Today’s post is packed with important info, including news that MLG is likely not moving on to DC, a report on an effort asphalt plant in ABQ, three News in Briefs, new GA poll results & an update on our 2021 Legislative Strategy. Read on.
One Picture Tells a Thousand Words:
How Well Has Capitalism Worked? And For Whom?
Click the arrow in the middle of the image to see how this picture has changed over the decades.
Amazing Progress Developing Statewide Advocacy Network
If you are interested in being part of our statewide advocacy network RetakeResponse@gmail.com. We are working with other advocacy groups (Indivisible, Taos United, WFP, Adelante, Wheeler Peak Progressives, PDA and others) to organize constituent teams in Districts held by Democratic Senators. Please use the following links to learn more.
You don’t have to be a policy wonk or even to have experience advocating with the legislature to do this and to do it effectively. Retake provides tools, scripts and information on all our bills. If you were on our zoom with Democratic leadership on Tuesday, you heard Senator Wirth indicate that he felt the stars are aligned and the time was now for passing really meaningful legislation and we want to make sure we take advantage. The need is great, but so is the opportunity.
All three of the Democratic leadership panelists affirmed that this constituent team strategy could be very effective. One of the most important outcomes from this work will simply be to identify what concerns a Senator may have about a bill. With no staff and hundreds and hundreds of bills, legislators can’t possibly become expert on every bill and so, too often, enter a committee hearing knowing little about a bill. This affords us an opportunity to be a valued ally to those legislators.
Thus far, from the Zoom and from my interview with Sen. Mimi Stewart we have identified bills where Senators simply said they didn’t know much about the bill or they stated concerns that allies sponsoring the bills could easily address. But if those allies don’t get that info, they can’t reach out and provide more accurate information about their bills. This is most important work and all we need is your voice.
We have a strategy meeting later today on Zoom and are holding them every Friday in December at 3:30 (maybe we’ll skip Christmas Day) ;-). We’d love to have you on those calls. Zoom invite, link to legislative strategy and list of bills we support below. We’ve been working for four years to develop this level of access and credibility with our legislators. As Sen. Wirth stated, the stars are aligned, the time is now. Let’s do this.
- Click here to review our legislative strategy.
- Click here to review the 2021 bills we support.
- Click here to join our Friday, Dec. 4 Strategy Zoom where we will be discussing the statewide effort to build constituent teams in every Senate District held by Dems.
We will be circulating a survey on our bills, possibly as early as tomorrow. So, if you want to tell us what you think of our priorities, you’ll want to complete the survey.
Senator Mimi Stewart in Retake Conversation on KSFR, 101.1 FM and Streaming from KSFR.org Saturday, 8:30 AM (Recorded on Thursday). Tune in for a tremendous in interview. I really didn’t know Sen. Stewart at all until organizing the Zoominar and following that with this one-on-one interview. Listen in. You will learn a good deal about her background, priorities and approach to being a Democratic leader. As our Senate Pro-Tem elect, she will be one of the most powerful figures in the Roundhouse. A audio visual recording will be posted on the Retake Conversations page on our website. Just hover over the actions and events menu and click on Retake Conversations, Sen. Stewart’s interview will appear by 9 AM Saturday.
News In Briefs: Three NIBs today, one from Joe Monahan indicating that MLG is likely not going to Washington after all. If that comes to fruition, a whole lotta Democratic leaders who had their eyes on running for Governor will be delaying them for another four years. A second NIB for which we provide an excerpt below, outlines how the small business relief component of the CARES Act was constructed to benefit large corporations and big box stores, not small business. What stunning news (not). This is so sad. The last NIB comes from Heather Cox Richardson, who describes just how completely out of bounds Trump, his attorneys and their allies have gone in threatening Democracy and threatening the lives of Republicans who have failed to do their bidding. It caused me to ask: when does this become actionable sedition? Read on.
- From Joe Monahan’s New Mexico: “MLG’S National Ambitions Appear To Bite The Dust; HHS Job Has New Fave; Did She Reject Interior? Plus: NM Governors And The DC Curse”
- From The Washington Post: “More than half of emergency small-business funds went to larger businesses, new data shows: The Trump administration has emphasized PPP loans to small firms, but most of the $522 billion went to a tiny slice of borrowers”
- From Letters from an American: “Heather Cox Richardson, Dec 2, 2020″
Why Are We Not Surprised: Majority of CARES Act “Small” Business Relief Goes to Big Corps, Not Small Business
From the Washington Post NIB above, we find that the CARES Act was carefully constructed to provide added revenue to mostly the big box businesses, businesses like Target, Home Depot and the major food chains that would have been achieving staggering profits even without any relief. Meanwhile:
“Officials from the Treasury Department and the Small Business Administration (SBA) have argued the program primarily benefited smaller businesses because a vast majority of the loans ― more than 87 percent ― were for less than $150,000, as of August. But the new data shows more than half of the $522 billion in the same time frame went to bigger businesses, and only 28 percent of the money was distributed in amounts less than $150,000.”
It is the genuinely “small” businesses who would be seeking these smaller packages, but only just over 25% of the SBA funds reached those business. What’s more, 600 mostly larger companies, including dozens of national chains, received the maximum amount allowed under the program of $10 million. Effectively, the CARES Act has served to strengthen the large competitors of the real small local businesses while leaving those small businesses largely empty handed. Shameless. All the more reason we must support those Democrat Senate candidates in the crucial runoffs Jan. 4. And polls show a stunning reversal in Georgia. The polls below are from an A rated polling source and they show a stunning rise for both Democratic candidates. Click here to get to our Georgia strategy. There are funds to be donated and letters to be written. Let’s do this!
When Does Sedition Come Into Play?
Heather Cox Richardson, once again, has University of Texas School of Law Professor Steve Vladeck stated that.
“The Uniform Code of Military Justice defines as ‘sedition’ one who, ‘with intent to cause the overthrow or destruction of lawful civil authority, creates, in concert with any other person, revolt, violence, or other disturbance against that authority.’…”
Hmm. So in the last few days, this is what Trump and his allies have been up to:
- Michael Flynn, freshly pardoned by Trump, retweeted petition from the “We the People Convention.” The petition asked Trump to declare martial law, suspend the Constitution, silence the media, and have the military “oversee a national re-vote.”
- The petition ends by calling on Trump: “to boldly act to save our nation…. We will also have no other choice but to take matters into our own hands, and defend our rights on our own, if you do not act within your powers to defend us.”
- Trump’s ally, lawyer Lin Wood, insisted he had seen the “real” results of the election, and that Trump won “over 410” electoral votes. “He damn near won every state including California!” The crowd blamed Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, a Republican, for the fact that the state’s recount did not go to Trump. “Lock him up!” they chanted.
- Vermont Secretary of State’s Office tweeted that their elections team was “threatened with execution by firing squad.”
- Georgia election officials have been threatened with death, Michigan’s governor was the object of a kidnap and execution attempt and the list of other threats gets longer every day.
And in all of this there is one common thread: Trump is stoking the flames while he raises more money in the days following the election than he did in the month prior, all to fund his post-presidential life. We’ve never seen anything even remotely like this since the Civil War and I ask: When does this become sedition? When do GOP leaders say “enough is enough,” stop or we will vote to impeach you? I wake up every morning asking these questions and have for months, but it appears, very sadly that GOP leadership hasn’t the stomach to do the right thing and instead does Trump’s bidding holding up COVID relief while America experiences in one day, the highest of new cases, hospitalizations and deaths in the entire 10 months of the pandemic. And our President spends 46 minutes in a self-pitying, lie-infused monologue without ever mentioning the words COVID, essential workers or his plan to help anyone but himself. We will look back on the last four years as the most shameful in our history. January 20 can’t come soon enough. 47 DAYS!
Call To Action: Since When Is Asphalt Agriculture
Retake Board Member, Miguel Acosta shared the info below. It is the second time now we have reported on an asphalt plant trying to expand their operations into residential or agricultural communities. Only a week ago, we reported on approval of an asphalt plant in South Santa Fe and now another effort in the Mountain View neighborhood of ABQ. With a Democratic Governor, State Senate, State House, State Land Office, and Mayor of ABQ, how is it that we are having to raise our voices to oppose such an obvious instance of environmental racism? We provide all the gory details and then offer contact info and very simple speaking points so you can raise your voice. At the bottom of this page is a Call to Action with contact info and suggested language to raise your voice against environmental racism.
The Mountain View Neighborhood Association and Mountain View Community Action along with representative petitioners Lauro Silva and Nora Garcia filed a petition last week to the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Air Quality Control Board asking for a hearing regarding the permitting of a proposed hot mix asphalt batch plant which is slated to be built at 9615 Broadway SE. The petition was filed just before the Thanksgiving holiday, on Wednesday, November 25.
The City of Albuquerque Environmental Health Department issued a permit for New Mexico Terminal Services to build the asphalt plant on October 26, 2020, in spite of the land being currently zoned A-1 for Agricultural use only.
The co-petitioners, represented by the New Mexico Environmental Law Center, claim that the permitting of this asphalt plant is discrimination against the residents of the Mountain View neighborhood, a community that has already borne the brunt of polluting industry in Bernalillo County. Mountain View is located southeast of Albuquerque, between the Rio Grande river and I-25, south of Rio Bravo Boulevard.
Marla Painter, a member of Mountain View Community Action, explains, “Currently, the Environmental Health Department permits an unlimited amount of polluting industry in our neighborhood without regard for human health. There is a dangerous concentration of unhealthy industrial activity adjacent to a community that has existed a lot longer than industrial activity in this community.”
Without even having the proper zoning or special use permit in place, the City of Albuquerque Environmental Health Department approved the permit, once again placing the environmental burden on an EPA-designated environmental justice community.
“This is yet another clear example of environmental racism,” said Eric Jantz, staff attorney with the NM Environmental Law Center. “The City of Albuquerque Environmental Health Department (EHD) rarely, if ever, issues similar permits for polluting industry in predominantly affluent and White neighborhoods who are similarly not zoned for industrial uses. Yet, the EHD issued a permit for this neighborhood comprised primarily of people of color who are already overburdened by air pollution,” said Jantz.
Other claims in the petition include:
• The right to due process for community members was violated by the City of Albuquerque numerous times, especially when the Hearing Officer at a previous Public Information Hearing failed to let residents challenge a company spokesperson who falsely claimed the site was zoned for industrial use. The Hearing Officer called their request to speak “irrelevant.”
• The make and model number of the asphalt equipment NM Terminal Services plans to use has not been made public, making it nearly impossible to determine accurate emissions data. This lack of transparency endangers the health of the community and makes the permitting process woefully inadequate.
• The City of Albuquerque Environmental Health Department issued an Air Quality Permit for New Mexico Terminal Services to build a hot asphalt batch plant in violation of Bernalillo County Zoning law as well as Clean Air Act law, effectively permitting an illegal land use.
• The City of Albuquerque Environmental Health Department failed to follow the Air Quality Board’s Modeling Guidelines requiring that particulate matter from nearby facilities must be taken into account when evaluating the permit. The Department should have also considered cumulative VOC impacts.
“Cumulative impacts are a basic tenet of environmental justice,” said Jantz, “and the burden the City of Albuquerque expects residents to bear is unacceptable. This particular company’s application for a permit must be seen within the wider context of other polluting industries within the same neighborhood.”
Community members are concerned about adverse health impacts from breathing polluted air, asphalt fumes and odors which affect health, quality of life, and property values. Residents also assert that the asphalt plant will impact the quiet enjoyment of their property due to increased traffic, light, noise and dust.
According to Jantz, “With all the challenges we are currently facing from the COVID-19 pandemic, this proposed asphalt plant by New Mexico Terminal Services is piling on to the multiple health risks already faced by the community, as we know that COVID-19 is hitting people of color exponentially higher in terms of both deaths and cases.”
Very close to the proposed Asphalt Batch Plant site are three facilities located on Bates Road: Soilutions, Barela Landscaping Materials, and New Mexico Compost Products. According to Painter, these businesses send a lot of particulate matter into the air on a regular basis. “I often walk my dogs on the ditch nearby,” she says, “and observe the dust. Also, compost sometimes catches fire and burns slowly, sending up lots of smoke.”
In addition, nearby there are oil terminal sites, unregulated auto and heavy equipment salvage sites, a sewage treatment plant, contractor’s yards, recycling facilities (some of which crush and burn materials), chemical storage facilities (including chlorine distribution), asphalt, concrete crushing facilities, oil and gas transportation transloading facilities, and existing asphalt batch plants.
Painter asks, “What kind of local government would permit the building of an asphalt batch plant down the road from a National Wildlife Refuge?”
Painter continues, “There must be a limit to the amount of polluting industry allowed in Mountain View. The EHD never denies an air polluting permit, no matter if it is next door to a community center, an elder’s home or a school. Public health must be taken into account when sanctioning unlimited industrial development within a historically agricultural and residential community. This asphalt plant now has a permit to operate on land zoned for agricultural use—that is crazy and illegal.”
The New Mexico Environmental Law Center has been defending environmental justice since 1987. It is our mission to work with New Mexico’s communities to protect air, land and water in the fight for environmental justice. https://nmelc.org/
CALL TO ACTION:
Please contact the Director of ABQ Environmental Health and tell him that you oppose the granting of the permit for this asphalt plant, that you don’t think that a site zoned for agriculture should be approved for use to produce asphalt because asphalt is not agriculture.
Name: Ryan Mast
Department: Environmental Health
Paul & Roxanne
Categories: Environmental Justice