Today’s post provides: follow up on Heinrich and Canadian reimportation (could a compromise be in the offing?); info about two critical Actions on Jan 25; update on Santa Fe Dem Party Ward election schedule; and a couple of great volunteer opportunities to help develop a Justice Report Card on our NM State Legislators.
Action Before Words (the new heading I will use to provide info about upcoming actions that are then followed by issue or policy analysis.)
Tomorrow’s Blog Post: A surprise guest writer. No hints.
What You Can Do to Save ACA: For those worried about ACA coverage for themselves and their families, Senator Elizabeth Warren’s office said they are being flooded with calls, as are the offices of Speakers Ryan and McConnell. Senator Warren’s staff said what will help the most is to call the five Republican senators who have broken away from the GOP to demand a slow down of the repeal and thank them for their efforts. Click here for contact information, speaking points, and links to more information. This is so easy to do and if we can stall the repeal until the GOP actually develops a plan, we could all be over 100 by then.
Sierra Club Citizen Lobbying Training, Santa Fe, Thursday, January 19th, 5-7 Christus St Vincent auditorium, 455 St Michaels Dr, Santa Fe, NM 87505. Join and share on Facebook. With Representative Stephanie Garcia-Richards. If you are planning to be active in the Roundhouse, this session, this would be a good way to start.
Women’s March, Jan 21, 11-2pm. Click here for details on the Santa Fe march and here for details on the ABQ march. In Santa Fe, we still need volunteers to mill in the crowd with sign-up sheets for Retake and to staff tables in the Rotunda. How about some men signing up so the women can be part of the march and rally? Just reply to this blog or comment below. In response to this plea yesterday, two women volunteered. You are looking bad, guys! Step up. Two hours, you can do it.
New Energy Economy Goes to the Supreme Court Over PNM’s Plan. Jan 25. 8am (to get seats) 9am Court in Session, 237 Don Gaspar Ave, Santa Fe, NM. Next Wednesday the New Mexico Supreme Court will hear oral argument on New Energy Economy’s appeal challenging the PRC’s vote. The legal issue is this: Was it arbitrary and capricious and contrary to law for the PRC to approve PNM’s purchase of more coal and more nuclear when the company failed to prove cost effectiveness for ratepayers because PNM refused to evaluate these resources on a “consistent and comparable basis and consider risk and uncertainty”, especially because the utility “must prefer resources that minimize environmental impact”? I’ve been to several hearings now and it is instructive to see how the court functions and I am convinced that seeing a sea of citizens concerned about the environment is extremely important. Hope to see you there. Also, Retake Our Democracy sees NEE’s use of the court as a strategy we should consider. It is part of Rev. Barber’s 14-point Fusion Politics plan and on Sunday at Peter Wirth’s Collected Works’ talk on this year’s legislature, he pointed to several policies where Gov. Martinez could be in violation of the Constitution and vulnerable to court action to enforce compliance. Any attorneys out there interested in digging into this?
Santa Fe City Council Sanctuary City Deliberations. Click here for information on the schedule of city council committee meetings and what you can to to support our immigrants and our partner, Somos Un Pueblo Unido. Wed. Jan 25, 5pm. Put this in your calendar. This is our local opportunity to Retake our Democracy and to support our immigrant neighbors. Let’s show up in force.
Santa Fe County Democratic Party Ward Election Schedule & Guide. Elections are being held Feb 15-20. If you want to reinvigorate the Democratic Party and ensure that it is inclusive, progressive and small d democratic, this is where to start. Click here for information on how you can become involved.
Hold Our Legislators Accountable: Data Entry from Home. We are lining up relationships with about 20 progressive lobbying firms who will keep all of you informed on bills important to you and tell you how to advocate for them. But there is also an opportunity to hold all of our legislature accountable: The Retake Our Democracy Justice Scorecard. We are in the process of identifying about 20-30 bills across a range of issues related to election reform and/or social, economic, environmental, or racial justice. We feel that how our legislators vote on those bills will reflect their commitment to justice and to the majority. Hence we will create the Justice Scorecard. A spreadsheet has been developed to record the votes and then create automatic Justice Rating Scores for each legislator: vote for eliminating a 1% tax loophole, kudos to you, vote against, not good. I need a volunteer to update this spreadsheet to incorporate new legislators elected last November and then as votes begin to come in, to record the votes on each of the key issues. Recording the votes for a single bill would probably take 15-20 minutes at first and more like 5-10 minutes once you get the hang of it. email me at email@example.com if you want to be a Justice Hero.
Social Media Trainer Needed: We want to hold a training in the effective use of email, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. This could be a 2-3 hour session with breakouts on each platform or a series held over a few weeks, but first we need the experts. The bar is generally rather low among our supporters, but that just means the potential impact is huge. email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to be a Social Media Hero.
Outreach to Other Counties. We now have individuals in about 15 counties signed up for the Retake Our Democracy blog, many of whom have indicated an interest in forming ‘activist hubs’ in their community. We need to contact them by phone or email and help them develop strategies for getting organized. Retake is almost done with a ‘step-by-step’ guide for organizing a hub, so you will have a tool for working with people. This could be hugely impactful, as for Retake to have a significant impact statewide, we need to build powerful groups in more conservative parts of the state. email me at email@example.com if you want to be a Justice Hero.
Senator Heinrich Redux
Yesterday’s post got a huge number of visits to the site and I received comments:
- praising me for holding Heinrich to the fire;
- criticizing me for holding Heinrich to the fire, as we progressives must stick together;
- criticizing me for not holding Heinrich to the fire;
- praising me for being balanced and trying to be fair; and
- many indicating they were going to call Heinrich’s office.
This is what Retake Our Democracy is all about. It took hours to compile all that I found on this issue, hours that most simply don’t have and that you will not often find in any media sources. As the Research Team gets rolling there will be an abundance of well-researched white papers on dozens of topics to anchor the blog posts and provide fact-based, progressive analysis of issues. Recall that Retake Our Democracy wants to: Engage, Educate, Activate. So the blog pays a crucial role in the Educate piece and as the Actions Before Words above make clear, we are doing our best to Activate, as well. The engage part really is on you. You need to share these posts. For example, if you were to see a FB post related to Heinrich’s vote, you could make your own comment and post a link to the Heinrich post, perhaps indicating something about why you like the blog. This is how we expand.
As to an update on yesterday’s blog, I did some more research and found:
A Criminal Intelligence Service Canada Central Bureau report that found that new, expensive medicines such as hormones, corticosteroids, cancer drugs or anti-retrovirals are the most frequently counterfeited medications in industrialized countries. Other commonly counterfeited types of drugs in industrialized countries are: lifestyle drugs which treat such conditions as sexual impotence, baldness or obesity, and psychotropic drugs which include opiate-based pain- killers, tranquillizers, stimulants and depressants. But the report found over a ten year period only two examples of counterfeit drugs being sold by licensed Canadian pharmacies. The real problem with counterfeit prescription drugs are those sold on the internet. Law enforcement in both the U.S. and Canada have observed, some illegal Internet pharmacies mimic the appearance of licensed sites or disguise themselves as originating from Canada to take advantage of U.S. consumers seeking Canadian pharmaceuticals. Therefore, consumers may have difficulty discerning between legitimate and illegal sites. This is the reason given for ‘no’ votes on the Canadian reimportation amendment. But the report also noted that Canada has a standardized, highly regulated pharmaceutical and public health care system that is largely affordable to most Canadians. This significantly lessens any potential market for illegitimate supplies of pharmaceuticals in Canada. Click here for the full report.
But how big a problem is counterfeit drugs in ‘developed countries’ like the US? A World Health Organization study estimates that while the incidence of counterfeit drugs is less than 1% in developed countries, a much higher percentage of the medicines on sale in some developing countries may be counterfeit. (World Health Organization, “Medicines: counterfeit medicines,” Fact sheet No 275 (Jan. 2010). Click here for the full WHO report. So where does this leave us.
We know that millions of Americans are overpaying significantly for their prescription drugs, some possibly compromising their health by taking less than the proscribed dose to allow a prescription to last longer. It is impossible to calculate either the economic or health impact of this situation.
We know that far more affordable and safe prescription drugs are available in Canada and while access is relatively easy for Americans living near the Canadian border, we know that even for these folks, a trip to Canada is not the most convenient way to fill a prescription and we know that for millions of Americans monthly trips to Canada are beyond impractical.
We know that a single payer system would fix all of this. Instantly. We know this will not happen on a national scale anytime soon.
So what can we do? First and foremost: Our voices must get louder to overcome lobbyist and their contributions but if you are going to get loud, you need to be focused and have an ‘ask.’ I asked Sen. Heinrich’s aide, Joe Britton if there were some room for movement on this issue. He indicated that the pressure on Senators voting against this amendment had been very significant and that this could cause the momentum needed to find a solution. He told me that Senators Cory Booker and Patty Murray, both of whom are very progressive and voted along with Heinrich against the amendment, are now working on a compromise amendment that could address issues related to safety and regulation while allowing internet sales of licensed Canadian pharmacies within the US. It would appear that our voices can make an impact, so those of you who feel strongly about this, should contact the offices of each of these Senators and encourage them to find a solution to this problem. I have contacted both Booker and Murray’s offices. I spoke with a staffer for Murray who confirmed some discussions going on and gave me an email address to get more on this. I will report as I hear back. I was only able to leave a voice mail for Booker’s staffer. I’d encourage all of you do the same. Let’s find out what kind of solution they are working on and make it happen. Retake Our Democracy in action.
Paul & Roxanne
Sen. Cory Booker
359 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Phone: (202) 224-3224
Sen. Patty Murray
154 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
Phone: (202) 224-2621
Sen. Martin Heinrich
303 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
Phone: (202) 224-5521