Sunday, May 31, 2009
New Mexico Youth Organized to Host Progressive Film Series
From New Mexico Youth Organized: NMYO will be hosting "Think Different: A Progressive Film Series." Admission is a non-perishable food item or item of clothing. We will be compiling baskets to take to homeless shelters. This is an opportunity to watch worthwhile movies and to volunteer for a good cause, all while having fun and meeting cool people!
The first film in the series will be screened on Thursday, June 4th, at 6:00 PM at the NMYO and CCP office in Albuquerque, Suite B, 1500 Lomas Blvd. NW (corner of 15th and Lomas in adobe strip mall across from Gertrude Zachary Jewelry). We will be showing "The Edukators," a German indie film about youth who have a unique way of combating the inequalities of capitalism. For more information call 242-4036 or email email@example.com.
Saturday, May 30, 2009
KUNM's Social Justice Fair with David Barsamian Set for 6.8.09
From KUNM: David Barsamian, the award-winning founder and director of Alternative Radio, will be speaking at KUNM’s first-ever Social Justice Fair on Monday, June 8th. We invite you to come to the UNM Continuing Education Conference Center at 1634 University Boulevard NE in Albuquerque at 6:30 PM to check out what local organizations are doing for social justice, and then stay for David Barsamian’s speech at 7 PM. He is a witty and engaging speaker, and we will be giving out quite a few really great door prizes (CDs, restaurant gift certificates, etc.) to people in random numbered seats.
Barsamian has been working in radio since 1978. Over the years he has interviewed the likes of Angela Davis, Ralph Nader, Vandana Shiva, and Carlos Fuentes. In addition to his radio work he is an author and lecturer. His interviews and articles appear regularly in The Progressive, The Nation, and Z Magazine. He is the author of numerous books with Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, Eqbal Ahmad, Tariq Ali and Edward Said. His series of books with Chomsky, America's leading dissident, have sold in the hundreds of thousands and have been translated into many languages. His latest books are What We Say Goes with Noam Chomsky and Targeting Iran. Barsamian also lectures on U.S. foreign policy, corporate control, the media, and propaganda.
Tickets for the event are $5, but if you are a current KUNM member and reserve your tickets ahead of time, you will pay for only 1 but get 2. It’s a benefit of membership.
To reserve your 2 tickets for the price of 1, call Cris Nichols at 505-277-3968 or Carol Boss at 505-277-0768 before 5 PM on Thursday, June 4th. The 2-for-1 membership special will NOT be available at the door because we need to verify that your membership is current and we do not want to tie up a line at the event by checking against a roster of thousands of current members.
Friday, May 29, 2009
Join Rep. Luján at Credit Card Forum and Workshop in Rio Rancho Saturday
On Saturday, May 30, Rep. Ben Ray Luján (NM-03) will hold a panel discussion to outline the benefits of the Credit Cardholders' Bill of Rights and a workshop to help families who are seeking more information and financial assistance regarding their credit cards. The program starts at 3:00 PM at the Rio Rancho Public Library at 744 Loma Colorado Street NE in Rio Rancho (map). Rep. Luján will join financial advisors and community advocates who specialize in helping families and individuals who need advice or assistance with their credit cards. Rep. Luján cosponsored the Credit Cardholders’ Bill of Rights, which was recently signed into law by President Obama.
“The Credit Cardholders’ Bill of Rights takes steps to protect families who have worked hard and used their credit card responsibly, only to be charged with arbitrary rate increases, unfair penalties for on time payments and hidden fees,” said Rep. Luján. “The panel discussion will outline the benefits of the Credit Cardholders’ Bill of Rights and the workshop will provide assistance and advice to families and individuals who are having trouble with their credit cards.”
Rep. Luján will be joined at the workshop by representatives from Money Management International, HELP New Mexico, Law Access New Mexico, National Association of Consumer Advocacy, University of New Mexico PIRG and Focus Foundation. The event will be held at the
At 3:00 PM there will be a panel discussion on the benefits of the Credit Cardholders' Bill of Rights with Rep. Ben Ray Luján and representatives from financial education groups, community organizations, and financial counselors.
From 3:30 PM to 5:00 PM there will be a Credit Card Advice and Assistance Workshop with representatives from financial education groups, community organizations, and financial counselors.
Talk to Rep. Heinrich at 'Congress on Your Corner' Event in North Valley This Saturday
Rep. Martin Heinrich will be at the Smith’s on 4th Street, one block north of Montano, in Albuquerque this Saturday, May 30, to hear from constituents from New Mexico’s First Congressional District. The event takes place from 2:00 to 3:30 PM at 6125 4th Street NW (map). “Congress on Your Corner” sessions are community outreach programs developed by Rep. Heinrich to give constituents an opportunity to talk directly with him on a one-on-one basis about the issues most important to them. The public is invited to meet their Congressman and share their thoughts and concerns.
NM State Senator Jerry Ortiz y Pino Plans to Run for Lt. Governor
Democratic State Senator Jerry Ortiz y Pino just spilled the beans on his intention to enter the 2010 race for New Mexico Lt. Governor to Santa Fe New Mexican reporter Steve Terrell. Ortiz y Pino says he'll likely make a formal announcement sometime this summer, likely in July. Here's Terrell's article on the revelation. Excerpts:
First elected to the Senate in 2004, Ortiz y Pino said he came to realize that under the Legislature's seniority system, it would take years to get a committee chairmanship or other leadership position.
"I think if I'm going to have more of an impact, I should run for lieutenant governor," Ortiz y Pino said of the $85,000-a-year job, which includes presiding over Senate sessions.
"I think it would be great to work with Diane Denish," he said of the current lieutenant governor, who is running for the Democratic nomination as governor. "I have no ambitions beyond that. I'm not aiming to be a (U.S.) senator or governor."
Denish, he said, has a good understanding of how to effectively give responsibilities to the lieutenant governor. Ortiz y Pino, who has held positions with advocacy groups, charities and government agencies, including four years with Albuquerque's Department of Family and Community Services, said he'd like to lead an effort to reform the behavioral health system in New Mexico.
He was a founder of a private adoption and foster care agency in Albuquerque called La Familia.
So far, the only person who's announced he or she in the race is Santa Fe County Sheriff Greg Solano. Other names being mentioned as possible candidates are State Auditor Hector Balderas, State Democratic Party Chair Brian Colon and State Senator Linda Lopez.
Terrell's article provides a summary of Ortiz y Pino's political experience and sheds light on the Senator's most prized accomplishments.
Ortiz y Pino said his proudest achievements as a state senator are sponsoring the Working Family Tax Credit bill, which passed in 2008, and sponsoring the Winrock TIDD bill, which passed this year. TIDDs, or tax increment development districts, are a controversial public financing method for developments. The Winrock project is a planned retail and office space project on the 90-acre Winrock Mall site in northeast Albuquerque, which currently is vacant.
Stephen Fox, Editor of the New Mexico Sun News in Santa Fe, sent me this comment about Ortiz y Pino's plans:
This is some major good news at a time when there seems to be a dirth of good political news, about a candidacy which will work to continually revitalize and re-inspire New Mexico political idealism, and one that is indeed long overdue. From Scooby's law, to election reform, to consumer protection issues like banning aspartame, to being the main political force behind the state legislature's articles of impeachment of Bush and Cheney -- Gerald Ortiz y Pino has been the brains and impetus behind so many progressive and beneficial measures; his tenure as Lt. Governor will produce even more benefits for our needy State of New Mexico!
Photo by M.E. Broderick.
Guest Blog by Rep. Ben Ray Luján: Fundamentals for Fixing a Broken Health Care System
This is a guest blog by Rep. Ben Ray Luján, who represents New Mexico's Third Congressional District.
Also be sure to check out audio of Peter St. Cyr's one-on-one interview with Rep. Lujan about health care reform at What's the Word. Great stuff. Rep. Lujan is really on top of this issue and prepared to go to the mat to make sure reform happens this year.
Too many New Mexicans who have coverage have gone without a necessary surgery or doctor’s visit because they can’t afford it. Often people wait too long before seeing a doctor, only to need more extensive treatment for problems that have worsened over time because they can’t afford the visit. And too many have suffered when their insurance companies refused to pay their medical bills even though they had coverage.
A few weeks ago I joined Families USA on a conference call to discuss some startling statistics that highlighted our nation’s need for health care reform. The statistics proved what many of us already know -- even families who have health care coverage are struggling to afford rising costs.
Since 2000, health care premiums have doubled, while wages have gone up by just 3 percent. Even families who have health insurance are suffering, and many of those are a job loss, illness or accident away from losing coverage altogether. Four hundred and seventy five thousand people in New Mexico under age 65 are a part of families that will spend more than 10 percent of their pre-tax family income on health care in 2009, and 74.3 percent of those families have health insurance.
We need to fix our broken system. Health care reform expected in this Congress will offer an opportunity to reform our broken system by making quality health care affordable and accessible to all.
In my visits with constituents throughout the district, I have met with families who have insurance and still have their claims denied. I talked to a mother who had to boil used catheters for her child because her insurance company did not cover the cost of new catheters. I have met with families who had their claims denied because insurance companies used loopholes or pre-existing conditions unrelated to their claim to deny coverage.
Guiding Principles. As the discussion about health care progresses in Congress, we’ll consider many proposals for reform. If we’re going to get the health care system we deserve, we should follow a few important principles.
· If you have a pre-existing condition, you should not be excluded from an affordable, quality program. If you lose your job, you shouldn’t lose your health care coverage.
· We should eliminate waste and redundancy in the health care system. We’ve already taken steps toward eliminating inefficiency by including funding to make medical records electronic. This will help reduce errors and ultimately reduce costs.
· I also believe that, no matter what, you should have a choice of who your doctor is.
· The President has made it clear that any health care plan must allow Americans to keep their plan if they like it. I agree with this statement, but I also believe that we should make health care options available to all Americans.
Public Insurance Option. We can achieve these goals by including a public health insurance option in health care reform. With a public health insurance option, we’ll give everyone a choice of participating in a quality, affordable health care program that offers competition, reduces health care costs, and meets the varied needs of American families.
In the coming weeks, we’re going to hear many proposals for the future of health care -- but we have to keep in mind that our system is broken and we need reform that challenges the status quo. Quality health care coverage for all should be more than a right -- it should be a promise that we make to each other, for a healthier and better future for our families, communities, and nation.
This is a guest blog by U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Lujan. 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.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
NM Legislators Protest Closure of Las Vegas GMC Dealership
GMC's plan to jettison 1,100 of its dealerships nationwide as part of its financial reorganization plan has been met with anger and disbelief on the part of many of the affected dealers, as well as members of the communities where the dealerships currently operate. Las Vegas, New Mexico is one of the communities that's fighting back.
According to a press release from the New Mexico Senate, Senator Pete Campos (D-Guadalupe, Mora, San Miguel, Santa Fe & Torrance-8) was joined by Senator Phil A. Griego (D-Los Alamos, Mora, Sandoval, San Miguel, Santa Fe & Taos-39), Representative Richard D. Vigil (D-San Miguel & Torrance-70) and Representative Thomas A. Garcia (D-Colfax, Guadalupe, Mora, San Miguel & Taos-68) in an effort to prevent the closure of the Quality Motors GMC Dealership in Las Vegas, New Mexico.
“It’s not as if this was a failing or floundering business. It is and has been a vital part of the economy of the region. And it serves not only Las Vegas, but a huge sector of the northeast region of our state. It has operated successfully for over 56 years and at present has 18 employees. If it is closed, not only will it create a significant disruption in the lives of the employees and of all the customers this dealership serves, but it also will result in a significant loss of the investment – both in training and experience, but also in the facilities of Quality Motors, itself. Travelers on Interstate 25 seeking dealership support – a significant part of the dealership’s business – will be more than inconvenienced. They will, in fact, suffer financially in seeking dealership support,” said Senator Campos.
“As a successful long-time businessman, I know once you begin to lose customer support, it is often difficult, if not impossible to regain. This is especially true in this part of the State. If we were talking about a dealership in someplace like the greater Albuquerque area where you have overlapping dealerships, it would be, perhaps, another story. But in this part of New Mexico, customer loyalty goes hand-in-hand with customer confidence. And it depends on have a business that has been there for the long haul. I would hope that enlightened management for a national corporation like GMC would be able to see that,” said Senator Griego.
Representatives Vigil and Garcia expressed sentiments similar to those of the two State Senators. Their joint letter, dated May 28, 2009, is being directed to the GMC Dealer Business Planning Group. Copies of the letter have been sent to the members of the New Mexico Congressional Delegation. Click to read the letter (pdf).
Richard Romero Criticizes Mayor Chavez for Fiscal Irresponsibility
Albuquerque mayoral candidate Richard Romero and former Albuquerque City Treasurer Lou Hoffman spoke at a downtown press conference this morning at Park and 14th where road reconstruction is in progress. The topic was the effective and proper use of city funds. The focus was on the problems being created for things like road projects by the budgetary approach used by current Mayor Marty Chavez. Hoffman, who retired in 2007, formerly served as City Treasurer under Mayor Chavez. He backed up Romero's claims about the negative consequences of the Mayor's budget practices.
Romero also released a statement in which he criticized Chavez for bad budget practices like shifting property tax revenues from capital projects to basic city services, shortchanging the kinds of renovation, building and road projects the city needs now and in the future. Romero characterized Chavez's FY 2009 budget as "fiscally irresponsible" and called for immediate action to bring expenditures in line with revenues.
According to Romero, Mayor Chavez’ recently approved budget takes property tax revenue out of the capital improvement budget and puts it into the general operating budget. This will leave the City without much-needed money to rehabilitate and construct parks, public facilities and roads in the future. In order to stop digging a deeper financial hole, Romero said the City must ensure that future operating costs do not exceed the growth in revenue. Romero also emphasized that there should be no additional shift of property tax revenue from capital projects to basic services.
Unfortunately, according to Romero, the consequences of bad budget practices are already bearing down on us. He cited a recent report by the Trip National Transportation Research Group and the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials that reveals Albuquerque has some of the roughest roads in the nation -- resulting in car owners being soaked for an average of nearly $600 a year in vehicle repair costs. The report says 36 percent of major urban roads in Albuquerque are in poor condition, and an additional 27 percent are in mediocre condition. Click to read the report (pdf).
“With deficit forecasts growing darker by the day, it’s time to get serious about the financial mess we’re in. Our roads are deteriorating, and we’ll have less money for pot hole repairs in the future,” said Romero. "What’s more, Chavez has added new layers of politically appointed jobs to many service departments, while increasing the operating budget of his office by 12 percent in the past year. Meanwhile, at the same time, the City’s general operating fund decreased by 4.5 percent."
Romero described the mayor's lack of fiscal discipline as a combination of "budgetary shell games and bloated bureaucracy."
“The number of political appointments employed at City Hall has surged under Mayor Chavez, and now, more than ever, is not the time to be rewarding political cronies with taxpayer-funded jobs,” said Romero. “It’s not just in the Mayor’s Office but in numerous highly paid political positions he has created in operating departments.”
Romero also pointed out that the growth of politically-appointed jobs under Chavez is unprecedented in Albuquerque’s history.
“Our current Mayor has proven he is unable to operate the City budget within its means,” said Romero. “Simply put, we need new leadership to get us out of this mess.”
To get involved in Richard Romero's mayoral campaign, visit the campaign office at 4605 4th Street NW, Suite A, 87107, on the west side of the street just south of Griegos (map), or contact Zach Mikelson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 870-3873. The next training session for volunteers is set for Saturday, June 6, from 10 AM to 1 PM, at the campaign office.
To see our previous posts on the 2009 Albuquerque mayoral race, visit out archive.
Rep. Ben Ray Luján to Tour Community Health Services Today, Highlight Need for Health Care Reform
Today, Rep. Ben Ray Luján will hold a tour of community health service providers to highlight the need for health care reform that provides quality, affordable health care for all Americans. At 10:00 AM he will visit Open Hands, a health center in Santa Fe dedicated to providing health services as well as loans for medical equipment for disabled and elderly individuals in low income homes. At 11:00 AM, following his visit to Open Hands, Rep. Luján will tour the Santa Fe Community Guidance Center, which provides primary care and behavioral health services.
"We must make sure that all Americans have access to quality, affordable health care," said Rep. Luján. "The cost of health care is spiraling out of control and even families with insurance are only a job loss or an injury away from losing their coverage. We need health care reform that changes the status quo and provides affordable, quality health care for all Americans."
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Statewide Health Security for New Mexicans Meeting This Saturday
From Health Security for New Mexicans: This Saturday, May 30, the Health Security for New Mexicans Campaign will be holding a statewide meeting in Albuquerque to discuss where we go from here. We are very excited to announce that Rep. Rick Miera will be our special speaker for this occasion. Our former chair, Rep. Eleanor Chavez, will also be there to help wrap up the meeting.
Your input is extremely important. Support for the Health Security Act continues to grow. How do we mobilize this support so our legislators hear loud and clear that New Mexico wants to set up its own health plan? How do we build our power to get the Health Security Act passed in 2011?
Please join us on Saturday from 1:00 to 4:00 PM at Immanuel Presbyterian Church, 114 Carlisle Blvd SE (corner of Silver and Carlisle) in Albuquerque.If you haven't already, please let us know if you will be coming. RSVP to Josette at email@example.com or 505-771-8763. See below for directions to the meeting.
I-25 (From the North)
- Take Exit 224B toward Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Ave/Central Ave.
- Turn left (east) onto Central Ave and drive for 1.8 miles.
- Turn right onto Carlisle Blvd (there is a traffic light and a short right-turn lane at this intersection)
- Immanuel Presbyterian Church will be directly on your left.
I-25 (From the South)
- Take Exit 224A toward Central Ave/Lead Ave/Historic US Hwy 66/Coal Ave.
- Turn right (east) onto Central Ave and drive for 1.8 miles.
- Turn right onto Carlisle Blvd (there is a traffic light and a short right-turn lane at this intersection).
- Immanuel Presbyterian Church will be directly on your left.
I-40 (From the East or West)
- Take Exit 160 (Carlisle Blvd).
- Go south on Carlisle Blvd for 1.8 miles.
- Immanuel Presbyterian Church will be on your left directly after you cross Central Ave.
- Enter the church from Carlisle Blvd. Do not go up the stairs; the entrance you want is to the left of the stairs, where the blue minivan is parked.
If you get lost, please call Dana (505-269-3779) or Mary (505-235-0116).
The Health Security for New Mexicans Campaign, a statewide, nonpartisan coalition of 144 organizations and numerous individual supporters, was created in 1992. Its mission is to establish a publicly accountable health care system in New Mexico that guarantees comprehensive and affordable health care coverage, including preventive health care and freedom of choice of provider, for all New Mexicans.
The Campaign, with public input from around the state, has developed the Health Security Plan as a solution to our growing health care crisis. The Health Security Plan is designed like a cooperative and is a health coverage model that does not rely on the current private insurance system. Plan members would have complete freedom of choice of health care provider and facility (no more networks), even across state lines, and would receive the same services currently offered to state employees.
Legislation based on this plan has been introduced in the state legislature several times as the Health Security Act and is gaining greater credibility and support despite powerful insurance industry opposition. To date, 31 New Mexico counties and municipalities have passed resolutions in support of the Health Security Act.
New Greenpeace Report Shows New Mexico Had 2nd Highest Per Capita Greenhouse Gas Emissions 1960-2005
Not good. A new report released by Greenpeace today shows that New Mexico emitted more global warming pollution from fossil fuel consumption between 1960-2005 than the individual national emissions from 137 of the 184 countries with comprehensive data available. For example, New Mexico’s emissions were greater than those of Switzerland and Israel, and the far more populous nations of Colombia and the Philippines. New Mexico’s cumulative emissions were larger than that of the 67 least polluting countries added up.
Focusing on per capita historical emissions, the results of the study are even more striking. New Mexico’s cumulative per capita carbon dioxide emissions from 1960-2005 were the second highest in the world, after only Luxembourg, according to Greenpeace.
The report underscores the disproportionate role the United States has played in contributing to the global warming crisis and our obligation to lead the world in finding its solution. Unless we act to curb our emissions now, it will be all but impossible for the world to stop catastrophic global warming impacts, including swelling seas, droughts wild fires, and water shortages.
The U.S. far exceeds all other nations in cumulative emissions since 1960, accounting for nearly 26 percent of all the global warming pollution emitted in that period.
The US emitted more carbon dioxide than 171 of 184 countries combined.
The top state in cumulative emissions (1960-2005) was Texas. If Texas were its own country, it would have ranked 6th out of 184 countries in total emissions, trailing only China, Russia, Germany, Japan and the United Kingdom, and exceeding the emissions of current major emitters like Canada, India, South Korea, and Iran.
Vermont, the state with the lowest emissions since 1960, still accounted for more total carbon dioxide emissions than 87 nations.
Finalizing International Climate Treaty:
In December, more than 190 nations of the world will gather in Copenhagen to finalize a treaty to tackle the climate crisis. Unless the U.S. sets high enough emissions reductions targets, it is likely that the rest of the world will not follow suit and the U.S. runs the risk of being accountable for the failure to stop global warming.
“Here in New Mexico we are already seeing the effects of climate change on our community. If we want to reduce global warming’s impacts and kick-start a clean energy future we must think not as New Mexicans but as citizens of the world. If we let our government get it wrong on global warming, instead of being the planet’s best hope, we will remain its biggest obstacle to progress,” said Joe Smyth, Greenpeace Field Organizer, in a statement released today.
NW New Mexico Coal-Burning Power Plants:
In New Mexico, 54% of carbon dioxide emissions come from the power sector, 25% from transportation, and the rest from industrial, residential and commercial operations. The highest emissions come from burning coal, which accounts for 30.1 million tons of CO2 annually, or 50% of fossil fuel emissions. The vast majority of those coal emissions were from the Four Corners and San Juan coal plants in Northwest New Mexico. And just think, Desert Rock -- another dirty coal-fired plant -- was planned to be built in the same area. Thankfully, that looks like a long shot now that the EPA is requiring a new permit.
Read the Reports:
Click to read the full report, America's Share of the Climate Crisis: A State-By-State Carbon Footprint. Data was derived from World Resources Institute’s Climate Analysis Indicators Tool, which can be found at http://cait.wri.org/.
Recently, Greenpeace released its U.S. roadmap for slowing climate change. In the report, called the Energy [R]evolution, Greenpeace supports a strong cap on global warming pollution, an end to fossil fuel and nuclear subsidies, mandatory efficiency standards for vehicles, buildings and appliances, binding targets for renewable energy generation and strong financial support for clean energy in developing countries. Click to read the Energy [R]evolution - A Blueprint for Global Warming.
How to Get Involved
To learn more about these issues or ways you can get involved to help, contact Joe Smyth, Field Organizer, New Mexico Greenpeace at 831-566-5647 (cell) or 505-554-2469 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Congressman Teague to Unveil Military PTSD Bill in Las Cruces Today
Congressman Harry Teague will today unveil his bill to address an increasingly prevalent issue for military personnel and combat veterans, Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Congressman Teague’s legislation calls for mandatory mental health screening for military personnel upon induction into the military, before and after deployment, and before discharge. Teague will announce the legislation at 11:00 AM today, May 27, at Veterans’ Memorial Park at 2651 Roadrunner Parkway in Las Cruces with local officials he worked with as he drafted this legislation.
The legislation comes amid rising concerns that undiagnosed and untreated PTSD cases are leading to mental health issues that decrease quality of life for returning combat veterans and in some cases suicide. The Veterans Affairs National Center for Post-traumatic Stress Disorder estimates that up to 20 percent of Iraq War Veterans have been diagnosed with PTSD. Congressman Teague will name the legislation after an Iraq war veteran from Las Cruces who took his own life after struggling to receive a PTSD diagnosis and repeated efforts to receive proper treatment for PTSD. The veteran was a member of the 101st Airborne Division, which has had 14 deaths investigated as suicides in 2009.