Friday, September 18, 2009
NM Delegation Urges GE to Reconsider Plant Closure, Expand to Green Energy Manufacturing
In a letter (pdf) sent this week to the chairman of the General Electric Company, the New Mexico Congressional Delegation urged the company to reverse its decision to close GE’s Albuquerque aviation plant next year, and offered to partner with local, state, and company officials in developing creative ways to retain its 400-member workforce – including possible expansion into green energy manufacturing.
The letter, mailed Thursday to GE Chief Executive Jeffrey Immelt according to a joint statement released today by New Mexico's delegation, was signed by all five members: Sens. Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall, and Congressmen Martin Heinrich (NM-01), Ben Ray Luján (NM-03) and Harry Teague (NM-02).
“New Mexico and our congressional delegation are prepared to partner with you to retain the current workforce in Albuquerque and work with you to grow these numbers through diversifying the product lines manufactured in New Mexico,” the letter stated.
General Electric announced earlier this summer plans to close its Albuquerque plant, which has manufactured equipment for jet engines since the late 1960s, by the third quarter of 2010. At the time, the company cited the weak economy and reduced product demand as reasons for the closure.
In their letter to GE, the New Mexico delegation acknowledged reports that retaining the plant’s operation would require significant facility upgrades, and urged GE to give the potential investment serious consideration in consultation with all vested stakeholders.
The delegation also encouraged GE to expand its vision for the Albuquerque plant to include the company’s green energy manufacturing business – noting that New Mexico is continuing to experience growth in the renewable energy sector of its economy, particularly with solar and bio-fuel companies.
“Having a plant in the Albuquerque area that produces a renewable energy product would create high skill jobs and reinforce your commitment to rebuilding our nation’s industrial base,” the letter stated.
The delegation also urged the fair treatment of current GE plant employees, particularly regarding wages and benefits.
“These employees have been asked to make draconian sacrifices in both wages and benefits, seemingly putting them at levels far below workers at GE plans elsewhere in the country. This does not seem reasonable,” the letter stated. “We urge GE to be creative in looking at ways to keep the plant open, and to be fair to current employees who have been loyal to the company and productive members of GE’s manufacturing team.”
September 18, 2009 at 05:22 PM in Economy, Populism, Jobs, Labor, NM Congressional Delegation, Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, Rep. Harry Teague (NM-02), Rep. Martin Heinrich (NM-01), Sen. Jeff Bingaman, Sen. Tom Udall | Permalink | Comments (0)
Friday Reading: The Morality of Health Care Reform
"I don't understand you Americans. You blow billions on a useless war in Afghanistan and Iraq, and billions more to bail out banks that nearly bankrupted the world economy, but you don't ensure healthcare for your own people. Even Obama can't make a difference. It's as if your democracy doesn't work anymore." --Anonymous Man in Budapest
That's just the opening paragraph. You're encouraged to read the entire post at the Booman Tribune and then consider what the hell is going on in Washington and all over our nation right now with so many claiming we can't provide even basic health care benefits for all. What year is it again? Are we still claiming to be the richest and most just nation on earth? Are we still claiming we have the best health care system in the world? Based on what?
Fire Up for Liberty with the ACLU of New Mexico on Saturday 9/26
Where: Albuquerque International Balloon Museum
When: Saturday, September 26, 2009
5:00 PM - 6:00 PM: Free entrance to the Balloon Museum
6:00 PM - 9:00 PM: Food, drink, awards and live music
Who: Board members of the ACLU of New Mexico Foundation cordially invite you to our Bill of Rights Benefit Celebration!
Guest of honor:
Susan Herman, newly-elected national ACLU President
Music by: Le Chat Lunatique
Catering by: SCALO Northern Italian Grill, Flying Star Café
Open Bar for beer & wine: The Cooperage
- Charles “Kip” Purcell of Rodey Law Firm, Cooperating Attorney of the Year
- The Weekly Alibi, First Amendment Award
- Dr. Curtis Boyd, MD & Dr. Bruce Ferguson, MD, Guardian of Liberty Award
This benefit celebration is in lieu of the Bill of Rights Dinner in December. We're giving you back your holiday season! Join us!
To find out how to RSVP visit us online at www.aclu-nm.org or call 505-266-5915 x1006.
Danny Hernandez Guest Blog: Can You See Us NOW?
This is a guest blog by Albuquerque's Danny Hernandez, who has been involved with local politics for many years, as well as serious bicycling.
Long before I became involved in local politics, I was an avid bicyclist and a bicycling advocate. In a word, I was a bicyclist.
What this meant then as it does now is that I was part of a tight-knit community that spent many hours together every week – about elbow to elbow fifty miles at a time together. On race weekends we often traveled in caravans and shared motels rooms. Many of us even lived together in bicycling households.
What this nearly daily interaction created was rich camaraderie that didn’t end even when some of us moved on.
At the time, most of my friends were “racers,” and we talked about racing, training, the latest wizbang equipment and occasionally about crashing.
It was not unusual for some of my friends, or me, to be roadrashed and bruised after a race or off-road training ride. Occasionally one of us would even break a collar-bone, a rib or a wrist. We all have glory days stories of that tree branch that jumped out of nowhere or that white stripe that became slippery in the rain.
You don’t get out of bicycle racing unscathed, but scars are one thing – losing friends is a totally different experience.
My mortality as a cyclist first hit me in 1994 when John Dunn; my friend, long-time riding buddy and former roommate; was killed on Singing Arrow on his way to train out in Tijeras Canyon. Although John was not the first cyclist I knew to be killed by a motorist, he was the first cyclist I knew really well who was killed by a motorist.
Not for the first or last time, our community was devastated.
If you have been riding for any time, you have your own tale to tell. If you don’t, consider yourself fortunate.
This Sunday, a bunch of us cyclists will be doing what we do in commemoration of the 100 New Mexican bicyclists who have been killed in crashes with motor vehicles in the past 20 years. Please join me this Sunday to say, “Enough is enough!” We don’t want to lose any more friends to careless motorists.
The ride starts at 4:00 p.m. at High Desert Yoga (Jefferson and Copper) and will slowly wind itself west to Tiguex Park in Old Town.
If you ride a bicycle and want to help us make a statement, please join us. for more information: www.nmcycling.org
This is a guest blog by Danny Hernandez. If you'd like to submit a piece for consideration as a guest blog, contact me by clicking on the Email Me link on the upper left-hand corner of the page.
Bravo! Udall, Bingaman Introduce Organ Mountains Desert Peaks Wilderness Act
Stephen Capra, NM Wilderness Alliance, discusses bill
Sportsmen, business owners, conservationists, local elected officials and other community members hailed the introduction Thursday of The Organ Mountains – Desert Peaks Wilderness Act, by Senator Jeff Bingaman and Senator Tom Udall. The measure will protect nearly 400,000 acres of public land in Dona Ana County, by designating 271,050 acres as wilderness and creating a 109,600-acre National Conservation Area around the Organ and Doña Ana Mountains and parts of Broad Canyon, according to a joint statement released by a variety of groups that support the legislation.
“We applaud Senators Bingaman and Udall for helping ensure that more of New Mexico’s spectacular natural lands will be around for our children’s children to use and enjoy,” said Las Cruces Mayor Ken Miyagishima. “This legislation follows years of discussion and collaboration with community members with many different interests and concerns.”
Bonnie Burn, President of the League of Women Voters, added, “We all share the goal of protecting Doña Ana County’s unique and precious open areas which are key to our quality of life.”
“This important conservation bill comes as the nation celebrates the 45th anniversary of the Wilderness Act and the development of the nation’s wilderness preservation system,” said Stephen Capra, executive director of the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance.
“The Organ Mountains – Desert Peaks Wilderness Act will ensure that our grandchildren can hunt in and enjoy these areas as we have done,” said Sandy Schemnitz, President of the Southwest Consolidated Sportsmen. “A New Mexico sportsman – Aldo Leopold – first began the idea of wilderness to preserve the hunting he’d come to love in the Gila. Today, Doña Ana County sportsmen are delighted that this legislation will help us pass down our traditions.”
“Today is an exciting day,’” said John Munoz, of the Hispano Chamber of Commerce. “We’re beginning to understand that wilderness can attract visitors to come here to camp, hike, hunt, explore — as well as raise families and open businesses.”
“Our wild places truly make New Mexico the ‘Land of Enchantment.’ This important new bill will help ensure more of it will stay just as it is,” said Don Patterson, of the Back Country Horsemen. “We urge Congress to pass this common sense conservation bill soon, and send it to the president.”
A 2009 poll of Doña Ana County residents by Hamilton Campaigns found that a majority of residents favor protecting local wilderness areas. Beginning in 2006, the municipalities of Las Cruces, Sunland Park, Mesilla and the Doña Ana County Commission adopted resolutions supporting protection of local wilderness areas.
The bill crafted by the Senators contains less wilderness than conservationists had proposed. It includes an amazing array of natural landscapes—from the spires of the iconic Organ Mountains to petroglyph lined cliffs in the Broad Canyon Country. Other areas to be protected include the Potrillo Mountains, Sierra de Las Uvas Mountains, Broad Canyon, and the Robledo Mountains as federal Wilderness Areas, and the foothills of the Organ Mountains, the Doña Ana Mountains, and parts of Broad Canyon as a National Conservation Area.
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Udall, Bingaman Push for Reform of Patriot Act, Repeal of Telecom Immunity
Sen. Udall discusses JUSTICE Act
Now this is change we can believe in. U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Jeff Bingaman today joined in introducing legislation to reform the Patriot Act and other surveillance laws to better protect Americans’ constitutional right to privacy while providing the government with the tools necessary to effectively fight terrorism.
According to a joint statement released today by the Senators, the legislation, titled the Judiciously Using Surveillance Tools in Counterterrorism Efforts (JUSTICE) Act, would:
- Add reasonable safeguards for the FBI’s use of National Security Letters, which require the disclosure of sensitive personal information by banks, credit card companies, and telephone and Internet service providers. NSLs don’t require judicial approval, and recipients are barred from revealing that the records were demanded.
- Repeal retroactive legal immunity for telecommunications companies that complied with the government’s illegal warrantless wiretapping program.
- Modify the so-called “John Doe” roving wiretaps, which allow the government to monitor suspects who may be trying to escape detection by using multiple phones or other communication devices.
- Revise the “library records” provision, which currently allows the government to obtain orders for private records of American citizens even if they are not suspected terrorists. New safeguards would require the government to show that the individual has some connection to terrorism or espionage.
Click for a Fact Sheet (pdf) on the JUSTICE Act.
“The 2001 Patriot Act, its 2006 reauthorization, and the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 failed to protect the privacy rights of innocent Americans and did nothing to guard against potential abuse,” Udall said. “The JUSTICE Act strikes the right balance between respecting the needs of our law enforcement to pursue suspected terrorists and upholding the rights of law-abiding citizens to live free from unnecessary government intrusion in their lives. I firmly believe we can keep our nation secure without infringing on the inherent rights of the American people.”
“We must provide law enforcement with the tools they need to protect our country, and do so in a way that also safeguards Americans’ rights. This legislation addresses both of these important objectives by ensuring our security and upholding our cherished constitutional protections,” Bingaman said.
Udall, a former federal prosecutor and New Mexico attorney general, was one of just 66 members of the 435-member House of Representatives to vote against the 2001 Patriot Act. He also opposed the 2006 Patriot Act reauthorization and the 2008 FISA Amendments Act after expressing strong objections about the impact of the proposals on the privacy rights of Americans.
The JUSTICE Act has been endorsed by more than two dozen organizations, including the American Civil Liberties Union, American Library Association, the Brennan Center of Justice, PEN American Center, and the U.S. Bill of Rights Foundation.
Sponsors of the legislation include: Russ Feingold (D-WI), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Jon Tester (D-MT), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Daniel Akaka (D-HI) and Ron Wyden (D-OR).
The Baucus Bill Debacle: Vote No, Queen O!
TPM provides a useful summary of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly in Baucuscare. Surprisingly, Max's bill does have a few positive provisions, but the bad and ugly elements far outweigh the pluses. See my earlier post for more on the Baucus 'gang of six' bill, and the negative responses it's getting. Now Baucus reportedly has lost his credibility with Dems inside and outside the Senate Finance Committee. Many Dem Senators and Reps are seething because his loooooooong "negotiation" to get a "bi-partisan" bill was a loser from the start -- and everybody knew it.
Let's just say Dean speaks for me:
Howard Dean, former Democratic National Committee chairman, minced no words about Sen. Max Baucus's health-care proposal, unveiled to the public this morning. "The Baucus bill is the worst piece of healthcare legislation I've seen in 30 years," Dean said last night at a healthcare town hall and book signing in Washington. "In fact, it's a $60 billion giveaway to the health insurance industry every year," he said. "It was written by healthcare lobbyists, so that's not a surprise. It's an outrage."
"I'm glad Senator Rockefeller is not going to vote for it. I wouldn't vote for it at all under any circumstances," Dean added.
Instead, Dean said Senate Democrats should and would end up using the reconciliation process to pass a plan with the public option. "It can be done, and that's how it will be done," Dean said, pointing out that a majority of Senate Democrats still support a more robust bill.
Robert Reich thinks the contours of the bill that finally emerges from Congress are heavily dependent on how Sen. Olympia Snowe votes on the Baucus bill. Now that's a scary prospect. If Snowe votes yes, Reich thinks she'll give cover to "centrist" Dem Senators and they'll end up voting with her. The Senate will pass a weak reform bill with 60 votes and the House will be pressured to water down their bill to match the Senate version. If Snowe votes no, the Dems will be forced to pass a Senate bill via reconciliation, and thus it will be a more progressive piece of legislation. In that scenario, most of the provisions in the House bill will prevail.
Chant with me: Vote no, Olympia! Vote no, Olympia!
Go Say Hi to Dr. Howard Dean and Sign the Petition to Urge Congress to Pass a Public Option
I'm sure you'll agree that Dean has been a superb advocate for real reform and a robust public option. He's asking us to join him now in demanding that Democrats in Congress move forward and vote to do what's right for America. No excuses.
Go read (and rec) the diary, add your comment to the thread and visit his new America Can't Wait action site at www.americacantwait.com/ to sign the petition and learn how you can get more involved.
Meet State Auditor Hector Balderas at Saturday's Pancakes & Politics Hosted by DPBC
From the Democratic Party of Bernalillo County:
This month's Pancakes and Politics event is set for Saturday, September 19, at 8:30 AM at Nick's Crossroads Cafe at Central and Fourth in downtown Albuquerque. Our special guest will be State Auditor Hector Balderas. All are welcome to attend, mingle with fellow Democrats and meet our State Auditor. $10 donation at the door.
Also, check out our revamped website to learn about how you can get more involved in County Party activities at www.bernalillodems.org/.
Mary Travers: And When I Die ...
She was Greenwich Village through and through -- beautiful and edgy, smart and fierce, talented and rowdy and brave -- a freedom fighter and peace seeker and lover of life till the end of her time, today, on this beautiful but often contentious plane of consciousness.
Her voice and energy could be powerful or sweet, rousing and rebellious, thirsting for justice, political or intimate. She worked for civil rights, for human rights, for the children, for the sisterhood and brotherhood, all over the globe. She was one tough, independent, yet vulnerable woman, when it was much more difficult to be one. With a voice and presence uniquely hers, full of grace and passion. She touched the world.
At Washington Peace March 1971