of negotiation scheduled for March 23-25. She thanked us for our strong continued support of their efforts and invited us to a Community Caucus with NMSU workers and our Doña Ana County legislators at noon, Wednesday, March 28, Aggie Underground in Corbett Center on the NMSU campus. For more information, contact Lynn.
Third Annual J. Paul Taylor Social Justice Symposium
Sandy Geiger urged our attendance at the upcoming J. Paul Taylor Symposium on Environmental Justice, which will be held March 29-31 on the NMSU campus. For more information, visit the symposium Web site.