Saturday, February 28, 2009
Rep. Luján to Address Climate Change Conference with Speaker Pelosi
This is very cool. Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D, NM-03) will join Speaker Pelosi, Congressman Ed Markey and Congressman Jay Inslee to speak at the 2009 Power Shift Conference Rally on Monday, March 2, in front of the Capitol in Washington DC. Power Shift is a youth-based grassroots movement focused on fighting climate change and promoting clean energy. More than 11,000 young people are creating the largest ever youth climate event in history, where they will lobby US political leaders to enact bold climate and energy policies that will rebuild our economy and halt global warming.
You can read more about Power Shift '09 and here.
Rep. Luján is a member of the Committee on Science and Technology and a Vice Chair of the Technology and Innovation Subcommittee. As a member of the Committee, Rep. Luján will work to make New Mexico a leader in renewable energy development and to address climate change through research and development.
Before joining Congress, Rep. Luján worked in New Mexico on climate change and renewable energy as a New Mexico Public Regulation Commissioner. Rep. Luján developed and signed the Joint Action Framework on Climate Change with his colleagues in California, Oregon and Washington. The Framework established regional solutions to global warming. Rep. Luján has long been an advocate for increasing renewable energy generation. He worked with the Governor and the state legislature to implement energy efficiency standards, net-metering rules, and a Renewable Portfolio Standard – one of the strongest in the nation. The Renewable Portfolio Standard will require utility companies to draw 20 percent of their energy from renewable sources by 2020.
Friday, February 27, 2009
Rep. Heinrich Announces $19 Million+ for Stimulus Projects in NM-01
In a statement released today, U.S. Rep. Martin Heinrich (D-NM-01) announced more than $19 million in funding allocated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development through a number of programs important to the economic viability of New Mexico’s First Congressional District. The funding is a result of H.R. 1, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which Representative Heinrich voted for and President Obama signed into law on February 17, 2009.
“Just ten days since our economic recovery package was signed into law, I am excited to announce the first wave of funding specifically for the First Congressional District,” said Representative Heinrich. “This funding will both save and create new jobs for our community and strengthen our economy.”
The New Mexico Mortgage Finance Authority (MFA) was awarded $13,876,558 for low-income housing tax credits which it will use to cover gaps in financing for low-income housing construction. MFA anticipates that all of this funding will be fully committed by year end with awards starting in the next two months.
“Martin Heinrich has always been a strong advocate for affordable housing, and now that he is a Congressman he is having a very positive impact on our state,” said MFA Executive Director Jay Czar. “These funds will be used to build critically needed affordable rental housing for New Mexico families. These funds will help revive affordable housing developments stalled by the current economic crisis in our country. ”
The grants announced by Representative Heinrich today include:
- $13,876,558 to the New Mexico Mortgage Finance Authority for low-income housing tax credits;
- $1,802,128 to the City of Albuquerque Housing Division;
- $144,796 to the Town of Bernalillo Department of Housing Services;
- $44,560 to the Bernalillo County Housing Department;
- $1,181,843 to the City of Albuquerque for the Community Development Block Grant;
- $84,497 to the City of Rio Rancho for the Community Development Block Grant;
- $1,807,256 to the City of Albuquerque for homeless prevention; and,
- $80,380 to the Pueblo of Sandia for the Native American Housing Block Grant.
Dr. Dean: Stop Making Sense
There he goes again. Making sense and refusing to mince his words. Why is this man not being pursued to head Health and Human Services? In an interview with Chris Matthews, Howard Dean tells it like it is on Obama's plans for health insurance reform. And what would NOT constitute health insurance reform. Dean originally ran for president primarily to push universal health care on the national scene after having made excellent progress on that as Governor of Vermont. Dean would be an honest broker and negotiator on this issue, one who clearly would rely on common sense and facts to be persuasive. Why would the Obama team be ignoring him as a top-notch candidate to run HHS?
Rep. Teague Addresses Joint Session of NM Legislature on Re-Energizing NM
Congressman Harry Teague (D, NM-02) addressed a Joint Session of the New Mexico Legislature today and outlined his Re-Energize New Mexico Plan. As Rep. Teague explained, "A lot of people didn’t expect an oil man to run for Congress to promote energy independence through a focus on renewable energy. But that’s what I did." In this speech, he fills in some of the details on his views on energy, and energy production in New Mexico. Click to see his (pdf) as prepared for delivery.
Sen. Linda Lopez Continues Delays on Ethics Bills in NM Senate Rules Committee
By now, we can view foot dragging as a kind of tradition in the Senate Rules Committee, which is chaired by Sen. Linda Lopez (D-Albuquerque). Remember, Lopez's Committee didn't even start dealing with bills until two weeks into the Session. And you may recall that earlier this week the SRC came to order late and then spent about a half hour of its precious time listening to mini-dissertations about antelope herds by Senators Tim Jennings and Sen. Stuart Ingle.
Anything to avoid taking up the backlog of ethics and campaign finance reform bills that are languishing in the SRC. After all, Lopez, Jennings and Ingle are charter members of the status quo preservation league in the NM Senate. Get the money and unethical shenanigans out of the Roundhouse? A direct threat to a legislative way of life up there.
I guess Sen. Lopez and the gang of SunCal lobbyists were so thrilled by their victory in the Senate yesterday on the SunCal TIDD giveaway bill (SB 249) that the Senator was operating on low batteries today. The SRC didn't get to any of the ethics bills until about a half hour before they had to close up shop.
With little time left, the Committee finally took up four ethics commission bills that had been on their calendar all week. Senators Feldman and Campos introduced a substitute bill very similar to Rep. Al Park’s ethics commission bill on the House side. There seemed to be strong support for the substitute but, not surprisingly, the Committee ended its meeting without any vote being taken. Maybe next time.
Despite promises from Sen. Lopez, no combo bill emerged today to substitute for a number of campaign contribution limits measures that are sitting in the Committee. The contribution limits bills are all pretty straightforward. This isn't rocket science, but Sen. Lopez just can't seem to get it together in a timely fashion to get something finalized for a vote. At this point, is anyone unaware of why that is?
Thursday, February 26, 2009
Guest Blog: What Really Happened Today on the Domestic Partnership Bill and How Your State Senate Really Works
In this post I'm passing along an email I got from someone calling themselves "Scott." It speaks truth. After all, this was also the day of the big SunCal TIDD giveaway, supported by all the righteous Senators who get clumps of money and other largesse from the California developer that packs the Roundhouse with their slimy lobbyists. It was also supported by cowed Democrats who are evidently afraid to stand up to the crooked element that continues to pull the levers in the Roundhouse.
On the final day of the 2008 state legislative session, State Senator Cisco McSorley went to the mat for New Mexico’s taxpayers and communities – courageously filibustering a $629 million public subsidy to a massive sprawl development (SunCal) on Albuquerque’s west side.
You can imagine that the project’s proponents and their favorite legislators weren’t very happy about this turn of events, and they unleashed a veritable fury of efforts over the subsequent months to ensure that such a horrific example of democracy in action couldn’t possibly happen again.
SunCal fought to keep their supporters in office during the primary elections. They spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on a massive PR campaign (it’s difficult to tell exactly how much money, since they haven’t filed reports as required by the Secretary of State).
Senator McSorley wasn’t cowed by their power, money or influence. He stood on principle in defense of sound public policy, against tremendous and intense pressure. He remained steadfast. He fought for us.
Payback is a bitch.
Today, in the State Senate, the leadership of the Senate made sure he paid a dear, dear price for his commitment to protecting New Mexico.
Today, Senate leaders – having stalled and delayed the domestic partnership bill for which Senator McSorley has fought valiantly for years – engaged in an egregious act of political payback.
Today, Senate leaders made sure that SB12 (the domestic partner bill) wouldn’t be heard on the Senate floor until after the SunCal subsidy was passed, even though SB12 has now lingered on the Senate floor calendar for over a week.
After promising advocates for domestic partnerships that SB12 would be heard on Thursday, Senate leaders pushed the developer handouts ahead of SB12 on the agenda. Then, to add insult to injury, they helped defeat the domestic partners bill – or at least stood by and watched, which is just as bad.
Today, they tried to force Senator McSorley to choose between equal rights for New Mexicans and a massive bailout of a bankrupt developer.
It would be epically poetic, if it weren’t so pathologically twisted.
No matter what happened today, Senator McSorley should be applauded. And Senate leaders should be ashamed.
-- Anonymous, because I am not as courageous as Senator McSorley
p.s. a special shout-out to Senator Eric Griego, and also Senators Stephen Fischmann and Dede Feldman, for their efforts to educate the State Senate and the public about the nightmare at hand in approving these massive subsidies.
Senator Griego was fierce and unwavering on the Senate Floor today – fighting an uphill battle on behalf of his constituents and all New Mexicans, aided in no small part by Senators Fischmann and Feldman. It’s comforting to know that Senator McSorley has some conscientious company, however small a percentage of the State Senate they might comprise.
See this post for more on today's vote.
(Updated) Democrats Vote Against Equal Civil Rights to Beat Domestic Partnership in NM Senate 17-25
Final Vote in New Mexico Senate on SB 12: 25 NO, 17 YES. ALL the Repubs voted against the bill.
TEN Democrats (in name only) voting No:
John Arthur Smith
Carlos Cisneros, who changed his vote from Yes to No at the end of the voting
I am very upset at the moment. The fake Dems above must be crowing.
Read this garbage by Pete Campos on why he voted against my civil rights. Also disgusting is this statement from a public official who has pledged to protect and uphold the U.S. Constitution -- which means the separation of church and state (quoting from Steve Terrell's blog):
Also I just spoke to Sen. Carlos Cisneros about his vote change. He said it wasn't a tactical move. He said he initially voted yes because he'd committed to the sponsor to do that. But when he saw the margin was as big as it was, he changed. He said his clergy was opposed and that had a big influence.
First off, if Cisneros sincerely believes that domestic partnerships are wrong, why did he first vote FOR the bill? Oh, wait, because he promised the sponsor? How principled.
And using the same logic he uses to explain voting no, his clergy is obviously against masturbation, sex outside of marriage and adultery -- all "sins" within the Catholic Church. I wonder when Cisneros and the others like him will be enacting measures to apply penalties for those "sins" to the general populace. He could probably start by arresting all the guys in his church who don't follow those rules. He'd have to turn himself in first, though.
Carlos Cisneros is, after all, the guy whose former wife hit him in the head with a hammer when she caught him with another woman in their cabin. You can read about that sacred and holy interaction here and here and here.
And yes, I said FORMER wife. Turns out Mr. "I listen to my Catholic clergy" guy was divorced -- which is against the Church's teachings. I guess the dissolution of his holy matrimony by adultery and hammer blows is what he's talking about when he's thinking about the implications domestic partnerships have on heterosexual marriage. Could more hypocrisy be packed into one lawmaker?
And get this one, from Campos' oh-so-serious statement on his vote:
If this legislation is not enacted into law this year, I will continue to monitor the issue over the next year with the goal of preserving the institution of marriage in New Mexico while ensuring that all New Mexicans enjoy certain basic rights in their personal relationships.
Thanks, Sen. Campos. Monitor away while GLBT families remain unprotected by the law and continue to be treated like second class citizens. Take your time. The forces of bigotry will keep smiling.
Carlos Cisneros is also the guy who killed the DP bill in 2007 by siding with Republicans. It was his one vote -- which he had said he would use to support DP -- that killed it. You can read about it here.
Also see this guest blog from an anonymous emailer who has additional ideas on why the vote happened the way it did today.
Richard Romero for Mayor: Events this Friday and Saturday
From Richard Romero for Mayor:
JOIN US FOR AN OPEN HOUSE THIS FRIDAY: Our office is open! Join us on Friday, February 27, from 5:30-7:00 PM. Come by after work for light hor'dourves, music and friends.
Location: Richard Romero for Mayor
4605 4th St NW, Suite A
(South of Griegos, on west side of the street)
Click for map
COME TO OUR NEXT ORGANIZING TRAINING: Sat. Feb. 28, 10 AM-2 PM: Please join us for next organizer training on Saturday, February 28 from 10 AM-2 PM at our office. Lunch will be served. My campaign is committed to investing in our volunteers -- and in each other -- around a common vision for change for Albuquerque. We are eager to bring the organizing principles we learned from the national Obama Campaign to our local Albuquerque mayoral race.
Zack Mikelson, former Obama Field Organizer and Teresa Brito-Asenap, former Obama Neighborhood Team Leader, will be leading this training to discuss our campaign's organizing philosophy.
Please RSVP to let us know if you will be attending. For more information call the campaign at 573-5649 or email Zach Mikelson at email@example.com.
Campaign Office Hours
8:30 AM-7 PM (M-Thursday)
8:30 AM-5 PM (Friday)
10 AM-5 PM (Saturday)
12 PM-7 PM (Sunday)
(Updates) Today: Liveblog and Webcasts of NM Senate Debate on Domestic Partnership Bill
Update 4:35 PM: Here's a pdf of the substitute bill they're gonna vote on any minute.
Update: 3:45 PM: The debate on SB 12 is now starting at last!
Update 3:00 PM: They're still debating TIDDs. We're still waiting for SB 12, which is supposed to come next.
Update 2:00 PM: Domestic Partnership up next on Senate Floor.
Pro-DP lobbyist Linda Siegle just quoted by Dave Maas: "Vote is close to a tie" says activist Linda Siegle, whom I have just cornered here in the press room. "We have changed the bill to try to accomodate the concerns of the religious organizations. So there are no references to spouse, to marriage, all that language is gone and we're just referencing statues now."
The New Mexico Independent, which has provided stellar coverage of legislative hearings and bills this year, is set to provide live blogging and a video webcast of today's debate in the New Mexico Senate on SB 12, the Domestic Partnership Rights and Responsibilities Act. Join reporters from the New Mexico Independent, Dave Maass of the Santa Fe Reporter and a panel of guests (including me) in tracking the action on the Senate Floor on one of the most discussed and debated bills in the Legislature this session.
Senators come onto the floor at 10 AM, but nobody really knows when the bill will come up for discussion. Click here to get in on the action, starting at 10 AM.
SFreeper, the blog of the Santa Fe Reporter, is also offering the video webcast, an unmoderated chat room and a link to audio. Click here.
You can also follow the Senate's activities today via an audio webcast on KUNM's website. KUNM has also been providing top notch coverage of the 60-day legislative session.
You can see our previous coverage of the domestic partnership bill by visiting our archive.
Rep. Ben Ray Luján Announces Community Development Recovery Funding for Three Cities
In a statement released yesterday, Rep. Ben Ray Luján announced distributions from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for New Mexico’s Third Congressional District. The Department of Housing and Urban Development will distribute $116,504 to Farmington, $84,497 to Rio Rancho, and $116,504 for Santa Fe. The funding will come from the Community Development Block Grant program that assists local communities with a wide range of projects that provide housing for families and create economic opportunities. Projects that can begin within 120 days of the grant will get priority under the program.
“The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will create opportunities for families throughout the 3rd Congressional District,” said Rep. Luján. “Just one week after President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act into law, communities are already beginning to see the benefits. Community development funding will help families and create and save jobs through a wide range of projects that can begin soon. This is a type of program that will help communities get back on track during this difficult economic time.”
Rep. Luján will work with local officials to make sure recovery funding goes to communities and begins to save and create jobs to get our economy working again. Rep. Luján’s Economic Recovery team will be available to answer questions about the funding and other programs from constituents and local officials. The team, established on Monday, will be the first point of contact for public and private officials and constituents interested in learning about the benefits of the Economic Recovery and Reinvestment Act. As funding is allocated for programs in New Mexico, the team will work with local officials and constituents, providing information about funding and assisting with implementation.