PVA Meeting Recap – April 28, 2011

Unified Action, Previous

The March Unified Action asked the governor to sign three bills that would be good for small businesses. Governor Martinez signed one of the three, a bill requiring more transparency for insurance hikes, but left a farm bill and an energy bill unsigned.

Complete information is here.

Unified Action, Current

April’s Unified Action is to support the Doña Ana chapter of The Children’s Reading Foundation by attending the May 13 kick-off or by making a contribution. Details are here. The Children’s Reading Foundation is a community-driven, county-wide movement to improve early childhood literacy so that every child learns to read early and well.

For more information check out the Unified Action Web page here.

Legislators Report on the 2011 Session

Senators Mary Kay Papen and Steve Fischmann gave reports and answered questions on the 2011 legislative session. Senator Papen called this the most difficult session in her memory. She said there was no money for new projects, many programs had to be cut, and numerous bills were vetoed by the governor. Sen. Papen, who sits on the Senate Finance Committee, noted that New Mexico’s constitution requires a balanced budget.

Senator Fischmann characterized the session as contentious and prone to political theater. He observed that the governor was rigidly opposed to revenue increases of any kind, even an unemployment insurance measure that was supported by the Chamber of Commerce and the entire business community.

The Q and A session focused on how to raise funds for education and other essentials. All in all, it was a gloomy report.

For more information send email to Senator Papen or Senator Fischmann.

Doña Ana Democrats Get Organized

Christy French, newly elected county chair of the Democratic Party of Doña Ana County, announced that they have launched a (beautiful) new Web site. They plan to provide office space for all Democratic candidates in the 2012 election cycle and are committed to vigorously supporting all Democratic candidates in the county.

For more information send email to Christy or call her at 575-644-9450.

Democratic Women Unite

Nancy Blecha explained that Democratic Women of Doña Ana County was formed to support candidates, understand the issues, and bring Democratic voters together. She invited everyone to a consortium that will feature a wide range of panelists including Ray Sandoval of Organizing for America, Carrie Hamblen of PFLAG, Bob Hearn of the Quality Growth Alliance, Don Kurtz, Cheryl Frank from Health Security New Mexico, and Martina Meyers of the American Association of University Professors.

Saturday, May 7, 10 a.m. to Noon
Good Samaritan Auditorium
3011 Buena Vida Circle

For more information send email to Nancy or call her at 575-373-9190.


Alice Anderson, tireless advocate for effective feral cat policies, told of three recent meetings held to obtain public input for a revised animal ordinance. She said most attendees favored Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) and mandatory spay and neuter rules, but she noted that the feral cat caretakers in attendance wanted to be exempt from those rules.

For more information send email to Alice and visit abcbirds.org for an alternative plan.

Consumer Finance dot Gov Needs You

Bob announced his support of the national Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that is being set up by Elizabeth Warren to look to protect consumers from unfair, misleading, and deceptive lending, i.e., to look out for the middle class. Bob recommended visiting the organization’s Web site and following them on Facebook and Twitter as a way of showing support for this agency that is under attack from big money interests.

For more information send email to Bob or call him at 575-642-7445.

Here is an excerpt from a New York Times editorial on May 3, 2011, discussing Republican plans to cripple the agency:

The purpose of the Republican bills is twofold. One is to deprive the agency of the power to fulfill its mission. Another is to attract campaign money. As long as the Senate and White House are controlled by Democrats, the bills are unlikely to become law. But by advancing them in the House, Republicans can demonstrate how thoroughly they would dismantle reform if they controlled Washington and, in the process, rake in Wall Street donations.

Rio Grande Foundation

Jim Powrie voiced concerns about Paul Gessing of the Rio Grande Foundation, the featured presenter at the March PVA meeting. Paul was introduced as a financial conservative, but not a social conservative. Jim found the foundation’s policy papers to be financially and socially conservative. The foundation receives major funding from the Cato Foundation, famed conservative money pot. Jim urged that future speakers be more carefully vetted and their credentials made clear.

For more information send email to Jim or call him at 575-524-4247. You can find out more about his work on literacy and English for Second Language Learners here and here.

Organizing for America (OFA)

Maury Castro announced that OFA is looking for volunteers to work on the 2012 election, or what he called “the corporations vs. Obama.”

Tia Upchurch-Freelove has resigned and her post as OFA organizer for our region and a replacement has not yet been announced.

For more information send email to Maury or call him at 575-541-6099.

New Districting Plan Ready for Review

Peter announced that he is working on the county’s Redistricting Advisory Committee. The contactors will reveal the new proposed map for a first look on Friday, May 29, and the public is invited to attend the unveiling. The redistricting committee is committed to making this a transparent process, and meetings to hear public input will be held.

For more information send email to Peter and visit the Doña Ana County Web site.

Border Network for Human Rights

Jose Escobedo thanked those legislators who “showed a lot of bravery” in voting to allow undocumented residents to continue to hold New Mexico driver’s licenses.

He invited all to attend the First Congress of the Border Network for Human Rights

Border Network First Congress
Saturday, May 14, 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Montana Vista Hall
14697 Greg Drive, El Paso, Texas

For more information send email to Jose or call him at 915-253-2527.

Otero County is Hiring a Predator Specialist

Kristina Marzano of Alamorgordo told the story of a job opening Otero County for a “wildlife specialist” who would drive around in a county vehicle and “extirpate predatory animals” (shoot coyotes?). Kristina raised several questions with regard to this position including, where is the money coming from ($30,000 salary plus benefits), and does a program of shooting coyotes actually protect domestic livestock. Kristina distributed a two-page summary of her research with links to sources for animal protection and range management policies and relevant New Mexico codes.

For more information send email to Kristina or call her at 575-439-6404.

Bus Drivers Union

Leslie Tamburro spoke on behalf of several members of the school bus drivers’ union who were in attendance. She characterized the pay situation as abhorrent, stating that the drivers are not paid a living wage, have the lowest pay of any district in New Mexico, and receive no retirement benefits. She pointed out that bus drivers have the extremely important job of taking our children to school and bringing them home safely.

For more information send email to Leslie or call her at 575-526-6052.

Our Own Backyard

Bob Hearn focused on groups in our community that are doing good work in spite of the grim budget cutbacks. He noted that Barnes and Noble will contribute a percentage of sales on Saturday, April 30, to the Dyslexia Foundation of Las Cruces, one of many organizations working for literacy in our county.

Bob told of his work distributing food in three colonias on the east mesa. The volunteers thought they would need food for 50 families, but in reality 150 families needed food. He urged us to be aware of how serious the issue of hunger is in our county and invited interested people to join him in distributing food to families in need in all the county’s colonias.

For more information send email to Bob.

Councilor Pedroza Announces Good News

City Councilor Olga Pedroza announced that the garden program at Sierra Middle School is “up and running.” She urged us to get involved in our community and take advantage of opportunities (like community gardens) for old and young to work together and exchange ideas.

For more information send email to Olga.

Emilio Gutierrez Lecture

Emilio Gutierrez, a Mexican journalist seeking asylum in the U.S., will speak of the deaths in Mexico, the impact of our legal and illegal gun sales to Mexico, and the ways in which Mexico’s problems are our problems.

Emilio Gutierrez Lecture
Sunday, May 1, 10:30 a.m.
Unitarian Universalist Church

For more information send email to Emilio or call him at 505-990-7954.

Update from Nate Cote

Nate Cote put in a good word for the work being done by Roadrunner food program. He observed that Otero County no longer has a Democratic elected official. He announced that safety meetings will be held to address the issue of crime on the east mesa.

For more information send email to Nate or call him at 575-373-0902.

Stop Fracking—It’s Dangerous

Jan Thompson spoke about the problems with fracking (hydraulic fracturing used to remove natural gas from shale) and brought a petition to ask Congress to curtail the dangerous practice. She noted that unspecified toxic chemicals are used in the process and groundwater is contaminated. Dick Cheney, she said, negotiated an exemption to the Clean Water Act so that Halliburton could frack as it pleased.

For more information send email to Jan.

Don Kurtz Hearts the Recap

Don Kurtz put in a plug for the PVA Recap. He noted that even though it is easy to unsubscribe, over 1,000 people receive the recap notice each month—over 1,000 civic-minded, activists. You can sign up here to receive a notice that the recap has been posted.

For more information send email to Don.

Councilor Nathan Small

Councilor Nathan Small, as usual, won the prize for most points covered in two minutes flat, calling attention to the environment and positive events in District 4.

>Arbor Day Celebration and Free Trees at Burn Lake
>High Desert Brewery Solar Party
>Picacho Pride is attracting new businesses to Picacho Avenue and reducing crime
>Wild and Scenic Film Festival, sponsored by the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance is coming May 13 to the Rio Grande Theatre.

“And by the way,” Nathan said in closing, “take a look at the environmental legislation coming out of Representative Pearce’s office.” You can follow the Wilderness and Roadless Area Release Act of 2011 at Thomas.gov.

For more information send email to Nathan.

Rally to End Mexican Drug War

Ella Nelson announced a Rally in Solidarity with the International March to End the Drug War in Mexico. Speakers include Emilio Gutierrez, Mexican journalist seeking asylum; Carlos Spector, immigration attorney; and Rubén García, director of Annunciation House in El Paso.

Solidarity Rally
Sunday, May 8, 3 to 4:30 p.m.
Mesilla Community Center, Calle de Santiago

There will be authentic Mexican barbecue plates for $5.

For more information send email to Ella.

Councilor Sharon Thomas

Councilor Thomas announced a public safety special event sponsored by the Las Cruces Police Department. You can get information about crime statistics, responses to crime, and how you can help.

Mobile Operations Center
May 5 to 7, open 24 hours a day
Loma Heights Elementary School
1600 East Madrid Avenue

For more information send email to Sharon or call her at 575-521-9314.

Solar Power Plus Beer at the Brewery

Theresa Westbrock invited everyone to a meet and greet at the High Desert Brewing Company, which has partnered with Positive Energy Solar to install a solar PV system, making it New Mexico’s first solar powered brewery.

High Desert Solar Party
sponsored by the Las Cruces Green Chamber of Commerce
High Desert Brewing Company
Saturday, April 30, 2 p.m.

For more information send email to Theresa.

Preaching to the Choir

Kevin Wilson introduced himself as a first time attendee at PVA and observed that it had been interesting to watch everyone preach to the choir. He advocated making the extra effort to talk with people who do not necessarily share your views.

For more information send email to Kevin or call him at 575-635-0685.

Health Security for New Mexicans? Yes We Can

Cheryl Frank announced that Vermont is leading the way and is just about to pass a single payer health insurance bill. She promised us that we can do the same for New Mexico with Health Security for New Mexicans, a plan with broad support in all sectors (except, perhaps, the insurance sector).

For more information send email to Cheryl or call her at 575-650-7607.

Great Conversations

Randy Harris invited everyone to participate in a The Great Conversation. He read the following brief description of the process:

The Great Conversation series provides an opportunity to engage in passionate, civil, respectful discussion about important issues ranging from current affairs to timeless human questions that affect us all. In The Great Conversation we recognize and honor common ground and contrasts. We address conflict with collaboration, cooperation and communication. We practice compassion rather than condemnation. It’s passionately candid, yet safe. It’s informative. It’s fascinating. And it’s a lot of fun!

The group meets at the Mountain View Market, from 6:30 to 7 p.m. on various evenings. The May schedule is here.

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

Save the Date

Lloyd Covens announced that there will be a party to design a patriotic float for the Democratic Party entry in the annual Fourth of July Electric Light Parade.

For more information send email to Lloyd or call him at 575-312-8331.

One Last Thing

Jason Burke, of the Southwest Environmental Center, has lost his dog Phoebe and is offering a reward of $200 for her return. Phoebe is a beautiful black Lab with soulful eyes.

For more information send email to Jason or call him at 575-915-2766.

Our next meeting will be
Thursday, May 26, 2011, 7 p.m.
Munson Senior Center
975 S. Mesquite


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