Transparency Absent in Roundhouse, But DINOs Look Out for the Rich

We reprise last week’s posts on the parallels between 1932 & 2020 elections; we offer a critique of Roundhouse operations; & we give a frightening report on how Trump disinformation could get him a second term.

Save the Date: Tuesday, Mar. 17, 6:30-8pm, Center for Progress & Justice, 1420 Cerrillos Rd. Retake Takes Stock of 2020 Session & Launches 2020 June Primary Strategy. If you need motivation, read on.

Please RSVP by writing to us at RetakeResponse@gmail.com.

Our DINO Dems, Hard At Work for the 3%, But No Time for the 97%

On Saturday, I vented about the utterly inane legislative process that unfolds in the Roundhouse (See Saturday’s post below). Over the weekend, matters have only gotten worse. While several bills we support sit in Senator John Arthur Smith’s Senate Finance Committee, that committee and Senate Corporations & Transportation found time to hear and pass unanimously SB 274, one of the most despicable repudiations of economic and social justice imaginable. You just don’t get more brazen than this.

Last year, the legislature finally found the gumption to add a new higher tax bracket to the NM state tax code — a one-cent-on-the-dollar increase in taxes that impacts only the top 3% of the state taxpayers. And who might that be? The top 3% are individuals with annual incomes over $210,000 or if filing jointly over $315K.

While this would increase their state tax obligation by only 1% (from 4.9% to 5.9%), it would nonetheless generate $220 million for the state between 2021-2026...unless SB 274 becomes law. SB 274 postpones the increase until 2026.

We are the poorest state in the country, we rank last in child welfare, and our education system is one of the worst. We have the most regressive tax code in the country, and yet Sen. Clemente Sanchez, Chair of Senate Corporations & Transportation made this bill a priority for a hearing, and Senator John Arthur Smith felt this also warranted precious time from the Senate Finance Committee.

SB 274 passed unanimously in both committees, meaning each of the Senators listed below voted to pass this legislation, presumably because they felt the NM 3% needs the tax savings more than the 97% of New Mexicans who not only don’t benefit from the cut, they are doubly dis-served as the state is deprived of $220M that could be used on our schools, our roads, our infrastructure, early childhood, healthcare, or any of a million other uses that are better than offering the rich an extra first class flight to Europe or a new SUV.

The following Democratic Senators (all of whom are up for re-election this year) thought this was such a great idea that they voted for it in either Senate Finance or Senate Corporations:

  • Senator John Arthur Smith
  • Senator Clemente Sanchez
  • Senator Mary Kay Papen
  • Senator Bill Tallman
  • Senator George Muñoz
  • Senator Jacob Candelaria
  • Senator Benny Shendo
  • Senator John Sapien
  • Senator Bobby Gonzales (inexplicably — an otherwise solid Democrat)
  • Senator Nancy Rodriquez

While their time was spent debating the merits of this bill, five of our Priority Bills were stalled in Senate Finance. The following bills have been sitting there for one to three weeks, and none of them are scheduled for today’s committee hearing:

  • SB 24 Individual Development Account Act, a measure that would make it easier for the working poor to establish credit and develop savings, something the 3% don’t need to fret about–this bill has been in queue in Senate Finance since Jan. 27;
  • SB 33 Study Funding of Nongame Species Conservation, a bill that would facilitate protecting endangered species. The bill has been stalled in Senate Finance since Jan 28;
  • SB 2 Electric Vehicle Income Tax Credit, sitting in SFC since Feb 3, would provide an opportunity to incentivize the purchase of more electric vehicles. HB 217, the House version of this tax credit, is also parked in Senate Finance;
  • SB 114 Community Energy Efficiency Development Grant Act would give low-income communities funds to improve residential homes’ energy efficiency; stalled in Senate Finance since Feb 4;
  • SB 134 Independent Redistricting Commission, stalled in Senate Finance since Feb 7;
  • SB 323 Opportunity Scholarship. At an annual cost of $35M, this bill would be completely paid for (with plenty left over) by the 1% tax increase the above Senators voted to postpone. It has been parked in Senate Finance since Feb 12.

Every single one of these bills could have been chosen for a hearing in Senate Finance last week with the next step the Senate Floor. Instead, Senator Smith and his fellow committee members chose to hear SB 274 so that the 3% could get their tax break and the state would have $220M less revenue to devote to the priorities of the 97% of New Mexicans who don’t benefit from the cut. To add to the backlog, three more important bills have just been added to the Senate Finance Committee docket.

  • HB 100 Health Insurance Exchange Act, which would protect the healthcare coverage of New Mexicans from the ACA being declared unconstitutional…. just this little thing called health coverage…I’m sure the NM 3% are not fretting;
  • HB 148 Working Families Tax Credit and SB 87 another slightly different version of HB 148; and
  • HB 233 Renewable Grid Modernization Roadmap, which would guide the state in update and modernizing its renewable energy grid.

There is some possibility that the Senate Finance Committee addressed one or more of these bills in their hearing on Sunday. It is impossible to know, however, since the meeting announcement posted for Sunday hearings indicated Finance would meet at a time “to be determined” with an agenda to be posted outside the hearing room at the time of the meeting, whenever that was.

Doesn’t exactly sound as if they want us there. But come June, they get to hear from us. There is this thing called a Primary Election where voters get a chance to raise their voices and make their choices. But before we vote, we need to organize and devote our time and resources to support candidates who are not too busy currying favor with the 3% to tend to the needs of the rest of us. Join us on March 17 and we’ll discuss this together.

A Look Back

Trump $1 Billion Disinformation Campaign Could Give Us Four More Years, Plus Report on Inspiring Effort by Santa Fe Youth at the Roundhouse

Tuesday, Feb 11. We all know he lies constantly. We all know Fox News spews and even amplifies those lies, misleading his supporters and filling them with alt-facts and poisonous rhetoric. But what you may not fully appreciate is what is to come: a $1 billion social media campaign carefully constructed to complete reframe reality and precisely target inflammatory messaging in nuanced ways to specific subgroups. The post describes the work of the social media genius who has constructed this campaign and how it is intended to manipulate the election. Very frightening.

The post also describes the inspiring and then heartbreaking story of how a group of Santa Fe high school students had an idea for an increase in NM’s gas tax to pay for roads, to invest in renewable infrastructure, and to create a fund to support a tax credit for low-income drivers to mitigate the increase in the gas tax. They worked with Rep. Matthew McQueen and over a three year period developed their idea into a bill. On Mon., Feb. 10, they presented the bill in House Appropriations & Finance, Rep. Patty Lundstrom, Chair. They also organized over 75 well-informed students to offer public comment in support of the bill. By a vote of 14-1 the committee voted to table the bill. It was a really sad result. I will be interviewing one of the leaders of the student group, Tabatha Hirsch, for the Retake radio show. It will air on Feb 29.

Click here to read the full post.

What Can 1932 Election Tell Us About 2020?

This could be the map on Nov 3 if we listen to history

Tuesday, Feb 11. In 1932, the incumbent President Herbert Hoover ranted that the election of the “socialist” Franklin Delano Roosevelt would result in America’s demise, that government would enter the lives of all Americans, and that we would soon be marching to Moscow.

We all know how that played out. FDR was elected in a landslide and indeed he did vastly expand the role of government, delivering unemployment insurance, Social Security, and an immense investment in our infrastructure: The New Deal. In those days, Americans had no clue how government could regulate industry or how taxing the rich could afford the government the required resources to rebuild the nation and meet the needs of common folk, and Hoover banked on the idea that voters would not trust government expansion.

We have different challenges today, but they are, if anything, even more daunting. With wealth inequality worse than in 1932 and the pressing need to address the climate crisis, there are only two candidates with platforms up to the job and a credible history of endorsing progressive reform. Both are being characterized as too extreme and unelectable. Well, take a look at the map above. That’s the kind of landslide we need in 2020, and history suggests it is possible, as do a series of polls cited in this post.

To read the full post click here.

There Must Be a Better Way to Run the Legislature

Saturday, Feb 15. Saturday’s post was an expression of simmering frustration. I have spent too many hours listening to trivial memorials and announcements, appointment hearings, and endless repetitive and disingenuous questions. And, after all this, they run out of time to examine bills.

What wasn’t stated in this post was the degree to which, as we start to run out of time, each chamber begins to make important decisions at midnight, outside the scrutiny of the public. Or those decisions are made in committee hearings announced on nmlegis.gov at midnight the night before, with many of them not giving the time or an agenda of bills to be heard.

We are about out of time to deal with the climate crisis; we are ranked 49th or 50th in almost everything good; and we have an all Democrat House, Senate, and Governor. That should translate into a barrage of visionary and impactful bills passing quickly through the legislature. Not this session, not yet.

Click here to read the full post.

Join us on March 17. We need to talk and plan.

In solidarity,

Paul & Roxanne



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6 replies

  1. My impression is that the national Republican party is engaging in a concerted attack on the rule of law creating a national emergency without precedent in our history. A few questions 1) is this a correct interpretation of recent events? 2) is there any parallel movement among NM state Republicans? 3) what can be done at the grassroots level between now and November to protect the integrity of our governmental institutions?

  2. Yes, the country has been descending into Fascism for some time now. Like for about 200+ years. This wrestling between the bottom 90% and the top 10% will continue until we are willing to see and deconstructs the Myths created, and nurtured, by every generation of highly dysfunctional males. Males who themselves are born and nurtured within their bubble, the subculture of the top 10%.
    It should be noted that this wrestling began long before Jesus who, as a person, 2,000 years ago, wrestled the conquering and colonizing empire as well as the local elites supporting the colonization of their own people.
    How do we change the narrative? The belief system we all carry? A belief system that supports our participation in our own continuous colonization and exploitation?
    How can Retake help people understand our participation in our self destructive myth?
    While Retake has attracted very good and capable people. And while this group has done outstanding political and informative work that benefits our communities, it still helps perpetuate the most fundamental narrative and Myth of America. The myth that the largest and most powerful empire in the history of humankind is a democracy!
    Maybe it is time for the people in Retake to do the necessary thing. To teach us the lessons about the American Myth and its destructive power by deconstructing Retake itself.
    eduardo

    • Hey Eduardo,

      I know you read the blog regularly, so I am mystified as to how we feel we don’t already scream to the raptors that we have a neo-fascist, oligarchy that has shredded any vestiges of democracy. We also point out repeatedly, at the risk of beating a dead horse, how we have never had a democracy given slavery, colonization, the evisceration of the indigenous population, the founders ignoring the voices of women….I could go on. I think we are doing precisely what you suggest.

      • I agree. And it has been done before by many, like Jim Hightower for example. So, are we better or worse? Have we achieved paradigm change? No. Because each of us carry the paradigm/myth in ourselves.
        So, changing the name of this blog must be done as an exercise and lesson to how to deconstruct the myth here and now and to how to make our communities truly democratic by, for example, teaching ourselves Sociocracy, Community Assemblies and/or Deliberative Democracy as organizing principles or ways of interacting.
        By perpetuating the myth we force ourselves to repeat past mistakes.
        Please, note that I know and acknowledge the fact that Retake’s work, Roxanne’s and yours, and that of those who work so hard with Retake, has been of tremendous value to Santa Fe. However, I strongly believe that without uncovering the truth, or myth, hiding in the foundation of our society, real change will not be achieved.
        We need to expose our foundational myths because repairing the cracks they create on the walls above do not help anymore.
        As good as it was, the New Deal was a partial repair that helped only a few, mostly already privileged by their gender and ethnicity. And yes, a few others. But, it is already gone and the crack is exposed again.
        eduardo.

  3. Agreed.

  4. I agree too! I have a hard time believing this is the America, we grew up in. The Fascism is already here, it is clear by the way the corporate media avoids the topic and works around it. As long as the big corporations are making obscene amounts of cash, and they keep adjusting the economy to support them, everything is just hunky dory.

    Here in New Mexico, there is an underlying belief that this state is somehow different, independent, or above it all. Living here prepared me for the dumpf regime. We saw what the previous governor did, with the help of the corporate elite, and passive corporate democrats. Santa Fe is a microcosm of what it going on federally. There are homeless people everywhere, syringes in the arroyos, and a general malaise, of abandoned commons, as more big box stores, out of state companies, and fast food joints spring up, under the guise of job creation.

    Santa Fe is a playground for the rich with a supporting community of low income, depressed, and marginalized people. The tourism industry, feed on the low wage workers, income inequality, and general despair. Local politicians cater to the money interests, hucksters and grifters. They keep pandering to the developers and real estate industry. T they build fake adobe Mc Mansions, while people suffer and die on the street.

    This session we saw exactly where the priorities like, a few crumbs for the deserving poor. The IDA, because the only reason people are poor, is that they don’t know how to handle money. A beneficent foundation or billionaire will match the money they manage to save. They rolled this out years ago, and it went nowhere, and had no impact on poverty rates. Half the people in this nation don’t have $500 dollars for an emergency, so instead of raising wages, and jobs security, they come up with ideas like this. The tax rebate is another scheme, of course the working families deserve any money they can get back, but it is more of a give away to their rich employers, to make them think twice about leaving a degrading low paying job.

    That poor guy on Santa Fe Trail, trying to break through the lies and propaganda, shows the true nature of this so called community. The only acceptable “artwork” in that neighborhood is another tacky real estate sign, or maybe a developers advertising. In a town advertised for art, the “art” is limited to high dollar galleries, where locals are effectively excluded. The big bough ha ha over that mural, to replace it with a monolithic art gallery, shows the true nature of this town. https://www.sfreporter.com/arts/2020/01/08/mural-politics/ Take look at all of the foreboding new buildings, all designed to intimidate, an new architectural style, Neo Fascist. (Neo Fascist Contemporary) Buildings with hard lines, no shade, designed for discomfort, and intimidation. The character of the old neighborhood, is mostly gone, along with the trees, and any other semblance of humanity in architecture.

    It should be noted that even with all of the “art,” the archaeologists, and their high brow museums, and so called preservation, not one has an inkling on how to save that mural from destruction, it is not worth their time. So much for “innovation” even though they hype innovation, and the corporations peddle it, there really is not any meaningful innovation. The innovation is gimmicky, built on hype and marketing. Look at the medians, a community topic here, they probably noticed them because there is a panhandler, or groups of homeless people holding signs on every high visibility media. The realtors and landed gentry are concerned about their home values. https://www.santafenewmexican.com/opinion/editorials/coming-this-spring-a-more-beautiful-santa-fe/article_6639db9a-4f8b-11ea-8354-ebc5f64fa768.html

    The medians were abandoned by the many businesses that spring up and then go out of business, each one hyped as our economic savior. The recurring droughts, which they are in denial about, killed the vegetation, leaving weeds and dead plants. The city could have created some jobs, but just like they did with the trees and the parks, they let the vegetation die. They would invest a lot of money in trees, only to have them girdled by a low wage, worker with a weed wacker. The let the cottonwoods die too, removing them to build more commercial property. The few remaining trees, were hacked up by random workers. No one noticed how the ongoing development, wells and arroyo diversions were starving the trees for water.

    Instead of innovating they do the same thing they did before. The use of our traffic media for advertising, is presented as new idea. Maybe if they put their signage in the right place they can get rid of the poor people, occupying them. If they are really clever they can charge them with trespassing or property destruction, it is not as of they have not tried. the “xeriscaping” with ankle breaking rocks, serves as a barrier for pedestrians. It keeps the disabled and wheelchair bound off the medians, and off the streets. Of course they never finished making the sidewalks safe for foot traffic, even in the touristy areas, They must keep the local ER busy, the tourist have good insurance, the homeless, at least might get a nights hospitalization.

    The city does not keep track of injured pedestrians, bicyclists, or hit and runs, on the poorly designed streets, where everything is an afterthought. Sidewalks end with no warning, the handicap accessible curbs go up, and then end in dirt, rocks or foot traffic is diverted to the street. Adding more signage,and advertising will make it even worse. Drivers can’t get into the fast food restaurants and poorly maintained strip malls as it is is. The entrances were designed for a simpler time, when there was a lot less traffic, and two lanes. We have not seen any innovation here, saving lives or creating a walkable town, is not in the interests of the wealthier residents, unless it is in their own gated community. We don’ t see any of the so called wellness advocates discussing this. Wellness is another marketable commodity, just like mindfulness.

    The Legislature showed their true nature, and who they serve. John Arthur Smith lives in one of the most economically distressed areas of the state. The summer heat keeps most of the poor people indoors, but there are plenty of homeless in Deming too. The desert tends to hide some of the worst examples of poverty and despair. The cheap land attracts a few out of state retirees, and people that want to play wild west. They find that the rugged individualism, and being able to fire a gun from your back porch fades, when they get older and sick.

    It is easy to see the farm fields left fallow, and abandoned. The abandoned homes, the farms lost when the water ran out, or the market fluctuated. Deming has plenty of homeless, there they push shopping carts, and huddle under shady overhangs to get out of the desert heat, and the wind. The homeless will work for food and a night in an abandoned mobile home with no electricity or water. There was not much media attention, to the farmers who relied on workers from Mexico, who had to leave crops rotting in the fields, because of the dumpf administration crackdown on immigrants. There is a huge abandoned K-Mart, a sign of the times and the economic despair.

    Our legislators are just so out of touch, they walked out, they do not even have a cogent argument against this. https://www.santafenewmexican.com/news/local_news/senators-walk-away-to-strangle-a-bill/article_90747e58-4f43-11ea-bf5b-f343a0468444.html Due to the fluctuating tax breaks, favors, and abject refusal to fund these programs, the state is slipping behind. The Yazzie Lawsuit, demonstrated that the under funding, was targeted to minority students. Of course the entire time that public education, child protection, and safety net services were being destroyed, it was all portrayed as innovative. They ran a marketing campaign about technology and education reform. Even though the facts told us that this was making it all worse, they doubled down. Every one of these legislators is complicit in the child poverty, abuse, increased child suicides, and the horrific media sensationalized child murders. They have no shame!

    This is the Neo Liberal world order, playing out right here in New Mexico. They should have called a full session, to rebuild this state. Instead they cratered to the special interests. It is very clear who is funding them. I pointed this out back in the Richardson era, his secretary laughed so hard she dropped the phone. The groups lobbying for the children, do not offer booze and hookers, so it is easy for our legislators to skip their presentations, and choose a well stocked bar, with some working girls in attendance. At least I could have a laugh, when I knew that some of these girls were trans, the ‘family values” yokels in the legislature, can’t get that at home!

    They should keep the invocation, and only allow activists to deliver a real Jeremiad, to counter the prosperity gospel, and their worship of Mammon!

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