PVA Meeting Recap – May 25, 2015

State of the PVA

The “feature presentation” slot went to Don Kurtz and he gave his views on the current state of the Progressive Voter Alliance. Don started by observing that the PVA has been receiving a lot of attention from the political opposition in op-eds and other communications. It’s a good time to think consciously about who we are and what we do, rather than let other people define us.

Don said that the PVA’s strength is in the diversity of our opinion and effort, which has led to noteworthy success in the public arena. For a summary of those successes at the city level, see Sharon Thomas’s recent Op-Ed in the Las Cruces Sun-News.

Next, Don considered the recent Soil & Water Conservation District election in these larger terms. While Sun-News columnist Jim Harbison called it a landslide victory for the conservative slate, this wasn’t really the case, as was pointed out in an excellent letter to the editor by Mary Kerwin. The margin of victory was narrow—177 votes out of almost 3000 cast for the at-large position. Two years ago, this election drew only 350 voters. Now, with 3,000 voters paying attention, issues such as responding to climate change and planning for sustainability are fully on the table. This election was an important step forward toward larger public awareness and participation in these critical issues.

Finally, Don drew our attention to a short article by George Lakoff analyzing the 2014 election. Lakoff observes that Democratic candidates in 2014 continued to run away from their deepest values—personal freedom, opportunity, fairness, stewardship. These values are, in fact, deeply held by a majority of American voters. In Lakoff’s view, we should continue to advance these deeper values at every opportunity, offering thoughtful direction and alternatives in the electoral arena, through policy work, in op-eds and letters, in conversations with our friends, etc. In other words, exactly what we’ve all been doing.

For more information, send email to Don.

Unified Action—El Paso Electric Rate Case

This month’s Unified Action is about speaking up with regard to the El Paso Electric rate case. The action is to let the mayor, the chair of the county commission, and El Paso Electric know that you want the city and county to be represented by interveners who will represent the consumer in this adversarial process.

This topic prompted a spirited Q & A session. Many issues were addressed including the total failure of the EPE plan to encourage energy conservation. However, the bottom-line message was: “Be involved.” Speak up, attend meetings, send emails, make phone calls. Elected officials said that simply the presence of citizens at meetings makes a difference. “It is extremely powerful to have people present at meetings—it changes Democracy.”

For complete information, check out the May Unified Action page.

Neck and Neck

Ken Murray reported that, thanks to his subscription to the online version of the Washington Post, he came across the results of a survey in which 31% of those polled described themselves as conservatives and 31% as liberals. “No need to hide anymore,” Ken advised. Read analysis of the fascinating and heartening survey results here.

For more information send email to Ken and call him at 575-382-9249.

Soil and Water Campaign? Kind of Fun

Kurt Anderson expressed his appreciation for support during his run for the Soil and Water Conservation District election. He said he enjoyed the experience and is not finished with public service.

For more information send email to Kurt and call him at 575-646-1032.

Praise for Commissioner Hancock

Jack Eakman read a tribute to County Commissioner Wayne Hancock explaining his role in solving the disaster that befell behavioral health services in this area. Wayne began a process to oversee the transition from La Frontera to La Clinica de Familia. He convened a meeting of State officials, representatives of the four managed care organizations, elected officials, and others to get the transition on the right track. He established an oversight group to monitor and insure that services continue to improve. Jack asked us to join him “in thanking Commissioner Hancock for taking on this thankless task and actually making something out of nothing.”

For more information send email to Jack.

ACLU Shines a Light on Border Patrol Abuses

Brian Erickson announced the release of “Guilty Until Proven Innocent: Living in New Mexico’s 100-Mile Zone.” The investigation details over fifty complaints of abuse by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The report concludes that Border Patrol should be held to the same standards and reforms as local police. Racial profiling must be banned and data collection at checkpoints must be transparent.

On the ACLU-NM website you can watch video interviews with Southern New Mexico residents who reported abuses, read the full report, and sign a petition to Senators Udall and Heinrich.

For more information send email to Brian and call him at 575-527-0664.

Use More, Pay Less

Steve Fischmann pointed out that El Paso Electric’s rate structure is backwards. The smallest users pay 21 cents for 100 kilowatt hours; the largest users pay 12 cents for 400 kilowatt hours. Steve urged us to demand rates that encourage and reward conservation.

For more information send email to Steve.

Like Adobe!henge? “Like” It on Facebook, Please

Bob Diven asked for a small favor: Like Adobe!henge on Facebook. It only takes a minute. Leave a comment to let the BLM know that this project has community support.

For more information send email to Bob and find him on Facebook: Bob Diven, Artist.

First-Time Candidate Not Retiring Yet

Sally Williams expressed her appreciation for support received in her campaign for the Soil and Water Commission. She then volunteered to work on the El Paso Electric rate case—she is a retired executive with Southern California Edison, where she had ample experience with rate cases. She mentioned in particular, the desirability of energy efficiency programs that allow you to conserve energy during periods of high demand.

For more information send email to Sally.

Your POV Needed on the Comprehensive Plan

Mary Ann Hendrickson spoke of the need for citizen input on the Comprehensive Plan, which guides our community’s growth through 2040. Your voice is important, she advised. “This is how we take care of our community, each other, and the future.” The Comprehensive Plan and the Unified Development Code can be accessed at Viva Doña Ana.

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

Scott Krahling Running for County Clerk

Scott announced that he is running for County Clerk, and you can follow his campaign on Facebook. He emphasized his three years’ experience as head of elections. His office has worked to strengthen the voting culture in Doña Ana County and has begun a program of going out in the community to register voters.

For more information send email to Scott.

‘Science As a Contact Sport’

Alice Anderson called our attention to a memoir about the politics of global warming deniers and the ordeal of reaching consensus in order to produce the reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The book is available at Branigan Library.

“Science as a Contact Sport: Inside the Battle to Save the Earth’s Climate”
by Stephen Schneider
Call number: 363.7387 Sch

Upon Schneider’s death in 2010, the IPCC published a memorial statement that sums up his enormous contributions to science and the public’s understanding.

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

How about a Rate DEcrease for a Change?

Rocky Bacchus referred to his experience as a rate case intervener in Arizona, California, and Texas. He reminded us that the rate case is an adversarial process, and he recommended that consumers unite and ask El Paso Electric for a rate decrease.

For more information send email to Rocky and call him at 575-652-0010.

La Casa Needs Dollars to Continue

Ann Gutierrez voiced her concern about the financial troubles of La Casa Shelter for Victims of Domestic Violence. They need $100,000 to continue their services. They are asking for 1,000 people to give $100 each, but contributions of all amounts will be gratefully received.

For more information send email to Ann.

Film Premieres at the Fountain Theater

Theresa Westbrock announced two cultural events in Mesilla. The premiere of Dead When I Got There will be followed by a book talk and signing by Dawn Paley, author of Drug War Capitalism.

“Dead When I Got Here”
Saturday, June 6, 10 a.m.
Fountain Theater in Mesilla

“Drug War Capitalism” by Dawn Paley
Saturday, June 6, Noon
Emilia’s on the Plaza
2290 Calle de Parian, Mesilla

For more information send email to Theresa.

Updates: Recall and Community Radio

Peter Goodman reported that Judge Rosner’s opinion on the recall stated that the City correctly handled the recall petition signatures. That means, for now, no recall for Councilors Pedroza, Small, and Sorg. However, there is likely to be another court appeal by the recall promoters.

On a different note, Peter declared that our community radio station is moving along. They have found a suitable location and are working on gathering money, ideas, and talent.

For more information send email to Peter.

Juveniles in Adult Jails? Very Bad Idea

State Representative Doreen Gallegos read a heartfelt letter she wrote to the editor of the Sun-News in response to the decision to place juveniles in the adult jail—separate from the adults but in the same facility. From her perspective as a social worker and a mother, she warned of the dangers and injustice of placing “throwaway kids” in jails intended for adults.

For more information send email to Doreen and call her at 575-649-6325.

The River, the Governor, Emerge New Mexico

First, State Senator Joseph Cervantes spoke with fervor about the disparity between the Rio Grande in our valley and the Rio Grande in the north, where water flows and riparian buffers zones are lush. Something isn’t fair, and something should be done, he said. Second, he urged us to call Governor Martinez and ask her to call a special session so essential projects (Jett Hall renovation, senior centers, roads, and water infrastructure, for example) can be funded. Third, he invited everyone to come to his house for a reception for Emerge New Mexico.

For more information send email to Joseph.

Mary Lujan Runs for County Commission, District 5

Mary Lujan in running for County Commission. She described herself as a pecan farmer and an activist with deep roots in District 5. She attended local schools and earned a master’s degree in public administration at NMSU.

For more information send email to Mary and call her at 575-527-0618.

Supporting Local Businesses Makes Economic Sense

Lucas Herndon, president of the Green Chamber of Commerce, said the one-year celebration of Organ Mountains Desert Peaks National Monument had gone well. He underscored the benefits of supporting local businesses, which create more local wealth and more local jobs.

For more information send email to Lucas and call him at 575-496-6645.

Less Is More

City Councilor Gill Sorg referred to the support he received during the months of the recall effort and said, “Thank you. Simply that.”

For more information send email to Gill.

Communities Getting Better

City Councilor Nathan Small, District 4, invited everyone to participate in two events that will affect growth in his district and beyond.

Charette: Amador Próximo/Amador Next
June 25 to June 29
Alma d’arte Charter High School

For more information send email to Nathan.

You’re Invited

Merrie Lee Soules invited everyone to a reception for Emerge NM, an organization dedicated to inspiring, training, and recruiting Democratic women to run for public office.

Emerge New Mexico Reception
Friday, May 29, 6 p.m.
Home of Senator Joseph Cervantes
5075 Wind Summit Place

For more information send email to Merrie Lee and call her at 575-635-2225.

Civil Conversations with El Paso Electric

Randy Harris announced that Great Conversations will facilitate civil conversations about the rate case. He reminded us that informed civil dialogue helps us move forward. Two community forums are scheduled.

Wednesday, June 3, 5:30 p.m.
Doña Ana County Government Building

Wednesday, June 10, 5:30 p.m.
Las Cruces City Hall

For more information send email to Randy and call him at 575-640-1999.

PVA Meets Again
Thursday, June 25, 7 p.m.
Munson Center
Party Afterwards at St. Clair Winery in Mesilla

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