We also provide info on how to start fixing the Senate right now: contact the Governor and ask her to appoint Kristina Ortez to replace the late Senator Carlos Cisneros, a critical choice that will be made soon.
Urge the Governor to appoint Kristina Ortez to fill Senate District 6 seat
Please call and email the Governor to ask her to appoint Kristina Ortez to fill the seat of the late Senator Carlos Cisneros. Senate District 6 covers four counties, and Ortez has been nominated by Los Alamos County and Santa Fe County Commissioners. Rio Arriba County and Taos County Commissioners nominated Bobby Gonzales, a Democrat who currently represents House District 42. Ortez, a Harvard grad and Director of the Taos Land Trust for the last five years, is considered more progressive and has been endorsed by several environmental groups. In her application cover letter she listed her priorities as education, jobs, women’s health and self-determination, the environment, and tribal sovereignty.
There are just nine women in the 42-member New Mexico Senate. Two of those, Antoinette Sedillo Lopez and Shannon Pinto, were appointed by Lujan Grisham to fill vacant seats earlier this year. We hope the Governor will continue her efforts to bring more women to the New Mexico Senate by appointing Ortez. This is a very important decision.
Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham
Phone: (505) 476-2200
Link for leaving a comment: https://www.governor.state.nm.us/contact-the-governor/
If We Do Not Want Santa Fe’s “Heart of the City” to Become a Nuclear Weapons Research Center, We Need to Act….and soon.
If you want to find out more about LANL and its potential involvement in the Midtown Project, Greg Mello, Executive Director of Los Alamos Study Group will be on Retake Our Democracy radio this Saturday at 8:30am on KSFR, 101.1 FM. Tune in.
The Midtown Project has a closed process with no access to proposal details and one of the bidders serving as the master developer being a national lab with a limitless cache of federal cash that is desperate for research space to address a huge increase in nuclear weapons research. What could possibly go wrong?
Well actually, after a review of the limited amount of information available, there are a number of very serious alarms sounding. This piece first describes what we know, derived from the little public information available, then what we fear, and lastly what you can do. At the bottom of the post, we offer a five-minute YouTube video that captures the history of US nuclear arms testing. It is a terrifying reminder as to why it is important to resist all efforts to make Santa Fe complicit in future work in nuclear arms development.
This piece focuses on the potential role of Los Alamos National Labs (LANL) in the project, but there are other concerns that we will address in the future, most of which focus on the lack of specificity in what we know is being proposed by those who have submitted ideas. From day one of the Midtown Project process we have raised concerns about gentrification of the surround neighborhood and have sought assurances that the development will emphasize not market rate or moderate home ownership opportunities, but rental properties affordable to our lowest income workers. To be sure, there are proposals in the mix that appear to possibly address these concerns, but when all we know is that a proposal will include “a mix of affordable housing and retail,” it is impossible to determine what could result. Today, we focus on LANL.
What We Know
Twenty-one proposals were submitted for the Midtown Project (the former University of Art & Design): seven as “master developers,” five from groups proposing to serve as project developer, five proposals in the category of building owner/master lessee – including a UNM project – and four submissions from those who want to be part of the development but are not proposing to assemble the groups involved.
We would like to offer details on each project proposal, but the City has decided that to share information offered as part of these proposals would be broaching proprietary rights and make public unique aspects of proposals that could be stolen by others. This protection of proprietary information is said to be consistent with state regulations on bidding processes.
What has been released is about 2-3 sentences for each project, describing in very broad strokes what is being proposed and listing a partner or two. The Santa Fe New Mexican has provided what little has been released in a November 25 article. It provides a good, albeit very spare description of the players and their proposals. Click here. But what was included in the New Mexican and in another more detailed article from the ABQ Journal the following day, should raise concerns.
One of the master developers submitting a proposal is Los Alamos National Labs and the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). From the New Mexican:
“LANL is undergoing unprecedented growth and expects to hire more than 1,000 new personnel annually for the next several years. Having a new campus — midway between New Mexico’s two national laboratories — to house professional staff, scientists, and engineers in partnership with the city of Santa Fe — would be very beneficial.”Santa Fe New Mexican, Developer Proposals Hint at What May Be In Store for City-Owned Midtown Project
LANL has gone on to reassure the City that no radioactive or highly toxic materials would be present on the site, but nonetheless, LANL is proposing to house hundreds, perhaps thousands of nuclear researchers in the “heart of the city,” researchers whose daily task would be to help LANL develop new and more powerful nuclear weapons. And in conversations with Greg Mello, Executive Director of Los Alamos Study Group, he described Department of Defense plans for LANL to become a national hub of a vast new expansion of the nuclear arms race, something of which Santa Fe should want no part. He also indicated that LANL and NNSA are very good at obscuring their purpose, describing their work as being about science, astrophysics, and other things unrelated to nuclear weapons. He went on to warn that after two decades of advocacy related to LANL operations, he feels that virtually every activity conducted by LANL relates in some way to nuclear arms research and development. We can’t be fooled by disingenuous language about LANL’s technology and innovation research; it is all about nuclear weapons.
I attended most of the community input meetings and presentations over the past two years. I never heard anything about how great it would be to include nuclear weapons research as a hub of our heart of the city. We need to let the city know that having LANL as the hub of this development is a deal breaker and that the City would erupt in protest should this even be considered.
The question is how do you raise your voice and with whom? The City will not be releasing any more information about the development until after it has narrowed the field considerably. But according to Daniel Hernandez, the contracted project manager for the selection and implementation process, the Mayor and City Council members have been left largely out of the process with a selection team reviewing the bids, meeting to compare their elements with the various vision and priority statements developed on the project, and ultimately, on or about January 15, announcing its decisions about who will be among the “finalists.”
That is but six weeks away. Hernandez has indicated that after January 15 a series of City Council study sessions on the remaining proposals will be held and that there will be other public meetings where the community can weigh in. But we fear that by that time, the LANL train will be out of the station.
What We Fear
Retake Our Democracy’s concern is that what is being done behind closed doors may well result in LANL having a major presence in whatever is finalized. LANL is one of five master developer proposals and is also referenced as a partner in another master developer proposal (that makes 2 of the 5). What’s more, vague descriptions referencing an “Innovation Triangle” are found in another proposal. That phrase resonates with language used by LANL and the National Nuclear Security Administration about linking Sandia, Santa Fe, and Los Alamos in a research partnership.
Only one developer, Allan Affeldt, has gone public with the details of their project, offering an expansive view of what he proposes in a Nov 24 Albuquerque Journal article. Affeldt is the developer who led the restoration of Las Vegas’ historic Plaza and Castañeda hotels, and Lamy’s landmark Legal Tender bar and restaurant. In the Journal article, he describes an impressive array of partners that make sense for a mixed-used housing-retail development including arts, theater, and technology. But one quote from Affeldt raised concerns:
“We have important lab presences and we have a tech presence, but we have no spin-offs from that,” he said. “We can change the reputation of this state to show its high-tech potential, because we’re not capturing that right now.”Albuquerque Journal, November 24
The state of New Mexico already has a “reputation” as a primary driver in nuclear arms research and development, along with a “reputation” for being a dumping ground for the toxic byproducts of nuclear energy and nuclear weapons development. We do not need to build on that.
And given that the other descriptions of proposals are but 2-3 sentences in length, it is entirely possible that LANL is part of more than just 2-3 of the master developer projects.
What We Should Do
A Santa Fe New Mexican reader, Jay Coghlin placed the possible inclusion of LANL in the Midtown Project in moral terms:
The City of Santa Fe is officially “La Villa Real de la Santa Fe de San Francisco de Asís” (“The Royal Town of the Holy Faith of Saint Francis of Assisi”), named for the famous saint who preached peace and environmental protection and from whom the present Pope draws his name. It would be supremely ironic if the City of Santa Fe hosted a satellite campus for an institution that spends $2 billion (and rising) every year on nuclear weapons of mass destruction. Mayor Webber and the Santa Fe City Council surely know that would generate a tremendous amount of controversy in our blessed City, a controversy they could well do without. The City of Santa Fe should stop LANL’s proposal for a satellite campus in our town as a nonstarter and an affront to St. Francis de Assisi, the saint of peace. “Jay Coghlin comment offered digitally at the end of the Nov. 25 New Mexican article cited above.
Since there will be no time for public comment on these proposals before an important decision is made to significantly narrow the field, we ask that you write and call the Mayor and your City Council Member today. Tell them that you strongly object to the inclusion of LANL in the MidTown Project in any way shape or form. Rest assured that Retake will partner with and support other organizations like Nuke Watch, TEWA Women United, Los Alamos Study Group and others who have been dogging LANL for decades. But don’t delay in making the call. Yesterday in a meeting with Greg Mello and other nuclear activists, he said: “NNSA will tell you it is always premature to provide comment…until it is too late.” Let’s not be too late.
We have a tremendous opportunity to do something special with the Midtown Project. There will be immense pressure brought from the Department of Defense, the Trump administration, and others to make LANL a key part of this project. That can’t happen.
Message & Contact Info
Acknowledge that you understand that the decisions are now in the selection committee’s hands, but indicate that there is really no other way to provide input other than reaching out to City Council members and the Mayor.
Indicate that the City should not even consider LANL as a Master Developer and that Santa Fe wants no part of a partnership with the nuclear weapons industry.
Indicate that should the selection committee identify a good proposal that also includes LANL, that while the City could still consider the larger proposal, it would not welcome inclusion of LANL.
In short, you message is: the Midtown Project must not include any LANL presence whatsoever.
Mayor Alan Webber: (505) 955-6590. firstname.lastname@example.org
- Renee Villarreal, (505) 955-2345, email@example.com
- Signe I. Lindell, (505) 955-6812, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Carol Romero-Wirth, (505) 955-6815. email@example.com
- Peter Ives, District 2 Councilor, (505) 955-6816, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Roman “Tiger” Abeyta, (505) 955-6814 email@example.com
- Chris Rivera, (505) 955-6818, firstname.lastname@example.org
- JoAnne Vigil Coppler, (505) email@example.com
- Micheal Harris,(505) 955-6817, firstname.lastname@example.org
What Santa Fe Would Be Complicit With, If We Let This Happen
Paul & Roxanne