May 23, 2019

Retake Our Democracy

Founders of Retake Our Democracy, Roxanne Barber and Paul Gibson, explained the purpose of their organization, which is to educate, activate, and organize to ultimately create social, racial, environmental, and economic justice at local, state and national levels.

“We believe that lasting social change is borne out of local activism, and to that end we are committed to support organizations already engaged in social justice work.”

Throughout the 2019 legislative session, alerts were sent every day about necessary actions to move the “must pass” bills forward. They produced in depth, easy to read, explanations of the bills and wanted to emphasize, “This is what you will hear… and here is the truth.” When asked about some highlights, Paul said seeing the Health Security Bill get resurrected was invigorating, while having HB51 (to decriminalize abortion) fail to pass was devastating.

They will be having a longer discussion about their work (where they also want to listen to the perspective of Southern New Mexicans) on Saturday, May 25, at 1:30pm, at SWEC.

For more information, or to sign up for their blogs or alerts, visit the website.

Johana Bencomo Announces Run for City Council, District 4

Lucas Herndon said he had a letter to read from a good friend. Here’s the letter, which he had to read very quickly due to the 2 minute time limit! Good thing for the recap!

Hi everyone,

My sincerest apologies I couldn’t be with you tonight. But by the time Lucas reads this to you I will be sitting on a beach in Mexico enjoying some much-needed time off. Especially given that the next 6 months are about to get very busy for me.

Today, through my trusted friend & colleague, Lucas, I announce that I am running for Las Cruces City Council District 4.

You all know that I have dedicated my career to social justice and building power with marginalized communities. Last year, after I completed the Emerge program with 50 other powerful women from across the state, a whole new door opened for me and for how I could serve my community. Our elected leaders should come from all walks of life, including immigrants and working class people – and that’s who I am.

I feel excited and ready for so many reasons. One being the diversity and the potential for growth in District 4. I won’t make Lucas tell you the plans and ideas I already have for reinvesting in key areas our District. Instead, I want to urge you to reach out to me individually and to encourage your friends and family members who live in District 4 to do so as well. I get back next Wednesday and would love to hear from you and share with you those ideas. Connie [Chapman] is my campaign manager, and she will have our contact information.

I will, however, make Lucas tell you about the time he made me cry just a few weeks ago. Many people encouraged me to run, and I am so deeply grateful for that. It wasn’t until I met with Lucas though, that things began to change for me. At lunch one day I was sharing with Lucas about a recent presentation I had just done at Arrowhead high school, where I got to debate another presenter, with very different views than me, about the current migration situation. After the very tense presentation a young girl came up to me. She was crying, sobbing really, and she told me she felt seen by me, that our stories were similar, and how thankful she felt that I had been there. After I shared this story with Lucas, he looks at me and says, “Can you imagine how many other young girls like her you could have on impact on if you ran for city council?”

That landed on me so heavily that I haven’t stopped thinking about it since and is truly one of the reasons I decided to rise to this responsibility and run to be the next City Councilor for District 4.

Please support our campaign with a donation or volunteer time. I look forward to seeing you all soon.

Thank you,
Johana

Campaign Kickoff
Saturday, June 8, 6:30pm
Amaro Winery, 402 S. Melendres, Las Cruces

For more information, email Johana or Connie or Lucas.

Up-to-the-Minute Update on that School Board Recall Attempt

Fresh from two days in court, School Board President, Ed Frank, filled us in on what was happening with the attempt to recall three school board members. Because of a new law, in order to initiate a recall, there must be significant evidence of malfeasance. On the first day of court, 5 of the group’s 8 complaints were thrown out. On the second day, the group (which calls themselves “Enough”) contended that the school board violated the Open Meetings Act, the Inspection of Public Records Act, and the policy to consult with city council when selecting a new site for a school. Ed feels confident about the board’s ability to disprove these frivolous accusations. He said they have certainly not violated the Open Meetings Act, they don’t actually have anything to do with IPRA requests, and they have not selected a new site for a school – Columbia Elementary will be rebuilt on the same site. The judge said he will give his decision in 10 days.

For more information, email Ed.

House Majority Whip Gives her Legislative Update

Rep. Doreen Gallegos said, “We worked hard for you this session!” 1,312 bills went through the legislature. She was proud to pass a contact lens bill and dental therapist bill. In addition, because she wants students who go to medical school in Las Cruces to have the same opportunities as they would in Albuquerque, a graduate medical education expansion grant bill was passed. You can see all of her sponsored legislation here, which includes a social work licensure bill (“You know I have to get in a plug for social workers,” she quipped), and a bill to require insurance companies to give people 90 days warning before their bill is increased.

For more information, (or to thank the Representative!) email Doreen.

Mayor Thanks the City for Supporting Asylum Seekers

“All the groundwork to support asylum seekers was already laid before the surge of people arrived in Las Cruces,” our Mayor, Ken Miyagishima, said. He wanted to thank city residents for stepping up and helping those who need our help and support.

Ken was asked if he’s running for re-election. Are you interested in his response? Yes? Oh, okay! He said, “I’m leaning heavily in the direction of running for reelection.”

For more information, email Ken.

*just fyi – you don’t have to pay to speak at PVA! Not filling out a yellow card, however, will get you side-eyed by our note-taker. Our friendly Mayor filled out his card perfectly! See:

Where did Rep. Doreen Gallegos spend her Capital Outlay Money?

Doreen did not have enough time to include this part in her two minutes (recapped above) so her husband, Scott Scanland, filled us in. About $1.27 million was split for the following: the Las Alturas area, equipment for several fire stations (including on the NMSU campus), police department equipment, KRWG, Farm & Ranch Museum, the migrant program CAMP, the Anthony Library, Anthony youth programs, and La Clinica. There you have it.

For more information, email Doreen.

No One Likes an Unnecessary Rate Increase for Utilities

“After July 30, we will see a 20% increase for our electric services,” Rocky Bacchus explained, “and this should be a 20% decrease.” Rocky said we need to encourage our city councilors and county commissioners to take a deep look at the El Paso Electric Rate Case and ask EPE to justify its expenditures. Perhaps it’s time to bring in the experts and some legal assistance. Rocky reasoned, “If we spend some money hiring experts now, we could end up saving consumers $100 million. So talk to your city and county representatives.”

For more information, email Rocky.

Local DCCC Staffer Stops by to Say Hi           

Andy Gutierrez introduced himself – he works with the DCCC or D-Triple-C, which stands for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. “I’m the DCCC staffer for CD2 and I’m here to make sure Xochitl Torres Small gets reelected,” he said. He hopes people will reach out to him to help with the effort.

For more information, email Andy or call 505-793-1376.

NM State Senate Candidate says, “The Time is Now”

Tracy Perry is running for Senate District 38, the district currently represented by Sen. Mary Kay Papen. You can read her campaign announcement here. Tracy, who is a single mom of three kids, and also a cancer survivor, said that she’s running to make a positive change for people. She was very disappointed that the New Mexico State Senate did not pass HB51, to decriminalize abortion. “I will always fight for women’s rights,” she said. “I don’t want New Mexico to become the next Alabama.” There are businesses who are now refusing to do business in states passing barbaric abortion laws, Tracy pointed out; she said we need to welcome these businesses to New Mexico, by assuring them that our state legislature takes women’s rights’ seriously. She also welcomes asylum seekers, supports investing in early childhood education, and wants to do what’s right for the environment. She is the CEO of a company which helps individuals with disabilities.

For more information, visit the campaign website or Facebook page.

This Bill Could Halt a War

Ali Scotten brought everything into perspective when he asked us, “Could we soon be in a disastrous war with Iran?” He implored, “Please call Rep. Xochitl Torres Small and ask her to support HR2354, which requires the House to approve any war declaration. Ask her to not only support the bill, but to take the lead on this important issue (she sits on the Armed Services Committee).” Xochitl Torres Small’s number in DC is 202-225-2365.  

For more information, email Ali.

Sharon Thomas: Passionate about Planning

Vice-president of the Federation of Democratic Women of Doña Ana County, Debra Hathaway, announced that the May “Conversations with Democrats” will be led by Sharon Thomas:

What are Comprehensive Plans for Cities and Counties, Why do Planners Develop Them, and What is the Updated Status for Las Cruces Right Now?
Saturday, May 25, 2pm
Holy Family American National Catholic Church
702 Parker Road, Las Cruces

For more information, visit the FDWDAC website.

Nomenclature. Also, Underwear.

Kurt Anderson wanted to point out that language is important when talking about the people seeking asylum in the U.S. He supports using the term “refugee” instead of “immigrant.” Click here to read how Amnesty International explains the difference between “refugees,” “asylum seekers,” and “migrants.”

“Also, the churches and facilities working with refugees are in need of small and medium underwear.”

For more information, email Kurt.

“I” Can Make a Difference

Judge Joy Goldbaum announced she is running for Presiding Judge – a position which will be on the November 5, 2019 ballot. This is considered the Presiding Judge position, or Municipal Judge I. Currently, Joy is Municipal Judge II. Joy said she believes in problem-solving courts, which will make communities safer. She pointed out that drug court and homeless court, for example, are evidence-based solutions to criminal justice.

She reminded us of some of the benefits of a homeless court – it would increase public safety, while decreasing incarceration and cost to the public. “It’s time for these programs to exist in the Las Cruces Municipal Court,” she stressed, explaining that unless she becomes Municipal Judge I, she will not be able to bring these programs to fruition. She hopes to have your support throughout her campaign, and added, “Vote for me!”

“Often times people don’t think the courts affect their lives, but they really do make a difference in our community.” (Note: it’s because of Joy that you can get married at the Municipal Court.) Click here to read how Joy explains her homeless court proposal.

For more information, email Joy.

DPDAC gets a Makeover

Chair of the Democratic Party of Doña Ana County, Mona Trempe, spoke about the new format of the DPDAC meetings. The meetings are the 4th Wednesday of the month, and will alternate between business meetings and “community building” meetings. For example, at the May meeting, there were presentations on training precinct officers and running effective meetings. The next meeting is June 26, 6pm, at Andele’s. To see agendas and district reports, click here. Mona welcomed people to join the email list, by signing up on the website.

For more information, email Mona or visit the Party website.

Try not to think about Mexican Wolf Pups

Oops, now you are thinking about Mexican Wolf pups. Well, you might as well watch this 90 second video about putting pups born in captivity with wolf foster moms in the wild. Peter Ossorio told us all about it and said the hope is to place them within 14 days of birth and “smush” them in with a wild litter, so the mom can’t tell the difference! This is called cross-fostering; Peter said this process has been successful with 12 pups this year, and that’s good news, but there’s still much to be done to increase the numbers of this endangered species.

photo from mexicanwolves.org

For more information, go to https://mexicanwolves.org/ or email Peter.

Let us see a Less Redacted Report!

Greg White let us know that Indivisible Las Cruces will hold a Direct Action from 10:00–10:30am on May 31, outside Representative Xochitl Torres Small’s office at 240 South Water Street in Las Cruces. The group is asking that concerned citizens write letters asking Ms. Torres Small to take affirmative public stands on three issues:

  1. the need for increased Congressional oversight on the Mueller report including access to a less redacted report and access to unlimited testimony from principles in the investigation and from persons directly mentioned in the report;
  2. support of actions recommended by the National Indivisible organization; and,
  3. support for hearings on the behavior of Donald Trump as President.

Letters may be hand delivered at the time of the direct action or, alternately, may be sent to wearein575@gmail.com, no later than Wednesday, May 29, for hand delivery by Indivisible at the action.

Letters should be addressed to:
U.S. Congresswoman Xochitl Torres Small
240 S. Water Street
Las Cruces, NM 88001

Greg also announced a community meeting, with speakers Kevin Bixby and Joann Vullo:

Indivisible Community Meeting
June 5, 10am
Sugie’s Restaurant, Downtown Mall

For more information, email Greg or visit the Indivisible Facebook Page.

SWEC Continues to Walk the Walk for the Environment… and Democracy

SWEC’s Executive Director, Kevin Bixby, wanted to applaud the County Commission for passing a resolution to stop funding lethal predator control in the county.

Kevin also reminded us that SWEC is part of of a lawsuit to halt the construction of the Trump Border Wall. He said 46 miles of border wall is planned for New Mexico. It is planned to wall off all of Doña Ana County and most of Luna County. Last week, five semis drove into Las Cruces with materials. However…

The really good (breaking) news is: An injunction was granted! “Further border wall construction in New Mexico and Arizona under Donald Trump’s emergency declaration has been postponed until further notice.” In a statement about this (temporary) victory, Kevin said:

This is a huge victory for border communities and wildlife, and for our democracy. A border wall is tremendously harmful to our wildlife. But Trump’s disregard for our constitution and separation of powers is even more threatening to our democracy. Congress gave him some money for a border wall, but he wasn’t satisfied and resorted to extralegal means to get much more to make good on his campaign pledge. The judge’s decision today to reign him in is an important affirmation that the rule of law still prevails, no matter who occupies the white house.

Click here to read the rest of this statement.

For more information, email Kevin or visit the SWEC website or Facebook page.

No More Fossil Fuel Generation, Please

Allen Downs provided the following update:

Sometime in the next few months, El Paso Electric (EPE) will be asking the Public Regulation Commission (PRC) for permission to add 200MW of solar, 100MW of battery storage, and a 226MW gas turbine generator. I believe we have a chance at preventing EPE from buying that gas generator.
Several years ago, when I first heard Merrie Lee Soules say that our goal should be to prevent EPE from adding any more fossil fuel generation, I thought it was unrealistic. But since the legislature has required that,
“No later than January 1, 2045, zero carbon resources shall supply 100% of all retail sale of electricity in New Mexico.”
And the City Council has passed a resolution committing the city to generate 100% of it’s own electricity from renewable energy by 2050. Merrie Lee’s goal looks achievable NOW! I believe we have a good chance of convincing the PRC to not allow EPE to buy a gas generator that will have a useful life of only about 20 years before it becomes obsolete, rather than the 40 years or so that EPE will probably use to justify its cost.
Mayor Miyagishima, in his State of the City address, said,
“The transition to an economy based on non-carbon fuel sources will be one of the greatest challenges our species has ever faced.”
If we all do our part we can meet that challenge. So, among other things, go buy yourself an electric car, put solar on your home, and urge the City & County to stay in the fight for no more EPE fossil fuel generators.

For more information, email Allen.

How do you win?

“Simple,” said campaign manager, Luis Guerrero, “Campaigns are won with the help of talkers, walkers, and knockers.” He is working with Judge Joy Goldbaum on her campaign for presiding municipal judge. He and Cheryl Frank (field director) welcome volunteers to come help talk, walk, and knock for Joy. That’s right, talk for Joy, walk for Joy, and knock for Joy. Just for good measure, go ahead and jump for Joy, too! Groan… sorry…

For more information, email Luis.

Opportunity to Learn about the Adelante Progressive Caucus

Kathy Wooten announced that the Adelante Progressive Caucus of the Democratic Party of New Mexico will be meeting at the Mesilla Community Center, on May 25, from 10:30 to 12:30. She said all are welcome to learn more about what APC has been doing, and about their goals for the future. State Representative Ferrary has been invited to speak, and representatives from AVID (Advocates Visiting Immigrants in Detention), and Retake our Democracy will also be there. 

For more information, email Kathy or visit the APC Facebook page.

Reppin’ for the Rep

“You might recognize me from my work on behalf of ranked choice voting,” said Ashleigh Beyer, who explained she is now a field representative for Rep. Xochitl Torres Small. “There are offices in Belen, Roswell, Carlsbad, and Las Cruces – please stop by and say hello!” The Las Cruces office is at 240. S. Water Street.

For more information, email Ashleigh.

PVA Meets Again:
Thursday, June 27, 2019, 7pm
Munson Senior Center

This will be a shortened meeting followed by the annual PVA party!
Don’t miss it!
More details coming soon.