Contents, January 2012
Will the People Be Heard?
Guv’s plan to repeal immigrant licenses threatens DWI
prevention and enforcement efforts, Javier Martínez
At the birth of the American republic Benjamin Franklin warned that if ever a people traded its civil liberties for the promise of security, it would deserve neither—and would have neither. A few weeks ago, the political representatives of the American people crossed that Rubicon.
Embedded in the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), a bill co-sponsored by Republican Sen. John McCain and Democratic Sen. Carl Levin authorizing the annual budget for the U.S. armed services, are provisions which, in effect, gut our civil liberties as defined in the Bill of Rights of the United States Constitution. In general, the provisions define the entire world as a battleground in the war on terror, with the implication that we are officially in a state of global civil war. As a practical matter it means that a person picked up anywhere, whether on the streets of New York or in the hills of Afghanistan, can be said to have been captured on a battlefield. In its specifics, the provisions strip away the last line of defense between the coercive powers of the State and the protection of every American citizen from the arbitrary use of those powers.
Tellingly, the bill was passed with no congressional hearings, no public debate, and with hardly a mention in the mainstream media. It was voted on in the House and Senate just days before Christmas, when we were busy shopping and making last-minute travel arrangements. With our attention thus focused elsewhere, one of the most unsettling pieces of legislation in American history was flown in under the radar. Let’s see why.
The most relevant provisions in the bill for U.S. citizens is contained in Section 1031. It creates a federal statute to the effect that the government has the legal authority to arrest and place under military detention, indefinitely and without charges, any United States citizen, apprehended anywhere on earth, including on U.S. soil, who is suspected of participating in terrorist activities, or who is suspected of aiding or associating with any person or group intending to carry out terrorist activities. The statute authorizes such detention “under the law of war without trial until the end of hostilities.” Since there is no end in sight to such hostilities, the statute in effect authorizes military detention for life, without legal remedy, for any American citizen so much as suspected of terrorist associations. Note: not someone proved to have engaged in terrorist activities; but anyone suspected of having terrorist associations—however this may be construed.
The sweep of this legislation is chilling, its language so vague that anyone can fall under its jurisdiction. Can a person who logs onto al-Jazeera’s website be considered as having “associated with” terrorists? Or a person coming out against America’s military involvement in Iraq or Afghanistan? Or what about a citizen who questions the size of the U.S. military budget—or in any way contests or opposes U.S. foreign policy? In each of these cases such individuals can be “suspected of aiding terrorists.” And who is to determine if such suspicion is warranted? Not a grand jury or a trial jury, not even a civilian officer in the Justice Department—but a military commander on the ground, policing American streets. There is a term for a society whose legal system sanctions such activity: a military police state.
Having threatened to veto the bill (although not for reasons having anything to do with constitutional considerations), on Dec. 14 the President reneged on his threat. That very day it passed the House with a 60 percent majority. The next day it passed the Senate with only seven senators voting nay, 93 voting yea.
Among the seven nay votes were those cast by Tea Party libertarian Rand Paul and socialist Bernie Sanders. Politics does indeed make strange bedfellows.
Of the yea votes perhaps the most disappointing were those cast by senators Mark Udall of Colorado and Diane Feinstein of California. I say ‘most disappointing’ because these two senators demonstrated their grasp of the bill’s dangers by proposing an amendment, the Due Process Guarantee Act of 2011, which would have exempted U.S. citizens from provisions of the bill allowing for arbitrary and extra-judicial military detention. After the proposed amendment was defeated, both Udall and Feinstein voted for the bill with all provisions intact.
For the record, both of New Mexico’s senators, Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall, voted for the bill.
The New York Times, in a surprising breath of forthrightness given its recent history reporting America’s wars and foreign interventions, assessed that “the legislation could also give future presidents the authority to throw American citizens into prison for life without charge or trial.” As if it is inconceivable that the current president, having just exhibited an absence of civic conscience or a lack of political courage (or both), would ever stoop to such action. The Times editorial goes on to say that the bill contains “terrible new measures that will make indefinite detention and military trials a permanent part of American law.” (Italics in text.)
Let’s take a close look at the juridical consequences of the bill on the U.S. Constitution.
- First: If, as the bill adjures, we are engaged in a global civil war with terrorism, and if therefore the whole world is a battlefield in this war, then a U.S. citizen who is picked up on suspicion of aiding or abetting the enemy, especially if he or she is picked up on American soil, is by definition under suspicion of treason. But a person suspected of treason is protected by Article III, Section 3 of the Constitution, which states that “No person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.” Provision 1031 of the NDAA renders Article III, Section 3 of the Constitution null and void.
- Second: Provision 1031 supersedes the all-important due process clause of the Fifth Amendment. This is somewhat ironic since it is this clause that provides a constitutional guarantee of property rights, and hence the constitutional support for the capitalist order. In part it reads that no person shall be “deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law…” But with respect to liberty, Provision 1031 does just that: it allows for the indefinite confinement (i.e. for the deprivation of liberty) of an American citizen without due process of law.
- The bill also suspends another constitutional feature guaranteeing due process, viz. Article 1, which establishes that the “Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.”
- Third: 1031 stands in violation of the Fourth Amendment, viz. “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures…” Can anyone seriously doubt that being picked up on a street in some American city and locked away indefinitely on the mere suspicion of having associated with some individual or group, constitutes “unreasonable seizure”? Or that the mere possibility of such action flies in the face of the “right of the people to be secure in their persons”?
- Fourth: 1031 nullifies, for all practical matters, the American people’s First Amendment protections to express their views in speech or in writing, or to peaceably assemble and to petition the government for a redress of grievances. For whatever is said or written, especially to the extent that it may be politically inflammatory, or even soberly critical of existing policy, can be construed as aiding the cause of associated terrorists. As for the right of assembly, it doesn’t take a great deal of imagination to see how a group of protesters can fall under the Act. Suppose, for example, that someone in the assembly—it could be an over-jealous protester or it could be an agent provocateur—throws a rock through the window of a Bank of America branch office. That person can be labeled a terrorist, and everyone so assembled branded as “associating with terrorists.”
- Fifth: 1031 can be considered as violating the Eighth Amendment, in that incarceration for life on the mere suspicion of having associated with terrorists seems, on the face of it, cruel and unusual punishment. More to the point, there is no crime alleged for which that person is being punished.
- Finally: 1031 appears to violate the right to a speedy and public trial as guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment. I say ‘appears’ since the Sixth Amendment reads: “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial…” The problem here is that the detainee is not being prosecuted, nor are any criminal charges being brought against him. Therefore the Sixth Amendment does not apply.
Here we touch on a matter of intense political and jurisprudential significance surrounding Section 1031. For as the above discussion with respect to the Sixth Amendment demonstrates (and not just with respect to that particular Amendment), a person “covered” by the provisions of 1031 is not thereby brought under the strictures of law; rather, that person is deprived of any legal status whatsoever and is removed from both the protections and the obligations codified by law. The person is a legal non-entity. He (or she) is not a criminal, not a traitor, not a conspirator, not a prisoner of war. He (or she) is simply a “detainee.” There is no set of legal determinations that configure his political or social being. As Judith Butler put it with regard to the detainees at Guantanamo, “bare life reaches its maximum indeterminacy.” So it was for those imprisoned in the Nazi concentration camps. They were not branded as criminals, for that would imply their subsumption under German law. They were legal non-entities, fully defined by the number tattooed on their arm. For them the legal framework had completely dissolved.
If I read it correctly, and I believe I have, the entirety of the law titled “2012 National Defense Authorization Act,” insofar as it pertains to the war on terror, has as its single objective the total dissolution of law. Based on a presumption of political necessity, it is tantamount to the suspension of the juridical order altogether. Necessitas legem non habet (necessity has no law).
Although putatively aimed at America’s enemies in its “war on terror” (an ideological neologism if ever there was one), I do not believe that that is its true target. There has not been a terrorist attack, not even a minor one, on U.S. soil since 9-11. This means either that those forces who would commit such violence have been depleted to virtual impotence, or that our current security apparatus is sufficient to prevent such acts. Either way, the call for the curtailment of civil liberties in the name of national security is at best naively hypocritical, at worst willfully antidemocratic.
The real threat, in this writer’s estimation, is the explosive growth of the global rebellion against a burgeoning plutocratic dictatorship, of which the Occupy Movement in the United States is a significant oppositional element. I call your attention to the bill’s suspension of habeas corpus, as that legal protection appears in Article 1 of the Constitution. Article 1 guarantees each citizen the right of habeas corpus “unless when in Cases of Rebellion…the public Safety may require it.” It is an ominously small juridical step to label the Occupy Movement in its totality “a rebellion threatening public safety.”
Such a political maneuver is not without precedent. I mention but one: In 1950, at the height of the McCarthy anti-Communist hysteria, Congress passed the Internal Security Act, known also as the Subversive Activities Control Act, or the McCarran Act, after Sen. Pat McCarran (D-Nevada). Like provision 1031 of the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, the McCarran Act contained an Emergency Detention statute which gave the Executive authority to arrest and detain “each person as to whom there is a reasonable ground to believe that such person probably will engage in, or probably will conspire with others to engage in, acts of espionage or sabotage.” To which I append the adage: Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. If we do not rise up against this overt transgression of our civil liberties, and demand with the full power of our numbers the repeal of 2012 NDAA, then the shame will be ours, and we will rightly deserve the certain condemnation of all future generations.
Fred Goldberg has a Ph.D. in philosophy from Brandeis University and has taught philosophy at M.I.T., San Jose State University, Montana State University and the University of California at Santa Cruz. For the past several decades he has been an investment adviser and a securities portfolio manager, initially with his own investment company, more recently with a New York-based securities firm. Over the past several years he has taught philosophy courses at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque.
“This is a call to revolution,” writes the Prince of Wales in his book Harmony: A New Way of Looking at Our World, published in 2010. For an heir to the ruling monarch of the U.K., who acknowledges that the root causes for change today go back over 200 years, to embrace such a perspective, there is little doubt our time has come in New Mexico to “challenge the accepted wisdom, the current orthodoxy and conventional ways of thinking,” along with Charles and all the other courageous people, from Arab Spring, European Summer, to American Autumn. This country did not fight a revolution in 1776 to exert the people’s rights to self-government and self-determination without necessary reasons. We again come to a critical juncture in history where our quality of life is perilously at risk and we must act.
In New Mexico today we are facing countless challenges that are rallying citizens in every county where mounting industrial and military development are choking the air with their poisons, polluting the water with their chemicals and tailings, threatening our food crops with GMO contamination, producing radioactive bombs and waste, and in the process, consuming enormous quantities of our water. While all of these threats are sounding alarms and calling for serious change, the threat to our water is the most imminent, considering that it is the life-blood for all species, upon which we are entirely dependent.
Catron County is up against an Italian water corporation, which intends to extract quantities, that calculated over time, could drain Catron’s aquifer by the year 2050. The city of Las Vegas, San Miguel County, tracks its “days of drinking water supply” in weekly newspaper reports. The Raton basin in Colfax County and southern Colorado is being dewatered from the oil- and coal-bed methane development that uses hydraulic fracturing or “fracking,” which relies upon millions of gallons of clean drinkable water every time a well is fractured. Northeast, northwest, southeast and south-central New Mexico are being drilled for oil, gas and other hydrocarbons—all using equally large amounts of our fresh drinking water in the process. Those counties not drilled for fossil fuels, but mined for minerals, experience the same “tell-tail” pollution and water depletion at the hands of hard-rock mining.
As community members organize and meet with their elected officials about their rights to determine the kind of development that takes place within their communities, they find out that the “Regulatory System” gives them no option to say “no” within this framework. “Regulating,” according to the dictionary, means merely to “adjust the rate and flow.” To “regulate” means to admit that we have been stripped of our right to prohibit, and to accept that we only have the ability to “allow” a legalized amount of harm “permitted” by the State.
Under the “Regulatory System,” our state government gives permits to industries to develop within our communities. With a permit to develop, industry is now without accountability or liability, due to the “permission” granted by the state. They are in essence, “above the law.“ On the federal level, under the Energy Bill of 2005, the oil industry is exempt from complying with the “Clean Water Act,” the “Clean Air Act”, the “Safe Drinking Water Act” and a dozen or so other environmental regulations, including the “Superfund Law.” This leaves little recourse for communities whose goals support values for healthy children, a clean environment, and self-sustaining and self-directing growth.
It is clear that we have reached the point that, “When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men living together in society, they create for themselves in the course of time a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it.” — Frederic Bastiat.
There would not be the outrage today if a partnership with the citizens and state and federal governments existed. Instead, however, the hardships communities are facing grow more egregious with each passing moment. Health studies in San Juan County this past year show that air emission samples containing harmful levels of sulfur dioxide from oil and natural gas development are responsible for childhood asthma rate increases. While contamination to our water supplies is unavoidable from hard-rock mining, oil and gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing, according to non-industry scientists, what about the surface- and ground-water contamination from corporate factory farming, where 85,000 dairy cows in Chaves County renders yet more communities powerless to control their environment? Cultural and social upheavals experienced in small agrarian rural communities when industry develops is now the norm across the state. In San Juan County over the past 60 years, ranchers have seen what was once a rural farming and ranching community transformed into an industrial zone.
With no recourse under the current structure of law, many communities are turning to the work of the Community Environment Legal Defense Fund (CELDF), a non-profit, public-interest law firm in Pennsylvania, that began working with communities nearly 20 years ago to help them to stop the threats from industries.
Today over 130 communities across the U.S. have now adopted the CELDF-drafted laws that are passed by our locally elected officials within our municipalities. These local laws not only ban threats from harmful development but also establish a “Community Bill of Rights,” which establishes the right to clean water and healthy ecosystems, and authorizes residents and their local government to enforce and defend those rights. Citizens in Mora and San Miguel counties are working to pass a Community Bill of Rights protecting their water and banning oil and natural gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing on the county and city levels, respectively. If either succeeds, this will be the first such ban in the Southwest U.S.
Given the risks, banning any development that harms our water would seem like a shoe-in. That is what we figured in Mora County. There is a history, however, that feeds more deeply into the minds of the people than even the old tradition of acequias and land-based culture. The state Legislature funds projects for rural communities and has regulatory authority over all development under their “parent/stepchild” relationship with the counties. Mora County is known for its financial dependence upon these annual dollars, and with a looming county courthouse complex underfunded and partially completed, they are in line again for money from their “parent.” How can a county afford to take a “different path” and still hold out its hands for financial help and expect both to be possible?
A ban for Mora County originating with its people and supported by its commission, will take a strongly unified effort. This will be a test for Mora County to exert its newly found “land legs,” after having sailed along on a sea of government money for so many decades. A wobbly gait, for certain, but the structure is all in place. Mora County was once the breadbasket for the Southwest, supported by its fertile land, abundant clean water, and people with the knowing and the desire to establish sustainability and self-determination. It is time to exert not only our inalienable rights here in Mora County, but to cut the umbilical cord that has kept these possibilities from flourishing.
It is possible that this hurdle, once jumped, could be what sets the entire 33 counties in New Mexico free, including San Miguel County. And it is true that the problem on the surface is rarely what must be addressed for ultimate change. In New Mexico, while citizens have embraced the many “gifts” from the government since becoming the 47th state in the Union, the shackles that have followed remain in place, creating resentment toward the government and perpetuating lack of empowerment. Passing a Community Bill of Rights and a law that bans corporate development alone are not enough, however. Citizens need to take the next step to help organize other communities and to help foster support and passage, one community, one county after another, so that a movement builds across the state to effect fundamental change.
“For this kind of change requires the building of a new peoples’ movement—a movement that has at its heart truesustainability and democracy—which builds from the grassroots and drives change up to the state and federal level. In this we are drawing lessons from past movements, such as the Abolitionists and the Suffragists, who faced illegitimate and unjust structures of law—and thus we’ve begun to call this a new civil rights movement.”— CELDF
The revolution must start inside each one of us—in our hearts and minds—and spread outwardly into our communities and into the far reaches of the world. We must be willing to fight for our freedom and with that, risk all comforts on all levels, or forever remain slaves to a tyranny of injustices.
Kathleen Dudley is co-founder, Drilling Mora County,www.drillingmoracounty.blogspot.com
When I was growing up in the wheat fields of eastern Colorado in the late 1940s, the Second War had ended, my father had come home in one piece; we planted alfalfa, began building a log barn, and dug a 30-foot long asparagus patch. In my mind, age 10, that was more asparagus than any person would need for the rest of history, but my mother said that weeding asparagus was good to keep small boys away from lives of crime. Whenever she came upon my brother Erik and me wrestling on the living room floor, she would say: “Well. Time to weed the asparagus!” and out we went, exiled to hard labor among the useless green stalks of the biggest patch of that vegetable that was ever to be found in Western Christendom.
In spite of my mother’s heartless oppression, those were optimistic days. In the larger picture democracy had won a war against Hitler’s tyranny; the U.S. had come through the conflict with new industrial might; we were self-confident in our moral authority. Harry Truman stood up to the Russians in Berlin; Europe began to clear out the rubble of a thousand ruined cities; Ted Williams and Bob Feller returned to hit home runs and pitch no-hitters, and I had a grand champion rooster at the Arapahoe County Fair. My family and friends were building lives with foundation values of hard work and charity and gratitude for freedom.
In evenings when we gathered around the dinner table discussing the world, my father was apt to speak of his faith in the common man, a country that had produced Jefferson and Lincoln, Emerson and Edgar Allen Poe, and labor unions and the New Deal and that was richer because of free public education. His faith was that working people would gradually rise to new levels of education and sophistication, and this was not irrational, not even sentimental, but grounded in a confidence that if common people were given the tools they would do the right thing, most of the time.
I grew up with that faith, and I have harbored it over the years, reinforced by the fact that in my lifetime the Supreme Court has ordered the integration of public schools, and blacks have emerged from the sidelines of American culture; women have pioneered a degree of liberation from patriarchy not seen in 3,500 years of western history, and an aroused public stopped the Vietnam War in spite of the military-industrial complex. At one point in the 1960s and ‘70s the nation rose in defense of our common inheritance to protect clean waters, air, rivers and streams. All these gains were products of democracy, and one could call them steps forward in the progress of civilization. Many of these advances happened after my father had retired and were, in my mind, vindications of his conviction that if the common people could just be empowered, they would do the right thing.
Now we come to the end of 2011, an extraordinary year. All across the globe the scab of autocracy has been torn from the flesh of one government after the next to reveal bleeding and pain, oppression and suffering. From Tahrir Square in Cairo, to Benghazi, Libya, to Wall Street, to Damascus, to Moscow, the stabilities of oligarchy and tyranny have been upset by unstable masses of people in the streets. The last time something like this happened, a viral upsurge of popular unrest across the western world, was in 1848 in Europe, when king after king was dethroned, and for a brief moment in the middle of that century the world came alive with possibility.
But today, as in the 1850s, there has been a dark and formidable resistance to these revolutions. Today, as then, in Cairo and on Wall Street, in Moscow and in Syria, we see a resurgence of oligarchic power, of the privileged wealthy rejecting liberal values, co-opting the military and striking back at the common people, a massive effort by the high and the mighty, provoking the worst in human nature rather than the best.
My father’s faith—and perhaps that of post-war America in general—was that inherent within the common man and common woman was the gene of decency and dignity and that this genetic coding was the reason for hope in democracy as a form of government. But today we see the common man in military clothing in Syria and Egypt, acting as if dignity and decency were the last things in their genetic make up. On TV we see Egyptian soldiers beating women who lie inert and defenseless on the street, hammering their heads with batons or leaping up to crush down upon their soft bodies with black boots. When we see that we see a streak of human nature we did not ever want to see and that we did not want democracy to unleash.
When we see police in Davis, California, holding cans of pepper spray inches from the faces of nonviolent protesters, we see a side of human nature we did not ever want to see. When we hear Newt Gingrich condemn Palestinians as “not really a people,” and Ron Paul decry the Civil Rights Act as an invasion of his right to enjoy white privilege, or Paul Ryan attempt to destroy medical care for the poor and the aged, we see—over and over—an appeal to a mean side of human nature, a meanness we did not think that democracy would produce.
And when we see democracy working in the U.S. Congress to foster increased taxes on working people who can least afford them while at the same time resisting a 3 percent tax increase on the millionaires and billionaires who can best afford it, we see a Congress that has been bought and sold by billions of dollars of lobbying and campaign contributions, and see that democracy may produce a craven side of politics that we did not want to see.
As we close 2011, we are about to be flooded again with corporate election money, and this time in amounts unlike anything we have ever seen. The Koch Brothers have indicated that they intend to spend $88 million in the 2012 elections. Karl Rove intends as much. The Chamber of Commerce will raise and anonymously spend far more than the two of them combined. All this advertising will not be likely to draw out the best in the American people. It will not be likely to encourage the common sense and generosity of spirit that my father thought was the justification of democracy. It will be as likely to encourage misrepresentation and greed, and to discourage community and attention to the common good.
As we approach the New Year, we are therefore on the cusp of another test of human nature and of democracy. On the one hand, the voting public will be flooded with advertisements that take them away from the values that many of us have hoped lie underneath the surface, values that can be counted upon in a crisis. And if decency and integrity are truly there, democracy will survive. We will, on the other hand, also experience the disguised but increasingly blatant effort by the 1 percent to take final control of the Congress and the presidency which, when combined with their existing control of the Supreme Court, will usher in a new form of government that is more of plutocracy than democracy.
A great deal hangs in the balance. As we begin again our progress toward the season of the sun, this will be a good time, as the poet Archibald MacLeish might say, to “blow on the coals of the heart” and to envision the best in democracy, and in us as a people, coming alive again.
Craig Barnes is the author of Democracy At The Crossroads, is a former civil rights lawyer, international mediator and the host of Our Times with Craig Barnes, heard weekly on KSFR radio.
Senate Bill 427 a.k.a. “The A-B-C-D-F Schools Rating Act”—talk about a “gotcha.” This piece of work makes the Trojan Horse look like a party favor.
Not that this is a new fast shuffle; in the spring of 2011, Secretary-Designate Hannah Skandera overruled the Public Education Commission’s 2010 decision to disenfranchise three failing charter schools for falling below acceptable achievement standards. Skandera “declined” the Commission’s ruling, stating she would decline decisions based on failure to meet Standards Based Assessment tests because such tests are an “obsolete metric.” So, what is the Skandera-sponsored A-B-C-D-F Schools Rating Act about if not test-score-based metrics? The Act says specifically that public schools will be rated according to the New Mexico Standards Based Assessments. Yet the PEC was overruled for basing its decision regarding the charter schools on Standards Based Assessments. Charter schools are defined in law as public schools, and as such the same standards must apply. The same people who pronounced the metrics to be obsolete had just a few months earlier incorporated them into legislation.
More is more
The questions don’t stop here either. According to the act, parents may move their children from a school rated F to “the statewide or a local cyber academy,” neither of which are included in the rating system, nor are academic standards for these entities referred to or provided for in law. The A-B-C-D-F Act states that growth “means learning a year’s worth of knowledge in one year’s time.” You will look in vain for a definition of “a year’s worth of knowledge.” What hat did they pull that one out of?
Further on in the Act you will find reference to “proven programs” and, once again, without definition. This kind of flim-flam puts public schools on very shaky ground, having to meet unspecified and undefined requirements, such as “a year’s worth of knowledge” and presenting “proven programs.” What proven programs are they talking about? Where will we find these proven programs? Who has proven the programs and what were their qualifications? Is a “year’s worth of learning” the same for Skandera as it would be for Gov. Martinez? What metrics should we use to determine if either of them has acquired a year’s worth of learning?
To what ends?
This A-B-C-D-F Act business, and it is a business, is an unmitigated disaster and a well-thought-out strategy, in my opinion, to set up public schools in New Mexico to fail. The Trojan Horse is here to open the gates for privatized for-profit schooling, ultimately taking control away from communities and parents and placing it in the hands of corporations. I suspect what Skandera and company have in mind is quite simple: Just as is the case now with some social services and prisons, the state will contract with private entities such as Teach for America or K12 to run our public schools. The New Mexico Public Education Department this past November issued a purchase order for Teach for America, indicating that business is already being done with that entity. Rupert Murdoch, speaking at a recent conference in San Francisco, a gathering at which our Secretary-Designate also appeared, had this to say: “When it comes to K-through-12 education, we see a $500 billion sector in the U.S. alone that is waiting desperately to be transformed.” Murdoch’s education business is called Wireless Generation. The vultures are circling!
Once the schools have been contracted out, we can say goodbye to parental and community input—say goodbye to public education. The schooling factories of the future, while generating sweet profits for the corporations that run them, will soon be churning out standardized “graduates,” ready to be plugged into whatever corporate enterprises need them. It should also be noted that none of these reforms cops to what they will do with slow learners, under-achievers, and the kids and parents who simply don’t give a damn about education. The requirement for human teachers/trainers will be minimized, as will be their wages. Cyber machines will handle the kids more efficiently in this scenario and without requiring health insurance, retirement plans, sick leave, wages or respect. Oh, and one more thing— they don’t go out on strike for better working conditions. Gotcha!
Emanuele Corso has been a New Mexico resident for over 30 years. Prior to that he taught at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the Department of Educational Policy Studies, where he received his doctorate in education policy studies. He taught “Schools and Society” and “School Reform” to graduates and undergraduates. He holds two master’s degrees and a bachelor’s in mathematics. He is currently working on a book, Belief Systems and the Social Contract, which he started when he was teaching at Wisconsin.
We are beginning the new year with more upheaval and uncertainty in the world than at any time in recent memory. Almost anywhere you turn, with one or two possible exceptions, the future looks at least precarious and, in some cases, pretty ominous.
Now that U.S. troops have withdrawn from Iraq, the odds of a stable government emerging there in the short run appear highly unlikely. Not that stability had a much better chance of taking hold had American forces remained. But, after eight years of foreign firepower causing endless mayhem throughout the country, Iraq may now be on the verge of a full-scale civil war as violence between Sunni and Shiite factions intensifies. Rather than establishing a democratic oasis in the Muslim Middle East, the U.S. intervention has led to greater polarization and more turmoil in Iraq. George Bush’s Operation Iraqi Freedom venture may soon come to be regarded as a greater American fiasco than the Vietnam War.
The prospects for peace and harmony do not look any brighter in Afghanistan. The government of President Hamid Karzai is well known for its corruption. The Obama administration cannot count on President Karzai in its efforts to stabilize Afghanistan. Moreover, the brutal Taliban, which is fighting for control of the country, will doggedly continue to terrorize the Afghani people. The United States appears trapped in another quagmire and is not ready to cut its losses and pull out. In fact, indications are that President Obama is preparing for an extended U.S. presence in Afghanistan beyond 2014, when we are to turn over responsibility for security in the country to the Afghan government. As in Iraq, the forecast is for more bloodshed at the expense of the civilian population.
Meanwhile, a potentially bigger stew is brewing across the border in Iran. The Iranian government has declared that it will not accede to U.S. demands to cap its nuclear power program, which the West fears will result in an Iranian nuclear bomb. The United States and its allies have responded with economic sanctions against Iran in an attempt to force its compliance. At the same time, a pre-emptive Israeli strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities is a distinct possibility. On New Year’s Day, President Obama signed legislation that could penalize any institution that does business with Iran’s Central Bank—a chief source of Iran’s revenues for oil exports. Iran, on the other hand, has threatened to retaliate against the West by closing the Strait of Hormuz, a key channel for global oil shipments. How much more tense can this situation get before it explodes?
In nearby Syria, the boiling point has already been reached. The pro-democracy protest movement against the al-Assad government has been expanding for the last year. More than 5,000 Syrians have been killed in the struggle. President al-Assad is not about to give in to the people’s demands for reform or the West’s urgings for him to step down. The Syrian regime recently called for an “iron fist” response to the latest protests. A very dark cloud hangs over Syria.
Russia, however, may just tell a different tale. Over 100,000 Russians took to the streets of Moscow just prior to Christmas in protest against the strong-arm regime of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. In the 1990s, the Russian people had a taste of a more open and democratic society when the Soviet Union collapsed. Since the military also experienced glasnost back then, Putin may not be able to mobilize the Russian troops against their own people if the protests continue to grow. It may be a long shot, but I sense that the red tide is favoring the masses and a truly new era could actually be dawning in Russia.
If that is the case, then the ripples, or perhaps a tidal wave of change will affect Iran, Syria and, probably, Egypt, another middle eastern country in the midst of turmoil. More people will be inspired to stand up for their rights, and a really new age could unfold. But, of course, that is a very big “if.”
Another big question mark as we enter 2012 is the European debt crisis. If major European countries like Spain and Italy do not resolve their financial problems and default on their debt, the global economy could plummet. Stock markets around the world would crash and a worldwide depression could ensue. While that is the worst-case scenario, it has happened before and could happen again. Let’s hope not, but sock some money away just in case.
The world scene is, indeed, precarious as 2012 begins. Next month we’ll gaze into my crystal ball and see what may arise on the domestic landscape this year.
Bruce Berlin is a Santa Fe attorney who has been a political activist most of his life. For ways to help take back America, go to MoveOn.org; DemocracyAtTheCrossroadsSF.org; or moneyouttapolitics.org.
When the Legislature convenes on Jan. 17 for its 2012 session in this Centennial year, the state of New Mexico will be watching, perhaps like never before. A 30-day budgetary or “short” session, only bills having to do with state finance, plus those placed on the agenda by Gov. Susana Martinez, will be considered.
Legislators and voters will be very interested to see if the governor attempts to work more closely with lawmakers on her second go-round or if she pursues what many thought were uncompromising positions on such issues as education and immigrant driver’s licenses that marked the regular and special sessions in 2011.
Much of the talk around Santa Fe in the weeks leading up to the new session has centered around Dist. 25 Sen. Peter Wirth’s oft-introduced measure to level the corporate playing field regarding taxes for out-of-state corporations. Wirth has pre-filed Senate Bill 9, which would close a loophole allowing such corporations to treat their New Mexico income as nontaxable here. It will be the eighth time Wirth has introduced the bill, including his attempts as a member of the NM House. He is more confident this time, due to the national mood of holding corporations accountable, and widespread support from unions and groups such as MoveOn, Somos Un Pueblo Unido, We Are People Here! and the emerging Occupy movement.
An “umbrella coalition” of populist and worker-backed groups, in fact, will make the opening day of the session very memorable if they can summon the kind of turnout they are anticipating. Occupy the Roundhouse, a combined march and extended rally involving Occupy groups from numerous New Mexico communities, along with union and other special-interest support, will descend on the Roundhouse beginning at 10:30 am and will be joined by Albuquerque riders disembarking from the RailRunner Express at the Railyard station at 11:15 and then marching to the Capitol. A contingent of protesters will make the trek from Albuquerque to Santa Fe on foot, leaving the Duke City on Jan. 14.
Speakers, music, drumming, chanting and the first statewide General Assembly for New Mexico Occupy groups will include a people’s mic, during which each group will announce itself. Other Occupy members will likely be in the gallery for the governor’s customary address to the Legislature.
An announcement titled Occupy groups: Give back New Mexico to its People, was sent to 120 New Mexico legislators and leaders last week, serving notice that in addition to celebrating New Mexico’s Centennial, “We will put our imprint on common-interest bills such as SB 1 and SB 9. Hundreds of us will attend committee hearings and floor votes to respectfully voice our demands for representation.
“We will occupy the galleries and committee rooms and all our offices of government throughout the 2012 legislative session.”
The announcement continues, “Our coalition of citizens speaks with one voice: We are here. We are watching. We are the 99%.”
Wirth describes SB 9 as an attempt to close New Mexico’s longstanding corporate tax loophole. In an e-mail “blast” to his mailing list, Wirth writes: “We are the last western state with a corporate tax that lets multi-state companies use subsidiaries to transfer otherwise taxable money out of New Mexico and avoid paying their fair share of corporate tax. Amazingly, this different set of rules is available only for out-of-state companies, meaning our New Mexico businesses pay corporate tax while some of their competitors pay little or no tax. This is unfair and needs to stop.”
Another bill, SB 11, similar to one that was passed by the Senate in 2011, would require Super PACs to disclose the names of donors “when they engage in ‘express advocacy’ for or against a candidate. Wirth said the bill was waiting to be voted on in the House last year when the session expired. The measure is a response to the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, which gave corporations and other organizations license to make unlimited contributions to Political Action Committees (PACs). The bill would require the governor’s approval to be added.
Martinez has already announced that she will again attempt to gain legislative approval for a measure discontinuing the practice of issuing driver’s licenses to immigrants who don’t have a Social Security number. New Mexico is one of only two states that still does so. Supporters of the current practice, including Somos and other immigrant and civil liberties groups, say the current law provides a measure of accountability and allows authorities to identify drivers, combat DWI and require them to obtain insurance. Martinez has in the past rejected attempts at compromise legislation.
State finances are in far better shape than last year, thanks to an infusion of some $250 million into the general fund from taxes on oil and gas revenues. Martinez is proposing to direct much of this unexpected revenue to education, to support the A-through-F program proposed by her Education department, that would grade schools on student performance. Opponents say it would be one more way to guarantee failure in public schools as a means of moving toward privatized K-12 education.
In the House, Dist. 47 Rep. Brian Egolf continues to work on a measure that would establish a state bank in New Mexico, similar to what North Dakota has had for decades, and other bills to create jobs, move state money out of big national banks and make the tax code fairer to New Mexico’s working families.
CWA and AFSCME, representing many government employees, want to restore pay cuts to state workers who agreed to higher employee contributions to pension plans to help balance the budget when the recession first impacted New Mexico’s finances.
Jerry Ortiz y Pino
As legislators, lobbyists, reporters, students and the simply curious gather in Santa Fe for the start of the second legislative session in the Governor Susana Martinez era, many questions about the first woman Hispanic chief executive in the country remain.
What has she learned from her first tumultuous year in office? Will she soften her posture of uncompromising insistence? Will she become more of an executive, one concerned with governance for the common good, or remain adversarial, still the intransigent prosecutor she seemed during Year One?
With a year to prepare for this session, will we see an agenda that actually proposes innovation in governance or will it be yet another rehash of campaign rhetoric?
What changes will she make in her cabinet, which is striking for its almost total unfamiliarity with either the departments they administer or even the state of New Mexico itself? As those departments’ growing inventory of unresolved problems mounts, where will the buck stop? Will scapegoats be sacrificed cosmetically or will genuine efforts be made to find workable solutions to the mounting ineffectualness and drift?
And most intriguingly, will we find answers to the questions related to her continuing popularity with voters: Is it enduring? Is it deep? Is it based on anything more substantial than appearance and careful handling? When it starts to slip (as the honeymoon glow inevitably does), how will she react?
The Governor herself will provide the answers to most of these queries, but I’d like to offer some thoughts about her popularity, its origins and its sustainability, based on having observed her for the past 12 months from my perch in the Legislature.
I think her popularity should not be overstated. Yes, she won her race with Diane Denish handily. But her victory was much more a case of too many Democrats and independents staying home and not voting at all than it was of a swing in Martinez’ direction. I think she needs to be cautious about misreading that victory as a broad mandate.
Nevertheless, she is still polling above the critical 50 percent favorable rating, so the people are listening when she speaks.
She mustn’t forget the lesson of Bill Richardson. He was polling even higher than that at the end of his first year… and by the time he left his approval had belly-flopped into the mid-20 percent range. In fact, Martinez actually ran against the Richardson record and his perceived trail of corruption, not against her ballot opponent. Denish never shook the Richardson albatross from her neck, though no one (except a few Albuquerque Journal editors) ever believed she had anything to do with his alleged misdeeds.
It is telling that the Journal even now continues to rerun “news” stories from his days on the Fourth Floor, practically verbatim copies of old stories, drumming home the point that Richardson was corrupt (but still not charged with anything)—and by extension, Martinez, his slayer, is not corrupt.
The dilemma is that New Mexico voters for the most part only know about the workings of state government from two sources: the newspaper (which for half the state means the Journal) and television. In my experience with television news, viewers get only the simplest, most superficial impressions from TV broadcasts, little information.
I live near two television stations and am home a lot, so I often get called for the “Democratic” reaction to stories. This is fine by me because I enjoy talking to reporters. It also doesn’t really matter what I say to them. Practically nothing of a four-minute discussion of a complex issue of tax policy or health care or education reform will ever actually get on screen. That four-minute discussion (and that would be a long one) is edited down to 15 or 20 seconds of a sound bite. At most I will have left an impression, not information.
Days afterward people will come up to me and say they saw me on television and I seemed contented, angry, upset, calm or something. Not once has anyone ever said they agreed with what I said or disagreed with what I said. In fact, when I ask what the story was about they usually can’t tell me. It was just another of the hundred or so quick visual takes on a half-hour show.
Only in the newspaper is the voter going to find out any information about Gov. Martinez, her policies, state issues or anything more substantive than that “I saw her picture on TV and she seemed happy, angry, upset or something.”
What it amounts to is that the Governor’s popularity will rise and fall solely on what the Journal (or for readers in the north, the New Mexican or in the south, the Sun News) reports on how she’s doing. If they aren’t jumping on her, her popularity will stay high. If they start reporting on racino insider deals or other contracts that don’t pass the smell test; on appointees to high posts who aren’t up to the task; on policy decisions aimed more at burnishing a national reputation than at moving New Mexico forward (or more accurately, if they harp repeatedly on such peccadilloes), then her approval rating will start sliding.
The reality of Santa Fe maneuverings is not, in other words, what will make or break this Administration; it is the perception of such maneuverings as fed to the public through the filter of the handful of newspapers in this state. And only two or three actually have reporters stationed there. The rest rely on the Associated Press—or repeat what they read in the Journal, Sun News or New Mexican.
That’s too much power in too few hands. Blogs and publications like the weekly giveaways or monthlies like The Light of New Mexico are critically important vehicles to counter slanted impressions. Susana Martinez’ approval rating should be based on her actions, not on filtered versions doctored by media moguls.
Jerry Ortiz y Pino is a New Mexico state senator (Dist. 12, Albuquerque, Dem.). A former social worker, he sought the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor in 2010.
In the upcoming budget session, legislators in both parties and the governor will have a simple question put to them: If you ask people to take a pay cut for four years because there’s a budget deficit, shouldn’t you stop cutting their pay once there’s a healthy surplus?
Pay cut history
First, a little background: in the 2009 legislative session, following the collapse of the housing and financial services markets, legislators, Gov. Richardson, and the state of New Mexico suddenly faced hundreds of millions of dollars in lost revenue. That trend ended up yielding a drop of over $800 million/year.
Some of the deficit was closed by stimulus funds. Another chunk was covered by state reserves. Still more was saved by a blanket hiring freeze that was strictly enforced, as well as pay freezes. Public employees did their share by doing the work of two or three people in many areas, and by taking unpaid furloughs. Government shrank under Gov. Richardson to being smaller than it was even under anti-government libertarian Gary Johnson.
When all of those actions still didn’t balance the budget, legislators in both parties and the governor asked public employees (state, university, and K-12) to sacrifice more by having their pay cut for FY ’10 and FY ’11 by 1.5 percent (saving the state about $85 million for those two years). The mechanism that best enabled the pay cuts to be spread widely (thereby preventing even deeper pay cuts) was to have state, university, and K-12 employees pay 1.5 percent more into their pension plans, while having the state reduce its payments by the same amount. The common term for what was done to cut pay was a “pension swap.”
Getting the facts right
This is a critical point to understand for the upcoming budget session: The pay cuts that were done through a pension swap did not then, and do not now, help the pension plans one cent. (For technical reasons, the swap actually had a minor negative impact on the plans, but the general fund will cover those small losses.) These were pay cuts to make up our state deficit, pure and simple.
The Albuquerque Journal editorial page was badly misinformed when it editorialized in December that our expected $250 million surplus shouldn’t be used for a “benefit spending spree.” Ending the pay cuts in no way—zero—constitutes spending on benefits. Period.
It’s unclear whether the Journal’s editors truly don’t understand the basics of the pension swap pay cuts. Remember, even if their reporters know an issue, the editorial board and owner don’t necessarily know or understand the details of budgets. Given the paper’s long history of railing against government, unions, and public employees generally, it’s possible they’re intentionally trying to muddy the waters, but either way, legislators, the governor, and citizens can’t and shouldn’t be misled by the Journal’s sloppy and deceptive editorials.
End the pay cuts
Last year, Gov. Martinez laid down the law: no new revenue to close her deficit, even if that revenue comes from closing corporate tax loopholes. The legislature came back to public employees asking for an additional 1.75 percent out of their paychecks for FY ‘12.
Fair-minded legislators, anticipating that our revenues might increase in FY ’13, successfully added a trigger to end the 1.75 percent pay cut pension swap after FY ’12 if we had a surplus of $100 million or more. For the record, Gov. Martinez fought very hard, unsuccessfully, to make all of the 3.25 percent pay cut pension swap permanent, saying that we had a “structural deficit.”
Well, we didn’t, and don’t, have a structural deficit. We have ongoing corporate tax loopholes that no other western state allows, and Gov. Martinez and many legislators in both parties continue to protect tax breaks that give millionaires the same marginal tax rate as people making $16,000 a year. Even with those fiscally irresponsible protections for the richest 1 percent, we don’t have a structural deficit because government is the smallest it has been in decades in New Mexico.
In fact, this year, the state will take in $250 million more than it did last year, easily eclipsing the $100 million threshold to end 1.75 percent of the pay cuts.
The 1.5 percent and 1.75 percent pension swap pay cuts were enacted for the sole purpose of having public employees pay for part of our deficit. Now that we’re no longer running a deficit, and actually are running a large surplus, at a minimum we should end the pay cuts that directly reduce the paychecks of corrections officers, janitors, teachers, groundskeepers, librarians, and others who simply show up to work every day to do the job that we, the people, ask them to do.
This issue is not only important for thousands of New Mexico families (who will spend their restored pay cuts right here on New Mexico’s private companies, by the way). It is also important as a simple fairness test to figure out which politicians are willing to keep their promises to public employees. We’ll also find out which politicians want to keep raiding public employee families’ budgets even when the excuse for that raid is gone.
Carter Bundy is the political and legislative director for AFSCME in New Mexico. The opinions in this column are personal and do not necessarily reflect any official AFSCME position. You can reach him at [email protected]
In this year of the protester, it is high time an egregious loophole in New Mexico’s tax code was eliminated, and citizen groups from unions to small business to the Occupy movement have identified Sen. Peter Wirth’s (Dist. 25, Santa Fe) Senate Bill 9 as the cause célèbre piece of legislation to rally around in the 30-day 2012 session that begins this week. First as a state representative, and for several years a senator, Wirth has been introducing this eminently reasonable bill to level the playing field for New Mexico small businesses for eight long years now.
Currently, New Mexico is the only western state that allows multi-state corporations doing business here to channel their New Mexico income to other subsidiaries and thus avoid paying tax on it in NM. As Wirth points out, this choice does not apply to New Mexico corporations, leaving them not only with a higher tax bill but an unfair competitive disadvantage.
SB 9 actually lowers the corporate tax rate beginning in 2013 by expanding the state’s base of corporate taxpayers, and it offers fairer treatment for NM corporations. At a time when the public dialogue has rightly focused on the power and privilege of the 1 percent at the expense of the rest of us, and given the rhetoric of Republicans and Gov. Susana Martinez that tax rates should be cut and businesses unfettered to make investments and create jobs, there is no conceivable reason why SB 9 should not become law this year.
In most of the Richardson years, when state coffers were bulging, there may not have been much impetus to fix this inequity, but in these lean times the only reason for opposing this legislation would be favors owed to the multi-state corporations who benefit from the status quo (think oil and gas companies). These are also some of the biggest donors to Martinez’s 2010 campaign (over $1 million), so it will be very interesting to see how SB 9 fares in the upcoming session.
It promises to be a volatile session in many respects, as progressive Democrats push for more job creation, restoring pay cuts for state workers, a law to require Super Pacs to disclose the names of their donors, and banking reforms to help small business, among other issues in the limited budgetary session. Bills without a financial component will have to be approved by the governor to get on the agenda. The governor, for her part, vows to push ahead with her plan to abolish driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants and gain more funding for her Education Department’s controversial A-through-F rating system for schools.
But the wild card in this year’s session will be the efforts of the Occupy movement to get lawmakers’ attention with a massive rally on Jan. 17 and its presence in and around the Capitol throughout the session. Occupiers are urging their members to get lobbyist credentials to gain increased access to legislative activities, but keeping their specific tactics to themselves. People’s mics in Roundhouse galleries and committee rooms are a strong possibility. An e-mail message sent by the movement to all 120 legislators serves notice that the “umbrella coalition” that will gather on the 17th and exert its influence in the weeks to follow is united in its goal of “Giving New Mexico Back to Its People.”
When the mic checks start to reverberate in the halls of the Roundhouse, the reaction of legislators, security forces and the public at large will quickly tell us if New Mexico’s mood is receptive to the sweeping change for which these voices will be calling or obdurately loyal to the status quo of entrenched wealth and power.
The following email announcement was sent to 120 New Mexico legislators and leaders on January 6, 2012.
“To: Governor Susana Martinez, Lt. Governor John Sanchez, Leaders and Members of the NM State Legislature
It is with great pride that thousands of engaged citizens, your constituents, will join together for a March to the Round House on January 17 to attend the opening of the 2012 New Mexico Legislative Session.
The umbrella coalition that has organized this march will include Occupy groups from across the state, representatives of the unions, state workers, dozens of organizations and hundreds of individuals.
We will gather with a single, powerful vision for the future of our state – to Give Back New Mexico to its People.
We will gather to celebrate the centennial of New Mexico statehood.
We will put our imprint on common-interest bills such as SB 1 and SB 9. Hundreds of us will attend committee hearings and floor votes to respectfully voice our demands for representation.
We will occupy the galleries and committee rooms and all our offices of government throughout the 2012 legislative session.
Our coalition of citizens speaks with one voice: We are here. We are watching. We are the 99%.
We ask you, our representatives, to listen to us. We ask you to work with us.
And we invite you to embrace our vision – to Give Back New Mexico to its People.
We are New Mexico.”
As the session nears, I am busy working on legislation to introduce and hosting town halls with my colleague, Sen. Wirth of Santa Fe. The main focus of my legislative work this session will be jobs. I’m working to help New Mexico’s small businesses by helping our locally-owned community banks and credit unions make credit more available to our small businesses.
First, I am working to establish a new state-owneddevelopment bank, like the Bank of North Dakota, to help make small business loans more available, which will greatly help the biggest creators of jobs in New Mexico. Second, I’m working to move billions of state dollars out of big national banks and into our local community banks and credits unions statewide. Finally, I’m pursing legislation to make our tax code fairer and give New Mexico’s working families a tax break.
I am also working on major reforms at the Public Regulation Commission to make it more professional and more attuned to the needs of our state. I am also, as Chairman of the House Energy and Natural Resources Committee, committed to holding the line on the governor’s efforts to eliminate common-sense rules that protect our air, land and water. It is going to be a tough session, but I am hopeful that we will get much done for our state’s economy. I’m always glad to hear from you; please contact me at
The Partnership for Community Action (PCA) was founded in 1991 on the premise that healthy communities are only attainable if community members make healthy choices. Alcohol abuse, underage drinking and drunk driving are among the unhealthiest choices that we sometimes make. The PCA has worked to build healthier neighborhoods and communities by changing the environmental factors that lead to unchecked alcohol abuse and the other social ills that come from this abuse. One of our proudest moments was in the late 1990s when a broad coalition of groups organized to ban drive up liquor sales across our state. Increased law enforcement, land use strategies, education, and increased taxes on distributors and consumers are all a part of our larger strategy. In our more than 20 years of existence, we can say that our approach has proved effective.
In 2012 we are faced with a new reality—one that has the potential to undo some of the good work that the anti-drunk-driving community has done across the state.
Governor Martinez is once again pushing her plan to repeal New Mexico’s practice of requiring immigrant drivers who do not have a social security number to be licensed. This would have a negative impact on the war against DWIs that many of us have been waging for a long time. Under current law, all drivers under 18 are subject to a graduated licensing system that requires driver’s education, with a mandatory DWI prevention component, as well as a record clean of alcohol- and drug-related offenses. Furthermore, all applicants under 25 are required to successfully complete a DWI prevention course that informs them about our state’s DWI laws, the consequences of drunk driving and the social tragedy of DWI. The governor’s plan to repeal our current law would deny licenses to tens of thousands of residents who will nevertheless continue driving on our roads out of sheer necessity. All of these drivers will be effectively excluded and exempted from the DWI prevention training that has proved to be effective in reducing the incidence of this harmful behavior. The result is almost sure to be a disastrous reversal of these hard-won gains.
Beyond this very unsettling reality, under our current driver’s license statute, law enforcement can track immigrants’ DWI violations, sentencing compliance and revocations. As anti-DWI-and underage-drinking crusaders, we understand that effective law enforcement is one of our best tools. The governor recently stated that strengthening enforcement measures against DWIs will be a priority for her administration in 2012, but her insistence on taking licenses away from immigrant drivers would tie the hands of law enforcement and lead only to greater risk on the road for all New Mexicans.
As a state, we have made tremendous progress in combating DWI, underage drinking, and overall alcohol abuse. There is still much more we need to do, and repealing our current drivers license law will not move our work forward. In fact, it is a step backwards in New Mexico’s generational battle against DWI.
Javier Martínez, J.D. is Associate Director of the Albuquerque-based Partnership for Community Action. PCA is part of a statewide coalition of groups working to safeguard licenses for immigrants who live and drive in New Mexico. For more information go to www.somosunpueblounido.org/DLNews
Communications Workers of America (CWA), representing state employees, will continue to take an active role this legislative session by advocating for legislation supporting New Mexico’s working families. With the recent announcement of higher-than-expected state revenues, this legislative session provides an opportunity to do the right thing for those people who provide much needed services for the state of New Mexico.
We urge the current administration to support state government employees by eliminating the pay cuts which they have borne over the past three years. These pay cuts, on top of a 30+ percent vacancy rate throughout all state agencies, higher insurance premiums, and increased workloads due to a hiring freeze, are already resulting in plummeting morale and compromised services.
The often-repeated myth that NM state government is bloated is not based in reality. This is not only a labor issue, but many managers and legislators in state government also realize that there is no longer any fat to cut. In the words of Sen. Gerry Ortiz y Pino, “We’re beginning to cut into vital organ tissue.”
Instead of once again looking at cuts to public services to balance budgets, CWA believes the time is now to explore legislation that will increase revenue. Senate Bill 9 offers this opportunity: Requiring out-of-state corporations to pay their fair share of income tax to the state, (just as our home-grown NM businesses currently do) will increase revenue to New Mexico by over $90 million annually.
We invite everyone to come out in support Senate Bill 9 on the first day of the session, Tuesday, Jan. 17, from 10.30 – 2:00 at the Roundhouse.
Following is an edited version of Sen. Peter Wirth’s pre-session message to his constituents:
Greetings and Happy New Year—
The 30-day 2012 legislative session begins January 17th. Because this is our “short session,” only bills related to the state budget and those items the Governor adds to the agenda will be considered.
Below is an outline of two bills I pre-filed and a request for your help.
Tax Equity for our New Mexico Businesses:
For the eighth straight year, I am sponsoring legislation to close New Mexico’s corporate tax loophole. We are the last western state with a corporate tax that lets multi-state companies use subsidiaries to transfer otherwise taxable money out of New Mexico and avoid paying their fair share of corporate tax. Amazingly, this different set of rules is available only for out-of-state companies, meaning our New Mexico businesses pay corporate tax while some of their competitors pay little or no tax. This is unfair and needs to stop.
Senate Bill 9 requires all companies that pay corporate tax to play by the same set of rules and apply the same tax rates. For multi-state corporations, it requires a “combined return” that accounts for New Mexico’s share of the corporation’s profit. Here is a link to the pre-filed bill:
As you will see, not only does SB 9 level the playing field for New Mexico businesses, this year’s legislation lowers the corporate tax rate. By creating one set of rules, the tax base is broadened, leaving room for an across-the-board reduction in the corporate tax rate.
Cleaning up New Mexico’s tax code continues to be a top legislative priority for me in 2012. Let’s start by closing the corporate tax loophole.
Disclose Corporate Campaign Donors:
A very important “transparency” bill this year is Senate Bill 11, which requires so-called “Super PACs” to disclose the names of donors when they engage in “express advocacy” for or against a candidate. After the extremely misguided decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in Citizens United, corporations on both sides of the political spectrum can give unlimited money to independent expenditure committees. While states cannot cap the money coming into the political system, New Mexico can pass legislation to let the voters know the source of this money.
A similar version of this bill passed the state Senate in 2011 and was waiting to be heard on the floor of the state House when the session ended. The legislation has bipartisan support and was unanimously endorsed by the interim Courts Corrections and Justice Committee. It needs a message from Gov. Martinez to be considered in the 2012 session.
Here is a link to SB 11:
How you can Help
I am often asked what constituents can do to further these efforts. Here some ways:
1. Contact the Governor’s office, asking her to add Senate Bill 11 to the 2012 agenda. http://www.governor.state.nm.us/Contact_the_Governor.aspx
2. Join the 3600 other New Mexicans who have signed the online petition to Gov. Martinez and legislators, asking them to “Level the Playing Field for New Mexico Businesses.” http://signon.org/sign/level-the-playing-field-2 Once you sign, forward the petition on to your e-mail lists.
3. Write a letter to the editor of your local paper supporting SB 9, SB 11 or both. Santa Fe New Mexican: http://www.santafenewmexican.com/forms/lettertoeditor/Albuquerque Journal: http://www.abqjournal.com/letters/new
4. Attend legislative committee hearings and testify for or against bills. This year we need committee rooms full of New Mexicans and New Mexico business owners telling legislators you are tired of some corporations playing by a different set of rules. I assure you the lobbyists will be there for the special interests. Let’s match them this year and make our voices heard.
I plan to “tweet” about the progress of these bills and other important issues in the 2012 session. My Twitter account is @senatorwirth, which you can access either through www.twitter.com or at my webpage www.senatorpeterwirth.com by simply clicking the blue Twitter logo under my picture.
You do not need a Twitter account to view these tweets.
Do not hesitate to e-mail if you have questions.
Senator Peter Wirth represents Senate District 25 in the New Mexico Legislature.
Public employees represented by AFSCME strongly believe that pay cuts to corrections officers, teachers, janitors, groundskeepers and other workers should end now that we have a quarter-billion dollar surplus. Public employees have paid, out of their own paychecks, almost $200 million to balance the budget over the last three years. Now that there’s a surplus, before any new spending or tax breaks, we should end the pay cuts that came from middle-class and low-income workers to balance the budget.
AFSCME also believes that pension reform should be done in a way that keeps promises to current employees, but that also is fiscally responsible and puts both plans on a path to 100 percent solvency. The PERA Board has voted unanimously to work with its membership to develop a plan for the 2013 session, and we support the Board in wanting to do reform one time, to do it comprehensively, and to do it right. The Educational Retirement Board has some proposals that have some merit, but still rely on bait-and-switch policies, taking away benefits and terms from current workers. We hope to work with legislators in both parties to ensure full reform that follows basic principles of fairness and legality.
Another major priority will be to end corporate tax-dodging loopholes. New Mexico individuals pay taxes. So do New Mexico companies. It’s an outrage that multinational corporations use an army of lawyers and accountants to skip out on their responsibility to pay their fair share. State Sen. Peter Wirth has pre-filed Senate Bill 9, which not only ends those loopholes, but lowers the rates on companies that play by the rules. Budgets are reflections of our values, and when we’re the only western state allowing shady insider corporate tax loopholes, something’s fundamentally wrong. We can and should fix it this year.
We’ll also support legislation protecting public safety officers, from police to corrections, from abusive interrogation practices. Just as we expect our citizens to be treated with dignity when being questioned, so too should we have basic ground rules for interrogating those who protect all of us.
Beyond that, there are often, even in a short session, proposals to put public services in the hands of for-profit private corporations, or to eliminate basic rights of working people in our state. We hope we can continue to count on our terrific progressive allies as we fight together against a corporatist agenda and go to bat for the 99 percent every day of the session.
Political Action Representative
Corruption compounded by conflicts of interest
While campaigning to be elected governor, Susana Martinez promised if elected she [would] investigate and end corruption in CYFD [Children, Youth and Families Department]. Her campaign team indicated receiving nearly 5,000 calls from parents that had claimed to be victims of CYFD. These parents were told to contact the Governor’s office in January if Martinez were elected.
After being elected, Martinez chose Yolanda Berumen-Deines to be the Cabinet Secretary of CYFD, who also made the same promise to investigate and end the ongoing corruption in her agency. Martinez also named an attorney, Jennifer Padgett, to head up the investigation of corruption in CYFD.
A phone call to the Governor in January led to a request for a letter stating what evidence there was to prove corruption and improprieties that existed in CYFD. A follow-up call to the Constituency office met with statements that over 2,000 written complaints had been received and that the Governor had received a directive from CYFD General Counsel, Chris Romero, to refer all parents back to him. After being transferred to Padgett, she told me most of my evidence against CYFD would never be proven without a search warrant, which she indicated she had no plans to apply for.
Calls to the Cabinet Secretary resulted in statements that all complaints had to go through the CYFD General Counsel, who then indicated that complaints were taken up by the CYFD Central Intake, who then indicated complaints were handled by the Cabinet Secretary! I did have conversations with Romero, who promised to look into my complaint and get back to me. After a while of not hearing back, I called the Office of General Counsel, only to be told Romero was no longer with CYFD. An anonymous source indicated that Romero had left because he indicated he could no longer work for a corrupt agency.
This past Friday, a call to the Office of General Counsel resulted in a statement that the new General Counsel had only been on the job for a few weeks and would have to look over my complaint before she would be able to answer my concerns. I was told that the person that had been filling in as interim may be able to talk to me. When I asked for the name, I was told that the interim General Counsel was Jennifer Padgett, the same person that was the Governor’s lead investigator into the corruption of CYFD. Padgett was working at two jobs in conflicting positions—one job investigating the other agency for which she was an interim employee!
Clearly, this is an act of corruption and cover-up by both the Governor’s and the Cabinet Secretary’s staffs.
Much-needed journal for radical politics
I was delighted to have picked up and read your new publication. I was an avid reader of The Sun and regretted its post-sale decent into a watered-down, liberal version of its former radical self. No wonder no one wanted to read it. I think The Light is a much-needed journal for radical politics in NM and recaptures the vision of Skip Whitson. I wish you and your staff much success.
Thomas Jaggers and Christian Leahy
Occupy Santa Fe is now three months old. In that time, this fledgling movement has grown from a handful of people protesting on a sunny sidewalk to a large community of committed activists. We work in many diverse ways in the hope of creating a more just, compassionate society, “the more beautiful world our hearts tell us is possible.”
The Occupy movement is not without its struggles. The honeymoon period when transformation was on everyone’s lips and appeared eminently possible, even inevitable, is over. We are now dealing with the stark reality of all that we must confront and all that we must transform.
We have attempted to bridge the gap between the highest aspirations and values of the movement and the reality of the culture in which we live. We have not always succeeded.
The physical occupation has been at the Railpark since late October, and has inspired community support and opprobrium in roughly equal measure. Episodes of violence, theft, and drug and alcohol abuse in the camp have rightly troubled us. Some members of the movement have left in despair at ever creating a better world, while the structure and process of General Assembly and Working Groups have attracted criticism, complaint, obstruction and sabotage.
What has happened to the promise of Occupy?
Participatory, consensus-based, grassroots democracy is not easy, and we are not practiced in it. Rather we are conditioned to give away our power to others or to scapegoat. Now, however, is the time for our community to come together, to reconcile, to welcome all voices, and to work together toward common values.
Yet, we live in a culture that has forced us all to turn away and suppress our natural inclinations toward compassion, relationship and respect. It is a culture marked instead by violence, oppression, individualism, selfishness, greed, fear and power. To transform such a culture requires that we transform ourselves and our political and social processes. And transformation is, at best, disorienting, and at times destructive in its process of upheaval and change.
No wonder then that the growth of this movement is challenging and fractious. No wonder that common ground is hard to find when the dominant culture has so divided us.
But Occupy’s struggles are necessary and beneficial. The disagreements and challenges we face are the “grist for the mill,” the vehicles by which we learn, the opportunities to take another step in our growth as a movement and society.
Occupy Santa Fe must invest in the integrity of our actions and the moral focus of our movement. Gandhi’s teaching is so oft-repeated that it has become a cliché, but right now the necessity to “be the change we want to see in the world” is paramount. That is true for each individual activist and for the Occupy movement as a whole.
Occupy is about evolution and transformation, not revolution. We will not replace existing leaders with new leaders or attempt to fix what is broken in the existing power structures; instead we must bring forth a new story. The root of this new story is love—love for ourselves, love for each other, love for our planet, and a deep and profound love and longing for justice.
It is that love and longing that explains why this movement could mean so very much. It is the hope that Occupy will become truly worthy of the 99 percent.
Activist, Thomas Jaggers, is still occupying hope, believing in our capacity to transform. Christian Leahy is a writer, dreamer and activist at Studio Poema: Illuminating the New Story.
CCNS cites community victory in protecting surface water from LANL contaminants
In April 2011 the plaintiffs declared victory in the Clean Water Act citizens’ lawsuit against the Department of Energy (DOE) for violations of the stormwater requirements at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). The litigation resulted in one of the most aggressive stormwater permits in the country.
Contaminated stormwater at LANL occurs when rain or snow falling on the ground picks up pollutants from waste sites as it flows over the mesa tops and through the canyons towards the Rio Grande.
In 2008, the Communities for Clean Water, along with individual plaintiffs Kathy and J. Gilbert Sanchez and Tewa Women United filed the lawsuit in federal district court. The plaintiffs also included Amigos Bravos, Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety, Don Gabino Andrade Community Acequia, Embudo Valley Environmental Monitoring Group, New Mexico Acequia Association, Partnership for Earth Spirituality, Río Grande Restoration, and SouthWest Organizing Project. In 2009, most of the plaintiffs, including Honor Our Pueblo Existence, appealed the permit issued by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) because it did not protect public and environmental health.
The settlement of the permit appeal and lawsuit resulted in a permit where 405 sites with the potential to release pollutants in stormwater are regulated. They include 21 high priority sites that must be cleaned up by Oct. 31, 2013 and 384 moderate priority sites that must be cleaned up by Oct. 31, 2015. LANL was required to install baseline control measures at all 405 sites by May 1, 2011. If the stormwater exceeds the water quality standards, then LANL must take additional measures to stop the run-on and run-off from the sites.
The settlement also includes the opportunity for email notification of documents submitted to EPA, a specific LANL website, one technical meeting per year, and funding for experts who have access to certain permitted sites. (http://www.lanl.gov/environment/h2o/stormwater.shtml )
The plaintiffs hired the Santa Fe based ecological engineering firm of Natural Systems International to be their technical experts. (http://www.natsys-inc.com/ ) Natural Systems International focuses on the design of “green” water infrastructure for wastewater, stormwater, reuse and watershed restoration. There have been several productive technical meetings between the plaintiffs’ team, DOE and LANL.
The permit also requires DOE and LANL to hold two public meetings per year about their activities to demonstrate compliance with the permit. The next public meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 25 from 5:30 to 7:30 pm at the Cities of Gold Conference Center in Pojoaque. In addition to the LANL presentations, engineers from Natural Systems International will make a presentation about “green”water infrastructure. Everyone is invited to attend.
SF Living Wage will top $10 per hour
As of March 1, 2012 the Living Wage in the City of Santa Fe will increase in accordance with City Ordinance. The amount of increase corresponds to the annual increase in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for the Western Region for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers for both 2010 and 2011, as dictated by the Living Wage Ordinance. This means the Living Wage will rise 1.4 percent for 2010 (bringing the wage to $9.987), plus the annual increase for 2011, which has yet to be finalized. Based on the CPI numbers for the first 11 months of 2011, city of Santa Fe staff estimates that the Living Wage will increase to between $10.22 and $10.32 an hour. The amount of the annual increase for 2011, and thus the new Living Wage, will be announced in mid-January when the Bureau of Labor Statistics releases the annual index for 2011.
The Living Wage Ordinance was originally adopted in 2002 and initially included a provision to increase the wage to $10.50 in 2008. Instead, in late 2007, after negotiations with the business community, the City Council amended the Ordinance and the planned increase to $10.50 was replaced with an annual cost-of-living adjustment corresponding to the previous year’s increase in the western region CPI for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers.
Report: Tuition hikes jeopardize lottery scholarship fund
With the state’s vast network of universities, community colleges, and branch campuses—coupled with relatively low tuition and the lottery scholarship—a post-secondary education in New Mexico has been relatively inexpensive. But the recession and changes in the state budget have made college much less affordable. Moreover, tuition hikes have squeezed the state’s lottery scholarship fund.
Those are some of the main conclusions from a report released last week by New Mexico Voices for Children, “Higher Education Expenditures and College Affordability in New Mexico.”
“The lottery scholarship has been a great success in making a college education possible for New Mexicans,” said Gerry Bradley, NM Voices’ research director and report author. “But by the state’s own reckoning, the fund will near depletion in 2015 even if tuition is not raised again,” he added.
The report shows that while more future jobs will require some college education, New Mexico is actually graduating fewer high-schoolers. And, while the onset of the recession has led to an increase in college enrollment, the state has steadily decreased the amount of money it spends on a per-student basis.
“Lawmakers did not have to deal with the budget shortfalls of the last few years by cutting funding to programs like higher education. Instead of raising tuition at a time when more and more people need to improve their education and job skills, lawmakers could have chosen to raise new revenue. But they forced the colleges to raise the revenue from students,” Bradley added.
One of the recommendations in the report is to make the lottery scholarship based on need so that it is available only to students who could not afford to attend college without it.
The report is available online at: http://www.nmvoices.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/Higher-Ed-in-NM-12-11.pdf
Earth Care marks 10 years of guiding youth leaders
Earth Care is marking 10 years of success as a youth and community development organization in the Santa Fe community. This month the group is celebrating the more than 8,000 local youth who have worked with Earth Care to take action for environmental sustainability and social justice.
“Over the past decade, Earth Care has helped to develop a network of hundreds of young people who are engaged in making positive social and environmental change” said Co-Founder and Executive Director Christina Selby. “They are trained and ready to mobilize around issues and implement solutions to address the full gamut of sustainability—from environmental to economic to cultural issues and all the connections in between. We look forward to having our participants and alumni continue to educate and empower thousands more youth and positively impact our community over the next 10 years.”
Youth involvement has been hugely energizing in the schools, for local urban agriculture projects, and sustainability-related actions happening in Santa Fe, as evidenced by the more than 200 young people who recently showed up at the Environmental Improvement Board hearings to respectfully voice their support for the carbon cap that was passed in New Mexico last year, and a successful campaign led by Earth Care’s Youth Allies Organizers in 2010 to get Styrofoam out of all Santa Fe Public School cafeterias.
“Earth Care provided me with truly amazing support when I needed it most as a young leader. This organization inviolably fostered my commitment to social, economic, and environmental justice,” said Sergio Gonzales, a 2009 alumnus of Earth Care’s Youth Allies program for teens who is now doing labor organizing across the Southwest.
Earth Care was named New Mexico’s Lead Agency for Global Youth Service Days for the third year in a row this year, and its associate director, Bianca Sopoci-Belknap, was awarded the Young Leaders’ Advocate of the Year by the Young Non-Profit Professionals Network in 2010.
For more information call (505) 983-6896 or visit www.earthcare.org
Review by Claire Ayraud
My Green Manifesto
Down the Charles River in pursuit of a New Environmentalism
An autobiographical sketch of a friend
by David Gessner
Milkweed (PGW, dist.), $15 trade paper (224p)
David Gessner writes of his adventures with Dan Driscoll, an old friend who was and still is an urban planner in the Boston area. He brought the Charles River back to itself and the people with rec paths in the 1990s during a time when everyone thought he was crazy. He replanted native species that brought the birds and animals back and reconnected the people to nature. His nickname is “The River Man.”
With Driscoll as his mentor, Gessner navigates the Charles River and discovers for himself the changes wrought by a man who took environmentalism local. They are both fans of Thoreau and quote him extensively on his ideas that “contact” is what makes a person fall in love with the environment and become a radical, not education or politics. Getting the people out in contact with nature will inspire them to fight for the place. Nagging and making people feel guilty for destroying the planet just doesn’t work. Only falling in love will create the impetus for change.
So they borrow a kayak from a friend and in fits and starts, navigate the rapids at the beginning and the encroaching urban landscape at the end. Along the way Gessner describes the birds and wildlife as a magical force that brings him peace. The end of the day is a beer drinking festival along the lines of Edward Abbey, and the author is enamored with his ideas as well: that environmentalism doesn’t have to be clean, perfect and rigid but part of our existence. Like Abbey as an imperfect man, Gessner celebrates drinking and carrying on with joy for life and also going past that into the dark side of living with the threat to the natural world and taking a stand for what you believe in.
Gessner is the author of several books of literary non-fiction, has won numerous awards, teaches creative writing and founded the journal “Ecotone.” The tone of My Green Manifesto is playful and serious, and the message is clear: “Go out and love your environment to the point where you want to do something to save the natural.” As in many aspects of our dawning intelligence—eating local produce, buying local from our neighbors—we can also take our fight for the world local.
Gessner sums up by saying, “I don’t make any claims for the permanence of the pastoral.” He’s living in North Carolina now and kayaking out to a favorite island for his peace of mind with his daughter. He writes, “In fact if my geologist friends are right, this island itself will be under water by the time Hadley is my age…The Island is doomed, they say, and so is the world. Screw that… This morning out just beyond the mysterious footprints, black skimmers mow the surf…I embrace the still-wild world.”
I’m out in my yard down by the Nambé River, under the century-old cottonwood trees, and I look up to see a hawk circling the neighbors’ acreage. I wonder what that is like to float on the currents of air and look down for something moving. To dive from 50 feet up and strike the moving target, a ground hog or a mouse, tear it apart with talons and beak and feel the nourishment of the ground through the stomach of one who eats seeds and berries that grow up from the dirt and water flowing here. From here emanates peace for our souls, and if we love it, may help us save the planet. One by one, if each community loves its natural environment, tries to save what is left and revitalize what once was, this sets an example for others and it could become global.
Claire Ayraud worked for the Crested Butte News for five years in the ‘90s writing columns on the history of that old Colorado mining town and the people who live there now. Also in her portfolio are many film, theatre and book reviews including interviews of directors and dance masters. Finishing her degree in English at the SF Community college, she became a Santa Fe resident in 2001 and lives in Nambé.
LOCAL AND AREA BOOKS/TALKS/LECTURES/THEATER/CULTURE
To be included in the monthly calendar, please send suitable items of interest to [email protected] by the first of the month of publication.
JourneySantaFe at the Travel Bug Bookstore (839 Paseo de Peralta).
Lectures and discussions on Who Controls Education, Bioregional Democracy, Water, Food, Energy and other vital subjects, hosted by David Bacon and others.
Wednesday, Jan. 18
Garcia Street Books
376 Garcia Street
The Names of Birds
Poems by Tom Crawford
Reading and Booksigning
A nuthatch walking perpendicular down a tree, “dressed to kill,” the hydraulic lift of the sand hill cranes’ legs at take-off, the song of the vireo. Perhaps birders are a special species, but they also include many of us, who if not trained to binoculars, are still stopped in our tracks at a flickering wing in our peripheral vision. In this latest collection of poems, Tom Crawford lends his keen sense of observation and resonant language to the wonder and evocative nature of birds in all their multiplicity. From his travels his writing is infused with Eastern thought and a sense of mysticism.
Thursday, Jan. 19
Collected Works Bookstore
202 Galisteo Street
Greg Sagemiller and Mark Raney
Collected Works presents two New Mexico authors for a reading of their first books.
Greg Sagemiller’s thriller, Walking Earth, draws on his archaeological experience to craft a tale of espionage, murder and double-cross on the tranquil Cedar Mesa.
Sagemiller has had careers in federal intelligence and with an international Fortune 100 company. Upon moving to Northern New Mexico, he employed his two lifelong passions—anthropology and alpine skiing. While working seasonally at a Northern New Mexico ski resort, he found ample time to broaden his education in Southwest archaeology. He has served as a Trustee and as President of the Archaeological Society of New Mexico, and as President and Program Chair of the Taos Archaeological Society.
Mark Raney’s Secrets of the Pueblo Universe explores stellar connections to Pueblo ceremonial life. Raney matches ancient rock, pottery, and kiva art to constellations and shows cross-tribal patterns between ceremonials and stellar position. His study was enhanced when he found that the main ceremonial gods of the Tewa were in a certain section of the Milky Way. The location suggested that they were not random entities scattered throughout the universe and increased the significance of his findings. The book features over 40 illustrations by W.H. Brandenburg, a well-known New Mexico artist, and 24 star charts with native image overlays produced by Arizona astronomer Ric Alling.
Ancient stars and cultures have been a life-long interest of Mark Raney’s, one enchanced by years of traveling the world. He has lived for many years in New Mexico – with its rock art and high night sky. His 35 years lived along the Upper Rio Grande have had particular impact, allowing him many perspectives not available to others. Among these are a close proximity to Pueblo tribes, talks with tribal elders, and ready access to some of the greatest archaeological sites in America. He owns a residential appraisal company in the Albuquerque area.
Thursday, Jan. 19
5:30 – 7 pm
Temple Beth Shalom
205 East Barcelona
Santa Fe Time Bank
New Member Orientation
Come to this very important gathering to discuss the nuts and bolts of time bank
trading. Here we’ll discuss some scenarios, go through the software, and
explain a little bit more about what it means to be a time bank member. We
are (re)building community, and it is important that we are all on the same
Sunday, Jan. 22
Travel Bug Books
839 Paseo de Peralta
Who Controls Education
A Conversation with Dr. Michael Anderson, Dean of Education Highlands University, and Overturning Citizen’s United Attorney Sherry Tippett, on the concerns about education in this country and upcoming programs that will focus on this topic in Sherry Tippett’s special Education series. Sponsored by JourneySantaFe at Travel Bug Books. Come join the conversation! Contact 505 474-1457 for more information.
Tuesday, Jan. 24
107 West Barcelona
WAPH! Town Hall meeting.
Democracy = Government Of, By and For The People
Plutocracy = Government Of, By and For The Wealthy
Plutocracy = a condition in which all the institutions of government, the
courts, congress, presidency, are dominated by a very few, who have such
extraordinary wealth that they are able to manipulate taxes, legislation,
and policy to their own limited benefit while 95 percent of the population work
harder and become poorer, losing control of their lives, their fortunes and
their chance to ever recover. Contact us: [email protected]
Friday, Jan. 27
Lensic Performing Arts Center.
211 West San Francisco Street
Classical Weekend Brahms, Cecile Licad, piano, and Santa Fe Pro Musica Chamber Orchestra. Telephone: (505) 988-1234
Friday, Jan. 27
Teatro Paraguas Studio
3221 Richards Lane, Santa Fe
“Machado y Lorca”, a bilingual theatrical presentation of the poetry of
Antonio Machado and Federico García Lorca, Spain’s two most beloved poets
Info/Reservations: 505-424-1601; www.teatroparaguas.org
$10 general, $8 seniors & students, Sunday pay-what-you-wish
Teatro Paraguas will re-stage its bilingual poetry tribute to Antonio Machado and Federico Garcia Lorca for one weekend only, opening Friday, Jan. 27 for three performances at Teatro Paraguas Studio in Santa Fe. Machado y Lorca was last presented at the National Hispanic Cultural Center earlier in December to sell-out audiences. Also Saturday, Jan. 28 at 8 pm and Sunday, Jan. 29 at 2 pm.
Saturday, Jan. 28
839 Paseo de Peralta
Kingdom of Mustang (Nepal): nomad’s clin
“According to John Pitts, traveling to the Kingdom of Mustang (Sept/Oct 2011) was like stepping back centuries in time. Mustang is a Buddhist kingdom in one of the most remote parts of predominantly Hindu Nepal, bordering on Tibet. Few people had visited Mustang before it was opened in 1992, hence its name “the Forbidden Kingdom.” These doctors, nurses and one pharmacologist helped administer much-needed medical services (and medicines) to the remote villages along the north-south trading route which followed the Kali Gandaki river. Three weeks were spent accessing these villages by crossing high passes (up to 15,000 feet), wading rushing rivers, and guarding against strong winds and frigid temperatures. The Upaya Zen Center of Santa Fe organized this mission/pilgrimage and the Center’s Abbott, Roshi Joan Halifax, provided inspirational leadership throughout the trip. John’s photographs of the landscape, villages and inhabitants of Mustang will attempt to capture the beauty and humanity of this rarely-seen corner of Asia.
Saturday, Jan. 28
Lensic Performing Arts Center.
211 West San Francisco Street
Classical Weekend Recital, Cecile Licad, piano
Called a “pianist’s pianist” by The New Yorker, Cecile Licad’s artistry is a blend of daring musical instinct and superb training. Her natural talent was honed at the Curtis Institute of Music by three of the greatest performer/pedagogues of our time, including Rudolf Serkin. Telephone: (505) 988-1234
Sunday, Jan. 29
Travel Bug Books
839 Paseo de Peralta
Update on Buckman Direct Diversion
A Conversation with Mark Sardella, Executive Director of Local Energy.
In Conversation with KSFR Radio Host David Bacon. Contact 505 474-1457 for more information.
Sunday, Jan. 29
1 – 4 pm
Museum of Int’l Folk Art
706 Camino Lejo
Off Old Santa Fe Trail on Museum Hill
Santa Fe Time Bank
Come together to celebrate our community. This year we are focusing on
providing an opportunity for our membership to get to know each other a
little better, get re-inspired, and meet our Kitchen Cabinet. There will be a Labyrinth walk [indoor], crafting, a keynote speaker, door prizes, opportunities for feedback, and of course, food!
Linda will be speaking at 2 pm. Please be there to meet and welcome her. We’re focusing on finger-food for the potluck and we’re attempting to makethis a zero waste event. This means: Bring your own plate, cup and eating utensils. [email protected]
Sunday, Jan. 29
Lensic Performing Arts Center.
211 West San Francisco Street
Classical Weekend Mendelssohn, Chad Hoopes, violin, and Santa Fe Pro Musica Chamber Orchestra. Telephone: (505) 988-1234
Saturday, Feb. 4
839 Paseo de Peralta
Walking Germany to Rome
Petra Wolf & Mike Metras
In late 2006 and early 2007 we walked from our home in southern Germany over the Alps and down through Italy to Rome. This slide show is a collage of images, videos and audio clips of that pilgrimage. We share our experiences and lessons we learned as we walked over Austrian and Tyrolean Alps, across the Po Valley, through Tuscany, and down the Via Francigena, an ancient pilgrimage route from England to Rome. Your hosts, Petra Wolf and Mike Metras, wander in their pilgrimage of life, live in Santa Fe. We have wandered far and wide in Europe, India, and America and have walked several European pilgrimage paths. On Christmas Day 2010 we finished a 23-month pilgrimage walk from California to Jerusalem. www.WalkingWithAwareness.com
Contact: [email protected]
Thursday, Feb. 9
839 Paseo de Peralta
Reading the World Book Group
River of Stone River of Sand by Stephen Joseph, MD. Stephen is a Santa Fe resident and will attend the meeting. Books available at Travel Bug. Meet in the store at 6 pm. Everyone welcome. In 1964, newly-minted physician Joseph, just out of his internship, undertakes a two-year assignment as the Peace Corps Physician in Nepal. The job has two facets: responsibility for the health and medical care of a hundred young Peace Corps Volunteers scattered over the roadless hills and valleys along the uplift of the Himalayas, and “do whatever else you want to do in medicine.” Many lessons not learned in medical school challenge his ingenuity and inexperience.
Financing Agricultural Entrepreneurship
The New Mexico Challenge
an expo & forum
Santa Fe, NM
sustainable agriculture / local food systems / financial innovation
Crowd-funding the future of farming/permaculture, local organic food production:
How many great ideas for starting or expanding small community-based food businesses have gone languishing for lack of access to capital—even relatively small amounts? Indeed, the opportunities for crowd-funding the development of local food economies seem endless.
Thursday, Jan. 26
134 State Road 4 in White Rock
Green Potentials for Northern NM 2012
Networking, refreshments begin at 5:30; speakers at 6 pm.
The Los Alamos Commerce & Development Corporation in collaboration with
the Green Business Cluster of Northern New Mexico, the Hive, the Los
Alamos Chamber of Commerce, and the New Mexico chapter of the Energy,
Technology & Environmental Business Association, invite you to a very
special event: Dr. Richard Sayre will provide an overview of his vision for algal
research in Los Alamos. Dr. Richard Sayre is the Director of the Biofuels project
at the New Mexico Consortium working in conjunction with Los Alamos National
Laboratory. There will also be a speaker from the New Mexico chapter of the Energy,
Technology & Environmental Business Association (ETEBA) who will “paint a
picture” of the business potentials for their member businesses in
Northern New Mexico in 2012. Time will be provided following the presentations for additional
networking. Appetizers will be served. Admission is free, but space is limited; register at:
Thursday, Feb. 2
UNM Student Union, address if available
Thomas Linzey Presentation: “Protecting New Mexico: Elevating Community
Rights Above Corporate Rights.” Call for more info: 575 666-2529.
Thomas Linzey, senior legal counsel for the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF), will present at the UNM Student Union.
Friday-Saturday, Feb. 3-4
Albuquerque, location tba
The Daniel Pennock Democracy School in Albuquerque
The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) will be presenting The Daniel Pennock Democracy School in Albuquerque. We are pleased toannounce that Thomas Linzey, senior legal counsel, and Ben Price, projectsdirector, CELDF, (www.celdf.org) will be presenting this Democracy School, a coming together of community leaders, including both concerned elected local officials and citizens from across New Mexico and Colorado. For more details, call 575 666-2529 or email [email protected]
by Chuck Shepherd
Intelligent Design: If the male nursery web spider were a human, he would be sternly denounced as a vulgar cad. Researcher Maria Jose Albo of Denmark’s Aarhus University told Live Science in November that the spiders typically obtain sex by making valuable “gifts” to females (usually, high-nutrition insects wrapped in silk), but if lacking resources, a male cleverly packages a fake gift (usually a piece of flower) also in silk but confoundingly wound so as to distract her as she unwraps it — and then mounts her before she discovers the hoax. Albo also found that the male is not above playing dead to coax the female into relaxing her guard as she approaches the “carcass” — only to be jumped from behind for sex.
** ** **
The Continuing Crisis
— Son Theodore Zimmick and two other relatives filed a lawsuit in November against the St. Stanislaus cemetery in Pittsburgh for the unprofessional burial of Theodore’s mother, Agnes, in 2009. Agnes had purchased an 11-by-8-foot plot in 1945, but when she finally passed away, the graveyard had become so crowded that, according to the lawsuit, workers were forced to dig such a small hole that they had to jump up and down on the casket and whack it with poles to fit it into the space.
— Managers of Prospect Park in Brooklyn, N.Y., decided recently to relocate the statue of Abraham Lincoln that since 1895 had occupied a seldom-visited site and whose advocates over the years had insisted be given more prominence. It turned out that the most viable option was to swap locations with a conspicuous 1906 statue of Dr. Alexander Skene. Lincoln is certainly universally revered, but Dr. Skene has advocates, too, and some (according to a December Wall Street Journal report) are resisting the relocation because Dr. Skene (unlike Lincoln) was a Brooklynite, and Dr. Skene (unlike Lincoln) had a body part named after him (“Skene’s glands,” thought to be “vital” in understanding the “G spot”).
— The two hosts of the Dutch TV show “Guinea Pigs” apparently followed through on their plans in December to eat pieces of each other (fried in sunflower oil) in order to describe the taste. Dennis Storm and Valerio Zeno underwent surgery to have small chunks removed for cooking, with Zeno perhaps faring worse (a piece of Storm’s “bottom”) compared to Storm (who got part of Zeno’s abdomen).
— A December New England Journal of Medicine report described a woman’s “losing” her breast implant during a Pilates movement called the Valsalva (which involves breath-holding while “bearing down”). The woman said she felt no pain or shortness of breath but suddenly noticed that her implant was gone. Doctors at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore discovered that, because of the woman’s recent heart surgery, the muscles between the ribs had loosened, and the implant had merely passed through a rib opening. (They returned it to its proper place.)
** ** **
— A balaclava-wearing man “kidnapped” Julian Buchwald and his girlfriend in 2008 in Australia’s Alpine National Park as they were picnicking. The man separated the couple, tore their clothes off and buried them, but Buchwald escaped and rescued the girlfriend, and they wandered around naked for days before being rescued. The balaclava-clad man, it turns out, was Buchwald, whose plan was to convince the woman by his heroism that she should marry him (and more immediately, to have sex even though they had both pledged to remain virgins until marriage). Buchwald was convicted in Victoria County Court and sentenced in December to more than seven years in prison.
— Laurie Martinez, 36, was charged in December with filing a false police report in Sacramento, Calif., alleging that she was raped, beaten bloody and robbed in her home. It turns out that she had become frustrated trying to get her husband to move them to a better neighborhood and that faking a rape was supposed to finally persuade him. Instead, he filed for divorce. Martinez is employed by the state as a psychologist.
— After 12 almost intolerable months, Ms. Seemona Sumasar finally received justice in November from a New York City jury, which convicted Jerry Ramrattan of orchestrating a complex and ingenious scheme to convince police that Sumasar was a serial armed robber. Ramrattan, a private detective and “CSI” fan, had used his knowledge of police evidence-gathering to pin various open cases on Sumasar as revenge for her having dumped him (and to negate her claim that Ramrattan had raped her in retaliation). Ramrattan was so creative in linking evidence to Sumasar that her bail had been set at $1 million, causing her to spend seven months in jail. (Said one juror, “If I had seen this on TV, my reaction would be, ‘How could this really happen?'”)
** ** **
People With Issues
Prominent Birmingham, Ala., politician Bill Johnson describes his wife as “the most beautiful woman in the world,” but he revealed in December that, while on temporary duty recently as an earthquake relief specialist in New Zealand, he had clandestinely donated sperm to nine women (and that three were already pregnant). Becoming a biological father is “a need that I have,” he told a New Zealand Herald reporter, and his wife had been unable to accommodate him. Asked if his wife knew of the nine women, Johnson said, “She does now.” Indeed, Alabama newspapers quickly picked up the story, and Mrs. Johnson told the Mobile Press-Register that there is “healing to do.”
** ** **
Least Competent Criminals
Not Ready for Prime Time: The unidentified eyeglass-wearing robber of an HSBC Bank in Long Island City, N.Y., in December fled empty-handed and was being sought. Armed with a pistol and impatient with a slow teller, the man fired a shot into the ceiling to emphasize his seriousness. However, according to a police report, the gunshot seemed to panic him as much as it did the others in the bank, and he immediately ran out the door and jumped into a waiting vehicle.
** ** **
— James Ward’s second annual festival of tedium (the “Boring conference”), in November at York Hall in east London, once again sold out, demonstrating the intrinsic excitement created by yawn-inducing subject matter. Last year’s conference featured a man’s discourse on the color and materials of his neckwear collection and another’s structured milk-tasting, patterned after a wine-tasting. This second edition showcased a history of the electric hand-dryer and a seminar on the square root of 2.
— Last month, News of the Weird informed readers of the woman who wanted to “be at one” with her recently deceased horse and thus stripped naked and climbed inside the bloody carcass (posing for a notorious Internet photo spread). Afghan slaughterhouse employees surely never consider being “at one” with water buffaloes, but a November Washington Post dispatch from Kabul mentions a similarity. U.S. slaughterhouse authority Chris Hart found, as he was helping to upgrade an antiquated abattoir near Kabul, that the facility employed a dwarf, “responsible” (wrote the Post) “for climbing inside water buffalo carcasses to cut out their colons.” (Nonetheless, the slaughterhouse is halal, adhering to Islamic principles.)
— No Longer Weird? One would think that classical musicians who carry precious violins, worth small fortunes, on public transportation would be especially vigilant to safeguard them. However, from time to time (for example, in 2008, 2009, 2010 and May 2011), absentmindedness prevailed. Most recently, in December, student MuChen Hsieh, 19, accompanying a 176-year-old violin (on loan from a foundation in Taiwan and worth about $170,000) on a bus ride from Boston to Philadelphia, forgot to check the overhead rack when departing and left without it. Fortunately, a bus company cleaner turned it in. (Most famously, in 1999, the master cellist Yo Yo Ma left his instrument in the trunk of a New York City taxicab.)
NewsoftheWeird.blogspot.com and www.
WeirdUniverse.net. © 2011 Chuck
Shepherd. Distributed by Universal Uclick.
*** Press Release. 12-31-2011 ***
*** The Darwin Award Winner Announced. ***
Darwin Awards honor those who make the world a safer place for all by not reproducing. Darwin Awards traveled throughout 2011 “in search of smart.” This year we have a surprise winner:
The Smart Report: The Darwin Award Winner for 2011 is…
Homo sapiens sapiens. Endangered Species. This ‘wise man’ was is declared an official “Endangered Species” by the Darwin Awards. Due to the proliferation of stresses like infernal plastic packaging, climate change, and heavy traffic, this colorful species has earned the the “hats off to you!” imminent Darwin Award for 2012. In short:
H. species invented plastic packages so difficult to open that boxcutters and scissors, bloody fingers and gashed furniture became part of daily life. “The plastic shell deters theft.” Once a meme exists there is no eradicating it from the species’ minds. Regardless of how many frustrated people and cut fingers result, Homo sapiens sapiens slowly nicks itself to death on memes and plastic shells. Climate change has also dogged the species, melting icebergs, freezing saguaro, and drying Tibet. The final straw that ultimately dooms the individual Homo sapien is the stress caused by traffic sirens, paperwork, processed food, and species-wide bickering.
ANGRY WHEELCHAIR MAN
DARWIN AWARD OF THE CENTURY:
ANGRY Wheelchair Man!
Confirmed // South Korea: This angry man epitomizes the downfall of the human race. It began with simply missing an elevator, the proverbial straw on the camel’s back. With stresssed-out rage, Angry Wheelchair Man rammed his chair 3x against the lift doors, (bam! bam! bam!), angrily breaking through and falling down the rabbit hole of the elevator shaft to his death. This dead 40-year-old lives on as a poster child: Stress kills. Gravity kills, too.
Nothing symbolizes the downfall of the human race like an actual down fall.
2011 DARWIN AWARD WINNER, PLANKING SPANKING
Confirmed by a Mind-Boggled Mr. Darwin. PLANKING? What is it? ‘Planking’ is the peculiar wit of lying flat as a plank in unusual locations–train tracks, fire hydrants, clotheslines–and posting public photographs, spreading joy. This Australian craze had infected poor Mr. Acton B., a (former) planking enthusiast who was not aware that Balconies Are The #1 One Cause of Gravity-Fed Darwin Awards. Not knowing, he was doomed to repeat the lesson. He stretched his body out face-down on the railing, arms by his sides, stiff as a plank, balanced. “Don’t do it, don’t cross that line young male Homo sapiens sapiens!” The species is doomed. Down he fell. Descent of man.
PLANKING happened on 15 May 2011, Brisbane AU. Although we do not have a photograph of the actual event, we encourage to re-enact the scene for your cameras. No, really, go ahead.
The #1 Annual Darwin Award Winner, a mass award for those who rose to the challenge, goes to the species, Homo sapiens sapiens. Mankind placed himself on the Endangered Species List, or perhaps Natural Selection placed him on the list, by the inevitable outcome of ignoring the mathematical law of sustained growth. Pursuing the “stupid dead species award,” Homo sapiens sapiens are predicted to be the Big Winner in the 2012 Darwin Awards Sweepstakes. Yet even to the end, mankind can be counted upon to indulge in the hobby called booze…
The Honorable Mention of the Century, Creative Use Of Technology: Bar Stool Boogie
The Motorized Bar Stool symbolizes man’s great aspiration to get himself to the bar and party like the end of the world. If you suddenly lost your license for DUI, would you be talented enough to cross a lawnmower with a barstool? A lawnmower/barstool hybrid that putts along at 20-mph* is nothing to sneeze at, and I’d buy a man a drink who showed up driving one. True story, from New Jersey, the inventor’s only crime was driving the barstool drunk. Give the man a license to spill – our hero survived a tumble to be nominated The Darwin Awards Honorable Mention of the Century! He was recently seen piloting his barstool hybrid toward the setting sun. Good luck to you, sir.
* 38-mph according to the indignant creator.
Darwin Awards thanatologists, who specialize in the study of death, describe 2011 as, “Not much new, innovation-wise. Standing in front of rolling trash trucks, electrocution while stealing copper wire, leaping from balcony to balcony, finding bombs in bogs, all more of the same.” Although the balance tipped against the species, as a whole, individual drama was low.
Thanks for spreading the humorous news about the extinction of the human species.
The Nature Of Evolution. “Yes We Can!”
Please contact Mooglie Boog, [email protected], for more information.
honors those who improve the species,
by accidentally removing themselves
from it! Read The Darwin Awards
Next Evolution by Wendy Northcutt.