May 27, 2021 – Virtual PVA

Book recommendation for you

Jim R. Moore says Bill McKibben’s new book FALTER is worth the time. “It really opened my eyes to how and why some of the super rich, such as the Koch Brothers (see Chapter 10) think they have no responsibility to support the masses. Also interesting info about Artificial Intelligence and how that could negatively impact humanity. It would be a depressing book, except for Bill’s optimism that we might still solve our most pressing problems.” The book is available at the Branigan Memorial Library.

For more information, contact Jim.

Register Voters at the Las Cruces Farmers and Crafts Market

Stewart and Karena Oberman report that if you are a Voter Registration Agent (VRA) you can help with the Doña Ana County Summer 2021 drive to register new voters and help registered voters check their status and change their address, party, etc. This is a strictly non-partisan event, happening weekly at the Las Cruces Farmers and Crafts Market on N. Main St. every Saturday morning from 9 am to 1 pm.  If you would like to help out, please click here for the sign up sheet. (If you are a VRA and haven’t been receiving notices of VRA opportunities, please let Stewart and Karena know.)

If you are NOT a VRA, you can call the Doña Ana County Bureau of Elections ((575) 647-7428) and schedule an appointment to become a VRA. The procedure is very easy and takes about 10-20 minutes. If you are unsure if you are a VRA, click here to check your status.

For more information, contact Stewart and Karena.

Building Back Better with a Public Bank for New Mexico

Over the past 6 weeks the Alliance for Local Economic Prosperity team has mined their learnings from the 2021 Legislative Session and renewed their commitment to work with legislators to pass legislation that creates a state-owned public bank. 

Responding to a need for more education and analysis, AFLEP will work with an intern from Arizona State University this summer to perform economic research. They will expand their outreach to communities off the I-25 corridor to invite community conversations and learn more about unfinanced community needs and opportunities. Interim committees have been announced and AFLEP will request hearings with several committees and request appropriations for a public bank.

AFLEP is appreciative of the ongoing support of its allies and looks forward to engaging in its public bank campaign with renewed vigor. The public bank will provide financing access never before available to local businesses. The ripples created will be felt in increased jobs, new business infrastructure, regenerative food production, new solutions to community stagnation, new hope for young families who want to stay here – all changes from the bottom up, all changes directed by people who want to thrive in New Mexico. 

For more information about what a public bank can do for New Mexico and how you can assist AFLEP’s campaign, visit www.AFLEP.org.

New Energy Economy shines light on PNM-Avangrid merger

New Energy Economy continues to object to the proposed merger between Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM) with the large multi-national Avangrid because it would award over $700 million in financial benefits to current shareholders  (just for owning stock), and $80 million to six individual PNM executives — as compared with $50 million to be divided among 480,000 PNM ratepayers. The merger, if approved, would also require the abandonment and securitization of the Four Corners coal power plant, costing PNM ratepayers $300 million and not even closing down the plant, which would be taken over and operated by another company!  New Energy Economy also points to questionable past actions by Avangrid that have been detrimental to ratepayers where they currently operate. NEE is circulating a petition to alert the Public Regulation Commission to these many concerns — you can sign and share it here.  

Find out more here, or you can contact NEE’s Saraswati Khalsa at 505-989-7262.

An unexpected vision of the future

Like many of us, Don Kurtz says he would see huge trucks around him in traffic and sometimes despair about the adoption of electric vehicles.  At least that was until he watched a short video on the new electric Ford F-150 pickup and saw the future unfold!  Ford is betting their future on electric, so it’s exciting! The electric F-150  won’t be on the market until 2022, but if you rush out and buy one then, Don hopes you will remember to swing by and give him a ride!  Maybe we can even find some heavy stuff to pull!  

For more info, contact Don.

Here is an update on El Paso Electric (EPE):

There are several regulatory actions involving El Paso Electric (EPE) ongoing at the

Public Regulation Commission (PRC). EPE has:

  • Requested permission to abandon their oldest power plant (hearing set for 14 July).
  • Requested a variance to charge around $6 million of claimed extra February purchased power costs due to the February freeze, spread over 12 months. (Allen discussed this in March.)
  • Filed a rate case requesting rate increases (a recommended decision has been filed suggesting a rate decrease – Allen discussed this last month).

EPE has also filed a Transportation Electrification Plan which proposes to offer, during 2021 and 2022, rebates for the purchase and/or installation of electric vehicle charging equipment, a public outreach program to encourage the use of electric vehicles, and rates that offer low cost electricity for charging during the early morning hours.

Merrie Lee Soules, Phil Simpson, and the City (Lisa LaRocque – Sustainability Officer & Joe Provencio – a director in the utilities department) have filed testimony along with two nonprofits and a charging equipment manufacturer. While each intervener had a different emphasis, Allen would summarize the testimony as requesting that the plan be extended through 2023 and be increased in size from $0.5 million to $1.5 million or even $3 million. Interveners also suggested more emphasis on poor and underserved communities, and more rebates for public, rather than private, EV charging equipment.

There were also suggestions for changes in the proposed rates as well as several other

ideas to improve EPE’s plan. The City continues to fight for us in this and other cases, so when next you talk with, or write to, the Mayor or a City Councilor, please thank them for their commitment to intervening for us. And as more electric vehicles are sold, EPE’s sales of electricity can be expected to increase, so it is also important that we remember Merrie Lee’s battle cry – NO NEW FOSSIL FUEL GENERATION!

For more information, email Allen.

Casa de Peregrinos: An Evening of Hope

CdP Board Member, Eric Walkinshaw announced that CdP will hold its first online auction on June 11, 2021. You’ll be able to bid on things like staycations, gift baskets, electronics, furniture, watches, and more. The event can be accessed at www.nmestateauctions.com. Eric would like to express his gratitude to Mesilla Valley Estate Sales for sponsoring the online auction. 

From May 28 to June 11, 2021 you will be able to bid on products and look for the television event on June 5, 2021 from 7-8 pm on the El Paso/Las Cruces CW. You can also access www.cdeperegrinos.org for our website with more information of other programs at Casa de Peregrinos, such as the Hope for Tomorrow program for a new home for the Las Cruces Pantry which helps us fully serve families of Doña Ana County who need our support. “Thanks in advance for your participation in any of our programs,” says Eric. 

Graham to Run for City Council District 3 Seat

Connie Chapman reported that Becki Graham, a longtime resident of District 3, will soon be announcing her run for the City Council seat to be vacated by Gabe Vasquez. Becki moved to Las Cruces in 2000 to attend NMSU, where she earned graduate degrees in anthropology and English. In her time as a Las Crucen, she has taken a keen interest in local issues and looks forward to the opportunity to serve her community. 

Building on the work Councilor Vasquez has championed for equitable distribution of City resources, improved infrastructure, and projects that can increase community pride and empowerment, Becki is also interested in increasing her district’s participation in City planning and development. “While the challenges of the past year have, at times, seem overwhelming, we have also discovered new opportunities for involvement in our communities. As we worked together to overcome obstacles, more people have become invested in what is happening in their local spheres. I want to find ways to bring more and more voices into the City Council,” Graham noted.

A campaign website will be launching shortly, and Connie will make sure PVA is updated on all developments. For more information, please email Becki or Connie.

Becky Corran, running for LC City Council, District 5: building an equitable, healthy future  

“Hi, I’m Becky Corran and I’m running for City Council, District 5,” says Becky, introducing herself. She tells us, “In public health, we are trained to look upstream to solve problems. Access to health care, affordable housing, outdoor recreation and living wages were key for our survival during the pandemic. Broadening and strengthening that access is essential to District 5’s future growth and success, and the City Council is the place (upstream) where those things happen. 

As your councilor for District 5, I will bring a strategic approach, informed by over twenty years as an educator and public health professional. I have worked with diverse communities, including LGBTQ+ populations, emergency managers and community health workers (promotores de salud.)  Additionally, I have served as a leader in a wide range of settings and on numerous community boards, including ACTion Programs for Animals and Emerge New Mexico.  I know that listening reflectively, collaborating heartfully and orienting toward action are the foundations of building and growing our communities.  

Please consider supporting the campaign by volunteering or donating.” You can donate by going here: https://secure.actblue.com/donate/becky-corran-for-5 

For more information, email Becky or her Campaign Manager, Connie Chapman.  

District 6 City Councilor Yvonne Flores running for reelection 

Councilor Flores will be running for reelection, saying, “It has been my honor to serve and work for the residents of District 6 and the City of Las Cruces. There is more important work to be done….and I’m up for the challenge. The support I received in 2017 from you all was vital to my being elected and I look forward to earning that support once again. Stay tuned for announcements with my updated website, Facebook, campaign email, etc. In the meantime, you can feel free to email me or Connie Chapman.” One more thing: check out the Keep Las Cruces Beautiful event happening in Yvonne’s district. The info is below.

How you can help “Keep Las Cruces Beautiful”

Volunteers are needed! Get rid of weeds, trash, junk, graffiti and other debris in your neighborhood the Team Up to Clean Up way!

The Parks & Recreation Department Keep Las Cruces Beautiful (KLCB) will conduct its next Team Up to Clean Up event from 7 a.m. to noon Saturday, May 29, in City Council District 6, represented by Councilor Yvonne Flores. A roll-off container, provided by Las Cruces Utilities Solid Waste, will be available at East Mesa Bataan Memorial Pool, 6141 Reynolds Drive, for District 6 residents to utilize during event hours only.

Keep Las Cruces Beautiful and Las Cruces Police Department Codes Enforcement will have a supply station at the location. They will provide specific clean up locations and any additional information.

Recruit your neighbors and friends to join efforts to maintain property beginning where you live. Anyone living in City Council District 6 can contribute to the City’s beautification by joining KLCB to help clean up their neighborhood!

More than 60 tons of trash was collected during the recent Great American Cleanup, in April.

To find your City Council district, go to: https://las-cruces.maps.

To sign up for “Team Up to Clean Up” district events, or for information about KLCB, contact Coordinator James Woods at 575/528-4506 or send an email to KLCB@las-cruces.org. 

Support for Diversification

A collaboration of educators and others concerned that New Mexico’s government is headed toward a major fiscal crisis as state revenues from the Oil and Gas industries continue to decline are seeking education-focused groups to participate in an organizational sign-on letter.  The letter is being created for distribution soon. It will simply express concern that while the revenues received for education are important, but now the industry is declining, and so our leaders need to support revenue diversification now, before it’s too late.  

To receive a copy of the sign-on letter for possible signing by your group (or for individuals to help with their own Letter to the Editor or OpEd on the topic), please contact Charles Goodmacher at (505) 450-3155. 

Message from our Distinguished City Councilor Gill Sorg

“By now many of you may have heard that I am not running for re-election to the City Council in District 5. This is the 12th year of a total of 3 terms on the Council and it’s time for someone else to serve in that position. I feel I have accomplished a lot in the last 11-12 years, from a minimum wage increase to many Climate Change initiatives. But there is more to do, including the current natural gas rate case with Las Cruces Utilities. For climate reasons, we, like cities throughout the country, must greatly reduce our dependence on burning fossil fuels. Therefore, I am asking that we not continue to add to the challenge, and that the Utilities not extend additional gas infrastructure into areas not currently being served. I am also asking that the new 122 acre city-owned East Lohman development be net zero energy.”  

For more information, contact Gill.

Childhood poverty – we all lose

Rich Renner explains that there’s a severe housing crisis in the US which was significantly compounded by the COVID pandemic. More than a third of children live in households that are burdened by housing costs. New Mexico has had the highest increase in homelessness (2018-2019) in the nation, and ranks number 50 for childhood poverty for the last 5 years. Only 25% of American families eligible for housing vouchers receive them. The consequences include poorer health and education outcomes for these children

Solutions include increasing affordable housing and ensuring that housing vouchers are available for all who are eligible. Also making permanent the recent temporary expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Child Tax Credit (CTC) for low-income workers and families.  Permanent expansion of the EITC and CTC, along with fully funded housing vouchers could cut child poverty by 2/3’s. Congress needs to act to make this happen.

ACTION: call or email members of Congress and urge them to talk with their Congressional leadership to: 1) make affordable housing a national priority,  2) fully fund housing voucher program to serve all who qualify, and 3) make the expansion of the EITC and CTC permanent.  

Representative Yvette Herrell   202-225-2365  
Senator Martin Heinrich 202-224-5521      
Senator Ben Ray Lujan  202-224-6621  

More info at RESULTS.org, or contact Rich.   

Alameda Blvd. needs a road diet!

Amy Simpson reports that the Alameda Depot Neighborhood Association recently passed this resolution advocating for a Road Diet on Alameda Blvd. She asks us to please sign and share this petition to Mayor Miyagishima and Las Cruces City Council:

No matter what side of town we live on, whether we rent or own, walk, ride, or drive, we all deserve safe streets. When we push our strollers, ride our bikes, and walk our dogs, we have the right to be safe. 

Speeding vehicles, dangerous crossings, lack of bike lanes, nonexistent shoulders, and narrow sidewalks make walking and riding along Alameda Boulevard hazardous. Despite LCPD enforcement efforts, Alameda Blvd. still suffers from rampant speeding. Every seven minutes a vehicle goes by at 51-55 MPH; every 18 minutes one speeds by at 56-60 MPH; once an hour one zooms by at 61-65 MPH and at least once a day one races by at more than 80 MPH! On a street with a 30 MPH speed limit. 

ROAD DIETS, when implemented as part of resurfacing are an inexpensive and effective way to IMPROVE SAFETY and REDUCE VEHICLE SPEEDING without negatively impacting traffic volume. ALAMEDA BLVD. NEEDS A ROAD DIET.

On behalf of the undersigned individuals, organizations, and businesses, we urge you:

  • Commit to resurfacIng Alameda Blvd between Picacho and Amador in the next calendar year. 
  • Commit to implementing a “ROAD DIET” by re-striping this four-lane street to one lane in each direction, bike lanes, and, where appropriate, a two-way left turn lane, when the City resurfaces Alameda.
  • Commit to implementing a more complete ROAD DIET addressing structural recommendations from the Active Transportation during full reconstruction of Alameda (scheduled for 2027 or beyond).

Here’s a letter for businesses and organizations to sign. (Bite of Belgium, Velo Cruces, Monument Loop, and Outdoor Adventures have signed on so far).  Here’s a link to a PDF of the petition so you can print and circulate your own if you prefer hard copies.

For more information, email Amy.