Rudderless Ship—Legislative Update from Cervantes, Fischmann and Nuñez
Representatives Joseph Cervantes and Andy Nuñez and Senator Steve Fischmann gave their candid takes on the 30-day session. They agreed it was a leaderless session, and beyond that they agreed to disagree on numerous points. The 30-day session is devoted to the budget and the governor’s agenda. The governor submitted 44 items for consideration but withdrew 34 of them after two weeks, leaving many lawmakers to wonder, “Why are we here?”
No progress was made on education or driver’s licenses, and no loopholes were closed in the tax code. We heard that Education Secretary-designate Skandera will continue to serve, but she remains unconfirmed and apparently unconfirmable, having lost the trust of Hispanics and Native Americans, for starters. She was described both as “bright and energetic but politically a flop,” and “doing a good job.”
The Q and A session explored the issues of education and driver’s licenses. Cervantes made the one clear point: Washington must work on immigration, which is a national problem that needs a national solution. State-by-state immigration policy will not work.
For more information visit the New Mexico Legislature on the Web, where you can find detailed information about the legislative work of Representative Andy Nuñez, Representative Joseph Cervantes, and Senator Steve Fischmann
January Unified Action Update–Plight of the Gray Wolf in New Mexico
Cheryl Frank reported that 55 people mailed in “I did it’s” for the January unified action, which asked the U.S. Fish and Wildlife people to reevaluate suitable gray wolf habitat. Jason Burke, sponsor of the action, said that Fish and Wildlife has not yet responded to the request for a new study. Press coverage for the wolves has been very positive, including editorials in the Albuquerque Journal, letters to the editor in many newspapers, and full page ads in Albuquerque and Las Cruces.
For more information send email to Jason.
February Unified Action—Urge the Sheriff to Protect ALL People’s Rights
Mariaelena Johnson, of CAFE presented the new unified action in which we will ask the county commissioners to see that the Doña Ana County Sheriff’s Office revises their standard operating procedures so that deputies do not ask immigration status during routine stops and encounters.
The action is to contact the county commissioners and/or attend the meeting in which the issue will be discussed.
County Commissioners’ Meeting
Tuesday, February 28, 9 a.m.
Doña Ana County Government Building
For more information send email to Mariaelena or call her at 575-645-9880.
ICE and Deputy Sheriffs Should Stick to Their Own Job Descriptions
Maribel Salmón made the point that deputy sheriffs should not be doing the job of Immigration and Customs Enforcement or the Border Patrol. And vice versa.
For more information send email to Maribel or call her at 575-312-7701.
Family Portraits for Easter
Easter portraits will be available for families who cannot afford a professional family portrait. The portraits are printed and matted immediately and given to families to take home. The sponsors include Democratic Women of Doña Ana County, portrait photographer Nicholas Bañales, Kate Mott of MVS Studios, Duncan Noble Salon and Spa, Community of Hope, and Greenworks.
For more information send email to Charlotte or call her at 575-527-4083.
Great Conversation Focuses on Lessons of Dr. King’s Letter From the Birmingham Jail
Great Conversations will hold an extra-great conversation along with refreshments and a viewing of “A Call to Unity,” a film about Dr. King’s Letter From the Birmingham Jail. It will be an occasion to reflect on Dr. King’s principles and the responsibilities of the church, clergy, people of faith, and all people of conscience to stand up against injustice.
A Great Movie and A Great Conversation
Saturday, February 25, 6 p.m.
Court Youth Performing Arts Center, 402 W. Court
Light Refreshments Will Be Served at 5:30 p.m.
For more information send email to Larry or call him at 575-523-5297.
Uncle Sam Would Be Richer Without Dollar Bills
Allen Downs advocated for the adoption of the COINS Act, HR2977, which would phase out dollar bills over 4 years and save the government (us!) several hundred million dollars a year. Allen brought coins for sale, at one dollar each.
For more information send email to Allen or call him at 575-915-6969.
Pat Aguirre for NM Senator Fischmann’s Reelection
Pat Aguirre spoke in support of Senator Steve Fischmann’s reelection campaign. She voiced a concern about Governor Martinez’s intentions to use her influence and cash reserves to defeat Steve and other progressive legislators. Pat, who is campaign manager for the Fischmann campaign, urged people to talk with Steve and all the candidates about their positions on issues and their votes—especially any votes you don’t agree with. You may never agree, but Steve will let you know the reasoning behind his votes. Signatures to place Steve’s name on the ballot will be collected from March 1 to March 18.
For more information send email to Pat or call her at 575-523-5127.
Obama For America Throws an Office Warming Party
Alexandrea Aland announced that Obama for America will celebrate the opening of their Las Cruces Office. She invited everyone to attend the opening and to join the effort to reelect President Obama. She emphasized that there are volunteer jobs for everyone—even if you can’t knock on doors or make phone calls.
OFA Las Cruces Office Opening Party
Sunday, March 4, 1 to 4 p.m.
OFA Office, 151 S. Solano
For more information send email to Alexandrea or call her at 575-496-8578.
Chalk Artist Festival Coming to Downtown Las Cruces in April
Local artist and self-proclaimed ne’er-do-well Bob Diven, himself a winner of street painting festivals in Denver and El Paso, announced that Las Cruces will hold a juried street painting event in April. Bob is working with the Downtown Las Cruces Partnership and they are welcoming sponsors for the event and for artists. The canvas will be the newly-reopened Main Street in Downtown Las Cruces. Juried artists will compete for cash prizes and awards and there will be a special area for young aspiring artists and their families.
Saturday, April 28, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
For more information send email to Bob or call him at 575-542-7445 and visit Downtown Las Cruces on the Web.
Funny Songs About . . . Ignorance and Greed
Jan Thompson suggested the music of Roy Zimmerman as an antidote for all the talk of drivers’ licenses, education, and the rudderless ship that was the 2012 New Mexico legislative session. Roy Zimmerman is a writer and performer of satirical songs, and the Los Angeles Times has called him a “latter day Tom Lehrer.”
Friday, February 24, 7 p.m.
Unitarian Universalist Church, 200 S. Solano Drive
For more information send email to Jan or call her at 575-680-2680.
Darren Kugler for Judge, Third Judicial District Court
Darren Kugler announced that he is running for the position recently vacated by Judge Murphy. He cited extensive experience in southern New Mexico as a trial lawyer, deputy district attorney, public defender, and special commissioner for domestic violence.
For more information send email to Darren or call him at 575-525-8491.
An Argument for Being Honest With Ourselves
Wes Wilson made a quiet, passionate appeal for honesty. Specifically, he pointed out that the license causing so much sound and fury is called a driver’s license, not a national security ID card.
For more information send email to Wes.
Alex Cotoia for County Commission, District 2
Alex spoke of the grave needs that exist in southern Doña Ana County including the need for basic infrastructure. He is running for the seat that will be vacated by Dolores Saldaña-Caviness, who is term-limited. Alex noted his years of experience in politics and expressed his intention to be a strong advocate for the needs of District 2.
For more information send email to Alex or call him at 575-636-4196.
Getting Democrats to the Polls Is Critical in 2012 Election
Jack Soules pointed out that registered Democrats far outnumber Republicans in Doña Ana County. The problem is getting those Democrats to the polls. Jack asked for all good Democrats do their part to get out the vote in the coming election so that we don’t have a repeat of the 2010 election results.
For more information send email to Jack
Taskforce for Immigrant Advocacy Petitions County
Diana Bustamante spoke of the work of TIAS-NM (Taskforce for Immigrant Advocacy and Services in Southern New Mexico), a coalition of several groups and individuals throughout Doña Ana County including the ACLU, Colonias Development Council, and Catholic Charities. The group has been working for a policy that would ban Doña Ana County deputies from asking the immigration status of a person during a routine encounter or traffic stop. Diana asked for signatures on a petition that will be presented to the county commissioners when TIAS presents at their February 28 meeting.
For more information send email to Diana or call her at 575-233-4155 and visit TIAS-NM.com.
“A Better Life” Shows Families Torn Apart by Deportation
Veronica Carmona made an offer you can hardly refuse: food and a movie. There will also be panel discussion that includes City Councilor Olga Pedroza and other distinguished speakers. The movie tells the story of a father and a son seeking a better life in East Los Angeles. In this instance the father is an undocumented immigrant, but his story is universal.
“A Better Life” Movie and Panel Discussion and Food
Saturday, March 10, 5 p.m.
Alma D’Arte Charter School, 402 W. Court Avenue
This event is sponsored by Alianza en Apoyo de Emigrantes Mexicanos En Busca de Asilo Político and proceeds will be used to assist immigrants seeking political asylum.
For more information send email to Veronica or call her at 575-571-2177, check out the movie’s excellent reviews, and learn more about Oscar-nominee Demián Bichir.
Occupy Las Cruces Hosts Mic Check
Erica Samuel thanked the Las Cruces City Council for continued support and cooperation given to Occupy Las Cruces. She announced the following event:
Sunday, February 26
For more information send email to Erica or call her at 575-993-1364.
New Groups Plans to Register 50,000 New Voters in New Mexico
Oriana Sandoval announced the formation of New Mexico Vote Matters, which has the goal of registering 50,000 new voters by October 4, 2012. They have recently opened an office in Albuquerque and hope to have a Las Cruces office open by June.
For more information send email to Oriana.
A Shout-Out for the Unified Action Guru
Judy Zimmerman thanked Cheryl Frank for her excellent work keeping the unified action organized and meaningful.
Judy also recklessly promised to post all events announced at PVA meetings by the following day. [She omitted to qualify that promise with “unless my computer crashes” and, sure enough, there was a crash around 10 p.m. on Friday, February 28.]
For more information send email to Judy.
A Shout-Out for PVA
Ariel Bickel, visiting from Albuquerque and a board member of Conservation Voters New Mexico, explained that the organization works across many issues, not only environmental issues. She closed, graciously, by saying, “As always, a fabulous [PVA] meeting.”
For more information send email to Ariel or call her at 505-3246867.
SWEC Prius Raffle Winner To Be Announced on Earth Day
Jason mentioned some of the issues most pressing at the Southwest Environmental Center these days. First up: the governor’s recent appointment to the New Mexico Game Commission. She replaced retired NMSU chemistry professor Rob Hoffman with Paul M. Kienzle III, an Albuquerque attorney who represents The Paragon Foundation and was a member of Martinez’s campaign committee.
SWEC is once again selling $100 raffle tickets for a new Prius and the winner will be announced at the April 22 Earth Day Celebration at Young Park.
SWEC adopted a 3-mile stretch of the Rio Grande which needs to be cleaned up on a regular basis. Everyone is invited to help.
Rio Grande River Cleanup
Saturday, March 10, 10 a.m. to Noon
Possibly preceded by a pancake breakfast
For more information send email to Jason.
“A Better Life” Is Worth Your While
Maury Castro gave “A Better Life” a five-star review and noted that the star, Demián Bichir, besides being nominated for an Oscar for Best Actor in a Leading Role, came to this country as an undocumented immigrant. He was able to take advantage of the amnesty program of the Reagan years.
“A Better Life” Movie, Food, and Panel Discussion
Saturday, March 10, 5 p.m.
Alma D’Arte Charter School, 402 W. Court Avenue
For more information send email to Maury or call him at 575-547-6099.
PACs (Good) and Super PACs (Evil) Are Not the Same
Cheryl Frank made a memorable effort to make sure that we remember that traditional PACs and super PACs—even though their names are similar–are not all the same. She observed that we wouldn’t confuse Charles Manson (murder) with Charles Schwab (money), or Cheryl Teague (old model) with Cheryl Frank (new model), and certainly not Saddam Hussein with Barack Hussein Obama (although some people have tried that).
She implored us to keep the distinction clear between PACS (around since Teddy Roosevelt, regulated, transparent) and super PACs (around since 2010, unregulated and already dubbed “dark money”).
For more information send email to Cheryl or call her at 575-650-7604 and visit the FAQ section of New Mexicans for Democracy, a traditional PAC.
Sierra County to Get Another Progressive–Our Loss, Their Gain
Martina Meyers announced that she will be moving to Truth or Consequences in March. That’s the bad news. The good news is that she will start a Sierra County Progressive Voter Alliance. She asked that you send her your Sierra County contacts.
For more information send email to Martina or call her at 575-993-4549.
Mary Rosner for Judge
Mary Rosner explained that the Third Judicial District Court has seven judge positions. Three of those positions will be on the ballot in November. The three Democrats running for those positions are Marci Beyer, Darren Kugler, and Mary Rosner.
For more information send email to Mary or call him at 575-524-4399.
Second Annual Arts Fair Even Better Than First
Maggie Griffin invited everyone to attend the second annual Las Cruces Arts Fair, a juried event that raises money for the Doña Ana Arts Council. Admission to the two-day fair is $5. Tickets to a Preview Gala on Friday evening are $35.
Second Annual Las Cruces Arts Fair
Saturday, March 17
Sunday, March 18
Las Cruces Convention Center
For more information send email to Maggie and visit the Arts Fair on the Web.
DAC Dems Prepare for Primaries
Lloyd Covens announced important upcoming events for the Democratic Party.
County Pre-Primary Convention
Saturday, February 25, 9 a.m.
Ramada Palms de Las Cruces
State Pre-Primary Convention
Saturday, March 10, 10 a.m.
Albuquerque Convention Center
Carpools leave Las Cruces at 5:55 a.m.
For more information send email to Lloyd or call him at 575-312-8331.
Good PAC Hands Check to Progressive Candidate
Ann McCullough presented Nate Cote with a check for $1,000 from the New Mexicans for Democracy PAC. This will legally allow Nate to begin funding his campaign for State Representative, District 53.
For more information send email to Ann or call her at 575-524-2601.
In These Hard Times Animal Relief Fund Needs Donors
David Chavez of the Doña Ana County Humane Society announced that the organization has an Animal Relief Fund for people who can’t afford veterinary care for their animals. Donations are welcome, especially in these hard economic times.
For more information send email to David or call him at 575-589-1200.
Meeting Headlines and Events
The full meeting recap will be posted by Monday, February 27. In the meantime, the headlines are listed below along with times and places for the events that were announced at the meeting.