Reflections on a Week of Statues, Elections & US/NM Failure to Protect Us from Radiation, Methane & Waste + An Update on the Obelisk & the Election

We announce an election week zoominar and a call for support for one of our new Senate candidates, Neomi Martinez Parra who ousted JA Smith and urgently needs support to secure her Senate seat, We also announce a LANL Action for Weds.

IMPORTANT Election Update: I’ve done some reconnaissance over the weekend and have been given a clear message in terms of NM races: A huge amount of money is being raised to oppose Neomi Martinez Parra. This is the inspiring candidate who removed John Arthur Smith from the NM State Senate and she needs our support badly. Defeating Crystal Diamond, (R) would not only ensure another young progressive woman of color in the Senate, it would undermine the political trajectory of an up and coming GOP leader. My sources have told me that this race is essentially tied. So, if you have $50, $100, $200 or more to give, send it to Neomi now. If you have some time to give, give it to Neomi, this week.

Go to to learn how to help with the campaign. 

PRC Action to Forbid Utility Disconnections During COVID:
Action by Tomorrow & Wednesday

We need to support the PRC’s passage of new rules forbidding utility disconnection! The rules are attached. The new rules: 

  1. Forbidding utility disconnection will be in place for as long as executive orders re: COVID-19 remain in effect.
  2. Disconnections of residential utility service for non-payment issued on or after March 11, 2020 (the effective date of the governor’s first emergency executive orders pertaining to the COVID-19 pandemic) are suspended for the duration of the effectiveness of all COVID-19 related emergency executive orders
  3. Late fees on residential accounts are waived4) utilities can close in-person bill payment outlets5) medical certificates set to expire shall not expire for the duration of the effectiveness of all COVID-19 related emergency executive orders and shall automatically be extended for 90 days from the end of all COVID-19 related emergency executive orders.

If you want to speak, you have to sign up to speak by 10/20/2020, tomorrow at 5pm, by emailing:

Simply tell him you “I want to speak on behalf of New Energy Economy, I would like to speak and respond to commenters about the rule-making in this docket.  My email address is: [provide email address]. My name is [give name] and if you will be speaking for an organization provide the name of the organization. Please make sure that I get the Zoom info for the October 21st hearing.”

Please only register for the hearing if you plan on making a comment.  If you want to watch the hearing but do not wish to provide a comment the hearing will be livestreamed on YouTube.  A link to the livestream will be posted on the NMPRC website a few minutes before the hearing. 

Public comment hearing on October 21, 2020 at 9:00 a.m. which shall be accomplished through zoom, see the NMPRC home webpage for instructions to connect,

Speaking Points

  • As of 2018, there were 410,389 persons living below the federal poverty level in New Mexico. This represented 20.0 percent of New Mexico’s total population, a share that was 5.9 percentage points larger than the U.S. share of 14.1 percent.
  • The share of persons living in poverty in New Mexico’s counties ranged from just 5.3 percent in Los Alamos to a high of 36.0 percent in McKinley. The population living in poverty equaled or exceeded 25.0 percent of the total population in ten counties and exceeded 30.0 percent of the total population in two counties (McKinley and Luna).
  • This was before COVID. With so many New Mexicans now unemployed due to COVID, it is time for our utilities to step up and help those who can not make their utility payments.
  • I am speaking for XXXX # of members of “name of org.” and we strongly endorse the proposed rule changes.

An LANL Action Called by TEWA

This coming Tuesday, Oct 20, at 5 pm, the National Nuclear Security Administration is hosting a virtual public information session to inform the public about the process of venting Flanged Tritium Waste Containers (FTWCs) that are located at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

TEWA has been following this issue closely (see their September Action Alert). The fact that this meeting is even happening is likely due to the organized pressure put on LANL and elected officials from organizations like TWU, Nuclear Watch New Mexico, and Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety. We are grateful to U.S. Senators Udall and Heinrich and U.S. Representative Ben Ray Lujan for hearing our concerns and calling for this meeting to happen.

TEWA encourages you to attend this Tuesday’s session so it is clear how many people are deeply concerned about this plan and object to it.


The public information session will be hosted via Webex. People who wish to attend can join by following this link (meeting password GckhzZ5nv33), or call in by phone at 415-527-5035, access code 199 995 9074 if you do not have internet access.
Our friends at Nuclear Watch New Mexico have put together a list of questions to ask at this meeting:

  1. Please explain the explosive potential of the FTWCs. What are the risks should an explosion occur? Why do the potential public health risks of venting outweigh the risks of not venting?
  2. LANL has sat on the FTWCs since 2008. What is the urgency in venting them now?
  3. What are the alternatives to open venting?
  4. Tritium has a half-life of 12.3 years. Why not just let the tritium decay away to reduce the public health risk?
  5. Please provide proof that tritium will be captured during venting, and at what percentage, instead of general, unsubstantiated statements.
  6. The Lab asserts that the releases will be carefully monitored. Please explain. What is the quality assurance? These questions are particularly salient given LANL’s past history of noncompliance with the Clean Air Act.
  7. The Lab claims the need to reduce the amount of waste stored on site as a reason to ship four containers of tritium off-site. When will the Lab to see the need to reduce the amount of all waste stored at LANL?

Because the session will be 90 minutes long, attendees are asked to register for the event by sending their name and organization to along with any questions they may have.

Election Zoom De-Brief, Thursday, Nov 5, 6:30-8pm with Neomi Martinez Parra, Harold Pope, Pam Cordova, Carrie Hamblen and a handful of other great Dems. If only there were a way to sit together and watch the election results. Thankfully, national and swing state polls point to a decided win by Biden, but 2016 memories linger and so at 5pm Nov 3, I expect many of us will be pacing nervously with the TV reporting on turnout and Trump voter-suppression efforts. I actually can’t even begin to imagine how anxious I will be….best not to think about it, until it is upon us.

Roxanne and I mulled hosting a zoom on election night, but feel that results will be coming in quite late and with so many absentee and early voting Democrats whose votes in some states may not be counted for days, those early returns may be misleadingly frightening. We may not know the full picture for a day or so, so we are planning a celebration (or wake) and debrief a couple days after the election. We have confirmations from Neomi Martinez Parra, Carrie Hamblen, Pam Cordova and Harold Pope and expect several other Dems will be joining us in a very informal conversation.

Using our webinar zoom platform, we can “elevate” up to 100 of you at a time, to be visible and to speak and we will figure out way to have lots of commentary from you. This will not be a scripted interview format like prior zooms. We’ll offer opening remarks, let our featured Dems have a minute or two to thank you for your support and exult in their victories and then allow banter, stories and thoughts on what’s next.

Click here to register.
We will prioritize who gets to speak by who registers first,

so sign up now.

News In Brief: Today, we offer three NIBs, the first is a great site for keeping current on the Senate races. It offers a US map with every Senate race highlighted in shades of blue or red, offers a tally at the top and then below provides the most recent polling data for each race along with often humorous summaries on the state of the race. Very worth tracking this page. There is also a link to the national election that functions similarly.

The second NIB is a kind of preface to our commentary below about the obelisk. The Atlantic does an excellent job framing the public debate about southwest statues commemorating civil war “heroes,” and placing them in an accurate historic context.

The third piece should be absolutely shocking, but barely received any notice when reported last week. While Trump had pre-judged Michael Reineohl as an Antifa terrorist, from the evidence it was unclear whether his shooting of a right wing militia was unprovoked or an act of self-defense. At least until now, we use trials to sort that out.

The Times account states:

“Five eyewitnesses said in interviews that the gunfire began the instant the vehicles arrived. None of them saw Mr. Reinoehl holding a weapon. …

“Garrett Louis, who watched the shooting begin while trying to get his eight-year-old son out of the line of fire, said the officers arrived with such speed and violence that he initially assumed they were drug dealers gunning down a foe—until he saw their law enforcement vests.”

Multiple witnesses confirmed that police emerged from their vehicles and began firing without warning. “There was no, ‘Get out of the car!’ There was no, ‘Stop!’ There was no nothing. They just got out of the car and started shooting,” Louis told the Times. Reinoehl’s hand gun was found in his pocket.

More Reflection on the Obelisk, Kit Carson, & Genocide

We offered one view of the commemorative civil war statues of Colorado and New Mexico in our News in Brief above. But as often happens, I get emails from allies throughout the day with links to germane news. Sunday, Jeff Haas sent me a link to a Red Nation piece on the obelisk by Elena Ortiz. The Atlantic article was a historical perspective, while the one from Red Nation is more personal. Ortiz commented on one of the leaders who are among those celebrated as the “brave soldiers” commemorated by the obelisk:

“Chivington’s men scalped many of the dead; men, women, children and infants. He and his men decorated their weapons, hats, and clothes with scalps and other body parts, including human fetuses, and male and female genitalia. They cut off the breasts of the women and played catch with them. They also publicly displayed these battle trophies in Denver’s Apollo Theater and area saloons. This became known as the Sand Creek Massacre.”

Ortiz does an excellent job of weaving conversations with her father talking with her under the shadow of the obelisk and the history that is the context for that experience. After describing the genocide perpetrated by Chivington and his men, she goes on to describe the genocide perpetrated by yet another civil war “hero,” Kit Carson, as he conducted a “scorched earth” campaign of the Diné, Ndee and Mescalero peoples, a campaign that included the slaughter of hundreds, the razing of fields, the enslavement of women and children and the forced marches known as “the Long Walk.” It is easy to see how Ortiz could celebrate the removal of the obelisk, no matter how it was achieved.

These are the men commemorated on that obelisk—these “Union” soldiers who sought to create a “unified” West, a White nation built on stolen land, the wet dream of Manifest Destiny—the epitome of white supremacy. The glory of settler-colonialism was etched into stone and erected on Tewa homelands, on O’gha Po’geh.”

I have seen so many comments written below the online SF New Mexican articles on the obelisk from people who feel “outsiders” i.e. people who have only lived in NM 30-40 years, are disrespecting the historic culture of New Mexico. I actually can appreciate how some could feel that way. But if we are to be a society guided by facts and science, we should also be guided by history. Clearly, our nation has a significant proportion of people who currently resist science, reason, or history and so as part of the “healing” that must come post Nov 3, it is important that some form of public education campaign unfold, not a campaign that preaches down on those who hold different views than ours, but one that seeks honest conversation with the goal of achieving some level of understanding across what is now a very large divide. And this work may take generations.

But, when you hear or read of people indicating that they deplore the destruction of the obelisk and that they find the way it was removed to be shameful, I’d respond that we have way more to be ashamed of than the methods used to remove an obelisk that should have been removed long ago.

Click the link to read all of Red Nation’s “When an Obelisk Isn’t Just an Obelisk.” It is a very thoughtful piece.

A Look Back at a Promising Week

Well, the week certainly didn’t lack for drama whether it was the stunning removal of the obelisk or the continuing publication of ever more promising polling results, the week had the feel of a shift toward something different. I keep reading about a national exhaustion and I think that that exhaustion is beginning to cause a shift in voters’ allegiances. I think that there is a sense that we just can’t be at war with each other over every issue, that everyone with whom we might differ can’t be the devil. And so while one post last week focused on NM’s seeming incapacity to protect our environment from radiation, methane or produced water spills, most of the week was focused on the hopeful signs emanating from polls and thoughts on healing post-Nov. 3.

Apparently our readers are locked in, too. As we had more views of our website last week than any week since January 2017 when the Women’s March and protests of the Muslim ban caused thousands to head to the airports. Stay engaged, my friends. We are but 16 days from the beginning of Election Week. All hands on deck.

And if you missed it, please do read the post from Friday on how we must heal after November 3.

Indigenous Words on Indigenous People’s Day +
Reflection on Last Week

Monday, October 13. We offer links to our election strategies, to last week’s posts, to our down ballot recommendations, & our recommendation on Amendment 1.Since it is Indigenous People’s Day, we also offer an interview with Roxanne Dunbar Ortiz on settler colonialism and on pre-colonial indigenous socialism. She outlines not just how indigenous peoples have been oppressed by settler colonialism, but how all of us have been harmed by it. A very worthwhile way to spend 25 minutes on Indigenous Peoples’ Day. When this post was published, we had no clue what was to transpire later that day.

Click here to read the full post.

A Look at Risks from LANL Radiation Leaks, HOLTEC & Fed/State Failure to Protect Us

Reaction to LANL Nuclear Expansion Plans

Wednesday, October 15. A recent national study shows a high risk of a LANL radioactive explosion. The fast-track HOLTEC effort advances without state or federal review. We have not learned from Church Rock or Trinity disasters, historic examples of NM sacrifice zones, a legacy that continues, unchecked by state or federal agencies. Are you tired of being unprotected by our systems? This is an important piece, if you are not aware of the current efforts to continue making NM a national sacrifice zone.

Click here to read the full post

Can We Ever Heal? We Examine Extremism, the Obelisk &
the Great Divide: Such an Important Post 

Friday, October 17. Statues are being removed by protestors or by elected officials, right-wing militia have plotted to kidnap governors, Trump supporters are increasingly unhinged by Trump’s violent rhetoric. In this context, how can we possibly heal post Nov. 3? This was one of the most read posts in Retake’s four years and triggered many emails and several comments. If you missed it, it is really a must read. The News In Brief in today’s post (above) from The Atlantic is a nice piece to read to amplify on many of thoughts expressed in the Oct. 17 post.

Click here to read the post

Election Update and Supreme Court Strategy

Saturday, October 18. We published a brief post on Saturday because we wanted to update you on the election, express continuing concerns about a possible coup and offer strategies to counter it. Plus we outlined a brilliant strategy to remedy the Supreme Court travesty from The Nation.

Click here to read the full post.

In solidarity & hope,

Paul & Roxanne

Categories: Social & Racial Justice & Immigration Reform

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  1. Update on Amendment 1 & Other Election News, Plus Suggestion to Keep You Sane – Retake Our Democracy

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