PVA Meeting Recap – March 25, 2010

Unified Action Update

Cheryl Frank, Unified Action coordinator, reported that she has received 46 “I did it!” responses from people who contacted Senator Udall to ask that he support the CLEAR Act, which is the cap-and-dividend legislation introduced by Senators Collins and Cantrell. It’s not too late to contact Senator Udall and ask him to support the act. Details are here.

For more information send email to Cheryl.

New Unified Action—Make Otero Mesa a National Monument

Jason Burke of the Southwest Environmental Center (SWEC) introduced the March Unified Action. The goal is to protect the beautiful and fragile ecosystem of the Otero Mesa, which is being considered for National Monument status. (The Bureau of Land Management has long had  a plan to open up the area for oil and gas development.) The action is to call Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and ask him to declare Otero Mesa a National Monument. Unified action details are here. Otero Mesa in the national news is here.

For more information send email to Jason or call him at 575-522-5552.

Legislators’ Panel

All of Doña Ana’s state representatives were invited and five were able to attend:

Senator Mary Jane Garcia
Senator Steve Fischmann
Representative Joni Gutierrez
Represenative Nate Cote
Representative Jeff Steinborn

“Brutal,” “tough,” and “the worst I’ve seen in 21 years” was how they described the latest legislative session, which had to balance the budget while dealing with massive revenue shortfalls. Several major concerns were raised including the following:

+ corporations and the wealthy were not asked to help with the financial crisis
+ the legislators created short-term patches for long-term problems
+ some of the leadership (not Senator Garcia, Majority Whip) are afraid of ethics reform
+ the governor has overwhelming influence over the legislative agenda

On a positive note a task force was created to look at the big picture. They will examine ways to improve government effectiveness and efficiency and address the desperate need for statewide planning.

A number of small but positive steps were cited. For example, the Hispanic Education Act to improve the woeful academic results for Hispanic students overall; the Sunshine Portal passed with special mention of the State Land Office; all house committee meetings will be webcast; conservation easements will help preserve agricultural land; and the State Investment Council will get stronger oversight.

At the end of the discussion, the panel received a standing ovation in appreciation for their candid and straightforward answers.

[For a nationwide view, Les Leopold examines the impact of the financial crisis on state governments and looks at the repercusions for the middle class.]

Health Care Vigilance

Art Flores began by recalling, with pride, that as a young man he had cast a vote for Franklin D. Roosevelt. He reminded us that the passage of the Affordable Care Act is not the end of the need for citizens to work for better health care for all. He urged us to stay informed and involved and to hold our representatives accountable for making this law live up to its promise.

He urged action in particular with regard to the decision by several states to file suits claiming that the new law is unconstitutional. [See a discussion of this issue by legal scholars.]

For more information call Art at 575-523-7045.

Rep. Steinborn’s Birthday & Fundraiser

Charlotte Lipson invited everyone to a fortieth birthday party/fundraiser for Jeff Steinborn. The gathering is Monday, April 5, 5:30 p.m. at Charlotte’s home.

For more information send email to Charlotte or call her at 575-527-4083.

Health Care Update re Public Option

Ken Murray reminded us that the Affordable Care Act allows states to create a public option and sent the following note:

For those of you who raised your hands last Fall when I asked the question about who favored “Single Payer” or “Public Option,”  I have good news. ITS NOT OVER!

Section 1332 of the Reconciliation Act that the House is passing and sending to President Obama to sign tonight contains authority for any State to impose on itself a “Public Option.”  All New Mexicans would benefit from such a situation as opposed to paying “For Profit” Insurance Companies for their health care.  Representatives being elected should be pressed to set up a “Public Option” for New Mexico.

Ken Murray
USAF Reserve Retired J.A.G.

For more information send email to Ken or call him at 575-640-1285.

Bob Hearn Endorses Lawrence Rael for Lt. Gov.

Bob Hearn spoke in support of Lawrence Rael’s bid for lieutenant governor, first noting that there are five excellent candidates to choose from in this race. Bob cited Rael’s knowledge of planning fundamentals, his management experience, and his track record of bringing people together to get things done.

For more information send email to Bob.

A Message from Rep. Teague

Ginette Magaña of Representative Teague’s Las Cruces office was on hand to speak in his defense. She noted that although Teague voted against the Affordable Care Act, he is “not out bashing the bill” as is Steve Pearce, former representative. Teague has voted with President Obama over 80% of the time. He voted for SCHIP and against insurance companies being exempt from antitrust rules. Although he has not come out in favor of the Wilderness Act, he is working with Senator Bingaman to resolve his concerns. Again, not out bashing the bill.

For more information send email to Ginette or call her at 575-522-3908.

North Dakota State Bank Example

A thoughtful PVA attendee (whose name and contact information cannot be located) described the effectiveness of North Dakota’s state bank, established in 1918 and still going strong, undaunted by the financial crisis. He suggested that New Mexico study this approach, which is currently being considered by Michigan and California.

Rep. Steinborn Running for Third Term

Representative Jeff Steinborn asked for our support for his reelection campaign. He pointed out that there are two Republicans in the race and that New Mexico still has no limits on campaign contributions.

For more information send email to Jeff.

Casa de Peregrinos Thanks PVA for Generosity

Joyce Campbell-Layman, a member of the Casa de Peregrinos board, reported that she received over $400 in contributions for the food bank after the appeal she made at the last PVA meeting. She expressed her thanks to the group. Casa de Peregrinos, an emergency food bank, is still in need of contributions. To donate now to Casa de Peregrinos, go to  justgive.org.

For more information call Joyce at 575-521-5957.

Remembering Stewart Udall

Jean Ossorio paid tribute to Stewart Udall, characterizing him as the “model of what a Secretary of the Interior should be.” She cited his achievements in office and the fact that he later became an advocate for those who where harmed by atomic testing. She reminded us that a note of appreciation could be directed to Senator Tom Udall’s office.

Jean also announced us to that the wolf recovery program is now on Facebook and that their outstanding Web site  is now being updated almost daily.

For more information send email to Jean.

Jerry Ortiz y Pino for Lt. Gov.

State Senator Ortiz y Pino noted that the necessary signatures have been submitted and he expects to be certified to be on the ballot. He bypassed campaign rhetoric to commend our Doña Ana County legislators and mention two achievements of the recent legislative session. The Colonias Act will provide significant funds for infrastructure and other needs in the colonias, 35 of which are located in our county. The cigarette tax was passed and would have created revenue for early childhood education, except for the fact of the governor’s line-item veto.

For more information send email to Jerry, visit his campaign Web site, or give him a call at 505-243-1509 or 505-250-1280 (cell).

A Shout Out for the Fine Arts

County Commissioner Leticia Duarte-Benavidez brought good news about the Mayfield High School band and orchestra—the Queen of England has invited them to perform in London in December 2010. The Mayfield music program has been recognized for excellence in the state, the region, and nationally. Leti referenced the abundant research showing the academic benefits of fine arts education.

For more information send email to Leti or call her at 575-523-5712.

Organizing for America

Pam Coleman, Organizing for America field director, recognized many people who had attended rallies in support of the health reform. She urged us to become familiar with the immediate benefits of the Affordable Care Act and share information with friends and neighbors and coworkers. A basic summary in printable form is here.

OFA will be working hard to support all Democratic candidates, up and down the ballot,  in the midterm election. A top priority will be mobilizing first-time voters.

For more information send email to Pam or call her at 505-715-0787. You can follow OFA-NM at nm.barackobama.com or at twitter.com/OFA_NM.

Andy Segovia for County Assessor

Andy Segovia, currently serving as assistant county assessor, announced that he is running for county assessor. Foregoing news about his qualifications and experience, he spoke of the notices of property value that will be going out April 1. Some property owners will see lower valuations, but some will see increases. Andy promised that the County Assessor’s Office will provide help to anyone with questions about property taxes as well as to veterans who may have questions about the $4000 veterans’ exemption. Andy offered to pay a visit to any homebound person who needs the services of the tax assessor’s office.

For more information send email to Andy or call him at 575-640-5675. You can follow his campaign on Face book.

Dolores Huerta To Speak In Las Cruces

Emily Carey announced that Dolores Huerta will be in Las Cruces to talk about civil rights along the border—an area also known as the constitution-free or constitution-light zone. The program will include a celebration of Huerta’s 80th birthday and music by Veronica Carmona (a friend of PVA) and Josh Baca. Tickets are $10 at the door or online at aclu-nm.org

Tuesday, April 13, 7 p.m.
Dolores Huerta: Reclaiming Our Civil Rights on the Border
Court Youth Center
402 W. Court Avenue

For more information send email to Emily or call her at 575-524-0664.

Update from the School Board

Maria Flores gave everyone a heads up regarding a school bus problem (that appeared on the front page of Friday’s newspaper). Bottom line: don’t panic. One way or another the school buses will be taking children to school.

Maria expressed appreciation to the state legislators who did all they could to preserve revenues for the public schools. There will be cuts but it could have been much worse.

For more information send email to Maria.

Billy Garrett for County Commissioner, District 1

Billy Garrett reported that he has been listening to the people in his district and hearing their concerns about government efficiency, growth and development, and protecting the environment. He promised to address the needs of the colonias and reiterated his commitment to measurable results and the need for people to be involved in the planning of their communities.

For more information send email to Billy, call him at 575-915-5755, or visit his campaign Web site.

Alex Cotoia for Public Education Commission

Dick Marsden read a message from Alex Cotoia, who announced that he has secured a place on the primary ticket and thanked all those who signed his petition. He stressed his desire to improve New Mexico’s high school graduation rate and provide genuine opportunities for students who are not college-bound.

For more information send email to Alex or call him at 505-310-2882 or send email to Dick or call him at 575-636-4059.

Judge Richard Silva for Magistrate Judge

Judge Silva asked for support as he runs for magistrate judge, a position he has held for six years. He stressed his local roots, his experience, and the fact that he has a Democratic opponent in the primary.

For more information, send email to Judge Silva or call him at 575-524-2814.

Maria Rodriguez for Magistrate Judge

Maria Rodriguez asked for support in her bid for magistrate judge. She cited dozens of years experience in a variety of legal offices and courts.

For more information send email to Maria or call her at 575-644-2297.

Another POV on Health Care

Greg Sowards offered a different perspective on the Affordable Health Act, arguing that competition keeps people honest and taxes drive competition away. He referred to the example of John Deere’s announcement that their costs would be $150 million higher next year as a result of the health legislation.

For more information send email to Greg or call him at 575-649-740 or visit him online.

[CNN’s coverage of the John Deere story is here. Ezra Klein of the Washington Post explains the tax exempt government subsidies that are involved.]

Judge Mannie Arrieta

Judge Arrieta reminded us that judges are public servants whose jobs include much more than presiding in court. He noted that his own schedule has recently included mediation, judging the New Mexico high school moot court competition, explaining the court system to fourth graders on a field trip, conducting a wedding for a soldier the day before his deployment, and presiding over mental commitment proceedings at a local hospital. He assured us of his deep roots here and his investment in this community.

For more information send email to Judge Arrieta.

Diane Lilley Endorses Billy Garrett for County Commission

Diane Lilley began by saying that she was supporting Billy’s campaign because she had seen him bring together a divided neighborhood by building consensus—“without ego and without any axes to grind.” She issued an invitation to join her in volunteering for the campaign, promising that it will be a whole lot of fun. She asked that we each email 5 or 10 people we know who live in District 1 (see map of the district) and let them know about Billy.

For more information send email to Diane.

Institute for Community Engagement

Bruce Begin, attending PVA for the first time, proclaimed that the meeting lives up to the “town hall meeting” traditions of Vermont and New Hampshire, his previous home states. He announced the formation of a new nonprofit in Las Cruces–the Institute for Community Engagement. Plans are underway to cosponsor a professional forum on sustainable building economics that will involve a broad spectrum of the community including realtors, builders, and small business owners. Details will be forthcoming.

For more information send email to Bruce.

Invitation to Meet Jerry Ortiz y Pino for Lt. Gov.

Jane Asche echoed Bob Hearn’s sentiment that we have five really good candidates in the Democratic primary race for lieutenant governor and explained that she was supporting Ortiz y Pino because of his commitment to progressive principles and his outstanding record over six years as a New Mexico senator. She invited everyone to meet with Jerry at a gathering on Friday, March 26.

For more information send email to Jane or call her at 575-532-8087.

Councilor Small

Nathan Small made five quick points:

1. The Patagonia film festival is coming to Las Cruces on April 14.
2. Tom Schuster, the city’s newly appointed sustainability officer, is holding monthly sustainability meetings with the public—be sure to attend.
3. Representative Teague just signed on to the Wildlife and Clean Energy Acts.
4. The wilderness bill needs our continued support (see candidate Kent Evans’s letter in the Sun-News)
5. Jeff Steinborn does an incredible job, so come out and support him and wish him a happy birthday on April 5.

For more information send email to Nathan.

Invitation to Meet Billy Garrett

Lori Miller extended an invitation to attend a fundraiser for Billy Garrett. As an added incentive, Lori mentioned her famous meatballs—chipotle or possibly teriyaki.

Thursday, April 8, 5:30 to 7 p.m.
2250 Calle de Picacho

For more information send email to Lori.

Democratic Women Meet In April

Terri McBrayer announced invited everyone to the next meeting of the Democratic Women of Doña Ana County. The group is committed to supporting all Democratic candidates.

Saturday, April 3,10 a.m.
Farm and Ranch Museum

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

Recycling—Onward and Upward

Al McBrayer was loaded with good recycling news. Mesilla Park Elementary students were chosen to kick off the Great America Clean-up for all of New Mexico. The school’s Green Team has created a highly successful video for youtube. (Be sure to watch the middle section where, one-by-one, the children hold up the signs they’ve made.)

The Fountain Theater will show three movies on Earth Day, Saturday, April 17, starting at 1:30 p.m.

An Earth Day Celebration will be held at Young Park from noon to 5 p.m. Single stream recycling, solar stoves, and other demonstrations will be featured along with fun and games for the whole family.

Everyone is invited to the next SCRAP meeting, Thursday, April 8, at 10 a.m.

For more information send email to Al.

Rep. Nate Cote

Nate Cote asked for our support in his bid for reelection (there is an opponent) and thanked his campaign manager, Cheryl Frank, for her outstanding work on his campaigns. He reminded us that he is an outdoorsman and a veterans’ advocate and noted that he and Peter Ossorio completed the Bataan Memorial Death March together on March 21.

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

Lloyd Covens Endorses Rep. Campos for Lt. Gov.

Lloyd Covens spoke in support of Bill Campos pointing to his successful use of renewable energy projects to revitalize his hometown of Santa Rosa.

For more information send email to Lloyd.

Mary Gail Gwaltney Endorses Rep. Campos for Lt. Gov.

Mary Jane added her voice in support of Joe Campos, testifying that he “brought Santa Rosa back to life” with a wind-power project. She implored everyone to vote in the primary, Tuesday, June 1, 2010.

For more information call Mary Gail at 575-524-7678.

Our next meeting will be
April 22, 2010, 7 p.m.
Munson Senior Center, 975 S. Mesquite

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