PVA Meeting Recap – January 27, 2011

The Legislative Response Team Rides Again

Jim Moore announced that PVA’s Legislative Response Team (LRT) will be at work until the current session of the New Mexico legislature comes to an end on March 19, 2011. Jim will track progressive bills as they move through the legislature and email calls for action (i.e., a phone call or email) at just the right time to have the greatest impact on the policy makers.

This is the fifth year of the LRT’s existence. Past issues of note included environmental protection, repeal of the death penalty, health care reform, and domestic partnership rights. In 2009, the LRT participated in the defeat of the SunCal TIDDs, causing legislators to ask, “Who are these people in southern New Mexico and why do they know so much about this issue?”

For more information send email to Jim Moore.

Unified Action for January

Kevin Bixby of the Southwest Environmental Center presented this month’s action which is to contact the NM Senate Rules Committee and urge them to reject the nomination of Harrison Schmitt to head the NM Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department.

Complete information about Schmitt’s views on climate change, the Deep Horizon oil spill, and public lands, etc. can be found here on SWEC’s Web site.

Previous Unified Action

November’s action was to urge passage of the Organ Mountain-Desert Peaks Wilderness Act before the end of the lame duck session. Nathan Small reported that the public response was overwhelming in support of the act. Our senators did all they could to get the bill to a vote, but it just didn’t happen. However, no one is giving up on this issue.

For more information visit the Unified Action Web page for November here.

Arts Fair in March

George Griffin announced the first Las Cruces Arts Fair, a juried show featuring award winning artists, demonstrations, children’s activities.

Las Cruces Arts Fair
March 25-27
Las Cruces Convention Center

Volunteers are needed for this event which will benefit the Doña Ana Arts Council. For more information send email to George or call him at 575-526-9674.

Jeff Steinborn Is Here to Stay

Jeff Steinborn thanked all those who supported his last, unfortunately unsuccessful, campaign for state representative. He assured us that–rumors to the contrary–he is not moving anywhere. He will stay in Las Cruces and continue to work on the environment, veterans’ concerns, and the many other issues dear to his heart.

For more information send email to Jeff.

Building Green—A Forum for Professionals

Mark Westbrock announced a forum on green building for architects, real estate agents, contractors, and other professionals in the housing industry.

Building Green Forum
Thursday, February 24, 8:15 a.m. to 1 p.m.
BIA Meeting Hall

The forum is sponsored by the Las Cruces Green Chamber of Commerce and will cover a broad range of topics including green building certifications, tax credits, and the added value created by green building.

To register online, go here. For more information send email to Mark or call him at 575-524-2030.

Health Security for New Mexicans

Vicki Simons spoke of the Affordable Care Act in relation to Health Security for New Mexicans. She stressed that states should be laboratories for determining the best, most cost effective ways to deliver health care. She noted that Vermont has passed legislation for a single payer health care system, Vermont’s governor supports it, and they are working with Health Secretary Sebelius to get an early OK to proceed with this option (before the 2017 date specified by the ACA).

For more information send email to Vicki or call her at 575-522-4813.

Emilio Gutierrez Seeks Political Asylum

Emilio Gutierrez told the story of his situation in this country as a Mexican journalist seeking political asylum. Emilio received repeated death threats after writing about the Mexican drug cartels. His court case is underway and may provide important precedents for future asylum cases. Emilio thanked PVA members for their support.

Articles and video about Emilio have been published on the Web by Mother Jones, National Public Radio, and many other news organizations. For more information send email to Emilio or call him at 505-990-7954.

Democratic Women Meet in February

Terri McBrayer invited everyone to the February meeting of Democratic Women of Doña Ana County.

Democratic Women
Saturday, February 5, 10 a.m.
Good Samaritan’s Kiva Room

Terri also asked for support in her bid for District 37 Director of the Doña Ana Democratic Party.

For more information send email to Terri or call her at 575-541-9667.

Christy French

Christy French, a candidate for chair of the Doña Ana County Democratic Party, spoke of the need to get out the message that the Democratic Party stands for education, health care, and policies that strengthen middle class families. She said that the local party must provide resources and assistance for all Democratic candidates.

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

Bill Gomez Runs for Democratic Party Vice Chair

Virginia Gomez asked for support for her husband, Bill Gomez, in his bid for vice chair of the Doña Ana County Democratic Party.

For more information call Virginia at 575-233-3040.

Letitia Montoya for NM State Democratic Party Chair

Letitia asked for support as she runs for chair of the state New Mexico Democratic Party. She cited her experience as a party officer and grassroots organizer and her dismay over Democratic losses (including 8 state representatives) in the November 2010 election.

For more information send email to Letitia or call her at 505-983-8521.

1000 Woman March

Veronica invited everyone to join a nonpartisan, statewide, nonreligious group that is speaking out for policies that strengthen New Mexican families. “It’s not only women, but we are taking the lead . . . as always,” she said, smiling.

1000 Woman March
Friday, February 11, noon
Railyard Park, Santa Fe

The group will march to the State Capitol for a rally at the Roundhouse followed by a press conference at 2:30 p.m. in the Rotunda.

For more information send email to Veronica or call her at 575-571-2177.

Fundraiser for Emilio Gutierrez

Charlotte Lipson announced a fundraiser for Mexican journalist Emilio Gutierrez to assist him with his legal fees as he seeks asylum.

Fundraiser for Emilio Gutierrez
Friday, January 28, 6 to 8 p.m.
Taste of India, University & Espina

For more information send email to Ella Nelson or call her at 575-524-0663.

Judge Mannie Arrieta is Back with College Democrats

Judge Arrieta, good to his word, returned with three members of the newly organized College Democrats of NMSU. The organization, which has been active in the past, was inexplicably allowed to founder, but those days are over. The group will be working to register voters, elect candidates, and raise awareness of the Democratic message on campus.

For more information send email to Luke Blecha, student organizzer.

Peace and Justice Without Borders

Zachary Kershaw (aka, the kid who ran for sheriff) invited everyone to attend a binational event sponsored by Peace and Justice without Borders.

Day of Action
Saturday, January 29, noon
Sunland Park-Anapra Border Fence

[The event was covered by KTSM here.] For more information send email to Zackary or call him at 575-202-3785.

Best Health Care Choice for New Mexicans

Cheryl Frank asked that we urge our legislators to vote in favor of Health Security for New Mexicans. She described the plan as a way for New Mexico to set up its own home-grown, best-for-New Mexico insurance plan.

For more information send email to Cheryl or call her at 575-650-7606.

Organizing for America

Tia Upchurch-Freelove reported a great turnout at parties to watch President Obama’s State of the Union address. On the Martin Luther King Day of Service, OFA volunteers worked at Casa de Peregrinos and will continuing volunteering at the food bank one day each month.

For more information, send email to Tia or call her at 575-652-7027. You can follow Organizing for American in New Mexico at twitter.com/OFA_NM or visit the Web page at My.BarackObama.com.

Speak out for Science . . . and Against Schmitt’s Nomination

Lloyd Covens spoke about the importance of letting the Senate Rules Committee know of your opposition to Harrison Schmitt’s nomination to be Secretary of the New Mexico Department of Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources. “Remind the governor that we are a Democratic state,” he added.

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

Green Chamber’s First Friday Talk Targets Sustainability

Paul Heilberger issued an invitation to attend the Green Chamber’s ongoing series of monthly lunchtime forums. Tom Schuster, the city’s sustainability officer, will discuss the city’s first sustainability plan, specifically how the plan will affect (and benefit) businesses.

Green Chamber First Friday
Friday, February 2, noon
El Tiburon Mariscos Restaurant
504 E. Amador Avenue

For more information send email to Paul or call him at 575-513-7285. Visit nmgreenchamber.com for more about the group’s goals and activities.

Maury Castro for Health Security

Maury Castro stated that Health Security for New Mexicans is 100% behind the Affordable Care Act with the caveat that the ACA’s insurance exchanges are a weak link in an otherwise great piece of legislation. The cost of the exchanges is not known whereas two independent studies have shown that the Health Security Plan would mean better health coverage and significant savings.

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

Democracy=Rule of the People

Speed Powrie voiced his concerns about the media treatment of the Tucson shootings and his belief that the zeitgeist contributed to that kind of happening.

For more information send email to Speed or call him at 619-405-6820.

County Commissioner Billy Garrett

Billy Garrett thanked all who helped him in his successful campaign for a seat on the Doña  County Commission. He expressed his desire to keep on talking and listening to people. “Invite me to a house party,” he said.

For more information, send email to Billy, call him at 575-915-5755, or visit billyg4dac.org.

Update from Senator Bingaman’s Office

Melanie Goodman, of Senator Bingaman’s office, spoke about the devastating effect the repeal of the Affordable Care Act would have on New Mexicans. She pointed out higher costs to consumers and less protection from insurance company practices. A detailed list of specifics is published at HealthCare.gov.

For more information send email to Melanie or call her at 575-523-4775.

League of Women Voters

Johnnie Aldrich announced that local League members will attend League Day at the Legislature. If you have an issue you would like brought up with a legislator, let a League member know.

League Day at the Legislature
Tuesday, February 1
The Roundhouse, Santa Fe

For more information send email to Johnnie or call her at 575-522-1544.

Haven on Earth Is More than Busy

LaToya went through a long list of environmentally friendly events sponsored by Haven on Earth and welcomed volunteers to join. They will be at the Farmers’ Market to promoting recycling and will be working on Earth Day activities.

For more information send email to LaToya or call her at 575-621-9879.

Update from City Councilor Gill Sorg

Gill announced that he will be in Santa Fe for Las Cruces Day at the legislature. He will be advocating to protect the budget of the Department of Health, and he described how important it is that the department has adequate funds to monitor air quality.

For more information send email to Gill or call him at 575-541-0577.

Mesilla Valley Preservation Presents a Tour of Historic Homes

Gregg Henry announced the formation of a new group that is dedicated to preserving the architectural legacy of the Mesilla Valley. They will assist owners of historic homes with advice, technical assistance, experience, and know-how. They have planned a tour of historic homes that includes the McDowell Farm House and the Bermudez Home Place.

Casas de Antaño
Saturday, February 12, 1 to 5 p.m.
7 locations in Las Cruces and Mesilla

For more information send email to Gregg, call him at 575-644-3689, or visit MVP on the Web.

Take a Stand Against Anti-Immigrant Sentiment

Veronica Carmona spoke of her concerns about anti-immigrant sentiment being expressed in New Mexico. She pointed to the driver’s license issue and the unintended consequences that taking licenses away from illegal immigrants will have on safety and the economy. [New Mexico is one of three states that issues driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants, but Governor Martinez has vowed to reverse the policy.] Veronica urged contacting Representative Andy Nuñez and letting him know your feelings about immigrant policy.

For more information send email to Veronica or call her at 575-571-2177.

[The New Mexico Independent here and the New York Times here write about the differences between immigrant policies in New Mexico and Arizona.]

Bright New Future for the Old Camuñez Building

George Griffin explained that the Camuñez Building may be transformed into an incubator for theater and film production enterprises. This would be a collaborative project with the city, the county, NMSU, and many local organizations involved. Senator Papen and Representative McMillan are seeing the bill through the legislature.

For more information send email to George or call him at 575-526-9674.

Update from City Councilor Nathan Small

Nathan announced that the city is fiscally strong at this time and has double the required funds in reserve. He expressed his pleasure with the progress being made by the city’s first Sustainability Officer, Tom Schuster. He mentioned a few of the projects underway: El Paseo revitalization, Picacho Pride Project, tree planting for Burn Lake, and upgrading Valley Drive from Picacho Avenue north to the city limits to include safer access for bicyclists and pedestrians.

For more information send email to Nathan.

Garden Event and Some Good News for the Environment

Gary Camuñez reminded everyone of one piece of good news from Santa Fe: the Supreme Court’s ruling that Governor Martinez was wrong when, on her first day in office, she halted the publication of rules protecting the environment. New Energy Economy brought the case against Martinez and has extensive coverage of this issue on their Web site.

Gary also announced a seed sharing and potluck event for local gardeners.

Seed Share
Sunday, January 30, noon to 3 p.m.
Mountain View Market, 1300 El Paseo

For more information send email to Gary or call him at 561-702-3772.

Our next meeting will be
Thursday, February 24, 2011, 7 p.m.
Munson Senior Center, 975 S. Mesquite

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