Tuesday, May 08, 2012
Struggling New Mexicans to Rep. Pearce: Stop Supporting Tax Breaks for Big Oil
(LAS CRUCES) – New Mexicans who are struggling to fill their tanks today contrasted the high cost average New Mexicans are paying at the pump with Big Oil’s $137 billion in pure profits in 2011.
Standing under a billboard asking Rep. Steve Pearce to stop supporting tax breaks for the big-oil industry, average New Mexicans talked about their economic struggles. Since February of 2011, Pearce has voted 8 times to protect oil-industry tax breaks.
“It’s unreal – we pay high prices and the oil and gas companies get away with huge profits at our expense. What’s more? They also get $4 billion in tax breaks supported by Rep. Steve Pearce,” said Las Cruces resident Christian Gomez. “Imagine, that money could be used to do all sorts of things like help people with disabilities, especially our disabled veterans who struggle to find jobs in this economy."
The billboard, which is part of a multi-media effort sponsored in part by the Organizers in the Land of Enchantment (OLÉ) Education Fund, aims to call attention to how ordinary New Mexicans are paying the price for oil-company tax breaks and educate the public about politicians who are consistently voting to preserve tax breaks for an industry that raked in $137 billion in profits in 2011 alone.
"New Mexicans need to know that they are not only getting ripped off by high gas prices, they are also being robbed when they pay their taxes as incredibly profitable oil companies get away with billions in unfair tax breaks," said Las Crucen Gloria Gutierrez-Taylor. "This is money that could be going toward education and raising up our community.”
OLÉ Education Fund is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization committed to empowering and improving the economic well-being of working New Mexicans.
Friday, April 13, 2012
Guest Blog: Pearce’s Paltry Proposal for the Organ Mountains
In recent days, an already popular proposal to designate an Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks national monument has gained a handful of high-profile new supporters. On March 23rd, Congressman Martin Heinrich implored President Obama to utilize a comprehensive approach for protecting these culturally, historically, and environmentally significant New Mexico landmarks by designating America’s newest national monument under the Antiquities Act. Congressman Steve Pearce, however, introduced a wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing bill that would open the door for exploiting more than 150,000-acres of land already under protection. Those who truly want what’s best for these pristine areas and the Doña Ana County economy should be skeptical of Mr. Pearce’s paltry proposal.
Legislation introduced by Sen. Bingaman to protect the Organ Mountains has been in the federal pipeline for years, but the 2010 wave of Tea Party-backed anti-conservation legislators (of which Mr. Pearce was one) dashed any hopes for passing such a bill. But now, in a half-hearted attempt to appease the growing constituency of southern New Mexico voters supporting national monument designation, Mr. Pearce has come out in favor of legislation using the “national monument” label but with drastically different interests.
Republicans in congress continually frame conservation issues in highly misleading ways – like labeling common-sense protections “land grabs” and falsely blaming high energy prices on the EPA – and Mr. Pearce’s ostensible support for an Organ Mountain national monument is no different. Mr. Pearce’s call for just 58,000-acres of protection is trivial compared to the 241,000-acre full national monument designation that would bring New Mexico thousands of jobs, and millions of outdoor recreation and tourism dollars, and which already enjoys broad support throughout the state.
Mr. Pearce dubs his bill a “compromise” when it’s actually a calculated attempt to strip these lands of common-sense protections that could sustain the land while supporting the local economy. Remember, Mr. Pearce has received some of the lowest rankings on environmental voting records given by the League of Conservation voters and he is a proud member of the Congressional Western Caucus, a group of extremist legislators whose website falsely declares that “a monument designation” can be “devastating…to communities and individuals.”
While Mr. Pearce wants to forfeit thousands of acres of protected land to allow for more harmful development and exploitation along the Mesilla Valley, Mr. Heinrich – along with a diverse coalition of conservation, economic, veteran, and sportsmen groups – are calling on President Obama to issue robust protections for these lands by way of the Antiquities Act. Past presidents have used the Act to create New Mexico’s treasured national monuments which contribute over $54 million in annual tourist spending and which support over 1,000 New Mexico jobs. Far from being “devastating” to “communities and individuals,” a true monument designation would bring more tourists, more jobs, and higher incomes to the growing communities of Doña Ana County.
ProgressNow New Mexico supports the effort to have President Obama designate an Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks national monument. Recently, along with other ProgressNow partners, we launched MonumentalWest.com as an online resource that provides information about this important endeavor. Visit the website to learn more about how you can help us call on President Obama to designate critical western lands as national monuments.
Thursday, April 12, 2012
Attorney General Asked to Investigate Dona Ana DA Campaign Practices
New Mexico Attorney General Gary King has been asked to initiate an investigation into campaign practices by Dona Ana County District Attorney Amy Orlando after a mailer and her website were identified as violating New Mexico’s campaign finance laws.
As Dona Ana County District Attorney, Amy Orlando is used to seeing the inside of a courtroom. But a recent political mailer from her campaign may give her a totally new perspective: that of criminal defendant.
A recent mailer from Orlando to prospective voters and supporters failed to disclose the name of the person or group behind printing the mailer. Similarly, her campaign website, www.amyorlandoda.com, fails to disclose the person or group responsible for paying for and publishing the site. According to New Mexico law (NMSA 1-19-16), failing to disclose either the printer of mailers or persons responsible for paying for campaign advertising and communications is a fourth-degree felony, punishable by up to 18-months in jail.
Just last week, Orlando told the Las Cruces Sun-News, “[a]s district attorney, I can not and will not pick and choose which laws I will follow.” Ironically, under the law, Orlando is responsible for investigating and prosecuting violations of this type.
On Thursday, ProgressNow New Mexico formally requested that Attorney General Gary King launch in inquiry into Orlando’s campaign practices.
The mailer is an invitation to attend a fundraiser headlined by Governor Susana Martinez on Friday.
Orlando was handpicked by Governor Susana Martinez, the former Dona Ana County District Attorney, to succeed her in the post after Martinez was sworn-in as governor in 2011.
A review of campaign finance reports on file with the Secretary of State show a March 10, 2012 expenditure to Zia Printing of Santa Fe for “Campaign Materials.” It is not clear if this is the printer for the illegal mailer. Neither of Orlando’s campaign finance reports lists expenditures for website expenses.
Copies of the mailer, and the letter to the Attorney General are available on the ProgressNow New Mexico website at http://www.progressnownm.org/blog/2012/04/irony-alert-district-attorney-runs-afoul-of-election-laws.html
Guest Blog: JFK's Four Most Indispensable Traits of Leaders: “Courage, Judgment, Integrity, and Dedication”
Cotoia is a member of the Democratic Party State Central Committee and has written several guest columns for this site. He is employed as a paralegal with Holt Mynatt Martinez P.C. in Las Cruces and is a Democratic candidate for the District 2 seat on the Doña Ana County Board of Commissioners.
In 1961, shortly before assuming the duties of the Presidency, John F. Kennedy stood before the Massachusetts legislature, and in what became known as his “City Upon a Hill Speech,” famously intoned that there were four qualities that the public should look for and evaluate in their elected officials.
“History shall not judge our endeavors,” he said, “and a government cannot be selected, merely on the basis of color, or creed, or party affiliation. Neither will . . . loyalty and stature, while essential to the utmost, suffice in times such as these.” Instead he said, “courage, judgment, integrity, and dedication” were the four most indispensable traits of leaders who would be worthy of the public trust.
As a student of history, I have always revered John F. Kennedy—despite his personal shortcomings—for the ideal of selfless national service that he elevated during his time in public life. It was only in reading Chris Matthews’ recent biography of Kennedy that I was struck at how far from that ideal we have actually strayed.
The lack of statesmanship and the rise of partisan acrimony are but just two attributes of a system that seems, in the words of FDR, to be “frozen in the ice of its own indifference.” Apathy also pervades, owing to the lofty rhetoric and illusory promises of politicians more concerned with the next election than with being elected officials.
But that apathy comes at a price, as evidenced by the scandals emerging from the small community of Sunland Park, where elected officials are accused of serial deceit and exploitation. The mess there underscores an unfortunate axiom of contemporary politics: unscrupulous politicians can only prey on the public with our own complicity. If ordinary citizens understood that their participation is the strongest safeguard against the corruption and abuse, then perhaps more people would be inclined to fulfill their civic obligation.
I’m mindful that the problem of apathy won’t be solved in this election cycle or even in the distant future. But I am also unwilling to sit by idly while Rome burns, and allow the public’s already tenuous confidence in government to disintegrate.
It’s why throughout my campaign for the County Commission seat which includes the City of Sunland Park, I’m making it my mission to listen and serve; listen to the voices of those who are fed up with politics as usual, and serve those who have been alienated from the electoral process. Wherever I travel, I hear a common theme reverberating among ordinary people: we’re sick of scandal and we need honest leadership.
My number one goal on the Commission will be to remediate that crisis of confidence, by serving as an effective advocate for the communities of the south valley, working to expand economic opportunity in the region; fighting gang violence through enforcement and prevention; and promoting accountability and transparency in county affairs.
It’s true that I’m not a native of New Mexico and I don’t have the extensive family ties of my opponents; but just as President Kennedy exhorted a previous generation to look beyond “color, creed or party affiliation” as a litmus test for candidates, so too I hope the voters will look beyond tribal loyalties and parochial divisions in casting their votes in this race. There’s simply too much at stake to do otherwise.
In the end, it’s up to us to uphold the final prong of Kennedy’s four-part test as a national ideal again. If we truly endeavor honest and faithful service from our politicians, “with an honor mortgaged to no single individual or group and compromised by no private obligation or aim, but devoted solely to serving the public good and the national interest,” it all begins at the ballot box.
Thursday, March 29, 2012
Southern NM Veterans’ Organ Mountains Tour Highlights Importance of Protecting Public Lands
On a tour of various landmarks in the Organ Mountains – Desert Peaks region on Wednesday, Southern New Mexico veterans from every branch of the military discussed their strong shared support for protecting rich public lands within the Organ Mountains and Desert Peaks region in Doña Ana County. Veterans spoke of the importance of having protected mountains and open space at home for veterans to recreate and provide a sanctuary.
The tour included several natural and historic locations including the Organ Mountains, rare World War II Aerial Targets in the Sierra de las Uvas, and the historic Butterfield Stagecoach Trail.
“Veterans – more than most -- recognize that when our sons and daughters are fighting overseas, they’re fighting for so much more than our freedoms. They are also fighting for our land and our nation’s sacred places,” said Dona Ana County-area veteran Peter Ossorio. “To Southern New Mexicans, the craggy peaks of the Organ Mountains and its surrounding desert is one such sacred place. In fact, I would say protecting our public lands heritage is one of the most patriotic things we could do.”
The event, which was a desert tour of some of the public lands proposed for a national monument in Doña Ana County, was organized by local veterans and the national Vet Voice Foundation. The Organ Mountains-Doña Ana County Conservation and Protection Act (S. 1024) would protect these resources as would a recently-announced proposal to create the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument (see www.OrganMountains.org).
Just last week, a broad coalition of Southern New Mexico businesses, sportsmen, faith-based organizations, conservation groups and community leaders announced their support for a Presidential monument designation for the Organ Mountain-Desert Peaks region. Representatives from the Offices of Sens. Bingaman and Udall, two sponsors of S. 1024, were on hand for the veterans tour, which included an expert on the Butterfield Stage and a local historian on the land’s significance.
“As veterans, we are committed to serving beyond the time when we were in uniform,” said Dona Ana County area veteran Bernie Digman. “Serving our country is about so much more than our time in the military – it’s about what we do when we take that uniform off. For me, that means fighting to protect public lands so that my kids and grandkids can enjoy the wonders of nature that I enjoyed as a boy.”
In addition, healthy public lands are critical to many returning veterans as they reintegrate to civilian life.
“You cannot understate the therapeutic value of a camping trip or a peaceful hike for our brothers and sisters who are returning home from service in Iraq and Afghanistan,” Ossorio added. “These wild and beautiful places like the Organ Mountains and Desert Peaks region are a crucial part of the America our service members are fighting for.”
“Protecting public lands is about more than merely conserving acreage, it’s about preserving our history,” Digman said. “Right here in Dona Ana County we have the obvious places to protect – like the crest of the Organ Mountains. But we also have more hidden treasures, like the Butterfield Stage route and the bombing targets carved into the desert these are no less significant than the beautiful vistas we enjoy every day.”
Recent studies have highlighted the positive economic impacts of National Monuments. A 2011 report on Carlsbad Caverns showed an annual tourist spend of $23 million, supporting nearly 350 direct and indirect jobs.
“National Monuments mean local jobs,” said local veteran Nathan Cote. “How? Because when a monument is designated it immediately goes to the top of the list when it comes to tour books and travel blogs. A National Monument in our community will bring more visitors who will spend money and create jobs right here. There really is no downside.”
Nathan Cote, Bernie Digman and Peter Ossorio are all featured in a recent series of videos from the Vet Voice Foundation on the importance of preserving our public lands and heritage.
ABOUT Vet Voice Foundation
Vet Voice Foundation is a national group that works to mobilize veterans to become leaders in their communities on the important issues our nation faces. With regard to the conservation of our public lands, Vet Voice Foundation recognizes that when a service member is fighting for his or her country, they are also fighting for our nation’s natural wonders and an American way of life that is steeped in enjoyment of the great outdoors.
Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Heinrich Calls Upon President for Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument Designation in Doña Ana County
Above photo from Exploring the Southwest Desert USA
On March 23rd - U.S. Representative Martin Heinrich (NM-1) sent a letter to President Barack Obama earlier this week urging him to designate an Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument in Doña Ana County. In his letter to the president, Rep. Heinrich cited the multiple cultural, economical and environmental benefits this monument designation would provide for New Mexicans.
“This proposed monument includes part of the original route of the Camino Real de Tierra Adentro, which took settlers and traders from Mexico City through Las Cruces and continuing north all the way to Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo,” said Rep. Heinrich in the letter. “For more than 300 years, this road served as the sole route from Mexico City into New Mexico. Some of the most vivid characters in New Mexico’s history were active in this area, including Geronimo and Billy the Kid. The Butterfield Stagecoach Route ran right though the Sierra de las Uvas Mountains, which also contain some of the most distinctive Native American petroglyphs and pictographs in the Southwest. The Organ Mountains continue to provide critical cultural resources for the growing Mesilla Valley population.”
“Moreover, protecting these resources will help boost the economy of southern New Mexico,” Rep. Heinrich continued in the letter. “Recent research done by the New Mexico Green Chamber of Commerce shows that the state’s 10 national monuments established through the Antiquities Act account for 1.3 million annual tourist visits and $54 million in annual tourist spending that supports 1,061 New Mexico jobs.”
Tuesday, January 10, 2012
Scott Krahling Seeking New Seat on Doña Ana County Commission
Krahling has served for the last three years representing District 4, but mandatory redistricting implemented earlier this year moved his residence into District 5.
“I supported the redistricting plan knowing that it would make any reelection bid more challenging, but it was the right map to ensure the commission districts aligned best to the county's changing needs and population shifts,” Krahling said. “I've decided to seek the District 5 seat because there's more that I can do for the county, and I invite the voters of District 5 to look at my record of leadership and hard work. I want to earn their votes and continue the work that needs to be done.”
Krahling lists among his accomplishments negotiating a substantial completion ordinance between the county and the Building Industry Association. The substantial completion ordinance prevents homes from being built on lots that do not have adequate infrastructure. The BIA publicly supported the proposal.
“There is so much divisiveness in politics today. However, locally, if we put the right people in the room together, we consistently accomplish good things,” Krahling said.
In addition, Krahling says that starting a new storm water control plan for the east mesa, getting the county started on a strategic plan, and starting mandatory annual ethics training for all commissioners and county staff, are all projects that he worked with county staff to implement and sustain.
“Many of these projects are not complete and I feel like we need commissioners who are ready to put in the hard work needed to get them done,” he said. “I've proven that I'm willing and able to do that hard work.”
In regards to representing a new district, Krahling said he believes the northern part of the county merits a seasoned commissioner who is ready to work with them to address challenges unique to their district.
“I know this will be a challenge, but I'm confident that I can prove to the residents in District 5 that I am the best person for the job,” he said. “The residents of the north need a commissioner who values their participation in projects like comprehensive planning, and I have the experience and work ethic to make sure that their input is heard and acted upon by the commission as a whole.”