There’s plenty of reasons people use to excuse themselves from not voting. But in case you need a reminder of why every vote, and especially your vote is important, we simply need to look at our state’s national rankings on everything from education to healthcare. That’s right, we are last in everything! In fact, New Mexico was recently ranked 51st in the nation in terms of our level of political engagement.
A highly engaged electorate that participates in the democratic process and holds our elected officials accountable is critical to having a well-functioning democracy.
Last week, the New Mexico Secretary of State’s Native American Voting Taskforce (NAVTF) met at the Pueblo of Laguna in Casa Blanca. The Secretary of State worked in collaboration with the League of Women Voters to give election information that is specific for Native communities. These voter guides have information about the candidates on the ballots, the questions that will be on the ballot, and voting location dates. Native language translation will be available to Native people as well. After the Taskforce met, there was a training for interpreters who will be responsible for what will be aired on the radio stations where tribal communities are located.
Yesterday, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford came forward with her story about Judge Brett Kavanaugh on the eve of a vote on his appointment to the United States Supreme Court. She says that he rubbed his body on her, groped her, and she thought that she might die until someone stopped Brett. In the #MeToo era, what does this mean? Last November, Ronan Farrow wrote the explosive expose on Harvey Weinstein. The piece outlined the ways that Weinstein used his power and his money to silence the women who said raped or assaulted them in some way.
Planned Parenthood Federation of America just announced their new president, Dr. Leana Wen. This is the first time in fifty years that a physician has been the president of Planned Parenthood. Dr. Wen was the “Doctor for the City” in Baltimore, where she served as the city’s Commissioner of Health. What does this mean for New Mexico? Dr. Wen’s experiences as a Chinese immigrant whose family relied on Medicaid and who personally relied on the services of Planned Parenthood as well as her dedication to public health means she knows firsthand what many rural and urban communities and communities of color face when it comes to health disparities.
Janice Arnold-Jones went on Fox News and insinuated that because Deb Haaland, her Democratic opponent in Congressional District 1, did not grow up on the Pueblo of Laguna reservation, aka The Rez, that Deb cannot claim that she is Native. This is another striking example of how removed Janice and other non-Native people are from the complicated history of Native Americans, not just in the district she wants to represent, but across New Mexico and the nation. Janice, what you said on national television is racist and here’s why. Federally recognized tribes in this country have jumped through endless hoops and faced extreme prejudice just to achieve recognition from the federal government to access healthcare and education promised them under the myriad treaties foisted on them by the United States of America. Tribes have land held “in trust” with the federal government and must receive permission to use their own land.
This is the third in a series focusing on the long-term economic and social issues facing Farmington, New Mexico, and surrounding areas. As a region that has rich and diverse opportunities but generally relies on extractive industries economically, the whole area is facing uncertainty as the coal-burning San Juan Coal Generating Station closes its doors and oil jobs are moving to the southeast part of the state to capitalize on the Permian boom happening right now. In today’s piece, we’ll be looking at complementary legislation that needs to be implemented in the state to ensure areas like Farmington can continue to thrive well into the future. Last week we looked specifically at how securitization could help PNM recoup its costs as it transitions from coal-generated power to renewable sources, while also helping the Four Corners area transition to a new and more diverse economy. The second part of that prospect though is ensuring that utilities like PNM actually DO get their power from renewable sources, like wind and solar, by legislating what is known as a “Renewable Portfolio Standard,” which spells out exactly how much energy must be derived from renewable sources and by when. A quick aside here on language for this piece: Renewable energy in the broad sense is energy created from clean sources like solar or wind as opposed to energy from fossil fuels like coal, natural gas, or oil.
On August 29, New Mexico Secretary of State, Maggie Toulouse Oliver, announced that she will reinstate straight party voting. Why would New Mexicans be against something that can make voting easier? The Republican Party of New Mexico says that this is a partisan move that will only help Democrats down the ballot- but are Republicans not also a major party in New Mexico? Not to mention the Libertarians will have a spot just for them at the top of the ballot. The GOP joined a lawsuit along with the Libs and other smaller parties to stop the move from being instituted by the SOS.
Yesterday, we introduced you to Pat Rogers, the itinerant Republican lawyer who seems committed to stopping progress at every turn in and around Albuquerque. We started our series with a synopsis of Rogers’ peculiar schemes to kill ABQ Democracy Dollars at the Bernalillo County Commision. But the bigger story is that just about every time community organizers in Albuquerque fight to return some agency to the people over corporate interests, or to boost the well-being of workers over big business profits, Pat Rogers is on hand like the grim reaper. Only a lot more smug. But his ability to swing citizen initiatives isn’t done in a vacuum. The voting members of the county commission and city council are culpable, even some Democrats.
“Why I only got a problem when you in the hood?” -Kanye West, The Good Life
That was the theme of last week’s Bernalillo County Commission meeting when several commissioners threw a bizarre curveball at what should have been an otherwise homerun for democracy in Albuquerque and eventually statewide. In the preceding months, over 28,000 Burqueños had signed a petition to put the ABQ Democracy Dollars initiative on the November ballot and organizers had followed the process “to a T.” Excitement about the campaign was buzzing and on the night of the hearing, supporters packed the commission chambers. Only one individual showed up to oppose the measure – attorney Pat Rogers. But that’s when Commissioners Steven Michael Quezada and Jim Smith, along with the help of County Attorney Kenny Martinez (formerly NM State House Speaker), performed a charade of question and answer about the initiative’s content (kinda like the mailman debating whether to deliver the shirt you ordered because it’s not his style) – and ultimately blocked the initiative (2-2). So who is Pat Roger’s and how did his presence relate?
This is the second in a series focusing on the long-term economic and social issues facing Farmington, New Mexico, and surrounding areas. As a region that has rich and diverse opportunities but generally relies on extractive industries economically, the whole area is facing uncertainty as the coal-burning San Juan Coal Generating Station closes its doors and oil jobs are moving to the southeast part of the state to capitalize on the Permian boom happening right now. Last week we looked at how Farmington and surrounding areas are facing real-time issues when it comes to their future. The San Juan Generating Plant is scheduled to close in just the next few years, which will likely mean a loss of jobs for many workers there. That, of course, will impact the economy of the whole region.