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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Heinrich Urges Speaker and Majority Leader To Include Public Option In Health Insurance Reform Bill

In a letter (pdf) sent to Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, Rep. Martin Heinrich (NM-01) reiterated his strong commitment to health insurance reform legislation that includes a robust public option that will provide greater choice and lower costs for American consumers. The letter, mailed today, was signed by 48 other members of Congress.

“The American people have seen premiums more than double since 2000 while wages have stagnated. Our families and small businesses have paid the hidden costs – to the tune of approximately $1,100 per family – that are the result of subsidizing treatment of the uninsured. These facts underlie the need for the public option and health insurance coverage for all Americans as the best way to reform our inefficient and bloated health system, and reduce the burden placed on America’s families, small businesses and the federal budget,” the letter stated.

The public option would be a government-run insurance plan that competes with private insurance companies to hold down rates, and has been a central component of Rep. Heinrich’s principles on health insurance reform. The benefits of reform that includes a robust public option would be large and immediate for New Mexicans.

If you're wondering why Rep. Ben Ray Luján (NM-03) didn't sign this particular letter, don't worry. I've learned there are a number of letters going around in various groups in the House and not everyone who's a strong supporter of the public option is signing every one. Luján's office released this statement today to confirm his strong support for the public option:

Rep. Luján supports a robust public option, and he’s been very clear and vocal about his support from the very beginning of the health reform debate. He’s made strong floor statements in support of a public option and had conversations with leadership about including it in the legislation. Not only does Rep,. Luján support a public option, he’s fighting to make sure it’s in the final legislation. He’s going to continue to be vocal on the Hill and work with his colleagues—including his colleagues in the Progressive Caucus--to drive support for a robust public option.

Whatever you do, don't give up on getting the public option in the final legislation. Although the Senate Finance Committee voted down two public option amendments this week, it's one of the most conservative committees in the Senate. We should also call Sen. Jeff Bingaman's office to thank him for voting FOR both amendments. More important battles will happen on the Senate Floor and in the House-Senate conference committee after both chambers have passed a bill. Remember, four out of 5 committees that passed a health reform bill included a strong public option. Keep the pressure on.

September 30, 2009 at 07:05 PM in Healthcare, NM Congressional Delegation, Obama Health Care Reform, Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (NM-03), Rep. Martin Heinrich (NM-01) | Permalink | Comments (4)

Guest Blog on Voting for Romero in ABQ Mayoral Election: Why it Matters

This is a group guest blog submitted by the individual politicos listed at the end of the post.

We need a progressive change at City Hall. That’s why we need Richard Romero for mayor.

The legacy of the past eight years can be captured in a few words that say so much about the values that have held sway in the mayor’s office during this critical time in our history: ABQPAC. Fighting the minimum wage increase. Blocking ethics reforms. Tax giveaways to SunCal. Unplanned and unfettered sprawl in a time of finite water resources.

That is why we are compelled to write today.

There is a progressive alternative. We know both Democratic candidates. We trust Richard Romero. He has the stature, the character and the values to lead Albuquerque in the right direction.

And his campaign has demonstrated it has what it takes to bring home the prize and secure a sustainable future. The recent Journal poll now makes it clear that Richard has the momentum to win this race.

What a breath of fresh air he will be!

Let’s review his record:

  • As a State Senator he fought to increase minimum wage.
  • He carried the collective bargaining bill allowing state workers to organize.
  • He’s an education reformer who has championed our public schools and supported innovative charter schools.
  • Serving on the board of Public Campaign, he was in the forefront, helping to lead the fight to pass clean elections public financing reform in Albuquerque.

We are proud progressives and long-time supporters of Democracy for New Mexico and the incredible work that Barb and her colleagues have done for our cause. Nevertheless, on this matter of vital importance and urgency, we disagree strongly with Barbara's personal endorsement in the mayor’s race that was posted on this blog. We asked for the opportunity to do this guest post to make it crystal clear that Barbara does not speak for us on this issue.

We stand with Richard Romero, a longtime fighter for progressive issues who we can count on. He’s what Albuquerque needs.

City Councilor Debbie O’Malley
City Councilor Rey Garduñdo
City Councilor Michael Cadigan
Representative Mimi Stewart
Representative Danice Picraux
Representative Eleanor Chavez
Sen. Dede Feldman
Sen. Eric Griego
Sen. Cisco McSorley
Sen. Jerry Ortiz y Pino
Sen. Tim Keller
Judy Espinoza, former NM Sec. of the Environment and candidate for Mayor

This is a group guest blog from the people listed above. 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.

BW Note: Just to be clear, my earlier post about my decision to vote for Marty Chavez was a personal statement by me. As most people know, the DFNM blog is an independent entity written and managed by me. The blog is not to be confused with the DFA-DFNM Meetup group which only issues formal endorsements based on the vote of our active members. I've had this statement posted for many moons at the About Democracy for New Mexico link at the upper left-hand corner of the page.

To see previous DFNM coverage of the 2009 Albuquerque Mayoral race, please visit our archive.

September 30, 2009 at 02:43 PM in 2009 Albuquerque Mayoral Race, Guest Blogger, Local Politics | Permalink | Comments (45)

(Updated) NM Rep. Ben Rodefer Informs School Superintendents He's Fighting Against Cuts to Education

Update: Read this post at Roundhouse Roundup that features an "Open Letter to the Citizens of New Mexico" about the state budget from Senate President Pro-Tem Tim Jennings. Predictably, it's full of scary language and excuses for making wrong-headed cuts in education and other things ordinary citizens need. Is he really a Democrat? You decide. He makes a point of singling out the schools:

This drastic decline in revenue means that we all must be prepared for substantial budget cuts to all of state government, including public schools and higher education.

No mention of rescinding the crazy tax cuts for our wealthiest citizens or finally forcing certain big corporations, like Walmart, to pay state taxes like they do in almost every single other state. You might want to let Jennings know how you feel about his views.
Below is the text of a letter sent recently by State Rep. Ben Rodefer (D, HD 23) to every public school superintendent in New Mexico promising to fight against education cuts being discussed by some NM Senators, and pledging to work to kill any budget bill that includes any public school cuts whatsoever. Bravo!

Rep. Rodefer reports that the superintendents are responding with heartfelt thanks and asking how they can be involved and help. If you agree with Rep. Roderfer's position -- and I certainly do -- you're urged to contact your legislators and tell them they need to look elsewhere for revenue to make up the budget shortfall.


There is a great deal of conversation now about how we ought to address New Mexico's significant budget shortfalls. There are many in the State Senate who are publicly calling for slashing the education budget in the upcoming Special Session. Senators are speaking of 5% to 10% cuts across the board for schools. As you are aware we indeed already cut education funding earlier this year, and indeed independent studies have concluded that we were already then underfunding our schools by at least 15%. I know many districts are even considering suing since our State Constitution clearly mandates that we fully fund education.

There is nothing more important than our children, their education and their future. Education is the greatest form of long-term economic development. I find it unconscionable that so many in the State Senate want to compromise New Mexico's future by further challenging our already financially strained school districts, and the vital services and jobs they provide.

I already have a substantial number of votes in the House against any budget agreement that includes cuts to public school funding. I want to further promise you personally that I will fight with every political breath I have to kill in the House of Representatives any public school cuts whatsoever, whether they be statewide or specific to your district.

We cannot throw away the intellectual and economic future of our children and our state to cover up an inability in our legislature to do the difficult work of addressing our need for strengthened revenue streams and for finding specific statewide funding cuts that are viable, not directly damaging our citizens or communities, and that just make more common sense than crippling our schools as a short term fix.

With profound respect for all the great work you do,

State Representative Benjamin Rodefer
New Mexico House of Representatives

BW Note: It's clear that Republicans will be targeting Rep. Rodefer to try and win back the seat that Ben won last year from Republican incumbent Eric Youngberg. It's important that Ben build up a strong campaign fund to discourage that and to help him win re-election. I hope you click to donate to Rodefer's campaign.

September 30, 2009 at 01:54 PM in 2010 NM Legislature Races, Economy, Populism, Education, NM Legislature Special Session 2009 | Permalink | Comments (8)

Guest Blog by Howard Dean: Why I'm Supporting Marty Chavez

DeanThis is a guest blog by Howard Dean, who has chaired the DNC, was a presidential candidate in 2004 and served six terms as Governor of Vermont. An MD, Howard is currently a key player in the battle for health care reform and the public option. He serves on the board of the Progressive Book Club and has reconnected with Democracy for America, the grassroots advocacy group that emerged from his presidential campaign's Dean for America.

As the former Chair of the Democratic National Committee, I have had the privilege of traveling across the country. I have witnessed the best of America and I have also seen how rare it is to meet a public servant who delivers on his word. Mayor Martin Chavez is one of those rare public servants. Eight years ago, Marty Chavez came into office and changed “business as usual” at City Hall. After inheriting a major budget crisis, Chavez has kept his word by balancing the budget while protecting, and even expanding, important priorities like local jobs creation, after-school programs, seniors’ services, and public safety – fulfilling his commitment of having 1100 police officers for the city of Albuquerque.

When other urban areas are struggling with job loss and broken school systems, Chavez has ushered in an era of unprecedented job growth and economic development in the Duke City. Bringing high-paying jobs from manufacturing to Sony Studios, he clearly understands that when times are tough, real leaders roll-up their sleeves and get to work.

Mayor Chavez understands that investing in Albuquerque’s future not only means recruiting good-paying jobs, but also investing in our children and a strong educational system. That’s why he has taken unprecedented steps to promote positive initiatives between the City, APS and our private and charter schools as well as CNM and UNM. He founded the first New Mexico Charter School with an emphasis on Math and Science at UNM—the Albuquerque Institute of Math and Science (AIMS). In May, AIMS graduated its first class with each and every student going to college. That’s a proven track record we should all support.

I'm impressed with Mayor Chavez' commitment to combating catastrophic climate change. He embodies the sentiment of thinking globally and acting locally. I know some of his critics claim that it's all hype. That's just not true. You don't win awards like "Greenest City in America" from the US Conference of Mayors because your city has good PR, you win awards like that because you have a mayor that's taking action and leading in the fight against catastrophic climate change. Thanks to Mayor Chavez, 20% of Albuquerque's energy comes from wind, bus ridership is up and the buses are energy efficient, the city is only buying alternative fuel vehicles and it's required that all new and renovated city buildings meet green building standards. Those are real, progressive accomplishments and they show that you have a Mayor who thinks globally and acts locally.

To keep our children safe in and out of school, Chavez has worked with the Albuquerque Police Department, the Albuquerque school system, and local technology experts to stop child predators and inform parents and children how to protect against cyberstalking.

For our parents and grandparents, Chavez has expanded in-home services for the elderly, increased access to senior health services through new senior centers, and lowered the age for benefits to 55. These initiatives have become a model for cities around the country.

As the Governor who signed the first in the nation civil unions law, I am impressed with Mayor Chavez' commitment to equal rights. As Mayor, he has ensured that the city provides benefits to all couples.

I am proud to endorse Mayor Martin Chavez because he has had the vision and leadership not only to transform Albuquerque but to also realize that Albuquerque’s future has no limits. Chavez finds solutions to our most pressing problems – even in tough times – and gets results. Under his leadership, Albuquerque is making progress, but there’s more to be done.

Mayor Chavez has proven that his vision for Albuquerque is as vast as the city’s skyline. His experience gives him the best tools to build upon all his successes. At the end of the day, this election is not about Chavez or any of the other candidates. It’s about you, your family, your neighbors, and the future your city. It is your support this coming Tuesday, October 6th, that will ensure Albuquerque’s best days remain ahead.

This is a guest blog by Howard Dean. 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.

September 30, 2009 at 10:41 AM in 2009 Albuquerque Mayoral Race, Democratic Party, DFA, Guest Blogger, Howard Dean, Martin Chavez | Permalink | Comments (36)

RJ Berry: The Right-Wing, Anti-LGBT Rights, Anti-Women's Choice, Anti-Immigrant Candidate We Have to Beat

There's an email touting Republican RJ Berry's mayoral candidacy that's reportedly getting wide distribution this week in Albuquerque. In big, pink letters it proclaims that Berry is:



Click to see the entire email (pdf).

As I've written before, Berry is one of those right-wing "marriage is for one man and one woman" guys. He's a dangerous foe of the LGBT community and doesn't even support domestic partnerships or civil unions, let alone marriage equality. Now we see that his supporters are also bragging that he's against a women's right to choose. And don't forget his hate-mongering on the immigration issue throughout this campaign.

Berry is not exactly a civil liberties kind of guy. He apparently believes that his personal religious beliefs should trump the U.S. Constitution, and that Hispanics should be targeted and harassed to prove their US citizenship whenever law enforcement officials feel like it. LGBT citizens? In Berry's world, they don't deserve the same rights under civil law to which everyone else in America is entitled.

What else can we expect if Berry manages to split the Democratic vote and win the mayoral election? If he implements the dangerous far-right agenda he's advocating, he just might roll back the green energy initiatives that are making Albuquerque a leader in the fight against catastrophic climate change -- and he certainly wouldn't advance any additional renewable energy initiatives. Remember, right-wingers don't believe that greenhouse gases are causing climate problems. Berry would no doubt implement a right wing social agenda. And he would likely adopt a wingnut crime plan that would result in unreported crime for things like domestic violence.

Albuquerque's municipal election day is Tuesday, October 6. You can vote early at four locations through Friday. When you do vote, I hope you think about who has the best chance to beat RJ Berry, whether it's by garnering at least 40% of the vote on election day, or beating him one-on-one in a run-off election on November 24. Vote with your head, not just your heart.

September 30, 2009 at 09:37 AM in 2009 Albuquerque Mayoral Race, Business, Civil Liberties, GLBT Rights, Women's Issues | Permalink | Comments (8)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

State Auditor Balderas Warns More Than $1 Billion of Taxpayer Dollars at Risk

Today, Auditor Hector Balderas testified before the New Mexico Legislative Finance Committee that 90 governmental entities have been designated “at risk” for their failure to submit their annual and compliance audits to the Office of the State Auditor (OSA). These governmental entities received notification by letter that the OSA has designated them “at risk,” according to a statement released by Balderas today. The designation of an agency at risk will result in special monitoring by the OSA’s Special Investigations Division (SID) until the agency completes and submits any outstanding audits.

State law requires all governmental agencies to submit annual financial and compliance audits to the OSA. Balderas highlighted that failure to submit timely audits can create an environment where taxpayer funds are placed at risk for fraud, waste and abuse.

“It is imperative that taxpayers monies are properly managed, especially when resources are scarce in the midst of a budget crisis,” Balderas stated. “Over one billion dollars has been received by these governmental agencies at risk. This figure is even more alarming when considering that a special audit conducted by my office found that $3.3 million was embezzled from the Jemez Mountain School District over a period of seven years. During most of that time the District failed to submit audits. Now, all these agencies now have been put on notice that they will be held to a higher standard of accountability."

The governmental agencies receiving the at-risk designation must submit status reports to the OSA by November 2, 2009. The report must contain a detailed explanation of the agency’s efforts to complete and submit its audit, including an explanation of the current status of any ongoing audit work, a description of any obstacles encountered by the agency in completing its audit and a projected completion date for the audit.

“Outstanding audits have historically been a problem in New Mexico,” Balderas added. “State law needs robust measures to deter agencies from noncompliance with audit requirements. I propose state law be amended to withhold legislative appropriations until their annual audits are completed and submitted to my office. Requiring every governmental agency to be fully accountable for every taxpayer dollar must be a priority.”

September 29, 2009 at 03:28 PM in Government, Hector Balderas, NM Legislature 2009 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Monday, September 28, 2009

No Right-Wing Mayor for Albuquerque! Why I'm Voting for Marty Chavez

You may have noticed that I haven't written much about the Albuquerque mayoral race. That's by design. Being a blogger, I get all kind of "tips" from friends and foes of candidates, mostly very negative stuff about a competitor. After awhile, it gets old. For one thing, I don't like to see myself as a stenographer. For another, I've developed a massive dislike of the incredibly negative tone this year, and the narrow scope of the issues that are being "debated" in this race.

Can it really be that the two Democratic candidates have joined the narrow-minded "law and order - lock 'em up - three strikes you're out" crowd without any hint of shame? This used to be the territory of the Spiro Agnews and Ronald Reagans of the world -- not of Democrats who knew the issue of crime was complex. Dems traditionally were dedicated to studying the real roots of criminal behavior in order to change the conditions that cause crime. Yes, punishment was a part of that, but other factors were considered pivotal as well.

Now it's slogan city for both Marty Chavez and Richard Romero, as well as Republican RJ Berry. Who's "tougher on crime" in this race? The dialogue starts sounding like something from an old cowboy movie. Round 'em up and hang 'em! Very little consideration is being given to the power of intervention, education or counseling in reaching and helping to reform what amounts to a poverty-stricken underclass who have little hope of moving up in the ranks except via criminal activities. When decent-paying jobs are available and folks who've had trouble in their youth can be counseled and trained to fill them, crime goes down. Duh.

I guess this year's crop of mayoral candidates hasn't noticed that America's jails are full to the brim, and yet the alienated and unemployed underclass, as well as the underpaid segment of the working class, keep on growing. More cops on the streets and more jail terms aren't really a cure all.

Fake Issues, GOP Hypocrisy
I find many of the other "issues" in this campaign to be nothing more than surface static. And, not surprisingly, I find RJ Berry to be a disaster in terms of almost every aspect of his candidacy. 

RJ Berry is a hypocritical Republican who brags about his abilities to run Albuquerque like he runs his business, except that the business under his name is pretty much dormant. Instead he's been raking in the big bucks by having his Hispanic wife establish a company called Cumbres Construction -- and gaining access to $48 million in defense contracts from 2000-2008 -- helped along by the points the business gets due to her minority (woman, Hispanic) status. RJ is just the project manager, you know. Ah, the irony of a right-wing Republican going out of his way to take advantage of minority benefits that the GOP has spent decades framing as a nasty giveaway to undeserving people.

Berry is also hot to trot about Albuquerque's alleged status as a "sanctuary city," which is a massive exaggeration about a common sense rule meant to encourage undocumented immigrants to report crimes without fear of repercussions about their immigration status. Berry uses it in as a ploy as do many on the right -- utilizing code words as dog whistles to less than open-minded potential voters. He might as well say, "It's those dangerous Mexicans crossing the border who are causing all the crime in Albuquerque." 

Then there's the battle over who'd jettison more jobs in city government, and who'd do it faster. It pains me to hear Richard Romero pushing for staff cuts as a first priority -- after all, most of the "in-kind" jobs he says Chavez has added are slots for assistant city attorneys, 311 Call Center operators, veterinarians and animal-care officials. Romero has also been bagging ideas about an events center in downtown Albuquerque and the kind of light rail every city with an eye on the future has already built and is expanding upon if they can. This is supposed to pass for a positive vision for Albuquerque's future?

And of course you've heard about the huge issue of the scandalous trip Mayor Marty took to Paris -- after being invited by the French government, which footed much of the bill. Sadly, we've been subjected to this kind of direct mail tripe (and robocalls) way too often in this election cycle. Meanwhile, the serious and complex challenges we'll be facing in a world dominated by dangerous economic and climate-based problems are ignored or given short shrift.

And What About Marty Chavez?
I certainly don't agree with him on any number of issues. But I do think the Mayor has done many very good things for Albuquerque, along with some very questionable ones. He can be informed and enthusiastic about green energy issues and has been very effective touting Albuquerque as a world-class city around the nation and beyond. He's probably the best salesman for the city we've had since Clyde Tingley. He's passionate about bringing amenities to the city that are appropriate to the 21st century, and that can attract employers. After three terms, we all know his weak points, as well as his strong points. He's certainly not perfect. Like most politicos, he's a mixed bag.

But I do think Chavez has the capacity to be a great mayor -- not just a good one -- if he'd stop with the feuding and give up on the crazy idea of SunCal TIDDs. As for the SunCal issue, does anyone really believe that any new big developments are going to be built anytime soon in America? It's essentially become a moot point in this election given the economy and this era of tight loan funds. I won't be voting for or against a candidate primarily on this issue.

Divided Dems = Right-Wing Republican Mayor?
My worst nightmare is that there's a very good chance our two Dem candidates will cancel each other out and permit a very conservative Republican to win the contest -- thanks to the crazy "nonpartisan" nature of the election. Remember, Berry is getting lots of help from the Republican Party in this race, while the two Dems are on their own. This kind of help falls into a gray area in the nonpartisan race, but Berry's campaign says it's OK because the GOP has registered as a "measure finance committee." Because two Dems are candidates, the Democratic Party would be precluded from doing that, even if they determined it was kosher.

I can't imagine a right-wing throwback to the 1950s running Albuquerque in the 21st century, apparently hoping to attract jobs by spouting the tired mantra of "marriage is only for one man and one woman." Most clean, high-tech and green-tech companies are progressive employers with a significant number of LGBT workers. They'd think more than twice about starting up any ventures in a city run by a mayor who believes only some of Albuquerque's citizens are deserving of their full civil rights. I mean, Berry doesn't even support domestic partnerships, never mind marriage equality. If we want to be seen as a backwards town still operating like it's black and white movie time, RJ Berry is our guy. And it could happen -- if Dems don't understand the dynamics of this race.

I'm sure by now you've seen the latest polling done for the Albuquerque Journal that shows RJ Berry leading with 31% of those surveyed, Marty Chavez with 26% and Richard Romero with 24%. A whopping 19% of the "likely voters" polled were undecided. Does that mean they're really undecided or that they're so uninspired by the campaigns that they'll be staying home on election day? A candidate has to get at least 40% of voters in the October 6 election to avoid a run-off between the top two vote getters that would occur on November 24.

I have my problems with how the polls conducted by Research and Polling are reported in the Journal. The paper never publishes the full poll results, including cross tabs that provide info on the samples, questions and breakdowns of voters. Instead we get just what the Journal wants us to see. Convenient. But say, for the sake of argument, that the Journal poll is accurate. 

That means the Republican candidate has the support of only 33%, while the two Dems in the race have a combined percentage of 50%. It also means that Berry could be the winner if the supporters of the Dem who doesn't get into the runoff refuse to vote for the one who does. And I can surely see that as a possibility -- especially since Romero has spent almost the entire campaign trying to take Marty down in often nasty ways. 

In fact, Romero has even gone so far as to join forces with Berry at press conferences and candidate forums to bash Chavez in tandem. That always helps the Dem cause. It's also a well known fact that many Romero supporters simply can't stand Marty Chavez, and vice versa. Will they vote for the other Dem if he's the runoff candidate? Or will they let a Republican take the reins in New Mexico's biggest city? Can we really afford to have RJ Berry as mayor at a time when it would clearly be a disaster to have the failed policies of the right dominating our local government?

My Take
Personally, I don't think Romero has much of a chance to win, especially if he gets in the runoff. I highly doubt he could get many Republican votes to bolster his totals against Berry or Chavez. And he doesn't seem to have the momentum to get 40% of the vote, given that his voter base is almost exclusively Democrats, with a significant number of "progressives."

If the polling in the Journal is accurate, and Berry IS in the lead by 5 points over his nearest competitor -- and that holds thru October 6 -- what can we do to prevent a Republican takeover of the mayor's office? 

I know many progressives won't like my answer, but I think the prudent thing to do is vote for Marty Chavez. Yes, that's right. Voting, especially in a three-way race, often has to be strategic if the worst result is to be avoided. It doesn't look to me like Romero has run a campaign powerful or inspiring enough to put himself over the 40% mark. And it seems to me that Romero would have a real problem beating Berry or Chavez one-on-one because he's attracting few crossover votes from Republicans and independents.

So what will I do on October 6? I'm going to vote for Marty Chavez. There. I've said it.

You know as well as I do how critical I've been about the Mayor over the years. That's not negated. But given the state of the race and the real possibility of a right-wing mayor getting elected who's horrible on LGBT rights (and many other issues), I think my vote has to go to Chavez. Chavez has supported equal civil rights for LGBT folks for many years. Better yet, he's comfortable with LGBT people. It's not just a pose or an abstract position. I know Romero finally said the words, "I support gay marriage" at a recent debate, but it sounded pretty flat and unenthusiastic to me. I can't help it.

And, sadly, when Romero appeared at the DFA-DFNM Meetup a few months ago, he answered a question about marriage equality by saying he wasn't taking a position because a mayor has no power in that regard. Needless to say I was bummed about that, especially since Chavez had voted for a marriage equality resolution that was passed unanimously this year by the US Conference of Mayors. When Chavez came to our Meetup, he took on all questions -- even the tough ones -- and gave a strong answer on LGBT rights. 

The positives about Marty Chavez? He knows the ropes and he wants very badly to leave a positive legacy. He's pumped by green energy -- even if his accounts of his accomplishments are sometimes a bit exaggerated. He thinks big and he thinks progressively on many issues. I believe he's got a depth of experience that will serve him well in the challenging years to come. And I believe he could easily mend some of the rifts that have opened up during his mayoral career.

If he wanted to, I think the Mayor could help heal relationships between the city and the state and other entities -- and between himself and the Democratic Party -- by mellowing out some and ditching the tendency to hold grudges and seek revenge. If he's to have another four years to add to his 12 years as mayor, he doesn't need to sweat the small stuff. He needs to reach out and bring people together as we head into an era with profound and complicated challenges. Will he do it? We can only hope he does, for the sake of Albuquerque and all who live here.

Bottom line: I have some problems with both Democratic candidates, but I've made a decision to vote for the one I think can best take down Republican RJ Berry. That candidate is Mayor Marty Chavez. There is no real ideological purity in this race -- except for the right-wing ideologue Berry. We have to stop him now. I intend to do that by voting for Marty Chavez.

September 28, 2009 at 08:25 PM in 2009 Albuquerque Mayoral Race, City of Albuquerque, Democratic Party, GLBT Rights, Government, Immigration, Republican Party | Permalink | Comments (63)

Race and Politics Not Just a Washington Issue?

Pic.phpHere's a timely story from Eric Mack at Public News Service-NM that features Robby Rodriguez (right), Director of the Southwest Organizing Project, weighing in on the role that race may be playing in New Mexico's ongoing dialogue on ways to balance the state's budget. You can read the report below or listen to here:

The debate over the role of race in American politics continues to simmer in the wake of the resignation of the nation's African-American green jobs czar and comments by former President Jimmy Carter accusing some Obama critics of racism. In New Mexico, community organizers say issues of race in public policy are just as present in Santa Fe as they are in Washington, DC

Robby Rodriguez with the Southwest Organizing Project says the upcoming budget battle is a perfect example, with state lawmakers looking at cuts to social services like Medicaid and public education.

"That would be very bad because already we have an extremely high drop-out rate in New Mexico, which is disproportionately affecting native and Latino students."

Although President Obama has tried to downplay the role of race in the debate over health care, the economy and other issues, Rodriguez says he thinks it's an important part of the conversation.

"If we're not diligent about viewing the potential racial impacts of our decisions, we are definitely going to increase the amount of racial disparity that exists within our state."

Cuts to Medicaid would have a major impact on communities of color, Rodriguez contends, adding that the notion of state cuts to Medicaid should be examined for possible racial implications.

"We really need to look at whether or not those cuts are going to further broaden the racial gap between those who are healthy in this state and those who are unhealthy in this state."

He suggests that lawmakers raise revenue and reduce racial disparities by rolling back tax cuts for wealthy New Mexicans. Gov. Richardson has said he opposes that idea, however, claiming the cuts have been an engine of economic development.

September 28, 2009 at 12:34 PM in Children and Families, Economy, Populism, Education, Gov. Bill Richardson, Healthcare, Minority Issues, NM Legislature Special Session 2009 | Permalink | Comments (1)

10/3 at Indian Pueblo Cultural Center: Reception to Support Lt. Gov. Denish for Governor

From the Committee to Elect Diane Denish:

Please Join us for a Reception
In support of
Lt. Governor Diane Denish
To benefit her campaign for Governor

Sponsored By Indian Pueblos Marketing, Inc.

Honorary Host Committee
Rep. Gail Chasey, Sen. Dede Feldman, Rep. Miguel Garcia,
Sen. Eric Griego, Sen. Tim Keller, Rep. Antonio Maestas,
Sen. Cisco McSorley, Rep. Rick Miera, Rep. Bill O’Neill,
Rep. Al Park, Rep. Benjamin Rodefer, Rep. Kiki Saavedra,
Sen. Bernadette Sanchez, Rep. Mimi Stewart,
Rep. Sheryl Williams-Stapleton

Host Committee
Jim Buhaug, Ana Canales, Nancy Denker, Judith Espinosa,
Pamelya Herndon, Terri Holland, Christina Kracher,
Nili Lange, Robert Lara, Derrick Lente, Ed Perea,
Deanza Valencia-Sapien and Joseph Sapien,
Don Schiff, Bonnie Stepleton

October 3, 4:00 PM to 5:30 PM
Indian Pueblo Cultural Center
2401 12th Street NW, Albuquerque
Suggested Contribution: $25 per person
Click for FLYER

RSVP to Robert Lara: (505) 255-1282 or rlara@dianedenish.com. Contributions can be made payable and sent to: Committee to Elect Diane Denish, PO Box 30561, Albuquerque, NM 87190. You may also contribute online at www.dianedenish.com.

September 28, 2009 at 12:02 PM in 2010 NM Governor's Race, Diane Denish, Events | Permalink | Comments (0)

Pentagon of Peace to Visit New Mexico in October


From Veterans for Peace:

New Mexico Tour Presented by
Taos, Santa Fe and Albuquerque
OCTOBER 9, 10 & 11TH

Click for schedules and flyers for all three locations.

September 28, 2009 at 11:27 AM in Afghanistan, Books, Events, Iran, Iraq War, Military Affairs, National Security, Peace, Progressivism, Santa Fe, Taos | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Families USA Now Accepting Applications for Wellstone and Villers 2010 Fellowships

From Families USA:
Families USA is now accepting applications for the Villers Fellowship for Health Care Justice and the Wellstone Fellowship for Social Justice.

The Villers Fellowship
The Villers Fellowship for Health Care Justice was created in 2005 by Philippe Villers, Founder and President of Families USA. Villers Fellows work in our health policy department and assist our organization's efforts to improve access to health coverage for all Americans, especially for low-income and other vulnerable communities. Specifically, Villers Fellows will conduct research on a range of health care policy issues, and write and contribute to publications that are relevant to current health policy debates.

In creating the fellowship, Mr. Villers aspired to develop a network of young leaders who share a passion for health care justice. The ideal candidate will demonstrate a commitment to health care justice work following their year as a fellow. Additionally, in order to encourage the development of future leaders, Villers Fellows must commit to mentoring at least one person over the course of their careers.

The application deadline for the Villers Fellowship is January 15, 2010. You can find more information, including a downloadable application form, on our website.

The Wellstone Fellowship
The Wellstone Fellowship for Social Justice aims to advance social justice through health care advocacy by focusing particularly on the unique challenges facing communities of color. Through this fellowship, established to honor the memory of the late Senator Paul D. Wellstone, we hope to expand the pool of talented social justice advocates from underrepresented racial and ethnic minority groups.

The ideal candidate must demonstrate an interest in health care policy and racial/ethnic health disparities. Additionally, we are looking for an individual who displays the potential to contribute to social justice work after their year of hands-on experience as a fellow.

You can find more information, including a downloadable application form, on our website. The application deadline for the Wellstone Fellowship is February 5, 2010.

If you have any questions about the Wellstone Fellowship for Social Justice the Villiers Fellowship for Health Care Justice, or would like to request hard copies of the application brochure, please contact me at wellstonefellowship@familiesusa.org.

Both fellowships are year-long, full-time, salaried positions at our office in Washington, DC. Each year, one candidate will be selected for each fellowship. Selected fellows will receive a compensatory package that includes an annual salary of $38,000 and excellent health care benefits.

I encourage you to forward this announcement to anyone you think would be interested in these exciting opportunities.

Melissa Rosenblatt
Director, Internship and Fellowship Program

September 26, 2009 at 12:27 PM in Healthcare, Minority Issues, Poverty | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, September 25, 2009

EPA Appeals Board Rejects Air Permit for Sithe's Desert Rock Coal-Burning Plant on Navajo Nation Land

Great news for a Friday evening. Read all about it.

September 25, 2009 at 07:39 PM in Energy, Environment, Native Americans | Permalink | Comments (2)