January 25, 2024

Featured Presentation 

Tessa Abeyta, newly appointed undersheriff for Doña Ana County, brought us up to date on priorities at the Sheriff’s Office. Her role is focused on community engagement, special projects, and policy review. She will also be the media contact person for issues and events of public interest. Major Jon Day, also of the Sheriff’s Office, gave his perspective on changes at the organization over recent years and emphasized their ongoing efforts to meet the highest national standards.

For more information call Tessa at 575-647-7200.

Unified Action

The Legislative Response Team weighs in on critical issues under consideration during the legislative session in Santa Fe. Team members call or email legislators and make their positions known. (Past issues included minimum wage, early childhood education, energy policy, and voting rights.)

Participants in the Legislative Response Team receive an email when a bill is at a critical phase. The email will be simple. It will briefly state the issue and the bill that is up for a vote, identify the legislator to contact, provide the phone number and email for that legislator, and state whether you are recommending a Yes or No vote on that issue. It’s quick and painless. 

If you didn’t get the email and you want to join, email Cheryl.

Our public schools earn some A’s

Ed Frank, member of the Las Cruces Public Schools Board of Education, shared highlights from a day spent in the district. He attended the groundbreaking for the new Columbia Elementary School (mold was discovered six years ago in the original building). A Family Support Center and a Career Technical Education Center are in the works. “Exciting stuff,” Ed declared.

For more information email Ed.

Urgent need for parking lot lighting at Munson Center

Carol Tuck pointed out that we need lights in the parking lot–before someone gets hurt. “Who do I contact about that?” she asked, leaving the distinct impression that action would be taken and soon.

For more information email Carol.

NM CD2 Rep. Gabe Vasquez in the house

Gabe Vasquez received a warm welcome. He thanked PVA and asked for support in the upcoming election. [Reminder: PVA does not endorse candidates.] Gabe spoke of the challenges of our congressional district which includes seven sovereign nations, urban areas, borderlands, wilderness, oil and gas fields, and towns of all sizes (Pie Town for instance, 2020 population 118). He mentioned a few fun facts about the 2022 election: 1) Gabe’s win by 1,300 votes was the closest race in the nation; 2) Gabe was one of only two Democrats to win a House seat held by a Republican, and 3) NM CD2 is one of the largest districts in the U.S.

For more information visit the campaign website and follow Gabe on Instagram, X, and Facebook.

Booth, running for District Attorney

Shaharazad Booth asked for support in her campaign for District Attorney. She wants to create a progressive office focused on community programs and accountability. She is in favor of diversion programs, community involvement, and a restorative justice system.

For more information email Shaharazad.

Volunteers wanted to help others with their taxes

JoAnn Lopez announced two opportunities for people who would like to help others with their taxes. Volunteer Income Tax Assistance and Taxpayer Advocate Service. You will be trained by the IRS to help people file their taxes and resolve tax problems.

Taxpayer Assistance Training
5 to 8 p.m., January 29 to February 2, 2024
Thomas Branigan Library

To sign up email Shuly Serrano at Branigan, and email JoAnn or call her at 415-722-3385.

The DA’s office is where justice lives (or dies)

Israel Chavez, a practicing attorney with deep roots in Doña Ana County, urged everyone to look closely at the District Attorney race. He announced that the Southern New Mexico Bar Association and the Doña Ana County NAACP will hold a forum with the DA candidates. Time and place are not set, but email Israel for information. 

Community outreach by the courts and legal community

Judge Lara invites you to the first “Courts and the Community” session. You are invited to sit and watch the District Court docket anytime from 9-12 am on February 20, 2024, in Courtroom 2. There will be domestic relations cases held at 9 am, 10 am, and 11 am. Please remember these are active cases, all members of the public will be required to comply with Court security rules and decorum. 

After the morning docket, please join Judge Lara for lunch and an open discussion on the legal issues and procedures you observed. Please RSVP to ensure the Judge orders enough for lunch.  

Courts in the Community 
Tuesday, February 20, 2024
3rd Judicial District Court, Courtroom 2
201 W. Picacho Avenue
Las Cruces NM 88005

RSVP to lcrdymg@nmcourts.gov. For more information, please call 575-523-8233.

Become a Reading Buddy–there are no downsides

Jennifer Kreie invited volunteers to join her in the Reading Buddies program. You go to an elementary school one hour a week and listen to one or two children read. There are no lesson plans, no grades, no evaluations–only upsides.

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

Jon Hill is candidate for NM House

Dr. Jon Hill shared his experience being diagnosed with cancer; he is now cancer free! He announced that he will run for NM House District 53. He asked that people sign his petition (available online) and share their knowledge of the territory with him.

For more information email Jon and call him at 575-800-4641.

Distinguished journalist Gretchen Morgenson will speak at NMSU and PVA

Charlotte Lipson announced that Gretchen Morgenson will be in Las Cruces in February. She is a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist who has written financial analysis for the New York Times and Wall Street Journal. Her recent book, These are the Plunderers: How Private Equity Runs–and Wrecks–America, received rave reviews (and she will bring copies with her). She is currently the senior financial reporter for the NBC News Investigative Unit. She will speak at NMSU at 5 p.m. on February 20 (location to be announced) and at PVA’s February 22 meeting.

For more information email Charlotte.

Solar energy for New Mexico schools

Rocky Bacchus shared details about House Bill 187, sponsored by Representative Joanne Ferrary. The bill would enable all New Mexico schools to go 100% solar within 5 years. There would be no cost to the schools and they would save $1,165,768,800 in electric costs over the 30 year solar warranty.

For more information email Rocky.

El Paso Electric clean energy report card (2 Satisfactories and a possible F)

Allen Downs explained that EPE initiated the approval process for two solar arrays in 2019. The Buena Vista project (120 megawatts of solar with 50 megawatts of battery storage) became operational early last year. The Hecate project (9150 megawatts of solar) is in trouble and probably won’t be operational on June 1, 2024, as promised. The EPE’s Transportation Electrification case is progressing. The new plan–with new benefits including electric bicycles and home wiring for an EV charging station–could go into effect this April.

For more information email Allen.

Fountain Theatre is a jewel of a place

Helen Zagona encouraged everyone to come back to the Fountain Theatre in Mesilla for great films and the best popcorn in town. She explained that during COVID we got used to staying home and streaming movies and we haven’t given up that habit. Patronage is down at theaters everywhere including the Fountain. Helen explained that the Fountain needs new sound equipment and a new projector and for that they need moviegoers. She urged us to come to the movies and bring our friends and neighbors. The films are first rate (and also the popcorn).

For more information email Helen.

K-TAL–also a jewel

Peter Goodman urged us to continue supporting K-TAL however we can and check out the station’s archives which cover all kinds of local issues dating back to May 2018. 

Peter mentioned that he is reading Gretchen Morgenson’s latest book. “It’s good,” he said and mentioned a worrying local private equity situation as well.

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

Carefree online petition signing has arrived

Connie Chapman announced that we can sign candidate petitions online at the Secretary of State’s website: https://www.electronicpetitions.elections.sos.nm.govhttps://www.electronicpetitions.elections.sos.nm.gov/petition. You won’t be allowed to sign for a wrong candidate or sign twice. Connie is taking care of the nominating petitions for Rep. Angelica Rubio, Sen. Carrie Hamblen, and Sen. Bill Soules.

For more information email Connie.

New Mexico Wilderness Effect

Gill Sorg was recently hiking in the Gila Wilderness north of Silver City, and he was unmistakably upbeat. He thanked Rep. Vasquez for championing legislation to protect our rivers. He noted that NM House Bill 133 would do a lot to get the oil and gas industry to clean up and–very importantly–reduce methane emissions.

For more information email Gill.

We need to do better by our animals

Diane Starbuck-Ribaudo asked that we all contact the mayor and our city councilor and ask them to support a new animal welfare ordinance with a phased-in, fully funded spay/neuter requirement. The current ordinance is old and outdated and way too many animals are euthanized at our shelter.

For more information email Diane.

A free walk or run race for everyone 14 years and younger

Alan Caroe announced that the Las Cruces Running club is sponsoring seven free races this year for the 14 years and younger age group. The first one is in February.

Free Race for 14 and Younger
8 a.m., Sunday, February 4, 2024
Starting Point: Centennial High School

For more information email Alan

Call for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza

Elizabeth Bennett shared heartfelt remarks concerning the “relentless death and destruction in Gaza.” She said that as a young activist she was finding it hard to be energized about women’s rights and climate action and police reform “when I can simultaneously watch an entire nation be wiped off the earth.” She asked that we contact our representatives and urge that they call for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and require conditions on aid to Israel. 

For more information email Elizabeth.

Round Two

PVA Rules: After everyone who wishes to speak has had a chance to speak once, everyone who wishes to speak a second time may do so.

To be sure that we left smiling, Allen Downs told us a story about the Lone Ranger, Tonto, and a starry night.

And with that we called it a night.

If you have questions, comments, or corrections to the recap, please email Judy Zimmerman or text her at 575-649-1385.

PVA meets again:

Thursday, February 22, 2024, 7 pm

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