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Sunday, November 30, 2008

NM Senate Dems Elect Leaders; Jennings Ousted as Pro-Tem

The New Mexico Senate Democrat’s today elected their floor and caucus leadership for the upcoming legislative term. The Senate’s majority party also nominated leaders for the President Pro Tempore, Chief Clerk and Sergeant at Arms. These positions will be voted on formally by the entire Senate when the regular session begins in January, 2009.

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The Senate Democrats elected the following leadership:

  • Senate Majority Leader: Senator Michael S. Sanchez, D- Valencia (above left)
  • Senate Majority Whip: Senator Mary Jane M. Garcia, D-Dona Ana (above right)
  • Senate Caucus Chairman: Senator David Ulibarri, D- Cibola, Socorro & Valencia

Senators Sanchez and Garcia served in these same roles in the 2008 Legislature. Sen. Ulibarri reportedly fought off a challenge from Caucus Chair from Sen. Howie Morales of Silver City. The voting took place behind closed doors today in Santa Fe.

The Senate Democrats also placed the following names into nomination:

  • President Pro Tempore: Senator Carlos R. Cisneros (D-Los Alamos, Rio Arriba, Santa Fe & Taos)
  • Senate Chief Clerk: Lenore M. Naranjo
  • Senate Sergeant at Arms: David Pacheco

SCISNAlthough these nominees must be approved by the full Senate, it would be difficult to defeat them given the 27-15 majority held by the Dems in the New Mexico Senate. Sen. Carlos Cisneros (right) replaces former President Pro-Tem Tim Jennings, who got himself into hot water by recording a robocall and radio ad supporting Repub incumbent and Minority Whip Sen. Leonard Lee Rawson. Rawson was defeated in a close race by Dem newcomer, Stephen Fischmann, in SD 37 in the Las Cruces area.

November 30, 2008 at 05:54 PM in Democratic Party, NM Legislature 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Uh Oh! Local Reporter/Blogger Jailed, Needs Bail

ImagesYes, the rumors are sad, but true. KOB radio reporter and blogger Peter St. Cyr has been jailed by the powers that be, and he can't be bailed out without our help. The latest Twitter from Peter claims there are some people out there who'd like to see him stay in the Big House -- eating those ubiquitous baloney sandwiches -- for the foreseeable future. Don't be cruel! Donate a few bucks now and help Peter escape the hoosegow, while supporting a terrific cause.

JailClick here to read all about it and help with the bail. Time's a wastin' as we only have until Thursday to get the job done and free Peter from the slammer. Jailbird Pete (and Jerry's Kids) await your action. There are no Get Out of Jail Free cards in this set-up, so if we don't act soon, Peter will be stuck pining away in the pokey "for good." We can't let that happen, can we? Free Peter St. Cyr!

November 30, 2008 at 04:42 PM in Crime, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1)

Paper Ballot Benefit: Undervote Rate Drops in 2008 Prez Election in New Mexico

One of the most vexing problems with New Mexico's 2004 election was the high percentage of "undervotes." Undervotes occur when someone casting a ballot either doesn't select a candidate in a race or his or her choice doesn't register in the count for some reason -- including voter mistakes and machine error (or hacks).

An article in today's Albuquerque Journal reports that there were 3,207 undervotes in the presidential election this year in New Mexico, down considerably from 21,084 identified in the 2004 presidential election here. In 2004, many New Mexico polling places were using the highly problematical touch screen voting machines. This year, the entire state voted on paper ballots that were tallied by electronic scanners, the same as in 2006.

According to the Journal article,

Voter watchdog groups say undervote rates of more than 2 percent — or one out of every 50 voters — raise suspicion and should be investigated.

In 2004, New Mexico's presidential undervote rate ended up at 2.5 percent, the highest such rate in the nation. In this year's election, the figure came in at less than 0.4 percent.

The lower presidential undervote total this year definitely seems to indicate significant progress is being made in ensuring all votes are accurately counted, but more reforms are needed as we go forward. For instance, the New Mexico Legislature is expected to take up a proposed expansion of and improvements to the election audit process that checks a sample of electronic scanner totals against hand counts to test the accuracy of the machines.

Other procedural changes may be needed to address potential chain of custody issues and other gaps in the election system related to accountability, transparency and consistency. See, for example, the 2008 Auditor's Findings on the New Mexico Canvass, especially points b, c and d under item 3.

A dramatic drop in undervotes and so-called "phantom votes" was also seen in the 2006 mid-term election in New Mexico -- particularly in areas with heavy Native American and Hispanic voter registration. This was the first statewide election in New Mexico after passage of legislation that required paper ballot voting in all counties.

November 30, 2008 at 03:50 PM in 2008 General Election Voting, Election Reform & Voting | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Quote of the Day: Roots of Violence

Thinking about the violence in Mumbai (and so many other places), I found this too true quote by Mahatma Gandhi:

The Roots of Violence:
Wealth without work,
Pleasure without conscience,
Knowledge without character,
Commerce without morality,
Science without humanity,
Worship without sacrifice,
Politics without principles.

November 29, 2008 at 03:05 PM in Current Affairs, Peace | Permalink | Comments (2)

Friday, November 28, 2008

Beware the Terrorist Bargain Shoppers

Sign O' the Times: Surging shoppers kill New York Wal-Mart worker. Imagine how these "consumers" will act when shortages start to appear in the big box stores. Perhaps there should be a new category established for these types -- maybe fundamentalist shoppers? Neocon store invaders? Think about the priorities of the crowds who camped out in tents last night at Best Buy and elsewhere. Do you think they'd be that determined to vote or serve the community or democracy in some way?

November 28, 2008 at 11:05 AM in Current Affairs, Economy, Populism | Permalink | Comments (3)

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving Without the Pilgrims


Obama's Thanksgiving message

Mary Ellen and I like to celebrate Thanksgiving for all the wrong reasons -- not the reasons provided by American tradition. We could care less about the fundamentalist Pilgrims and the fake stories associated with them. And it certainly isn't our nature to breezily celebrate events that culminated in continental genocide.

We celebrate Thanksgiving from a longer perspective, as a continuation of rituals of merriment and gratitude -- conducted for hundreds or thousands of years -- that were prompted by bountiful (or even adequate) hunting, gathering and/or harvests. There probably have always been rituals in late Fall created by humans to bring folks together, encourage sharing and facilitate partying -- part of a process of readying ourselves for the austerity and challenges of full-on winter. We honor the pagan-like celebrations with a theme of We Made It This Far and We Will (Probabably) Survive, So Let's Feast. To hell with the nationalism, piety and pretense.

This year, we aren't even going that far. With Mary Ellen still recovering (very nicely) from surgery and her appetite still craving only simple nourishment, we're sticking to enjoying the soup and quiche and (maybe) manicotti our neighbors brought by the other day. No guests. No visits to friends' houses. Just us. And our birds. It feels right and relaxed.

We're content and thankful for many things in our personal lives, and for the successes we got to experience on November 4th. We are feeling the gratitude typical of one of our usual Thanksgivings, but it's being expressed one on one, quietly, with little fanfare. The rainy day in Albuquerque seems to match our sense of muted but heartfelt thankfulness and low-key intimacy.

Mary Ellen's sister in Massachusetts shipped us a frozen T-Day dinner, complete with turkey breast, garlic mashed potatoes, whipped sweet potatoes and green bean casserole, but we'll wait till next weekend to eat it -- or whenever Mary Ellen's appetite for such fare returns in earnest. After all, if we're rebelling against the traditional reasons to celebrate Thanksgiving, we can celebrate it whenever we damned well please.

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Thanks to all of you who nurture and participate in progressive activism, and to the thousands of readers who have supported this blog since 2004. Hope you're celebrating family, community and positive thoughts in whatever way feels right to you, traditional or not.

November 27, 2008 at 01:39 PM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (3)

17 Reasons to Give Thanks

From the Progress Report. This Thanksgiving, progressives have a lot to be thankful for:

We're thankful we'll soon have a president who will hit the ground running instead of a president who is running the country into the ground.

We're thankful that Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow are demonstrating every night how strong and intelligent progressive voices can be successful on TV.

We're thankful we live in a center-left America rather than "Hannity's America."

We're thankful John McCain has more time to spend in the houses he owns...even if he can't remember them all.

We're thankful Sarah Palin has more time to watch over Russia and warn us in case Vladimir Putin ever " rears his head."

We're thankful that we're moving closer towards a  complete withdrawal from Iraq.

We're thankful for the thousands of protesters who took to the streets across America to push for marriage equality.

We're not thankful for neo-McCarthysneo-Hooversneo-Nazis, and neocons.

We're thankful for Tina Fey.

We're thankful to be liberal hacks.

We're not thankful for hack operatives burrowing into career civil service jobs.

We're more thankful for Vice President Joe Biden and "Morning Joe" than Joe Lieberman and "Joe the Plumber."

We're thankful that our troops will be able to get the education they so richly deserve.

We're thankful for the "Mustache of Justice," "Rahmbo," "Axe," and "Skippy."

We're thankful that reality still has a liberal bias.

We're thankful that there are only 55 days left until the end of the George W. Bush presidency.

We're thankful for the progressive mandate to govern.

Happy Thanksgiving!

P.S. Remember that if you're short on cash this holiday season, a gift subscription to the Progress Report is free.

PSS from BW and MEB: We're thankful for a True Blue New Mexico!

November 27, 2008 at 12:05 PM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Quote of the Day: Obama and Labor

From Politico:

The markets rose on the news of Barack Obama’s economic policy team Monday, but some labor spirits fell.

Obama’s team of treasury secretary and four top economic advisers, introduced as the hands that will steer America’s economy, had no particular ties to the labor movement. And Obama’s secretary of labor was not introduced as part of that team — a suggestion that that post will retain its second-tier status and quiet voice in matters central to economic policy.

“I wish that [the secretary of labor] would have been among them,” former Michigan congressman David Bonior, a labor stalwart and member of Obama’s transition team, said of the group at the Chicago press conference. “I hope they take that job seriously.”

Labor’s low profile in Obama’s transition is striking because of unions’ vital role in the general election campaign. While Wall Street split its contributions between Obama and John McCain, labor, after dividing its efforts in the Democratic primary, united behind the Democrat and emerged as by far the strongest outside force in the general election. Unions reportedly spent well over $100 million communicating with their members and other voters. The Service Employees International Union alone spent more than $30 million on an independent campaign for Obama, while many of the AFL-CIO unions played key roles in overcoming potential prejudice among their older, white members.

Unfortunately, at the rate he's going with market fundie appointees, I wouldn't be totally shocked if Obama named Robert Rubin to head Labor. Okay, that's a bit of an exaggeration, but only a bit. Somehow I don't think the majority of Obama supporters thought they were voting for a president who'd solicit economic advice from some of the major players in the creation of the philosophy and policies that have crushed the middle class and allowed rampant speculation and faux investment vehicles to dominate the financial sector.

Oh, wait. It's just that in the new world of Obama-Change, we're supposed to believe that ideology is irrelevant and that pragmatic competence is the only thing that matters. For a thorough debunking of that fantasy, read this post on firedoglake. I remain hopeful that Obama will run the show and use the throwback appointees to do his bidding, but you have to admit it can be difficult not to start getting a wee bit nervous.

November 26, 2008 at 01:18 PM in Economy, Populism, Labor, Obama Transition | Permalink | Comments (1)

12/9: Homeless Persons' Memorial Vigil

Homeless Persons' Memorial Vigil
Remember those who passed away in 2008 while homeless
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Peacedove3
Gather at 1 PM at Health Care for the Homeless' Memorial Wall
(1217 1st Street NW - Albuquerque)
March to First United Methodist Church at 1:15 PM
Memorial vigil from 2-3:30 PM

People experiencing homelessness are three-to-four-times as likely to die prematurely as their housed counterparts, according to a study by the National Health Care for the Homeless Council. In 2008, it is estimated that 50 people without housing died of natural causes, murder, suicide and/or poor health conditions in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

For more info: NM Coalition to End Homelessness, 217-9570. Co-sponsored by ACP&J, Health Care for the Homeless, Catholic Charities, and St. Martin's Hospitality Center.

November 26, 2008 at 11:12 AM in Events, Healthcare, Poverty | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

12/6: Dem Women of Sandoval County Holiday Party

From Janice Saxton, President, Democratic Women of Sandoval County: The Democratic Women of Sandoval County are hosting a Holiday Party on Saturday, December 6, from 2:00 to 5:00 PM, at the Anasazi Fields Winery at 26 Camino de los Pueblitos in Placitas. Everyone is encouraged to attend. Free wine tasting. Desserts, snacks, beverages furnished. Cash bar for wine and coolers. Music by Placitas' own Tim O’Rourke. The event will benefit the Democratic Women and Rebuilding Together Sandoval County. $10 donation requested. For info call Janice Saxton at 867-1139 or email jnjsaxton@msn.com.

November 25, 2008 at 11:06 AM in Democratic Party, Events | Permalink | Comments (0)

Angela Chavez Guest Blog: The Day That Hope Won

AchavezheadThis is a guest blog by Angela Chavez, who is in her second year at the University of New Mexico School of Law, where she participates in MALSA and NLLSA. She is also a Regional President of the Hispanic Bar Association’s student division.

Prior to entering law school, Ms. Chavez worked for the Democratic Party of New Mexico, Governor Bill Richardson and Senator John Kerry. She is the current National Committee Woman for the Young Democrats of New Mexico. Angela was raised in Socorro. She is recently engaged to Joshua Adkins.

We will all remember where we were the day that hope won and the country elected Barrack Obama. I was in Albuquerque's South Valley poll watching. Many of my law school colleagues joined me in watching polls across our beautiful state. Below is a narrative of my experience. I hope to see even more volunteers for re-election in 2012!

I didn't have to go outside of the library of Harrison Middle School to know that it was a cold Fall day in the South Valley. Yellow and orange leaves blew through the door announcing each voter.

Some of the voters were viejitas with carefully applied lipstick. Before voting, they unwrapped their scarves to reveal that their hair was still perfectly curled despite the wind that you could hear through the windows. The viejitos came too. One man with brittle silver hair carried a thermos in his calloused hand and wore a black and blue flannel jacket. I imagined that the thermos was full of coffee and that he was on his way to work, or maybe to rake up the leaves that were piling up in his yard. The familiar smell of mentholato followed him out the door.

Many of the voters were young moms. They carried babies wrapped in soft blankets. Tiny red noses peaked out of the blankets, reminding me of the cold. The older kids wore puffy jackets and resembled waddling marshmallows with arms and tiny gloved hands.

An older mother came in with her teenaged daughter. Her daughter was wearing a polo shirt from a local restaurant. Her smile revealed sparkly braces and dimples framed by rosey cheeks. The young girl was so excited to vote that she didn't seem to care about the stain on her uniform. The mother was proud to announce, "It's my daughter's first time." My eyes felt warm and I had chills because I was trying to hold back tears.

My tears were prompted by pride and hope. I was proud to see that the cold did not keep people from voting. The continuous stream of female members of my own generation gave me a strong sense of solidarity. I felt like a member of strong brigade armed with the power to vote. Each vote cast by my sisters in arms was a vote for our future, a future that we would all share regardless of which political party prevailed. I felt like my generation recognized and accepted our responsibility to look forward and act now.

My hope came from the realization that our collective voice was growing and that in this election, the voice calling for change and better tomorrow was going to be too loud to be ignored any longer. This was going to be the election that defined our generation. By voting, we chose to define ourselves rather than allowing ourselves to be defined.

AngelapalinThis is a guest blog by Angela Chavez. In addition to being a law student and one of the hardest working Democratic activists we know, Angela does a spot-on imitation of the infamous Sarah Palin -- as you can see from the photo at left taken this Halloween. (Had to use it!) Click on photo for larger image.

If you'd like to submit a piece for consideration as a guest blog, contact me by clicking on the Email Me link on the upper left-hand corner of the page.

November 25, 2008 at 12:30 AM in 2008 General Election Voting, 2008 General Presidential Election, Guest Blogger | Permalink | Comments (4)

Monday, November 24, 2008

Statehouse Dems Retain Leadership Team

The House Democratic Caucus of the New Mexico House of Representatives elected their leadership for 2009 yesterday. The Dems re-elected Speaker of the House Ben Lujan (D-SantaFe-46), House Majority Floor Leader Ken Martinez (D-Cibola, McKinley & San Juan-69), House Majority Whip Sheryl Williams Stapleton (D-Bernalillo-19) and Caucus Chair John A. Heaton (D-Eddy-55).

“I am honored that our House Democratic Caucus has expressed its trust and confidence in re-electing all of us to our respective leadership capacities,” said Speaker Lujan in a statement. “These are exciting and unprecedented times in the country. However, these are also unprecedented and challenging times in New Mexico that will require all of us working together utilizing our collective experience and expertise on behalf of the citizens of New Mexico as we address the revenue shortfall and other very important issues facing our state.”

“I am honored to be re-elected Majority Leader,” said Majority Leader Martinez. “I look forward to working with our leadership and all the Members of the House to serve our citizens, especially during these challenging economic times.”

The only challenge to the current leadership lineup allegedly came from HD 68 Rep. Thomas A. Garcia of Ocate, who reportedly ran against Rep. Williams Stapleton for Whip, and lost in the secret voting.

In contrast to the Dem House leadership elections, the Dem caucus elections on the State Senate side promise to be a bit contentious this year. It's practically a given that current President Pro-Tem Tim Jennings of Roswell will be ousted as a result of his public support of Repub Leonard Lee Rawson in a recorded robo-call and radio ad in Rawson's race against Dem challenger Stephen Fischmann in SD 37 in the Las Cruces area. With the addition of a number of new reform-minded Dems in the Senate, the time may be ripe for a new, more progressive coalition to have a say in Senate leadership. Then again, old power blocs are hard to defeat in any year.

November 24, 2008 at 04:40 PM in Democratic Party, NM Legislature 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0)