Colorado Legislature Stands Up to Gas & Oil, Transparency Question in Santa Fe City Hall & Why the NM Senate is So Conservative

The Colorado Senate approved a bill to strongly regulate gas & oil, sending their lobbyists into a tizzy. “Gas & Oil will be driven from the state…” Heard that anywhere else?  The Roundhouse? We also present info on how the Santa Fe City Attorney wants to review procurement bids without public scrutiny breaking a long-held practice of transparency.

Before three short commentaries on the Colorado legislature, Santa Fe City government’s new procurement process and its total lack of transparency, and guest commentary by William Finnoff on how and why the NM Senate is so conservative, a few short comments, including one request to continue calls to the Governor about four important bills

Volunteers Needed.  We need a couple volunteers:

  • One to identify home/office phone numbers and/or personal email addresses for elected officials. We don’t need them for all 112, but for about 20-30.  We are organizing visits to communities over the next few weeks, next weekend to an Indivisible retreat in Farmington with Indivisible leadership from throughout the state and also hopefully to meet with grassroots indigenous leaders and possibly with GOP House and Senate reps. In other trips we want to meet not just with activists, but also with legislators. The improved contact information will be helpful.
  • Secondly, we need someone to do some district mapping for us. I am not sure exactly how this can be done. But House and Senate boundaries overlap in tortured ways.  We need to be able to integrate them into one easily digested map that shows how constituents for Rep. A and Rep. B are also constituents of Senator Z. This will be important for strategically deploying canvassing resources.

Extremely Clear Articulation of How Neo-Liberalism Controls Us and Prevents Us from Solving the Problems that Matter. if you want a 90 second explanation of “doughnut economics” and the rationale for a 180 degree change in our thinking about how we exist on this planet, click here. It frames nicely why a new way of thinking is needed to address the economic and environmental challenges we face today. I have almost completed the first module, which so far is not solution focused but contextual in explaining how our economic and political systems have brought us to the climate and economic justice crises we face. Going forward we will find far more solutions than challenges. And I’d like to alert folks who had been hesitant because they weren’t into spending hours reading deep text. This is mostly video with short narrative in between. It is very easy to do 15-20 minutes at a time and work through the module quickly. And it is very good at orienting us to the nature of the problem….even if you think you understand what the hell is going on. The introduction of “doughnut economics” is something I’d never seen, but is a very compelling way to understand our situation. 

At the end of the post, a 16 minute video talk by George Monbiot is offered.  It is a video that begins the reading and discussions involved in Module I of Towards Co-operative Commonwealth: Transition In a Perilous Century, the eight week online course I’ve described in previous posts. If you missed it, click here to be introduced to this very timely and very well-done opportunity for NM to engage in a really serious discussion of the challenges ahead and the kinds of solutions that are of a scale appropriate to those challenges.

In this video, Monbiot describes the origins neo-liberalism and how it dominates the socio-political, economic systems that control our lives.  He goes on to describe how neo-liberalism is entirely ill-equipped to address the challenges ahead in relation to wealth inequality and climate change. One Retake supporter commented in an email:  “I thought I understood neo-liberalism. Now I really do.”  Monbiot includes a brief panning of Trump and how we wound up with this monster.  He concludes by describing our challenge: creation of an entirely new of way of thinking and governing.  He describes our pursuit of a “coherent new political narrative,” a way of thinking that includes a vision of a far different, far more just, far more sustainable economic and political system, the only kind of political system that has any hopes of at least mitigating the consequences of climate catastrophe.

I strongly encourage reviewing the video and signing up for the course. We have our own New Mexico online space that will be fully activated on Sunday. In this space we will be able to digest together the lessons from the videos and readings in each module and use those lessons to begin to formulate our own “coherent new political narrative” appropriate to New Mexico.  Click here for a summary of the course and links for signing up.  The video can be found at the bottom of the post.  A quote that follows the video in the course. Click here to enroll in the course and the conversations.

Neoliberal economic theory advocates free markets, free trade, and free movement of capital. Framed as the economic means to maximize individual freedom, the ideology of neoliberalism pervades most present-day cultural, economic, and political narratives. TINA or “there is no alternative,” the phrase uttered by UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher almost 50 years ago, has been the hallmark mantra driving the project to weaken democratic state power in favor of corporate power. Regulatory regimes were gutted. The tax share of corporations reduced radically. Privatization of public services and public assets expanded to include essential services, infrastructure, and commons—health care, schools, water, bridges, roads, rail systems, postal services, parks, forests, and land sold off by politicians to the private sector. Yet, the priorities and financial responsibilities of corporations are to maximize returns to shareholders, among the wealthiest 10% of the world’s population, not to serve the public good.

Mea Culpa. I had a conversation with Greg Sonnenfeld Thursday. He had wanted to share with me concerns dating back years and I listened, offering some defense or explanation, but mostly taking it in. Two threads to the conversation rang true. I may have been careless in sufficiently thanking folks for their contributions to Retake and haven’t always been as responsive as I could be. I listened carefully to his concerns, and as Roxanne and I talked about it, I realized there was some significant truth to this. For example I get tons of emails, on most days north of 300, sometimes far north. Unless the emailer was specifically seeking a response, I may not have responded. And so, I do not respond to many folks offering compliments, RSVPing for an event, or thanking Retake for our work, don’t get a response. I need to make time to be more responsive.

Another concern expressed by Greg, was that Retake hadn’t publicly thanked or acknowledged the scores of folks who were very active in the Roundhouse session. While we have acknowledged leadership by name, we haven’t really thanked by name many who have been important contributors, including Greg. Retake leadership had already scheduled a celebration and gratitude event for April 18 where we had planned to thank all who were part of this important work, but that shouldn’t preclude our doing so in writing, as well. It will take a few days to assemble all the names but that list will be posted soon and be acknowledged in person on the 18th. In the meantime, my apologies to anyone who has felt overlooked. We will do better going forward.

Retake Our Democracy on KSFR 101.1 FM, 8:30 am – 9 am with Mayor Webber. This week we included an extended interview with a 30 minute show airing tomorrow at 8:30. But an additional 15 minutes with the Mayor and a 12 minute commentary by me (Paul) is available now by podcast by clicking here. I cover what is coming from Retake now that the Roundhouse Session is over and some thoughts on last minute backroom deals at the Roundhouse.  Tune in.

1 celebrateThursday, April 18, 5:30pm-7:15 pm, Center for Progress & Justice, 1420 Cerrillos, Santa Fe. Please note the slight modification in time.  We were contacted by the Sunshine Movement in Santa Fe as they were trying to organize a Green New Deal Town Hall with Rep. Deb Haaland and the only day she could make it in the near future was on April 18.  So we made some adjustments in the timing will integrate both events, with Retake’s Celebration and Volunteer Appreciation from 5:30-7:15 pm and the Sunrise Movement Town Hall with Rep. Haaland at 7:30. 

During the Roundhouse session, some very good bills were made into law and even some of our bills that were amended and weakened will help our most vulnerable working families. We also learned a good deal about the process and developed a remarkable team of volunteers. So we want to come together to celebrate that success and to thank all those who put in so much time in support of our advocacy.

Within a very few weeks, after the celebration, we will convene again to get your input on what worked well, what we missed and what we can improve. This is a long haul and we need to work hard to hone what we did so that in 2020 and beyond, far more of our bills make it into law.  Please RSVP by writing to Paul at Paul@RetakeOurDemocracy.org. While the event is FREE, an RSVP is required by April. 16.  Sooner is better. Much better.  We are ordering salad and pizza and need to prepare sufficient tables with table cloths and china (ok, no china), but we do ask that you bring your own implements for eating and drinking and the event is BYOB with wine and beer permitted.  Join us!!!

We have also updated our horribly out of date Events Page, click here to visit it. The site was neglected during the frantic Roundhouse effort, but will be kept more current going forward..

Call the Governor

Making It Simple:  Call the Governor at (505) 476-2200

  • HB 2:  ”language was inserted into this year’s HB2 to grant seed regulation solely to the NM Department of Agriculture, please line-item veto any language that would limit local and tribal capacity to maintain seed sovereignty.” There is an online petition for this, click here. It takes about 30 seconds to do the petition. So do it today and then call the Governor on Monday.
  • HB 546, condemns New Mexico to a future of toxic, radioactive, fracking waste re-use. There are good elements to this bill, but allowing fracked water to be introduced into our agriculture is intolerable, so ask the Governor to line item veto language in the bill that references produced water as we don’t want to start injecting fracking waste in rivers, streams, and crops. The person answering the phone at the Governor’s office knows that language and will be able to convey your position easily…. From the man who most often answers her calls, they are getting buried in calls….so keep them coming.  Monday.
  • Ask Governor Grisham to sign SB 323 and decriminalize marijuana here. And urge her to sign HB 370 and expunge records for drug convictions here

In one call, you can advocate on four important bills.  For a post from this week that covered all three bills, click here.

Why the Senate Committee’s Function Like GOP Controlled Committees and Why We Get Nothing Good through the Senate

William Finnoff is a regular contributor to the blog and offered up this comment on the way that Committee assignments are made. Retake met with several Santa Fe State Central Committee members Friday to talk about a number of resolutions and rule changes we may introduce at the April meeting. For a part of the meeting we discussed the challenges in getting good bills through the Senate. Oddly, we were perplexed by exactly how Senate Committee and leadership positions are made. I got home and Mr. Finnoff answered our questions.  Thank you.

One of the primary differences between the House and Senate in New Mexico is that committee assignments in the House are controlled by the speaker of the House while the Senate committee assignments are controlled by the ‘Committee’s Committee’ – an eleven-member committee chaired by the Senate president pro tempore and containing two members from the leadership of both parties as well as five other members from majority party and one other member from the minority party. The non-leadership members of the Committee’s Committee are appointed by the president pro tempore (by and with consent of the Senate). See https://ballotpedia.org/Committees%27_Committee,_New_Mexico_State_Senate

The president pro tempore is elected by the full Senate, and because of their position and power in the Committee’s Committee has a tremendous amount of power in the Senate. Currently the president pro tempore is Mary Kay Papen and two of the (non-leadership) democratic members of the Committee’s Committee that she selected are – you guessed it – Clemente Sanchez and John Arthur Smith. These three conservative democrats together with the three republicans on the Committee’s Committee actually represent a majority faction on that committee.

If one doesn’t like the policies that these conservative democrats support, one can always try to ‘primary’ them out of office, but be careful what you ask for, since Smith’s senate district went heavily for Trump in 2016 and although Papen’s district is in the democratic leaning Dona Ana county, this is primarily due to the liberal city of Las Cruces while her primarily rural/republican district only contains a sliver of the city of Las Cruces. Sanchez’s district is more difficult to evaluate since it doesn’t match county boundaries very well but is also primarily rural. A truly progressive democratic candidate in any of these senate districts might have a tough time against a republican challenger.

See 2016 presidential election results by county in NM:
https://www.politico.com/2016-election/results/map/president/new-mexico/

Compare this to the NM Senate district map (Sanchez-30, Smith-35, Papen-38):
http://www.sos.state.nm.us/uploads/FileLinks/3e99d533065e4daab52ffe3b1734bce0/Legislature_Senate2019_LF.pdf

Santa Fe Proposing Utter Lack of Transparency in Procurement.  Huh?

We’ve been reporting on the last minute back room deals being done in the last hours of the Roundhouse session.  Now the City of Santa Fe seems ready to play copy cat. It isn’t as nefarious as what has happened at the Roundhouse, but it is still unseemly and requires your calling to ensure this doesn’t transpire.

For years the City of Santa Fe has had an open book policy on procurement with bidders an d the contents of RFP responses made public and thereby subject to public debate.  The new City Attorney has other ideas.  City Attorney Erin McSherry recommended that the content of bidders’ responses to requests for proposals, or RFPs, is confidential information protected under the city’s procurement code and shouldn’t be discussed in public. Only the names of the bidders are public information, she said, until after a final decision is made. And only then do the contents of the proposals from all prospective bidders become public. The issue was raised as the City Council was to consider two bids related to the Midtown Project (AKA University of Art & Design). How nice that is. We can find out what was being proposed only AFTER the bidding process has been completed and a decision made.

“I’m mostly concerned that this is going to change somewhat how we do business and how we do procurement,” City Councilor Signe Lindell said during last week’s meeting of the City Council’s Finance Committee. “My concern is that when we get a bid, we aren’t going to have transparency on it, and I don’t think that anybody associated with this likes having less transparency.”  We agree with Councilor Lindell and think maybe other Councilors need to hear from you. For now, I’d same go easy with emails rather than calls. Stay tuned.

Below is contact information on all the City Council members and our Mayor.

Mayor Alan Webber:  (505) 955-6590. mayor@santafenm.gov

District 1.

District 2.

  • Carol Romero-Wirth, (505) 955-6815.  cromero-wirth@ci.santa-fe.nm.us
  • Peter Ives, District 2 Councilor, (505) 955-6816, pnives@santafenm.gov

District 3

District 4

Colorado Legislature Has the Courage to Pass Legislation that REALLY will Regulate Gas & Oil

If only NM legislators had the same courage.  Read on.

By Judith Kohler | jkohler@denverpost.com | The Denver Post PUBLISHED: March 29, 2019 at 11:10 am | UPDATED: March 29, 2019 at 11:51 am

A bill overhauling how oil and gas will be regulated in Colorado won final approval in the House on Friday morning, putting it one step closer to the desk of Gov. Jared Polis, who has supported the legislation.

The House voted 36-28 for Senate Bill 19-181, which the Senate passed March 13. The Senate will now consider amendments added in the House’s Thursday night session.

The legislation would revamp the state’s oil and gas regulations by changing the mission of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission and putting public health and safety front and center when development is considered. It would also clarify that local governments have the authority under their planning and land-use powers to regulate oil and gas as they do other types of activities.

Since its introduction in early March, the debate around SB 181 has been fierce. The oil and gas industry, several business organizations and elected officials from energy-producing areas contend local governments might try to ban drilling or slow development, reducing tax revenue and jeopardizing tens of thousands of jobs.

“This bill will break the industry down and drive the industry out of the state of Colorado,” Rep. Rod Bockenfeld, R-Watkins, said in closing debate Friday.

The changes will undermine investment in the industry while giving local governments more control, which will create uncertainty, Bockenfeld said.

House Speaker KC Becker, who sponsored the bill with fellow Democrat Senate Majority Leader Steve Fenberg, said the industry will face changes, but won’t be driven out of the state. She said most of the bill’s provisions have been debated in previous legislative sessions and are a response to growing concerns about drilling that is increasing and is occurring in new places.

“For a long time people have been saying ‘I don’t have a say in this and it’s going on in my backyard,’ ” Becker said.

The legislation would require increased disclosure of pipeline and flow line locations and enhanced monitoring of pipelines. It also calls for adequate financial assurances to take care of abandoned wells and stronger air-quality rules.

Another provision addresses forced pooling, which allows an oil and gas operator to extract minerals belonging to those unwilling to sell. The operator has to pay for the oil and gas, but can tap it as long as just one of the owners signs on. An amendment approved by the House would require 45 percent of the owners to agree before a company could drill.

Another change is to the oil and gas commission, the main governing body. The commission would change from a part-time, volunteer body to a full-time, professional one.

Wouldn’t it be nice if after the 2020 session we had a few bills regulating the gas and oil industry?  Likely we won’t get there in 2020, but in 2021 with a significantly different political composition to the NM Senate, we can get it done.

In solidarity,

Paul & Roxanne

 

 

2 thoughts on “Colorado Legislature Stands Up to Gas & Oil, Transparency Question in Santa Fe City Hall & Why the NM Senate is So Conservative

  1. Pingback: A Heartfelt Thank You, Plus a Reprise of a Week of Political Maneuvering, Exposés, and Action Alerts | Retake Our Democracy

  2. Concerning the Committe’s Committee. It looks like Mary Ann Patton as President Pro Tem. has the control and is elected by the full Senate. Why not create a full on effort starting with Pete Wirth to nominate and elect a different PPT next session? It need not be a radical leftist, but perhaps a moderate Dem who might gain some support from moderate Republicans if there are any. Seems like a fight that might be doable for next year.

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