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Monday, February 28, 2005

URGENT ACTION: Help Stop Another Extremist Judge

From the League of Convervation Voters:
President Bush is trying to dismantle our environmental protections by resubmitting activist judges with extremist records for lifetime appointments to the Federal Bench.

Tomorrow, the Senate Judiciary Committee will vote on the nomination of William Myers -- a nominee with such an extreme record that he failed to be approved in the last session of Congress. Your action is urgently needed -- if he's confirmed, he'll be undermining environmental laws for decades.

Myers's nomination failed the first time because of his radical record -- tell the Judiciary Committee to turn him down again!

  • Myers's professional credentials consist primarily of his service as an advocate for mining, grazing, and other special interests opposed to federal environmental laws that are critically important.
  • His lack of sufficient legal credentials caused the American Bar Association to give Myers its lowest passing grade for a nominee.
  • He argued to the U.S. Supreme Court that Congress lacks the authority under the U.S. Constitution to extend Clean Water Act protections to certain wetlands and other waters -- a position that is even at odds with the Bush Administration's own Department of Justice.
  • His call to elevate property rights to the level of "a fundamental right" under the Constitution would result in striking down many of our nation's important environmental laws as well as many other health and safety regulations.
  • As Solicitor at the Department of Interior, Myers showed a disturbing pattern of improper procedures that were rebuked and overturned by courts and the Interior Department itself.

Write to the Judiciary Committee today and tell them to vote NO on the Myers nomination.

February 28, 2005 at 05:12 PM in Candidates & Races | Permalink | Comments (0)

ACTION UPDATE: DOMA & Domestic Partnership Bills

From Equality New Mexico:
Two Senate Judiciary Committee hearings are coming up this week:

Senate Bill 340, extending domestic partner health insurance to cover state retirees, was supposed to be heard Saturday and is now scheduled for Monday (today) at 2 PM. 

Senate Bill 597, the "simple" DOMA defining marriage between one man and one woman, and Senate Bill 576, Domestic Partner Benefits, will most likely be heard on Wednesday, March 2.  We'll send out more info as soon as we have it. 

The hearing rooms for both will no doubt again be small, but please contact the Senators on the Senate Judiciary Committee and ask them to vote YES on Senate Bill 340, YES on Senate Bill 576, and NO on Senate Bill 597.  Besides asking them all to vote YES on SB 340, here are some more specific messages to pass along.  Additional talking points are below.  Thanks!!

Senator Cisco McSorley, Democrat, Senate Judiciary Committee Chair, District 16, Bernalillo County (Albuquerque)  cisco.mcsorley@nmlegis.gov

"Thank you for being a champion for our families."

Senator Richard C. Martinez, Democrat, Senate Judiciary Committee Vice Chair,  Los Alamos, Rio Arriba & Santa Fe Counties (Espanola), richardc.martinez@nmlegis.gov , 986-4389

"DOMA hurts gay families.  Please oppose SB 597.  Please support SB 576, Domestic Partner Benefits."

Senator Rod Adair, Republican, District 33, Chaves & Lincoln Counties (Roswell) radair@dfn.com, 986-4385

"DOMA hurt gay families.  Please oppose SB 597.  Please support SB 576, Domestic Partner Benefits."

Senator Kent L. Cravens, Republican, District 21, Bernalillo & Sandoval Counties (Albuquerque) klcravens@alphagraphics.com, 986-4391

"DOMA hurt gay families.  Please oppose SB 597.  Please support SB 576, Domestic Partner Benefits."

Senator John T.L. Grubesic, Democrat, District 25 Santa Fe County (Santa Fe) john.grubesic@nmlegis.gov,  986-4260

"Thank you for being a champion for our families."

Senator Clinton D. Harden, Republican, District 7, Colfax, Curry, Harding, Quay, San Miguel, Taos & Union Counties (Clovis) charden@theosogroup.com, 986-4369

"DOMA hurt gay families.  Please oppose SB 597.  Please support SB 576, Domestic Partner Benefits."

Senator Linda M. Lopez, Democrat, District 11, Bernalillo County (Albuquerque) 986-4737

"Thank you for being a champion for our families."

Senator William H. Payne, Republican, District 20, Bernalillo County (Albuquerque)  william.payne@nmlegis.gov, 986-4276

"DOMA hurt gay families.  Please oppose SB 597.  Please support SB 576, Domestic Partner Benefits."

Senator Lidio G. Rainaldi, Democrat, District 4, Cibola & McKinley Counties (Gallup) 986-4310

"DOMA hurts gay families.  Please oppose SB 597.  Please support SB 576, Domestic Partner Benefits."

Senator Michael S. Sanchez, Democrat, District 29, Valencia County (Belen) senatormssanchez@aol.com,  986-4727

"Thank you for your support.  Please encourage all Democrats to do the right thing: oppose SB 597 and support SB 576.  DOMA=Discrimination."   

Talking Points:

On February 1, the New Mexico State Senate introduced a "simple DOMA" (Defense of Marriage Act) that aims to insert the phrase "between a man and a woman" into the current NM statute defining marriage as a "civil contract."

SB 597 discriminates and denigrates:  Marriage is state-regulated body of civil law designed to protect couples and families.  It is a civil right, not a heterosexual privilege. 

SB 597 is anti-equality and anti-gay:  SB 597 would codify second-class citizenship for all gay, lesbian, and bisexual New Mexicans. 

SB 597 would be the first explicitly anti-gay law in NM.

SB 597 is anti-family:  The 2000 census reported one in three New Mexico lesbian households and one in four gay-male households have children under 18 living at home.  There are few rights more basic than the right to love, bond, and create family.  There are few tasks more basic to government than to protect loving, committed families.

SB 597 is bad business:  Businesses value tolerance in their work states and work places.  (The Rise of the Creative Class: And How It's Transforming Work, Leisure, Community and Every Day Life, Richard Florida, Basic Books, 2002). "Diversity and quality of life" brought THE GAP to New Mexico (ABQ) over Texas (El Paso). Reports suggest treatment of gays were a large factor ("Corporate Doubles and El Paso," Albuquerque Journal, Business Outlook, April 23, 2001).

SB 597 is expensive: 18 other states in the US are about to spend millions of dollars in court deciding the legality of their "defense of marriage acts" (DOMAs). Why would New Mexico want to be 19th, spend a million dollars, and find out what every other state will pay to find out: DOMAs are unconstitutional?

SB 597 is unconstitutional:  It violates the NM Human Rights Act and the New Mexico constitution's guarantees of equal protection under the law.

SB 597 is NOT about marriage:  It's about not wanting gay New Mexicans to have rights, to be equal citizens.  Many of the same people who voted against civil rights for gay people will likely vote in favor of DOMA.

SB 597 is politically dangerous for legislators who vote against marriage equality: 94% of state legislators across the country who voted against discriminatory marriage bills were re-elected in November 2004. This re-election rate is higher than average for all state legislators (90% for House incumbents, 92% for Senate incumbents).

SB 597 violates separation of church and state:  No civil marriage laws can or will compel any religious organization to perform same-gender marriage ceremonies.  SB 597, however, does impose a religious definition of marriage on an entire body of civil law.  (Note: a significant number of religious denominations do perform same-gender unions, so the definition of religious marriage differs, even within a religious context.)

Support SB 576 - Domestic Partner Rights & Responsibilities Act
Sponsored by Senator Cisco McSorley

SB 576 creates a licensing process for Domestic Partners that requires the submission of an affidavit to the County Clerk followed by the recording of a Certificate of Domestic Partnership.

Right now, unmarried couples have no legal recognition for their relationships under NM law.  This creates many hardships for gay, lesbian, and heterosexual unmarried couples and families.

No matter how much money unmarried couples spend on legal agreements like wills and powers of attorney to protect each other and their children, they cannot duplicate many of the rights and protections that NM offers to couples who can marry.

SB 576 is not marriage, but it goes a long way to protect children and families from unnecessary hardship.

SB 576 in brief:
SB 576 creates a system of Domestic Partnerships for any two unmarried adults, gay or not gay.  This could include senior citizens or disabled people who cannot get married to each other because one or the other would lose their social security or other benefits.

A domestic partnership is not a marriage and a domestic partner is not a spouse.

Domestic Partnership confers all the NM state (no federal) rights, benefits, protections, responsibilities and obligations of New Mexico civil marriage in the areas of...
Death & Inheritance
Insurance benefits
Health care decision-making
Family Relationship
Dissolution of a Domestic Partnership

People wishing to become Domestic Partners will go to any County Clerk and file Parties must live together or be going to live together

Be over 18
Capable of consent
Not married to anyone else and not related by blood
Pay $25

County Clerks will send a Domestic Partnership License to the couple, which must be filled out and returned for recording within 90 days.  A recorded Domestic Partnership License will be mailed to the partners after being filed by the clerk.

February 28, 2005 at 10:33 AM in Local Politics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Election Reform on the House Side

Via United Voters of New Mexico:
Again now, with 20 days to go, is the time to get the message to our lawmakers about the need to add amendments to the election reform bills moving through the legislature. On TUESDAY amid a heavy agenda starting at 1:30 in Room 315, the House Consumer and Public Affairs Committee will be considering Rep. Mary Helen Garcia’s HB 1026 (which mandates VVPB but does not cover Automatic Audits) and Rep. Ed Sandoval’s HB 1063 (which has neither VVPB nor Automatic Audits, but has a better chance of passage).

Please take time today to call the HCPA Committee members and urge them to support Voter Verifiable Paper Ballots and Automatic Audits. They are:

Rep. Gale Beam of Albuquerque, 986-4844
Irvin Harrison of Gallup, 986-4464
Thomas Anderson of Albuquerque, 986-4226
Keith Gardner of Roswell, 986-4211
Joni Gutierrez of Las Cruces, 986-4234
Dianne Hamilton of Silver City, 986-4221
Al Park of Albuquerque, 986-4234

In your messages, say that only VVPBs allow voters to know their votes were registered as they intended and Automatic Audits are necessary to ensure that the electronic count is checked against the paper ballot count.

Please also phone the same message to the key election reform lawmakers: Speaker Ben Lujan of Santa Fe at 986-4782 and Rep. Ed Sandoval at 986-4840. Some Dem leaders argue that switching to VVPB-capable machines is too costly. Point out that buying more non-VVPB machines will be a waste of money and that half of NM counties already have electronic optical-scan machines that use VVPBs and it wouldn’t cost excessively to equip the rest of them with optical scan. At the Capitol, attention is paid to barrages of phone calls. Please make them! And if possible go to the Committee hearing and raise your citizen’s voice.

February 28, 2005 at 08:26 AM in Local Politics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, February 27, 2005


As you may have noticed, TypePad was a little loony today. First it wouldn't let me post or delete. Then after much ado and trial and error, the posts finally showed up. So at last we can enjoy our traditional Sunday Bird Blogging, War of the Parakeets style this time.

February 27, 2005 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

War of the Parakeets


We had to evict our female lutino parakeet Ginger (above) from the main cage yesterday. Her former cagemates Whitey (female albino) and Queenie/Fred (green male) have been getting amorous of late (especially in the early morning before the cage cover comes off) and Whitey has been laying eggs. This prompted Ginger to get extremely aggressive towards the couple who shared her home.

Earlier in this melodrama we had to remove a nest box and abandon the idea of raising parakeet chicks because Ginger wouldn't let Whitey into the box to lay her eggs. She stood guard in front of the box and wouldn't budge. This led to us allow Whitey to just lay her eggs on the cage floor, where she has been alternating sitting on them and ignoring them. None of the seven she has layed so far has hatched. Here's Whitey the red-eyed albino:


Yesterday we noticed Ginger grabbing onto Whitey's tail feathers and whomping her. The last straw was when we discovered her swinging Whitey around by the feathers on her head. Yes folks, we have a war-monger, red-eyed lutino parakeet on our hands, at least when breeding time is nigh.

So we removed Ginger to her own cage and that's that. She is now a solo parakeet and will stay that way until and if we decide to get her a pal. She can still see her ex-cagemates but she can't swing them around by their feathers anymore. Below there's a photo of Queenie (Fred), the focus of the females' fighting. You have to admit he IS a handsome bloke! It is sad to have to split up the dancing pair of Ginger and Fred(Queenie), but establishing parakeet peace has to be our number one priority. As of now, Ginger's only company is the fake parakeet in the photo above. Can't hold a candle to Queenie though!


(Click on photos for larger images.)

February 27, 2005 at 01:09 PM in Bird Blogging | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Results of Friday Election Reform Bill Hearing

On Friday, February 25, 2005, the Senate Rules Committee passed the combination election reform bill, sponsored by Rules Committee Chair Linda Lopez and Senator Ortiz y Pino, on a straight party line without recommendation. All Democrats on the committee voted for the bill, while all Republicans voted against the bill.  Senators Lopez and Ortiz y Pino worked in conjunction with the Governor's office and the Secretary of State's office in crafting this bill, and it's been reported that the Governor supports it.

This bill presently includes requirements for what is called a "voter verified paper trail," as well some form of a recount procedure, but the language does not entirely fulfill all of our requirements.

This bill is called the Election Reform Substitute Bill (SRC/SB40) and combines/replaces Senate Bills 678, 680, 718 and 735.

This weekend the Senate Rules Committee will work on the combined bill, with the Governor's and Secretary of State's offices, to create amendments. There is a push to have these amendments include language that better matches our desires for a "voter verifiable paper ballot," as well as a more clearly defined automatic audit requirement.

This combined bill will next go to the Senate Judiciary Committee early next week. We have heard it will be considered on Wednesday, March 2, but this can change. It is believed the bill has a very good chance of passing the SJC, as its membership is 6 Democrats and 4 Republicans. Senator Linda Lopez, who is working on the amendments this weekend, is also a member of the SJC and so is in a good position to translate our concerns from the Rules Committee to the Judiciary.

The Senate Judiciary Committee reportedly will also be hearing Senator Cisco McSorley's election reform bill (SB1065) on Wednesday, upon which members of United Voters of New Mexico and Sonja Elison have worked very hard. There is a chance that our preferred language on voter verifiable paper ballots and automatic audit in this bill may be transferred to Sen. Lopez's combination bill if all goes well this weekend.

As things stand, it looks like people should try to attend the Senate Judiciary Committee meeting on Wednesday, March 2, at 2:30 PM in Room 321 to continue to impress upon the Democratic Senators that election reform is vital and must include provisions for voter verifiable paper ballots and automatic audits and recounts. But keep checking back in case of last-minute changes. At this point in the Legislature, things are very fluid and scheduling can change very quickly.

(Thanks to DFNM member Dory Shonagon for information included in this post. A report on these events with additional information, released by United Voters of New Mexico, follows below.)

Thank you to everyone who attended the Senate Rules Committee this morning. It lasted until after 2pm, but we accomplished what needed to be done.

Bob Stearns of Verified Voting New Mexico summarizes:
Hi All, Charlotte and Wayne report that the Senate Rules Committee today passed the Election Reform Substitute Bill (SRC/SB40) without recommendation. Consideration began around noon and Senators Linda Lopez (also Committee Chair) and Gerry Ortiz y Pino went through the bill page by page. The Chair gave time for comment by VVPB and Automatic Audit supporters among the public attendees, and substantial discussion focused on the true nature of the VVPB as opposed to the end-of-day print-out tape produced by existing machines. The vote was partisan, with Dems voting for and Repubs against (the latter voting mainly against the Voter ID section of the bill, as being too weak).

Committee Chair Lopez said she intends to make amendments to the bill when it is considered probably early next week in the Judiciary Committee, of which she is a member. She also said that she will check with the House side to move the bill through. This appears now to be the Governor's Bill. Best, Bob S.

In addition, our statements, which all referred to VOTER VERIFIABLE PAPER BALLOTS and AUTOMATIC AUDITS, seemed to strongly affect all of the Senators. In addition to being concerned about the Voter ID section of the bill, the Republicans were concerned that if SRC didn't amend the bill before passing it on, that the other committees didn't have the expertise to do so. Our amendments were in part what they were referring to.

So not only was the bill passed as we hoped, I believe we also made an impact on the opinions of the Senators in attendance.

(To subscribe to the United Voters of New Mexico email list, send an email from the address that you wish to subscribe to, to update-subscribe@UVoteNM.)

February 26, 2005 at 10:25 AM in Events, Local Politics | Permalink | Comments (2)

Friday, February 25, 2005

SF Air America to Feature Mother Media, Sen. Ortiz y Pino and More Saturday

From Leland Lehrman at Mother Media:
Mother Media goes live again on the Santa Fe Air America affiliate KTRC 1260 AM, at 5 PM this Saturday, 2/26. We immediately preceed the Laura Flanders show on Air America.

Honored guests this week include Albuquerque State Senator Gerald Ortiz y Pino. Ortiz y Pino's bill, SB 718 forms core sections of the new Senate Election Reform Bill, which hits the Senate Rules Committee today (Friday) sometime after 8:30 AM. Ortiz y Pino and his aide Harry Pavlides have led the fight for Voter Verifiable Paper Ballots and Automatic Audits in the Legislature and we look forward to a complete update on the bill's status from the Senator's point of view.

Mother Media has also invited Governor Richardson and his political consultant Eli Lee, but cannot confirm their participation.

Eli and the Governor's office have been very open to public input on election reform, and are working on incorporating the all-important voter verifiable paper ballot with automatic audit provisions into their bill. We hope Eli or the Governor makes it on to advise us of their points of view.

Stephen Fox, the main author of Senate Bill 525, the Nutrition Council Act, will also join us this week.

SB 525 empowers New Mexico to design superior nutrition standards and education programs. National nutrition standards are deeply flawed and riddled with controversial allowances, such as unlabeled genetically modified food and aspartame or Nutrasweet, the highly toxic sweetener in nearly all "sugar-free" foods. Stephen and I agree New Mexico can do better.

As Stephen put it to me in a recent email: "We passed SB 525 in the House business and industry committee 7-4. I had a physician with me, Dr. Eliza Schmid, who taught at Stanford Medical School, and she blasted aspartame in detail, explained the biochemistry, and particularly drew attention to the effects on children of drinking diet cokes (the medical testimony was vital, I think, if for no other reason than the legislators [now] realize how they have been lied to for decades - the FDA and corporate control of the regulating process all came up ... it was great."

Even the FDA struggled for years to prevent legalization of aspartame: "Who knows more about the toxicity of aspartame than the FDA.  Their toxicologists, Doctors Adrian Gross and Jacqueline Verrett  strenuously objected to aspartame approval for 16 years. It wasn't just that aspartame is not safe and in original studies triggered brain tumors, seizures and all sorts of other tumors, it was that the manufacturer filtered out what they didn't want FDA to see." -  Dr. Betty Martini, Founder, Mission Possible Intl.

We're excited about this week's program. If you are too and have a cause or business you would like to promote, sponsorships are available. Call 505.982.3609 now because our introductory rates are ending soon.

Leland Lehrman, Mother Media
604 1/2 Galisteo Street
Santa Fe, NM  87505

February 25, 2005 at 10:09 AM in Events, Local Politics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Repealing the Death Penalty in NM

From Amnesty International:
Please help us bring an end to the death penalty in New MexicoHouse Bill 576, introduced on January 31 by Representative Gail C. Beam, would repeal New Mexico's death penalty statute.


1) Please call your State Representative today (or leave a voice message over the weekend!). Urge her/him to oppose the death penalty.
- Find out the name and phone number for your Representative.
- Or call the Legislative Switchboard - Phone Number: 505-986-4300

2) Contact Governor Bill Richardson (please call your Representative before you contact Governor Richardson)
- Send a free fax:
- Make a phone call - Phone Number: 505-476-2200

The bill has bipartisan support with 34 co-sponsors. The legislative initiative not only repeals the death penalty but also redirects state resources previously used for death penalty litigation to fund an innovative package of victims' services programs. The bill passed the House Consumer and Public Affairs Committee by a vote of 4 to 2 and passed the House Judiciary with a vote of 6 to 3.  The first House floor vote ever could happen as soon as Monday, February 28.

Talking Points for Governor Richardson and Representatives

- I strongly urge you to support HB 576, a bill to repeal New Mexico’s death penalty statute.

- This important legislative initiative would help redirect state resources previously used for death penalty litigation to fund an innovative package of victims' services programs.*

- Nearly two-thirds (65%) of voters in New Mexico and in the nation favor replacing the death penalty with life without parole and some form of restitution for the families of murder victims. (According to a poll conducted in September 2004 by Greenberg, Quinlan & Rosner Research Inc.)

- Since 1973, over 110 people on death row have been exonerated due to wrongful conviction.

- 118 countries have now abolished the death penalty in law or practice.

- Governor Richardson/Representative, I urge you to demonstrate leadership on this critical human rights issue.

*(HB 576 was introduced with HB 577 and HB 578 as part of the “Catastrophic Crime and Family Restitution Program.  House Bills 577 and 578, also introduced by Rep. Beam, include provisions for victims' services.  HB 577 provides college tuition assistance to children of murder victims and establishes a help line for families of murder victims. HB 578 would require employers to grant employment leave to crime victims to allow them to attend court proceedings.)

For more information, please visit the New Mexico Coalition to Repeal the Death Penalty.

Thanks for your help in this urgent matter.
Rosa Del Angel, Amnesty International USA
Online Action Center

February 25, 2005 at 10:01 AM in Local Politics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, February 24, 2005

URGENT ALERT: Election Reform Bill

We need as many people as possible to attend the Senate Rules Committee at 8:30 AM tomorrow (Friday) in Room 321 at the Santa Fe Roundhouse.

According to United Voters of New Mexico, the substitution election reform bill that will be discussed isn't clear enough legally on the issue of voter verified paper ballots, and there are also problems with the bill in terms of automatic audit procedures. We need to have people testify politely that these are crucial to election reform that is meaningful. There is a good chance that if enough support is shown on these issues at the hearing tomorrow, we can get the proper language included as amendments, now or in a future committee.

We need the word "ballot" vs. "trail" in the bill so that there is an actual "ballot" to count in a recount or audit. There is also national legislation going through which will specifiy "ballot." If it passes, almost immediately our machines will be in noncompliance with federal law unless we use the correct term "ballot."

In  our discussions with legislators, we are must be very clear that United Voters of New Mexico and DFNM can only agree to Voter Verifiable Paper Ballots and Automatic Audits.

If you can't be at the hearing tomorrow, please contact the Democrats on the Senate Rules Committee here.


February 24, 2005 at 08:47 PM in Events, Local Politics | Permalink | Comments (0)

At the Legislature

A trip to the NM Legislature is always an adventure, from appreciating anew the beautiful and unique Roundhouse and its dazzling displays of New Mexican art, to the colorful presence of Navajos and cowboys and legislators and lobbyists and anaylsts and characters (see below) and just plain folks in the circular hallways, to experiencing the quality of light in the bright atrium with the Zia symbol dominating the space. Election Reform Day in Santa Fe yesterday was no exception.


More than 70 people, including many from DFNM and NM Democratic Friends, flowed in the atrium with their Verified Voter Paper Ballot signs to hear the press conferences about a voter lawsuit in NM and the immediate need for election reform. Speakers included Senator Gerald Ortiz y Pino, Rep. Mary Helen Garcia, Maggie Toulouse of the League of Conservation Voters and Agnes Mosses of the NAACP, as well as representatives from the Green Party of NM, League of Women Voters and Peace and Justice Center of Santa Fe.


Before and after the press conferences, people traveled the floors of the Roundhouse stopping in to see legislators and push for election reform -- citizen lobbying in action.

Thanks to all of you who made the effort to travel to Santa Fe yesterday and transform our concerns about election reform into positive action. For those who couldn't make it, why not try visiting on Friday, when the amended Election Reform bill is expected to be heard in the Senate Rules Committee, or later in the session when DFNM is planning another guided trip. We hope that all of you who can possibly do so will visit at least once before the Session ends on March 19.

(Click photos for larger images. Click for more photos from Election Reform Day.)

February 24, 2005 at 04:36 PM in Local Politics | Permalink | Comments (0)