For a second (partial) I thought they cared

 

 

It seems that republican legislators on the Hill have come up with a different color lipstick for their energy agenda pig. In the name of families who are experiencing financial hardship due to the increase in heating costs, and longer, colder, winters, republicans are pushing bad legislation that decrease highway safety and  increases the pollutants responsible for climate change by easing federal regulations on dirty energy producers. It could be they have a problem connecting the dots.

 

There may soon be various explosive home heating fuels being driven on our highways by tired overworked and artificially amped truckers thanks to a new bill introduced in the house on the 25th of this month by republicans. The Home Heating Emergency Assistance Through Transportation Act, or the HHEATT Act. H.R. 4076, was created to allow truckers to drive longer in order to get to communities experiencing a shortage of heating fuel supplies. It states in the bill that an exemption would be issued that “(2) provided regulatory relief for commercial motor vehicle operations providing direct assistance supporting the delivery of propane and home heating fuels.”.  This type of legislation is a dirt filled band aid, that does nothing to protect public safety, nor will it reduce home heating costs. What it does do is allow more propane to be sold while its still a gold nugget, without considering the safety implications of tired and/or doped up drivers with a truck full of explosives.

 

Next on their list of First Aid, is H.R. 2824 known as the “Preventing Government Waste and Protecting Coal Mining Jobs in America” act. This bill would essentially give coal mining operations a two year water table pollution, free for all. The last piece in the kit is H.R. 3826 which would permit new coal plants to be built under a completely profit based scheme, with little regard as to environmental impact. It would also allow older coal plants to function as is while giving the impression they are “reporting in”. Both of these bills limit the power our government has to protect us from money hungry climate deniers, and they do little to actually mediate the rising costs of energy. These bill function under the same assumption that wrapping a gaping wound with dirty moldy gauze will somehow heal the wound. The fact is, easing EPA standards will contribute to more severe weather in the future as the limits on greenhouse gas emissions are raised. Also, there will be less freely available viable water if we set no limits on what is dumped into our water table.

 

The effects on New Mexico may not be readily apparent until you read the research report done by the Frontier Group and the Environment America Research & Policy Center published in 2013. The report shows New Mexico to be on the top 20 list for the dirtiest producers of energy. The study results revealed two NM coal powered plants have 95% of the top 5 share of total power sector emissions, yet they generate only 23% of the 5 top share of total electrical generation. What that means is, of all the power generated from the top five sources, coal produces 95% of the pollution and only 23% of the power. Our state’s inefficient coal power plants rank us 7th in the US for the percentage of pollution from coal powered plants in relation to other power producers. The stinger is that much of that power goes to Arizona. Arizona Public Service company ranking 15th in the list of dirtiest coal producers in all of America is located in Four Corners New Mexico, and its subsidiary in San Juan ranks 33rd.

 

Its no wonder the republican agenda refuses to properly fund and support our education system. Education leads to resisting this kind of disastrous two faced legislation. So, now that we know, its time to make some calls to the Hill. We must let them know we dont support power companies dumping their excrement in our back yard. Every call counts! Call or email your reps and let them know how you feel. Ben Lujan, matt.ruybal@mail.house.gov (on the energy committee) Santa Fe, 505-984-8950; Michelle Lujan Grisham 505-346-6781; Steve Pearce (202) 225-2365

 

Sources

http://beta.congress.gov/bill/113th-congress/house-bill/2824/text —HR 2824

http://beta.congress.gov/bill/113th-congress/house-bill/3826/text —HR 3826

http://beta.congress.gov/bill/113th-congress/house-bill/4076/text —HR 4076

http://billmoyers.com/2013/09/18/are-the-dirtiest-polluters-near-you/ —Article reference

http://environmentamericacenter.org/sites/environment/files/reports/Dirty%20Power%20Plant.pdf —-Power Plant emmisions report

 

For a second (partial) I thought they cared

 

It seems that republican legislators on the Hill have come up with a different color lipstick for their energy agenda pig. In the name of families who are experiencing financial hardship due to the increase in heating costs, and longer, colder, winters, republicans are pushing bad legislation that decrease highway safety and  increases the pollutants responsible for climate change by easing federal regulations on dirty energy producers. It could be they have a problem connecting the dots.

 

There may soon be various explosive home heating fuels being driven on our highways by tired overworked and artificially amped truckers thanks to a new bill introduced in the house on the 25th of this month by republicans. The Home Heating Emergency Assistance Through Transportation Act, or the HHEATT Act. H.R. 4076, was created to allow truckers to drive longer in order to get to communities experiencing a shortage of heating fuel supplies. It states in the bill that an exemption would be issued that “(2) provided regulatory relief for commercial motor vehicle operations providing direct assistance supporting the delivery of propane and home heating fuels.”.  This type of legislation is a dirt filled band aid, that does nothing to protect public safety, nor will it reduce home heating costs. What it does do is allow more propane to be sold while its still a gold nugget, without considering the safety implications of tired and/or doped up drivers with a truck full of explosives.

 

Next on their list of First Aid, is H.R. 2824 known as the “Preventing Government Waste and Protecting Coal Mining Jobs in America” act. This bill would essentially give coal mining operations a two year water table pollution, free for all. The last piece in the kit is H.R. 3826 which would permit new coal plants to be built under a completely profit based scheme, with little regard as to environmental impact. It would also allow older coal plants to function as is while giving the impression they are “reporting in”. Both of these bills limit the power our government has to protect us from money hungry climate deniers, and they do little to actually mediate the rising costs of energy. These bill function under the same assumption that wrapping a gaping wound with dirty moldy gauze will somehow heal the wound. The fact is, easing EPA standards will contribute to more severe weather in the future as the limits on greenhouse gas emissions are raised. Also, there will be less freely available viable water if we set no limits on what is dumped into our water table.

 

The effects on New Mexico may not be readily apparent until you read the research report done by the Frontier Group and the Environment America Research & Policy Center published in 2013. The report shows New Mexico to be on the top 20 list for the dirtiest producers of energy. The study results revealed two NM coal powered plants have 95% of the top 5 share of total power sector emissions, yet they generate only 23% of the 5 top share of total electrical generation. What that means is, of all the power generated from the top five sources, coal produces 95% of the pollution and only 23% of the power. Our state’s inefficient coal power plants rank us 7th in the US for the percentage of pollution from coal powered plants in relation to other power producers. The stinger is that much of that power goes to Arizona. Arizona Public Service company ranking 15th in the list of dirtiest coal producers in all of America is located in Four Corners New Mexico, and its subsidiary in San Juan ranks 33rd.

 

Its no wonder the republican agenda refuses to properly fund and support our education system. Education leads to resisting this kind of disastrous two faced legislation. So, now that we know, its time to make some calls to the Hill. We must let them know we dont support power companies dumping their excrement in our back yard. Every call counts! Call or email your reps and let them know how you feel. Ben Lujan, matt.ruybal@mail.house.gov (on the energy committee) Santa Fe, 505-984-8950; Michelle Lujan Grisham 505-346-6781; Steve Pearce (202) 225-2365

 

Sources

http://beta.congress.gov/bill/113th-congress/house-bill/2824/text —HR 2824

http://beta.congress.gov/bill/113th-congress/house-bill/3826/text —HR 3826

http://beta.congress.gov/bill/113th-congress/house-bill/4076/text —HR 4076

http://billmoyers.com/2013/09/18/are-the-dirtiest-polluters-near-you/ —Article reference

http://environmentamericacenter.org/sites/environment/files/reports/Dirty%20Power%20Plant.pdf —-Power Plant emmisions report

 

2014 Santa Fe Municipal Amendment 9 is a Koch bill if I ever saw one

It was interesting to see how the information provided about amendment 9 of the Santa Fe Municipal Charter, didnt mention or explain the very important language that gave me a need for concern. The first section of this article is Amendment 9 directly transcribed from the city clerks Santa Fe Municipal Charter Amendments pink book without any alteration in text. The second section includes my thoughts and concerns highlighted in red.

The only place to get the Charter Amendments is from the city clerk. So for your convenience I have transcribed the contents of amendment 9 and provided pictures of the Charter Amendments pink book. Because of the power grab type language of Amendment 9, and the resulting lack of accountability of the mayor this bill presents, I urge you to read for yourself. Its important that we are aware of EVERYTHING this amendment proposes. What we don’t know comes back to haunt us later.

The strikethroughs and underlined portions of the charter are the portions that the amendment will change. Strikethroughs are portions of the amendment that will remove wording, and what is underlined will be added to the Santa Fe Municipal Charter.

Charter Amendment 9

Governance: Full-Time mayor; regulating the relationships between the mayor, the city councilors and the city manager and defining the authority of each

Proposing to amend the Santa Fe Municipal Charter, Articles V, VI, VIII to:

  • Establish mayor as a full-time position whose salary shall be set by an independent salary commission to be established by city ordinance. Until such commission is created and sets the salary for mayor, the mayor’s salary shall be $74,000;
  •  Give the mayor supervisory authority over the city manager, city attorney and city clerk and the authority to suspend and fire the city manager, city attorney and city clerk, without council approval;
  •  Allow the city manager to be removed by a vote of six councilors at a regularly scheduled meeting;
  • Remove language that requires the mayor to perform other duties compatible with the nature of the office, as the governing body may from time to time require;
  •  Require the mayor to work with city staff to prepare an annual budget for review and approval by the finance committee and the governing body;
  •  Require the mayor to identify his/her legislative agenda for each upcoming year and require the governing body to consider and take action on the mayor’s legislative agenda;
  •  Require that the city manager have the necessary administrative and managerial skills to manage the municipality and have the authority to hire and fire all city employees, except for the city attorney and city clerk;

If Charter Amendment 9 is approved, Article , Section 5.01 shall read as follows:

 5.01     Powers and duties.

The city shall have a mayor who shall:

A. be elected at large by the voters of the city;

B. [vote only in the case of a tie or when his or her vote will provide the necessary number of votes required by law for taking action on an issue before the governing body]have a vote on all matters that come before the governing body; 

C. be the chief executive officer of the city whose position shall be full time.

D. earn an initial salary of $74,000 until such time that an independent salary commission is established by city ordinance and such commission sets the salary for mayor; 

[D]E. appoint [and remove, subject to the approvalwith the consent of the governing body, the city manager, city attorney, city clerk, and members of advisory commissions;

F.  Exercise administrative control and supervision over the city manager, city attorney and city clerk;

G.   Have the sole authority to remove the city manager, city attorney and city clerk;

[E]H.    Cause the ordinances and regulations of the city to be faithfully and constantly obeyed;

[F]I.      Have, within the city limits, the power conferred on the sheriffs of counties to suppress disorders and keep the peace;

[GJ.     Propose programs and policies to the governing body;

[H]K.   Represent the city in intergovernmental relationships;

[I]L.               Present an annual state of the city message which shall identify among other matters the mayor’s legislative agenda for the upcoming year;

[J.         Perform other duties compatible with the nature of the office as the governing body may from time to time require;]

M.       Work with city personnel and timely prepare an annual budget and proposed spending priority for review and approval by the finance committee and the governing body;

[KN.   Be recognized as the head of the city government for all ceremonial purposes; and[;]

[LO. Be recognized by the governor for purposes of military law.

If Charter Amendment 9 is approved. Article VI, Section 6.02 shall read as follows:

6.02 Powers and duties

A.            The governing body shall [serve as the principal policy maker of the cityconsider the legislative agenda put forth by the mayor and propose amendments to existing policies and propose  new policies.

B. All legislative powers of the city shall be vested in the governing body, except as otherwise required by law or charter. The governing body shall provide for the exercise of its powers and for the performance of all duties and obligations imposed on the city by law.

C.  The governing body shall by ordinance fix the annual salaries of [the mayor] the municipal judge and councillors and shall review those salaries not less than every four years. 

D.   The governing body shall by ordinance establish as independent salary review commission whose sole purpose shall be to review and set the mayor’s salary. The independent salary review commission shall review the mayors salary no less than every four years.

[DE. The governing body shall by ordinance set a policy for reimbursement of the actual and necessary expenses incurred by the mayor, the municipal judge and city councilors.

If Charter Amendment 9 is approved, Article VIII shall read as follows:

8.01 Appointment

The city manager shall be appointed by the mayor with the [advice and] consent of the governing body

8.02 Qualifications

The city manager should be professionally trained and have the necessary administrative and managerial skills to [manage the municipalitycarry out the duties and responsibilities of the city manager.

8.03  Powers and Duties.

The city manager shall:

A.   be the chief administrative officer of the city;

B.  have the power to hire and fire city employees,  except for the city attorney and city clerk; and

C.   have such other powers as are provided for in city ordinances and state law.

8.04.   Removal.

The city manager may be suspended or removed;

A. by the mayor [subject to the approval of the council] ;or

B.  by [the governing body by a majority vote of all membersa vote of six councilors  at a regularly scheduled meeting.

______________________________________________________________________________________________

Now that you have had a chance to look at the amendment as it is written, the following will illustrate my concerns about changes being made to the charter.

If Charter Amendment 9 is approved, Article , Section 5.01 shall read as follows:

 5.01     Powers and duties.

The city shall have a mayor who shall:

A. be elected at large by the voters of the city;

B. [vote only in the case of a tie or when his or her vote will provide the necessary number of votes required by law for taking action on an issue before the governing body]; have a vote on all matters that come before the governing body;

C. be the chief executive officer of the city whose position shall be full time.there is no language stating the position of mayor is not full time. we have been electing people who choose not to work full time.

D. earn an initial salary of $74,000 until such time that an independent salary commission is established by city ordinance and such commission sets the salary for mayor; this creates an unnecessary financial burden on taxpayers (really a whole commission is needed that does nothing but decides on the mayors salary?) and adds a barrier to transparency.

[D]E. appoint [and remove, subject to the approval] this removes the checks and balances that are in place that give city council authority to approve the mayors hiring decisions. with the consent of the governing body, the city manager, city attorney, city clerk, and members of advisory commissions;

F.  Excercise administraitive control and supervision over the city manager, city attorney and city clerk; administraitive control would limit the authority of the city manager, city attorney, and city clerk to carry out his duties. This is especially concerning if the mayor needs to be held accountable for questionable practices while in office.  

G.   Have the sole authority to remove the city manager, city attorney and city clerk;this makes it so the mayor has sole jurisdiction over removing the city manager, city attorney and city clerk. If the city council on behalf of its constituents decides a certain manager is not in the best interest of the community at large, and vote to remove the city manager, the mayor could in essence one up city council because this amendment would give the mayor that authority. 

[E]H.    Cause the ordinances and regulations of the city to be faithfully and constantly obeyed;

[F]I.      Have, within the city limits, the power conferred on the sheriffs of counties to suppress disorders and keep the peace;

[G] J.     Propose programs and policies to the governing body;

[H]K.   Represent the city in intergovernmental relationships;

[I]L.               Present an annual state of the city message which shall identify among other matters the mayor’s legislative agenda for the upcoming year; this gives the mayor authority by law to have legislative powers vested in the office. I like the word agenda, I dont like the word legislative. I dont think the president even has this kind of power with senate and congress.

[J.         Perform other duties compatible with the nature of the office as the governing body may from time to time require;] This takes away the requirement for the mayor to perform any duties that are not otherwise outlined in this amendment, it also takes away the city council’s/governing body’s ability to require the mayor to perform his duties of office. Another removal of checks and balances. Huge Power Grab!!!!!

M.       Work with city personnel and timely prepare an annual budget and proposed spending priority for review and approval by the finance committee and the governing body; I dont like how this is worded, because it pretty much states that the mayor has inflated authority to direct the budget. This is going to alienate those who do not have the same priorities as the mayor, and as such will cause unnecessary bias toward the ideals favored by the mayor. 

[K] N.   Be recognized as the head of the city government for all ceremonial purposes; and[;]

[L] O. Be recognized by the governor for purposes of military law.

If Charter Amendment 9 is approved. Article VI, Section 6.02 shall read as follows:

6.02 Powers and duties

A.            The governing body shall [serve as the principal policy maker of the cityconsider the legislative agenda put forth by the mayor and propose amendments to existing policies and propose  new policies. This in essence takes away legislative powers from city council, a group with varying constituencies, and gives more power to the mayor, who in most cases represents only one constituency.

B. All legislative powers of the city shall be vested in the governing body, except as otherwise required by law or charter.  This is where the other portions of this amendment get their thrust and authority because the amendments for the charter allows the mayor to have authority granted by law to influence the legislative process, diminishing checks and balances. The governing body shall provide for the exercise of its powers and for the performance of all duties and obligations imposed on the city by law.

C.  The governing body shall by ordinance fix the annual salaries of [the mayor] the mayors salary commission, that would be created with this bill, decides to change the mayors salary whenever it feels like it the municipal judge and councillors and shall review those salaries not less than every four years. 

D.   The governing body shall by ordinance establish as independent salary review commission whose sole purpose shall be to review and set the mayor’s salary. The independent salary review commission shall review the mayors salary no less than every four years. as stated previously, this is a waste of money and makes a good cloak for bad government. 

[D] E. The governing body shall by ordinance set a policy for reimbursement of the actual and necessary expenses incurred by the mayor, the municipal judge and city councilors.

If Charter Amendment 9 is approved, Article VIII shall read as follows:

8.01 Appointment

The city manager shall be appointed by the mayor with the [advice and] consent of the governing body the city council would no longer have legal authority to make recommendations concerning appointees. 

8.02 Qualifications

The city manager should be professionally trained and have the necessary administrative and managerial skills to [manage the municipality] carry out the duties and responsibilities of the city manager. This takes away the city manager’s responsibility to manage the municipality, and states that he must carry out duties and responsibilities of the city. In previous portions of this amendment the mayor is given sole administrative authority over the city manager. That means the mayor defines the city manager’s duties and responsibilities of office, without any input from city council. This is another huge power grab that centralizes local authority. 

8.03  Powers and Duties.

The city manager shall:

A.   be the chief administrative officer of the city;

B.  have the power to hire and fire city employees,  except for the city attorney and city clerk; and

C.   have such other powers as are provided for in city ordinances and state law.

8.04.   Removal.

The city manager may be suspended or removed;

A. by the mayor [subject to the approval of the council] ;or this “OR” means the mayor does not need city council approval.

B.  by [the governing body by a majority vote of all members] a vote of six councilors  at a regularly scheduled meeting. this makes it harder for city council to remove a city manager that does not have a vested interest in the needs of ALL of Santa Fe’s constituents. 

No wonder the Koch brothers pulled out of Santa Fe. If this gets passed it means that there will be a greater centralization of authority. The city council will have even less power to look out for its constituents, and the mayor will have no legal obligation to answer to ANYONE. If there isn’t a law about it, there is no legal recourse for the people in a “Mayor Gone Wild” situation. As it stands the governing body can still hold the mayor accountable. If you want a full time mayor, all that needs to happen is for city council to require the mayor to work full time. 

This is why we have to take an active part in our political process. We cannot afford to “take someones word for it” we have to take it upon ourselves to read and understand the laws that our elected officials are trying to help us or stick us with, so we can be truly informed voters. We have to get to know our local elected officials, if they are “out of our league” or “inaccessible” they wont represent your best interests. If we don’t decide for ourselves someone will most definitely decide for us. Its a big order, but we need to pull together to make it happen, for the sake of everything and true liberty.

To get your copy of the Santa Fe Municipal Charter Amendments go to the City Clerks office located at City Hall-200 Lincoln Avenue, room 215. You can call the city clerk at 505-955-6521. City Hall is located right next to the Convention Center

HB 64 a bill addressing the unique needs of Native American Veterans of the Armed Forces

           As the wife of a veteran in New Mexico, I can testify as to the difficulty of procuring veteran specific services. Many laws have changed that have broadened the scope of services that veterans can qualify for. There are often special considerations relating to the type of service that can act as a bar to the proper allocation of services. Being a Native American often adds to that difficulty, because there are no community organizations in Native American communities  here in New Mexico that reaches out to those who have served in our military. HB 64 “AN ACT RELATING TO VETERANS’ SERVICES; CREATING A NATIVE AMERICAN VETERANS DIVISION WITHIN THE VETERANS’ SERVICES DEPARTMENT”, seeks to cater specifically to the unique needs of our Native American community, and sets up offices that allow for a much needed hub of community support for Native American Veterans.

 

 I a cannot stress enough the need for the kind of intense support that combat vets, who often have murky service records, need in the community. We have a duty to those who have fought for our ability to enjoy the lives we do, with access to transportation, energy, and technology. 

There is currently no appropriations wording in this bill and as such it has had little success moving forward to the floor for a vote. 

Insight New Mexico Interview With NM Governor Candidate Alan Webber

I just finished watching Insight New Mexico’s interview with my favorite candidate for Governor (for what its worth I endorse him), Alan Webber. As a person familiar with his professional career, his achievements are nothing short of amazing, and his vision as Governor has me awestruck. The times we live in are steeped in apathy and cynicism, and his refreshing take on New Mexico, one I personally agree with and share, is like hearing someone playing a tuned guitar for the first time in a while. He doesn’t just hit buzzwords and talking points; he is a solutions driven individual that has the leadership experience to connect the right people to make good things happen.

Right now your thinking one of three things:

1. I know about Alan and Im just as excited as you are (good get involved, it takes a community to make a community)

2. I dont know enough about him to make any decisions yet, but Im looking for more information

3. Ive never heard of him and it sounds waaaaay to good to be true.

How about looking the gift horse in the mouth? This is one set of teeth you will be glad you saw.

SJR13 Why linking the minimum wage to the index should be in the constitution

SJR13.

Is a bill that seeks to put into NM constitution an amendment that  “A. Effective July 1, 2015, the state minimum wage rate in effect on January 1, 2014 shall be increased in an amount equal to the total increase in the cost of living from January 1, 2009 through the date of the election at which this amendment is adopted and shall be adjusted annually to account for increases in the cost of living.” 

This should be in the constitution, because low wages effect the economy. The reality is, when people make more money, they spend more money. I dont know how many times I wanted to buy something at the place of my work, but I couldnt afford it. This was especially true for the food service industry, which will fire you for sneaking in a fry.

An argument made is that minimum wage is for entry level workers, unfortunately, there are not very many truly entry level jobs that lead to any sort of lucrative career. Understanding the dynamics of the types of jobs available to us poor folks, is something that most people dont understand. there is more to being “poor” than just not having money. Family resources is another foundation that is often overlooked by those against a minimum wage.

You complain about parent involvement in d and f schools, yet who wants to create a home environment for the parents of the children making minimum wage, that fosters parent involvement. Its a matter of dignity, creating options for families, and acknowledging that families live off of minimum wage.

HB0159 a bill to address training for school administraitors

HB0159.

This makes a great deal more sense. It addresses School Administraitors training. Not only that, but it is an investigative type bill. Still, Im concerned that the people doing the research will not have ethnocentric bias, blinding them from being able to draw conclusions useful to improving the teaching and learning conditions in schools.  I doubt any study would be able to find a “holy grail” of education reform, mainly because highly qualified people tend to like good paychecks. There still remains the possibility that there will be skills developed and acquired through this program that will at least help create some progress in our education system.  For the small proposed cost, its a risk worth taking.

HB0197 Adding more people not paid enough to the mix…Social workers.

HB0197.

This bill aims to create a pilot program to “ASSIGN SOCIAL WORKERS TO “F” OR “D” RATED ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS TO WORK WITH TEACHERS, AT-RISK STUDENTS AND FAMILIES TO OVERCOME STUDENTS’ CHALLENGES TO LEARNING; “. What a farce!

What exactly is the social worker going to do? Refer to services? It seems like they want to add more people to the mix that they cant afford to pay for in terms of quality.  I could understand a bill that proposed a social study of the conditions of F and D schools, and even studying successful programs centered around similar demographics. Then we could pay for teachers that are qualified to work with the demographic,  in an engaged manner, with the children they work with for hours every day.

It doesnt make sense to add poorly paid, low skill social workers to the high stress environment that exists in the schools that have F and D ratings. They will not get time to know the children and their families enough to do anything effective.  It seems like its just wantonly throwing tears at a forest fire. Before we start trying to solve the problem, lets first figure out exactly what the problem is by studying successful programs that work with similar demographics.

For this reason, I think this is a pointless jesture.

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