Mid-term election update, plus a report on slavery in America today, for profit prisons with inmates working for pennies on the dollar. Plus an opportunity to meet & support Matthew McQueen in Dist. 50.
Saturday (today) 8:30am, KSFR. 101.1 FM. Retake Our Democracy with Heather Ferguson, Executive Director for Common Cause, NM discussing the legislative priorities of Common Cause, NM for the 2019 Roundhouse. Voter registration, redistricting, campaign financing, and more.
Mid-Term Update: We Have a Choice. Time to Exercise it Vigorously
I keep hearing troubling comments from many progressives: “MLG has disparaged us or Xochitl is too centrist. I will vote for them, but I won’t work for them.” No doubt, some of MLG’s positions and actions have been disappointing. And frankly, I find her campaign ads and materials uninspiring, as expressed clearly by Robert Johnson in his Santa Fe New Mexican letter to the editor.
“How could gubernatorial candidates and U.S. Reps. Michelle Lujan Grisham, D-N.M., and Steve Pearce, R-N.M., be neck and neck in this race for the governor? Well, Pearce is out-campaigning Lujan Grisham, at least in the media advertising. Pearce’s ads are specific, well-conceived and reach the people, although in reality are very anti-Trumpian in philosophy. Hers are vague and show little of her platform. In one, Lujan Grisham stands at the end of a runway and promises she will bring in international trade. How?
Michelle Lujan Grisham, we need you — desperately. We need to know what you will do to bring this state and our wonderful families out of these past years of intense difficulties, of being at the bottom of nearly everything. You have only six weeks left.”
I concur with Johnson’s sentiments and I also want Lujan Grisham to win despite a muddied campaign and a failure on her part to commit to more progressive values and positions. But let’s be very clear. We’ve had eight years of a GOP governor. We’ve got a raft of great Democratic House candidates ready to unseat GOP candidates and provide an insurmountable advantage in floor votes, and more importantly in committees where too often good bills die. We have a choice right now: Do you want Steve Pearce to have the final say, with scores of good progressive bills vetoed by a Governor who could care less about what Democrats want. Or do we want a Governor whose door will be open to us, who may not advocate for every progressive bill we support, but will very rarely veto one.
People who have read my blog under the Retake Our Democracy banner and before that under Santa Fe 4 Bernie no that I can be uncompromising. I have often critiqued US Rep. Lujan, Sen. Heinrich, Sen Udall, NMDP Chair Deb Haaland and Richard Ellenberg. But there are times for pressure and criticism and there are times to be pragmatic. I encourage all of you, not just to vote for MLG and Xochitl, but to actively support them in social media, with friends and even by knocking on doors.
I keep thinking about the possibility of a 24-16 Senate, a 44-26 House and a Democratic Governor. Oh, the bills we could pass and have signed into law: Health Security Act, funding for early childhood, a meaningful increase in the minimum wage, automatic voter registration, an end to predatory lending, and serious reform of our tax policy. On the other hand, we could have none of these things. For four more years. When I will be 72. Not a tough choice.
One more thought on this. Another comment I keep hearing is that the Blue Wave is coming. It won’t be close. As the conversation continues, I hear that they really don’t feel the need to be active in the campaign as if this wave will come of its own accord. It won’t. We need to canvass, call and contribute or the wave will be a ripple and we will be left shaking our heads. Less than two months. Give up a few Saturdays and talk to other voters. Let’s do this.
Click here to get to the Election Strategy and Guide. You will find very brief summaries of local, state and national races and links to the compaigns of candidates we encourage you to support. Please organize 2-3 friends to join you and give up 2-3 weekend days and talk with voters. There are 51 days until the election or 1204 hours. I am asking for one percent of that time. One-percent and you and 2-3 friends can flip a race. Let’s do it. You will feel so satisfied when next March you read that MLG has signed into law all those bills we’ve been advocating for for the past 8 years.
Slavery Abolished. Well Yes, Unless You Have a Felony Drug Possession
Retake Our Democracy is working on an in-depth report on slavery in America and its transition from slavery to indentured slavery to our current version of coercing inmates to work for corporate America or to fight huge mega fires precipitated by climate change.
Today, we provide a preview. Below you will find two extraordinary Democracy Now video reports on inmates fighting some of the most explosive and treacherous forest fires in our Nation’s history. These inmates comprise over 20% of the entire California forest fire response, get the most dangerous assignments, get paid from $.38 to $1.00 an hour and their reward: they are not even allowed to apply for a firefighting position upon release….positions that pay upwards of $75K plus benefits.
Some will say that these inmates committed a crime so they do the time. Or that they don’t have to take these assignments and that they get days off of their sentences in exchange for their compliance. But consider that so many of these inmates are in prison for minor crimes, drug charges that are so inflated for people of color.
And, so even after bravely fighting fires and savng lives for years, upon release, they are ineligible to even apply for a position as a fire fighter, where they could be rewarded for their years of servitude with a $75,000 a year job with benefits.
We want those departing our prisons not to recidivate. We want them to become contributing members of our community. We want them to support their children. Yet, we deny them an opportunity for employment that could make all of those goals possible. I defy you to watch the two short videos below and come away feeling justice is being served.
Before the videos, a quick note about a candidate forum in Eldorado for Rep. Matthew McQueen who deserves your support.
What Would We Do Without Democracy Now!
Categories: Election, Political Reform & National Politics, Local-State Government & Legislation, Personal & Collective Action, Social & Racial Justice & Immigration Reform
My feelings toward prisoners have shifted radically in the last coupla years. I had assumed there are bad people who do bad things, get caught by the noble police, are judged by the fair and equitable justice system, and get put in prison where they belong. And they deserve to not be able to vote and of course they can’t find jobs since they’re bad people.
No longer. A whole lot of Americans are born with lots of strikes against them. They don’t have any of the privileges I was born with. And thru poor parenting, poor education and racism they end up in prison. A lot from The War on Drugs which I don’t support in any way. So then they spend time in a dangerous and highly unpleasant place, working for way below minimum wage, and then they can’t get jobs and can’t even vote when they’re finally released. That totally sucks and needs to profoundly change.
I’ve now read articles about European prisons which are far more humane than ours. Those countries think that losing your liberty for a period of time is punishment enough. You shouldn’t be in peril and treated with disrespect and cruelty in prison. And when you’ve done your time, your slate is wiped clean and you’re a normal member of society again, without a stigma and with rights such as voting rights.
Two Weeks Ago the Taos County Commissioners held a hearing on proposed Land Use Regulations. Two new articles within the regulations sought to severely restrict who can comment on permits. Article 7 dangerously established a two-tier status of citizenship for Taos County: only Property Owners can provide public testimony in a hearing. More than 1/3 of all Taos County residents are renters: 11,000+ people would have been refused the right to speak on record. Fortunately this article and article 9 were struck from the new regulations following many people speaking against the proposed rules.
Stunningly, the Chair of the Taos Commissioners, Tom Blankenhorn, said “Now how will we keep from having to listen to all these people”. Someone needs to explain to the Commissioners that listening to the citizens is a significant part of their jobs. Citizens must stay vigilant; not all governments want to be transparent, fair and just.