VICTORY! Las Cruces City Council unanimously votes to go 100% renewable!

The City of Las Cruces has already taken big steps in recent years to be less dependent on energy originating from fossil fuels and grid energy transmitted from hundreds of miles away. Monday, the City Council took a step further by committing to a three-step process to become 100 percent powered by renewable energy by 2050. In the near term, the city will take quick steps to becoming 25 percent renewable by 2022, just five years from now. 

The resolution now binds the city to take specific steps to achieve the goals set forth in the timelines. Some of the options presented were for the city to make direct investments of photovoltaic (PV) systems and install them around city properties and buildings, create a public-private partnership with utilities to acquire renewable energy from combined on-site and off-site sources, or simply buy more renewable energy directly from existing utilities. The City of Las Cruces resolution comes after the City of Albuquerque has taken similar steps toward becoming less dependent on transmitted power.

Armed protestors pressure Las Cruces City Council to drop School Safety resolution

On Monday, armed, pro-gun activists loosely organized by Republican and outspoken pro-gun candidates in Doña Ana County amassed at the Las Cruces City Hall to protest “A Resolution to Better Ensure the Safety of Students in Las Cruces Schools.” The protest started on the road in front of City Hall with folks carrying AR-15s and handguns, holding signs, and waving variations of the Gadsden Flag, the infamous coiled snake with the phrase “Don’t tread on me.” Most of those protestors then entered City Hall for the regular meeting and took up menacing positions around the back of the chamber with their weapons in full view of anyone coming and going. There were additional seats, added in the lobby of City Hall, that were also filled with armed supporters so that anyone from the public who may have been coming to pay a utility bill or apply for a business license was welcomed by a phalanx of people with rifles and handguns. At least two candidates who are running in November were a part of the protest and took some credit for organizing it.

[UPDATE] Doña Ana County Commission John Vasquez has resigned after continued public pressure

Facing what news outlets described as “heavy criticism for his treatment of women and calls from top leaders in his own party to resign, Doña Ana County Commissioner John Vasquez stepped down on Thursday.” This comes less than a week after ProgressNow New Mexico issued a public petition calling for his resignation. Vasquez had faced direct actions from residents at the two most recent county commission meetings after he engaged in an “inappropriate” conversation with a local activist on Facebook wherein he made “your momma” jokes as well as using racist and misogynist language. Just hours after the most recent county commission meeting, news broke that Vasquez was being accused of “inappropriate sexual misconduct” by a woman within the Democratic Party of New Mexico. Vasquez denied the accusations but in his resignation letter admitted he needs to “focus on my marriage.”

Open Enrollment for Health Insurance Coverage Closes December 15th

There is a deadline on the horizon that is supremely important to thousands of New Mexicans. This time of year many folks are focused on the calendar for holiday purposes. ProgressNow New Mexico, however, wants you to quickly turn your attention to your health. As we head into the last days of 2017, the days are even fewer in regards to how many you have to make a decision about your health coverage. 

“Preemption” – Progressive wins in New Mexico cities may be at risk at the state level

The Las Cruces City Council seated its new and re-elected members today and, in a flourish of newly proposed business, showed what a dedicated panel of progressive leaders can accomplish when working together. In their first session, the newly seated council saw returning Progressive Champion Gill Sorg be elected unanimously as the new Mayor pro-tem, signaling a shift away from registered Independent Greg Smith who’s held the post for the last two years. Sorg also went on to introduce proposals that the council take up a resolution in support of the Legislature legalizing recreational cannabis as well as a measure to bolster support for immigrants living in Las Cruces. Major cities in New Mexico are “home rule cities” which allow citizens to directly shape their cities in important ways — the most prominent being the use of citizen-led ballot initiatives. This rule has been an extremely important tool for progressive voters to move New Mexico forward.

“Progressive-backed candidates win every race in Las Cruces”

Cruceños went to the polls yesterday and rallied behind progressive candidates across the board. Out of three council seats up for grabs, the one vacant seat is being filled by a good progressive, one champion councilor is maintaining his seat, and one progressive challenger managed to unseat the only Republican incumbent in the race. Full voting results can be seen here

Progressive-backed candidates win every race in Las Cruces
Heath Haussaman, NMpolitics.net
Candidates backed by progressives won every race in Tuesday’s Las Cruces municipal election, and the powerful voting bloc expanded its control by ousting the only Republican on the city council… “Las Cruces voters have spoken loudly tonight in favor of continued progress in our community,” said Lucas Herndon of the progressive nonprofit ProgressNow New Mexico.  Read more at nmpolitics.net

In the open District 3 seat, progressive community organizer Gabe Vasquez won 70% of the vote to overwhelmingly defeat a tea party contender (her second time being defeated in this district). ProgressNow New Mexico caught up with Vasquez yesterday while he was talking with voters at one of the city’s voting convenience centers.

Behind the curtain of the Koch operations: local campaign disclosures provide window on Koch campaigns (if you know where to look)

Charles and David Koch spent $960 million in the 2016 elections, mostly on campaigns attacking progressive candidates and causes.  But because much of that money flows through non-profits and PACs, their fingerprints are often hard to identify and their playbook is even harder to pin down. But thanks to some of the country’s most progressive campaign disclosure laws, their local Americans for Prosperity chapter disclosed their ads, scripts and spendings in recent local elections – if you know where to find it. Since ProgressNow New Mexico started in 2011 we’ve been tracking the influence of corporate-backed right-wing astroturf organizations who come into our state trying to influence our elections. The Koch Brothers and their affiliated organizations – Americans for Prosperity and the LIBRE Initiative – are some of the worst offenders. They do this in a variety of ways.

Happening Now: Conservatives and Progressive face off for control in ABQ, Las Cruces elections

We are entering into a pivotal time in New Mexico. In Albuquerque, citizens are approaching a runoff in the mayoral race as well as in city council district 5. And in Las Cruces, municipal elections for three city councilors and a municipal judge are happening now. We’ve all seen what happens when progressive voters assume elections are already won and decide to stay home.  In New Mexico’s two most populous cities, progressive voters could be the largest voting blocs, but traditionally under-perform in city elections.  Now, more than ever, your local candidates are counting on your vote. Albuquerque: Citywide runoff, now through Nov.

Here’s why Steve Pearce is really mad about Zinke’s plan to change New Mexico’s monuments

Secretary Ryan Zinke is proposing big changes to New Mexico’s national monuments, but he didn’t recommend eliminating or shrinking and Rep. Steve Pearce is not happy about it. In a press release this morning, the congressman blasted Zinke’s recommendations, saying:
“Secretary Zinke’s recommendation fails to provide the solutions New Mexico needs. Since 2008, I have been working with the local community to establish a compromise that protects the Organ Mountains Desert Peak National Monument (OMDP) while preserving the multiple uses that public lands provide.” Here’s the full press release from Pearce:

[embeddoc url=”https://s3.amazonaws.com/s3.progressnownm.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/10122802/Steve-Pearce-PR-on-monuments.pdf” download=”all”]

While the recommendation to not shrink Organ Mountain-Desert Peaks AND Rio Grande del Norte national monuments is a small victory, the proposed “management changes” in Zinke’s memos are still extremely worrisome. Read More: BREAKING: Zinke proposed to open NM monuments to corporate mining and other “traditional uses”

So, why is Pearce so mad? Pearce’s base in Dona Ana County is largely based on the rural ranching community who’ve fought against wilderness and the national monument initiatives for decades.

Once again, Rep. Steve Pearce holds town hall and doesn’t really say anything

Congressman Steve Pearce attended a small community meeting in Anthony today to answer questions about immigration, public lands, and healthcare but mostly used political platitudes and doublespeak to avoid answering anything. ProgressNow New Mexico was there and broadcast the whole thing live. Check it out:

Despite being over 15 minutes late the congressman still made constituents wait longer as he took questions from Univision reporters outside. By the time he actually started answering questions, it was nearly 10:30 and he only stuck around until 11:30, despite the event being billed from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm. The majority of questions from community members centered on immigration and then mostly about his stance on DACA and President Trump’s planned rescinding of that program.