Speaking Truth to Power & Another Trump Shoe Drops

On Tuesday a handful of Santa Fe activists, PNM Shareholders for a Responsible Future, addressed the PNM CEO and Board and introduced resolutions on climate change. At the same time, yet another Trump revelation was disclosed and a major rally announced at the Roundhouse. Read on.

Today, we begin with three brief announcements and then a report on what a PNM shareholder meeting is like and how a small band of Santa Fe activist shareholders–PNM Shareholders for a Responsible Future introduced and spoke for two climate change resolutions.

Thursday, May 18, 5:30pm-7pm Center for Progress & Justice 1420 Cerrillos.  Research Team. We will be narrowing the focus of our ongoing research efforts with an emphasis on exploring innovative approaches to how cities and states can develop communities and economies in a sustainable manner and so that low-income populations and working families are not displaced by the efforts, i.e. development without displacement. Research will include examining models for developing more affordable housing, expanding public transit, creating living wage employment, and how we pivot from a fossil fuel based economy to a renewable and sustainable economy. We will also examine innovative approaches to progressive tax and revenue generation so that the funding level available at the state and local level is larger and better able to support new initiatives, like the universal early childhood program. New participants very welcome. This is a great opportunity to learn more about urban and state policy, meet new friends, have compelling conversation and contribute to our ability to expand the range of educational materials we share with our community.

We Need A Brand New Progressive Roundhouse

Wednesday, May 24. 11am-1pm at the Roundhouse. Rally to Restore Sanity to Our Budget & Our Future. 11-11:45 speakers from the Roundhouse. 11:45-12:30 March around the Roundhouse (still to be determined if we march to the Governor’s office and back). 12:30 Open Mike, an opportunity for the people to speak. We’re marching to restore higher education funding and give our state a bright future and much more. The list of groups involved in organizing this include (very partial list):

  • Democratic Party of New Mexico (and many county party organizations, including Santa Fe and Bernalillo),
  • OurRevolution,
  • Young Progressive Democrats of America,
  • IATSE;
  • Progressive Democrats of American, Central New Mexico,
  • Indivisible,
  • Democratic Socialists of America,
  • Retake Our Democracy,
  • Nasty Women;
  • Working Families;
  • Southwest Organizing Project.
And as noted, this is a partial list, and activities are still being finalized. More details on Thursday.
For more info, go to this Facebook event page and please share this on your personal page. 
I want to be clear. This is an opportunity to send a message not just to the Governor and the GOP, but also to the handful or more of Democrats who have a habit of crossing the aisle on important issues. All Martinez needs is 5 Democrats to cross the aisle now. That can’t happen. Yes, this is about restoring cuts to education but it is also about insisting on a moral budget. Details forthcoming.

Trump Again. This is getting to be a daily habit: another incredible revelation of Trump’s complete lack of regard for democracy, justice or diplomacy. SNL couldn’t make this up. The man simply has no sense of how business is done in Washington and seems to feel he is the king bully on a reality TV show. So, it was disclosed Tuesday afternoon that Trump actually asked Comey to stop the investigation of Trump’s now former national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, in an Oval Office meeting in February. This, according to a memo that Mr. Comey wrote shortly after the meeting. The dominoes keep falling. What next? I think perhaps we need to develop the equivalent of a Super Bowl pool: guess the date that Congress passes a resolution calling for impeachment of Mr. 45. My guess: sooner than we may think. For a good synopsis of recent events, Latest Announcement Might Be the Republicans Breaking Pointclick here.

PNM:  For One Day, the All-Powerful Had to Hear
from the People

Over two years ago, a handful of Santa Feans joined hands and formed PNM Shareholders for a Responsible Future. Most of the heavy lifting was done by Dee Homans and Andy Davis who convened the first meeting at their house and Charlotte Levinson, Sam and Wendy Hitt, and Wendy Volkman. For more on the evolution of this group and the national movement that has developed to use shareholder meetings to hold corporations accountable, click here. On Tuesday, the shareholders at left attended PNM’s annual shareholders meeting.

The meeting lasted only an hour, and while PNM management, board, and major shareholder are the epitome of decorum, they also have concocted for themselves a personal and corporate narrative entirely divorced from reality. Throughout the meeting, there was the constant beating of Native drums and chants from protestors on the street below. Led by New Energy Economy, Earth Care, 350.org, OurRevolution and other organizations, the sounds of the people penetrated the hermetically sealed PNM conference room. It provided inspiration to the activists inside the room.

Below is  Roxanne’s speech, followed by mine. We tried to inject some sense of social responsibility into this group of suits. But it was very clear: somehow, in their world, we are all on the same page and we all want the same thing: a sustainable source of energy, clean air, healthy children, a bright future. Somehow PNM CEO Patricia Collawn could actually describe PNM as being totally committed to solar because they had installed solar panels at the Facebook center. Somehow she overlooked that PNM’s total commitment to solar is 2% of its total energy portfolio. The meeting was only an hour, but it was chock full of these kinds of contradictions. And all the while with smiles and a gracious tone. I wanted to throw up.

Below you will find my address to the shareholders and Roxanne’s. Several others from PNM Shareholders for a Responsible Future spoke powerfully while staying diplomatic. I am not sure how much sinks in with folks who think a solar panel on a school is a commitment to solar and a donation to a garden program is a commitment to social justice. We’ve got work to do. And plans are already unfolding to continue this work. The Patricia Collawn, PNM CEO has asked to meet with all the members of PNM Shareholders for a Responsible Future and we intend to have that meeting. Out of the shareholder eye, we are hopeful to get a more honest insight into her actual thinking. She was definitely playing to her board and shareholders yesterday. We are also going to provide information about how others in our community can become shareholders, vote on resolutions in the future and ultimately succeed in moving PNM policy.

We did not win the vote this year, but we expect to have received significant support. The percentages will be made available by the SEC on Monday or Tuesday, but we expect to have achieved 40% approval and that will send a strong message to the PNM Board and to the CEO. These kinds of efforts take time. On Monday, we were heartened to hear  that Occidental Petroleum became the first oil company where an activist climate change resolution passed. Click here for the story. It takes many forms of activism to move the powers that be. But justice is on our side. First, Roxanne’s remarks at the shareholders’  meeting and then mine.

Roxanne’s remarks first and then mine:

“To all of you who work for PNM, and to all PNM shareholders, I ask,
How do you want to be remembered?
The fight for coal, for gas, for nuclear is a losing battle.
You can continue to fight today, next year, for 10 years.
But eventually you will lose. PNM will lose. Shareholders will lose.
Renewable energy is the only way forward.
Why wait? Why not show courage and do the right thing now?
Why leave a legacy of greed, a legacy of carelessness?
You, the people in this room, are human beings.
You are not the corporation.
You can do what’s right for yourselves, what’s right for other human beings.
You can do what’s right for our land, our air, our water, our future.
Yes, change is difficult.
But you have nature on your side.
You have the wind at your backs and the sun to light your way.
I ask again: How do you want to be remembered?”

Paul’s address:

“CEO Collawn, PNM Board Members, and Shareholders,

My name is Paul Gibson, a resident of New Mexico and I hold 8 shares of PNM stock.

For quite some time science has reached an almost unanimous conclusion that climate change is real and that humans are major contributors to accelerating it. The only dissenting scientists are all bought and paid for by billionaires from the fossil fuel industry. Publicly, you can’t agree that climate change is real or your current business plan would be revealed as constructed on a house of cards. But I can’t believe that in your heart, you don’t know that climate change is real and that PNM is a major contributor to climate change and to the serious health conditions of thousands of children and families throughout Northern New Mexico.

As a result of your stubborn insistence on private profit, you are consigning our next generations to an unimaginable future. While I use the phrase “unimaginable,” scientists have constructed a picture of that future with vivid clarity: New York, Boston, San Francisco, New Orleans, Miami and many other US cities become submerged wastelands. And that is only looking at this from a US perspective. Africa, Asia, South America and the Pacific Islands will be hit harder and sooner.

So while your recent IRP and your plan to close San Juan is certainly a step in the right direction, it is a step far too late and far too slow to be implemented. For some time, it has been clear that coal and its financial and climate costs are closing the door on the fossil fuel era. Despite this reality, PNM has continued to build its financial commitment to coal, extending a depreciation plan on those investments until well beyond the plants’ projected useful life. These increased financial commitments were made without approval and without conducting any financial analysis as to the wisdom of these investments. But now you seek ratepayer reimbursement of what the industry calls “stranded assets” and what I call bad business decisions.

Why continue to invest in coal when your service area is in a state with the second greatest potential for using solar and wind to produce our energy? Why continue to commit only 9% of PNM’s portfolio to wind and solar?

  • Maybe it is time for PNM to show leadership and stewardship;
  • Maybe it is time for PNM to de-emphasize short-term profit and emphasize public good;
  • Maybe it is time for PNM to cease extracting every last dime of profit from our earth and from our future;

Assets are NOT solely measured in profit and loss. Let’s redefine stranded assets not as profits left behind, but as grandchildren left behind, the generations to come that will be left to address climate challenges that you ignored to pursue short-term profit.

The Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security recently released a new study that examines climate change as a human rights imperative. The report highlights how women bear severe gender-specific impacts of climate and systematically lack equal representation in decision-making on issues related to climate change.

But Ms. Collawn, you are the CEO of PNM, a major energy company, and you are a woman. I suspect you have children and likely will have grandchildren.

  • I want you to imagine them sitting around the table on Thanksgiving in 2040;
  • I want you to imagine them discussing their future;
  • I want you to imagine the kinds of things they might be saying, the unimaginable fears they may have and the challenges they may face; and
  • I want you to imagine the questions they might have for you and what they might think about the decisions you have made and are going to make.

Your grand children are the real stranded assets, and all the profits in the world will not make their reality any brighter.

Over the next months and years I hope your decisions are guided more by the thoughts of those grandchildren and their future than by PNM’s short-term profits.

Thank you.”

 

In solidarity,

Paul & Roxanne

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