Saturday, April 30, 2005
Images of Socorro
I just uploaded some photos we took in Socorro during the weekend of Democratic Party State Central Committee meeting events. The sign above is one of a group made by hand by the progressive activist group Socorroans for Democracy that are placed all over town to promote the preservation of Social Security. It was great to meet some of the members of SFD, an offshoot of the original Dean for America groups, after hearing about all the effective activism they're performing on behalf of progressive Democratic causes and issues.
Click to check out the Socorro photo album, or just scroll down to the album link down a ways on the right-hand sidebar on this page.
Friday, April 29, 2005
ACTION ALERT: ABQ Living Wage Press Conference & Bill Intro
From ACORN: Living Wage Press Conference Rescheduled
City Councilor Martin Heinrich has moved the living-wage ordinance press conference to SUNDAY, May 1, at 1:00 PM, at the home of Danielle Pedrol, an ACORN member and a low-wage worker, 1012 Mary Ellen NE in Albuquerque(directions below).
ACORN, which is spearheading the drive, is also seeking low-wage workers willing to speak at the press conference and your presence.
"Speakers at the press conference will include Martin, a couple of low-wage workers, and a friendly economist. We will then have weekly press conferences that focus on different constituencies: small business supporters, people of faith, etc.," according to an ACORN announcement.
"Following Sunday's event, we want people to come to Monday's Albuquerque City Council meeting at 5:00 PM and speak out in support of Councilor Heinrich's living wage bill during the public comment at the start of the meeting."
If you or your organization can help, please reply to firstname.lastname@example.org
(Directions to 1012 Mary Ellen NE: Take Eubank north from I-40. After Lomas, take a right on Marble. Mary Ellen is your first left.)
(Editor's Note: Council Meetings are held in the Vincent E. Griego Council Chambers on the basement level of the Albuquerque/Bernalillo County Government Center building, One Civic Plaza NW. All meetings begin at 5:00 PM. All meetings are open to the general public.)
Must Read: Open Letter to Howard Dean
In an "Open Letter to Howard Dean," The Nation's Katrina vanden Heuvel passes on some eloquent advice from Tom Hayden to DNC Chair Howard Dean on the Democratic Party's stance on the Iraq War. The entire online article is definitely worth a read:
A few excerpts:
. . . the national Democratic Party is either committed to the Iraq War, or to avoiding blame for losing the Iraq War, at the expense of the social programs for which it historically stands. The Democrats' stance on the war cannot be separated from the Democrats' stance on health care, social security, inner city investment, and education, all programs gradually being defunded by a war which costs $100 billion yearly, billed to future generations.
[. . .]
I appeal to you, Mr. Chairman, not to take the anti-war majority of this Party for granted. May I suggest that you initiate a serious reappraisal of how the Democratic Party has become trapped in the illusions which you yourself questioned so cogently when you ran for president. I believe that an immediate commencement of dialogue is necessary to fix the credibility gap in the Party's position on the Iraq War. Surely if the war was a mistake based on a fabrication, there is a better approach than simply becoming accessories to the perpetrators of the deceit. And surely there is a greater role for Party leadership than permanently squandering the immense good will, grass roots funding, and new volunteer energy that was generated by your visionary campaign.
(Note: Click to sign a Progressive Democrats of America petition to the DNC and Howard Dean urging withdrawal from Iraq.)
Win Free Tix to DemocracyFest!
From Latinos for America:
A Ticket on Us!
Latinos for America will be giving away free tickets to Democracy Fest.
Democracy Fest, a gathering of progressives from around the country hosted by Democracy for Texas (http://democracyfortexas.org/) and co-sponsored by My Vote is My Voice (http://myvoteismyvoice.org/), will be held June 17-19 in Austin, Texas.
There will be workshops, campaign training, nationally recognized speakers, and great entertainment. The $55 cost includes training materials provided on a CD, a Democracy Fest T-shirt, breakfast on Saturday, and dinner and a celebration of Texas music on Saturday night.
Over 700 people from 30 states and 3 foreign countries have already signed up, so don't wait to get your tickets. Visit: http://www.democracyfortexas.org/DemFest/index.html
In order to enter the Latinos for America contest:
Please submit a one page essay on what you plan to do this year to help the Latino/Hispanic community develop its own political voice to: email@example.com
Please include your full name, city, state, e-mail address and telephone number. The judges will select the applicants with the most creative and innovative ideas. Special consideration will be given to applicants with a track record of commitment to the Latino/Hispanic community and Latinos for America, although previous involvement is not required to win this contest.
Latinos for America is a progressive and innovative non-profit organization helping Latinos from diverse communities develop their own political voice through candidate talent management, grassroots activist training and media outreach.
During the 2004 election cycle, LFA worked alongside Democracy for America to train over 3,000 activists in campaign management - focusing on a holistic understanding, as well as practical knowledge, of field, media, messaging, data, volunteer and campaign management. Furthermore, LFA focused its efforts on the production and placement of bilingual media to support GOTV and voter education efforts, and against Proposition 200 in Arizona (“Prop 187 on steroids”).
In 2005/06, Latinos for America is continuing to engage in activist trainings for all communities, partnering with Democracy for America and Grassroots for America in the Root Camp training model - training mentors to establish a network for self-sustaining grassroots growth.
In addition, LFA is beginning a Talent Management Program to cultivate potential progressive Hispanic candidates through support networks, training and media. Talent Management is a strategy that focuses on different levels of development: Those candidates that have been in the pipeline and are ready to run for elected office now, those who are entering the pipeline and need some help from a talent management perspective, and the up and coming youth who make up our next generation of leaders.
Latinos for America will continue to partner with other non-profits and political action committees to provide high-value grassroots media to bring progressive values to the forefront.
¡Juntos Sí Podemos! - Together We Can!
Your LFA Team,
Ralph, Nathan, Kety, Steven
To make a contribution, visit: http://www.latinosforamerica.com/contributions
Latinos for America is a 501 (c) 4 non-profit organization. Donations are not tax-deductible.
ACTION ALERT: Help Preserve Medicaid
This alert is from Health Action NM: ALERT! Federal Budget Agreement Cuts Medicaid
The budget resolution conference agreement has been posted at http://www.house.gov/rules/109hconres95text.pdf. Apparently it includes:
* $10 billion in reconciliation cuts to the Finance Committee which has jurisdiction over Medicaid and a number of low income programs: in the House, $9 billion of these cuts are assigned to Energy and Commerce which includes jurisdiction over Medicaid, and $1 billion would be to Ways and Means, probably intended to come from the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp and not low income programs;
* $3 billion in reconciliation cuts to the Agriculture Committee, including food stamps;
* a tight cap on appropriations spending, at the level in the House budget; and
* $70 billion in reconciliation protection for tax cuts.
This week, both the U.S. House and Senate narrowly approved the budget. You can read some of the details on the vote at Daily Kos. Here's what we can do to fight the Medicaid cuts:
This message is from Ellen Pinnes and the Disability Coalition:
Help needed on federal Medicaid battle:
The fight to preserve Medicaid funding in the federal budget continues to broil in Washington. The final outcome of funding is still unsettled, but there's a battle on over a commission to recommend changes to the Medicaid program. This was part of the Smith-Bingaman amendment to the Senate budget resolution, which struck all cuts to the Medicaid budget and instead called for a commission to recommend changes based on sound policy rather than blind cost-cutting. It now looks like a commission will be created.
The sticking point is that the commission could end up being appointed by -- and therefore a tool of -- the Bush Administration. Sen. Smith is holding out for an independent commission from the Institute of Medicine, a respected and nonpartisan group. But it looks like Rep. Heather Wilson is supporting a partisan commission whose members would be appointed by Health & Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt.
Contact Rep. Wilson's office and tell her to join Sen. Smith and insist on an independent commission.
We supported and were grateful for her leadership in getting members of the House, including a large number of Republicans, to oppose Medicaid cuts and support creation of a commission. Those efforts could be for naught if the commission merely does the bidding of the Bush Administration, which has made clear its desire to cut Medicaid spending.
You can call Rep. Wilson's office through the toll-free number (800-828-0498) or at 202-225-6316. Or send an e-mail to Joe Moser, her staff person for health issues, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for helping to make the voice of the disability community heard!
The Disability Coalition
PO Box 8251
Santa Fe, NM 87504-8251
Health Action New Mexico
P.O. Box 40119
Albuquerque, NM 87196
Thursday, April 28, 2005
Wertheim on We The People Tonight
WE THE PEOPLE - APRIL 28, 2005 - Albuquerque Channel 27 - 7 PM
HOST: Mickey Bock
GUEST: John Wertheim, NM Democratic Party Chairman
WE THE PEOPLE is an innovative call-in television show looking for TRUTH and TRANSPARENCY in local, state and federal governments. We hope to remind viewers of their legacy and heritage coming from the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution--with the Bill of Rights that gives us our FREEDOMS.
Watch us every Thursday 7-8 PM
Community Cable Channel 27
Call-in or e-mail us and we will try to answer your questions and concerns.
Letters to Editor Needed on NM Election Reform
Does anyone want to take a stab at replying to the letter to the editor in yesterday’s ABQ Journal from the Chairman of the NM Republican Party calling the election reforms a joke? We know better. Let's help Albuquerque Journal readers learn the truth on this. Click to the continuation page for Allen Weh's distorted take on this:
Governor's Voter Reform a Joke
New Mexico attracted some national notice in 2000 when 500 votes— all for Al Gore— turned up from Doña Ana County and tipped the state from Red to Blue.
And last year the nation watched as New Mexico wrung its hands about which provisional votes should count, for days and weeks after the polls had closed. News reports that thousands of voters were suspect, and that 13-year-olds got voter ID cards in the mail, didn't do our reputation as an honest and able democracy much good either.
And as if all that were not bad enough, our two-term secretary of state squandered millions of federal dollars, meant to strengthen the election process, on ads that featured her repeating her own name for us— over and over again.
So when the 2005 Legislative Session came around, there was supposedly all this bipartisan agreement that real and meaningful reforms needed to be enacted, not the least of which was supposed to be Voter ID.
But a funny thing happened on the way to adjournment. On day 58 of the 60-day session, an emissary of the governor named Eli Il Yong Lee, who runs a far left political consulting operation called Soltari, emerged with a substitute bill for the consideration of the Legislature.
This election reform bill was such a railroad job, the House Voters and Elections Committee chairman himself had to get permission to bring an "expert witness" onto the floor to help him with it. That expert? None other than campaign consultant Lee. Talk about putting a fox in charge of the henhouse.
You can forget about meaningful Voter ID at the polls with this new law. The specification for bona-fide government-issued ID is gone. Also stuffed into this bogus bill is a provision that allows for a suspension of Voter ID requirements altogether if it is decided that asking for ID is holding things up.
But there's more tucked into this 80-page plus gem that just about nobody got a chance to read before having to vote on it, and which was evidently written from the governor's office by political operatives. Anyone who failed to show ID at the polls and had to therefore cast a provisional ballot, can now show up days after the election and produce ID before the election canvass.
Clearly, New Mexico needs good election reform. And just as clearly, we took one step forward last month and two steps back with the worst kind of smoke-filled-room lawmaking.
And where were the advocates of open government and honest elections when we needed them? Unfortunately, most the veteran New Mexico journalists who could have focused the light of truth and held Santa Fe to a higher standard are now on the Richardson payroll.
ALLEN WEH, chairman
Republican Party Of New Mexico
Albuquerque Citizens Respond to "Justice Sunday," and Form Group to Combat Misuse of Religion
From Eric Elison:
Ecumenical Voices for Democracy Announces Its Formation
Events, which include the 2004 Presidential election, the Terry Schiavo case, Family Research Council’s “Justice Sunday,” and the intolerance exhibited by Kansas-based, Rev. Fred Phelps, have convinced some New Mexico citizens of the need to take action. Today concerned Albuquerque citizens are announcing the formation of a non-profit group called Ecumenical Voices for Democracy.
The group has membership from varied walks of life, religious and political persuasions. Retired Ministers, High Tech Executives, Homemakers, and Small Business Owners, Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Unitarians, and Agnostics make up its ranks. The group is applying for non-profit status, and plans to hold a series of moderated panel discussions throughout the year. Group organizers have met and agreed on a Mission for their new group.
Retired Presbyterian Minister and group co-founder, Don Wales says, “It is the mission of Ecumenical Voices for Democracy to combat the misuse of Religion by encouraging a conversation that reflects Constitutional Values, promoting Human Worth, Individual Liberty and the Common Good.”
• The group’s strategy will be to use interpersonal communications and public forums to engender a civil discourse on religion and politics.
• The group is also establishing a website at www.Evoices.org.
Contact: Eric Elison
Ecumenical Voices for Democracy
5408 Camino Arbustos, NE
Albuquerque, NM 87111
(Editor's Note: This afternoon's Albuquerque Tribune is scheduled to have a story on this written by reporter Joline Gutierrez-Kruger, with a follow-up next week.)
Wednesday, April 27, 2005
GOP Endorses Chavez for Mayor
That's what James Scarantino is saying over on his Real Side blog.
What do you think?
Not That There's Anything Wrong With That: House of Sod
I couldn't resist this from The Gadflyer, showing the front page of the Dallas Morning News:
(Click image for larger version.)
Did the editors put the photo and the article side by side on purpose or was it the universe working through them to play a cosmic joke?
Tuesday, April 26, 2005
My Take on the SCC Meeting
Running effective meetings isn't rocket science. Here's my take on the State Central Committee meeting in Socorro this past weekend:
If you have a more heavily populated congressional district, add people at the registration table so the line there doesn't stretch into infinity while lines for the other CDs are empty.
If the morning session is running late due to long-winded speeches by politicos, break for lunch before 2:30 PM so that people aren't cranky and starving during the business meeting. Better yet, tell the politicos to keep it short because the people's business is as important, or moreso, than hearing repeatedly that everything is peachy and how we "own" this (Red) state. John Wertheim kept repeating he'd hold the resolutions debate to 50 minutes. He should have said that about the speeches.
Don't seat the Party's officeholders and candidates in a separate, roped off VIP section if you want people to believe these politicos are our Democratic public servants instead of the other way around. Put the events that are the reason for the SCC meeting -- the officer elections and consideration of resolutions -- first. That way, our state and federal office holders will have to actually listen to the views of the Party's members and take part in the meeting instead of merely showing up to speak and then leaving soon afterwards.
Have each Congressional District break off into separate meetings to elect their vice chairs and resolutions committee members. In an already overly long meeting, it's excruciating to have to sit through nominating speeches and elections from other districts.
Require that the State Chair read and understand the Party rules before getting on stage to run elections and motions. I couldn't believe that John Wertheim didn't know the rules for electing CD members of the State Resolutions Committee. And that he gave the WRONG interpretation after he tried to scan them on stage during the start of the election. The rules require each district to elect one male and one female. Wertheim said otherwise, though I understand the vote counting went by the rules. His error caused more women to run for Resolutions, while only one man ran.
Considering how important afternoon activities were pushed to the side and almost abandoned because of the long-running morning session, it might make sense to schedule the SCC to run for two days. Jamming speeches, elections, resolutions, training sessions and caucus meetings into one day makes everyone frazzled and doesn't allow for time to reflect, meet people from around the state, see a little of the town or do justice to the work at hand. I know some people are there just to party, but I think most people would welcome time to do things right.
Urge the politico speakers to utter phrases like "grassroots power," "equal rights for all including gay people," "Iraq war," "living wage," "Social Security", "election reform" and "universal healthcare" to show that they realize which issues are important in the Democratic Party. The only speaker who went near some of these was Rep. Tom Udall. Besides demanding that we make sure that elections are never again allowed to be stolen, he urged Democrats to start fighting for our core issues and stop trying to be Republican-lite. Hurrah for Rep. Udall!
If you're having a Friday night fundraising reception with Governor Richardson, Rep. Tom Udall, Senator Jeff Bingaman and others, make sure the room can hold the people who signed up and paid from $25 to hundreds of dollars to attend. Don't hold it in a tiny room with only a handful of tables and serve only cheese and crackers, salsa and chips and few bedraggled veggies to tide people over until dinner.
If the State Party Chair is going to take it upon himself to appoint a bunch of at-large members to the State Central Committee to salve political grumblings, he shouldn't use the excuse that he's trying to gender balance the Committee. The Committee was already gender-balanced according to the Party's own records.
If you're going to put all the resolutions passed by the State Resolutions into one packet, don't separate out two resolutions on equal rights for gay and lesbian people and put them out separately on a sheet of paper labeled "Special Consideration." It's also good policy not to change wording that has been approved at the county level and by the State Resolutions Committee.
Since one of the most important actions we need to take as a Party is to train people on organizing and messaging, don't allow earlier events to run so long that they ruin the chances of people who'd like to attend the scheduled training sessions. I know that State Party staff worked hard on these sessions and most people were denied the chance to attend because the morning session ran past 2:30PM.
Although I'm very pleased with alot of the things progressive Dems were able to achieve at the SCC, I can't help thinking how much more effective, efficient and productive a meeting of Dems from all over the state could be if simple common sense was applied to running the event. How about you?
Report from the Front
I just heard from Terry Riley that the Social Security rally this morning at Heather Wilson's office in Albuquerque was a success. About 25 people showed up to urge Rep. Wilson to come out of the closet and hold a REAL townhall meeting to reveal what her true position is on privatizing Social Security. Similar rallies are taking place all over the nation today as the Senate Finance Committee begins considering Bush's plan.
Police, including a guy from the SWAT team, were present and tried to get the people to clear the area, saying they were trespassing. Fortunately, Santiago Juarez, one of the leaders of the rally from NM PACE who appeared at our last DFA-DFNM Meetup, knew the law and calmly challenged the officers on camera. He led the way to a compromise whereby 7 people at a time could enter Wilson's office and speak with her office manager. There's a good chance that Albuquerque TV channel 13 will have coverage of all this later today. Keep an eye out.
The umbrella group NM United to Protect Social Security also released a comprehensive report to the media today on how damaging privatizing Social Security would be for New Mexico. Bush's plan would create a new $4.6 billion unfunded mandate on our state and would plunge at least 30,000 New Mexicans into poverty. Click to dowload this report produced by the Institute for America's Future.