A Look at Back & Forward: The Midterms, Plus an Inspiring Message from The Minimalists

Dismantling of ACA, a billionaire tax cut, an unjust US budget, and an inhumane immigration policy. Marches haven’t had impact, but for the next 2 months, our actions could change the trajectory. Time for all of us to step up.

Usually I post links to both of the week’s blog posts with descriptions that help those who missed a post decide to read what they missed. But last week I presented Part I and II of our Mid-Term Election Strategy & Voters’ Guide. The Guide was not the kind of guide that told you for whom to vote, but rather for which candidates to invest your time and resources. I am sure you are being deluged with opportunities to donate to one race or another. The Guide is the result of many, many hours of research and provides advice on how you may best target your efforts to high impact races where you can really make a difference. Click here to review the Guide.

I hope that all of you will consider sharing this blog with others, perhaps in an email saying something like:  “Please take a look at this blog. I am inviting a bunch of you to my house next Sunday at 1pm to discuss it and to see if, as a group, we can’t commit to supporting one or two of these campaigns.  We simply can’t watch our future disappear any longer. Let me know if you can make it. I sure hope so.”

At the end of the post, I offer up one final comment on the LANL Regional Coalition.

Our Time to Save NM and America

Ten days after the 2016 general election, Retake held a Town Hall that drew over 450 people, all looking for something they could do to resist Trump and preserve both our sanity and some semblance of a democracy.

Since then there have been marches, petition drives, more marches and more petition drives. If anything, we are far worse off today than 21 months ago. But over the next two months we have an opportunity to actually shift the direction of our country. For those who attended the Town Hall, there is clearly something we can all do now.

And there is abundant evidence that right this moment, if we all get involved, we truly can shift things. Just this morning, I read a CNN report that described a clear path for the Democrats actually retaking the Senate, not just the House. They pointed to how even in West Virginia where Trump won in 2016 by 42% (not a typo), the race for Senate was too close to call. CNN goes on to talk about races in Florida, Texas, Nevada, Arizona and other states where the thought of a Democratic Senate winner was out of the question, but now is very much in play. And here in NM after too many years of playing defense the Governor’s office and many Roundhouse races are within our grasp.

But the message here is NOT: “Thank God, our country may regain its senses.” But rather: “Maybe WE can do this. I need to put in some time on the Mid-Terms. The time is now.”

The Strategy & Guide includes a link to Swing Left if you want to look outside NM, but if you want to stick to NM, the Retake Our Democracy’s Mid-Term Strategy and Voters’ Guide can direct you to both statewide races and nine highly Roundhouse districts where Democrats could take seats from vulnerable Republicans.

Certainly, there are some folks out there who feel they are juggling too many balls to possibly find time to make calls or to canvass, but if you can’t set one of those balls aside for a few weeks, or just double down now and add one more ball to toss around, you are going to have two very long years to wish you had.

We are in such perilous times, it is time for readers of this blog to get out of their comfort zone and each pick a race and make a commitment of time or money or both. And at the bottom of the Mid-Term Strategy, is a short Swing Left video with one volunteer after another describing how fulfilling the canvassing process has been.  Let’s Do It.

Meet Anthony Allison in Santa Fe, Tuesday, September 11, 2018, 6:00 to 7:30 pm, at the home of Inaugural Navajo Nation Poet Laureate and UNM Professor Emerita Luci Tapahonso, 26 West Saddleback Mesa Santa Fe, NM 87508. Appetizers and refreshments will be served.  Suggested Contributions: Host: $500 ~ Co-Host: $250 ~ Guest: $100 ~ Friend: $50 ~ Grassroots: $25 RSVP to Gabrielle Schultz at gabby@nmhdcc.com or 505-570-5857.

Express Your Values Through Action, Not Designer Handbags

Roxanne found this post from The Minimalists. It speaks to how we can best express who we are, what we believe in and what we need to do to memorialize our contribution to the future. I hope it inspires some of you to take a moment and think about what how you might be able to consistently express your values through your actions. We are living in a time when doing so isn’t really about just you express your values in action, but that millions of us do and create a cultural space where impossible change is suddenly possible. We need the impossible about now. From The Minimalists.

There’s a lot of talk about so-called “virtue signaling” these days. However, public expressions to demonstrate good character aren’t new: we’ve been virtue signaling with our sparkly new objects for decades.

Or perhaps value signaling is more accurate.

By showing off our fancy new toys, we think we’re communicating our values to the world, but we’re confusing our valuables with our values.

Our real values can be signaled only by our actions, not our things. And yet we continue to amass new bits and pieces, adorning an empty facade with regalia, hoping to impress anyone who sees it.

Emblem-laden handbags.
Nineteen-inch chrome rims.
Stainless-steel timepieces.

Consumerism encourages us to commodify our own identities. If we really want to dazzle others, though, we won’t do so via our possessions. Not in a meaningful way, at least.

So instead of trying to impress everyone with our valuables, let’s focus on impressing upon the world our values. And the best way to do that—make something meaningful.

Start a business.
Create a blog.
Write a book.
Record a song.
Build something tangible.

Creating is a better way to convey who we are. Flaunting our personal property signals that we care only about ourselves. But when our identities are shaped by creativity, our creations can be an honest way to signal to the world that we care about others, too.

“Here, I made this meal for you,” will always be more powerful than, “Watch me eat this in front of you.”

This essay was originally published in Minimalism Life.

The post Consumerism Is the Original Virtue Signaling appeared first on The Minimalists.

If you are wondering why I placed this piece immediately following my plea for you to get engaged in the Mid-Terms, it is simple. If you step up and call 2-3 friends and say: “I am going to get involved in the Mid-Term election, but I’d like to do it with you. Let’s get together and pick a race and put in some time.” As time passes, your friends will always think of you as the person who got involved and encouraged them to, a person who demonstrated their values through their actions, not their handbag. Let’s do this.

Final & Surprising Thoughts on Romero & the Regional Coalition

From the first reports on the LANL Regional Coalition’s misuse of public funds, I stated that the blame for the misspending should be distributed among all those on the Coalition Board and the fiscal agent, Los Alamos County. The mainstream media continued to focus almost exclusively upon Andrea Romero who was also the only person  willing to accept any responsibility for the problems.

Then the NM State Auditor and an independent investigation conducted by ABQ law firm Adams + Crow largely verified my conclusions, indicating in finding after finding that long before Romero was hired a pattern of confused fiscal accounting and accountability on the part of the board and Los Alamos County had created a culture promoting misuse of funds. The media continued to tell only part of the story and hence I did an extensive report with multiple citations from the audit and Adams+Crow making it very clear that there was a good deal of shared responsibility. But still members of the Coalition and Los Alamos remained silent, failing to take any responsibility for what had transpired

Finally, on Thursday the Regional Coalition board met and based up Daniel Chacon’s New Mexican report, finally board members and the Los Alamos County wound up admitting their responsibility, albeit in what sounded like a roaring, fingering pointing meeting. One quote from the New Mexican:

“We, Los Alamos County government, failed to do our business in the way that our citizens and the citizens of New Mexico expect us to do as their representatives,” Councilor Pete Sheehey said. “By ‘we’ I mean our top management team,” including Burgess, Deputy County Manager Steven Lynne and and former Deputy County Manager Brian Bosshardt. This and previous council are also included, and I include myself,” Sheehey added. “We are responsible. Inappropriate, sometimes outrageous spending, was made.”

On Sunday, the New Mexican Editorial concluded from all this that the Coalition should disband. I draw a very different conclusion. The Coalition had, in fact, achieved a good deal, effectively lobbying for $14M in additional clean up funds and securing millions in added GRT funds for Los Alamos County. Mayor Gonzales told me that just by bringing these stakeholders from regional municipalities together, discussions on water use, economic development, transit and other issues of regional import had occurred.

Coalitions of this form allow for a region to identify and discuss shared interests, effective strategies tried, and to maximize use of collective resources. In the Bay Area, my consulting firm frequently worked in consort with regional coalitions like the Association of Bay Area Government and the Bay Area Regional Health Inequities Initiative. In the 90s there was a regional coalition on homelessness where jurisdictions worked collaboratively across city and county  boundaries to address the needs of a mobile homeless population that often gravitated to San Francisco.

I am not arguing for continuing or discontinuing the Regional LANL Coalition, but given that it has achieved some important outcomes, I’d hope that rather than disband over a fiscal accountability issue that, in truth, is so easily addressed it is embarrassing it has endured for so long. A watchful fiscal agent and clear policies would have eliminated the misuse of funds long ago and allowed the Coalition to focus on its larger purpose.

Barring some kind of jarring ‘next chapter,’ I am done with writing about this. It has received far more attention than it deserves. Fix the policies, pay attention to expenditures, move on.

In solidarity,

Paul & Roxanne

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1 reply

  1. I like the Minimalism post. However our society does not categorize those kinds of actions as meaningful. “Starting a business” is another deception, especially here in Santa Fe. To counter the facts about monopolies, the start a business narrative has been really powerful. Around here there are plenty of vanity businesses, and people that attempt to jump on that false narrative, end up broke, and in debt. In one way they created a lot of business and profits for the banks, drained retirement incomes, and capitalized on family support to start businesses.
    We can look at the local news for the hype about startups, local businesses, and the misrepresentation of facts. They always leave out the Bankruptcies, failures, and what starting a business really entails. They inflated the numbers of “Businesses.” Many people around here as part of the over hyped Gig Economy already have their “Own Businesses.” Housecleaning and other “side jobs” when their main job does not pay enough. Few of these businesses involve hiring anyone, and barely keep the business person afloat. A lot of these so called businesses rely on exploiting the labor of immigrants, and the poor, which hearkens back to the good old days, of Colonialism.
    We have Business Incubators, which not only promote the misleading narrative about business, portray a deceptive, level playing field ideology. The niches for most necessary items are already filled by Mega Corporations, with unlimited capital, and near monopolies. That leaves labor intensive, whatever is left type businesses. Trying to provide what a community actually needs, is much too expensive. That leaves only gimmicky fly by night, up selling.
    No one said anything When the Santa Fe “Business Incubator” gave a prize for another fancy upscale dog house. They presented that as innovative. Not much innovation there, if people have the money they can hire people to build a custom dog house. Retired locals around here have built dog houses for decades. I can remember one who was harassed by the City, the NIMBYs did not like an occasional dog house on display on his property. It did not fit with the gentrification so prevalent around here.
    All of this business nonsense has been weaponized by social media, making everyone complicit. The Myth of the “innovator” or the get rich scheme, turned social media into a marketing platform, where even activism, is open to advertising. Locally everyone has turned into a marketeer for Santa Fe. The Facts and real issues are unspoken, they could lead to a lower home price, since nearly everyone is dependent on the real estate and tourism industries. Most certainly our politicians. The various schemes, scams, and outright lies, are never mentioned, nor prosecuted anymore. The people negatively impacted are silenced.
    I remember a time, when people actually questioned things. The Reporter, did an article on Debbie Jaramillo, a former Mayor, who did not allow this kind of propaganda, to temper her views. She was ahead of her time, talking about the real impact of gentrification. Around here anyone who has a real opinion, not one informed by the corporate propaganda, will get systematically shut down. Their integrity, humanity and even their families will be attacked. Jaramillo was not a smarmy career politician like the kind we have grown accustomed to. She did not suffer fools gladly. Like those poor frogs in the boiling water, when the heat was turned up incrementally, they didn’t notice.

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