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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Courage to Lead and Persuade


Right on time comes another excellent analysis by Glenn Greenwald of what's ailing our political system. My post yesterday on pushing Dem leaders to advocate strongly on behalf of marriage equality segues nicely into Greenwald's commentary. He dissects the courageous and politically perilous campaign just begun by Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) to call attention to the horrors of the drug war and our for-profit prison industry, and push for deep and comprehensive reforms to our woeful criminal justice system.

The entire piece by Greenwald is well worth a read, as is Sen. Webb's floor speech about the bill he just introduced -- the National Criminal Justice Act of 2009 -- that would create a bipartisan commission on prison reform. The commission would undertake an 18-month review of the U.S. prison system, offering recommendations at the end.

I'm a strong supporter of needed reforms in how we deal with problems related to drug addiction and the US incarceration racket, but I want to focus right now on another aspect of Greenwald's post. Most progressives I talk with share a deep-seated concern about the growing unwillingness of some Dem leaders to take on the tough issues and advocate on behalf of bold changes that upend the status quo. Too many seem permanently cocooned in a protective layer designed to muffle any attempt to get them to speak honestly about their beliefs, or advocate on behalf of their base.

Too risky, say the consultants, strategists, campaign finance experts and conventional wisdom mavens who are dedicated only to "winning" and to hell with actually doing what's needed to deal with serious and intersecting challenges. Meanwhile, real problems in the real world cry out for innovative solutions that take grit and guts to sell -- actual paradigm changes in some cases. And, as Greenwald writes, citizens are getting programmed to go along with the "political realities" excuse:

Webb's actions here underscore a broader point. Our political class has trained so many citizens not only to tolerate, but to endorse, cowardly behavior on the part of their political leaders. When politicians take bad positions, ones that are opposed by large numbers of their supporters, it is not only the politicians, but also huge numbers of their supporters, who step forward to offer excuses and justifications: well, they have to take that position because it's too politically risky not to; they have no choice and it's the smart thing to do. That's the excuse one heard for years as Democrats meekly acquiesced to or actively supported virtually every extremist Bush policy from the attack on Iraq to torture and warrantless eavesdropping; it's the excuse which even progressives offer for why their political leaders won't advocate for marriage equality or defense spending cuts; and it's the same excuse one hears now to justify virtually every Obama "disappointment." [emphasis mine]

Webb's commitment to this unpopular project demonstrates how false that excuse-making is -- just as it was proven false by Russ Feingold's singular, lonely, October, 2001 vote against the Patriot Act and Feingold's subsequent, early opposition to the then-popular Bush's assault on civil liberties, despite his representing the purple state of Wisconsin. Political leaders have the ability to change public opinion by engaging in leadership and persuasive advocacy. Any cowardly politician can take only those positions that reside safely within the majoritiarian consensus. Actual leaders, by definition, confront majoritarian views when they are misguided and seek to change them, and politicians have far more ability to affect and change public opinion than they want the public to believe they have.

The political class wants people to see them as helpless captives to immutable political realities so that they have a permanent, all-purpose excuse for whatever they do, so that they are always able to justify their position by appealing to so-called "political realities." But that excuse is grounded in a fundamentally false view of what political leaders are actually capable of doing in terms of shifting public opinion ....

Greenwald goes on to quote from an interview he did with NYU Journalism Professor Jay Rosen about his theories of how political consensus is maintained and manipulated:

... leaders, by talking about things, make them legitimate. Parties, by pushing for things, make them part of the sphere of debate. Important and visible people can question consensus, and all of a sudden expand it. These spheres are malleable; if the conversation of democracy is alive and if you make your leaders talk about things, it becomes valid to talk about them.

So what can we do? We can stop letting our political leaders, candidates and elected officials off the hook on the critical issues of the day. As I said in my previous post, we need to make noise, speak up and keep pushing on all the issues that matter to ordinary people. There will be battles a'plenty on health care reform, military spending, global climate change and green energy, the social safety net, civil liberties and civil rights issues and many more as we move beyond the right-wing Bush era.

Let's let our political figures know we demand some genuine advocacy to advance progressive issues, not just manufactured bland-speak to please the handlers. We need them to lead, not acquiesce to fear and the lowest common denominator.

March 31, 2009 at 03:06 PM in Civil Liberties, Crime, GLBT Rights, Justice, Minority Issues, Progressivism | Permalink | Comments (3)

Today: Wine & Cheese Happy Hour to Benefit Elace Comunitario

From Las Meganenas: Make International Women's Day every day! Join Las Meganenas and friends for a wine & cheese happy hour to celebrate and raise funds for Enlace Comunitario.

Tuesday, March 31st, 2009, 5:30 PM
Casa de Marisa Silva, 1725 Griegos Rd. NW, Albuquerque
Hosts: Las Meganenas: Soledad Hindi, Michelle Otero, Valerie Borrego, Vivian Fernandez, Sabina Zuniga-Varela and Alicia Lueras Maldonado

Enlace Comunitario: www.enlacenm.org

MISSION: To eliminate domestic violence and advance immigrants' rights. Enlace is a non-profit community based organization that provides direct services to Spanish-speaking victims of domestic violence and advocates for the rights of Latino immigrants and their children. Their holistic approach includes counseling, legal services, community education, leadership development and organizing to impact system change.

Enlace Comunitario envisions a society where immigrants become a collective- conscientious-free- and- transforming force, to eradicate domestic violence and eliminate borders.

International Women's Day (IWD) is marked on March 8 every year. It is a major day of global celebration for the economic, political and social achievements of women. March is also increasingly recognized as a month to honor Women.

March 31, 2009 at 10:54 AM in Events, Immigration, Women's Issues | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, March 30, 2009

Making Noise for GLBT Civil Rights at the DPBC Central Committee Meeting

The Democratic Party of Bernalillo County Central Committee met this Saturday at Ciblola High School on Albuquerque's West Side. The CCC elected new DPBC officers, as well as State Central Committee members who will represent the DPBC at the Democratic Party of New Mexico's State Central Committee meeting in April.

Another task of the CCC was passing a package of resolutions that were previously approved in Ward meetings and at the County's Platform and Resolutions Committee. They'll be forwarded up the chain to the State Platform and Resolutions Committee and the SCC for approval. Eventually they'll be part of the State Party Platform, in some form.

Another way to introduce a proposed resolution is via a motion from the floor of the CCC. Mary Ellen and I introduced three floor resolutions at the meeting -- to make a few simple points and make them pointedly. Read on.

EqualityCR The Lip Service Factor: First off, if we're real Democrats we should advocate publicly in support of the Party Platform and all its planks. As it stands, too many Democratic candidates and officeholders either ignore the Platform or pay lip service and not much more. This is especially true in terms of the DPNM's planks on equal civil rights for GLBT folks and the separation of church and state. (See highlighted text on page 3 of DPNM 2008 Platform.)

We often hear from fellow grassroots Dems, Dem leaders, lawmakers and other elected officials that they are on our side in terms of securing equal rights under the law. In general, I believe them. Unfortunately, however, too few Dems in positions of authority appear to be advocating on our behalf or using their "bully pulpits" to educate and persuade on this issue. They say they support us, but mostly they do so passively or while hiding behind vague language that leaves too much unsaid. They can seem terrified of speaking the truth, plain and clear, about the urgent need to assure that ALL New Mexicans enjoy the rights granted by our Constitution.

Separation of Church and State: We also wanted to call attention to the anti-democratic and wrong-headed practice of allowing church officials to dictate laws that are applied to all our citizens regardless of their religious or spiritual views. If I'm not a practicing Catholic, why should I have to live my life according to the Church's rules? After witnessing the domestic partnership bill once again go down the tubes in the New Mexico Legislature this year -- defeated by Democrats -- we've had just about enough of being treated like second class citizens, even by by our own.

Make Noise, Act Up: So we got together with a dozen or so grassroots lesbian and gay Democrats and tried to come up with a good way to make some noise and attract some serious attention to our so far unsuccessful quest for the equal civil rights under the law. Resolutions seemed like a good way to start. Click on the links and read the "Whereas" paragraphs to get a better understanding of our reasoning:

Abolish the platform? Yes, if it's as meaningless to Dems in office as it can sometimes seem. After some heated statements in defense of the Platform process, this one was tabled for possible future action.

Make divorce illegal in New Mexico? Yes, if we want to be consistent in obeying the dictates of the Catholic Church and the Archbishop of Santa Fe, as many of our lawmakers against domestic partnerships have claimed is their reason for voting against the bill. Obviously, this one was voted down -- but most CCC members seemed to get the point we were trying to make about the separation of church and state.

Support gay marriage and be active in advocating for it? Why not? Church officials and others insist that domestic partnership legislation is really gay marriage in disguise. Why not go for it then? And demand that Democrats at every level of the Party advocate on its behalf.

A Personal and Emotional Appeal: I introduced the marriage equality resolution while looking into the eyes of a roomful of my fellow Dems. It was an emotionally cathartic and passionate experience for me, to say the least. The resolution is a very personal one, referencing Mary Ellen and I sharing 19+ years of our lives together as life partners. And how the two of us are growing grayer and grayer as we wait and wait and wait for the Legislature to do what's right -- even when both houses are dominated by Democrats and we have a Democratic Governor.

The energy in the hall was electric on this one, as a series of commenters -- some gay, some straight -- spoke in favor of the proposal. The resolution was passed on a voice vote -- with only a few NOs emanating from the crowd. It was a satisfying show of support from our fellow Dems. Perhaps most importantly, it sparked a lot of discussion and thoughtful responses inside the hall and beyond. So many folks came up to us afterwards and pledged to help and get more active on this issue -- including County Party officers. So many Dems -- gay and straight -- made it clear they're ready to keep this issue on the front burner of local Democratic politics. And we will, one way or another, whatever it takes.

How about you? Will you help us? Will you work for our civil rights as so many of us have worked for yours over the years? Will you take our civil rights as seriously as you take those of other minorities -- and your own? Will you stop taking no for an answer from your elected officials? Will you help us topple perhaps the last bastion of "acceptable" prejudice left in America? Come on and join us because this time, we're not gonna stop making noise until we succeed. Are you part of the problem or part of the solution? Speak up. Act up. Persuade. Insist. Be with us.

March 30, 2009 at 07:55 PM in Civil Liberties, Democratic Party, GLBT Rights, Local Politics | Permalink | Comments (18)

NM's U.S. Senators & Reps, Navajo Nation President Shirley Witness Obama's Signing of Omnibus Public Lands Bill

President Barack Obama today delivered remarks (video above) and signed HR 146, the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act of 2009. He was introduced by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. Thirteen members of Congress shared the stage, including Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM). More than 150 other supporters of the legislation were present at the signing ceremony as representatives of a broad coalition of organizations that supported various pieces of the legislation, including conservation groups, sportsmen's organizations, the Navajo nation, and disability advocates, as well as members of Congress. They included Sen. Tom Udall, Reps. Martin Heinrich, Ben Ray Lujan and Harry Teague, and President Joe Shirley and Frank Chee Willetto of the Navajo Nation.

Among other things, HR 146 designates about 2 million acres of new wilderness areas; creates ten new National Heritage Areas (NHAs); authorizes land exchanges among USDA’s Forest Service, DOI’s Bureau of Land Management, DOI’s National Park Service, and other State, local, or private parties; authorizes various Bureau of Reclamation water projects and water settlements; modifies national park boundaries; authorizes numerous studies relating to potential national park units, NHAs, and water projects; and authorizes several Department of Commerce oceans programs.

In addition to Sen. Bingaman, who was instrumental in shepherding the bill through the Senate this year, Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (D, NM-03) and Rep. Martin Heinrich (D, NM-01) were actively involved with the bill in the 111th Congress. Previously Sen. Tom Udall wrote and helped pass the Sabinoso Wilderness bill that's part of HR 146. A number of other bills in the legislation address water issues on Navajo Nation land and other parts of Northern New Mexico, as well as the Rio Grande basin. See my previous post for more on this bill.

“The Sabinoso Wilderness is the product of years of work by the entire community, including local leaders, sportsmen, land owners and ranchers” said Udall in a statement released today. “The preservation of this incredible landscape will now remain for the permanent benefit and enjoyment of current and future generations.”

“Giving this area wilderness status will allow us to showcase and protect another beautiful part New Mexico,” Bingaman said.

For years, Udall, the BLM and local landowners worked together to develop the legislation to designate the area wilderness to protect the rugged and dramatic landscape. The wilderness includes scenic canyons and mesas, which are home to a variety of wildlife, including mule deer, elk, mountain lions, and wild turkey. It is also rich in canyon vistas, including the 1,000-foot tall Canyon Largo, and impressive rock formations — all part of a vibrant Great Plains ecosystem.

The New Mexico State House of Representatives, led by Representative Thomas Garcia, and San Miguel County Commission supported the permanent protection of the Sabinoso, and passed resolutions calling on the New Mexico Congressional delegation to support the establishment of the new wilderness area.

“Today, President Barack Obama made an historic statement to protect our beautiful landscapes and the natural resources they contain by signing the Omnibus Land Bill,” said Rep. Luján. “This bill preserves treasured land for the next generation and makes water resources available to communities that need it. By protecting and enhancing the natural and cultural resources which are integral to the identity of New Mexico and America, this bill ensures the prolonged existence and availability of forest lands and natural resources for future generations.”

“From the Snowy River Cave in Lincoln County to the prehistoric trackways in the Robledo Mountains in Dona Ana this package of bills provides important protections for some of the natural treasures we have throughout southern New Mexico,” said Rep. Teague. “I applaud the work that Senator Bingaman has done over the years to get this monumental piece of legislation enacted.”

“In the West, we know the value of water and the value of the places where we hunt, fish and recreate with our families,” said Rep. Heinrich. “This law will help us maintain these places and the cultures that they support. The proud tradition of conserving our most precious natural resources, championed by Teddy Roosevelt more than a hundred years ago, has been secured for another generation of Americans.”

HR 146 is a massive and landmark piece of legislation that's comprised of fifteen titles and incorporates more than 150 individual bills, most of which were previously passed by the House or reported by a House or Senate Committee during the 110th Congress.

The bill signed today also includes the Christopher and Dana Reeve Paralysis Act, which provides for paralysis research; paralysis rehabilitation and care; improving quality of life for persons with paralysis and other physical disabilities.

March 30, 2009 at 03:20 PM in Environment, Land Issues, Native Americans, NM Congressional Delegation, Obama Administration, Rural Issues, Sen. Jeff Bingaman, Water Issues | Permalink | Comments (1)

Santa Fe to Receive $780,000+ in Stimulus Funds for Energy Efficiency

According to a statement released today, the City of Santa Fe has been identified to receive $781,600 in federal economic stimulus money for energy and conservation projects. The money was provided through the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant program.

“We are thrilled to receive these funds from President Barack Obama’s stimulus package and thankful to Senator Jeff Bingaman for his support in securing this money,” said Santa Fe Mayor David Coss. “We have a president and congressional leadership who understand that in this country, change comes not from the top-down, but from the bottom-up. This stimulus money emphasizes a bottom-up, community-based approach which will help Santa Fe and other cities around the country meet our energy and climate protection goals while also infusing much-needed capital into the local economy.”

Santa Fe Mayor David Coss joined other mayors across the country in endorsing the stimulus package as a member of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. The Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant program was "conceived" by The U.S. Conference of Mayors and was a top priority of the Mayors' 10-Point Plan and the Mayors' MainStreet Recovery Program. The U.S. Conference of Mayors has recognized that the efforts of Senator Bingaman, U.S. Senate Energy Chair, were instrumental in supporting the Block Grant.

The Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant funds can be used for the following applications:

  • Energy efficiency retrofits at public and private facilities
  • Projects that would reduce the release of methane and other greenhouse gases generated by landfills
  • Replacement of street lighting with energy efficient lighting, i.e. LED lighting
  • Installation of renewable energy at city government buildings

City of Santa Fe Energy Specialist Nick Schiavo, who is finalizing the paperwork to receive the stimulus money, said he would like to use the funding for energy efficiency retrofits in city government buildings, including lighting retrofits, upgrades to HVAC equipment and improved insulation as well as use it to invest in renewable energy, particularly solar energy technology, at select city buildings. The city buildings most likely to see the upgrades are those that have had energy efficiency audits completed.

March 30, 2009 at 01:00 PM in Energy, Green Economy, Obama Administration, Sen. Jeff Bingaman | Permalink | Comments (0)

(Updated: Romero Qualifies) Richard Romero Nears the Finish Line with 4500-4700 Five Dollar Donations

Update: Richard Romero's campaign issued a statement announcing that the Albuquerque City Clerk confirmed today that Richard Romero has qualified to run as a publicly financed mayoral candidate. Romero is the second candidate thus far to meet the 3,287 requirement of $5 qualifying contributions. Tomorrow is the final deadline to qualify.

Last Friday, Richard Romero turned in his fourth campaign report, increasing to 4,034 the total number of $5 qualifying contributions he has submitted. He expects to turn in close to 5,000 contributions by Wednesday, April 1st.

The campaign’s attention will now turn to another deadline of April 28, at which time nominating petitions containing a total of at least 6,574 signatures must be submitted to place a candidate’s name on the October mayoral ballot. Romero is well on the way to meeting this requirement and will submit at least 5,000 signatures this week.

“Our Campaign for Change has been embraced by the voters as we’ve now surpassed our first major milestone -- thanks to a army of fantastic volunteers.” said Romero. “Day after day, our grassroots momentum has been building – and it will continue to build right on till Election Day in October.”
I'm hearing that the Richard Romero campaign has collected more than 4,500 five-dollar donations as of yesterday afternoon in the race to qualify for public funding in the Albuquerque mayoral race. The campaign reportedly should top 4,700 by Tuesday night, the deadline for turning in the contributions. Their error rate has been running about 12-13%, so things look very good at this point. They'll be collecting more donations and retrieving more receipt books from volunteers today and tomorrow. More than 400 volunteers have helped in the effort.

If you have one of the campaign's receipt books, please be sure to turn it in at the Romero campaign office ASAP so it can be submitted to the City by Tuesday evening. The office is located at 605 4th St NW, Suite A, Albuquerque, NM 87107. You can call them at 573-5649.

The Romero campaign originally had a goal of gathering at least 4,000 donations from registered voters in Albuquerque. To qualify for public funding, candidates need to turn in a total of 3,280 verified $5 donations, which represents 1% of registered voters in the city. If (when!) they do, the next hurdle will be turning in petition signatures that total 2% of the electorate.

March 30, 2009 at 11:34 AM in 2009 Albuquerque Mayoral Race | Permalink | Comments (3)

Guest Blog: New Programs Make Solar Energy Good Investment

This is a guest blog by Bill McCamley, former Doña Ana County Commissioner, and Mark Westbrock, PV Systems Designer at Positive Energy. Both are residents of Las Cruces, New Mexico.

“To truly transform our economy, protect our security, and save our planet from the ravages of climate change, we need to ultimately make clean, renewable energy the profitable kind of energy.” --President Barack Obama

Communities in the State of New Mexico receive more direct sunlight every year than almost anywhere else in the world. This resource gives every homeowner a chance to provide power to their homes through solar energy, allowing them to both save money over the long term and contribute to the nation’s renewable energy infrastructure. However, two major problems have hampered the spread of individual solar systems: high up-front costs and the inability of solar owners to link the value of solar equipment to the value of their home. Recent policy developments at the local, state, and federal levels seek to remedy these issues. 

The first of these is a new program implemented by the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission available to all PNM and El Paso Electric customers. Currently, if an individual installs a solar system on their home, the electricity provider will pay the individual $0.13 per kilowatt hour (the unit used to measure electricity) for all energy produced by the solar system.  These payments are not for the actual energy, but for a renewable energy certificate (REC), the vehicle by which the state is asking companies to incentivize the use of renewable energy. These REC payments are in addition to the benefit that customers already receive through net metering, the process by which the electric company credits the customer for the energy produced by their solar system.

So, if you buy a solar system for your home, large electric companies will send you a check every month for the power your system is producing.

On top of these provisions, there are three solar tax incentives offered by both the federal and state governments. Effective at the beginning of 2009, you can count 30% of the total cost of any solar system as a credit against your federal taxes. Next, the New Mexico legislature just passed a bill that provides a 10% state tax credit on top of the federal credit, bringing the total state tax credit up to 40%.  Finally, if you purchase a solar system you will not pay any state gross receipts taxes on it.

Taking into account the tax credits, net metering benefits, and REC payments, a solar system now makes financial sense.  Three Las Cruces residents who recently had solar systems installed on their homes independently calculated that they will receive between 6-8% annual return on investment.

Though these policies make the cost of a system affordable over the long run the up-front system price, which is comparable to a modest new car, remains too high for many homeowners. To address this, the New Mexico legislature just passed three bills, sponsored by Representatives Egolf and Rodefer and Senator Wirth.  These bills would allow local governments to create solar financing districts where if enough people voluntarily sign up, the government would use its bonding authority to borrow money and install solar systems on homes.

Government bonds generally have low interest rates, and with many people participating bulk purchases would create lower prices. In return, the volunteers would agree to raise their property taxes for a set amount over a specific time to pay back the government bond. This contract would be transferred to any new homeowner if the home is sold, allowing the original purchaser to account for the cost of the system if the ever decide to sell. In December of 2008, the Doña Ana County Commission voted to approve a resolution advocating for the passage of this type of bill.

To be clear, this is a voluntary program that will not affect the taxes of those who choose not to participate.

Under this program, a homeowner today would pay about the same amount for their increased property tax as they would have paid for their electric bill, assuming that electric rates remain stable.  As electric rates continue to rise following increasing demand and the supply of oil, gas, and coal becoming more limited, the benefit to the homeowner will increase. Most photovoltaic modules are warranted for 25 years, so the loan will be paid off well before the useful life of the system is over.  Once the loan is paid off, they will benefit from free, clean electricity for the life of the system.

So, what does all of this mean for the average New Mexican? Basically this: if you own your home and want to stay in it for awhile, live in a district where PNM or El Paso Electric provides your electricity, and are located in a county that chooses to participate in the new financing program, then a solar photovoltaic system is one of the safer long-term investments you can make.

This is a guest blog by Bill McCamley and Mark Westbrock of Las Cruces. 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.

March 30, 2009 at 09:00 AM in Energy, Environment, Green Economy, Guest Blogger, NM Legislature 2009 | Permalink | Comments (8)

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Southern New Mexico Health Centers Get a Shot in the Arm as Teague Announces More Recovery Funding

On Friday, Congressman Harry Teague released a statement announcing that more than $1.3 million in recovery funding will go to four community health centers in southern New Mexico, with three servicing rural areas. Grantees had previously submitted plans explaining how grant funds would be used. Strategies to expand services may include, but are not limited to, adding new providers, expanding hours of operations or expanding services. (See below the break for the list of recipients in southern NM.)

“For many of the small and rural communities throughout my district, seeing a doctor often requires travel to a town miles away,” said Congressman Harry Teague. “Getting our local health centers the funding they need to add new providers or expand their hours and services will help our rural communities stay healthy.”

Health Center:

Hidalgo Medical Services in Lordsburg -- $237,776

De Baca Family Practice in Fort Sumner -- $123,473

Ben Archer Health Center in Hatch --- $558,664

La Clinica De Familia in Las Cruces -- $472,430

Health centers are community-based and patient-directed organizations that serve populations with limited access to health care. Among the services community health centers provide are regular health check-ups and immunizations. In 2007, approximately 36% of patients were children and about 7% were 65 or older.

March 28, 2009 at 03:44 PM in Economy, Populism, Healthcare, NM Congressional Delegation, Rep. Harry Teague (NM-02) | Permalink | Comments (0)

(Updated) Bernalillo County Dem Party Meets Today for Elections

Update: Here are the DPBC officers elected by the CCC today:

County Chair - Ana Canales
First Vice Chair - Victor Raigoza
Second Vice Chair - Pamelya Herndon
DemLogo The Central Committee of the Democratic Party of Bernalillo County meets today at 10:00 AM at the Performing Arts Center at Cibola High School located at 1510 Ellison Drive NW in Albuquerque. The County Central Committee will be electing officers of the DPBC and members of the State Central Committee (SCC), and conducting other County Party business. The meeting is open to all registered Democrats of Bernalillo County, but only qualified members of the CCC may vote.

The announced candidates for Bernalillo County Party offices are:

  • Bernalillo County Chair: Ana Canales
  • Bernalillo County Vice-Chair - Male: Bill Peifer, Victor Raigoza
  • Bernalillo County Vice-Chair - Female: Pamelya Herndon

Other County Party Events: The County Party Central Committees of Otero, Grant, Sandoval, Taos, and Lincoln Counties will also be meeting today. Meanwhile, combined precinct, ward and county meetings are set for Catron County, and Santa Fe Ward (Multiple) elections will occur at multiple locations and times. Other County Parties will hold their meetings later in the week. Check the calendar at the DPNM website for more info.

March 28, 2009 at 08:01 AM in Democratic Party, Events | Permalink | Comments (3)

Friday, March 27, 2009

Reminder: Celebrate 16th Annual César Chavez Day Saturday in Albuquerque

CesarimageL From RCCC: The Recuerda a César Chávez Committee (RCCC) is marking the 16th annual César E. Chávez Day celebration with a morning of service, a march and a fiesta on Saturday, March 28, 2009.

The theme of this year’s celebration is “Luchando, Educando, Celebrando: Recuerda a César Chávez”.

The all-volunteer RCCC planned the event to mark the anniversary of the birth of a unique and humble leader who influenced and inspired millions of Americans to seek social justice and civil rights for the poor and disenfranchised in our society. A true American hero, César was a civil rights, Latino, farmworker, and labor leader; a religious and spiritual figure; a community servant and social entrepreneur; a crusader for nonviolent social change; and an environmentalist and consumer advocate.

With the election of Barack Obama, who began his career as a community organizer, it is important to recognize and celebrate the role that César played in President Obama’s historic victory. During the presidential campaign, Obama ran a highly effective voter outreach model developed by former United Farm Workers (UFW) Organizing Director Marshall Ganz. He also adopted the campaign theme, ‘Yes We Can,’ embracing the rallying cry popularized by César and the UFW in the 1970s: ‘Si, Se Puede.’

Cesar_chavez_with_quote WHAT: The day will begin with a morning of service at the Sanchez Farm, with seed planting and a planting ceremony. We will then march to the National Hispanic Cultural Center (NHCC), where there will be a fiesta with free live music, food, speakers and cultural performances. The 4rd Annual “Si Se Puede” awards will be presented.

WHERE: Sanchez Farm (Arenal & Lopez SW); NHCC (4th St. and Avenida César Chávez)

WHEN: Saturday, March 28, 2009. 9AM-11AM at Sanchez Farm. 11AM-NOON March from Sanchez Farm to NHCC. NOON-3PM Fiesta at NHCC

WHO: Free concert by Latino music stars, CAVA, Cultura Fuerte, Con Razon, Los Trinos, and Ballet Folklórico del Sol. Keynote speakers include State Senator Eric Griego and State Representative Eleanor Chavez. Co-Sponsored by the Recuerda a Cesar Chavez Committee, City of Albuquerque, County of Bernalillo, National Hispanic Cultural Center, and New Mexico Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO.

March 27, 2009 at 04:38 PM in Civil Liberties, Events, Justice, Labor, Minority Issues | Permalink | Comments (0)

Lt. Governor Denish Launches Rural Economic Recovery Initiative to Help Access Federal Grant Monies

DDenishCR Yesterday, Lt. Governor Diane Denish released a statement to announce her Rural Economic Recovery Initiative to help rural communities.

“We are all facing difficult economic times. Families in every corner of New Mexico are hurting. Often, it is the smaller communities that are hit the hardest. Creating jobs and bringing economic development to every corner of the state is my top priority,” said Lt. Governor Denish.

“The federal Recovery and Reinvestment Act allocates $74 billion to be awarded through competitive grants. I have created the Rural Economic Recovery Initiative to help our rural communities apply take advantage of this opportunity. Through a partnership with the New Mexico Community Foundation, communities will have help to access monies to get local economies moving again,” Denish said.

“I will travel throughout New Mexico to hold town hall meetings with local communities to discuss this initiative. I leave Monday for northwest New Mexico to begin this vital work.” (See below the break for schedule.)

“The New Mexico Community Foundation believes that equity and opportunity for all New Mexicans is rooted in our rural communities’ values and traditions. We stand ready to work in partnership with Lt. Governor Diane Denish and the Children’s Cabinet in maximizing federal funds flowing throughout our state – from Anthony to Picuris – through our network of individuals and nonprofits” said Robert Apodaca of the New Mexico Community Foundation.

The federal Recovery and Reinvestment Act contains three different sources of aid to states and communities. One source will be available through the competitive grant process. This will mean that those applying for the grant are in a nationwide competition for the award. For example, the Federal Emergency Management Agency will be awarding $210 million for state and local governments to construct, modify, or upgrade fire stations. The USDA/Rural Development Administration will have $7.2 billion for loans, grants and grant guarantees for broadband infrastructure in rural, un-served and underserved areas of the country without sufficient access to high-speed broadband service.

The Rural Economic Recovery Initiative will identify local and tribal governments, universities, and non-profit organizations interested in applying for grants on behalf of their communities and provide them information about grant opportunities, guidelines, and processes.

Schedule for Northwest New Mexico Tour to Highlight Rural Economic Recovery Initiative:

Monday March 30, 2009

  • 10:00 AM: Cuba Town Hall, 16 B Cordova Avenue
  • 5:00 PM: Aztec Town Hall, 101 South Park

Tuesday March 31, 2009

  • 10:00 AM: Farmington Town Hall, 800 Municipal Drive
  • 5:00 PM: Gallup Town Hall, Second and Aztec Street

Wednesday April 1, 2009

  • 1:00 PM: Grants Town Hall, 550 Jerassic Court

March 27, 2009 at 11:34 AM in Economy, Populism, Events, Obama Administration, Rural Issues | Permalink | Comments (1)

Amy Goodman to Speak in Silver City 4.19.09, Plus Other NM Dates

Gila / Mimbres Community Radio
Presents Award Winning Journalist
Amy Goodman
Of Democracy Now!
On her "Standing Up To the Madness" tour
Sunday April 19, 2009, 3 PM
Global Resource Center
On the WNMU Campus
12th and Kentucky Streets
Silver City, New Mexico
$10 to $1000 donation, $5 students, at the door

Note: Amy Goodman's speaking tour is also scheduled to stop in other New Mexico locations. Click on the dates for more info:

04/18 Taos, NM
04/18 Santa Fe, NM
04/19 Mesilla, NM
04/19 Albuquerque, NM

The Taos event is a benefit for GMCR. Sponsors include:

Gila Community Forum & Calendar
Desert Woman Botanicals
Radio Free Silver!
Toy Town
Fun R&R
Custom Steelworks
Reese Remodelling
Silver City Food Co-op
Mule Productions
Peace Meal Resturant
The Salvatore Family
Javalina Coffee House
Mulhall Family Trust
What's a Pot Shop?

WWW.GMCR.ORG for more info.

March 27, 2009 at 10:50 AM in Events, Media, Progressivism | Permalink | Comments (0)