PVA Meeting Recap – April 23, 2015

An Update on the Recall

Nathan Small and Peter Goodman brought an update on the recall situation. Letters have been submitted by 757 individuals who requested that their names be removed from the petition. Although the recall movement did not collect an adequate number of signatures to trigger a recall election for any of the three targeted councilors (Olga Pedroza, Gill Sorg, and Nathan Small), they are proceeding with a legal challenge against Gill Sorg. Nathan cautioned that this kind of recall effort has been tried in other areas, and it has worked to take over local government with candidates friendly to the recall effort. (Recall the Rogues, and Governing give you a sense of the recall movement.)

Peter Goodman explained the legal ins and outs that led to the decision that a trial will be held on May 13 to determine if adequate signatures were collected to trigger a recall election. The Sun-News explained the procedure and the concerns of New Mexicans for a Better Tomorrow. Peter urged anyone who signed a petition under false pretenses to request their name be removed from the petition—it’s not too late.

For more information send email to Nathan or Peter and visit Las Crucens Against the Recall on Facebook.

Unified Action—GOTV for Soil and Water Conservation District Election

Cheryl Frank reminded us that many of our friends will not have a clue about the May 5 water election. She spoke of the weight that a friend’s recommendation carries in local elections like this. “Just say trust me,” Cheryl said, “and they will!” She introduced Kevin Bixby, of Southwest Environmental Center, who presented his point of view on the election.

Kevin said that the present board has been focused on politics and ideology and not so much on conservation. They publish numerous resolutions, available on their website, and have come out against protection for the Mexican gray wolf and the Organ Mountains Desert Peaks National Monument. They are in favor of the Gila River diversion and have condemned the latest federal dietary guidelines (“… biased and egregious federal attempt to dismember the red meat industry …”)

Complete information about the election is on PVA’s Unified Action page.

Sierra Club Endorses Soil and Water Conservation Candidates

Glenn Landers announced that the Rio Grande Sierra Club has endorsed the following candidates for the Doña Ana Soil and Water Conservation District: Roger Beck, At-Large Supervisor; Kurt Anderson, Zone 1 Supervisor; Sally Williams, Zone 2 Supervisor.

A map with the Sierra Club’s endorsed candidates and their districts was in the back of the room.  You can see that map here.

For more information send email to Glenn and call him at 575-525-0491.

To Vote or Not to Vote

Richard Ferrary looked into the voting histories of 10 individuals who were paid to circulate recall petitions. He found that not a one had voted in a City election.

For more information send email to Richard.

Who Wants a Nail Salon at the Foot of Tortugas Mountain?

Dael Goodman let us know that another public hearing has been scheduled to approve commercial zoning on land west of Tortugas Mountain, aka “A” Mountain.

Thursday, April 30, 6 p.m.
County Government Center, County Commission Chambers
845 Motel Blvd.

She asked that people let the County know how they feel about a shopping center at the base of Tortugas Mountain by showing up at the meeting and calling or emailing Steve Meadows, the ETZ case manager for the request (575-525-6121, stevem@donaanacounty.org).

You can see the meeting agenda here and read the Sun-News coverage of the previous zoning change request here.

For more information send email to Dael and call her at 575-521-0424.

Fifth Annual Avenue Art: They Supply the Chalk

Bob Diven issued an invitation to the Fifth Annual Avenue Art Street Painting Festival.

Street Painting Festival
Saturday, April 25, 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.
South end of the Downtown Mall.

The festival is getting bigger and better each year and welcomes professionals, serious amateurs, amateurs, and children. Chalk is supplied and prizes, cash and otherwise, will be awarded at 2:15 p.m.

For more information send email to Bob and find them on Facebook.

Report from Commissioner Hancock: Buses, Glass and Mental Health

Wayne Hancock said that regional transportation is alive and well and has plans to buy five new buses and start expanded routes on September 1. Crushed glass (120 tons of it last year) is going like hotcakes (it’s free) at the recycling center. Friday is crushing day and all the glass is taken by the end of the day.

Wayne also had encouraging news about mental health services. A local committee is working with the state on plans to recover from La Frontera’s exit. La Clinica de Familia is slated to be the new base for mental health services in southern New Mexico, and they hope to have services in place by July 1.

For more information send email to Wayne and call him at 575-525-8491.

Fund-raising Banquet for Mesilla Valley CASA

Helen Zagona invited everyone to a fund-raising banquet for Mesilla Valley CASA (court appointed special advocates). She explained that the advocates are volunteers who work on behalf of children who have been placed in foster care because of abuse or neglect. The volunteers get to know the children and their circumstances and make recommendations to the court on their behalf.

Mesilla Valley CASA Banquet Fundraiser
Saturday, April 25, 6:30 p.m.
Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum

For more information send email to Helen and call her at 575-532-5668.

Local Democratic Party Serious about GOTV

Liz Rodriguez-Johnson, recently elected chair of the Doña Ana Democratic Party, said that she ran on the promise of getting out the vote and she is serious about keeping that promise. She and the eight district directors are already at work on the plans of what will be a labor-intensive endeavor. “Please participate!” she implored.

For more information send email to Liz and call her at 575-312-5677.

Endangered Species Act Is … Endangered

Michael Dax of the Defenders of Wildlife described plans to ask the County Commission to pass a resolution telling our Congressional delegation to stand up for the Endangered Species Act. He characterized the current Congress as the most anti-environmental Congress in our history. He mentioned that Hidalgo County seems on the brink of passing anti-wolf measures. He asked people to attend the meeting of the Commissioners and let them know their position.

Resolution Supporting the Endangered Species Act
Doña Ana County Commission Meeting
Monday, May 12, 1 p.m.
County Government Center
845 Motel Boulevard

For more information send email to Michael and call him at 505-398-3309.

Let’s Not Build in the Arroyos Anymore

Sharon Thomas asked us to support the Arroyo Plan, which will be considered by the City Council on May 11.

Las Cruces City Council Meeting
Monday, May 11, 1 p.m.
Las Cruces City Hall
North Downtown Mall

Sharon related some of the horror stories she has heard from people who unwittingly bought houses that developers had knowingly built in arroyos. Houses have been destroyed and whole subdivisions have flooded because of this practice. The smart thing to do is to map the meanderings of the arroyos and protect them rather than wage a losing battle to redirect them. The Arroyo Management Plan is on the City’s website.

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

Tip of the Hat to PVA from AFSCME

Carter Bundy gave a heartfelt thank you to the State Senators and Representatives of Doña Ana County who stood firmly on the side of labor and prevented some seriously anti-labor plans afoot in Santa Fe. He thanked all those who have worked to thwart the recall efforts of New Mexicans for A Better Tomorrow.

For more information send email to Carter and call him at 505-463-8499.

More Thanks from Labor and Some Promises

Jon Hendry of the New Mexico Federation of Labor said—in reference to the 2015 legislative session—that labor “learned who our friends are and we will not forget.” He made some promises, for example: the film industry will be bringing jobs to Las Cruces.

For more information send email to Jon.

Kurt Anderson for Position 1 on Soil and Water Board

Kurt Anderson asked for support in his bid for a seat on the Doña Ana Soil & Water Conservation District, Position 1. He said he is astronomer by training and has decades of being concerned with sustainable water use in our region. He believes the Soil and Water Conservation board has great potential to do good things for the Doña Ana County. Read more about his work and community service here.

For more information send email to Kurt and call him at 575-523-1317.

How Did Our Legislative Team Vote on Fair Lending?

Steve Fischmann spoke of the overwhelming presence of lobbyists in Santa Fe working against passage of a fair lending act that would cap interest rates at 36%. He noted that the public is overwhelmingly in favor of interest caps. The public lost this round, but Steve will continue to work on the issue. The Fair Lending Coalition will promote low coast loan products in New Mexico credit unions, following the model of GECU in El Paso. Steve let us know how our local legislators voted:

36% caps procedural vote Fake reform allowing 1000% plus APRs
Bill Gomez support oppose
Rick Little oppose support
Bill McCamley support oppose
Terry McMillan oppose support
Andy Nuñez oppose support
Jeff Steinborn support oppose
John Zimmerman excused* excused*
Doreen Gallegos support support
Lee Cotter n/a excused*
Mark Kay Papen n/a support
Joseph Cervantes n/a excused*
Bill Soules Introduced Bill oppose

*Excused indicates the legislator left the floor when the vote came up with “permission” of the Speaker. It can be legitimate or just a way to avoid a difficult vote. For more information send email to Steve.

Better Know Your Southwest Water History

Alice Anderson recommended “Dead Pools,” by James Lawrence Powell. The book is subtitled “Lake Powell, Global Warming, and the Future of Water in the West.” It covers what you need to know about water science, law, and politics in the West.

Alice then turned her attention to the Soil and Water Conservation election, saying that we need board members who are “motivated by facts and able to keep their focus on water and soil.”

For more information send email to Alice and call her at 575-523-5179.

Report from Senator Cervantes

Joseph Cervantes lamented the machinations of the 2015 Legislative Session and summed it up by saying, “It’s not a lot of fun to keep blocking everything.”

For more information send email to Joseph.

Rudy Martinez for New Mexico District 39

Rudy Martinez praised the Doña Ana County Democratic legislators for working together and standing strong to pass a few good bills and prevent a lot bad bills from passing. He vowed to recapture District 39, an expansive district that stretches from Doña Ana County to Caballo Reservoir and west to Mimbres and Silver City.

For more information send email to Rudy and call him at 575-5334-7546.

Roger Beck for At-Large Supervisor on Soil and Water Board

Roger Beck asked for support in his bid for DASWCD At-Large Supervisor. He spoke of his academic career in agricultural economics and his long commitment to sustainable economic development. You can read more about Roger’s work and service to the community here.

For more information send email to Roger.

Turning Democratic District 37 Blue

Mary Ann Hendrickson, director of Democratic District 37, vowed that her district will turn out the vote to re-elect Senator Bill Soules and will turn their house seat (currently held by Terry McMillan) blue. She made a heartfelt pitch for working together.

For more information send email to Mary Ann and call her at 575-312-9971.

Keep an Eye on the Chamber and Learn About Stormwater Harvesting (You’ll Love It)

Peter Goodman referred to the Chamber of Commerce and their plan to have a group funded by the Koch Brothers come to Las Cruces to train potential candidates and campaign managers. Peter suggested that you pay attention to where you do business, and if the business owner is a member of the Chamber of Commerce, let him or her “know that you don’t go for this.”

On a positive note, Peter invited everyone to hear a talk about stormwater harvesting and how individuals, neighborhoods, and whole communities can harvest stormwater.

Lush ‘n Lean Series Stormwater Harvesting by Van Clothier
Thursday, May 7, 6 to 8 p.m.
WIA Building, 340 Reymond

For more information call Peter at 575-521-0424.

Sally Williams for Position 2 on Soil and Water Board

Sally Williams asked for support in her bid for DASWCD Supervisor, District 2. She spoke of her career as an executive with a southern California energy corporation, her experience helping agencies to work cooperatively, and her concern about meeting the challenges created by the drought. You can read more about her work and community service here.

For more information send email to Sally and call her at 575-647-4341.

Vote for Roger Beck—A Good Neighbor

Nate Cote gave a hearty endorsement for three Soil and Water candidates: Roger Beck, Sally Williams, and Kurt Anderson. He advised that we should take a lesson from California and be working now to find sustainable solutions for the water problem. Nate said he and Roger have been neighbors for years, and he vouches for him as a top-notch professional as well as a great neighbor.

For more information send email to Nate and call him at 575-202-1872.

Protect Tortugas Mountain

Greg Walland seconded Dael Goodman’s plea to speak up about the Tortugas Mountain zoning plan. He suggested that we don’t need or want a strip mall and fast food drive-throughs as a gateway to the Organ Mountains.

For more information call Greg at 575-522-3892.

Mary Lujan for County Commission, District 5

Mary Lujan announced that she will be running for County Commission, District 5. (Leticia Duarte-Benavidez, who is prevented by term limits from running again, now holds the seat.) District 5 covers the north valley from downtown Las Cruces to Rincon, an area where Mary’s family has lived and farmed for over 100 years. Mary noted her B.A. in public administration, and said she would be telling us more about herself and her positions in coming months.

For more information send email to Mary.

Vote the Heck out of Soil and Water

Don Kurtz urged everyone to vote in the Soil and Water Election on May 5. He said that three extraordinary candidates are running. He noted that soil and water districts around the country [those motivated by facts and focused on soil and water] have made a positive impact on their communities.

You can download a flyer listing environmentally supportive Soil and Water District candidates here and send it to your friends and neighbors.

For more information send email to Don.

Let’s Talk About Testing and Over-testing

Glenn Landers invited everyone to a showing to a movie about the ineffectiveness of high-stakes testing as a way of evaluating teachers and students. A community discussion will follow the movie.

‘Standardized—Lies, Money & Civil Rights: How Testing Is Ruining Public Education’
Thursday, April 30, 6 to 8 p.m.
Clara Belle Williams Hall, Rm. 229 (Emerson Room), NMSU

For more information send email to Glenn and call him at 575-525-0491.

Greetings from County Democratic Party Vice Chair

Julian Alexander introduced himself and spoke of Democratic Party’s goals of outreach and education. He said the local party would be ramping up its presence in social media including Facebook and Twitter.

For more information send email to Julian and call him at 757-469-4338.

Work Sessions Matter

City Councilor Nathan Small urged everyone to let the City Council know what you think. Your opinions matter on issues like the Arroyo Plan, which is “far from a done deal” and needs community support to succeed. The same goes for the allocation of the hold harmless funds, which will be discussed by councilors on May 11, and economic development opportunities, which will be discussed June 22.

For more information send email to Nathan.

Sensible Recall Ordinance Needed ASAP

Ann Gutierrez urged city councilors to create a new ordinance regulating recall initiatives. She said that she originally thought of the recall as a nuisance but sees now that it is serious and expensive. We need an ordinance that requires evidence of malfeasance to initiate a recall. “We don’t like them” is not reason enough for a recall. “We have better things to do!” she said.

For more information send email to Ann.

Batter Up!

George Griffin, speaking from the heart, said that now is the time to speak out about progressive and liberal ideas. “It’s our responsibility to speak out,” he said. “It’s time for progressives to not cower.” And on that note he adjourned the meeting and invited everyone to the May PVA meeting.

For more information send email to George.

PVA Meets Again
Thursday, May 28, 7 p.m.
Munson Center

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