Wednesday, August 15, 2012

ONE VOTE 2012 Kick-Off Event

The following announcement is provided by Samantha Kerley; Field Organizer, ONE VOTE 2012.

What is ONE Vote 2012? Read this aboutONE and this ONE Vote 2012.

Vote 2012 kick off event in New Mexico. There will be free food, guest speakers, and great opportunities to learn about ONE, ONE Vote, and how to get involved in an awesome campaign. We focus on issues such as preventable diseases and breaking the cycle of poverty and hungry through smarter agricultural improvements in countries within Africa. Our main goal is to create smarter federal policy priorities for foreign aide and assistance by educating and engaging Senate candidates, elected officials, and members of the community. Learn more and get involved!

One vote 001

August 15, 2012 at 12:27 PM in Events, International Relations, Poverty | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, August 26, 2011

8/27: Preview in Downtown Albuquerque of 'One Million Bones' - Evoking Atrocities Abroad

50k flyer-200
Click image for larger b&w version

Genocides in Africa, child soldiers and political torture in Burma. For millions, such violence and turmoil endure, even today. But an ambitious social art project aims to visualize such tragedies for Americans with the goal of provocation.

One Million Bones brings together people of all ages with artists and activists to create clay bones symbolic of our common humanity, each representing one person’s awareness of recent and ongoing human atrocities, and his or her voice calling for action.

“We can only ignore the silent plight of millions if we continue pretending it’s not our problem or we can’t do anything about it,” said founder Naomi Natale. “One Million Bones provides a direct action that replaces ignorance with knowledge and hopelessness with a sense of purpose. It speaks to our common humanity, and our responsibility to each other.

In 2013, the bones collected from participants around the U.S. will be assembled in a ‘mass grave’ on the National Mall in Washington, DC, a collaborative site of conscience demanding decisive U.S. action.

But on August 27, 2011, One Million Bones will present a 50,000 Bones Preview installation at its headquarters in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The Preview will feature a choreographed performance laying 50,000 clay bones in the streets of Downtown Albuquerque, as well as national speakers. It will take place at 10:00 AM at the intersection of Central and 4th Street in downtown Albuquerque.

Imagine a busy city block bustling with people. From an alley silent, white-clad volunteers appear carrying armfuls of white handmade ceramic bones. They lay the bones in the center of the street and disappear, even as another volunteer appears carrying more bones. Over the course of the day the pile expands outward to fill the entire block. Imagine the sight of 50,000 bones laid bare for the world to see. Imagine the power of that vision.

In Sudan, over the course of their twenty-two year civil war, two million people have been killed and 5.6 million displaced. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, there have been 5.4 million deaths since 1996 and 900,000 people displaced since January 2009. Children make up 47 percent of the fatalities. Rape is a weapon of war, and has become commonplace. In Burma, there are currently 2,200 political prisoners who are being tortured using brutal methods. The Burmese army recruits children as young as nine years old for their forces.

“There continues to be so much devastation in Sudan, Congo and Burma, and yet there have been a few hopeful signs,” said Susan McAllister, Project Manager. “Even the smallest glimmer for the possibility of change requires a redoubling of efforts to support activists who address these and other atrocities. One Million Bones brings the voices of thousands to bear in support of this vital work.”

To learn more or get involved, please visit www.onemillionbones.org.

August 26, 2011 at 05:45 PM in Arts, Events, Genocide, Human Rights, Poverty | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, August 11, 2011

One in Four Households with Children in NM Unable to Afford Enough Food

The New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty says that more than 28% percent of households with children in New Mexico reported in 2009-2010 not having enough money to buy food that they needed at times for themselves or their family during the prior twelve months, according to a new analysis of food hardship data released by the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC). News of deep and widespread food hardship comes just days after the New Mexico Human Services Department (HSD) made another in a series of cuts to the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) programs, which are supposed to protect child from the devastating effects of poverty.

FRAC’s Food Hardship in America series analyzes data that were collected by Gallup and provided to FRAC. The analysis released today examines food hardship rates –- the inability to afford enough food – for households with and without children. Data are available for every state, every Congressional District and 100 of the country’s largest Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs), including Albuquerque. Findings for New Mexico include:

  • In 2009-2010, 28.3% percent of households with children in New Mexico said they were unable to afford enough food. The food hardship rate for households without children was 16.5% percent.
  • For the Albuquerque MSA, the food hardship rate for households with children was 28.2% percent in 2009-2010, and 19% percent for households without children.

HSD Making Cuts Despite Funds on Hand
HSD has made a series of cuts to programs for low-income children and their families. HSD said the cuts were necessary because it did not have enough money. However, HSD recently admitted to the Legislative Finance Committee that it did not spend $10 million in funds it had available to pay for these programs in FY2011. Usually children participating in the TANF program receive $100 in August for school clothing. This year, when families are struggling more than ever to make ends meet, they are receiving half that amount. Over 30,000 children will be affected by the cut despite the fact that HSD has the $1.5 million needed to provide this help. New Mexican families are being forced to choose between feeding and clothing their children.

“This unnecessary cut will put even more strain on families’ ability to put food on the table,” said Patricia Anders, Staff Attorney, New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty. “The new data reaffirm what we’re seeing in our communities –- that far too many people continue to struggle with hunger in these challenging economic times. It demonstrates, as if any further evidence were needed, that this is not the time to make our safety net weaker.”

Congress Must Protect Low-Income Programs
When Congress returns to Washington after its August recess, it will enter the next phase of consideration under the recently passed debt ceiling deal: the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (also known as the “Super Committee”) will hold its first meeting and begin to develop plans to cut an additional $1.5 trillion in spending. The New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty urges Congress and the “Super Committee” to protect low-income programs such as SNAP (food stamps), TANF, Medicaid and WIC from cuts. “Congress must ensure that all deficit negotiations protect nutrition programs and other parts of the safety net that help low-income people,” said Anders.

“These data merely underscore what every Member of Congress should know already -- that his or her district has tens of thousands of households struggling with hunger or food insecurity,” said FRAC President Jim Weill. “Weakening any of these key safety net programs will make hunger and malnutrition more common and deeper. It will increase fiscal deficits, further weaken the economy, and increase human suffering.”

New Mexico Needs Better Outreach
New Mexico has to do a better job using federally-funded anti-hunger programs. About 30% of the New Mexicans eligible for nutrition assistance through the SNAP program are not receiving it, according to the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty. If New Mexico were reaching more people with this program, we would have less hunger, healthier children, more federal dollars flowing into the state, more economic growth, and more jobs.

The full analysis is available on FRAC’s website.

August 11, 2011 at 01:22 PM in Children and Families, Food and Drink, Poverty | Permalink | Comments (3)

Thursday, June 30, 2011

NM Senate Majority Whip Mary Jane Garcia to Receive National NEA Civil Rights Award

MaryJaneGarciaCr Mary Jane Garcia (D-Dona Ana), Senate Majority Whip of the New Mexico Senate, has been selected to receive the 2011 National Education Association (NEA) Reg Weaver Human and Civil Rights Award. Senator Garcia will receive the national award at the NEA annual meeting that is being held in Chicago on June 30—July 5. NEA will present the Reg Weaver Award to Senator Garcia at the Human and Civil Rights Award dinner on Friday, July 1, 2011 at 6:30 PM. Congratulations Senator Garcia!

Upon receiving notice that she had been selected, Senator Garcia said, “Of the many awards I have received in my tenure serving in the state Senate of New Mexico, this is probably the most prestigious and significant.” Senator Garcia added, “I will continue to fight for the dignity and respect of the disadvantaged and I will always work to ensure that their civil and human rights are protected.” 

As most of us know, Senator Garcia’s priorities during her elected service have always been related to poverty, children and human rights. Her legislative successes include creating the Act of Human Trafficking in 2008; Life Sentences for Deadly Child Abuse in 2005, which increased penalties for child abuse; the Hate Crimes Act of 2003; the Subdivision Reform Act of 1995, which instituted requirements for colonias in New Mexico; Megan’s Law, which created a sex offender registry in 1995; and the Family Violence Act of 1993. 

The Reg Weaver Human and Civil Rights Award is a prestigious national award, and nominees are evaluated on the merits of educating the public on issues related to the impact of poverty on children; working actively to promote economic opportunities for all people; inspiring public engagement in the elimination of poverty; promoting public policy that positively affects the economic health and welfare of families; and working in partnership with other agencies/groups to give a voice to those marginalized by poverty.

Photo by Stephen Jones.

June 30, 2011 at 11:00 AM in Children and Families, Civil Liberties, Education, NM Legislature 2011, Poverty | Permalink | Comments (1)

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Bill McCamley: Why I Will Miss Bishop Ricardo Ramirez

BillMcCamley This is a guest blog by Bill McCamley, who is a resident of Las Cruces. He is a former Doña Ana County Commissioner and is currently the Business Outreach Director for ROJO Apparel, a socially responsible clothing company.

“Preach the Gospel at all times, and when necessary use words.”
           --St Francis of Assisi

This week, ceremonies commemorating the beginning of a local reading initiative were held at NMSU. Interested people from many walks of life showed up to lend their support, including educators, University administration, politicians, and volunteers who would then donate their morning to read with children.

One of the speakers was Bishop Ricardo Ramirez, and his blessing included why the ability to read was so important in understanding the power of God’s love. While his statements were short and expected, they were also profound and exemplified why he will be sorely missed by all of Southern New Mexico when he retires in the near future.

His Actions
We have many statements echoing the one given at the beginning of this column. From “actions speak louder than words” to “be the change you wish to see in the world,” society honors those who not only speak well, but lead with the very being of their lives. Bishop Ramirez is one of those people.

While many leaders of faith spend time addressing politically charged, divisive issues like abortion and gay marriage, Bishop Ramirez focuses most of his attention and energy on helping those in our community who have the least voice.

His yearly masses at Mt. Cristo Rey on the border between Mexico and the United States, where at 74 years old he still makes the ascent on foot with everyone else, have always symbolized his advocacy for the basic rights for all people, no matter their nationality. He is known for numerous writings and teachings continually explaining not only how issues such as poverty and a lack of quality health care negatively affect those less fortunate but also what we can do to alleviate them. Specifically, two pastoral letters he authored regarding domestic violence and child abuse are widely recognized internationally as brave and insightful pieces addressing issues that few in the Catholic Church had previously discussed openly.

As a County Commissioner I sat on a committee dealing with colonias, communities in our area where the poorest of the poor live. The Catholic Diocese has been represented on this group for years, and it was obvious by the attention, staff, and resources given to this work by the Diocese’s Department of Social Ministries that helping people with the most basic of needs was one of Bishop Ramirez’s top priorities.

In these actions, he truly echoes the teachings of Christ, who said, “Whatever you have done for one of these least brothers of Mine, you have done for Me."

His Words
In some cases, religious leaders use emotions like fear or guilt in their preaching. This is not a practice with Bishop Ramirez. His sermons never insult or degrade, always appealing to the better angels of human nature and seeking to kindle understanding, kindness, and peace in the community. Statements, blessings, and writings from the Bishop will always contain an abundance of words like love, patience, grace, and forgiveness. And when leading public invocations, he is always as inclusive as possible in showing respect to everyone’s beliefs.

His words reflect his constant efforts to overcome borders, both physical and metaphorical, and never to create them.

Understanding
In my first year as a County Commissioner, as Chairman, I faced an issue regarding prayers said before meetings. It had been the Commission’s practice for a representative of only one type of religious viewpoint to lead the prayers, and sometimes these presentations turned into mini-sermons. I believe strongly that no government agency should ever be used as a tool to influence faith, as someone’s bond with God is one of the most important definitions one can have as an individual. Therefore, I asked that the issue be discussed. However, dealing with this emotionally-charged topic was an extremely hard thing for a 27 year-old, brand new policy maker. So I called Bishop Ramirez.

To be up front, though I was raised Catholic I am not a regular churchgoer, finding that I can expand my own relationship with God in other ways. Even recognizing this, he took my appointment and spent a great deal of time discussing the topic. He is a wonderful listener and, when he did speak, his input showed understanding, insightfulness, and helped me garner a larger perspective regarding the issue that had not previously been clear.

Apparently, making the effort to discuss and understand difficult issues is far from uncommon for Bishop Ramirez. His reputation for tolerance, wisdom, and compassion is commonplace throughout our community, as these words are echoed about him from people of many faiths, ethnicities, and backgrounds.

An Example
As a child, I was always taught that God was the ultimate repository of unquestioning love, constant forgiveness, and universal understanding. If the job of a cleric (be it priest, reverend, rabbi, or imam) is to represent and teach those values to others, then God could ask for no better than Ricardo Ramirez. Our entire community has been strengthened by his presence, and I can only hope that others will work to emulate his actions, message, and disposition.

Bishop, I am sure that I echo many others in wishing you nothing but the best. Thank you for choosing to stay with us, and enjoy your deserved rest.

This is a guest blog by Bill McCamley.

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. Publication of a guest blog does not necessarily mean that we agree or disagree with the points made.

May 14, 2011 at 12:02 AM in Border Issues, Children and Families, Faith Community, Guest Blogger, Las Cruces, Poverty | Permalink | Comments (3)

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

How Dems Can Become Relevant Again, IF THEY DARE!

Noligarchy
Sign at Santa Fe Save the American Dream rally

Economist Robert Reich has been turning out some phenomenal columns that delineate exactly what's wrong with the approach, framing and positions on economic issues of Dem "leaders," officeholders and President Obama himself. He's been expertly and clearly explaining our current economic problems, their cause and what we need to do to fix the deeply entrenched financial disparities.

Ordinary Dems out here in the real world are positively clamoring for the Dem establishment to wake up and smell the injustice -- and demand an end to the plutocratic and oligarchic scams that got us to where we are and that are still at work to make things even harder for working people generally, as well as government employees, teachers, seniors and children. We've seen hundreds of thousands of concerned citizens protesting in Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan and in state capitols and major cities across the nation, including right here in Santa Fe.

The most-heard demands? Tax the rich! Tax the corporations! Stop cutting government funding for essentials because we're not forcing our financial elites to pay their fair share. Raise revenues! Meanwhile most Dem lawmakers in New Mexico and Washington DC just can't bring themselves to say the words "raise taxes on our highest brackets" lest some right-wing nut bag or media pundit call them names. Almost all we hear is the cop-out that "we all have to tighten our belts." Sorry, the working people in this country have already done that, in spades. Unfortunately, even those who agree we need to raise revenues appear mostly to be paying only lip service -- nothing changes in terms of budgets or legislation. 

Reich's latest column tells it like it is on this disturbing and damaging situation. Again. Using FACTS. Definitely worth a read in its entirety, but here's a nugget:

NMTaxRich
At the Roundhouse in Santa Fe

Here's what Democrats should be saying:

Hike taxes on the super-rich. Reform the tax code to create more brackets at the top with higher rates for millionaires and billionaires. Absurdly, the top bracket is now set at $375,000 with a tax rate of 35 percent; the second-highest bracket, at 33 percent, starts at $172,000 for individuals. But the big money is way higher.

The source of income shouldn't matter - salary, wages, capital gains, other unearned income - all should be treated the same. There's no reason to reward speculators. (Don't penalize true entrepreneurs, though. If they're owners who have held their assets for at least twenty years, keep their capital gains low.)

And while you're at it, raise the ceiling on income subject to Social Security taxes. And bring back the estate tax.

Do this and we can afford to do what we need to do as a nation. Do this and you prevent Republicans from setting the working middle class against itself. Do this and you restore some balance to a distribution of income and wealth that's now dangerously out of whack.

Do this, Democrats, and you have a chance of being relevant again

Democrats in positions of power seem to be clinging to the illusion that we'll win in 2012 by standing mute whenever the huge and growing economic disparities in this country are mentioned. Or by siding with the supply-side, anti-government, anti-tax, anti-working class forces bought and paid for by the Koch brothers in some misguided attempt to appear "bipartisan" or "centrist." Or by "compromising" in a way that gives away the entire store to the opposition, even before negotiations begin.

They couldn't be more wrong. There's a growing and passionate people's movement in this country that won't take no for an answer anymore, that won't take the eternal nibbling away (if not gouging) of resources and services for the people while the plutocrats at the top are allowed to keep grabbing more, more, more. We need jobs. We need to rebuild our nation's infrastructure, schools, public buildings, senior centers, affordable housing assets and more. But to do so, we need Democrats to go all out for a return to economic and financial sanity. No more mewling, please. This is a homeland security emergency and the politicos better start seeing it as such, or they'll be out of a job wondering what hit them come 2012. Count on it.

Photos by M.E. Broderick.

March 2, 2011 at 02:51 PM in Children and Families, Corporatism, Democratic Party, Economy, Populism, Education, Jobs, Labor, Obama Administration, Poverty, Senior Citizens, Taxes | Permalink | Comments (13)

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Republicans Vote No on Bills to Help Elderly Poor and Disabled New Mexicans

HGAMPHow low can they go? The progress of two measures sponsored by Rep. Miguel Garcia (D-Albuquerque) that would aid disabled citizens and the elderly poor was halted by Republican House members in the House Voters and Elections Committee (HVEC) yesterday. Both measures would exempt persons from property tax liability if the modified gross income of the person is $15,000 or less and if the property is the primary residence of the person.

HJR 13, which fell on a 4-5 vote, addresses persons who are 100% disabled and qualify. HJR 14, which was stopped with a 5-5 tie, addresses persons 75 years of age or older who qualify, which in New Mexico would primarily consist of widows.   The weather reportedly prevented some members and advocates from attending. (See vote tallies below.)

“I was disappointed to see these important bills die in committee, Rep. Garcia said in a statement released today. "You don’t have to look any farther than Rio Grande Blvd. in Albuquerque to see all the “For Sale” signs and realize the financial hardship on our elderly, not to mention our disabled. It’s a shame to think that these poor viejitas can be displaced from their homes -- homes that they’ve been in and their families have been in for years -- simply because they can’t afford to pay their property taxes. These bills target our extremely vulnerable citizens when their incomes are fixed while the cost of living increases.”

HJR 13 proposes a constitutional amendment to the New Mexico Constitution to exempt persons that are 100% disabled from property tax liability if the modified gross income of the person is $15,000 or less and if the property is the primary residence of the person. The burden of proof lies with the person seeking the exemption and the income amount will be indexed to account for inflation.

If enacted, the legislation would provide much needed assistance to the most vulnerable sectors of New Mexico’s population. Persons qualifying would be determined as 100% disabled according to the processes used by Social Security Insurance and Workman’s Compensation, which have clear-cut systems to determine an individual’s disability in order to administer compensation and Social Security Insurance.

HJR 14 proposes a constitutional amendment to the New Mexico Constitution to exempt persons 75 years of age or older from property tax liability if the modified gross income of the person is $15,000 or less and if the property is the primary residence of the person. The burden of proof lies with the person seeking the exemption and the income amount will be indexed to account for inflation.

According to census data, 4.4% of New Mexico’s population is between 75 and 84 years of age, while 1.6% is 85 years of age or older. Approximately 70% of New Mexico residents own and occupy their homes. Approximately 30% of the population reports a modified gross income or its equivalent of less than $15,000. Therefore, roughly one percent of the state’s population would likely be eligible for the proposed exemption in HJR 14.

As Rep. Garcia explained, “It’s a basic human need and right to have shelter, and being displaced from your home due to cost-of-living increases is an injustice. If we, as legislators, don’t help our most vulnerable citizens then we aren’t serving our state.”

Gonzales: Shame on Republicans
Democratic Party of New Mexico Chairman Javier Gonzales reacted to the Republican move to block property tax relief for the elderly poor this way: "Apparently Republicans are only interested in tax cuts when they are for the wealthy. To deny impoverished seniors property tax relief is both heartless and completely out of touch. Many of New Mexico's poorest seniors are struggling to stay in their homes and just get by on fixed incomes. Rep. Garcia's bill helps keep people in their homes and maybe gives them just a little extra income to get by each month. The Republicans in the Legislature should be ashamed."

Voting Yes
Voting in support of HJR 13 were Rep. Ken Martinez (D-Grants), Rep. James Roger Madalena (D-Jemez Pueblo), Rep. Debbie Rodella (D-Española), and Rep. Mary Helena Garcia (D-Las Cruces).

Voting in support of HJR 14 were Rep. Ken Martinez (D-Grants), Rep. James Roger Madalena (D-Jemez Pueblo), Rep. Debbie Rodella (D-Española), Rep. Mary Helena Garcia (D-Las Cruces), and Rep. Danice Picraux (D-Albuquerque).

No Votes
Voting in opposition to both these bills were Rep. Thomas Anderson (R-Albuquerque), Rep. Nathaniel Gentry (R-Albuquerque), Rep. Conrad D. James (R-Albuquerque ), Rep. James E. Smith (R-Sandia Park), and Rep. Shirley A. Tyler (R-Lovington ).

Not Present
Rep. Ben Lujan (D-Santa Fe), Rep. Edward Sandoval (D-Albuquerque), Rep. Bill Rehm (R-Albuquerque).

February 2, 2011 at 05:14 PM in Economy, Populism, Housing, NM Legislature 2011, Poverty, Republican Party, Taxes | Permalink | Comments (3)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Stand With Senator Bernie Sanders


First 12 minutes of Sanders' filibuster

This is a post by contributing writer, Stephen Jones, of Las Cruces.

On Friday, December 10, an authentic American hero, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, the longest serving independent in the history of the United States Congress, stood in the well in the Senate and addressed a mostly empty chamber otherwise populated by Democrats and Republicans, and a body made up of women and men who apparently are too self-interested to bother to listen. If Sanders' speech fell on deaf ears, many outside those Senate chambers did hear his call to arms. In fact, Sanders' filibuster grew so popular on Friday that the high volume of web traffic temporarily knocked down the Senate video feed. Sanders quickly rose to the top topic on Twitter, here in the U.S. and internationally.

Furthermore, Sanders' address was a genuine filibuster, not the sorry Harry Reid-era wink-and-nod “filibuster” that passes for political gamesmanship in this age. Sanders fought the bad tax deal in Washington by himself; his nearly nine-hour marathon speech received the support, very briefly, of only two other Senators, Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Mary Landrieu of Louisiana. For those who stopped to watch or listen, on C-SPAN or elsewhere, it was a stirring call to arms, a call to stand up for the values most cherished by the majority of Americans. That Senator Sanders' address, made to what has for all intents and purposes become the American House of Lords, rather than its representative Senate, was effective can’t be denied. The current holder of the bully pulpit, Mr. Obama, found it necessary to call Bill Clinton for back up in response.

Seven hours into Senator Sanders' address, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama appeared in the White House briefing room together (video), pleading for the bad deal and trying to draw the spotlight away from the Senator from Vermont. In an awkward, even bizarre, move about 10 minutes in, Obama exited the briefing room to attend a holiday party, leaving Clinton out there on his own taking questions from the press for another 30 minutes, as if he were still president. For many of us, the joint appearance only underscored the obvious. The leadership of the progressive movement is not in the White House.


Sanders on income inequality: economy's winners and losers

One of the authentic leaders of progressivism that has now emerged is Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont. Sanders served four terms as the independent Mayor of Burlington, Vermont. In 1990 he garnered 56% of the vote against both the Democratic and Republican candidates, and was elected to Congress. When Senator Jim Jeffords retired in 2006, Sanders was elected to fill the Vermont Senate seat. He was opposed by both major parties in each of his electoral victories save one, the Senate campaign of 2006, in which the Vermont Democrats finally joined forces with Bernie Sanders' independent Vermont Progressive Party to elect him.

At the heart of Sanders' speech on Friday was a call to arms for all progressives to stand and fight for middle-class and working-class Americans. On Friday he attacked the wrong-headed deals between so-called leadership in both major parties that would gut Social Security, give more hand-outs to those corporate entities that brought the economy to disaster, further monopoly combinations, and the right-wing attempt to abolish the estate tax. In his speech, Sanders frequently reminded viewers and listeners of the principles progressives have championed since the times of Theodore Roosevelt.

This bad deal is not yet passed into law. We, as progressives, need to remind our Democratic Senators who the voters who make up the base of the Democratic Party in New Mexico are, and demand they begin to show the courage to stand up for what we expect of them. We should all be contacting our Congressional leadership over the next few days to ask them to turn thumbs down on this bad deal in Washington.

To read more posts by Stephen Jones, visit our archive.

C-SPAN has the entire filibuster on video and in a transcript. Daily Kos live blogged the entire speech. Here are a couple more excerpts:


Child poverty in U.S.


Credit card companies


Senators Sherrod Brown, Mary Landrieu

December 11, 2010 at 12:49 PM in By Stephen Jones, Contributing Writer, Children and Families, Corporatism, Economy, Populism, Filibuster, Obama Administration, Poverty, Progressivism, Taxes | Permalink | Comments (6)

Friday, September 03, 2010

Guest Blog: Response to Hateful Letter About Brian Colón Published in Valencia County News-Bulletin

This is a guest blog by Victor Raigoza, a life-long Democratic activist who serves as Vice Chair of the Democratic Party of Bernalillo County.

Victor offers a message to Democrats in response to a letter to the editor published this week in the Valencia County News-Bulletin with the headline, "Lt. Governor candidate needs to act like a man." The letter is a hateful and highly personal ad hominem attack on Democratic Lt. Governor candidate Brian Colón and his family. The letter has prompted numerous complaints to the newspaper questioning why such a venal, insulting and slanderous message was published at all.

There has also been a huge outpouring of heartfelt support for Brian and his family, who lived for many years in Valencia County as highly respected and much-loved members of the community. His father suffered from muscular dystrophy and was lovingly cared for by his mother, who also suffered from health problems. The family built and operated a local flea market to help make ends meet, and Brian worked there and at other jobs from a young age. Both of his parents are now deceased, with his dad passing away at much too early age due to MD.

On the campaign trail, Brian often talks about his experiences growing up, how Democratic programs like surplus cheese from the federal government helped the family survive and how educational assistance helped him become the first in his family to earn a college degree, and then a law degree. He believes in helping and trying to inspire others to do the same, and is a strong supporter of public education and the compassionate values that have long been the core of Democratic Party principles. Brian Colón not only talks the talk, he walks the walk. -- Barbara Wold

My fellow Democrats,

This past Wednesday, the Valencia News-Bulletin published what I consider to be the most hateful, mean-spirited letter to the editor I have ever seen in my life.

The sad part about the letter is that it represents the views of so many right-wing Republicans who are vehemently against so much of what we as Democrats hold near and dear to our hearts. I believe that the author expresses the true feelings of compassion -- or I should say the lack of compassion -- of the current New Mexican Republican Party.

My immediate response to the letter was one of anger in that I truly feel, "you can mess with me but don't mess with my family." Brian Colón is not only a dear friend to me and many of you, but he also is an example of the success of so many of the programs we as Democrats have fought to implement over the years. If the letter does not stir you to the importance of the upcoming election, nothing will.

After reading this letter, I hope you are moved to do whatever you can to assure a Denish-Colón victory in November. Over the next 60 days, when you are so tired or so busy that you feel that you simply cannot do more to help the cause, please reread this letter. I guarantee that it will motivate you to go the extra mile in support of our candidates and our cause.

Are you going to stand by and let this bully talk this way to one of our own, or are you going to be moved to action? I have never tolerated bullies and I am not about to start now. I am here to fight to the end to defend my candidates and my Democratic family -- and I hope I can count on you to do the same.

Your Bernalillo County Vice Chair and your brother in arms,

Victor P. Raigoza

This is a guest blog by Victor Raigoza. 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.

Note: Research via Google shows that the author of the vile letter to the editor is, among other things, a tea party activist, a self-described Lifelong Conservative Republican and a collector of Ann Coulter dolls.

He wrote on the Coulter doll site, "I'm buying my oldest daughter this doll. I would much rather she grow up to be like Ann than some liberal, tree-hugging, no brain Barbie. Ann speaks the truth, that's why the left hates her so. If I were elected President, Ann Coulter would be my press secretary."

He is listed as the official New Mexico organizer for Draft Palin 2012. He’s also a "Tea Party Patriot and a member of the Los Lunas Tea Party group as well as the right wing group “New Mexico Liberty.”

The guy also tried to infiltrate a private fundraiser for the ticket in Los Lunas last month, where he had to be escorted out after causing a ruckus. At that time he claimed he was not a conservative political activist at all.

If you'd like to express your opinion to the News-Bulletin about their publication of this slanderous, personal attack on Brian Colon, click here.

September 3, 2010 at 11:15 AM in 2010 NM Governor's Race, 2010 NM Lt. Governor Race, Brian Colon, Democratic Party, Guest Blogger, Poverty, Republican Party, Right Wing | Permalink | Comments (9)

Monday, March 29, 2010

New Mexico Launches Campaign to End Child Homelessness at 2010 Summit

On Friday, March 26, service providers for the homeless, children’s advocates and officials from across New Mexico gathered to launch the New Mexico Campaign to End Child Homelessness. The goal of the New Mexico Campaign is to ensure that not one child is homeless for even one night, according to a statement released by the Campaign.

The Campaign will address child homelessness in New Mexico by increasing public awareness of the problem, strengthening state policies and plans to address the problem, and identifying and sharing solutions to the problem. Approximately 9,000 children in New Mexico are homeless each year. The constant barrage of stressful and traumatic experiences has profound effects on their development and ability to learn, ultimately affecting their success in life.

“The launch of the Campaign to End Child Homelessness is a critical step in New Mexico,” said Dr. Jaime Tamez, Executive Director of Cuidando los Niños, in a written statement. “If we truly believe that children are our hope for the future, and if we are truly sincere when we say that children are a priority in New Mexico, then we must end child homelessness in our state. I am extremely inspired by the commitment of Summit participants from throughout our state to the goals of ending child homelessness. I witnessed their energy, creativity and dedication, and I firmly believe that by working together we can end child homelessness in New Mexico.”

Dr. Tamez unveiled the official New Mexico Campaign Declaration of Commitment, signed by many individuals and organizations who are committed to ending child homelessness in New Mexico. The Declaration will be displayed in the New Mexico State Capitol following the Summit.

“Homelessness exists because of choices we make as a community – whether with intent or by default,” said Jennifer Metzler, Executive Director of Albuquerque Health Care for the Homeless. “Of course no child should experience homelessness. However, we create that reality through our collective choices. We know how to end child homelessness. We can end it, and that is why this Campaign is so crucial. It establishes the commitment and brings us together to make it happen.”

The New Mexico Campaign to End Child Homelessness launched during the 2010 Summit to End Child Homelessness on March 25 and 26 and was the result of several months of planning and organizing by a partnership of local and national organizations. The Summit marked the first time community leaders and advocates statewide have gathered to specifically address the issues facing New Mexico’s most vulnerable population—homeless children.

"When children are homeless, even for a short while, it disrupts their lives in ways that they may never fully recover from,” said Hank Hughes, Executive Director of the New Mexico Coalition to End Homelessness. “Consider all the suffering that could be prevented by ending child homelessness. Consider all the opportunities that homeless children could gain with housing. The benefits to society far outweigh the costs of giving all children stable housing."

Secretary Dorian Dodson of the New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department delivered the keynote speech on March 26. The New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department was the title sponsor for the Summit. The Summit featured speakers from the national and state level, as well as panel discussions with families who are formerly or currently experiencing homelessness.

“The National Center on Family Homelessness is pleased to join with our partners and friends launch the New Mexico Campaign to End Child Homelessness,” said Christina Jordan, Director of the national Campaign to End Child Homelessness, an initiative of The National Center on Family Homelessness. “Together we can make a difference in the lives of children and families who are homeless and at-risk of homelessness here in New Mexico and ensure that not one child is homeless for even one night.”

In a recent show of support for the New Mexico Campaign, the New Mexico House of Representatives unanimously passed House Memorial 7, sponsored by Representative William O’Neill. The bill directs the New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department to report on child homelessness in New Mexico and make legislative recommendations to the Interim Health and Human Services Committee by November 2010. Moving forward, the New Mexico Campaign indicated they will work with the Children, Youth and Families Department and will continue to collaborate with partners across the state to end child homelessness.

Homeless Children in New Mexico: According to America’s Youngest Outcasts: State Report Card on Child Homelessness, there are almost 9,000 homeless children each year in New Mexico. When homeless, children experience high rates of acute and chronic health problems. Children experiencing homelessness are sick four times more often than other children. They go hungry at twice the rate of other children and have three times the rate of emotional and behavioral problems. Children who are homeless struggle in school, with an average 16% lower proficiency in math and reading. For more information, please visit www.familyhomelessness.org and www.HomelessChildrenAmerica.org.

New Mexico Campaign to End Child Homelessness: Not One Child, Not One Night: The New Mexico Campaign to End Child Homelessness is an initiative of the national Campaign to End Child Homelessness which seeks to increase public awareness, inform state and federal policies, and improve services to prevent and end child homelessness. The New Mexico Campaign is composed of a coalition of organizations that includes Albuquerque Health Care for the Homeless, Center for Social Innovation, Cuidando Los Niños, The National Center on Family Homelessness, New Mexico Coalition to End Homelessness, New Mexico Voices for Children, St. Martin’s Hospitality Center, and many others. For more information, visit Homeless Children America - New Mexico and Family Homelessness - New Mexico.

March 29, 2010 at 01:07 PM in Children and Families, NM Legislature 2010, Poverty | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

NM Voices for Children Applauds Food Tax Veto, Decrys Other Budget Changes

New Mexico Voices for Children released this statement after Governor Richardson signed the state budget for the upcoming fiscal year: 

"We're pleased that the Governor vetoed the food tax, which would have hit low-income families the hardest. However, we're disappointed with his veto of the increase in the Low-Income Comprehensive Tax Rebate and his decision to divert $11 million that had been earmarked for early childhood care and education programs for use elsewhere."

The group noted that the Low-Income Comprehensive Tax Rebate (LICTR) helps offset regressive taxes for the very poorest of the poor. It had been raised in an effort to offset the food tax and the increased sales tax, known as the gross receipts tax (GRT). According to a recent report from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, New Mexico's tax structure is already regressive, and residents at the lowest income levels pay more than twice as much in state and local taxes as the wealthiest pay, as a percentage of their income.

"We didn't believe the food tax should have been in the package in the first place," said Bill Jordan, Policy Director for NM Voices. "But the LICTR increase was intended to offset the one-eighth cent increase in the GRT as well, and unfortunately that increase is still intact. This will make it harder for working families to buy non-food necessities like diapers and aspirin."

The $11 million earmarked for early care and education programs was to come from the 75 cent-per-pack increase in the tobacco tax. "We're pleased that the Governor kept the tobacco tax and made it permanent, because that will keep young people from taking up smoking and convince some long-time smokers to quit," said Jordan. "But his decision to divert the $11 million from programs that help our kids succeed in school is a real disappointment. These programs have already taken a big hit from recent budget cuts," he added.

"We look forward to working with state leaders to craft future budgets that prioritize children and working families," added Jordan.

March 24, 2010 at 03:47 PM in Children and Families, Economy, Populism, Food and Drink, Gov. Bill Richardson, NM Legislature Special Session 2010, Poverty, Taxes | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Think New Mexico: Read Citizen Letters Urging Defeat of Food Tax

JasonEspinoza2 This morning, Think New Mexico's Field Director, Jason Espinoza, hand-delivered 511 email letters to Governor Bill Richardson. The letters expressed opposition to the latest food tax legislation that is being proposed as part of a deal made by New Mexico's House and Senate leaders.

The letters came from all over the state through the Think New Mexico website. To get a feel for the passionate opposition ordinary people are expressing towards the food tax -- as well as the day-to-day struggles already being experienced by New Mexicans in this dicey economy -- read through a selection of the letters (pdf).

A few excerpts:

--Please do not impose a tax on food. I can barely pay my utilities, especially propane to heat my house and gas for my car. If I pay a tax on food, then I won't be able to pay for clothes; which are already taxed - so the state will lose the money on that sale, and other items that I won't be able to afford any more.

--My husband and I are on social security. As you know there won't be a cost of living increase for us for two years. In the midst of the most severe recession in seven decades, it is wrong to increase taxes on people living off of social security.

--As a family we do not eat out, except for special occasions and when we are out of town. With that said our grocery bill for 2009 was approximately $12000.00. So 5% would increase my grocery bill by $600.00 (8% would be $960.00).

To add your voice to the mix, visit the Think New Mexico website and write a letter of your own.

March 2, 2010 at 04:07 PM in Economy, Populism, Food and Drink, NM Legislature Special Session 2010, Poverty, Taxes | Permalink | Comments (0)