With Covid soaring, winter looming, and the election next week, many of us are experience serious anxiety. We offer links to last week’s posts,news on how governor-appointed Utility Commissioners are prone to cronyism & advice on managing the stress.
Election Update: In recent polls Biden appears headed toward 5-10% wins in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan with the gap increasing. In Arizona, Biden appears narrowly leading, while Florida, Georgia and Texas remain winnable but where Biden is tied or very narrowly trainling. I’d say put your time and $ into those states with narrower races and/or into the Neomi Martinez Parra and in news from this morning, Pam Cordova’s race is tightening. Siah, Harold, and Carrie appear to be fine. Click here to get to our state election strategy and links to those races and click here to get to our National Strategy. 8 days. If you need motivation, click to read today’s Letters from an American to find out about Trump’s order that brings us into alliance with such freedom loving nations as Brazil, Egypt, Hungary, Indonesia, Saudia Arabia and Uganda in an international effort to ban abortion. Not enough to get you calling? She also outlines how now the Trump rallies have presented a new version of the US Flag. The Thin Blue Line was used by white supremacists at the Charlotte rally and now waves prominently at Trump rallies. It symbolizes how the blue line (police) are all there is protecting you from the liberal left and BLM. Heather Cox Richardson puts the weekend’s developments in context in a very thoughtful way. Read on.
Trump has drawn a very clear line, my friends. We have no other option than to win on Tuesday.
Need a Break from the News? Take One
The news explodes on us all day, polls are updated constantly (still looking good), Covid is soaring, snow is coming and we know we will be stuck inside, and the election is NEXT WEEK. With all that, many are feeling increasing levels of stress. Reading online posts all day can leave you reeling from a cocktail of fear, despair, anxiety and sadness. It is important that we all take time for ourselves.
- Read a novel;
- Meditate for 20 minutes (even if you’ve never done it in your life….just sit on the floor, stare into space and force the thoughts away by focus on your own rhythmic breathing;
- Watch an escapist movie;
- Go for a walk, but you may have to hold off for a day or two as it is supposed to be cooooold and snowy (yeah)
- Enjoy the snow
- Take a day without looking at your computer or the news (I am actually going to try to do this on Tuesday);
- Enjoy the video at the bottom of this post, as it includes inspiring an message from Jennifer Houston, Black Eyed Peas and Joe Biden (good stuff); and
- Get on the phones or text for the candidate of your choice: Click here to get to our election page.
But above all, do something to take a break; the next week is going to be intense.
What Happens When Governors Appoint Utility Commissioners: Cronyism, Conflicts of Interest & Corruption.
Another Reason to Vote No on Amendment 1
We are grateful to our allies at Think New Mexico for pouring over reports from across the nation, reports that described how states with appointed utility commisioners were plagued by cronyism, appointments of friends, campaign donors and utility allies. Think NM sent me three reports on California, Georgia and Illinois.
California: In 2017, then Governor Brown knew of the unfairness of the grant-giving practices of the state Energy Commission as it doled out multi-million-dollar grants for building hydrogen refueling stations around the state while preparing for use of H2-powered cars whose exhaust is nothing but drops of water. No greenhouse gases at all. Building the stations with gasoline tax money was a worthy project, but at one point that commission had to pull back $28 million in grants because this column exposed the sheer unfairness of its grant-giving process. Later, the commission refused to cancel a large grant to an outfit whose leader had trained the commission’s own staff in how to evaluate grant applications – and then just three months later submitted one that fit all criteria he had trained staff to look for. Brown knew about these plainly unjustified actions but did nothing and in fact reappointed the commission’s chairman, Robert Weisenmiller.
Governor Brown’s actions toward the even more powerful state Public Utilities Commission have been similar. When the commission’s former president, Michael Peevey, met secretly with utility executives to hash out a clandestine deal sticking consumers with most costs for the failure of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, Brown did not object and let Peevey serve out his term. Then he appointed his former aide Michael Picker to replace Peevey and Picker promptly voted for that corrupt San Onofre settlement as one of his first acts on the commission,=.
“It’s a fairy tale to believe the PUC’s processes are fair and equitable. Rather, they have been stacked in favor of utilities for more than half a century, with some PUC members moving to big utility company jobs and some utility executives, like Peevey, moving onto the commission… The bottom line: There’s no disputing the constructive aspects of Brown’s second eight years as governor. But there’s also no doubt about the unfair practices and actions he’s tolerated and/or approved.”..From Record Searchlight, July 2018
Georgia. In Georgia an all GOP, governor-appointed Public Service Commission has been doing the bidding of Georgia Power/Southern Company Georgia’s monopoly utility. Despite being five years overdue on construction of Plant Vogtle and billions over budget, costing ratepayers $91 million a month, the Georgia PSC continued to coddle the utility all while GPSC had been paying executives million dollar bonuses.
“The Public Service Commission exists to stop big energy corporations from unfairly taking advantage of rate payers. But the five commissioners — all Republican — are not doing their jobs. The $7,700 utility lobbyist dinners probably have something to do with it. To make matters worse, Gov. Nathan Deal recently appointed his friend and supporter Tricia Pridemore to the Public Service Commision in February 2018. Pridemore co-chaired both of Deal’s inaugural committees…
Ethics watchdogs all over Georgia are looking into the PSC regulators and their relationships with Georgia Power, and finding “cozy relationships with the utility and slack record keeping.”A Better Georgia
Illinois. Ilinois is almost surreal in how clearly the state utility commission has broken every vestige of ethical oversight, with the Chicago Tribune calling a hearing to oversee ComEd a “sham meeting.” Here’s why.
Illinois Commerce Commission Chairwoman Carrie Zalewski, appointed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker in April 2019. Her father-in-law, former Chicago Ald. Michael R. Zalewski, 23rd, is referenced in federal documents as a recipient of a questionable ComEd contract. Those contracts were part of the ICC’s inquiry and will continue to be. And yet, when the case was brought before the ICC, Carrie Zalewski ran the meeting and refused to recuse herself. Cronyism again from a commissioner appointed by the Governor.
The upshot is that in all three instances, we find that having a governor make commission appointments in no way precludes collusion, cronyism or handing out seats to political allies rather than those with the expertise and the independence to do the job. As noted in previsous posts, our current PRC is doing a tremendous job. Why would we want to “fix” something that isn’t broken? Maybe to “fix” decisions to benefit utlities who make major campaign contributions to the Governor.
If you didn’t read our initial statement on the Amendment, click here. And if you didn’t see our critique of the NM Governor’s endorsement, see the Oct 24 post linked below.
VOTE NO ON AMENDMENT 1
Thursday, Nov 5, 6:30-8pm Election Zoom De-Brief, with Five New NM State Senators: Neomi Martinez Parra, Harold Pope, Pam Cordova, Carrie Hamblen, and Siah Correa Hemphill. Hopefully all five of these candidates will have won their races and will be readying for their first legislative session. They will be key votes in decriminalizing abortion, passing the Health Security Act, putting NM on a path to having a state public bank, and putting the Green Amendment on the ballot. You can meet them all, thank them for their effort ,and ask questions about their priorities and positions. Find out what will be possible with a fixed NM State Senate!
Tuesday, Dec. 1, 6:30 – 8 pm. Election Debrief and 2021 Legislative Agenda Review with Senate Floor Leader Peter Wirth and Speaker of the House Brian Egolf. We will discuss how the primaries and the general election have altered the Democratic caucuses in the House and Senate and what those changes mean for getting transformational legislation passed in 2021. We will also discuss the national election and what may have been a pretty chaotic November.
A Look Back At a Dramatic, Momentous Week
We begin with a post that provides links to posts from the week of October 12-18 including commentary on the obelisk and on how our nation can and must heal after Nov 3. The post on how we heal was the most read of anything published by Retake since January 2017.
We also provide summaries and links to all the posts from this past week (Oct 19-25). The most important post to review, if you missed it, is the one from Wednesday as we examined how decades of bipartisan, neoliberal policy and rhetoric had left the working poor, the Rust Belt, the heartland of America all feeling neglected while other, largely urban communities were seen to receive the attention of policy makers. Several people commented that this post was very helpful in understanding both how we got here, how people were drawn to Trump, and what we must do to avoid ongoing partisan warfare. Read on!
Reflections on a Week of Statues, Elections & US/NM Failure to Protect Us from Radiation, Methane & Waste +
An Update on the Obelisk & the Election
Monday, October 19. 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 announced a LANL Action for Weds.
Why 40+% of Americans Will Vote for Trump &
Why Increasing Numbers are Committed to Violence to MAGA
Wednesday, October 21. We examined how Trump plays perfectly to an uncritical mass who pay little attention to issues, but respond to catchy phrases that reflect their rage & then, a final scary piece from the Guardian on the scale & readiness of a growing militia. We included just one News In Brief as we wanted to focus on how it is that so many can be fooled so badly by Trump and how a growing segment of his following could be a violent threat to our democracy. It is an important post and was read by a huge number. Thanks for sharing.
Election Update, Plus News on the Plight of Palestinian Children & How You Can Help
Thursday, October 22. This post was short one, with a request for donations for children living in fear, poverty and poor health in Palestine. The post includes a snapshot of what life is like for Palestinian children, a short video illustrating how MECA is assisting those children and a link to how you can contribute to their work. All donations are matched dollar for dollar by a Santa Fe organization supporting MECA’s work. We also offered an update on the state of the national election with encouragement for you to do whatever you can these last 12 days.
Who Won the Debate & What’s New on the Election Front
Friday, October 23. With current polling data for the nation and key swing states, this post remains current as polling has not shifted much at all. As we move to within one week of the election, the post provided motivation and links so you could support candidates in key races. Also included were three News In Briefs, with links to articles on the Bolivian election (yeah), the degree to which the much ballyhooed CARE Act was carefully constructed to ensure that those small businesses who most needed relief, would not receive it. Shockingly, this is a disproporationate proportion of businesses owned by women and people of color. Finally, some very good news as we offer a link to an article outlining how the labor movement is preparing for a General Strike should Trump defy voters and try to justify remaining in office.
Why Is the Governor Misleading Voters About Amendment 1?
Saturday, October 24. I received an email from the Governor, as did you in all likelihood. She encouraged me to vote to approve Amendment 1, but carefully did not tell me the truth about what Amendment 1 would do. Vote NO. Here’s what was wrong with her message. The post outlines what the Governor (and most all of the slick ads supporting the Amendment) don’t tell you and how they manipulate voters into thinking that the Amendment is about delivering “expertise” to the PRC so their decisions would be based on facts and science, not politics. But that is not at all what the Amendment is about. Please share this updated piece and VOTE NO.
An Uplifting Message from Jennifer Houston, Black-Eyed Peas & Joe Biden
In solidarity & hope,
Paul & Roxanne
Categories: Election, Political Reform & National Politics