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Monday, February 28, 2011

Susana Martinez Repays Robert Aragon with Appointment to State Finance Board

RobertAragon
"Democrat" Robert Aragon backing Barela

On Friday, Republican governor Susana Martinez issued a press release announcing the nomination of Sherman McCorkle to the State Investment Council, as well as four individuals to serve on the New Mexico Board of Finance. Guess what? One of them is notorious Dem defector (or whatever he is these days) Robert Aragon, the cousin of former NM Senate Pro-Tem Manny Aragon. The other three are Thomas Tinnin of Albuquerque; Samuel Spencer of Hobbs and John Gasparich of Santa Fe.

Robert Aragon: Anything for Attention
You may remember that Robert Aragon, an Albuquerque attorney and former Democratic state lawmaker from 1979-87 who once served as Vice Chair of the House Appropriations and Finance Committee, made a big show of supporting the Martinez campaign last year. In fact, he headed the so-called Democrats for Martinez group, although it's difficult to understand how Aragon considers himself to be a real Democrat. He even voted for McCain over Obama.

Aragon also led a group of 12 other alleged Democrats in applying stickers to deface ballots at the Democratic Party of New Mexico's pre-primary convention last March. The stickers touted the candidacy Jon Barela, the Republican candidate for Congress in NM-01:

Aragon said Barela stickers were meant to protest progressive Democrats, who he said include Heinrich and who he claims are now controlling the state party.

"They are not Democrats; they are socialists," Aragon said.

Ten of the damaged ballots had names on them: Bernice Herrera, Kylee Aragon, Felix Nunez Sr., Leif Mendahall, Leif Mendahall Jr., Robert Aragon, Betty Garcia, Angie Muehller, Chris Romero and Robert Moss. Kylee Aragon is Robert's daughter and Robert Moss was at the time engaged to Aragon's other daughter, Ashlee. So it was a kind of Aragon family affair, and also a case of people getting elected to the DPNM's State Central Committee even though they are, essentially, supporters of the right-wing Republican agenda. How ethical. And childish. Aragon had previously been removed as a Democratic Party ward chair for publicly supporting and speaking at the campaign kickoff of Barela, which is against DPNM rules

Aragon's law firm was also identified as a contributor of $1,000 to the right-wing (allegedly nonpartisan) New Mexico Turnaround PAC, which was founded by oilman and then-NM Republican Party Chairman Harvey Yates. In the 2010 primary race, three Democrats received $4,000 apiece from the PAC. All three were running as challengers to incumbent Democratic legislators.

In House District 13 Matthew Archuleta got money ro run against Rep. Eleanor Chavez (Albuquerque), in House District 14  Michael Atler, received donations to run against Rep. Miguel Garcia (Albuquerque) and in House District 70, Barbara Casey got financial help in her run against Rep. Richard Vigil (Ribera). All of the challenges were unsuccessful. All three were known as candidates supported by big oil and gas interests, so I guess it's not surprising that Aragon supported Susana Martinez -- who got huge sums from such interests in her run for governor.

Irony
Last June, the Susana Martinez campaign announced she had been endorsed by the New Mexico Turnaround PAC and described the PAC this way:

NMTA supports a free market, capitalist economic system and understands that political corruption erodes the rights of the people, dissipates their public wealth and diminishes opportunities for private endeavors to flourish.

In the announcement, Robert Aragon, described as Vice President of the NMTA PAC, was quoted as saying:

We know that Ms. Martinez has a deep understanding that our state government has to provide a hospitable environment for businesses to thrive and for new companies to seek establishment here in the state. Improving the business climate is started by lowering taxes and by doing away with frivolous law suits and enacting comprehensive tort reform. 

Rather ironic, to say the least, that a PAC supported by big oil and gas concerns, with their myriad lobbyists and deep pockets, would be described as anti-corruption fighters. Ryan Cangiolosi, who served as Susana Martinez's campaign manager and is now her Deputy Chief of Staff, was a board member of the NMTA PAC, as well as a business manager at the Jalapeno Corporation, one of Harvey Yates' businesses. What goes around comes around.

Susana Pays Back Aragaon
According to the New Mexico Secretary of State, Robert Aragon donated $5,000 to the Susana Martinez campaign on October 5, 2010, but the publicity he generated by his advocating for a Republican was no doubt worth way more to Susana. Now Robert Aragon is getting his payback for his campaign money and his other services rendered on behalf of Martinez. Oh, this can't really be called "pay to play," now can it? Isn't that what Susana has long said she is dedicated to getting rid of in politics? I guess it's all a matter of degree and who's doing the paying and the playing. 

February 28, 2011 at 04:02 PM in Ethics & Campaign Reform, Finance, Investments, Jon Barela, Susana Martinez | Permalink | Comments (9)

3/1 Meetup: One Good Reading of Lakoff and Hartmann Deserves Another

This month's DFA-DFNM Meetup is set for tomorrow, Tuesday, March 1, at 7:00 PM at the Social Hall of the First Unitarian Church located on the SW corner of Carlisle and Comanche in Albuquerque. The group will get to participate in a special workshop presented by Janet Resnick and Lisa Franzen on strengthening the liberal, progressive movement using effective messaging based on the linguistic framing principles of George Lakoff. To join the Meetup group and/or RSVP, click here.

If there's one thing that right wingers are beating us on, it's messaging -- they have become masters at simplifying and framing complex issues so that they strongly impact people's emotional cores and speak to their innermost values. Janet and Lisa have been working within a group that has been exploring framing and its applications in political rhetoric. Tomorrow, they will share what they've learned and how to apply these principles to everyday interactions in order to be persuasive and effective in advocating for liberal positions.

Workshop participants will learn how to communicate in a way that successfully conveys and gains support for progressive values and positions. Lakoff argues that one of the reasons liberals have had difficulty since the 1980s is that they have not been as aware of their own guiding metaphors, and have too often accepted conservative terminology framed in a way to promote authoritarian values.

Lakoff insists that liberals must cease using terms like partial birth abortion and tax relief because they are manufactured specifically to allow the possibilities of only certain types of opinions. Tax relief, for example, implies explicitly that taxes are an affliction, something someone would want "relief" from. To use the terms of another metaphoric worldview, Lakoff insists, is to unconsciously support it. Liberals must support linguistic think tanks in the same way that conservatives do if they are going to succeed in appealing to those in the country who share their metaphors.

As Janet Resnick explains:

"It would be a comfort to us all if the events in Wisconsin continued to inspire the liberal movement through the next election cycle and ushered in a new political bottom line where universal health care is seen as a requirement for economic stability, Fox News fires Glen Beck and hires Keith Olbermann, Sara Palin decides to go back for a degree in International Studies -- at Berkley, and the Tea Party tells the Koch brothers they can keep their money because campaign finance reform is the next bill they will support in Congress.

"Ok, then I woke up.

"Indeed, there is some invigoration of the liberal side -- yay -- but how successful it will be, how much impact it will have and for how long, remains to be seen. Let us not be deluded: there is a massive, barroom brawl ahead. It’s not about a singular issue. It is about the fundamental difference between liberal and neo-conservative values. In this country, arguable in most of the industrial world, the polling results lean left or right at any given moment. The fluctuations in public opinion make outcomes of any poll an imprecise science. Often, the deck is stacked. Wordsmith for the right, Frank Luntz, convinced reporters at Fox News to use the phrase “government option” in place of “public option” because the frames that were evoked with the use of the word “government” provided the negative spin they were after.

"The way we talk about our values, and how our values determine the policies we support, help others to build an understanding and appreciation for liberalism. The neo-conservatives have been perfecting their arguments for decades. Needless to say, the liberal side of the debate has a lot of catching up to do.

"The presentation on Tuesday, March 1st, will share how our group of five people are learning about, and using framing, to create more effective communication."

Note: Lakoff just wrote an excellent piece on the real issues that are at play in the Wisconsin battle over unions and collective bargaining. You can read it here.

February 28, 2011 at 12:15 PM in DFNM - Albq, Events, MeetUp, Progressivism | Permalink | Comments (0)

3/9: Dem Women of Sandoval County Meeting to Focus on Health Security, Women's Rights

From Democratic Women of Sandoval County (DWSC):
On March 9, DWSC will present a double program featuring endangered issues at the heart of our mission: health security and women’s rights. Dana Millen, MPH, PhD, Education and Outreach Coordinator for Health Security for New Mexicans Campaign, will share the work of a grassroots coalition of organizations and individuals around New Mexico that promotes a state health plan. Kathi Brook, Public Relations Coordinator for the New Mexico Commission on the Status of Women, will enlist our help in preserving CSW. Please contact Dr. Donna Tillman about the March program: [email protected].

On April 12, DWSC will present a program on Saving the New Mexico Environment, especially preserving Clean Air and Water with Land Commission Ray Powell and environmental activist Barbara Rockwell (Boiling Frogs: Intel vs. the Village). Contact Dr. Rosemary Keefe about the April program: [email protected]

DWSC meets Second Wednesdays at 7 PM at Bernalillo Town Council Chambers, 829 Camino del Pueblo. Members and guests meet informally for refreshments at 6:30, followed by program at 7 and then a short business meeting. Contact Janice Saxton, President, at [email protected] or Linda Allison, Secretary, at [email protected].

February 28, 2011 at 11:21 AM in Democratic Party, Events | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Unity With Wisconsin! Big Turnout for American Dream Rally in Santa Fe (with Photos, Videos)


Click for larger version or photo album

Yesterday, a record-breaking crowd of more than 100,000 demonstrators gathered in Madison, Wisconsin to support collective bargaining, union members and the 14 brave Democratic lawmakers who are making a stand against Gov. Scott Walker's assault on working people. Meanwhile, MoveOn and dozens of other progressive organizations and unions helped citizens organize solidarity rallies in state capitols and major cities in all 50 states.


AFL-CIO's Danny Rivera says it's about power, leads crowd in singing famous union song, "What Side Are You On?

Here in New Mexico, about a thousand energized people gathered at the Roundhouse to urge state and federal lawmakers to Save the American Dream by supporting unions, working families and the middle class. Participants pushed for making the rich and corporations pay their fair share of taxes, realigning spending priorities from wars and rocketing "defense" spending to education and health care and stopping right-wing politicos from blaming workers for the national and international economic mess created by scams perpetrated by Wall Street, banking and corporate elites.


Compilation video by Jen Stephenson

Bottom line: Unless we tax the rich and corporations at rates that make sense, nothing will change. Unless we stop the hundreds of billions going for "wars" and "security," nothing will change. Unless we stop importing slave labor goods and making more damaging "free" trade deals, nothing will change. Unless we stop cutting education, health care and other government services, nothing will change. The rest is rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. The rest is all sound and fury signifying nothing.


The chant rises: Tax the Rich!

As MoveOn Executive Director Justin Ruben said, "I think a lot of progressives have been watching with growing horror. Republicans so dominate the debate over the economy that it's become a discussion of whether we should have massive cuts to vital services and massive layoffs or not so massive cuts and layoffs. And people are saying, 'where is the common sense?' This isn't the time to cut the services that people depend on and that create jobs. We need more of that. We're seeing huge tax breaks go to top 2% of Americans, and then the resulting worsening fiscal situation being used to justify draconian cuts. It's just too much."

TaxRatesTop
Poor little rich elites forced to live like paupers! This time they didn't even have to pay extra for their bloody little wars.


Taoseno: Bring our war money home!

Here in New Mexico, lawmakers have refused for three straight sessions to rescind the tax breaks for our top-tier earners that were put into place in 2003, when the economy was booming. This would mean raising the rate at the top from the current 4.9% to 8.2%, which had stood for years. Even if lawmakers made the richest New Mexicans pay 1-2% more, it would go a long way towards plugging our budget gap Instead, they've raised gross receipts taxes on everyone, unsuccessfully pushed what became known as the "tortilla tax" on foods, applied an increased "sin tax" on smokers and made more than $900 million in cuts to education and other government operations. Who is this serving? 

Our legislators have lowered the pay of teachers and other state workers by necessitating furlough days and demanding higher employee payments into retirement funds that were doing just fine until the crooked investment and mortgage scams devised by big players on Wall Street and in banking drained pension funds across the nation. They cut off money for needed projects all over the state, putting construction workers, architects and others out of work. They even cut unemployment benefits at a time when they're needed most.


We have no jobs!

New Mexico's legislators have also left in place a 50% cut to the capital gains tax implemented in 2003, again favoring the wealthy over ordinary workers. Our budget problems would pretty much be over if our top tax rates and capital gains tax were returned to pre-2003 levels. As it stands, folks who make $16,000 a year are paying the same tax rate as those making millions. Is that fair?

And how about the fact that a list of hugely profitable out-of-state corporations that operate in New Mexico pay no taxes on their profits here? This, while our small businesses, which every politico claims to support, do pay those taxes. What a competitive advantage for the big corporations! I guess that's what happens when these corporations constantly pony up campaign "contributions" and employ an army of lobbyists to wine and dine our decision-makers.


Jason Marks, PRC: It's class warfare from above!

Remember, for two of the last three years Democrats were in the majority in both the NM House and Senate, and a Democratic governor was at the helm. This year, we've still got a House and Senate run by alleged Democrats, even though we have a right-wing Republican governor. And yet, the Legislative Finance Committee and House Appropriations Committee came up with a budget that depends entirely on more cuts and doesn't have a single proposal for raising more funds from those who have benefited most from lopsided economic conditions that have almost unbelievably benefited the top tier. Think about it -- from the time the tax cuts were enacted through 2009, about $1 billion in revenues that could have been used to avoid cuts were instead removed from our tax coffers.


Demonstrator: What's gone wrong with economy, government

We've all heard the lame excuses from Dem lawmakers -- oh we can't raise additional revenues because Big Bad Susana says she'll veto any budget that has them. So let her! Instead of standing up to the misguided right-wingers in the legislature (some in our own party) and the right-wing ideologue at the top of the food chain, we get a mindset of compromise, compromise, compromise.

We need our Dem leaders and officeholders to get up in the faces of those who work against the people's interests -- and to speak out strongly and repeatedly on TV, radio and in the newspapers to fight for a truly Democratic solution to our budget problems. At this incredibly potent moment in history, we need fighters not appeasers, courage not caving, leaders and public officials with gumption -- ready, willing and able to make the bold moves necessary to preserve our way of life.

Almost nobody's out there engaging the public, offering persuasive arguments for stopping the cuts and backing it all up with the facts. Isn't it about time we all asked loudly, why the hell not?

See all the video clips from Saturday's rally.

All photos and videos by M.E. Broderick except "Chile Con Queso! video by Jen Stephenson.

February 27, 2011 at 01:47 PM in Afghanistan, Children and Families, Corporatism, Economy, Populism, Education, Jobs, Labor, Progressivism, Santa Fe, Susana Martinez, Taxes | Permalink | Comments (2)

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Live Blog and Webcast of Rallies to Save the American Dream: Starts Noon Eastern

From MoveOn:
What started as just an idea on Tuesday morning has turned into 30,000 people signed up to attend the Rallies to Save the American Dream in 66 cities -- including every state capital. It'll be an amazing show of solidarity with the people of Wisconsin. And it'll put the right-wing on notice that we're fired up and ready to take them on united, as a nationwide movement.

If you haven't decided to come out today, there's still time! Can you join in? Click here to sign up for a rally near you. In New Mexico, the rally is set for 12 Noon today outside the Roundhouse in Santa Fe.

If you can't make it in person, you can still participate online. We'll be broadcasting from the rallies on our site starting at Noon EST. We'll have live video from across the country, a live blog with photos and ways to discuss what's happening. Check it out starting at at Noon Eastern today. You can also follow live updates, and help promote the rallies, by using the #WeAreWI hashtag on Twitter.

February 26, 2011 at 10:13 AM in Economy, Populism, Events, Jobs, Labor | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, February 25, 2011

Raise Revenues, Don't Cut Services Says Majority Attending Debate in Santa Fe


Debate photos. Click for larger version or photo album

Note: On Monday, February 28, from 6-7 PM, public radio station KANW 89.1 FM and its translators will rebroadcast this public debate. It will also be streaming live on kanw.com, so it will be available statewide. Afterwards, listeners who log-on to kanw.com can vote on which team won the debate -- and are urged to contact their lawmakers to express their views.

Attendees at Wednesday's team debate in Santa Fe on the question, "Shall we cut education and public services again, or raise revenues?" voted for raising revenues by a margin of 66-39 after hearing arguments on both sides of the question. The event, held at the Scottish Rite Center, was co-hosted by NM Progressive Action and the Rio Grande Foundation, among others, and featured a lively exchange of ideas on by far the most pressing issue of New Mexico's ongoing 60-day legislative session.


Sen. Griego: 75% of budget is education and health care. Unless we raise revenues, those will get deep cuts. Should we eliminate 1st and second grade instead?

With the lingering impact of a national recession still putting a damper on economic activity here and around the nation, Republican Governor Susana Martinez and right-wing lawmakers have demanded that no new revenue-producing measures be considered to fill the funding gaps in education, Medicaid and other key government services. More liberal members of the legislature -- and a huge majority of New Mexicans -- have been pushing for fixing New Mexico's tax structure so that everyone's paying a fairer share of the costs of government. They say there's no place else to cut after three straight sessions of already deep budget reductions.


Sen. Ortiz y Pino: Real goal of Rio Grande Foundation is to destroy government, privatize everything.

The pro-revenue-raising team consisted of Sen. Jerry Ortiz y Pino (D-Albuquerque), Rep. Eric Griego (D-Albuquerque), Carter Bundy of AFSCME and former Richardson cabinet secretary Kelly O'Donnell. Their bottom line view? New Mexico's budget has already been cut to the bone and there are plenty of unnecessary loopholes and omissions in our tax code that could easily produce the revenue we need to patch up the state's financial affairs. For instance, here's a list of the out-of-state-corporations doing business here that pay no income taxes in New Mexico.


Rep. Baldonado: Likes Don't Mess With Texas signs, billowing smokestacks in El Paso

On the other side of the question, supporting more cuts, were Rep. Conrad James (R-Albuquerque), Rep. Alonzo Baldonado (R-Los Lunas), Paul Gessing of the Rio Grande Foundation and former GOP gubernatorial candidate Doug Turner. Their mantra was that we need to continue cutting, and cutting more because ... well, because they don't want fairly tax rich elites or out-of-state corporations. They believe that returning the income tax rates of our richest New Mexicans to 2003 levels or requiring out-of-state corporations to pay the same taxes on their earnings that small, local businesses do would be damaging somehow and is inherently unfair. Makes no sense, does it? Check out how much richest citizens save -- and how little our lower income citizens gained -- from the 2003 tax cuts.


Carter Bundy: Already cut $900 million. Get money from people using gimmicky tax dodges and repeal part of tax cut at top.

Watch Clips of the Entire Debate
To see video clips in sequence of Wednesday's debate, click here.

Take Action: Call or email your legislators to urge them to raise revenues instead of cutting education and other services more than the $900 million they've already been reduced.

February 25, 2011 at 05:13 PM in Economy, Populism, Education, Healthcare, NM Legislature 2011, Susana Martinez, Taxes | Permalink | Comments (6)

Transparency Advocate Susana Martinez Caught Red-Handed Holding Secret 'Small Biz' Task Force Meetings

OpenForBiz

As the Susana Martinez administration begins to take hold, New Mexicans are getting a much clearer picture of what our new Republican governor and her cohorts are really all about. On the campaign trail, Susana talked non-stop about increasing transparency and accountability in government, about "cleaning house" and rooting out "corruption." Unfortunately, her behavior in office -- even in these early days of her administration -- has been rife with actions designed to please her oil and gas campaign donors, to collude with moneyed corporate interests behind the scenes to knock down common-sense regulations and to encourage an atmosphere of bigotry and dissension among our citizens.

And now, Clearly New Mexico has published a shocking two-part story about secret meetings and secretive plans by Susana Martinez's inaccurately named "Small Business Task Force" to stymie any and all current and future common-sense rules that ensure certain business entities will operate in a way that serves New Mexico's interests and protects our land, air and water.

In part one, Tracy Dingmann uncovers the upsetting truth about the operations, goals and membership of the Task Force. In part two, Dingmann reveals the disturbing recommendations made by the Task Force -- made up mostly of lobbyists for big business concerns who just happened to donate big bucks to Martinez' campaign. Here's just one of them:

  • The task force recommends that the Economic Development Department develop a secret “whistleblower complaint log and phone-based hotline” for businesses who want to complain privately about NMED enforcement of rules and regulations.

These two stories are must-reads for anyone who wants to learn more about the way in which the Martinez administration really operates. And it's not a pretty picture. Please, go read them in their entirety.

From misusing left-over campaign funds to pay for negative ads and intimidation tactics to drum up opposition to immigrants, to launching what amounts to a vendetta against the film industry in New Mexico, to nominating an Education Secretary without any real experience as a teacher or principle in public schools, to trying to foist a photo ID on voters without any proof there's a problem, to trying toabolish the Water Quality Control Commission, to unsuccessfully trying to appoint a climate denier and right-wing kook to head the Energy Secretary, to contracting with an education "consultant" team full of people with links to Jeb and George Bush but without a single New Mexican, to bungling a response to a nearly week-long natural gas outtage in Northern New Mexico, to issuing an executive order requiring state law enforcement officers to ask about immigration status, to advocates having to sue her administration to force her to publish legally created regulations related to greenhouse gases, dairy farm pollution and a green building code -- it's been one horror after another.

Isn't it time the mainstream media started really digging into the truth about the Susana Martinez administration? The new administration's honeymoon in the media should definitely be over. How about it Albuquerque Journal reporters, local TV news outlets and others? The blogs can't do all the work.

Photo courtesy of Chorizo Report.

February 25, 2011 at 11:54 AM in Business, Corporatism, Education, Environment, Susana Martinez | Permalink | Comments (4)

Saturday at Noon in Santa Fe: Rally to Save the American Dream!

Solidarity Rallies to Save the American dream are being organized in front of every state capitol and in every major city all over the nation on Saturday, February 26, at 12 Noon local time. The Rallies are in solidarity with union battles in Wisconsin, Indiana and beyond, and in support of working class and middle class Americans generally. It's now or never.

In New Mexico, our rally is set for Noon on Saturday outside the Roundhouse in Santa Fe. Sign up here!

Folks are being asked to wear Badger Red and White in solidarity with Wisconsin's workers. Bring lots of signs, musical instruments and noisemakers too. Most of all, bring yourself, your friends, your neighbors and your family!

We demand an end to the attacks on worker's rights and public services across the country. We demand investment, to create decent jobs for the millions of people who desperately want to work. And we demand that the rich and powerful pay their fair share!

More than 40 organizations have so far endorsed the rallies:

Madisonprotest_230x345 MoveOn, Van Jones/ Rebuild the Dream, AFL-CIO, SEIU, AFSCME, USAction/ TrueMajority, Democracy for America, Working America, Daily Kos, Progressive Change Campaign Committee, Jobs with Justice, National People's Action, 1Sky, 350.org, Center for Community Change, ColorOfChange.org, Courage Campaign, CREDO, Common Cause, Keystone Progress, People for the American Way, Progressive Majority, Presente.org, United States Student Association, Green for All, American Rights at Work, Apollo Alliance, , Working Families Party, Democrats.com, Energy Action Coalition, Media Matters Action Network, Partnership for Working Families, Sierra Club, Campaign for America's Future, Campus Progress, Job Party, Living Liberally, Progressive Future, HCAN.

Once again, in New Mexico, our rally is set for Noon on Saturday outside the Roundhouse in Santa Fe. Sign up here!

If you can't be at one of the rallies, you can participate online. Visit moveon.org tomorrow for live blogging updates from rallies across the nation. Folks will be sending in/Tweeting photos from events and plans are in the works to have several video feeds from events, if possible. Participants will be using Twitter hashtag #WeAreWi, so you can follow that on Twitter or on the MoveOn website. Be a part of the exploding movement demanding what's right for America's working people! Let's show our elected officials the power of the people!

February 25, 2011 at 10:41 AM in Economy, Populism, Events, Jobs, Labor | Permalink | Comments (4)

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Sen. Tom Udall Calls for Thorough Review of Patriot Act, Wants Our Input

Recently, without any meaningful debate, Congress voted (House, Senate) to provide a three-month extension on several very controversial provisions of the Patriot Act -- to continue surveillance of business records, individual terrorists as agents of foreign powers and roving wiretaps. In essence, they kicked the can down the road instead of engaging in a serious, indepth analysis of the provisions and the law itself.

Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) voted no on the initial enactment of the Patriot Act, as well as the extensions of various provisions that have been passed since the Act's inception almost 10 years ago, including the latest one. Now Sen. Udall is calling for a thorough review of the law before anything more is done to extend any part of the post-9/11 legislation. Watch the video above to hear his views.

To give him a perspective on how New Mexicans view the Patriot Act, Senator Udall wants to hear our opinions on whether we should extend its reach going forward, and why or why not. Just go to his Facebook page and weigh in with your comments or questions.

For more information on the Patriot Act, visit these pages at the ACLU, Wikipedia, NPR and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, for starters.

February 24, 2011 at 03:17 PM in Civil Liberties, Homeland Security, National Security, Sen. Tom Udall, Terrorism | Permalink | Comments (4)

Common Cause NM, Somos Un Pueblo Unido Say Susana Martinez Violated Campaign Reporting Act

Following a careful review of New Mexico’s Campaign Reporting Act, Common Cause New Mexico (CCNM) has come to the conclusion that Republican Governor Susana Martinez may have violated the act when she used leftover campaign funds to pay for radio spots lobbying for a bill favored by her administration. CCNM says it has urged the Attorney General’s office to investigate this matter.

“The Campaign Reporting Act places strict limitations on how campaign funds can be used,” said Steven Robert Allen, executive director of CCNM. “Funding this kind of lobbying advertisement seems to be a clear violation of this statute.”

Allen added that he was puzzled by media reports that the Secretary of State’s office found no evidence that the Campaign Reporting Act was violated. Even more puzzling, according to Allen, is the assertion that numerous other candidates have used their campaign funds in the same manner.

“My organization is intensely interested in instances in which this has occurred, because aside from some very narrow exceptions outlined in the Campaign Reporting Act, a candidate’s campaign funds are only to be used to fund a campaign for elected office,” Allen said.

As reported in an Albuquerque Journal article, February 24, 2011:

Duran said definitions in the act give the campaign committee authority to run political ads, even in a noncampaign season. She said numerous other candidates have used their leftover campaign funding in the same way over the years.

"We believe that conducting an advertising campaign for a political purpose is expressly permitted for a political committee," Duran said.

Duran was responding to a complaint filed with the Secretary of State's office by immigrants' rights group Somos Un Pueblo Unido. The organization also filed a similar complaint with the Attorney General, and one with the Santa Fe District Attorney. The complaints allege Martinez violated the Campaign Reporting Act when her campaign committee paid for radio ads pushing for the repeal of the state law that allows undocumented immigrants and other foreign nationals to obtain driver's licenses. Duran said that her office reviewed the situation and does not think Martinez violated the law.

Somos asserts that the act restricts many uses of leftover campaign funding and that the costs of the political radio ad are not allowed.

"(The act) allows such funds to be used only for the payment of campaign debts, donations to charities or the state's general fund, contributions to other candidates or political parties and refunds to the contributors," the complaint says.

To the extent that any candidate is spending campaign money in a manner not listed in the statutory section that describes the lawful use of such funds (Section 1-19-29.1 NMSA 1978), CCNM has urged the Secretary of State to forward all such instances to the Attorney General’s office for investigation.

Click to see the provisions (pdf) of New Mexico’s Campaign Reporting Act describing the lawful uses of a candidate’s campaign funds.

February 24, 2011 at 11:53 AM in Ethics & Campaign Reform, Immigration, NM Secretary of State, Susana Martinez | Permalink | Comments (6)

Sen. Steve Fischmann Guest Blog: Budget is Full of Goodies - If You Live Out of State

SFISC This is a guest blog by State Senator Steve Fischmann (D-Mesilla Park), who represents Senate District 37 in Dona Ana and Sierra Counties.

It is going to be one tough year for many New Mexicans. Near-term job growth looks to be tepid while the unemployment trust fund threatens to go bust. For those requiring medical services, the state forecasts coming up about $330 million short of anticipated needs.

Educators face a third consecutive year of salary freezes while having to sacrifice part of their paycheck to keep their failing pension fund solvent. Young families and their kids face elimination of child care services. Drivers can anticipate deteriorating roads while the Department of Transportation struggles with a projected ongoing $250 million annual shortfall in road maintenance funds.

Cost-of-living pressures will only add to the difficulties. Individual health insurance policy owners face 20 percent increases in their already astronomical premiums. Many electric utility customers can look forward to yet another large rate increase, and gasoline prices appear poised to continue their upward climb.

While community services falter, state government has proven slow and unimaginative at making the fundamental structural changes needed to provide more with less. Inertia, excessive influence from moneyed interests, and old-fashioned patronage have stymied reform. Taxpayers are the ones who suffer.

A list of beneficiaries
Whatever the trials for our own citizens, budget proposals currently before the New Mexico Legislature preserve plenty of goodies for out-of-state interests. Here is a short list of beneficiaries:

  • Multistate corporations will continue to enjoy tax loopholes not available to our own homegrown businesses. Local businesses will compete on an unfair playing field until mandatory combined tax reporting is implemented.
  • Most oil and gas companies operating in New Mexico are from out of state. Tax breaks for oil and gas Companies have grown from 8 percent of state oil and gas revenue generated in 2004 to 17 percent in 2010. Interestingly, history shows no correlation between tax breaks and oil and gas production in the state. There is a strong correlation between market prices and production. Existing tax breaks remain in the proposed budgets.

  • Internet businesses with no physical facilities in the state will continue to operate without having to pay the same gross receipts taxes as our own local businesses. We have not managed to solve the legal issues to correct this inequity.

  • Well-heeled, out-of state-taxpayers doing business in New Mexico reap a large share of the benefits from our generous capital gains tax deduction. The proposed budget keeps them on the state dole.

  • Film companies from out of state will continue to enjoy a 25 percent rebate on their production costs in New Mexico. If the rebates were the economic development boon they are purported to be, we should be offering the same deal to tourists visiting the state. Since no one is willing to make that proposal, it is probably time to recognize film subsidies as the giveaway they are.

  • Union Pacific is being offered a permanent $10 million-per-year tax break for relocating a 300-employee fueling station from El Paso to just over the border in New Mexico -- a laudable project I fully support. Company representatives acknowledge that most of the positions will initially be filled by Texas commuters. Since jobs are the justification for the tax break, I’d like to think the state would have enough sense to directly tie tax benefits to the number of jobs filled by New Mexico residents. That has not been part of the discussion so far.

We Should Do at Least as Well for New Mexicans
Lawmakers and the governor’s staff work grueling hours during the 60-day legislative session now in progress. Through hard work, we somehow manage to do quite well for a whole range of moneyed out-of-state interests. In these challenging times, New Mexicans should demand that we do at least as well for you.

This is a guest blog by Sen. Steve Fischmann. To submit a piece for consideration as a guest blog, contact me by clicking on the Email Me link at the upper left-hand corner of the page.

February 24, 2011 at 10:57 AM in Corporatism, Economy, Populism, Government, Guest Blogger, Las Cruces, NM Legislature 2011 | Permalink | Comments (1)

2/25: Health Care Providers and Supporters to Converge on Roundhouse to Support Health Care as Human Right

Health care providers and citizens from across the state will converge on the Roundhouse this Friday, February 25th, for Human Rights Day at the Capital. A media conference and rally will take place on the steps of the Roundhouse starting at 1:30 PM, followed by lobbying activities, according to HealthRightNM.

Human Rights Day supporters back Senate Joint Resolution 5 (SJR 5), a constitutional amendment to recognize health care as a human right. The amendment will acknowledge that health care is an essential safeguard of human life and dignity, and the state will need to ensure that the 449,000 (2008-09 Census Bureau survey) New Mexico residents who currently do not have health coverage can receive access on an equitable basis. 

“The vast majority of New Mexicans assume healthcare is already addressed in the constitution, because it is such a basic human right,” said Senator Jerry Ortiz y Pino, sponsor of the resolution. “Nearly 1 in 4 New Mexicans do not have health coverage. This is unacceptable. By passing SJR 5 we are making it clear that one of the main functions of government is to ensure the health of our people.”

SJR 5 will be heard before the Senate Rules Committee (SRC) Friday morning at 8:30 AM. Supporters will deliver hundreds of signatures in support of the amendment and testimonies to the Committee at the hearing. Upon passage in the Senate Rules Committee, SJR 5 must then be passed to the Senate Judiciary Committee (SJC) before vote on the Floor of the Senate. If passed, the joint resolution will go to the House for a simple majority passage, ultimately placing the amendment before voters on the November ballot. For full details, please visit www.HealthRightNM.org.

Endorsers of SJR 5 include the New Mexico Public Health Association, Health Action New Mexico, League of Women Voters of New Mexico, Network of Health Professionals for a National Health Program, NM Council of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Native Health Initiative and The Committee of Interns and Residents.

HealthRightNM supporters will ride the New Mexico Rail Runner Express to Santa Fe for the event this Friday. Health care professionals will wear scrubs, and/or their white coats to show provider support. Participants will carry personalized signs and swap stories while riding the New Mexico Rail Runner Express to the Santa Fe Depot before walking as a group to the steps of the Roundhouse. Special guests, The Raging Grannies will sing original songs on health care reform on the train and at the rally.

The group will gather at the ABQ Downtown Rail Runner Station at 10:00 AM and depart on the 10:35 AM train arriving at the Santa Fe Depot  at 12:15 PM.

Take Action: Sign HealthRightNM's open letter to the legislature in support of SJR 5. Call or email your legislators as well as members of the Senate Rules Committee (SRC) to urge their support for SJR 5. Attend the committee hearing Friday morning and the rally on the steps of the Roundhouse that afternoon.

See our earlier post on this effort.

February 24, 2011 at 10:28 AM in Healthcare, Jerry Ortiz y Pino, NM Legislature 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)