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Tuesday, July 31, 2007

New Mexicans to Rep. Heather Wilson: Don’t Endorse Toothless Legislation

Recent Iraq Summer Demonstration in Albuquerque

From Iraq Summer, Americans Against Escalation in Iraq: Congresswoman Refuses to Vote for Timeline to End Bush’s War

WASHINGTON – Congresswoman Heather Wilson this weekend said she is considering endorsing legislation that would limit missions for U.S. troops in Iraq but leaves it up to President Bush to decide when troops should leave.

“New Mexicans are demanding a responsible end to the war but apparently Congresswoman Heather Wilson’s idea of taking action is to back a toothless bill that offers no deadlines. Well the people of New Mexico just aren’t going to buy it,” said Greg Richardson, spokesman for the New Mexico chapter of the “Iraq Summer” campaign. “The time for rhetoric is over. If Heather Wilson truly supports bringing our troops home safely, she must stop obstructing the will of the American people and vote for a responsible timeline to end the war in Iraq.”

Wilson’s remarks come in the wake of a recent ABC News/Washington Post poll that found a record 78 percent of Americans think the President is not showing enough flexibility to change course in Iraq [Washington Post , 7/24/07].

“Congresswoman Wilson is out of touch with her constituents and out of touch with the American public. New Mexicans can see right through her latest charade to try to have it both ways,” continued Richardson.  “The public trusts Congressional Democrats over the President to end the war and Wilson, who has voted against Democrats efforts, will be forced to face her outraged constituents over August recess.

“Through the Iraq Summer campaign AAEI will be cranking up the heat on Congresswoman Wilson. She is in for an unforgettable August Recess back home in New Mexico where citizens are demanding an end to the war.”

“Iraq Summer” is a nationwide, 10-week long campaign with nearly 100 organizers in 15 states and 40 congressional districts to turn up the heat on Republican members of Congress who have opposed setting a timeline to bring a safe and responsible end to the war in Iraq. The effort will culminate with a national “Take a Stand” day on August 28th, when members will have the opportunity to explain their stance on the war to their constituents in a town hall setting.

For more info: website http://www.IraqCampaign.org; email newmexicofd@iraqsummer.org.

July 31, 2007 at 01:00 PM in 2008 NM Senate Race, Iraq War, NM-01 Congressional Race 2008 | Permalink | Comments (2)

Rep. Tom Udall to Cosponsor Gonzales Impeachment Resolution

The plot thickens. An AP story reports Rep. Tom Udall (D-NM3) will join other House Dems today in introducing a resolution directing the U.S. House Judiciary Committee to investigate whether to impeach Alberto Gonzales:

Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Wash., who was a prosecutor in Washington state in the late 1970s and 1980s, is the lead sponsor of the measure.

Co-sponsors of the resolution include Democratic Reps. Xavier Becerra of California, Michael Arcuri of New York, Ben Chandler of Kentucky, Dennis Moore of Kansas, Bruce Braley of Iowa and Tom Udall of New Mexico.

July 31, 2007 at 09:46 AM in Civil Liberties, Crime, Ethics & Campaign Reform, Impeachment, U.S. Attorney Iglesias | Permalink | Comments (5)

Cheney in Albuquerque Monday 8.6.07

Cheney's high school yearbook photo

VP Dick Cheney will emerge from his cave in an undisclosed location and be in Albuquerque on Monday, August 6. He's set to address the joint opening session of the Marine Corps League's national convention at the Marriott Hotel located at 2101 Louisiana Boulevard NE. According to the meeting agenda, Cheney will be speaking to the convention from 10:30 to 11:00 AM. No word yet on any other events scheduled for Dick while he's in town.

I wonder if he'll try to raise some bucks for the faltering Repub team while here. Or maybe he'll just have a conversation or two with Pat Rogers or another of the NM Repub biggies about how to illegally keep Democratic voters off the rolls with voter caging techniques or trumped up claims of "voter fraud."

As we previously reported, Bush himself will be attending a fundraiser for Sen. Pete Domenici in New Mexico sometime in late August.

Karl Rove must be fretting about the GOP's chances in New Mexico in 2008. With the House Ethics Committee meeting behind closed doors to hear testimony about  Rep. Heather Wilson's pressuring phone call to fired U.S. Attorney David Iglesias, Sen. Pete Domenici entangled in a similar controversy on the Senate side and Rep. Steve Pearce voting against a recent House resolution to establish that permanent bases won't be built in Iraq (that passed by a 399-24 margin), Rove has his work cut out for him.

July 31, 2007 at 09:07 AM in 2008 NM Senate Race, Election Reform & Voting, Events, Local Politics, NM-01 Congressional Race 2008, NM-02 Congressional Race 2008, U.S. Attorney Iglesias | Permalink | Comments (10)

Iglesias to Testify to House Ethics Committee on Pressure Call From Heather Wilson

Oh to be a fly on the wall. As reported by Jason Leopold at Truthout:

David Iglesias, the former US attorney for New Mexico who was fired last year along with eight other federal prosecutors, will testify Wednesday before the House Ethics Committee about a phone call he received from Representative Heather Wilson (R-New Mexico), who queried Iglesias about the status of public corruption cases he was pursuing in the state.

In a brief interview Monday, Iglesias said he will testify in a closed-door session of the Ethics Committee about the call he received from Wilson last October. The committee has opened a preliminary investigation into allegations that Wilson violated House ethics rules by calling Iglesias to find out about corruption cases involving Democrats weeks before last year's midterm elections. Wilson faced a tough reelection campaign last fall.

July 31, 2007 at 07:00 AM in Crime, Ethics & Campaign Reform, NM-01 Congressional Race 2008, U.S. Attorney Iglesias | Permalink | Comments (1)

Monday, July 30, 2007

RSVP Now: DFA-DFNM Meetup with Martin Heinrich

Our next regular monthly Albuquerque DFA-Democracy for New Mexico Meetup will feature special guest MARTIN HEINRICH, the Democratic candidate for Congress in NM-01 who'll be challenging Republican incumbent Heather Wilson. We'll hear about Martin's platform and strategies and have a chance to ask him questions or offer comments. Gabriel Nims of 1000 Friends of New Mexico is also scheduled to stop in and, as usual, there'll be a few other announcements and info.

Don't miss this Meetup. Come to the Social Hall of the First Unitarian Church on the SW corner of Carlisle and Comanche in Albuquerque at 7:00 PM on Thursday, August 2nd. Click to join our Meetup group, RSVP or get on our email list.

Mark Your Calendars: Our September 6th Meetup will feature NM Senator Jerry Ortiz y Pino as our keynote speaker so mark your calendars now. He's expected to talk about what's coming at the next NM Legislative Session and provide some perspective on what happened at the last one. Sen. Ortiz y Pino has sponsored many excellent pieces of progressive legislation, including the NM Senate resolution to impeach Bush and Cheney.

Note if you haven't yet donated to Martin Heinrich's campaign, you can do so at the DFNM Netroots page at Act Blue.

July 30, 2007 at 06:02 PM in DFNM - Albq, Local Politics, NM-01 Congressional Race 2008, Public Policy | Permalink | Comments (0)

TONIGHT on Espejos: Workers' Rights at UNM Hospital

From Javier Benavidez:
Check out KUNM 89.9FM radio tonight, Monday July 30th, at 8:00 PM for a half-hour live interview with Eleanor Chavez, Director of District 1199 of the NM National Union of Hospital and Health Care Employees. The Union has been fighting to negotiate a living wage for the University of New Mexico Hospital's 1200 support staff, which includes housekeepers, nursing assistants, dietary workers, clerical, medical assistants, etc. The Union also represents licensed and technical workers. In all, District 1199NM represents 2500 workers at UNMH.

Ironically, many support staff at the hospital earn so little that they themselves are forced to apply for state medicaid benefits. The Union is organizing a picket in front of the hospital on the morning of Friday, August 3rd, at 6:30 AM, urging UNMH to negotiate in good faith and to end conditions that organizers say have included economic oppression and racism against the affected workers.

Espejos de Aztlan has been on-air since 1979 and is part of the Raices Colectiva which conducts programming on news, culture and music from a Latino perspective on KUNM 89.9. For more information or to submit input about the Espejos de Aztlan, please visit the "Raices" link at http://kunm.org/culture.

July 30, 2007 at 01:35 PM in Healthcare, Labor, Media | Permalink | Comments (0)

Guest Blog: Mayoral Makeover - How Marty Chavez is Working to Reinvent His Image

Keegan_small_overThis is a guest blog by Keegan King (right), co-director of Young Voters NM. It was originally published as an op-ed in Albuquerque's alibi weekly.

Historically, much has been made of the fact that people under the age of 25 vote at dramatically lower rates than any other segment of the population. Apathy is partly to blame, but I believe the primary reason for a lack of youth involvement in the political process is cynicism. And much of this cynicism stems from watching politicians who manipulate the media to conceal their true policy agendas.

Take the chief executive of our own fair city, Mayor Martin Chavez. Two recent news items reveal how Chavez is working overtime to reinvent his image:

Item #1: Gail Reese, a top assistant to Albuquerque Mayor Martin Chavez, made an on-the-air call to his radio talk show and, using a fake name, parroted the administration's talking points while flaming several city councilors. When Reese was busted for her crude attempt to mislead the public by trying to pose as just another "Jane Q. Citizen," her first response was to feign memory loss.

After Reese finally fessed up, the mayor's office swung into damage control mode by issuing a press release that spun her surreptitious call as nothing less than a valiant exercise of free speech. KKOB station manager Art Ortega was charitable in characterizing the incident as "disingenuous." The Tribune editorialized against fake "Astroturf" grassroots lobbying efforts emanating from the mayor's office.

Item #2: Albuquerque's morning daily newspaper reported that Chavez had received something called the "Climate Protection Award" at a recent meeting of the National Conference of Mayors. The story trumpeted the claim that Albuquerque had reduced greenhouse emissions by an extraordinary 67 percent since 2000, making it a "Green City."

But there were some glaring problems with the story.

ChavezmFor one thing, the claimed emissions reductions were for city government employees, facilities and vehicles only — not for the community as a whole.

That's a huge difference and it illuminates the challenge Chavez faces in refashioning his image.

Sandy Buffett, executive director of Conservation Voters New Mexico, cut right through the hype in a Journal letter to the editor: "One only needs to look at the unbridled real estate sprawl development to know that Albuquerque's carbon footprint is rapidly exploding ... If Chavez is serious about reducing Albuquerque's carbon footprint, than he needs to get serious about managing and planning Albuquerque's growth." As anyone who has lived in Albuquerque for the past few years knows, Chavez has been the developers' darling by shepherding their big-box, cookie-cutter sprawl development over and over again.

Oh, and one more thing. The story neglected to inform readers that Chavez' award was sponsored and underwritten by none other than Wal-Mart — the outfit that builds all those big-box stores that do so much to fuel the very sprawl development and car culture that is at the heart of the problem.

There are more recent examples of Chavez manipulating the media as he works to revamp his image and obscure long-held policy positions.

Last month, Chavez issued a sweeping "Executive Order" to ban smoking outdoors on all city government property. TV reporting featured footage of the mayor intoning piously about the health dangers of smoking.

Oddly, this was the very same Mayor Chavez who in 2002 brandished veto threats to block the City Council's efforts to pass an ordinance banning smoking in restaurants. His complaint then? The ordinance restricted to eating establishments was too sweeping and unenforceable. Talk about a 180!

And then there is Chavez' unveiling of his "Open Government" initiative. It calls for posting the minutes of city board and commission meetings online and reducing photocopy costs for public documents. With the ABQ PAC slush fund scandal fading from public memory, Chavez clearly has calculated that it’s time to jump on the "ethics" bandwagon.

But again, when you get past the hype, it's worth recalling that Chavez' silence was deafening during the last Legislative Session when really tough ethics reforms were being debated — contribution limits, an independent ethics commission and clean election financing (which he opposed for city elections in 2003).

This, of course, is what explains Marty's rush to makeover his image. Anticipating a gubernatorial run in 2010, but facing lagging poll numbers, Chavez is desperately trying to reinvent himself to appeal to Democratic primary voters around the state.

Hollow posturing of this sort is exactly what turns off young voters, who are a growing force to be reckoned with. After years of lagging participation, their turnout surged in the last two elections. Young voters demand honesty and authenticity from those who would presume to lead us. That's bad news for Martin Chavez and his big bamboozle.

Editor's Note: [all emphasis above mine] This is a guest blog by Keegan King, co-director of Young Voters NM. It was originally published as an op-ed in Albuquerque's alibi weekly. Guest blogs provide readers with an opportunity to express their opinions on issues of the day, and may or may not express our views. If you'd like to submit a post for consideration as a guest blog, contact me by clicking on the Email Me link on the upper left-hand corner of the page.

July 30, 2007 at 10:16 AM in Candidates & Races, Economy, Populism, Energy, Environment, Ethics & Campaign Reform, Guest Blogger, Local Politics, Youth | Permalink | Comments (10)

Sunday Brunch at Scalo to Benefit Health Clinics

From Peacecraft in Albuquerque:
Global Health Partnerships invites you to a Sunday Brunch Benefit at Scalo in Nob Hill to promote health care clinics in Africa and Guatemala! Learn more from Dr. Angelo Tomedi about Global Health Partnerships, an Albuquerque non-profit dedicated to educating and equipping health care workers in villages around the world.

On August 5 from 11:30 AM until 2 PM, this exquisite gourmet event will feature the specialties of Scalo’s guest chef as well as select vegetarian options. Dining is limited to the first 100 participants- call now to reserve your tickets, available for $45 each! Tickets are available at Peacecraft, 3215 Central NE, or by calling 255-5229.

Peacecraft; 3215 Central Ave NE; Albuquerque, NM 87106; 505-255-5229; www.peacecraft.org.

July 30, 2007 at 09:27 AM in Events, Healthcare | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, July 29, 2007

The Right-Wing House of Cards Is Falling

How else can you explain the outrageous, hysterical, distorted attacks against Daily Kos and other Dem blogs by Fox Noise pundits? They're getting desperate now ... watch out. And do something, just like Brave New Films suggests. Can we really allow the likes of O'Reilly to compare us to the KKK and the Nazis? I didn't think so.

July 29, 2007 at 12:00 PM in Corporatism, Media | Permalink | Comments (1)

NY Times Editorial: Impeach Gonzales

© 2007 Stephen Pitt

Well, it would be a start. Read the editorial: Mr. Gonzales’s Never-Ending Story.

July 29, 2007 at 07:00 AM in Civil Liberties, Crime, Ethics & Campaign Reform, U.S. Attorney Iglesias | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Attend Rey Garduño for ABQ City Council Campaign Kick-Off

From Rey Garduño Campaign for Albuquerque City Council, District 6: We are on the Ballot! Now we can get back on the Campaign Trail and meet the voters who will help us win the City Council District 6 seat. Let's meet at our house for a Campaign Kick-off meeting to move forward with our recent successes. Here are the details:

  • WHERE:  Meet at 414 Vassar, NE [inside the UNM Campus - Map]
  • WHEN:  Saturday, August 4th at 10 AM ~ 11 AM
  • WHAT:  Campaign Kick-off
  • WHY:  To distribute yard signs, campaign literature, and go door knocking

We can win this City Council seat and make sure our neighborhoods are protected, and not neglected. Contact Information: Home: 266-4424; Cell: 688-6981; Email: reygarduno@gmail.com; Website: http://reygarduno.blogspot.com/.

Editor's Note: To determine your Albuquerque City Council District, click here and enter your address. You don't have to live in Rey's district to help him get elected.

July 28, 2007 at 11:42 AM in 2007 Albq. Municipal Elections | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, July 27, 2007

(Updated) Gov. Richardson Criticizes Desert Rock Power Plant

UPDATE 6:38 PM: The complete statement by Gov. Bill Richardson about the proposed Desert Rock Power Plant is now available. Click here.

"Woman in Gas Mask" (Credit: Small Axe Organization)

According to an article (also see audio-visual) in the New York Times on the controversial coal-fired Desert Rock Power Plant proposed by the Diné Power Authority and Houston-based Sithe Global Power, which in turn is majority-owned by Blackstone, a large and much in the news private-equity firm:

The staff of Gov. Bill Richardson, a Democratic presidential aspirant, recently issued a statement saying that the plant “would be a significant new source of greenhouse gases and other pollution in the region” and that Mr. Richardson “believes, as planned, it would be a step in the wrong direction,” undoing his proposed reductions in emissions.

To my knowledge, this is the first time Gov. Richardson or his staff has spoken out publicly on the proposed plant, which is projected to increase greenhouse gas emissions in New Mexico by at least 15%, and produce significant amounts of other toxins like mercury. According to the New York Times, "each year, it would emit 12 million tons of carbon dioxide, the equivalent of adding 1.5 million average cars to the roads. Coal-fired electricity contributes more than half of the 57 million tons of annual carbon-dioxide emissions in New Mexico. Together, the two existing plants emit 29 million tons."

The fight against the power plant has received growing attention nationally, with increased coverage in the media and on progressive blogs. Gov. Richardson has made his generally very positive environmental record a cornerstone of his presidential campaign, but until the recent statement had refrained from speaking out clearly against Desert Rock.

The Four Corners region, where the plant would be sited, already has two coal-fired power plants that produce copious amounts of pollution, turn the skies in the area brown and deposit other dangerous substances in water sources for hundreds of miles.

Hearings on Desert Rock EIS
A series of public hearings in New Mexico on the projected environmental impacts of Desert Rock was completed yesterday. Environmental groups like the Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council, San Juan Citizens Alliance, as well as Diné groups like Dooda Desert Rock (their blog has lots of information about their vigil against the plant and more) and Diné CARE, joined many ordinary citizens in strongly criticizing both the plant and the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) issued by the Bureau of Indian Affairs that reports on its potential impacts.

Dem-Proposed Tax Break Defeated in NM Legislature
In the NM Legislative Session earlier this year, a proposed bill to provide an $85 million tax break to Desert Rock was introduced and pushed by two Democratic leaders, Senate Pro Tem Ben Altamirano and House Speaker Ben Lujan. The bills were eventually defeated with the help of state representative Ray Begaye, a Navajo, and lobbying by many others in the state in a process that often featured heated battles within legislative committees and behind the scenes. (See previous posts listed below.) According to a recent article in The Economist:

Ray Begaye, a Democratic state representative and a Navajo, worries that the new power plant will suck water out of the area's aquifer and contaminate it with mercury and other toxins.

What Gov. Richardson and NM Could Do
The state of New Mexico has no real jurisdiction over whether Desert Rock gets built since the plant would sit on lands within the sovereign Diné Nation. However, critics have suggested that Richardson and others could speak out publicly against the plant and apply other pressures to discourage or at least improve the project. The state, perhaps working with the federal government or private business interests, might also come up with a plan to offer financial and other incentives for the tribe to pursue green energy projects that might produce significant jobs and revenues for the Navajos. They might also help to attract capital and other resources in support of renewable energy development on Dine land. After all, the Four Corners has an abundance of sun and wind that could be harnassed to produce large amounts of power without adding to the already heavy coal-fired plant pollution in the region and beyond.

Another possible strategy would be to pass legislation to encourage Sithe's investment in rapidly developing carbon-sequestration technology to lessen the global warming impact of the plant's emissions. Again, according to the New York Times:

Some backers of the plant hope that Desert Rock could be a proving ground for an experimental technology to reduce carbon emissions by capturing them and injecting them deep in the ground.

Mr. Johns of Sithe Global Power and Senator Jeff Bingaman, the New Mexico Democrat who is chairman of the Senate Energy Committee, expressed hope that the carbon-capture technology could be incorporated into the plant with an additional $1 billion investment.

The Senate Finance Committee approved a measure for a production tax credit of $20 a ton for sequestered carbon dioxide, and Mr. Bingaman said he was looking for [a] bill to attach it as an amendment.

Many will be watching to see what Gov. Richardson says and does next on the power plant issue. Only time will tell if his critical statement was merely a political response to growing publicity about Desert Rock or if Richardson will be as outspoken against the plant as he has been against oil and gas drilling on New Mexico's Otero Mesa and other environmentally dangerous projects.

More Information
Some of our previous posts, including guest blogs, about the Desert Rock Power Plant issue:

Also see an article on the plant and the recent EIS hearing in Albuquerque in this week's edition of the alibi.

July 27, 2007 at 06:38 PM in 2008 Presidential Primary, Energy, Environment, Native Americans, NM Legislature 2007 | Permalink | Comments (2)