Friday, June 27, 2008

RSVP for Children's Cabinet Town Hall on Building NM's Workforce

From :
As chair of the New Mexico Children’s Cabinet, I want to hear from YOU. Please join us, along with youths, business leaders, educators, and community groups at the Children’s Cabinet Career Cluster Initiative Town Hall on Monday, June 30th, from 9 AM to 3 PM. This is an AmericaSpeaks 21st Century Town Meeting and will take place at the Hilton Albuquerque Hotel located at 1901 University Blvd. NE.  Breakfast, lunch, and parking will be provided.

We will be developing a long-term plan for building a more powerful workforce in New Mexico. You can contribute recommendations that the Children’s Cabinet will consider over the next 6 months and into the January legislative session on how to strengthen New Mexico’s workforce. The Town Hall will use technology to meld small-group discussions into large-group priorities. Key constituencies will join forces to build a more powerful workforce in New Mexico and the focus of the day is your input.

The goals of the Town Hall are:

  • To build a bridge between youths and business
  • To provide an opportunity for business leaders to define their needs
  • To allow participants to learn more about New Mexico’s emerging markets and the Career Cluster Initiative


  • By Phone: (505) 222-6651
  • By Fax: (505) 841-6412
  • By Mail: The NM Children’s Cabinet, 5301 Central NE, Suite 1510, Albuquerque, NM 87108
  • By Email:

I hope to see you there.

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June 27, 2008 at 01:11 PM in Business, Economy, Populism, Education, Events, Labor | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Taos Earns Fair Trade Town Designation


Good news from the Town of Taos. The Northern New Mexico community has earned the designation as a Fair Trade Town. In February 2008, Town councilors passed a resolution and enacted stringent guidelines to prepare for the coveted designation. Taos is the first Fair Trade Town in New Mexico, and the first in the Western United States. Now, which NM town or city will be next? There are already more than 300 communities in Europe recognized as Fair Trade Towns.

Fair Trade is a rigorous third party certification guaranteeing excellent products for consumers: goods produced in a sustainable fashion; safe and healthy working conditions; no slave, forced or child labor; the encouragement of long-term relationships between producers and buyers; and an internal structure for producers that allow decisions about profits to be made democratically.   

"We know the importance of Fair Trade and recognize our responsibility to help educate others, including art and culture tourists, about the importance of Fair Trade," said Town of Taos Mayor Bobby F. Duran. "We view buying fair and buying local as objectives that are not in competition but are complementary. For example, in Taos, customers can buy Fair Trade coffee through our local Taos Roasters -- either directly wholesale, or retail through our numerous coffee houses or grocery stores," continued Duran.

"Fair Trade is a market model that allows farmers and producers of goods a fair price for their products, and establishes economic sustainability and security for entire communities," said Chris Pieper, Chair of the new Town of Taos Fair Trade Steering Committee, and owner of the local Mudd & Flood Mountain Shop. 

"It is also a designation that means people are being treated better relative to buying non-Fair Trade items," said Steve Gloss, founder of Sustaining Cultures, a nonprofit educational organization in Taos focusing on cultural awareness.

"Now, we must actively educate our local consumers - and visitors - to change our purchasing habits by 'voting with our hands' when we reach for that pound of coffee, bananas, or bunch of flowers for Mother's Day," said Gloss who was the impetus for the town's resolution.

Transfair_2Fair Trade goods are increasingly available in Taos as more retail outlets and grocery stores are carrying Fair Trade lines. Products are easily identified with the TransFair seal (right).          

With adoption of the resolution, the Town of Taos joins only five other cities and towns in the United States who have become Fair Trade Towns. There are over 300 communities in Europe who have adopted these guidelines to become Fair Trade Towns.  Fair Trade Town U.S.A. status requires the qualifying community to have:

  • Passed a resolution supporting fair trade.
  • Offer a range of readily available fair trade products in the area's shops and local cafes
    and catering establishments.
  • Numerous workplaces and community organizations that use fair trade products.
  • Media coverage and popular support for the fair trade city campaign.
  • A local fair trade steering committee to ensure continued commitment to fair
    trade city status.

For more information about locating Fair Trade products go to and For more information on meeting city certification guides visit To view the town's Fair Trade Resolution visit:

For more information contact:
Sara Stender,
Fair Trade Towns USA,
(828) 658-1340 or (802) 356-0551
Steve Gloss,
Taos Fair Trade Steering Committee
Sustaining Cultures
(505) 751-0959

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April 24, 2008 at 02:53 PM in Business, Government, Labor, Public Policy | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Sen. Bingaman Announces $1 Million Award to Community Action New Mexico

From Community Action New Mexico:
Senator Jeff Bingaman this week announced a Federal Grant of $1,000,000 to Community Action New Mexico to further its statewide work in asset development. The purpose of the grant is to fund Individual Development Accounts (IDA's) for low income, working New Mexicans. The assets that may be purchased in this matched savings program include a first home, higher education and the capitalization of a small business.

“IDA's are a powerful response to community poverty. They offer individuals and families the possibility of a more secure future, while creating jobs, increasing skills and developing a stronger tax base in the communities where participants reside,” Bingaman said. 

This is the second million dollar IDA award to the agency from the US Department of Health and Human Services, Assets for Independence Program. The first award funded 474 matched savings accounts through the development of the New Mexico Assets Consortium; a partnership between three statewide organizations (Community Action New Mexico, the New Mexico Project for Financial Literacy, and TAX HELP New Mexico), 25 community-based and tribal partners, and the Center for Working Families at Central New Mexico Community College.

Together the partners have provided comprehensive financial education to over 700 families, free tax preparation to thousands statewide, and are celebrating with family after family as they purchase their asset. 

Ona Porter, Community Actions' Executive Director, calls the Asset Consortium, “the people’s economic development plan,” noting that it provides a very specific and tangible way for families to find their way to a share in the American Dream. “We are finding that people can make permanent improvements in their lives with a little bit of capitol.”

Community Actions' goals of reducing poverty, revitalizing low-income communities, and empowering low-income families and individuals to become fully self-sufficient are all achieved with this grant.

The New Mexico Assets Consortium is an initiative of Community Action New Mexico, a non-profit association of six Community Action Agencies. Believing that assets are critical to weathering the storms of life, the Assets Consortium works to build and preserve assets in low income families and communities.

April 8, 2008 at 09:18 AM in Business, Economy, Populism, Poverty | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, January 17, 2008

A Letter From The People: Touring the Realm of the Dispossessed

Since we have a certain blogger with long-time ties to the Roundhouse wall leaners and power brokers waxing poetic today about well connected insiders, hordes of lobbyists with deep pockets and martini-fueled dealings in dark bars in Santa Fe, I thought I'd take a similar tack from The People's point of view.

You know, us -- the little people out here in the wilderness who are supposed to wait silently and submissively for the word to come down from on high on what will and will not be done in our name by the powerhouses of La Politica. We're the ones who won't get real reform related to health care, ethics or campaign finance because our "leaders" in the Legislature -- and especially in the "independent" Senate -- have come to depend on the ready money and perks from people who want to preserve the status quo and the profits for themselves. The public and the common good be damned.

Citizen Lobbyists
Our citizen lobbyists travel to the Roundhouse or interim committee meetings on their own dimes. Many take vacation days to do so. They car pool to save money. Their meals come from brown bags, not the Santa Fe hot spots designed for seeing and being seen. Those who can't afford the trip or can't get time off from work have to be content with phone calls to legislative secretaries and emails to legislators that usually get little or no response. Even if they succeed in getting their needs met in committee after committee with the help of the honest members of the legislature, their bills are often killed when or even just before they get to the Senate or House floor by the "leaders" dedicated to keeping power to themselves.

With no big chunks of cash or complimentary happy hours to offer, these citizen lobbyists too often get only a blind eye and a deaf ear when they voice their concerns. After all, they have no clout. They don't buy legislators drinks or invite them to buffets and cocktail parties or throw unlimited amounts of money into their "campaign funds" or hand them tickets to boxing matches or football games, or oooh and ahhh over them when they enter casinos or racetracks.

Citizen lobbyists have to scratch for information about what's going on with bills that will personally affect their daily lives, their health, their work, their children, their futures. And when they show up at committee hearings, they're often treated like unwelcome outsiders who take up precious time demanding to be heard when everyone who's anyone knows the deals have already gone down behind closed doors.

The Result
Because this is how the system presently works, we get things like bills proposing massive tax breaks for the coal-burning Desert Rock power plant, health reform bills that ignore the overwhelming support of the people for the Health Security Act and a summer's worth of testimony at hearings, pronouncements that public funding for elections is off the table, plots to kill the Domestic Partnership Act with last-minute, shady maneuvers and inflated, "privatized" contracts to conduct or "oversee" government functions. I could go on.

This bunch won't even allow floor proceedings to be shown online, despite $75,000 having been appropriated to do so. What don't they want us to see? Wouldn't it be fun to send a phalanx of citizens with video cameras to the Roundhouse corridors and swanky lounges of Santa Fe to track the comings and goings, the whispers and handshakes, that constitute way too much of what goes on in the Capitol? A regular YouTube bonanza.

I know our reps and senators are supposed to be doing the people's business, but as is often the case these days in state capitols and the halls of Congress alike, they mostly go about doing the business of the highest bidders, of those who wield power to get earmarks and loopholes, of those with profitable rackets to protect. These days, too many consider their real constituencies to be not the people who elect them, but the brokers, the insurance moguls, the financial market manipulators, the insider stock traders, the shady real estate developers, the for-profit prison operators, the pay-day loan sharks, the "defense" contract proliferators, the fake "homeland security" money suckers, the outrageously compensated CEOs and the high and mightily titled corporate investor class.

Somehow, not one bit of poetry, not one shred of romance or nostalgia comes to mind when I think about what's going on in Santa Fe right now. Can you blame me?

The Good Ones
Of course there are any number of genuinely honest, committed, hardworking legislators who work their bodies to the bone all year long to try and get a little something for the people, for the community, for the common good, for justice, for equality. Unfortunately, in a greed-filled and close-minded climate like the one that prevails these days, they're about as well respected by the "leaders" in our government as ordinary people are. They get the shaft and the run-around just like we do. And I'm pretty darn sure they're not feeling poetic and nostalgic about it either, as our critical needs go unmet while the elite among us count their chits.

January 17, 2008 at 03:41 PM in Business, Corporatism, Economy, Populism, Ethics & Campaign Reform, Healthcare, NM Legislature 2008 | Permalink | Comments (5)

Friday, December 21, 2007

RSVP Now for Business Day in Santa Fe & Legislative Reception

From the Association of Commerce & Industry:
The Association of Commerce & Industry and other business organizations will co-sponsor Business Day in Santa Fe on January 22, 2007. The annual event offers business leaders and others a comprehensive briefing on New Mexico's economic affairs and key issues for the legislative session.

Speakers include Gov. Bill Richardson, Lt. Gov. Diane Denish, and legislative leaders from both parties, including House Speaker Ben Lujan, D-Santa Fe; Senate President Pro-Tem Ben Altamirano, D-Silver City; House Minority Leader Thomas Taylor, R-San Juan; and Senate Minority Leader Stuart Ingle, R-Portales.

The event runs from 7 AM to 10 AM at the El Dorado Hotel at 309 W. San Francisco Street in Santa Fe. Cost is $40. Participants can also attend a legislative reception the prior evening with legislators and members of the executive branch. That event, hosted by the Santa Fe Chamber of Commerce, runs from 5:30 PM to 7:30 PM on January 21, also at the El Dorado. Cost is $25 and includes booths by local chambers of commerce from throughout the state.

Registration deadline for both events is January 16. To register, or to get more information, visit the ACI Web site at, or call Debbie Scott at (505) 842-0644.

December 21, 2007 at 08:36 AM in Business, NM Legislature 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0)