Friday, February 17, 2012
02/18: On Saturday Attend Dem Party Bernalillo County Ward and Precinct Elections
The Democratic Party of Bernalillo County will be holding on Saturday, Feb. 18, 2012 the elections for ward and precinct officers and the election of delegates for the County and State Pre-Primary Convention. Click to read the Call issued by Chairwoman Ana Canales and the time and location of each ward and precinct meeting.
All registered Democrats are urged to attend and vote for their ward and precinct officers and extra CCC members, or run for an office themselves. Those elected as ward chairs, precinct chairs and additional CCC members will serve on the DPBC Central Committee, which will meet on Feb. 25 at 10:00 AM at the UNM Continuing Education Center - 1634 University NE, Albuquerque. Registration will be start at 8:30 AM and the meeting will be called to order at 10:00 AM.
Please bring resolutions to present at the ward meeting tomorrow. Click Download Master dem resolution Form 2012 for a blank resolution document. And below are a few resolutions that have been drafted up, if any of these are interest to you download and bring to your own ward meeting, be sure to fill in the top of the form.
Download Resolution Access to broadband; Download Resolution Financial Literacy; Download Resolution Fracking; Download Resolution Funds for Health Care; Download Resolution Genetically Modified Salmon; Download Resolution Move to Amend; Download Resolution Non-lethal weapons; Download Resolution Prevailing wages; Download Resolution Repeal the NDAA; Download Resolution Tax LANL; Download Resolution The 99%; Download Resolution The commons
Friday, January 20, 2012
New Mexico Is at a Crossroads
At a critical point in our state’s history, New Mexicans deserve to be informed about issues and solutions that matter to their everyday lives.
“This educational material focuses on engaging everyday New Mexicans in policies that impact core issues like jobs (not profits), fairness, transparency, and accountability in our state government,” says Javier Benavidez, Communications Director of the Center for Civic Policy.
Educational pieces are being distributed to the public, including constituents of legislators in key committees that are hearing legislation focused on tax and budget / jobs proposals. In addition, as a result of redistricting, many constituents will soon find out that they are represented by new legislators and should have the opportunity to engage with their respective elected officials.
This particular educational piece focuses on policies and tax giveaways proposed that hinder New Mexico’s ability to invest in priorities like education and public safety. Tax giveaways should be transparent about whether jobs are actually created and receive independent scrutiny about who pays and who benefits.
Instead, the Governor vetoed a bill that would have required a full review of the tax breaks given to big corporations. As a result, out of state corporations evade paying their fair share and everyday New Mexicans are on the hook for tax loopholes. This piece seeks to give voice to the frustration that countless New Mexicans feel with a lack of transparency and accountability when these kinds of giveaways are granted.
There is a bill introduced this legislative session which is suspect for more give away to the corporations; Senate Bill SB42 MANUFACTURING INVESTMENT WEIGHTED SALE FACTOR that DFNM is very interested in watching. It is carried by Senator John Sapien (D) the language is very hard to understand. We tried to find him in the Roundhouse yesterday but he was busy on the senate floor and in committee meetings. We wanted to ask him about what the result would be for the average New Mexicans if this bill was passed. Stay tuned we will get some information feedback regarding this bill.
Sunday, January 01, 2012
Overwhelming Democratic Message for 2012: ORGANIZE.
A twitter at the end of the year - #4wordsfor2011: Rise, Revolt, Topple, Repeat. No one could have predicted Mubarak’s fall nor the rise of the OWS (Occupy Wall Street). However, we should have reasonably predicted many of the horrendous records broken last year – weather disasters topping them all.
As a self-identified “progressive” (and we can debate another time what that term means), I wanted to know whether the tumultuous year just passed left progressives with any lessons and hope for 2012. I caught up with several of my favorite elected officials who shared their thoughts as the curtain fell on 2011.
One word summarized everyone’s comments – ORGANIZE. The battle at the federal, state and local levels will require that “Democrats organize and focus on issues at every level of government” because the opposition is very well organized. We must be willing to “organize our communities.” “The right wing ruling class is counting on voter ignorance and anger.” We must “stand our ground and not waiver.”
“The 1% at the top of the economic ladder will never voluntarily step aside and relinquish its stranglehold on the public pocketbook. It will have to be forced to do so and that means the opposition, as ferocious and as well-financed as it will be, must be confronted directly. In other words, we cannot back down; we cannot become exhausted; we cannot stop working every single day. And it means we should turn off our television sets because the avalanche of ‘independent’ PAC issue ads will be frightening.”
This past year “we underestimated the shrillness and meaness that is possible from Republicans and we turned on ourselves in trying to outshout the other side.” It’s very difficult to get anything done (must be how Obama feels) when we are in “clean-up mode” and trying to repair the mess of others. “There are places where horse-trading (as much as I personally abhor it) is necessary to make progress ... that is incremental at best.”
The impact and influence of the Occupy Movement was noted by several. “Occupy Wall Street is immensely hope-inspiring.” The 99% has turned the political debate. “Occupy Wall Street got the media to talk openly about ‘corporate greed.’ There are indications around the country that a more liberal view on government may bode well in future elections.” “Clearer heads are prevailing despite the increase of hate and fear” ---- witness the anti-Walker protests in Wisconsin, overturning anti-worker legislation via initiative process in Ohio, and the recall defeat of anti-immigrant architect Senator Pearce.
“Lets not forget the working class, the working poor, and lets hope the occupy movement keeps it up. I’m hoping the inside of the state capitol gets occupied. Heck, the Governor’s office too!”
Advice for New Mexico progressives?
“Partner and build consensus. Identify 3 key policy initiatives that directly impact people’s lives and pursue them relentlessly with the most united front possible.”
“In New Mexico, the way the Democrats in the Senate came together to thwart Governor Martinez’ angry, illogical campaign to end drivers licenses for foreign nationals was a surprising and very encouraging indication of what might be done when we stay united and determined.”
“We need new blood: younger, energetic and more diverse legislative candidates if we are going to not only resist the Governor’s agenda but formulate a successful agenda of our own. And we have to find a way to communicate our message effectively since neither the Albuquerque Journal nor the television stations have shown any interest in helping us inform the public about the crucial issues: government’s role in boosting employment (jobs!); the necessity of financing infrastructure adequately (taxes!); the necessity of protecting the environment (resisting corporate greed!). Those issues are almost always reframed in the mass media into a conservative’s vision. Until we can figure out how to speak the truth in a way that registers as truth with the voters, we will be on the defensive.”
Elections matter. Everyone noted the importance of elections for championing the progressive agenda. “We need to learn that the dem candidate cannot be someone who merely assumes the candidacy but is someone who has really been vetted by the people.” “Support candidates in democratic primaries who have exhibited a history of participating in the progressive movement as opposed to those who are risk averse and self-serving.” We must protect the progressive districts and continue to elect progressives. And we must watch out for the Agenda 21 folks who are on the prowl with a campaign to unseat elected officials in cities around the state that have supported ICLEI. https://www.iclei.org/ As an organizing tool, “the Progressive Voter Alliance is a good model which we should try to set up around the state.” (More about that in a future post.)
Thanks to the contributions of State Senators Stephen Fischman and Jerry Ortiz y Pino; State Representatives Mimi Stewart, Antonio Maestas and Eleanor Chavez; Albuquerque City Councilor Ike Benton; Santa Fe Councilor Rosemary Romero; and Las Cruces Councilor Sharon Thomas. I appreciate you taking time during your holidays to share your thoughts and wisdom. Lets plan for 2012 to be the Year of the Progressives!
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
The out pouring of support for Barb has been over whelming, I am so touched and wherever the spirit goes in the after life it is my hope she is witnessing this appreciation of her time and efforts on the planet.
This song came to me this morning. I find it fitting to what we and I have to do.
I got calls to Carry On from Senator Udall and Gov. Howard Dean. I saw a message on joe monahan's blog from Congressman Heinrich and received a call from Rep. Ben Ray Lujan's staff. All expressing how sorry they are for Barb's passing, but glad we were going to Carry On here at DemocracyforNewMexico.
So Carry On I shall. And Carry On we shall. It is what Barb wanted. Her voice will be missed and as one of the comments on the previous post here I saw explaining Barb's ways, "She was akin to a surgeon, going right to the political cancer, relentless and sure." says it all. Remember it takes a village to raise a blog. Hours are passing, times a wasting, the theives and polluters and haters are running free.
So we start again. Barb is free to the spirit world. It is time to Carry On.
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Steve Klinger Guest Blog: New Independent Newspaper 'The Light of New Mexico' Seeks to Illuminate Inconvenient Truths
This is a guest blog by Steve Klinger, a long-time journalist and editor of the Grassroots Press, on the recent launch of a new, independent print and online newspaper called The Light of New Mexico. Steve will be editing the paper, which will initially be published monthly. The first print issue of The Light of New Mexico hit the streets of Santa Fe on September 15, with a cover story on "The Politics of H2O: Who Controls Your Water?" It's also available for download as a pdf by clicking here.
The newspaper, published by Skip Whitson, will focus on "Illuminating Inconvenient Truths," and will be covering "Conscious Culture, including Politics, Reviews, Books and Entertainment." The Light of New Mexico is designed to serve as a progressive, alternative source of ideas, information and a networking nexus for north-central New Mexico and beyond, providing a newspaper, a blog and a community resource.
According to the paper's Mission Statement, "Our focuses include state and local politics, peace/nonviolence, environment, civil liberties, foreign policy, social justice, global awareness, fair trade, localism and sustainability, as well as an abiding appreciation for music and art as a force for change. We maintain a commitment to outreach, education, and peaceful dialogues to safeguard democracy and raise consciousness within our communities.
“It is the role of a newspaperman to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” –-Chicago journalist Finley Peter Dunne
Connecting the Dots
There are those who think the print newspaper is in its death throes and others who think words of any kind are just useless spitballs hurled by naïve optimists into the maelstrom of a crumbling democracy and a planet hurtling toward disaster.
Among the dwindling minority who are still willing or able to commit words to the printed page, even fewer are doing anything like real journalism, as the money behind the surviving mainstream media is too busy advancing the corporate agenda, promoting the so-called balance of false equivalents, or in some cases hacking the phones of crime victims in the race to pander to the lowest common subscriber denominator.
We won’t be doing things that way, and we thought you’d like to know.
I feel privileged to be associated with The Light of New Mexico, a new, independent monthly newspaper based in Santa Fe that will take a higher road in attempting, as our tagline states, to illuminate inconvenient truths. We considered numerous titles for our new publication, and various slogans as well, with a common theme of shedding light on the issues of the day: political corruption, connecting the dots between manmade climate change, gridlocked government, skyrocketing corporate influence in campaigns and legislation, and the threats to democracy our republic is facing on every level.
As I have done before in my nearly 40 years of newspaper work in New Mexico, most recently with Grassroots Press, I’ll be looking for stories that illustrate the realities ordinary people are facing in their daily lives, hoping to educate our readers and ourselves on the forces that are shaping our future in a downsizing and endangered nation. I’ll be exploring the ways in which the forces of greed and self-interest are attempting to hijack public policy. I’ll be featuring commentary from journalists, authors and experts on the critical times we face, plus a mix of pertinent syndicated material and open pages for you, our readers to fill, with your comments and unique perspectives on everything from politics to the arts.
Without deep pockets or any corporate support, we’ll also be relying on you to help us grow with your display advertising and your donations, as well as your feedback and suggestions.
Santa Fe is a remarkable place, with a rich history of cultural alchemy, a place that tolerates and elevates diversity, eclecticism and artistic expression. One of the oldest capital cities in North America, it arose on the site of far older Pueblos, a product of European colonialism and an often bloody clash of cultures -- Native American, Hispanic, Anglo -- and has been endlessly reinventing itself for better and worse ever since. These days, it’s a world-class destination, but also a place called home for nearly 70,000 folks, including some of the most talented and successful individuals on the planet, and the organizations they’ve brought with them. These include a vital emerging community of locavore, sustainable, nonprofit endeavors. Santa Fe also holds but a fraction of the population of the state of New Mexico that is our larger home, a coverage area into which we hope to expand as The Light of New Mexico grows; we hope to serve it with dedication and distinction.
Most of all, we hope you’ll read our words and help us write them. We hope to prove worthy of your interest and support. Obviously, we believe in the power of words to educate human beings and change history. We also think that time is growing short to do that under the umbrella of a free press in a besieged democracy. That’s why we feel our work is important, especially in a time when ever more of us are feeling afflicted, and those with the money and power are growing ever more comfortable.
This is a guest blog by Steve Klinger, who can be reached at Steve@thelightofnewmexico.com.
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.
Tuesday, April 05, 2011
Tonight: DFA-DFNM Meetup to Feature Analysis of 2010 Census, Role of USDA Rural Development
This month's DFA-Democracy for New Mexico Meetup is set for tonight, April 5, at 7:00 PM at the Social Hall of the First Unitarian Church on the SW corner of Carlisle and Comanche. Click here to RSVP and/or become a member. All are welcome.
The group will be hearing from two knowledgeable folks about two important topics. Meetup member Sterling Ray Fluharty, who has made a careful study of the demographic changes captured in the 2010 census, will discuss their meaning for politics in New Mexico. , the State Director for USDA Rural Development in New Mexico, will fill us in on what his important agency does to support communities in NM, and how its focus fits in with the demographic changes highlighted in the recent census.
We'll also be discussing what's going on in the pro-worker movement here and nationwide, and what we can do to keep the momentum going.
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Guest Blog: Reflections on Small Thinking and the Big Picture
I spent several weeks in Austin, doing errands around my brother’s dying in Christopher House, the 15-bed facility run by Hospice Austin. Looking at the city in which it had been exactly 30 years ago that I began an intensive involvement in politics -- but being apart from it -- was a circumstance that afforded me a chance to reflect. Standing outside the conventional way of looking at things is very needed right now. Increasingly, as the 21st century unfolds, conventional thinking will be problematic. Generally, we don’t have time for deep and global reflection, so one must use such moments to look at the big picture and the long term when one can.
Given our present circumstance in the US and in the world, what can we see from a long term view?
I think our problems stem from our politics not being big enough. Since the ‘70s, the entire public debate has been taken over by thinking shaped by marketing concepts that came about in the founding of Madison Avenue. That which is outside this framework is outside politics. When you really track back through the past decades, it's easy to see that.
The ability of talk radio hosts to have outsized influence has to do with smallness. They imply that the future is scary and we ought to seek comfort in the past, possibly in a vision of the way things were in the ‘50s. The reason this can work at all is that the overall debate that is influenced by the media in general is about the bits and pieces that can fit into media formats. The larger the issues, the more they are externalities. Corporate big business avoids thinking in terms of externalities, things that are not relevant to the quarterly balance sheet, but which are precisely what citizens ought to be most vitally interested in.
The counter to this entire environment is in an embrace of concepts about the future that require facing facts and digging in to do something to construct working alternatives. A lot of that work has been going on outside politics for the past thirty years.
The Republican Party has become a wholly owned subsidiary of backward looking interests that see message marketing in its most cynical light. Thus, lowest common denominator appeals to fears and prejudices have become more than dominant. This leaves the Democratic Party no choice but to intensify as a Party of realists who can see the long-term big picture and can talk about it with cut-to-the-bone honesty. That is the ultimate antidote to artful lying, denial and evasion.
Out here on the West Side, there are tens of thousands of rooftops that weren’t here thirty years ago. What I remember from back then, in Austin, was that these people surprised everyone when they became voters. They had moved in from places that were examples of the way not to do things, and they didn’t want bad policy to continue in their new home.
This means that a new approach to reaching out is required. Typically, databases are drawn from voter histories, already defined voting behavior. Newcomers may not have a defined history for some years and thus may be beyond the scope of list building.
This leads to two immediate suggestions. One is to develop a program for including newcomers in the conversation about the future of society, and the Democratic Party. Another is to develop a discussion about core strategy that is inclusive and not exclusive.
It is true that a lot of times at meetings there is a lot of wasted time, as those with the most eagerness to speak may not be the most wise. This can make one want to remove core strategy discussions from the hurly burly. However, the disparity between the way many people perceive the political process and the way they feel reality to be, is precisely what needs to be addressed.
The dichotomy in our elections may become, more and more, a question about that disparity. The recent elections in both New Mexico and Texas seems to me to indicate that purely existential, vague and unintellectual anger and anxiety can be a winning platform if there is not an alternative that seems to be grounded in a compelling, big-picture realism.
This is a guest blog by Stuart Heady. 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.
To see a collection of guest blogs posted on Democracy for New Mexico, visit our archive.
Friday, August 27, 2010
A Little Birdie Told Us Jim Scarantino Is Leaving New Mexico In Focus, Maybe More
One of our talkative birds on a wire told us that notorious tea party movement enthusiast and Rio Grande Foundation-backed blogger Jim Scarantino will no longer be a panelist on KNME's New Mexico In Focus, which airs on Friday evenings. The word is he's retiring to spend time with his wife, sing opera and climb mountains -- or something.
As I'm sure you all know by now, I'm no fan of Scarantino and his prickly, pompous verbal vendettas against all things Democratic, progressive or environmental so I won't be missing him on the weekly talk show. I am curious, however, about whether he will also be "retiring" from the New Mexico Watchdog blog. And if he is, why?
Could it be that some authority or donor to the Rio Grande Foundation has finally realized Scarantino has gone a little too far on more than a few occasions pumping the partisan tea party line? Stay tuned.
Friday, August 13, 2010
I'll Be On KVOT Radio in Taos or Online Today from 5-6:00 PM
I'm pleased to report I'll be a guest on the Jim Ball show on KVOT radio in Taos today. "That's a Rap" is co-hosted by Jim Sanborn, and is on the air every day from 5:00 to 6:00 PM on 1340 AM on the radio dial or online at www.1340kvot.com/. Tuesday's focus is on Education, on Thursday it's the Arts and Fridays are devoted to on local progressive politics. Jim Ball is the news director for DMC broadcasting, which includes KVOT. He was once the managing publisher of the highly respected Texas Observer, known for its investigative journalism.
I'll be discussing the upcoming election, what the various campaigns are up to, what the main issues are this cycle and what we can do to get involved.
Hope you'll tune in and check it out today at 5:00 PM. If you do, please be easy on my performance -- I have very little experience being on the radio! Thanks, Barb.
Thursday, May 13, 2010
KKOB's Jim Villanucci: A Right-Wing Radio Talk Show Host as New Mexico's Own Political Kingmaker?
Is a new force on the loose in New Mexico’s political landscape? That’s the question being asked in the wake of KKOB radio talk show host Jim Villanucci’s surprising endorsement of Republican gubernatorial candidate Doug Turner a few weeks ago.
is back this week after a 10-day vacation, but on April 29, exactly one hour after he stepped away from the mic, Villanucci sent an email blast announcing his endorsement of Turner in the Republican primary. He wrote:
In my opinion, Doug is our party’s best chance to take back the governor’s office and has my full support and endorsement in this Republican primary.
That email was followed less than two hours later by an email from the Turner campaign trumpeting his shiny new plug:
I am proud to announce that conservative radio host Jim Villanucci endorsed my campaign today to be your next Republican Governor of New Mexico.
As a popular radio host in the Bernalillo metro area, Jim is known as a champion of conservative principles ... Not only did Jim endorse my campaign, he also donated to this fight.
Then there was total silence from the vacationing Villanucci.
When was the last time that a prominent local radio personality formally endorsed, and then campaigned, for a candidate in a party primary? Has it ever happened? Has Bob Clark ever done it? Did Pat Frisch? Larry Ahrens? Chris Jackson? Even the late local TV and radio legend, Gordon Sanders, never went there. He just ran for mayor twice -- after stepping away from the microphone first, of course.
KKOB’s self-acknowledged bias toward the right-side of the political spectrum is nothing new. But what Villanucci did on April 29 seems to have dialed up his campaign involvement big time -- as in up an octave. It's one thing to agree with right-wing callers, no matter how bizarre, but it's another thing altogether to shill for a right-wing candidate outright -- officially.
What's the station’s policy on this? Although KKOB seems content to be perceived as just another amplifier of the propaganda of the day for the right-wing echo chamber, are they A-OK with having their on-air personalities insert themselves directly into Republican primaries to attempt to play the kingmaker?
Curiously, KKOB talkers were vociferous last year in denouncing the merest hint of a suggestion that the federal government should resurrect the Fairness Doctrine -- the FCC policy that used to require licensed broadcasters to present controversial issues of public importance and do so in an honest, equitable and balanced manner. Although right-wing megaphone outfits like to claim they're "fair and balanced," they always seem to fight tooth and nail against anything that would require them to meet reasonable criteria to back up that claim. Apparently their fans don't care.
But what will be the reaction of the other candidates who have been regularly appearing on Villanucci's show, not to mention Bob Clark’s morning slot? Is Bob Clark going to endorse a candidate?
Right-Wing Kingmakers on the National Scene
While a formal endorsement and direct involvement in a party’s intramural contest may be unprecedented in the New Mexico market, it's standard operating procedure for the superstars in the national conservative media firmament.
Last fall, Fox’s Sean Hannity, whose nationally syndicated radio show fills the time slot leading into Villanucci’s, was a powerful factor in the special congressional election in New York, coming out strongly for Tea Party favorite Doug Hoffman against Republican nominee Dede Scozzafava. This year, Hannity is cheerleading for former radio talk show host John Gomez in New York's 2nd congressional district. Gomez managed to get the GOP nod to challenge veteran Democratic Rep. Steve Israel despite having zero political experience.
According to a story this week on Media Matters, Gomez has a "not-so-secret weapon" in Hannity:
Fox News host Sean Hannity ... reportedly promised local leaders that he'd help Gomez by promoting and fundraising for him. This past Saturday, Hannity forwarded a message to his radio show email list urging people to donate to Gomez's campaign. Suffolk GOP chairman John Jay LaValle reportedly said that "anytime someone with Sean Hannity's stature vouches for your credibility, it's very significant" and can "absolutely be a game-changer."
Sounds familiar, doesn't it?
But the Big Dog when it comes to conservative talkers influencing the internal power dynamics of the Republican Party is El Rushbo himself -- Rush Limbaugh. Indeed, there's been plenty of commentary about the extent of Limbaugh’s influence over the GOP -- so great, according to some, that he's widely acknowledged to be the de facto leader of the party. Just ask David Frum, a conservative commentator and policy wonk who was booted out of his position as a resident fellow at the right-wing American Enterprise Institute for criticizing the influence that Limbaugh and his extremist ilk are having on the GOP.
Remember what happened a couple of months ago when titular RNC head, Michael Steele, had to apologize for questioning Limbaugh’s preeminence?
Villanucci: GOP Clout-Monger?
Limbaugh’s influence at KKOB is undeniable. His 10 AM to 1 PM time slot is the heart of the order in KKOB’s conservative line-up of all-star conservative talkers -- Hannity, Michael Savage and Bill Cunningham (who took over the Matt Drudge slot).
Has this elephantine influence put big ideas into Villanucci’s head? After all, if Limbaugh can make or break candidates, why not Villanucci? Is Villanucci now planning to use his 20 hours of public airtime to become a party kingmaker in the Limbaugh mold?
We'll just have to wait and see.
Click for the (pdf) of Villanucci’s endorsement email.
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Slideshow: 2009 Democratic Party of New Mexico Legislative Dinner
Last night the Democratic Party of New Mexico hosted its 20th Annual Legislative Dinner at the Santa Fe Convention Center. The gathering represents one of the principle fundraising events for the DPNM, and it was very well attended by rank and file Dems and Party supporters from around the state, as well as lawmakers, candidates and officeholders. DPNM Chairman Javier Gonzales, the State Party staff and volunteers and the dinner steering committee did a great job of organizing and hosting a successful and high-energy event.
After a pair of receptions, the dinner group was greeted by Chairman Javier Gonzales and Santa Fe Mayor David Coss. Featured speakers included Speaker of the House Ben Lujan, Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez and Congressman Harry Teague, with Lt. Gov. Diane Denish giving the keynote. We also heard from staffers from the offices of Senators Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall. Governor Bill Richardson was in attendance but did not formally address the group. We also enjoyed a slideshow filled with lawmakers past and present, and a warm-hearted video tribute to former Governor Bruce King, who passed away this past November.
Perhaps the loudest applause was reserved for Sen. Michael Sanchez's impassioned plea for passage of a domestic partnership bill during his speech to the group. He did diversity justice and made a persuasive argument for supporting a civil rights plank that's been a part of the Democratic Platform for several election cycles. Thank you Senator Sanchez. Let's hope all the other Democrats in the State Senate follow suit at long last.
All photos by M.E. Broderick.
Monday, January 11, 2010
Sen. Tim Jennings Joins 4 Republicans at Cozy Confab to Kiss Up to Tea Party Demands
State Senator Tim Jennings, a Democrat from Roswell, has a reputation for saying outrageous things to attract attention to himself, often at the expense of legislation that supports core Democratic values. He clearly likes to act mavericky -- you know, like the pretentious, loose-canon character that U.S. Senator John McCain plays on the national stage. You could say he'll say or do almost anything to get media attention and mock his fellow Dems -- or to block bills they support in the most ostentatious manner possible.
If you've ever attended or tuned in to a committee hearing where Jennings is a member, you've no doubt experienced his penchant for long, boring, irrelevant, "folksy" anecdotes designed to insult and delay. He can be a one-man obstructionist juggernaut at times, and he clearly revels in that role in a manner we see often among the right wing, just-say-no contingent locally and in Washington.
His power within the New Mexico Senate comes from his linking up with a handful of other conserva-Dems and a whole slew of Republicans, so it's no surprise that he recently showed up at a "budget town hall" hosted in Ruidoso by the Lincoln County Tea Party -- along with four Republicans.
According to an article in the Ruidoso News, all five lawmakers agreed that they will oppose any state budget that includes tax increases -- no matter what kind they are. Taxes are inherently evil. Government spending is inherently evil. Cutting government to the bone is good. Tim Jennings agrees with some of the most right-wing legislators on these points. There is little room for nuance or shades of gray. All taxes are alike, and almost all government spending is alike. No room for balance or tradeoffs or investments in the future.
Folks across the political spectrum are against a return to taxing food and raising taxes on the working poor and middle classes during this prolonged economic downturn. Folks across the political spectrum want the government to operate in a fiscally responsible manner, but they know that the global economic challenge we're facing will require much more than cutting spending if we want to continue necessary services and help to create the jobs of the future.
There's strong support among the populace for returning the income tax rates on our wealthiest citizens to what they were in 2003. There's wide-ranging support for raising our incredibly low tax rates on capital gains. And there's a big push for making large corporate businesses like Walmart pay their fair share of taxes like most other states do. Because most people know that if we don't raise taxes on those most able to pay -- those who've been having a free ride for many moons -- we'll have to make deep and unacceptable cuts in education, Medicaid, senior services and many other kinds of programs that provide a life-line to the disabled, the poor and the sick, especially at a time like this. It's that simple.
According to Jennings and his cohorts -- unlike any other state in the nation -- New Mexico's budget problems are primarily due to flagrant spending and have next to nothing to do with the financial debacle caused in key ways by the deregulation, anti-government, anti-tax factions with which Jennings apparently feels a close kinship. Instead of facing the realties of our ongoing financial problems, Jennings appears content to use the pain New Mexicans are experiencing to further his reputation as a Democrat who often sides with right wingers. It's all about protecting tax loopholes and tax cuts for those who can afford to pay more, while the very things that can help us survive and get out of this mess are apparently on the chopping block.
So, while the Tea Partiers gather with guns on their hips and attack President Obama and everything real Democrats stand for, Sen. Jennings apparently believes it's wise to participate in a one-sided budget town hall organized by their Lincoln County chapter. I guess he feels at home hanging out with those who are fighting almost everything the Democratic Party stands for. Isn't that a shame?