PVA Meeting Recap – April 27, 2017

Join with CAFé for a Week of Prophetic Resistance

Sara Melton of CAFé spoke of their plan for a week focused on peaceful ways to support immigrants and resist Trump’s fervent enthusiasm for deportation. Sara asked us to join in a group action to divest from Wells Fargo Bank. She outlined the bank’s eagerness to fund facilities where undocumented immigrants are detained for long periods in deplorable conditions as just one of many motivations for divesting from the bank.

Community Divestment from Wells Fargo
Tuesday, May 2, 11:30 a.m.
Wells Fargo on Main and Lohman

For more information send email to Sara.

The New Unified Action Comes in Basic and Plus Sizes

Don Kurtz explained the basic Unified Action for April: Talk to five friends about the Soil and Water Conservation District election. Tell them who you are voting for and why.

Don next introduced the plus-sized Unified Action which is to create a “personal influence network” to use now (for the Soil and Water election) and in the future. Don laid out the ways in which we can learn from the intelligence of plants (no longer a whacko idea), noting that plant networks are decentralized, modular, reiterative, and powered by light. If you’re intrigued, check out  Michael Pollan’s plant article in the New Yorker.

For more information send email to Don.

Rally for Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks

Jeff Steinborn urged everyone to attend a rally in support of Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument. The monument is one of several threatened by Trump’s executive order to “review” national monuments created since 1996. Jeff pointed out that the monument is drawing tourists and tourist dollars to our community. Visitors to the monument doubled in the past year.

Rally for OMDP National Monument
Ramada Palms Hotel
Friday, April 28, 3 p.m.

For more information send email to Jeff.

Wear Orange and Speak out Against Gun Violence

Gun Violence Awareness Day
Wear Orange
Friday, June 2, all day

Ken Murray spoke of his career in the Air Force and his determined belief in the need for sensible gun laws. He commended Everytown.org and Moms Rising as organizations working effectively to curb gun violence—work that is more important than ever with a president who tells the NRA: “You have a true friend and champion in the White House.”

For more information send email to Ken.

Vote on May 2

Peter Ossorio noted that the New Mexico Republican Party thinks “our little soil and water election”—a nonpartisan election—deserves their wholehearted support (PAC money, robo calls by MOC, etc.). Peter conveyed the Doña Ana Democratic Party chair’s message: vote on May 2 and get out the vote.

For more information send email to Peter.

Letter from Doña Ana Democratic Party Chair

Joann Villo read a letter from Christopher Schaljo, the newly elected chair of the Democratic Party of Doña Ana County. He urged everyone to get out the vote for the Soil and Water Conservation election on Tuesday, May 2.

For more information call Joann at 915-490-5786.

Election Lesson from the County Clerk

Doña Ana County Clerk Scott Krahling gave a quick overview of the Soil and Water election rules. They have their own election law, a law which results in restricted voting (limited absentee voting, no early voting, etc.). There is limited funding for the election and therefore few polling places. There are only six voting convenience centers, so expect long lines (and don’t blame the county clerk’s office—it’s not their fault!).

Scott said that although some lection flyers say you must show proof of residence in order to vote, that is false. You only need to state your name, your address, and the year of your birth.

For more information send email to Scott and follow him on Facebook.

Councilor Sorg Is Running for Re-election

Gill Sorg announced that he is running for re-election to the City Council. He wants to continue to work for better jobs, better pay, and a sustainable community that is good for everyone. He doesn’t have an opponent yet, but he expects to have one. He welcomed supporters to join his campaign and said that there is no such thing as a contribution that is too small.

For more information send email to Gill.


Dael Goodman thanked the Legislature for the support of a water planning taskforce. Dael, whose passion for water conservation is widely known, serves on the task force, which will be hard at work until July 1, 2018. You can learn all the details at New Mexico Water Dialogue.

For more information send email to Dael.


Peter Goodman put in a good word for CoCoRaHS, a network of volunteers working together to measure precipitation across the nations. You measure rainfall in your own backyard and post  your measurements on the web. You will be providing data for climate scientists. It looks like fun.

For more information send email to Peter and call him at 575-521-0424.

Policy to Protect Immigrant Students

Maria Flores thanked everyone for supporting her re-election to the Las Cruces Board of Education. She reminded us that the board recently passed a resolution and—more importantly—approved policy to protect immigrant students.

For more information send email to Maria.

Just How Bad Is Wells Fargo Bank?

Steve Fischmann added his voice in support of divesting from Wells Fargo. He pointed out that their numerous unsavory activities include being one of the largest funders of predatory lenders. On a brighter note Steve reminded us that Governor Martinez signed a bill that caps the interest on loan store loans at 175%. That may not sound good, but it’s a big improvement over the previous cap of 350%, and it will save New Mexicans $300 million a year in interest.

For more information send email to Steve.

Jerry Morris Is Candidate for SPARC

Jerry Morris announced that he is running for SPARC—the State Platform and Resolutions Committee of the Democratic Party of New Mexico. Jerry observed that Doña Ana County, the state’s second-largest county, is glaringly underrepresented on the platform committee.

Jerry let us know that KRWG-TV is airing the Soil and Water Candidate Forum on April 29 and 30. (Details in the PVA sidebar calendar.)

For more information send email to Jerry and call him at 575-373-5324.

Understanding Evangelicals in America

We’ve grown accustomed to Alice Anderson introducing us to nonfiction that we might otherwise have missed. She’s done it again:

The Evangelicals: The Struggle to Shape America
By Frances FitzGerald
Illustrated. 740 pp. Simon & Schuster

 It’s on the new book shelf at Branigan Library (227.308 Fit). If you’re not up to all 740 pages, try reading a review.

For more information send email to Alice.

EPE Takes Some Small Steps in the Right Direction

Rocky Bacchus announced that El Paso Electric has taken some steps, however small and belated, toward energy efficiency. You can try to find the incentive programs on the EPE website, but if that doesn’t work, call Rocky. He said the PACE program, which is about solar energy for low income families, is on the County Commission May 9 agenda.

For more information send email to Rocky and call him at 575-449-3565.

Kevin Bixby Is Running for SWCD

Kevin Bixby asked for support in his bid for the Soil and Water Conservation District, Zone 3. He said the election would be decided by a handful of votes. He described the job of the SWCD: “It’s important. It’s about helping communities to become sustainable. It’s about saving the planet.”

For more information send email to Kevin.

The County Commission. Yikes!

Cliff Pelton asked for someone to please tell him if we have any legal recourse in the face of the recent decisions by the county commission majority. Can they be charged with malfeasance? Dereliction of duty? Violation of the Code of Ethics? Other?

For more information send email to Cliff.

Southern NM New Progressives

Jerry Nachison of Southern New Mexico New Progressives urged everyone to attend the Climate Walk on Saturday, April 29, from 10 a.m. to noon. He also invited everyone to the group’s next meeting:

Southern New Mexico New Progressives Open Meeting
Saturday, May 13, 2 to 4 p.m.
Roadrunner Room, Branigan Library

For more information send email to Jerry and call him at 575-649-9098.

Let Your MOCs Know How You Feel About the Border

Johana Bencomo welcomed us all to resist Trump’s “deportation machine” and let our members of Congress know that our border doesn’t need more enforcement; Border Patrol and ICE don’t need more funding. Contact Johana for details about exactly how to join this event, which is sponsored by CAFé.

Border Resistance
Thursday, May 4, 4 p.m.

For more information send email to Johana and call her at 575-545-3412.

Wanted: Drivers for May 2 Election

Olga Pedroza asked for volunteers who can help her provide transportation to the polls for voters who need a ride to cast their votes in the Soil and Water Election on May 2.

For more information send email to Olga.


Merrie Lee Soules announced a way to make sure that El Paso Electric serves our community: join the Public Advisory Group (PAG). PAG helps produce EPE’s Integrated Resource Plan (IRP). The citizens who were on the PAG stopped the 2015 IRP from having precedential value and saved EPE’s New Mexico customers $22 million. You can participate in the 2018 IRP and hold EPE accountable.

Kickoff for El Paso Electric Public Advisory Group
Thursday, May 25, 2 p.m.
EPE Office, 555 S. Compress Road

For more information send email to Merrie Lee.

Show up for Transit

Billy Garrett mentioned that the termination of County Manager Julie Brown came as an unwelcome surprise to county employees. Morale is at a low point, and staff could use our support now.

Billy beseeched us to let the county commissioners know how we feel about public transit and implored us to show up for the County Commission vote on funding for public transit. It will take place on May 9, about 10 a.m.

For more information send email to Billy.

Transit Matters

Sharon Thomas expanded on the importance of continuing to fund public transit including the fact that people in our county are now getting to work, to school, to medical appointments, to grocery stores, drug stores, and more. Ridership is up and grants are coming in. Sharon implored us to let the county commissioners know that this is a program that benefits everyone and attend the May 9 County Commission meeting if at all possible.

For more information send email to Sharon.

Transit Isn’t Broke

David Armijo, director of South Central Regional Transit District emphasized  three points

  • Ridership is up
  • Costs are down
  • We have to have local funding to get federal matching grants

For more information send email to David.


William Corbett spoke of the County Commission’s vote to amend the Safe and Sane Fireworks ordinance and allow the year-round sale of fireworks. He will not be surprised if this opens the door for more and more “specialty retailers” to locate in Doña Ana County and sell more and more of the prohibited fireworks. The conflict of interest question, whether actual or perceived, lingers for commissioners who received $2,500 from the fireworks vendor.

For more information send email to William and read his summary of the issue: PVA_4_27_17_FireworksRpt

Sen. Joe Cervantes Reports

Joe Cervantes said he was sorry he couldn’t be here for the legislators’ panel in March, but he thinks he has a good excuse since he was at the Elton John concert with his three daughters. Joe focused on the year and a half before the next general election, when our governor’s two terms will be over. He said the time to prepare is now, and he used some agricultural imagery to get our attention. We should be thinking like farmers—getting the soil ready, sharpening the tools, mending the fences, ordering the seed.

For more information send email to Joe.

Children’s Reading Alliance

Rorie Measure announced that the Children’s Reading Alliance is raising money to put 8,000 books into the hands of children this summer. Donations of any amount are welcome and will be used to give books to the most vulnerable students in kindergarten through third grade.

For more information send email to Rorie and call her at 575-522-4804.

Update from the PRC Chair

Sandy Jones, chair of the Public Regulation Commission, announced that the group hopes to provide broadband internet to rural communities, revamp the intervener system, and possibly create a consumer advocate for New Mexicans.

For more information send email to Sandy.

Health Security Workshop Is Open to All

Don Apodaca invited everyone to a workshop explaining the benefits and feasibility of Health Security for New Mexicans, a plan that guarantees comprehensive and affordable health care coverage for all New Mexicans.

Health Security for New Mexicans Workshop
Saturday, May 13, 9:30 to noon
Unitarian Universalist Church, 200 S. Solano

Don expressed his appreciation for all that Julia Brown has done for our county.

For more information send email to Don.

Update from the County Assessor’s Office

Paul Ponce, chief deputy assessor, let us know that Monday, May 1, is the last day to question a property valuation statement.

For more information send email to Paul and call him at 575-642-4355.

Rep. Rudy Martinez Reports

Rudy Martinez reflected on all that was accomplished by the legislature and all that was destroyed by the governor’s vetoes.

For more information send email to Rudy and call him at 575-534-7546.

Report from PFLAG’s Newly Elected President

Ryan Steinmetz introduced himself as the newly elected president of PFLAG Las Cruces, an organization that has been serving Las Cruces for 22 years. He said there are many ways to volunteer and support the LGBTQ community. The group has four focus areas: support, education, advocacy, and “Telling Our Stories.”

For more information send email to Ryan.

Paralyzing Despair? The Ukulele Can Help You With That

Joy Goldbaum invited everyone to join the Las Cruces Ukes Club. She said making music and singing with others lifts the spirits and builds bridges. The local group meets weekly.

Las Cruces Ukes Club
Thursday nights,
Good Sam Village

A big festival is coming up with ukulele celebrities, classes for all levels, and concerts.

Las Cruces Ukes Fest 2017
May 19 to 21
Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum

For more information send email to Joy and visit the Ukefest website and the follow the Ukes Club on Facebook.

Antoinette Reyes Is Running for County Commission

Antoinette Reyes announced that she is running for County Commission District 1. Everyone is invited to her campaign kickoff featuring free food, a movie for kids, music, and lots of giveaways. Donations accepted but not required.

Campaign Kickoff in the Park
Frenger Park, 800 Parkview Drive
Saturday, May 6, 2 p.m. to 7 p.m.

For more information send email to Antoinette and call her at 575-694-6867.

ProgressNow New Mexico Plans a Summit

Lucas Herndon said he was elected director of Doña Ana Democratic Party District 33 and is looking forward to working in that organization. He announced that a conference is being planned by Progress Now NM and will be held in Las Cruces. The date is tentatively June 17. The conference will focus on organizing skills, campaign strategies, and ways to increase progressive influence in New Mexico Congressional District 2.

For more information Klucas@progressnownm.org.

Vote for Conservationists on May 2

Kurt Anderson added his support for Kevin Bixby and Craig Fenske in the Soil and Water election and stressed the importance of the election. He noted that we have an opportunity to elect true conservationists, both of whom have been endorsed by the Sierra Club.

For more information send email to Kurt.

Peter DeBenedittis Is Running for Governor

Peter DeBenedittis introduced himself as a progressive Democratic candidate for governor. He said he wanted to see New Mexico become a sanctuary state and adopt the health insurance plan known as Health Security for New Mexicans.

For more information send email to Peter and call him at 505-670-9797.

At Last! Some Good News for Wolves

Peter Sloan of the Southwest Environmental Center asked everyone to wear blue and attend the People’s climate March. They plan to look like a river as they march down Church Street to the Branigan Library lawn.

People’s Climate March
Saturday, April 29, 10 a.m.

Peter announced good news, at last, for the Mexican gray wolf. Thanks to the decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit wolves will be released into New Mexico wilderness. Governor Martinez was unable to show any harms from the wolves.

For more information send email to Peter.

Reflections from the County Assessor

Andy Segovia spoke of the upheaval at the County following Julia Brown’s abrupt dismissal. Andy had praise for Ms. Brown and the many good people employed by the county. He spoke highly of Chuck McMahon, who will serve as interim county manager. Andy said Chuck will work hard and do the right thing.

For more information send email to Andy.

Asking the City to Divest from Wells Fargo

Jan Thompson (who had already completed the Unified Action, basic and plus versions) reminded us that she had circulated a petition asking the City of Las Cruces to divest from Wells Fargo. She delivered the petition with several hundred signatures and the city is looking into divesting. City Councilor Levatino, a realtor who has seen clients hurt by Wells Fargo policies, is a key proponent of the move.

For more information send email to Jan.

Craig Fenske Is Candidate for Soil and Water Conservation District

Craig Fenske asked for support as he runs for Soil and Water Conservation District, Zone 4, which is the area within the city limits. He spoke of his experience as a county extension agent in Washington. He knows volunteers and education as well as how to get grants and raise money to leverage small budgets. He pointed out that there are projects like tree planting that find common ground.

For more information send email to Craig and call him at 575-640-8846.

Take Action—You Will Inspire Yourself

Rich Renner explained that in the past RESULTS searched for ways to inspire people to take action. But now they believe that when you take action you will inspire yourself. Rich asked that we take the action of writing a letter to Rep. Pearce asking that he protect Medicaid and oppose the American Health Care Act, which would significantly harm low-income families.

Another action? Check out their webinar. Rich has the details.

RESULTS National Webinar
Saturday, May 13, 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

For more information send email to Rich and call him at 575-642-2598.

PVA Meets Again
Thursday, May 25, 7 p.m.
Munson Center


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