Friday, February 10, 2012

Rep. Kintigh; Introduced Two Separate Legislative Items to Reinstate Death Penalty

RIP death penaltyRepresentative Dennis Kintigh (HD57) introduced two peices of legislation to Reinstate the Death Penalty; HB 237 Reinstate Death Penalty and HJR 6 Death Penalty for Certain Crimes, CA.

DFNM became aware of this legislation earlier this week. As we understand the legislation has like a snowballs chance in hell of going forward. However, it is troubling to even have the topic come back up for any discussion.

The Reinstate Death Penalty is scheduled to be heard in the House Consumer and Public Affairs Committee at 8:30 tomorrow (Saturday) morning.

 

February 10, 2012 at 12:52 PM in Crime, NM Legislature 2012 | Permalink | Comments (3)

Monday, September 26, 2011

ACLU of New Mexico Announces Award Recipients

From ACLU-NM:
Today, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of New Mexico is pleased to announce the recipients of the organization’s annual awards. Each year, the ACLU of New Mexico honors an attorney and an activist for their outstanding civil liberties work in the State of New Mexico. The awards will be presented as part of the 49th annual Bill of Rights Celebration on Saturday, October 22, at the National Hispanic Cultural Center.

The 2011 Cooperating Attorney Award goes to Mark D. Fine of the Fine Law Firm for his work defending the rights of female inmates in the New Mexico Women’s Correctional Facility (NMWCF) in Grants, NM. Fine currently represents three women who allege that a male employee sexually assaulted them while they were inmates. The suit also seeks to hold NMWCF accountable for retaliation against the victims after they reported the incidents.

The 2011 Guardian of Liberty Award goes to two people this year, James Walker and Steven De Los Santos, both recently graduated from Clovis High School. Despite resistance from the community and deliberate obstruction by the Clovis school board, Walker and De Los Santos successfully established the school’s first-ever Gay-Straight Alliance.

Students had attempted several times in the past to establish the club, whose mission is to promote tolerance, reduce bullying and encourage dialogue, but were continually rebuffed by the administration. Because of their courageous and determined stand, Walker and De Los Santos leave as their legacy a safe, supportive place for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students at Clovis High.

Walker is currently a freshman at the University of New Mexico and De Los Santos is studying at New Mexico State University.

The Bill of Rights Celebration and awards ceremony are open to the public. Tickets are available online at aclu-nm.org. The event will take place at Salón Ortega at the National Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque on Saturday, October 22, 2011 at 6:00 PM.

September 26, 2011 at 06:25 PM in Civil Liberties, Crime, Events, GLBT Rights, Justice, Women's Issues | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, June 17, 2011

Emily Kaltenbach: The War on Drugs Turns 40

Emily kaltenbach profile pic This is a guest blog by Emily Kaltenbach who is the New Mexico state director of the Drug Policy Alliance.

Some anniversaries provide an occasion for celebration or reflection, others a time for action. Today marks forty years since President Richard Nixon, citing drug abuse as “public enemy No. 1”, officially declared a "war on drugs." A trillion dollars and millions of ruined lives later, the war on drugs remains a miserable failure.

The Land of Enchantment has not been spared. Local headlines tell us that the war on drugs continues to threaten New Mexicans’ health and safety.

“Friend Abandons Toddler After Mom Overdoses”

“New Mexico Family Loses Relative to Juarez Violence”

“Overdose Deaths Among People Under 21 Increasing”

“Medicaid Axes Inpatient Program for Drug-addicted Mothers”

“Martinez Has High Hopes for Repeal of Medical Marijuana”

On this anniversary, it’s time to reflect on why New Mexico’s overdose death rate has increased 150% in the last 4 years; why the state is spending upwards of 22 million dollars each year to incarcerate nonviolent drug possession offenders; and, why we are incarcerating our mothers because of their addictions who then leave behind hundreds of babies and young children. It’s time to admit that the war on drugs is a failure and agree to turn instead to dealing with drugs as a public health problem. Wouldn’t it be better to spend the money on clinics that might treat illnesses instead of on locking up nonviolent people?

We know a lot more things than we did 40 years ago, and it’s time to revise our strategies for combating drug misuse based on that knowledge. We know that 4 out of 5 drug arrests are for possession only, mostly for marijuana. We know that the average cost of putting someone behind bars is about $30,000 a year, whereas the average cost of treating them is about $3,000. And we know that most communities in New Mexico lack access to quality drug treatment.

A New Drug Strategy for 21st Century
So let’s celebrate this anniversary by crafting a new drug strategy for the 21st century. A strategy designed to get us to a place where politics no longer trumps science, compassion, common sense, and fiscal prudence in dealing with illegal drugs. A place when marijuana legalization is no longer a question of whether but when and how. A place when people are not more likely to be arrested, prosecuted and incarcerated for violating drug laws because of their ethnicity and culture. And a time where reducing over-incarceration is broadly embraced as a moral necessity.

Let’s work with legislators who dare to raise these important questions. Let’s organize public forums and online communities where New Mexicans can take action, enlist unprecedented numbers of powerful and distinguished individuals to voice their dissent publicly, and advocate for policies that focus less on obtaining convictions and more on preventing addictions.

Let’s transform this anniversary into a year of action.

This is a guest blog by Emily Kaltenbach. If you'd like 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.

June 17, 2011 at 12:07 AM in Children and Families, Crime, Drugs, Alcohol, Guest Blogger | Permalink | Comments (2)

Thursday, May 12, 2011

5/13: Albuquerque ANSWER Protest to Stop Police Brutality Now

From A.N.S.W.E.R. NM:
Emergency Protest: Stop APD Killer Cops! Justice for Alan Gomez! Friday, May 13, 4:00 PM at APD Headquarters at 400 Roma NW in downtown Albuquerque.

Gomez was shot to death by Albuquerque Police on Tuesday, May 10. He was unarmed and carried only a plastic spoon in his hand.

Protest 14 murders of civilians in the past 12 months by trigger-happy APD cops. Tell APD to stop terrorizing our communities. Stop Police Brutality! Justice for Alan Gomez, Christopher Torres, Chandler Todd and all victims of police terror!

A culture of violence and racism: Fourteen Albuquerque civilians, mostly unarmed, have been shot to death in cold blood by Albuquerque police during the past 12 months. This is a shocking and criminal record. Many of the victims have been known to be suffering from severe mental illness and have later shown to have presented no real threat to officers or others at the scene.

In face of mounting public outrage, both locally and nationally, police officials, including Chief Ray Schultz have made only cosmetic efforts to get his officers under control and have only paid lip-service to public demands for action against murderer cops.

"Human Waste Disposal": Christopher Torres, shot to death last month by APD officers, had a clear documented history of severe mental illness. APD had access to this information but ignored it. After the brutal and fatal shooting of Torres, it was discovered that Officer Trey Economidy who was involved in the fatal shooting of the deranged and agitated Torres, publicly bragged on his Facebook page that his job is "human waste disposal."

This action and other statements by officers expose that these officers, rather than serving the Albuquerque community, employ terror and violence against those who are the most oppressed among us, including those with mental illness, disabilities, homelessness, as well as just poor people and those exploited because of their race, ethnicity, or even the neighborhoods where they live.

Join us to protest the ongoing campaign of terror against the people. Say no to racist police terror. Demand accountability and action from city officials and an end to police brutality

To endorse the protest, or for more information call 505 268-2488

May 12, 2011 at 10:44 AM in Crime, Events, Law Enforcement | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, May 09, 2011

Borderland Residents Speak Out Against Violence in Mesilla

Contributing writer Stephen Jones checks in with more on-the-ground coverage from Southern New Mexico.

A large and emotional gathering of people from the borderland community joined together on Sunday at the Mesilla Community Center to show solidarity with marches scheduled for this week in Mexico against the drug war and violence south of the border. The event was sponsored by the Comite Amigos de Emilio, a borderlands community organization that supports granting asylum in the United States for exiled journalist Emilio Gutiérrez Soto.

Nelson
Ella Nelson

Ella Nelson of Las Cruces, the organizer, said the event and the committee's goal was to bring greater attention to the case of Gutiérrez and other victims of Mexico's bloodshed. The committee aims to put pressure on U.S. immigration authorities and Mexican officials, and demand action on Gutiérrez's and other asylum-seekers' human rights complaints.

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Emilio Gutiérrez, Ricardo Chavez Aldana

The emotionally charged gathering was keynoted by Mexican journalists Emilio Gutiérrez and Ricardo Chavez Aldana. Both men have been victims of the violence in Mexico and are seeking political asylum in the United States. Gutiérrez fled his town of Ascención, Chihuahua, in 2008 after writing a series of articles criticizing the Mexican army and receiving death threats from the military. Ricardo Chavez Aldana is a radio reporter from Juarez who received death threats and lost several family members who were murdered after he spoke out against the violence on the air in Mexico.

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Emilio Gutiérrez

Calling for peace and justice for Mexico, Gutiérrez laid the blame for the violence south of the border on the complicity of the Mexican military and the Calderon government, which he termed "illegitimate," rather than just on any outlaw cartel. "Because of the government policies, over 45,000 innocent people have died," Gutiérrez said. "There are at least 15,000 'disappeared' people, among them 68 journalists."

"How many mother's have lost their children? How many children have been left orphaned? How many more are living in exile?" he asked. "It's a huge pain that we carry inside of us every day. The most painful thing about all this, for me, is the loss of my home and country," Gutiérrez said, "more sorrowful for me than the loss of my parents."

Gutierrez_Nelson
Gutiérrez, Nelson

Gutiérrez fled Mexico after receiving death threats from the military. A month earlier, more than fifty military personnel overran and illegally ransacked his home after he spoke out in the press against the violence. After fleeing Mexico with his son, Gutiérrez was detained for seven months by U.S. Immigration when he arrived at the border seeking asylum last June. He is currently staying in Las Cruces while his case is pending in the courts.

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Ricardo Chavez Aldana

Ricardo Chavez Aldana, a radio newsman who is also living in exile, also addressed the rally. Chavez Aldana's nephews were murdered after he spoke out on the radio against the violence in Juarez and criticized the military. "Juarez is a dead city," he said. "Four of every five businesses have closed down, and we see blood everywhere."

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Ruben Garcia

Ruben Garcia, the Director of Annunciation House, a shelter in El Paso, recounted the stories of some of those who have sought refuge in his facility, including a mother who has lost four of her five children. "There is a mistaken idea in most of America, promoted by politicians, that one place end and another one begins at a certain line. We need to be mindful of role that the drug trade in America is having on Mexico" Garcia said. "I've heard these stories many times. Im sorry for being emotional" said a tearful Ella Nelson, "but on this Mother's Day, I hope we will take a moment to think about the mothers who have lost their families in this crisis."

For more posts by Stephen Jones, visit our archive.

May 9, 2011 at 10:54 AM in Border Issues, By Stephen Jones, Contributing Writer, Crime, Drugs, Alcohol, Hispanic Issues, International Relations | Permalink | Comments (4)

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Susana Martinez Vetoes Rep. Maestas' Bill Strengthening Sex Offender Registration Law

I wonder what's going on in the brain of Republican Governor Susana Martinez. During her years as a District Attorney in Dona Ana County, Martinez carefully sought to build a reputation as a tough, gun-toting "law and order" type known for her lock 'em up and throw away the key attitude. However, in an odd move, she just vetoed House Bill 298, a measure designed to strengthen New Mexico's Sex Offender Registration and Notifcation Act (SORNA).

In what HB 298's sponsor, Rep. Antonio "Moe" Maestas (D-Albuquerque), is calling "a shocking and blatantly political move," Martinez today vetoed the legislation, which would have closed loopholes and made our streets safer. HB 298 would have required sex offenders to provide law enforcement with more information than is currently required, and added the crime of Child Solicitation by Electronic Communications Device to the list of offenses requiring sex offender registration.

In vetoing the bill, Martinez nixed the judgment of virtually the entire legislature, Republicans and Democrats alike. The measure unanimously passed both the New Mexico House (70-0) and Senate (32-0) during the 2011 Regular Session.

"Anyone with a foreign conviction of sexual assault can still lurk the streets of New Mexico without any supervision," said Representative Maestas. "People who entice our children on-line can still take advantage of a legal loophole and avoid having to register. Vitally needed law enforcement tools to track sex offenders on social networking sites did not become law due to petty politics, but Governor Martinez has made her choice clear-- politics over our children's safety."

"It's unfortunate and quite disappointing that the Governor of our great state doesn’t have the first clue how the legislative process works. Her entire team simply lacks the skill set to craft good laws for the people of New Mexico. Perhaps no one informed the Governor that bills can be amended to address any concerns before even reaching her desk, and that laws can be improved each session," added Representative Maestas.

According to Rep. Maestas, House Bill 298 would have made the following changes had it not been vetoed by the Governor:

  • Closed a loophole in current law by requiring those with foreign sex offender convictions to register as a registered sex offender;
  • Closed a loophole in present law that, regardless of a person's age, both kidnapping and false imprisonment offenses would require registration if there is intent to inflict a sex crime (under current law one only has to register if the victim is under 18);
  • Closed a loophole in current law by creating a new definition for “habitually lives” that would require registration of other addresses where a sex offender spends time;
  • Strengthened SORNA by requiring registrants to provide substantially more information than currently required;
  • Closed a major loophole in current law by adding the crime of Child Solicitation by Electronic Communications Device to New Mexico’s list of offenses requiring sex offender registration.
  • Strengthened SORNA by creating a definition of “Social Networking Website” and requiring that sex offenders disclose identifiers and monikers used on such websites;
  • Streamlined the annual and quarterly address verification process for all registrants, thus saving the local law enforcement time and resources.

April 7, 2011 at 02:23 PM in Crime, Law Enforcement, NM Legislature 2011, Susana Martinez | Permalink | Comments (7)

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Young Women United: Urge Gov. Martinez to Change the Landscape with Treatment Not Incarceration

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Women in recovery share their stories with each other
and community members

This is a guest blog by Adriann Barboa and Micaela Cadena of Young Women United.

As people who work with young women in Albuquerque every day, we are intimately familiar with the landscape of addiction -- its twisting curves, jagged peaks, and endless valleys. In many ways, addiction is the white noise we hear at night, and the background music playing in our earphones by day. It is everywhere.

What does it mean to live in a state where you are more likely to be impacted by addiction than you are to earn a living wage or to graduate from college? It means that virtually every person we know who was born and raised here has a story to tell, about how substance use impacted their lives: their own struggles with drugs, or the struggles of their parents, siblings, partners and friends. Weekly, we hear stories of custody struggles, sexual violence, poverty, and death.  But we also hear stories of hope, healing, unity and recovery.

As the economic crisis digs in, day-to-day struggles are getting worse. Often exacerbated by other stresses, we know substance abuse is generational, contagious, and tenacious. Once it has taken root in a family, neighborhood or town it is hard to remove. But we also know that with quality treatment, it is possible to break free. 

Last week, the New Mexico legislature passed four bills that could expand access to substance use treatment. Taken together, Senate Bill 232, Senate Bill 321, Senate Bill 354, and Senate Bill 451 will dramatically improve the chances that a person struggling with addiction will be able to access treatment.

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Right now, in New Mexico, if you are a substance user and come into contact with the legal system, the only bed you are likely to get is in a jail cell. There is a lack of space in treatment centers, and no incentive, structure or support for judges to get you there. If you are pregnant or a mother, your chances of accessing quality treatment are even worse. Women who are pregnant and seeking help fear prosecution and often don’t reach out. Mothers know they run the risk of losing their children, and often try to get clean on their own, rarely succeeding. 

One woman who has thrived in recovery recently told us, “I was in and out of jail for years. I went into jail broken and lost, and came out of jail broken and lost. Finally, I went into treatment and now I feel whole. I can do better for myself, and I want better for myself.”

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Now is our chance. If Governor Susana Martinez signs these bills, she can save lives. By making quality treatment accessible, Governor Martinez can unclog the courts and make our communities more vibrant and beautiful. She can make real her promise of “bringing bold change and a brighter future to New Mexico families.”

Right now, sitting on Governor Martinez’s desk are four bills that would do that. Join us in urging her to sign, and help change our landscape.  

Adriann Barboa and Micaela Cadena lead Young Women United in Albuquerque, where they each live with their children. Both were born and raised in New Mexico.

If you'd like 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.

Photo credit: Young Women United.

March 30, 2011 at 12:10 AM in Crime, Drugs, Alcohol, Guest Blogger, Justice, NM Legislature 2011, Susana Martinez, Women's Issues | Permalink | Comments (4)

Monday, March 14, 2011

Rep. Maestas Applauds Senate Passage of Drug Treatment Bill, House Next Up

The New Mexico Senate voted 21-3 on Friday to pass drug treatment legislation originally proposed by Rep. Antonio "Moe" Maestas (D-Albuquerque). Senate Bill 321, sponsored on the Senate side by Sen. Richard Martinez (D-Espanola), enacts the “Substance Abuse and Crime Prevention Act” to provide substance abuse treatment instead of jail time for persons charged with certain substance abuse offenses. SB 321 now moves to the full House, where Rep. Maestas says he will fight to secure its passage. Let's hope the House acts quickly, as this legislative session is scheduled to end at noon on March 19.

I've been a fan of this bill since Rep. Maestas first introduced it as HB 178 during last year's legislative session. That time out, the bill was passed in the House by a margin of 34-31, and in the Senate Judiciary Committee on a 8-2 vote, but time ran out before it made it to the Senate floor.

"We must be smart in the fight against crime by holding people accountable and attacking crime head on," Rep. Maestas said. "Treatment instead of incarceration for non-violent drug offenders is cost effective and confronts the root cause of the crime- addiction."

Take Action: Call or email your representative and urge him or her to vote yes on SB 321.

March 14, 2011 at 03:35 PM in Crime, Drugs, Alcohol, NM Legislature 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Rep. Moe Maestas: Refocus Our Energy and Resources on Fighting Violent Crime

HMAES State Rep. Antonio "Moe" Maestas (D-Albuquerque) introduced two bills on the House floor late Friday in an effort to change the way the State of New Mexico fights crime. The proposed bills work to refocus resources on fighting the most violent crimes in New Mexico. House Bill 464 creates tougher homicide sentences, while House Bill 463 will eliminate thousands of misdemeanor traffic cases statewide freeing up resources to fund the enforcement of House Bill 464.

"We have to start looking at the fight against crime through a new lens. It's time to refocus our energy and resources on fighting violent crime in New Mexico and not wasting our courts' precious resources on unnecessary misdemeanor traffic proceedings," Rep. Maestas said. "We have to be smarter, leaner and more efficient."

House Bill 464 increases the maximum sentences that may be imposed for homicides in New Mexico. The maximum sentence for second degree murder would be increased from 15 years to 20 years in prison, voluntary manslaughter would increase from 6 years to 10 years and involuntary manslaughter would increase from 18 months to 3 years.

"Preventing violent crime has to be the overwhelming priority in New Mexico. Homicides are unique in that the defendant can never make things right again for the victims, therefore they must have the harshest penalties on the books," Maestas explained. "It's no secret that resources are scarce, but by saving money through the reduction of misdemeanor traffic cases we can fund our core mission of combating violent crimes such as homicide."

House Bill 463 will prevent the Department of Motor Vehicles from suspending an individual's driver's license after missing traffic court. A bench warrant is sufficient to discourage people from failing to appear in court, and the suspension of a license in addition to the bench warrant is contributing to an already overburdened criminal justice system. The savings incurred from streamlining this process will more than pay for the appropriated cost of enforcing the homicide sentence bill.

"Smart government is good government. We must eliminate inefficient and unnecessary state practices and use our resources more effectively to address the major challenges facing our state such, as violent crime." said Rep. Maestas. "By better utilizing the courts' time and resources we can begin to take a tougher stand against violent criminals and prevent the devastation that homicides cause to families and communities."

February 15, 2011 at 12:23 PM in Crime, NM Legislature 2011 | Permalink | Comments (2)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Rep. Ben Ray Luján: Statement Honoring the Victims of Arizona Shooting

Congressman Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico’s Third District submitted the following statement into the Congressional Record today in support of a House resolution honoring the victims of the shooting in Arizona.

“Mr. Speaker, it is with a heavy heart that I rise today to mourn the victims of Saturday’s tragic shooting that took the lives of six people, injured numerous others, and left our friend and colleague, Gabrielle Giffords, fighting for her life. In an instant, the Tucson community, and indeed the entire country, was shocked by the senseless violence and saddened by the loss.

“For four years, Gabby Giffords has been a well-respected member of this body, serving her constituents with determination and distinction. To those who know her, it comes as no surprise that she is fighting with such tenacity to recover from this severe injury. I wish her all the best on a full and speedy recovery and look forward to the day when we will welcome her back to this chamber.

“I know I join with my constituents in New Mexico in honoring those who lost their life in this heinous attack, those who wanted nothing more than to be part of our democratic process and speak with their elected representative or dedicate themselves to public service. Their memory will not be forgotten. My thoughts and prayers are with all of those involved in this tragedy as well as their family and friends during this difficult time.”

January 12, 2011 at 05:22 PM in Crime, Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (NM-03) | Permalink | Comments (0)

(Updated) Insensitive or Out of Touch? Dan Lewis Announces NM-1 Exploratory Committee One Day After Tucson Violence

Update: Maybe it's a Republican thing to be callous. Right-winger John Boehner, Speaker of the U.S. House, will be hosting a cocktail party for the Republican National Committee at the same time that President Obama will be addressing the nation at the memorial service for victims of the Tucson shooting today at 6:00 PM MST. Boehner turned down a Tuesday invitation from Obama to fly to Tucson with him, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and other lawmakers for the Wednesday night memorial service.
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Lewis2010Sunday was a day when Americans -- and even folks around the globe -- were mourning the victims of the Tucson shootings that had occurred the day before, and searching their souls about what it all means. Albuquerque City Councilor Dan Lewis, on the other hand, was ... announcing his exploratory committee for a possible run for Congress in NM-1, where Rep. Martin Heinrich is serving his second term. I'm not kidding.

Instead of focusing has activities on things like praying for the victims and honoring the sad and solemn atmosphere that prevailed that day, Lewis was apparently slapping backs and and laughing it up at his kick-off event. Moreover, his spanking-new campaign website, launched the same day, doesn't appear to have any acknowledgment of the great tragedy for our nation -- and for the Congress to which he expects to be elevated.

First off, why would Lewis, a Republican serving the West Side in the first year of his first four-year term on the City Council, be announcing his possible candidacy this far ahead of the 2012 election cycle? Secondly, why didn't he hold off doing so on a day when a heart-wrenching tragedy was at the center of almost everyone's thoughts and emotions? After all, there was no rush, given how far away we are from election day. Despite his very minimal experience in politics and government, and almost nothing in his background to suggest he's well prepared to serve in Congress, Lewis apparently believed it was imperative to ignore the grief of the nation and our members of Congress and proceed apace to staking his claim as a candidate.

This is, after all, a man who along with his wife founded the West Side’s Soul Rio Church where, as it says on his bio page, "for many years they have helped counsel troubled marriages, encouraged and supported parents, and promoted strong families." Lewis serves as a pastor, so you'd think he'd understand that his making a political announcement in the midst of a wrenching, unfolding tragedy would be inappropriate and insensitive to everyone touched by the shocking event -- especially to the friends and families of the victims.

Is Lewis tone deaf? Dangerously out-of-touch? Callous? Self-centered? Entirely clueless? On his website, Lewis cites this as one reason he wants to enter the congressional race: "We need someone who understands the people who live, work, raise families, and go to school in our district." But his actions on Sunday say otherwise. They were all about him and his political future, seemingly without any thought of how those outside his political circle might be feeling.

Lewis' behavior is particularly galling, in my view, because the man he wants to challenge -- Rep. Martin Heinrich -- is a good friend and political ally of Arizona Rep. Gabby Giffords. Rep. Heinrich serves with her on the House Armed Services Committee and has worked side-by-side with her on legislation. While Rep. Heinrich's thoughts and prayers were no doubt centered on his severely wounded friend and all the other victims of the attack -- as well as his own vulnerability and that of his family -- you'd think Lewis would have been respectful enough to call off his launch event until a later date. Actions often speak louder than words and, in my view, this doesn't bode well for what Lewis really cares about.

January 12, 2011 at 03:17 PM in City of Albuquerque, Crime, Rep. Martin Heinrich (NM-01) | Permalink | Comments (3)

Rep. Martin Heinrich's Remarks On Tragedy in Tucson

Rep. Martin Heinrich (NM-01) submitted the following remarks to the Congressional Record today to coincide with the introduction of H.Res. 32, a resolution expressing the sense of the House of Representatives with respect to the tragic shooting in Tucson, Arizona, on January 8, 2011:

EXTENSION OF REMARKS HON. MARTIN HEINRICH (NM-1)
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, January 12, 2011

ON THE JANUARY 8, 2011 TRAGEDY IN TUCSCON, ARIZONA

Mr. HEINRICH: Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to the many victims of Saturday’s tragic shooting in Tucson, Arizona, and to voice my hope for a full recovery for each of the survivors, particularly my colleague and friend, Representative Gabrielle Giffords. On behalf of me, my family, my staff, and the constituents of New Mexico’s First Congressional District, I express our heartbreak at the attempted assassination, the devastation of so many innocent lives, and the senseless attack on our nation’s Democratic process.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to all the victims of this senseless tragedy, and especially to the friends and families of Judge John M. Roll, Gabe Zimmerman, Christina Taylor Green, Dorothy Morris, Phyllis Schneck and Dorwan Stoddard. We are grateful for the heroes who courageously intervened, the first responders and health care professionals and those who continue to assist the survivors in their recovery.

Though she remains in critical condition, I know Gabby, and can attest to her nature as a fearless fighter. We’ve worked closely together on the House Armed Services Committee as clean energy advocates and as New Democrats. As the only member of Congress with a spouse on active-duty, she is a tireless advocate for military families and is unquestionably one of the most talented Democratic leaders of my generation. With all of that in mind, I am optimistic and hopeful that she will overcome this tragedy. Her recovery is important to our nations’ future.

Sadly, Saturday’s assassin took advantage of an event which embodies the very essence of public service and the right to assemble without fear. Like Gabby, I hold these kinds of “Congress On Your Corner” events in my district to hear directly from my constituents, whether they agree with me or not. Listening to our constituents is a fundamental duty of each Member of Congress and provides an extraordinary opportunity to talk one-on-one in an inclusive and equitable environment. That our constituents would have to worry about violence as part of that process is unthinkable. We must continue to remain accessible to our constituents while taking appropriate measures going forward to protect their safety.

As we pray for Gabby’s recovery and for the families and friends of all of those impacted by Saturday’s tragedy, let us honor their legacy by striving to reinforce the spirit of Democracy in which the victims sought to engage in on Saturday in Tucson. Together as a nation, we can have a vigorous debate without compromising the civility and respect for one another’s human dignity that is core to our great nation’s principles.

January 12, 2011 at 12:52 PM in Crime, Rep. Martin Heinrich (NM-01) | Permalink | Comments (1)