Tuesday, March 03, 2009
Rep. Teague Announces $67M for Southern NM School Districts
Late last week, Congressman Harry Teague (D, NM-02) released a statement announcing that an estimated $67 million in Title I and IDEA funds will go directly to local school districts as a result of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). Click for a full breakdown of (pdf) for Southern New Mexico school districts.
“We cannot let our children’s education be a casualty of the economic crisis,” said Congressman Harry Teague. “By providing these critical funds to K-12 education we are not only saving and creating jobs, but we are making a long term investment in the future of our state and nation.”
The projected funding amounts were released following a conference call organized by Congressman Teague’s office. New Mexico Secretary of Education Veronica Garcia and a representative from the House Education and Labor committee spent about 45 minutes briefing more than 20 Superintendents from various southern New Mexico School Districts. The call is part of an ongoing effort by Congressman Harry Teague to keep his constituents informed of the funding their local communities will receive as a result of ARRA.
“Passing the American Recovery Act was just the first step toward turning our local economies around,” said Congressman Harry Teague. “Now, we must make sure that the local communities across southern New Mexico are informed with most up to date information about how to access these funds and get them to the people and services that need them most.”
An estimated $68 million in recovery funds is expected to be distributed to the School Districts through the Title 1 and IDEA programs. In addition to the Title I and IDEA funding, New Mexico will get $318 million to save jobs by staving off layoffs and harmful cuts to education. States could also use these funds to create new jobs by repairing, renovating and modernizing schools and colleges, providing students with clean, healthy, safe, energy-efficient and state-of-the-art learning classrooms and campuses.
Rep. Heinrich Announces Almost $25M in Highway and Transportation Funding for Albuquerque
U.S. Rep. Martin Heinrich (D, NM-01) today released a statement announcing $24.92 million in funding to benefit Albuquerque released by the U.S. Department of Transportation. The funding is a result of H.R. 1, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), which Rep. Heinrich voted for and President Obama signed into law on February 17, 2009.
“This money is incredibly important because it will create and save jobs in our community,” said Rep. Heinrich. “It will hopefully relieve some congestion throughout Albuquerque – particularly on the Westside – and shorten the commutes for everyone and keep our hard earned dollars out of our gas tanks. This is also about safety and providing much needed repairs to our roads and bridges.”
Parts of the allocation are set aside to make sure that urban, suburban, and rural areas alike all get a share. The highway and transportation funding for New Mexico can be broken down as follows:
- New Mexico Total Distribution: $252,644,377
- Mandatory Transportation Enhancements: $7,579,331
- Urban Area Distribution (Population over 200K): $26,021,866
- Suburban Area Distribution (Population under 200K): $39,204,830
- Rural Area Distribution (Population under 5K): $10,566,617
Rep. Luján Braves Snow to Speak at Environmental Rally in DC
Interviewed at DC rally, Rep. Lujan urges New Mexicans to contact legislators and PRC members on renewable energy and green jobs
Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D, NM-03) spoke yesterday to some of the 12,000+ young people attending Power Shift '09 during what The Hill called The Mother of All Lobbying Days. Rep. Luján joined Reps. Chris Van Hollen (D, MD) and Rush Holt (D, NJ), as well as Robert F. Kennedy Jr., in addressing the rally on the Capitol's South Lawn -- during a snowstorm. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) was scheduled to deliver the keynote, but her flight into Washington was canceled due to the stormy weather.
After the speeches, participants in the four-day conference organized by the Energy Action Coalition attended lobby-day meetings with 378 lawmakers and their legislative staffs. Organizers said the event was the largest lobby day on climate and energy issues ever held.
Rep. Luján attended a Congressional briefing, chaired by Rep. Edward Markey, where youths discussed clean energy and climate change. Juan Reynosa, a youth organizer from Hobbs NM, before the committee about the need for green jobs.
“It’s clear that we have to take bold action. Waiting to act means destroyed habitats, drought, storms and land unsuitable to support a vibrant region of the country,” said Rep. Luján in remarks prepared for the climate change rally. “But we don’t have to wait because now is the time. In my home state, like others across our nation, we are hard at work to fight climate change. Our students are learning skills for green jobs. Our schools are already teaching a robust curriculum that includes renewable energy. In schools in my district, college students are learning how to make solar panels and generate power from wind turbines.”
Go Juan Reynosa: NM Community Organizer Testifies Before Congressional Committee on Green Jobs
Congratulations to Juan Reynosa, a 27-year-old community organizer originally from Hobbs, NM, who was chosen to testify before Congress yesterday on green jobs legislation. Check out a transcript of his prepared testimony before the House Committee on Global Warming. Juan was also one of the guests discussing the green economy on yesterday's Democracy Now! with Amy Goodman, which you can see here. Talk about hitting the DC circuit.
Reynosa, who works with New Mexico Youth Organized, spoke to the U.S. House Committee about his experiences growing up in the midst of the oil and gas industry in Hobbs. He also explained the potential for green technology to create a new energy economy in New Mexico, and throughout the United States. Some of the policies Reynosa discussed in his testimony included green jobs, green businesses, the nation’s energy grid, capping carbon, and also a national clean energy corps.
“I was born and raised in Hobbs, where my father has been working in the same oil field for the past 30 years without hardly any advancement in his job and has been forced to move to keep his job because of the decline of oil production in the area. My family, and all of America, is ready for a new energy economy, because it will create new jobs, boost our economy with new sustainable industries, and help us move from dirty, energy industries into cleaner and more sustainable, energy industries,” said Reynosa in a statement released on the day of his testimony.
Reynosa added, “I am honored to speak before Congress on these issues that are important to all young Americans.”
From Friday thru Monday, Reynosa joined with thousands of young people from all over the country at the Power Shift 09 convention in Washington DC. As part of his participation at the convention, Reynosa was selected to testify before Congress about green jobs legislation on behalf of New Mexico and the Southwest and the more than 10,000 young people that were in Washington this weekend.
Power Shift is a nationwide annual collaboration of organizations and new young leaders who are working to highlight the need and urgency for federal climate action.
You can read more about Juan and his participation in Power Shift 09 in on the freshly redesigned Clearly New Mexico blog.
Today: ABQ Bar Association Luncheon Features Guantanamo Discussion
An attorney for detainees at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, the brigadier general who spent a year helping to run it and a professor of international law will offer perspectives on the future of Guantanamo at an Albuquerque Bar Association luncheon today, Tuesday, March 3, 2009.
Speaking will be Nancy Hollander, an attorney with Freedman, Boyd, Hollander & Ives, who represents two detainees; Greg Zanetti of the 111th Combat Support Brigade who spent the past year with the Joint Task Force operating the detention facility; and Jennifer Moore, professor of international law at the University of New Mexico School of Law.
The lunch begins at 11:45 AM at the Embassy Suites Hotel, 1000 Woodward Place NE, off Lomas and I-25. Cost is $25 for members; $35 for nonmembers. Registration is available by calling 842-1151 or 243-2615 or emailing email@example.com. For more information, visit the Albuquerque Bar Association website at https://abqbar.com.
Monday, March 02, 2009
Brian Colón Announces Run for Second Term as NM Dem Party Chair
Just learned that Brian Colón, the Chair of the Democratic Party of New Mexico, will run for a second term. Here's the letter Brian Colon is emailing to State Central Commmittee members later today to announce his plans:
March 1, 2009
Nearly two years ago, I stood before you in Las Cruces and asked for your vote. I pledged to be energetic, fair and inclusive. I wanted to unite our party to provide opportunities for all Democrats to have their voices heard. It was my goal to recruit and develop strong candidates at every level of government, and I was committed to launching a 33 county strategy that invested in the four corners of our state in order to build strong activists everywhere.
I am proud and humbled by all we have accomplished together. We had clear electoral success at all levels of government. We truly became a Blue State in ’08 with victories up and down the ballot. President Barack Obama carried New Mexico, Tom Udall is our new United States Senator and we have three Democratic Members of Congress. Importantly, we also picked up three seats in the State House and three seats in the State Senate.
While we have accomplished much, there is still work to be done. It is with that thought I would like to seek re-election as Chair of the Democratic Party of New Mexico.
Under my leadership, the State Party has become even more inclusive, professional and fair. I value all opinions and have worked to include all viewpoints. We increased the communication between our state officers, county officers, state central members and activists. When the Obama campaign came to town, I worked to ensure they understood what a tremendous resource they had in our State Central Committee members.
We upgraded our online presence by launching a new website with personalized pages available to the county parties with the ability for each county party to receive online contributions. By building our email list, we were able to raise more dollars online in 2008, than the Party raised online in our history. Not just a little, but ten times more! Our new website had more than 2.2 million hits last year and averaged 7,500 unique hits a day.
With a strong commitment from Senator Udall, we funded and ran a nearly $2 million dollar coordinated campaign to insure that while the Obama Campaign was working to elect Barack Obama, our local candidates had resources to grab his coattails and ride them to victory. Our commitment to help candidates up and down the ballot resulted in wins in all corners of the state from the courthouse to the Roundhouse and all the way to the White House.
Over the next year I will ensure that our State Party is in strong financial shape and continue to lobby the DNC to make certain that the State Partnership Program started under Governor Dean continues under Governor Kaine. As President Obama has called upon us to increases our civic participation we will also embark on an effort to hold community service projects in all 33 counties.
Serving as your State Chair has been one of the most rewarding tasks of my life. I treasure the friends I made as I have traveled to all 33 counties of our great state. The work each of you do for the Democratic Party in your local communities inspires me to seek re-election as your Chair.
I will outline additional goals for 2009-2010 in more detail in the weeks to come, but rest assured I plan to continue to be energetic, fair and inclusive as we build the Democratic Party for future generations to enjoy.
As always, feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns.
Brian S. Colón
Democratic Party of New Mexico
The Democratic State Party Chair and other state party officers will be elected by more than 400 members of the Democratic Party State Central Committee, which will meet in Albuquerque on April 25.
Howard Dean Returns to Democracy for America, Celebrating 5 Years of Grassroots Activism
I'm was very happy to learn that former DNC Chair Howard Dean is returning to the progressive grassroots organization that he formed as part of his presidential campaign -- DFA. Originally known as Dean for America when Dean was a candidate, the organization morphed into Democracy for America in 2004 and has been going strong ever since. There are DFA-affiliated groups in every state including New Mexico, where Albuquerque's DFA-Democracy for New Mexico Meetup is alive and well and still adding members (hint, hint).
Below is an email sent out by Dr. Dean celebrating five years of grassroots activism and small-donation fundraising. If you believe in the power of the people, consider donating to help make DFA even stronger and show your support for Howard's return to the group. Dean has pledged to work with us on the road again to support candidates and help pass meaningful health care reform. Also see this post on Daily Kos today, where you can leave a message for Howard.
From Howard Dean: It is hard to believe it's been five years since we started Democracy for America.
When my campaign for President ended in 2004, the political pundits and talking heads said our movement was over. They said you'd give up, you'd walk away, and politics would never hear from you again.
They got it wrong.
Five years later, DFA is stronger than ever. We started with a solid 300,000 members. Today, we boast over a million.
We started our support for progressive candidates with the original Dean Dozen. Today, you've elected over 575 DFA-endorsed candidates to all levels of office, including our first Dean Dozen candidate Barack Obama and his campaign for U.S. Senate.
We've done a lot in five years, and we're just getting started. Stand with me again and deliver DFA the resources to win for another 50.
Four years ago, thanks to your hard work, I was elected Chair of the Democratic National Committee. We continued to work together to reform the Democratic Party and fight for votes in all 50 States. Thanks to you I had the grassroots support needed to get the job done.
When we launched DFA, a core mission of mine was to train a new generation of citizen activists. Five years later, the DFA Campaign Academy and Night School have trained almost 20,000 activists and candidates nationwide in the skills to win and the results will pay off for years to come.
The DFA Community has held over 50,000 events from Juneau, Alaska to Wichita, Kansas, from Los Angeles to New York. Whether you participated in a candlelight vigil to end the war, delivered Social Security success stories to wavering members of Congress, or got together for a movie and phone banking night, your activism has changed the way Washington does business. They know we're watching. And they know we aren't going away.
That's why I'm returning to DFA and I have to admit, it'll be nice to work out of my old office in Burlington. I'll also be hitting the road with you, stumping for grassroots candidates and advocating for the issues that matter most to you and me. For one, I think you know that healthcare for all is an important issue to me. I look forward to working with you to pass meaningful reform that makes sure that every American has the health care they need.
To do all this and more, I need your help today. Let's come together and make sure DFA has all the resources we need to accomplish another 50 years of victories.
CELEBRATE 5 YEARS OF SUCCESS BY POWERING DFA FOR THE NEXT 50: CONTRIBUTE $50 TODAY (or whatever you can afford).
Thank you for everything you do.
Governor Howard Dean, MD
Founder, Democracy for America
Action Alert: NM House Bill Seeks to Severely Limit Free Speech of Nonprofits
From New Mexico Voices for Children: Action Alert - Act today to help derail severe limitations on the free speech of nonprofits.
Background: Rep. Paul Bandy (R, Aztec) has introduced legislation that would put undue limits on the ability of nonprofits to communicate with and educate their members. If passed, HB 808 would forbid all nonprofits from naming any public official during an election year, beginning in January of that year and going through November. That means we wouldn't be able to tell you who to contact in an action alert like this one! And, even though it's public record, we couldn't tell you who was sponsoring this legislation.
Nonprofits like NM Voices for Children that advocate for better public policies and more open, accountable government, count on people like you. When you join your voice with ours, you let your elected officials know that you are concerned about the decisions they make. But HB 808 bill goes beyond this kind of grassroots work. Nonprofits would also be banned from telling you about your elected officials' voting records on the issues that concern you.
Imagine if Amnesty International was banned from telling you which members of Congress voted to allow torture, or if Planned Parenthood couldn't tell you how your congressional representatives voted regarding women's reproductive rights. Such an extreme gag order is the kind of violation of free speech that undermines the very basis of democracy and should concern every American.
Action Needed: HB 808 is scheduled for a hearing tomorrow morning, Tuesday, March 3, in the House Voters and Election Committee (HVEC). Please call representatives on the committee and urge them to reject HB 808.
What You Might Say: I believe free speech is a fundamental right we cannot deny anyone. I rely on nonprofits to keep me informed about how my elected officials vote – but all they do is educate me. When I go into the voting booth, I make up my mind about which candidates to support. Such a gag order is not only an affront to the Bill of Rights, but it's also an insult to the intelligence of every engaged and active voter like myself.
Contact Info: You can call the state Capitol switchboard at 505-986-4300 and asked to be transferred to your representative. Members of the HVEC are: Jose Campos, Mary Garcia, Thomas Anderson, Janice Arnold-Jones, Ben Lujan, James Madalena, Ken Martinez, Kathy McCoy, Danice Picraux, Bill Rehm, Debbie Rodella, Ed Sandoval, and Shirley Tyler.
You can also visit https://legis.state.nm.us/lcs/ for direct contact info. To find out who represents you in the House, select 'Find Your Legislator' from the menu under 'Members' on the left-hand side of the home page.
NM Senate Debate on Health Insurance Transparency Bill Expected Today
SB 259, Health Insurance Policy Transparency, offers a free market solution to help consumers and business make better decisions with their medical insurance, according to a statement released today by the bill's sponsor, Senator Tim Keller (D, Bernalillo-17). “It is clear purchases of medical insurance would benefit from more information about how their premiums are being spent. This is about helping consumer decision making and fostering more competition in the healthcare system,” Senator Keller noted.
SB 259 would require insurance providers to disclose the medical loss ratio, historical premiums and any third party commissions when consumers and small businesses request a medical insurance quote. “I believe true healthcare reform has to connect the cost of services and to the fees we pay. Without allowing supply and demand to set an accurate price, the public will never get a fair shake and healthy competition in the industry won’t occur,” said Keller after the bill passed out of the Corporations Committee.
A 2007 study of healthcare financing conducted by UNM’s Institute for Public Health reported a need for greater transparency about information that would help consumers evaluate the costs and performance histories across the various medical insurance plans; including the percent of the premium that actually goes to pay for medical services and broker commission and fees. The survey voiced skepticism around the accuracy of information that typically is made available and reported difficulty in comparing competing plans because of a lack of clear, interpretable information on costs and performance.
To express your views on this bill, contact your State Senator now.
Guest Blog: The New Mexico SunCal TIDD is Wrong!
This is a guest blog by Greg Lennes of Las Cruces about SB 249, the SunCal TIDD sponsored by Sen. Linda Lopez, which passed the NM Senate last Thursday by a vote of 29-9. Greg also sent this message to all members of the New Mexico House.
Our State Senate has failed New Mexicans. As Ben Franklin once concluded: "easy to be bought, if there was but a purchaser." This describes the leadership in the Senate with Senators Tim Jennings and John Arthur Smith.
The obnoxious Tax Increment Development District (TIDD) now goes to the House of Representatives where Henry Kiki Saavedra, Chairman of the Appropriations and Finance Committee, can't wait to bailout private companies SunCal and Westand Development with a $408 million bond issue for 28 years. This political trifecta has sold their souls to the SunCal and Westland lobbyists: Mark Fleisher, Arthur Hill, Allison Kuper, Dick Minzer, Robert Rivera, Marla Shoats, Joseph Thompson, Daniel Weaks, Vanessa Alarid and William Steadman. SunCal even feted Mr. Saavedra at an expensive picnic.
SunCal and Westland Development are promising to create 11,500 new jobs within the TIDD. Let's see what these companies did in California -- 30 bankruptcies, unpaid debts of millions to contractors and no new jobs. Taxpayers are being used to finance this land scheme. New Mexico is one of a few states that uses state taxes to bailout a development. In an overwhelming number of developments, the costs of the public infrastructure are shared between the private developer and the local government. However, Suncal will be free from this onerous expense.
To make matters even worse, the state is not guaranteed any presence on the TIDD Board and has no oversight of the use of the Gross Receipt Tax (GRT) funds. In addition, SunCal, which has a poor track record with its numerous debts and bankruptices, does not have to worry about that matter. TIDD's are political subdivisions of the state and will be taking on the debt in order to repay the developer. This borders on corruption.
Any state legislator who votes for this disgraceful bill will be held accountable. Recently it was calculated that the average per-capita income for all New Mexicans was $29,929, although rural per-capita income lagged at $26,081. The question is are we going to help Bruce Elieff, CEO of SunCal with an estimated worth of $300 million, or New Mexicans who are really suffering and deserve beneficial treatment?
This is a guest blog by Greg Lennes. You can see a previous guest blog from him here
Note: Here's a list of the nine Senators who voted NO on SB 249:
Tim Eichenberg, D-Albuquerque
Dede Feldman, D-Albuquerque
Steve Fischmann, D-Las Cruces
Mary Jane Garcia, D-Dona Ana
Eric Griego, D-Albuquerque
Tim Keller, D-Albuquerque
Cisco McSorley, D-Albuquerque
Michael Sanchez, D-Belen
Tim Wirth, D-Santa Fe
Two Republicans Were Absent:
Sue Wilson-Beffort, R-Albuquerque
Stuart Ingle, R-Portales
The rest of the Democratic and Republican Senators all voted in favor of the SunCal TIDD.
You can learn more about the deceptions and damages associated with the SunCal TIDDs here: www.tiddlies.com/. (h/t Peter)
The SunCal TIDD bill (SB 24) goes next to the House Business and Industry Committee. Please contact the legislators on the Committee to let them know your views on this tax giveaway. Also contact your member of the House. Click here to find your Representative and his or her contact info.