ACA Repeal & Replace Impact on NM and a Retake Report on Public Safety Committee Hearing on Entrada Arrests

This report provides analysis of how Graham-Cassidy would impact NM along with a Robert Reich video on the grave threat to American healthcare. We also report on the Public Safety Committee meeting which offered no opportunity for substantive dialog or problem solving, afforded no insight into the City’s perspective on the Entrada protest arrests, and offered no plan for any kind of public hearing. Very dispiriting. 

Retake on Facebook.  I’d encourage our readers to also like our Retake Facebook page as we post many other community events and articles and video on relevant issues on Facebook. Click here to get to our FB page.

Where is the public process to discuss the Entrada protest and arrests?  How can residents meaningfully contribute to our civic process on this issue?  For that matter, what is a public civic process on any issue, if the framework only affords residents opportunities to send emails and make calls or to make public testimony while our elected officials stare blank-faced and unresponsive? Retake supporters who attended the Public Safety Committee hearing on Tuesday hoped to engage in dialog with the police chief and members of the committee. Instead we sat passively through the entire 45-minute hearing, listening to the assistant fire chief and police chief present short reports on the status of equipment purchases, trends in DWI arrests and vehicular accidents, and oh yes, we arrested a few folks on Friday but there were no injuries. End of story. Literally the police chief report on the Entrada protest was one sentence without a single question from the Committee. The one actual exchange of views was as to why a street had been closed an hour earlier than had been published in the hours before Zozobra.

When the public comment period came at the end of the meeting, I began by acknowledging that given the violence that has characterized racially-charged demonstrations across the country, I had no real issue with the police presence at the demonstration. I was very carefully trying to present a balanced perspective. But I also asked how and when the city would discuss how decisions were made that allowed a permit holder to suspend the first amendment and force protesters to a distant ‘free speech zone?’  I asked the police chief directly if he could explain the rationale for initiating arrests when protesters arrested were all of 5 feet from the designated free-speech zone and moving slowly toward the zone? I stated that given the entire purpose of the police actions was to protect public safety, what threat did these protesters pose to public safety having acquiesced in moving 100 of the 105 feet from the center of the street opposite the bandstand to the very distant designated zone. I asked how was the decision made to initiate arrests? Silence. No response from the Chief and Chairperson Rivera simply stated that rules governing committee and Council meetings prohibited a response.

What kind of ‘process’ is this? What kind of genuine opportunity is there for honest reflection, sharing perspectives and proactive problem solving if this is the form of exchange of ideas that is permitted?  

I strongly encourage our supporters to reach out respectfully to the Mayor and your City Councilors and ask some simple questions:

  • How can voters in this community engage in dialog about these arrests?
  • Is there going to be a public process where questions can be asked and answered as to why arrests were necessary?
  • How was a ‘Free Speech Zone” mandated by the Fiesta Committee?
  • How can voters advocate for a public discussion of how our community can develop a historically accurate cultural celebration, one that unifies our city instead of dividing it?  Immediately after the protests and arrests there were statements from members of the Fiesta Committee, from the Mayor and from others about how stakeholders had to meet and find a better way to celebrate our cultural heritage. But precisely these kinds of promises were made years ago and no substantive changes have occurred.

Retake has repeatedly sought ways to create dialog and engage in cooperative, constructive problem-solving in relation to Ranked Choice Voting, the Entrada, and now we are just beginning to seek avenues for discussion related to mid-town development and how that process can be used to create more affordable housing, expand very low-income rental units and prevent gentrification and displacement. But if, even at the committee level,  the public process is so prescriptive that it only allows statements of opinion without response, what kind of substantive and inclusive process can occur? There has to be another way and I am just wondering where a conversation can be had about finding a path to inclusive, collaborative, community problem-solving. I’d encourage readers to click here to get contact information for the Mayor and City Councilor representatives, and ask your elected officials how we can begin to engage in that kind of civil, civic exchange.

Retake Our Democracy: Local Research & Advocacy Team Meeting, TONIGHT, Sept. 21, 6pm-8pm, 1420 Cerrillos Rd. We will discuss the questions above and formulate plans to advocate for a more inclusive public dialog of issues of pressing community concern. We will also discuss our evolving development of principles to guide mid-town development, principles that have been informed by input from a variety of community stakeholders. Finally, we will discuss an emerging People’s Platform for the city of Santa Fe, a platform that will be used to vet Mayoral and City Council candidates in the 2018 elections. Click here for more details and to RSVP or simply write to volunteer4retake@gmail.com. This is a group of about 10-15 folks where your voice can be heard and where our involvement can have an impact. Please join us.

Events & Opportunities.  There are a number of extremely compelling events coming up in the next two weeks, including:

  • A two-day conference on Native Liberation,
  • A Black Lives Matter march in Albuquerque;
  • An evening with Bernardine Dohrn and Bill Ayers (founders of the Weather Underground), with Alicia Inez Guzmán, Eileen Shaughnessy, Eliza Myrie, Israel Haros Lopez, Jacqueline Barnes, and Veena Vasista, in Unleashing Radical Imagination
  • A New Energy Economy panel discussion of climate change with representatives from the  scientific, faith and Indigenous communities.

Click here for the details on these and other local events.

Graham-Cassidy Repeal and Replace Will Devastate NM and Other States that Used ACA to Expand Medicaid.

First, it needs to be recognized that Graham-Cassidy is a strategically designed bill that explicitly redistributes federal funding with the clear intent of rewarding largely GOP states that had not participated in the ACA and punishing those largely Democratic states who did. New Mexico is among those that would be hit and hit hard. But make no mistake, as reported in yesterday’s post, there is no good news in this bill and it is perilously close to be approved, with a vote being scheduled for next week. The GOP is hellbent on passing this version of repeal and replace with or without a report from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office on its impact.  To further limit genuine deliberation, ‘debate’ is restricted to 90 seconds for a bill that impacts 20% of our entire Federal budget. Click here for a link to yesterday’s post that included an analysis of all things bad about Graham-Cassidy and a link to a very good site with guidance as to how to effectively lobby against this bill.

“These cuts would almost certainly force hospitals and clinics to close and leave families across our state with few options for care when they face an illness or need to see a doctor,” U.S. Sen. Tom Udall of New Mexico said on Wednesday. “The Graham-Cassidy TrumpCare bill brings us back to a time when the big insurance companies were allowed to charge New Mexicans more for being sick.” A Santa Fe New Mexican report goes on to state that “New Mexico would end up with less funding per resident to subsidize care for low- and middle-income people, according to analysis by the consulting firm Avalere. The firm estimated Wednesday that New Mexico would lose about $5 billion in federal funding between 2020 and 2026. It would lose even more money after that if Congress did not find a fix.” The Center for American Progress estimated that 230,000 New Mexicans would ultimately lose their insurance due to Graham-Cassidy cuts. Despite these obvious benefits to New Mexicans, our ever-out-of-touch Governor was quoted as saying: “What’s perfectly clear is that Obamacare is a complete disaster,” said Martinez’s press secretary, Joseph Cueto. “While it’s encouraging that Congress is working on a health care solution, the governor is concerned this bill could hurt New Mexico and still needs some work. She believes we need a bipartisan approach that focuses on the insurance market to make health care affordable.”  It is hard to understand how Martinez could characterize the ACA as such a total disaster when it has been responsible for cutting the percent of New Mexicans without health insurance from 18.4% to 9;.2%, brought billions of federal funds to the state and been a major driver for New Mexico’s long-awaited, yet still modest economic recovery.  A bi-partisan group of ten Governors have published a statement voicing opposition to Graham-Cassidy, but Martinez is not amongst them.  Click here for the full New Mexican report.

In a separate Santa Fe New Mexican article the NM State Superintendent for Insurance reported that in 2018 the 55,000 New Mexicans who purchase individual healthcare insurance via the state’s insurance registry could expect increases in premiums ranging from 17-49%.  The increases are largely due to the uncertainty in the insurance industry due to the continued GOP efforts to eliminate cost-sharing provisions of the ACA. Between this GOP created uncertainty and their gutting all outreach, marketing of the ACA during the enrollment period, it is clear that the GOP is taking a two pronged attack on the ACA, first by undermining its functionality, driving up prices and creating confusion about enrollment and second by forging yet another attempt to repeal and replace the ACA.

There is a unifying theme between observations about our local civic process and the national healthcare debate: Where do we the people fit into these deliberations? How do we raise our voices in a respectful, meaningful, impactful, way? It is no coincidence that Americans have lost faith in government and have become disillusioned about our collective capacity to effect humanistic change. But if we are ever going to Retake Our Democracy, it begins locally and it begins with you. I’d encourage you to start by engaging in dialog with your City Councilor as described above.

In solidarity,

Paul & Roxanne

Robert Reich: Two Minutes On Why You Should Be Alarmed & What You Should Do

 

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