September 22, 2022

Free legal clinics coming to Hatch, La Union, and Chaparral

Robert Lara participates in a series of legal and health clinics sponsored by Salud y Vida Con Amigos. The clinic will provide free legal advice (not representation*) answering questions on areas including consumer debt, family law, probate, public benefits, and more. Robert said the clinics have been going well and there have even been three cases taken pro bono because attorneys felt the *need for legal representation was critical. In October clinics will be held in Hatch, La Union, and Chaparral.

For more information send email to Robert.

NEA doesn’t just endorse candidates–it works to elect them

Shirley Baca announced that she is working with NEA to elect the candidates they’ve endorsed including Governor Lujan-Grisham, Gabe Vasquez, Nathan Small, and Willie Madrid.

Shirley thanked the people who supported her sister, Judge Judy, who won her bid to become probate judge. She also thanked listeners of “Speak Up, Las Cruces,” the morning interview program on KTAL, which she hosts along with Peter Goodman and Walt Rubel.

For more information send email to Shirley.

Lynn Middle School mock trial program is looking for jurors

Silvia Delgado introduced herself as a brand new local attorney currently working at the Federal Public Defender’s Office. She is coaching the first annual mock trial for New Mexico middle schools. Her team is from Lynn Middle School, and she is looking for fair-minded jurors willing to give honest feedback to the students.

For more information send email to Silvia.

Affordable housing is on the ballot November 8

Sharon Thomas announced that she is part of a coalition working on getting funding for affordable housing in Las Cruces. The City Council has designated 6 million of the 125 million general obligation bond for affordable housing. Sharon asked us to be sure to vote for affordable housing and promised that doing so does not increase taxes or fees.

For more information send email to Sharon and call her at 575-644-2517.

A GOTV campaign with a record of success

Terry Miller asked for volunteers to work on a Get Out the Vote project that will target Democrats who don’t usually vote in midterm elections. It’s based on the fact that when Democrats in Doña Ana County vote, Democratic candidates win. This GOTV project has the backing of the Democratic Party’s Coordinated Campaign and supports all the Democratic candidates on the ballot in Doña Ana County. 

Terry pointed out that a similar project in 2018 was hugely successful. In that election over 50% of the unlikely voters who received door hangers actually went out and voted in the election, and Democrats up and down the ballot won. 

Three different door hangers will be distributed throughout the county October 5 to 10, October 19 to 25, and November 1 to 7. Volunteers will work with a partner (one to drive and one to place the door hanger). Terry will work with your schedule and get you a partner if you need one. It’s doable!

For more information send email to Terry and call her at 575-635-2637.

Reading Buddies–What’s not to like?

Jennifer Krei invited volunteers to become reading buddies, a program sponsored by the Children’s Reading Alliance. “It’s fun and it’s easy,” she said and added that there are no lesson plans, no prep. You just need to show up with a positive attitude and read with a young student.

For more information send email to Jennifer and call her at 575-571-0300.

The Union seeks to unite us and protect our democracy

Jon Hill invited us to join The Union, a nationwide, nonpartisan coalition dedicated to saving our democracy from the authoritarian attacks it currently faces. The idea is to match volunteers with the causes and campaigns and candidates that can use their skills. You join The Union online and indicate your interests and abilities; you then receive information each week about the campaigns and candidates who need your help (your energy, not your money).

For more information send email to Jon and call him at 831-737-2374.

Civilian Police Oversight Committee

Peter Goodman said that the Civilian Police Oversight Committee is not dead yet. He expects that the proposal will be introduced to the City Council. When the proposal is being considered, public support and advocacy will be essential to having an effective committee with subpoena power and genuine authority. Peter opined that the mayor and police chief will probably not be in favor.

For more information send email to Peter and call him at 575-489-7090.

Controversy at Municipal Court, the beat goes on

Grant Price spoke of the troubles at the municipal court (which appear to stem from the question of how indigent defendants charged with nonviolent crimes will be treated). He noted that the Sun-News has done a decent job of describing the troubles and made the following point: “The actions of our mayor and city council and city attorney are unacceptable. Their responsibility is to support the court, but instead they are injecting power politics into the conduct of the municipal court.” Grant declared that citizens, by voting to retain judges or not, are responsible for how the court is managed.

For more information call Grant at 575-202-3186.

Shoutout for Doña Ana County Commissioner Shannon Reynolds

Maria Flores noted with dismay and consternation that some Democrats are not supporting Councilor Reynolds in his bid for reelection. “He supported me when I was on the School Board, and he did it very quietly,” she said. She pointed out that he showed up at meetings, including the most contentious, and his presence made a difference. Maria urged us to remember that we have common goals, and it doesn’t turn out well when we tear each other down.

For more information send email to Maria.

Mental health and policing

Ernest Flores expressed concern about the Las Cruces police and use of force, especially in the treatment of individuals in a mental health crisis. He spoke of the erosion of trust between the community and police and his personal knowledge of people who are afraid to call the police for help. He mentioned the fact that many communities are using successful methods of crisis intervention and de-escalation. [CAHOOTS, a longstanding program in Eugene, Oregon, is one well-documented example.] He urged support of the Civilian Police Oversight Committee effort in Las Cruces.

For more information send email to Ernest.

Everything energy

Allen Downs gave us his usual succinct report on EPE, PRC, and all things energy. He

said that El Paso Electric is asking for an additional $5.7 million dollars for fuel for February 2021 when cold weather paralyzed much of Texas (not El Paso). Intervenors argued that the payment would be a windfall since EPE didn’t spend that money. No decision has been made. 

EPE plans to replace our current electric meters with smart meters. Rocky Bacchus of Yellowbird Services and Merrie Lee Soules agree that the technology to be used is obsolete and the costs exceed the benefits. Nothing has been filed in this case since last July.

The term of office of all five of the current elected Public Regulation Commission members will expire at the end of this year. They will be replaced with three commissioners appointed by Governor Lujan Grisham. The process of nominating these new commissioners is underway.

For more information send email to Allen.

Elections have consequences and universal pre-K for New Mexico can be one of them

Violet Cauthon has been following the Tulsa, Oklahoma, preschool project which began in 2001. Georgetown University has been tracking student progress and the results are positive. Students who spent one year in a high quality preschool had better standard test scores, better letter grades, better attendance, fewer special education placements, more gifted programs and honors courses. Violet noted that universal pre-K will be on our November ballot because of the representatives we elected. 

For more information send email to Violet and call her at 575-373-0571.

The Lujan Family will match our donations to Casa de Peregrinos

First, Mary Lujan announced that she will be carrying out her usual October fund drive for Casa de Peregrinos. Bring cash or a check to the next PVA meeting and Mary will match all the donations and deliver them. It’s a family tradition that has gone on for decades.

Second, Mary explained that even though she and Mayor Miyagashima went to school together, she feels that it’s time for “new blood, young blood, progressive blood for Las Cruces.”

For more information send email to Mary.

Village of Doña Ana invites everyone to celebrate on October 1

Israel Chavez, founder of the Doña Ana Village Association, invited everyone to attend the village fiesta. 

Doña Ana Village Fiesta
Saturday, October 1, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
135 Joe Gutierrez Street, Doña Ana

Students from La Academia Dolores Huerta will provide mariachi music and ballet folklórico dances. The fiesta will be half vendors–including food trucks–and half resources–including voter registration, flu and COVID vaccinations, and legal advice.

Israel reported that Javier Martinez, the current NM House floor leader, was in Las Cruces to support local candidates, especially those like Nathan Small whose races are super competitive. 

For more information send email to Israel.

Casa de Peregrinos Update

Eric Walkinshaw announced that Casa De Pergrinos’s Fourth Annual Hunger Strike will end at midnight. The event is held to raise awareness of food insecurity in Doña Ana County.

There are three easy ways to donate:

  • Send a check to Casa de Peregrinos (CdP) and write “match” on the memo line
  • Go to the donation page on the CdP website
  • Deliver a donation in person to 999 W. Amador Ave., Suite F

For more information send email to Eric.

And with that we called it a night.