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