On all fronts, we find Trump’s assaults increasing, and at the Roundhouse, Democrats are stalling key bills in committee. Retake has been meeting with community leaders, building alliances, developing training, and planning serious outreach. It is abundantly clear: what we are doing isn’t enough. This blog provides actions you can take today and in the days ahead.
It is time to get serious. On national, state, and local levels there is mounting evidence that we had better get very serious, very quickly about our activism. Retake is assembling leadership, planning trainings, attending meetings of other organizations with whom we want to form alliances. and meeting 1 on 1 with leaders of those organizations. We are providing immediate tangible support to some organizations and quickly developing new plans to support other organizations. This blog will summarize the alarming developments of the past few days and describe specific actions you can take to ramp up your activism. My friends, it is abundantly clear that all of us must do more. And do it NOW. Let’s behave as if the house is on fire and our lives are at stake.
On the National Front: Frightening Movement Toward Corporate Fascism. Trump has barred major media from his press conferences, escalated his use of lies and misinformation, and significantly escalated ICE roundups. Leaks reveal the intent to entirely unravel all environmental controls and gut the EPA. And his plan to eviscerate the ACA has also been leaked, eliminating coverage for millions. His plan for a 10% increase in the military budget is frightening enough, but a ramification of this escalation is often overlooked. New weaponry will replace current weaponry and those weapons will be sent to national guards, local police, ICE, and other state and local enforcement agencies, increasing significantly the militarization of local enforcement, a frightening prospect for those planning non-violent resistance. Trump may have delivered a moderate (for him) speech to Congress, but the actions above demonstrate an escalating concentration of power and a clear sense of purpose. This brief summary from Let’s Free Congress provides still more evidence of the concentration of power and the degree to which huge sums of money are being leveraged to further concentrate that power, click here.
At a State Level, Democrats Are Letting Good Bills Die in Committee. I had no real hopes that solid progressive legislation would be signed into law in this session. Our Governor’s veto pen would prevent that. But going into the Legislative Session, I had hopes that a good number of solid bills would get to the Senate and House floor and many of those would pass, forcing a veto. Ammo for 2018. While there are solid bills still alive, I have spent about 5 days sitting in hearings at the Roundhouse and what I have found is both dispiriting and informative.
Here is how it works. A hearing is convened, role is taken and the first bill on the agenda is heard. The bill’s sponsor, a fellow legislator, provides testimony on the bill’s scope and the rationale for the bill. To date, these presentations have been cogent and full of facts, research, and logical thinking. Then the chair asks for public comment. At least at the hearings I have attended, those in support of the bill outnumber those opposed five or ten to one. And most make solid arguments, often with touching personal experiences underscoring how important the bill is to real people. A rational person who cared about facts, and people and who had been paying attention would at this point feel somewhat confident that things would go well, that this bill would at least get passed on to another committee and perhaps for a floor vote.
But, as this presumably important testimony is being offered, first by the Sponsor and then by constituents, most of the Legislators are checking their phones, sending email on computers, reading something else, getting snacks, conferring with each other, or even just leaving the room. It is just plain rude. And when the testimony ends, logic and reason leave the room. Everything begins to unravel, as Democrats and Republicans BOTH begin asking the sponsor questions that show that either they were not listening to anything that came before or they simply didn’t care about facts, preferring their own personal experiences, anecdotes, or far-fetched logic to facts, reason, research, and constituent input. As they talk it becomes abundantly clear that facts do not matter here, our voices do not matter here. Retaking the Roundhouse clearly involves far more than holding a Democrat majority, as Governor Martinez will not even need to use her veto to stop the legalization of marijuana, to stop reform of predatory lending, to stop gun safety regulations, or to stop automatic voter registration. This list will get far longer over the next two weeks as special interest lobbying pressure on legislators increases as bills move closer to a floor vote.
At the City Level. Roxanne and I and several other Retake volunteers were among about 70 others attending an all-day workshop on Development without Displacement, organized by Chainbreaker Collective, an economic and environmental justice organization here in Santa Fe. While the entire event was inspiring, it made it abundantly clear that without pressure from the community, city governments, not just in Santa Fe but anywhere in the US, will continue to use the same approach to community development that has failed for decades: hear from developers about what they want to do and help them do it. In this context, too often development is more about what the developer does well and what will make him more money than about what the community needs. But what we also learned is that unless development is intentionally focused with an absolute priority of ensuring that the most vulnerable communities and populations are being advanced, the development will automatically lead to gentrification and displacement. The presenters and panels were compelling and informative. What’s more, I learned a good deal about the tremendous work that Chainbreaker is doing in the community. They presented a detailed People’s Platform and a Bill of Rights that both were inspiring. These documents were developed through an inclusive, grassroots process. I will share both in Tuesday’s blog. But bottom line, here is an organization with whom we can form an alliance, an organization with deep roots in the South Side, and an organization with a clear vision and plan. More on this in the future, but this workshop pointed to the huge challenge of changing how the city funds its work and what that work is. Stay tuned.
Where a City is trying to do something to advance its values, there will be opposition from corporate interests who oppose those values and the initiatives that express them. For example, the soda industry is overstating the impact of the tax on businesses and their sales and is pouring money into lobbying efforts at the Roundhouse to eliminate the City’s capacity to develop its own tax policy. And just wait until plans for a public bank unfold next month.
Friends, on all fronts we have our work cut out for us. If Roundhouse committee hearings weren’t enough proof, the DNC’s cowardly rejection of Keith Ellison should provide more evidence that people seeking justice need to do far more than elect Democrats, attend rallies, and sign petitions. The threats coming from Trump and his colleagues are terrifying. We need to create a movement that is continuously active on many fronts, and the strength of that movement can’t be measured by the most recent victory or defeat, but by the increasing strength of the movement and the degree to which you commit yourselves fully to this movement. And so today, I offer you these opportunities for action:
Tithe Today and Weekly, and Tithe Strategically
To date, Retake has formed alliances with three agencies that serve the South Side, the community that is most threatened by cuts in funding, reductions in ACA coverage, and deportation. Please send a donation today. They need your $25, $50, $100, or $1,000 more than you do right now. This is a particularly important action for those of you who have not, as yet, become fully active.
- Click here, to contribute to Somos Un Pueblo Unido;
- Click here to contribute to the Santa Fe Dreamers Project (your donation will be processed by the Dreamers’ fiscal agent YouthWorks)
- Click here to contribute to Chainbreaker Collective, an agency doing heroic work to advance social and economic justice.
Lobby for the Health Security Act: It’s still alive in the House
r another in committee. If you live in Española, Dixon, or Taos, make calls, visit Rodella at the Roundhouse, and get friends to do the same.
- Rep. Debbie Rodella (District 41: western Española, Dixon, Taos, Tierra Amarilla, Chama ): 505-986-4329 (fast becoming my least favorite Democrat)
- Rep. Patricio Ruiloba (District 12: South Valley – Albuquerque): 505-986-4433
- Rep. Carl Trujillo (District 46: parts of Santa Fe up to Española): 505-986-4236. If you are not in his district, reach out to friends who live in District 46, essentially west Santa Fe hugging 599, Tesuque, Pojoaque, and southeast Española. See map at right. The dark line bisecting his district is Hwy 599. The pink district to the south of 46 is Garcia-Richards’ district at the southwestern-most part of Santa Fe.
HB 50 and SB 48. These bills require background checks for commercial gun sales, including online sales and gun shows, closing these loopholes in existing law. Guns lent to family members and coworkers are no longer included in the bills after objections to this were voiced in testimony to committee. The bills are being held in their respective committees until Peter Wirth and Brian Egolf believe they have enough votes to pass. Please reach out to friends in other parts of the state and ask that they support these bills.
Help Us Build Our Base and Quickly.
We need to significantly expand our base by conducting systematic outreach and organizing collectively and individually, and those conducting outreach need to be trained in communication skills, oriented to scripts and speaking points, and then must engage in ongoing outreach and organizing. I will be honest, some of the efforts to organize through Action Teams have achieved mixed results, in part due to trying to do too much too soon and not having sufficient clarity of purpose and approach to effectively marshal those volunteers who have stepped forward. But slowly (and we said this was a long haul, a marathon, not a sprint), we are achieving more clarity and more pieces are falling into place. The KSFR radio show is in place, the new website is almost done, alliances are being formed with Somos Un Pueblo Unido, New Energy Economy, Common Cause, Earth Care, Santa Fe Dreamers Project, ACLU, Chainbreaker, SFCC, and other allies. And an entire series of trainings have begun, two of which were held to packed rooms last Sunday and with more to come. Each of these pieces took time to develop, but the fruits of these efforts are now ripening.
Please plan to attend our Outreach meeting, Tues., Mar 7, 5:30-7pm at the Center for Progress & Justice, 1420 Cerrillos, Santa Fe. Click here to RSVP via Facebook. For some reason our folks really hate to RSVP. This makes it so much harder to plan for meetings, so please, be respectful of how much work is being done behind the scenes and RSVP. If you don’t do Facebook, respond to this email and let us know you are coming.
KSFR has continued the Retake Our Democracy show. Thanks to all who have written, called, or donated. Next week we will continue our focus on money in politics. Any evidence you might need as to the scope of money in politics can be found right here: click here (same link as near the top of the page).
These are beyond challenging times. We soon may need to reinvent language to describe the threat to our liberty, our values, our futures, and our very selves. These times call for all of us to get outside of our comfort zones and get moving. Look below for more opportunities to take a stand.
Actions, Training & Events
The Events and Opportunities page has been updated with other trainings and events: click here, but liking our Facebook page is still the best strategy for keeping current. The Personal Action Tool Kit has also been updated significantly: Click here.
Ward Activism in ABQ and Dona Ana: As evidenced above, it is abundantly clear that the state Democratic Party needs an infusion of progressive activism. If you have friends in ABQ or Las Cruces, please forward this post to them and encourage their attendance at these elections. Be there and then vote to retake the party:.
- Dona Ana County – Las Cruces – Ward/Precinct Elections – March 23. Click here for times and locations.
- Bernalillo County – Precinct and CCC election – March 25 – meetings are in the afternoon. Click here for a schedule of Ward Election times and locations.
- Progressives are organizing in Bernalillo County. Sat. March 11. Two training sessions will be held at the Central and Unser Library Community Room. Session 1: 10:30 AM to noon & Session 2: 1 PM-2:30 PM. They need progressive, reform-minded Democrats to step up and run for Precinct Chairs. They are also looking for others who would be block captains, county central members, serve on committees, and many other ways to help the party re-invigorate itself. Find out where you fit into the picture. Training and support are provided. They hope to reform and change the party and move from corporate Democrats to grass-root populist programs again, and let people know Democrats Care! Sponsored by PDA and the New Mexico Progressive Coalition.
SUN., MARCH 5, 4pm – 6pm, Santa Fe Art Institute. 1600 St. Michaels Drive, Santa FeNo More Heroes: Grassroots Challenges To the Savior Mentality. Jordan Flaherty, Journalist, Author, Activist. In conversation with Andrea Serrano, OLÉ and Beata Tsosie-Peña, TEWA Women United and Poetr from Isabel Ribe with Music from Vanessa Torres. The conversation will center on the crux of Jordon’s book – how do we build a better world when too often the struggle for change is undermined by would-be saviors? Explore how today’s grassroots movements, led by communities on the frontlines, nationally and locally, are charting a far more powerful course forward. Jordan’s books will be available for sale and he will be doing a book signing after the conversation. For more information and to RSVP, click here. We especially want people interested in leadership or outreach roles in Retake Our Democracy to attend this event. It is going to be extremely relevant to our work. We have much to learn.
Tues., March 7, 5:30-7pm. Center for Progress & Justice 1420 Cerrillos Santa Fe. Outreach Planning Meeting. A critical meeting where we will launch four outreach strategies: growing our Open House Activism movement, forming statewide and Santa Fe-based organizational alliances, building Retake hubs in communities across NM, and launching our local community conversations canvassing program. Please attend if you are interested in any of these outreach activities. RSVP at this link.
Universal Early Childhood Education Resolution. Weds, March 8, 7 pm at the Santa Fe City Council Chambers, 200 Lincoln, there will be a hearing on the Universal Early Childhood Education resolution. Make plans to attend. But between now and then, please contact your City Councilors and tell them you support expansion of the early childhood program and will be paying attention to their vote. Click here for contact information for your City Council representatives. When calling or emailing your Councilors, tell them that you support the Universal Early Childhood Education resolution and speak from your personal perspective. But please do raise your voice.
Thurs., March 9, 5:30-7pm. Center for Progress & Justice, 1420 Cerrillos. Potluck Book Group. The Third Reconstruction, by Rev William Barber, a truly inspirational and informative book. If you can get your hands on jt quickly, then please join us for this pot luck discussion and bring something yummy to share. Click here to RSVP.
On March 11, 2:30pm MT, the ACLU is holding a Resistance Training in Miami, Florida that will be streamed live at the Center for Progress & Justice, 1420 Cerrillos. This event will launch People Power, ACLU’s effort to engage grassroots volunteers across the country. The ACLU wants to organize THOUSANDS of grassroots screenings across the country to watch the live-stream as we organize ourselves to take the fight against Donald Trump’s policies not just into the courts, but into the streets. Retake Our Democracy will facilitate a 30 minute discussion following the live-stream. Click here to RSVP.
Tues., March 14, 5:30-7pm FOR ATTORNEYS ONLY: ACLU, SF Dreamers & Somos Un Pueblo Unido Organizing meeting for Rapid Response Volunteer Lawyers. Where: Location will be sent to those who register. What: This will be our first meeting to orient volunteer lawyers to the details and issues surrounding the immigration crisis in our country as it applies to our local community. Think of this as a working-group where you will be informed of what we know and what we don’t know, what plans we have made, the challenges we are facing, and the resources we are looking for in our legal community. RSVP Details: If you can make this meeting please email Jessica Terrazas at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line Rapid Response Meeting. She will email all participants at a later date with the venue and any relevant materials. This meeting is for attorneys only.
March 16, 5:30-7pm. Center for Progress & Justice, 1420 Cerrillos Rd. Santa Fe. Research Team. Another important meeting, as the urgent need to get briefs completed for Roundhouse advocacy ends and our research needs shift. Among current research needs that have been identified:
- Are insurance panels really dissolving because of ACA? Verify the truth of Rep. Pearce’s assertions that the insurance panels are really retreating from ACA, a claim made by Pearce and others in the GOP. Is it misinformation or is it true? If true, why is it happening?
- Alternative ways of generating revenue at a city level. Most NM cities are reliant on Gross Receipts Tax, the most regressive tax possible. The Soda Tax is also regressive, even if advocates (of which I am one) would claim it is not. But are there other forms of revenue generation that could create more revenue to invest in infrastructure, affordable house, public transit, and targeted development of the South Side? Let’s find out.
- Participatory budgeting is an approach to grassroots budget development that is consistent with what Retake plans to do in terms of grassroots policy development. But we need to know more about it. Where has it been practiced? How does it work?
- Boycott targets: We know Wells Fargo funds DAPL, but what about Keystone? What other corporate boycott targets make sense. A good inventory would be a tremendous tool to held guide shopping choices.
- Neighborhood development without displacement. I referenced a bit on this above, but it would be good to find models from other cities where development has not automatically translated into gentrification and displacement. Let’s find out.
- A grant writing team. We want to develop a grant writing team to work for and with local community organizations to developing funding to expand their services. I (Paul) have been writing Federal grants for 35 years and want to train a team of grant writers who can then work directly with Somos, Chainbreaker, the Santa Fe Dreamers, and other organizations.
Rapid Response: Community Education, March 23 – WORKSHOP IS NOW FULL. This meeting to train community members to educate businesses, churches and schools about their tights is full. Please do not just show up, as Santa Fe Dreamers can not manage more people.
Roxanne and Paul