Today we provide links to two Nation articles, the first on the importance of not turning our eyes from injustice, the other, asking a question: why aren’t more people in the streets? We also examine the Jemez Mountain Co-Op conflict, a gross example of Boss Tweed-style democracy. Lastly, we offer UDUMASS, a humorous 2 minute video featuring George Clooney & Donald Trump. Really.
Post Preview. I recently asked readers for input on the posts. As a result, I am working to make them shorter and with a larger font. Another reader added that the content of the posts can be pretty grim and that injecting a bit of humor could lighten things up. So, today is the third straight day with shorter posts, we have a larger font, and a bit of humor ends the post. If you haven’t seen UDUMASS, it is worth two minutes. More post improvements are on the way.
The two Nation articles previewed reinforce an ongoing theme in this blog, our critical need to stay engaged and informed and then to take action. And after the previews, an opportunity for you to take action in 2-3 minutes: make a contribution to the legal fund for our neighbors in Rio Arriba County who are fighting one of the least democratic, most corrupt regimes in NM. Read on.
On Not Looking Away. For the past six plus years, Nation contributor, Aaron Skinner has been a creative adviser to Independent Diplomat, a nonprofit that supports democratic groups in opposition movements fighting oppression. Much of that time, Skinner has focused on Syria and in his role he has routinely poured over devastating images of the results of barrel bombs. Often the photos include gruesome shots of children. Skinner is also the father of a two year old, so those photos sear him. This piece examines why it is important not to turn away and how it is only through being honest about those challenges to our humanity, that we can ever motivate ourselves to act. It is beautifully written. The image at left, Not Afraid to Look, is by Lakota artist Charles Rencountre. He created the sculpture at Standing Rock, but it now sits 20 feet off Camino La Tierra. We pass it every day on the way to and from our home and it reminds us of the critical importance of looking unflinchingly at the challenges we face. Click here to read this excellent Nation piece.
Take Bake the Streets. While looking squarely at our challenges is critical, more important is what we do as a result of what we grow to understand by looking. In the second Nation article featured today. Katha Pollitt asks the question: where have all the protesters gone? She describes how in Hong Kong, Puerto Rico and Europe mass demonstrations are forcing governments to make changes demanded by protesters. She contrasts this with her experience attending a number of rallies related to abortion bans and the nationwide vigil protesting the treatment of asylum seekers, where only 20-300 participated. She closes by insisting that we needn’t accept Trump’s atrocities, we have little to fear from government recriminations, and so she asks: where is the resistence? Click here to review this important article.
Pollitt’s commentary caused me to reflect on a post from last week focused on a Kim Trent resolution to face down Trump by giving up her spare time–all of it– to do what she views as the most effective form of resistence: voter education and voter registration. And so, she has committed to giving up her spare time from now to November. I am asking all of you to consider what spare time really means. It is that time that remains when you’ve done all that is required of you; activism is often one of those things we do in our spare time. I am asking all of you to reconsider the way we categorize resistance and shift it from what we do in our spare time, to something that becomes part of those things we feel is required of us.
Everyone who is woke, sees the threats to our democracy, our future ,our planet, our very souls and these threats will not go away merely by looking at them square in the eye. We must actively resist. Please put August 6, 6:30pm on your calendar, join us at our next Organizing meeting at 1420 Cerrillos, Santa Fe. We have important actions you can take on an ongoing basis. Don’t just look at the injustices we face, join us and let’s do something about them. And please also put Sept. 20 in your calendar: A National General Strike demanding action to address the looming climate catastrophe.
Reform Slate Files Suit Against Jemez Electric Co-Op: Democracy Run Amok, Donate Today to Help Fix It
The Jemez Mountains Electric Coop Board of Trustees has been under pressure to be more transparent and accountable for years and the election just completed in June is an excellent example of why JMEC members are outraged. In addition to fighting to achieve a more transparent, inclusive and democratic governing board, reformers are mounting a drive to move toward more renewable energy and particularly local solar. They face a daunting challenge on both fronts as the regime in power will stop at nothing to retain their power and thanks to the forward thinking of the JMEC board, JMEC currently is locked into a 40 year contract with Tri-State which requires the co-op to buy 95% of its power from them.
The JMEC Board consists of 10 elected Trustees and one at-large Trustee who is appointed by a majority vote. In the election that preceded the June 19 Board election, the Trustee from District 6, John Tapia sat out the election and Leo Marquez ran for the seat, winning by a single vote. There was a good deal of controversy over voting rolls and perceived irregularities, However, that victory gave the group allied with Nick Naranjo the balance of power and they appointed John Tapia to the at-large seat.
The Board has been bitterly divided ever since with the executive committee making virtually all the decisions. There has been constant turmoil and turnover. Joseph Sanchez. the general manager, was forced out, Adam Roybal, the chief engineer left, and Donna Trujillo, the former finance manager who was elevated to general manager, also left under mysterious circumstances. These practices led Beverly Duran-Cash of Northern New Mexicans Protecting Land, Water and Rights to write:
Unfortunately, our Cooperative has a history of contested elections and questionable procedures that have eroded the members’ confidence in our elections,” she wrote. “For example, (the Co-op) has been plagued by past allegations of voter intimidation, improper campaign procedures, violations of the bylaws and biased recounts.”
In the lead-up to this year’s elections, a Reform Slate was formed consisting of Bruce Duran in District 6 running unopposed, Stanley Crawford from Dixon, and Patrick Herrera, who challenged Lucas Cordova, the Co-op’s Tri State representative. Crawford won a close contest, while Patrick lost by 139 votes in his district. The election left the Board tied 5-5 with the composition left up to a coin toss.
But Patrick Herrera lodged a formal complaint following the election that Lucas Cordova does not live in the district. This is probably true. Lucas has always voted in an Espanola precinct and pays taxes there. However, he does own a piece of property in Chili and pays the electric bill. Membership is tied to meters. Rather than take a chance on the flip of a coin, the majority on the board threw Bruce Duran off claiming that the home where Bruce lives has been transferred to a trust and that his wife was paying the electric bill. Duran says that is not true and he and three other Trustees are suing the Board over that action. The Reform Slate lawsuit to restore Duran is what the legal funds are for.
At the annual meeting, Bruce Duran attempted to sit with the Trustees on the dais, but was physically blocked by several of them. A Sandoval County Sheriff deputy had to step in and Bruce did sit briefly. The Board had planned to go into executive session. However, the minority group of Trustees refused to join and left the Board short of a quorum. As Stanley Crawford relayed that refusal he stepped into the room with the other Trustees for a few seconds. A little later, they claimed that constituted a quorum and quickly elected officers, filled Bruce’s seat, and reappointed John Tapia to the at-large seat. The issue has been taken to the State Attorney General’s office and they met on Tuesday.
We made a contribution to the legal fund this morning but the Reformer will need many more as the regime in power will resist any effort to behave democratically. Click here to donate.
After making your donation, take two minutes to laugh.
In solidarity, Paul & Roxanne
Presenting UDUMASS a Movement to Eliminate Dumb FxxxERY
Where are the protestors? About half of the population is too broke, too desperate or working 2 or 3 gig economy jobs. The local media tell us that things are just great, a few careful adversity porn stories, and tales of retirees who “Made a difference.” There need to be some kind of reckoning, so that people understand why we are here now. Media glosses over this factual story, and here in New Mexico, that is extremely limited anyway.
While a lot of people are transfixed with the shenanigans and inaction in DC, our local politicians keep up the same old nonsense. Our elected representatives voted for a budget with more secret un-examined military spending, money for more nukes, and who knows what kind of corporate perks, and subsidies.
Even the most important local issue, remember the kids, education and what not? Here we go, they forgot that this state is at the bottom, https://www.santafenewmexican.com/news/education/state-not-able-to-implement-k–plus-program-as/article_7838d09f-8e3e-5c4c-8921-33b2021c05a2.html A lot of doubt was injected into the Yazzie decision, but it was really clear. This should have been the most important issue, yet they already failed.
Our politicians are still pretending things are just hunky dory. I bet they got “educated” by some corporate lobbyists, who were trying to angle in on this action, or find a way to profit off of the kids. After all they foisted “Digital Learning” on the home schooled, and did not bother to track the results. The outcomes of the decision made 25 years ago, are reflected in the incarceration poverty and addiction rates. The well connected figured out how to profit from it all, and they don’t want to change it.
The Gas Lighting continues, a nation in denial. Everything tracks back to the increasing military spending. It tracks back to the money in politics. Toxic Plumes, radio-active waste, and sick people who worked in the defense industry, or lived downstream. They are deliberately keeping the facts anecdotal, even though the labs paid physicians to Gas Light the workers when they got sick.
Our elected representative gleefully passed a budget, in order to get a few more bucks directed to our state to build some more nukes, in violation of international treaties. They rebranded it all, as “innovation” when there is no innovation at all directed at cleaning up the mess, or even identifying the problem.
Fascism is here, the silence is chilling. People too desperate afraid or misled to take to the streets. No one spoke up when our elected representatives took corporate money, and continue to attend corporate “education events.” In Santa Fe the “tourism Industry” and the shopkeepers require silence and complicity. A grimace (smile) is necessary for every interaction. Lots of phony smiles, covering the desperation and despair, a creepy reminder that the brainwashing is complete.
Lets not look at anything too closely, we might not like what we see. I do not see any of these progressive groups asking, Who is not here? That group might show up, if there is a reckoning. There is an awful lot of complacency, as long as these issues, don’t effect them personally they don’t really care. As long as the poor and desparaged stay out of sight, the occasional adversity porn story is enough to give the appearance of inclusion.
Lets see our politicians turn the Pre K debacle into another opportunity for free corporate advertising just like they did with the big tech companies that targeted children for advertising and data collection. . It has worked for the past 25 years. They rail against living wages, and only pretend to support what is left of the community. I checked in on the HSA, the Health Security Act, and there is no information at all, no initial progress report, and no questions about why certain data is not collected. The healthcare industry marketing and media manipulations are not being identified, the profits went directly to politicians who are paid to look the other way.
None of this is “Normal”
Artists have always been on the forefront of activism, but have been making huge headway over the last few years. Yes, it takes years to have your actions make change, but they do make change. Read about Nan Goldin’s actions at the largest museums in the world against the pill pushing Sacklers.
Below is an article about a board member at the Whitney who makes his money selling tear gas. Anish Kapoor in London. It takes perseverance but it has lasting effects.
Hi Paul and Roxanne. If you try to pull into a parking space and another driver tries to cut you off, forcing both of you to stop short, you may end up in a confrontation during which you ‘protest’ a number of things, usually as they expand during the ordeal. One on one, you may prevail, in any number of ways. But it is the personal drama around the situation that draws out the protest gene in everyone.
I agree with Mary. The fatigue factor, stress, poor diet, disinformation, self-medicating, distortion, lies, extortion by employers, politicians, bureaucrats, etc., take what little time and energy may be left in any one day, which usually ends up with your nose behind a bottle, on top of a line of some drug, stuck up some jerk’s backside as you parlay for some sort of succor, up high in the wind trying to smell out the next deception, or just trying to find a neutral place to rest your weary bones.
Murkan society is glaringly different than most others in the world. Accidental and intentional, our society lacks a soul, a passion for dignity, a reverence for any intelligence founded on true facts and sustainable principles. Your example of the Jemez Coop debacle is a case in point.
What could be more antithetical to cooperative functioning than the cartel-style autocracy of this gang of thugs? Look no further than mordida. After the two massive fires in the Jemez, both caused by criminal behavior on the part of that BOD by NOT clearing the transmission and distribution lines of faulty trees, as they are mandated to do, I worked for a forestry contractor to identify, mark, plot, and schedule for remediation, many thousands of faulty trees in the Jemez Valley system. I and several colleague foresters examined each and every line, marked trees for removal, set up schedules, responded to individual user emergency calls, etc. We noticed that in most cases, other entities were sharing the power poles of the utility to string other kinds of wires. We checked and found that the utility had rules about leasing use, for a fee, to these entities, but we could find no record of any leases, or payments ever made. I pointed this out to the chief engineer, because we were always being told we were spending too much money on tree removal.
Less than a week later, the contract was severed and we were all out of a job. There had just been a board election, and the new guys were trying to take over then, kick out a lot of people, re-order the financial system, and override the professional staff’s day-to-day decisions. One of them came to me days before the ouster and challenged me even being there, calling me an outsider and a troublemaker. I myself had marked more than a thousand trees in less than two months. Potential criminal activity surrounds virtually every business and government function in this country. And all the folks who could protest are employed by this never-ending cabal of manipulators.
Decades ago, I protested a lot of things, in the streets, at hearings and meetings, in the newspapers, via the phone, to friends and colleagues, and I finally just gave up. I was a malcontent, a troublemaker, a commie, an outsider, an idiot who knew nothing. Nothing much has changed.
So I just started to do things, on my own. I remember, in about 1989, I was working to recover the vegetation on a hillside in Ranchos de Taos, and I just said to myself, “I have to do all of this on my own. I cannot count on anyone else.” My dad’s words came back to me that day.
“Kid, if you want anything done right, you have to do it yourself.” That admonition is huge. It takes lots of time, observation, study, research, experimentation and practice to get difficult tasks done to a high level of competency. Maybe that is where all the protesters are. Either there, or in la-la land.
Paul. BTW, I do not believe that too much information is possible. TMI is the behavior of deniers. Perhaps you can just give a two-sentence abstract of your topic, then expand with your research. I read everything you or Roxanne write. Why? I have come to see that both of you are extremely intelligent, talented, and, most importantly, dedicated to something much greater than your own talents. I may not use each bit of info for my own reasoning, but someone else may. All of us are shaped by slightly different contexts, and have different curiosities and biases. Keep the detail flowing. Every correct phenomenon is important to know.
A short response to Katha Pollitt’s question as to where have all the protesters gone. Back in the run up to “shock & awe” in Iraq post 9/11, I attended the protest rally in Nob Hill Albuquerque. Huge turnout. Then Democratic mayor Marty Chavez sent the police in to turn a peaceful demonstration into a riot. I was a short distance away from a horse mounted cop trying to force a mother with her baby in a stroller over a curb. Another man stepped in to reason with him. He was pepper sprayed, thrown to the ground and handcuffed. It went downhill from there.
The Journal covered the story as protesters turned violent. If you live somewhere with fair and accurate media reporting, a protest might be a positive event. Otherwise, it serves no purpose.