Friday, December 20, 2013

BREAKING: County Clerk resigns after being ordered to issue same-sex marriage licenses

ProgressNowNM

Dec 20., 2013


BREAKING:  County Clerk resigns after being ordered to issue same-sex marriage licenses

Two officials responsible for issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples resigned their position this morning, the day after New Mexico’s Supreme Court ordered all 33 county clerks to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Roosevelt County (Portales) County Manager, Charlene Webb, has confirmed to ProgressNowNM that Roosevelt County Clerk Donna Carpenter and her chief deputy, Janet Collins, tendered their resignations this morning.  Sources confirmed that Carpenter objected to issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.  She was not one of eight clerks who issued licenses to couples earlier this year.

“We respect that these women made a tough decision,” says Pat Davis of ProgressNowNM, the state’s largest progressive advocacy organization supporting the campaign for marriage.  “In the end, their decision to resign is honorable if they feel that they are unable to execute their duties under the law.  All of our county clerks deserve credit for coming together to ask for a definitive decision on this issue of equality and we look forward to every clerk in the state offering licenses to every loving couple in their county.”
After months of organizing and legal dispute, New Mexico's Supreme Court issued an order yesterday requiring all county clerks to create a uniform marriage license for all couples and to begin issuing those licenses.
The county commission will appoint a new clerk.



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Thursday, December 19, 2013

IT'S OFFICIAL!

ProgressNowNM

IT'S OFFICIAL!
"We hold that the State of New Mexico is constitutionally required to allow same-gender couples to marry and must extend to them the rights, protections, and responsibilities that derive from civil marriage under New Mexico law" - Justice Chavez, New Mexico Supreme Court, December 19, 2013

This news just broke:  The New Mexico Supreme Court affirms that our state constitution affirms the right to marry for same-sex couples!

We've all been working for years to secure equality for all New Mexicans and this year has been big!  During the legislative session you helped us raise the issue and deliver almost 7,000 signatures supporting a constitutional right to marry.

A few months later we were the first to break the news of Santa Fe's groundbreaking legal opinion that set the stage for a court challenge.  

And when Dona Ana County Clerk Lynn Ellins started issuing licenses to same-sex couples our members stepped up to raise more than $30,000 for his legal defense fund to fight off a right-wing challenge by the Republican hater caucus.

When Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver teamed up with couples and their ACLU attorneys to challenge the ban and get the first court decision, hundreds of you turned out on Civic Plaza for our huge mass gay wedding!

Now we're teaming up with our friends at Equality New Mexico, Freedom to Marry and friends like Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham, Senators Heinrich and Udall and Congressman Ben Ray Lujan to celebrate this big win through the NM United for Marriage coalition!  Be sure you like their page to see where New Mexicans are celebrating today

Today, we just want to say THANK YOU! 

Help us spread the word by taking to Facebook and Twitter to share the good news.

    Donate  twitter

PROGRESSNOWNM 625 Silver Ave SW Ste. 320 ABQ NM 87102
Read the decision here


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

New Mexico Tea Party sends most racist tweet of the week



New Mexico Tea Party sends most racist tweet of the week
Tells followers "don't tweet anything you don't want on the news."

Lincoln County New Mexico Tea Party leader Glynis Racine told her followers “don’t tweet anything you don’t want on the news. LOL”, then sent this horribly racist tweet this morning from the organization’s official Twitter account:
 @LCNMTP: "American history month. Forgotten facts."


In an apparent attempt to contribute to our modern understanding of American history, the Tea Party leader reminds followers that early American slavery included African and non-African people alike.

But her quest for “facts” includes her own assertion that all African-Americans are “bitching and moaning about how the world owes them a living.” 

Earlier this month, Ms. Racine tweeted that she was excited when Fox News posted one of her tweets on air.  She replied with this:

 don't tweet anything you don't want on the news

“I expect Glynis is going to have a whole new appreciation of that tweet,” says Patrick Davis of ProgressNowNM. “Glynis is exactly the type of fear mongering leader Fox News and the conservative movement push to the front of their movement.  They shouldn’t be surprised they are having a hard time recruiting blacks, Hispanics or reasonable people of any color to their side.”

New Mexico’s Tea Party movement has a sorted history of building it’s movement on a racist platform.  ProgressNow New Mexico, the state’s largest progressive advocacy organization, helped the Las Cruces Tea Party make national news when their “New Mexico History” float displaying a Confederate Flag alongside anti-Obama messaging won first prize in the local Fourth of July parade.  After extensive public pressure, city officials changed the rules to prevent political groups from winning the prize.

Ms. Racine is a former Capitan Village Trustee and frequent guest on Southern New Mexico radio shows and forums on politics and is an active supporter of the Koch Brothers' Americans For Prosperity chapter in New Mexico.


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Friday, December 13, 2013

PRESS RELEASE: “Do Something”: ProgressNowNM calls on elected officials to take meaningful action on gun violence

NEWS RELEASE
 
December 13, 2013

“Do Something”: ProgressNowNM calls on elected officials to take meaningful action on gun violence
 
Albuquerque – On news of another horrific school shooting, this time on the eve of the Newtown Elementary School shooting anniversary, ProgressNowNM renews it’s call for New Mexico’s elected officials to take meaningful action to prevent another tragedy.

ProgressNowNM, New Mexico’s largest progressive advocacy group with more than 100,000 supporters across the state, led gun violence prevention efforts alongside other organizations in the last legislative session and targeting New Mexico’s congressional delegation following the inexcusable shootings in Newtown on December 14, 2013.

Less than 24 hours before the country pauses in a moment of silence for Newtown victims, Colorado parents rushed to another high school today after news of a new school shooting.

ProgressNowNM’s Executive Director Patrick Davis:
“No student or teacher – whether they are in an elementary school in Connecticut, a high school in Colorado or local school in New Mexico - should be afraid to go to school. 
But until more elected officials become more concerned about explaining a child’s death to a grieving parent than they are explaining a reasonable vote to a gun industry lobbyist, we have every right to live in fear of the next preventable tragedy.
Our message from day one has been simple: Do something.
Republicans in Congress like Steve Pearce who stood in the way of reasonable protections for the innocent public should be just as ashamed as the Democrats in the New Mexico legislature who stalled and filibustered those same reasonable laws alongside conservative colleagues during our last legislative session. 
Once again, we call on our elected officials to do something meaningful to stand between people who abuse their right to arms and innocent children."

Quick Facts on New Mexicans and Gun Deaths:

New Mexico is one of the most dangerous states in the country for gun deaths. 
A 2013 study found that more New Mexicans died from gun violence in the 9 years of the Afghanistan war than all Americans who died from combat deaths in that war.

Children ages 0–19 are killed by guns at a rate almost 60 percent higher than the national average and are murdered by guns at almost 40 percent above the national average.    



1
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Fatal Injury
Data,” available at http://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars/ fatal.html (last accessed February 2013).

2
Ibid. (War casualties statistic from the U.S. Department of Defense, available at http://www.defense.gov/NEWS/casualty.pdf
. The number used is from the start of the war to March 1, 2013.)

Sunday, December 8, 2013

ALEC in New Mexico



ALEC is not a lobby; it is not a front group. It is much more powerful than that.

ALEC is “the most influential corporate-funded political force most of American has never heard of.”

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) brings together nearly 2,000 state legislators with hundreds of corporate leaders and lobbyists from the world’s most powerful corporations to secretly draft model legislation that benefits the corporate bottom-line.  

They wine and dine legislators who then bring this "model legislation" back to states, including New Mexico, where they introduce it without ever disclosing the hidden source or benefactors of this corporate-made legislation.
Most notably, they drafted and fed the NRA’s “Stand Your Ground” laws that led to the tragic killing of Trayvon Martin in Florida. 

But they are also behind recent “Right to Work For Less” laws in Wisconsin and Michigan, private prisons and voter suppression laws in New Mexico and across the country.

ALEC is alive and well in New Mexico and we’re turning up the heat on legislators and companies to get out.

In 2012 ALEC's state chairman, Rep. Paul Bandy, proudly boasted to us that New Mexico's ALEC caucus is much larger than that already exposed.  

So in 2013, we've started exploring contributions from ALEC companies to New Mexico politicians.  We're following the money to exposed more ALEC influence in New Mexico.

In just two campaign cycles, known ALEC companies gave more than $1,000,000 to help elect New Mexico politicians.  Use our tables below to follow the money from each corporation to each legislator.
Learn more about ALEC at ALECexposed.org

Scroll up/down within the spreadsheet to view the full list.  Use the "Contributor" and "Donated to" filter buttons to find contributions by politicians or ALEC member.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

[UPDATE] Liberal Santa Fe to vote on bill to become municipal lobbyist for ALEC bills


Update (Dec 6, 2013, 7:35am):  Councilor Bushee provided a response to petition signers and some signers have asked for more information.  

We've included both of those items below, including a timeline of votes by councilors on the issue and our appreciation to councilors who have proposed to remove the ALEC-like policy from the city's legislative priorities.


(12/3/13, 8:31am) Santa Fe – City Councilors in one of America’s most progressive cities are sponsoring legislation to turn Santa Fe, New Mexico into a municipal lobbyist for ALEC, the conservative corporate special interest bill factory and that has progressive advocates calling for change.

City Councilors Patti Bushee and Bill Dimas, both self-labeled progressives currently running for mayor, along with three other city councilors, recently sponsored legislation requiring the City of Santa Fe to lobby for mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses, a key legislative agenda sponsored by the for-profit prison industry and advocated by ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council.   

ALEC has gained national notoriety as the organization pushing NRA-backed “Stand Your Ground” laws and voter suppression laws across the country.

The Center for Media and Democracy has published a long list of ALEC model bills, including the Mandatory Minimum Sentencing Act, an ALEC priority since the mid-1990s.  However, the policy has been so discredited that ALEC itself abandoned the policy earlier this year in favor of more discretion in limited cases.

http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/dont-let-santa-fe-become?source=c.url&r_by=2435700


ProgressNowNM, the state’s largest progressive advocacy organization, lauched a public petition and campaign urging Bushee, Dimas and other councilors to remove the pro-ALEC provisions from the city’s legislative priorities bill which will be heard and adopted on December 11.

http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/dont-let-santa-fe-become?source=c.url&r_by=2435700

“For years we’ve been fighting to keep ALEC and shadowy corporate money out of state legislatures,” says Patrick Davis, Executive Director of ProgressNow NM.  “I didn’t think we’d start fighting them locally in a city like Santa Fe but here we are so here we go.” 

Background:
In anticipation of the state’s 2014 legislative session convening in January, city councilors often propose various items they wish for the city mayor, police chief and other officials to publicly lobby for.

Earlier this year, Santa Fe Mayor David Coss announced an innovative program to divert low-level drug offenders into treatment in lieu of incarceration.  In direct conflict to the ALEC-like mandatory minimum legislation, councilors are also considering legislation to request special funding from the state to continue the "diversion in lieu of incarceration" program as a pilot.

Mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent drug offenders are almost universally accepted as disproportionately criminalizing minority populations and the primary reason for the country’s exploding prison population, especially those housed in for-profit prisons including CCA and the GEO Group, both of whom have facilities in New Mexico.  Attorney General Eric Holder made national news earlier this year by changing federal prosecution policies to effectively mitigate the effects of mandatory minimum sentencing in federal prosecutions.


(12/6/13, 5:52 am):  
Patti Bushee message:
Pat Davis’s (Progress Now) blogspot and petition are dead wrong about my position on mandatory sentencing for drug offenses. The City's legislative priorities resolution, introduced by Mayor Coss, includes a provision requiring the City to lobby for mandatory sentencing for drug traffickers. I do not support that provision and will not vote for it.

If you want to understand my position on mandatory sentencing for drug offenses, read the City Council meeting minutes of October 30, 2013, I advocate for funding for Drug Courts, as a priority. I also advocate for diversion rather than incarceration.

"She said there needs to be a companion resolution that supports the other side where we are diverting from incarceration and moving toward treatment..." I have never supported the for-profit prison industry as suggested by Pat Davis, and that’s a statement that cannot be made by the other "self-labeled progressive" mayoral candidate, former County Commissioner Javier Gonzales, who successfully advocated building a for-profit County Jail. Check the record on that one.

I served on the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) task force and will continue to support treatment for drug addiction over incarceration and oppose mandatory sentencing. I think that the War on Drugs has been a colossal failure.  As for the trumped-up ALEC connection, it is absurd to think I would support anything they stand for.

12/6/13, 7:35am:

Ms. Bushee and some of our petition signers have asked us for additional information.  While a copy of the resolution has been posted here since the first call to action, we have provided an updated timeline and highlighted the specific provisions relevant to this issue.

October 9:   A resolution, sponsored by Councilors Bushee, Dimas, Trujillo, Dominguez and Rivera was prepared by the council's legislative liaison at the sponsor's direction.


http://www.scribd.com/doc/188946567/City-of-Santa-Fe-Resolution-for-Lobbying-Priorities 
  

October 15: The resolution, bearing the names of Councilors Bushee, Dimas and other sponsors was presented and placed in the record for discussion at the city's council's public safety committee meeting.  

October 21:  The resolution was discussed at the city council finance committee meeting where Ms. Bushee was present.  The minutes reflect that one councilor offered an amendment to another portion of the resolution.  Ms. Bushee voted, with others, to approve this amendment.   Councilor Dimas offered a spirited argument for mandatory minimum sentencing.  Ms. Bushee did not object or offer any comments.
Read the minutes online here
Ms. Bushee did not offer any amendments to remove, or even comment on, mandatory minimum sentencing.

October 30:  The resolution, in its original form, was discussed at the City Council meeting.   As Ms. Bushee notes, she expressed support for other provisions of the resolution, including a hotline for reporting drug activity. 

Also, as evidenced on the next page of minutes Ms. Bushee references in her response, some councilors questioned whether the lobbying directives in the Bushee-Dimas resolution should be included in the city's other lobbying resolution, not in a resolution about a drug hotline.
Read the minutes online here

Instead of making a motion to remove the "lobby for mandatory minimum sentences" provisions from the bill, Ms. Bushee voted to merge her lobbying recommendation with those of the mayor and other councilors in the omnibus legislative priorities bill.   

http://www.santafenm.gov/ArchiveCenter/ViewFile/Item/8366




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Since we first brought attention to this issue, and the devious ALEC and for-profit prison connections behind these types of proposals, both Councilor Bushee and Dimas have expressed a desire to remove mandatory minimum sentencing from the council's final legislative priorities legislation.

At ProgressNowNM, we thank them for being open to a robust public dialogue on the issue and for engaging with their constituents and concerned citizens who see any eroding of civil liberties on a few as a threat to us all.   We look forward to the City Council's December 11th meeting where the conversation will, no doubt, continue and where councilors are expected to make the final decision on the city's legislative priorities for 2014.

Monday, December 2, 2013

The Behavioral Health Audit Scandal 101


    In June, 2013, Governor Susana Martinez's administration announced that a secret audit commissioned by her administration had uncovered "credible allegations of fraud" at 15 non-profit behavioral health providers in the state.   The administration abruptly cut off Medicaid funding to those providers and replaced them with five Arizona-based firms which had been hand-selected months earlier without public knowledge.

    The original audit remains secret while the attorney general reviews the allegations of fraud. However, court documents and a heavily redacted copy provided over the summer by the attorney general's office now tell us that the private auditors commissioned by the administration found no evidence of fraud.  But the administration altered those findings, removing the exculpatory finding, and announced that the audit had in fact found evidence of fraud, requiring them to cancel contracts under their interpretation of federal laws.

    Here is a brief summary of key developments in the ongoing scandal.  For more, visit New Mexico In Depth.


    • Prior to the audit beginning: A PCG staffer travels with Martinez administration officials to Arizona to meet with Arizona providers who were already selected to take over New Mexico providers.  NM Taxpayers paid for that trip.  (testimony of PCG staffer to Legislative committee, September 13, 2013 - audio here)
    • May 29, 2013:  Human Services Department staff are engaged in contract negotiations with Arizona firms to take over NM behavioral health providers, a full month before the PCG audit is finalized.
    • June 21, 2013:  Human Services Department representatives present their audit to representatives from the US Attorney's Office, New Mexico Attorney General and other state agencies.  They claim the audit has found credible allegations of fraud and they are required by federal law to cut off payments to providers.

    • June 24, 2013:  Human Services Department notifies 15 New Mexico providers that Medicaid payments to them for behavioral health services have been frozen because an internal audit found credible allegations of fraud against each.
    • HSD publicly announces the payment freeze.
    • June 25, 2013:  HSD contracts with five hand-selected Arizona providers to replace displaced New Mexico providers.   State purchasing code does not require the use of a bidding (RFP) process for certain urgent health care contracts. 
    • July 25, 2013:  State Auditor Hector Balderas wins a three-way fight with the Governor's Office and Attorney General to obtain a copy of the audit.  An agreement overseen by a district court judge requires HSD to provide the auditor with a full copy of the audit for his review under his duties as the elected state auditor.