We Won in Georgia Despite Voter Suppression, Results Analyzed and a Piece on a Bill to End Private Prisons In NM

In addition, we report on a horrible situation in Gaza, where the Israeli government is prohibiting Gaza health professionals (or anyone else) from getting vaccines. Sickening. We also offer info on what you can expect today in Wash. D.C.

Georgia We Love You

With 98% of the vote counted, Raphael Warnock has been declared the winner in his runoff against Kelly Loeffler, as he leads by over 50,000 votes with only 100,000 votes to be counted, most all coming from heavily Democratic counties and the 17,000 overseas votes that will be counted by Friday. Jon Ossoff holds a somewhat smaller 17,000 vote margin, with the same votes to be counted, it is inconceivable he would now lose, but the media is being cautious in declaring a winner here. We are not so cautious; Ossoff has won.

I don’t know if you watched the returns last night, but if you did, you understand how crazy last night was. What drama, so much at stake, so many ups and downs. There are two takeaways from the election:

  1. It should not have been even remotely this close as the video at the bottom of this post describes. We can stop singing praise to GOP Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger as while he may have had the character to stand up to Trump and defend Georgia’s election process, as the video below illustrates, racist voter suppression is rampant in Georgia, resulting in the suppression of hundreds of thousands of votes…. And if you do manage to fix your registration, in some communities of color, lines to vote early stretched for 5-10 hours.
  2. Despite that suppression, the grassroots work of thousands of community organizers, funded by millions of donors from across the nation, supported by millions of volunteers who texted or called…. WE’VE WON! And Mitch McConnell will soon be the Minority Senate Leader.

Last night’s win is the difference between having absolutely zero chance at getting meaningful legislation passed, to having a reasonably clear path. Make no mistake, it will take sustained advocacy pressing our US Senators and Reps to push Biden to advance boldly, but for now, it just feels good to have elections behind us for a bit.

Roxanne and I are just floating around with the thought of not having to even care what McConnell does, thinks, or says. I imagine you are, too. Roxanne commented this morning that it feels like we have FINALLY emerged from a deep, dark cave. So much more possible today, than yesterday. Thanks to all of you who made calls, texted and donated in Georgia.

All Eyes on Congress & Washington DC

If you just want to follow tomorrow’s electoral vote count in Congress, this piece from NPR does a great job of just laying out what can, can’t and should happen: “Congress’ Role In Election Results: Here’s What Happens Jan. 6″  The vote begins at 1pm ET and it will be on every channel on earth.

But I am So Afraid that Tomorrow the Drama Will be on the Streets

I was stunned to see what is being openly reported on internet sites like Parler, Donald.win and Telegram. It is clear that white supremacist, pro-trump organizations use these platforms to openly plot what can only be called treason. In response to Washington, D.C.’s stringent gun violence laws, open carry is illegal, period. Permits to carry arms obtained from outside DC are not valid. In short, Proud Boys et al are simply not allowed to bear arms. And yet:

 “Yes, it’s illegal, but this is war and we’re clearly in a post-legal phase of our society.” Wrote another: “LIVE AS A FREE AMERICAN AND BRING YOUR ARMS!”

From Washington Post: “Pro-Trump forums erupt with violent threats ahead of Wednesday’s rally against the 2020 election”

And it gets still more frightening:

“One particularly troubling post said protesters should travel in groups that should “not let [anyone] disarm someone without stacking bodies.” It added that protesters should be “ARMED WITH RIFLE, HANDGUN, 2 KNIVES AND AS MUCH AMMO AS YOU CAN CARRY.”

From Washington Post: “Pro-Trump forums erupt with violent threats ahead of Wednesday’s rally against the 2020 election”

Also, these media sources, offered detailed instructions on how to pack and hide your weapons to essentially smuggle them into DC. I do not understand how this kind of plotting is not deemed sedition or treason. My hope is that internet surveillance results in identification of these traitors and that they are arrested as they arrive in DC. Three hundred and forty Army National Guard have been called up by the DC Mayor to support local police. Fingers crossed, that despite the president’s sustained encouragement, we escape today without violence.

MAKING CHANGES FOR THE PUBLIC GOOD Influencing Legislators: A Lobbying Workshop

If you’ve got time today, this could be a good workshop for sharpening your legislative lobbying efforts. I got the invite from NM Voices for Children. Bills are starting to drop. Retake has a team reviewing every bill and over the next few days to hone our Transformational and Priority Bill list. Expect a couple of changes!

WhenWed Jan 6, 2021 3pm – 4:30pm Mountain Time – Denver

No COVID vaccines in Gaza or West Bank-Infection rate is 36%!  Call Israeli embassies & State Dept

Despite a report that Israel is leading the world in vaccine administration, that government is essentially committing genocide in depriving Gaza and West Bank residents from obtaining vaccines.

Dr. Mustafa Barghouti spoke about the COVID crisis in Gaza and West Bank on Democracy Now this morning.

Dr. Barghouti said the rate of Covid infection today in the West Bank and Gaza is 36%while in Israel it’s 4.5%. Israelis are getting the vaccines, and Palestinians are getting nothing.  
No healthcare professionals in Gaza or West Bank have been vaccinated and Israel refuses to allow import of vaccines and refuses to give Palestinians any vaccines, especially the 5,000 Palestinian prisoners in crowded Israeli prisons.!!  Yet all the illegal Israeli settlers living on Palestinian land are getting the vaccine, of course!  Vaccine apartheid!

Please call the Israeli Embassy in your country (in the US call 202-364-5500 and ask for the political section) ..and if you are from the US, call the State Department- 202-647-4000 and ask for the Israel desk…and call our senators Heinrich, 202-224-5521 and Lujan, 202-224-6621 and Reps, Haaland 202-225-6312, and Teresa Leger Fernandez-202-225-6190

Private Prisons in NM: An Egregious Injustice
We Can Eliminate in NM in 2021

Rep. Angelica Rubio will be introducing legislation that will prohibit the state from renewing any private prison contracts. Yesterday, I talked with Margaret Brown and Nathan Craig from People Over Private Prisons (POPP). They are advocating for legislation to be introduced by Rep. Angelica Rubio. The information below was produced by POPP outlining why this legislation is so important. If approved, it would prohibit the state from entering into or renewing any new contracts with private corporations to operate prisons in NM.

From People Over Private Prisons

Nationally, and in New Mexico, the number of people incarcerated is declining. Despite this, private prison contractors continue to pursue incarceration for profit, while making false promises that state and local economies would benefit from privatization. With a long sordid history of serious and chronic violations in privately-run facilities, private prison corporations continue to advance their profiteering while failing to fix abundant documented problems. Given the financial and human costs of privatized detention, now made more acute by a global pandemic, it is time to end the costly business of private detention in New Mexico.

This proposed legislation would prohibit the operation and management of a detention facility in New Mexico by a private contractor – it would make private incarceration illegal. No state or local government entity could enter into new contracts, renew, extend, or expand any existing agreements that now exist between private contractors and New Mexico government bodies.

How did we get here?

In the 1990s, New Mexico witnessed one of the nation’s biggest surges in the use of private prisons. The shift to private prisons came on the heels of the state’s worst prison riot,[1] and one of the worst in the nation. Evidence of corruption in the state prison system, [2] promises of reform, rural economic development, and cost cutting fed the private prison building boom. New facilities were built under the untested pretext that rural prison hosting would drive economic growth and create jobs. In 2017, New Mexico incarcerated 53% of the state’s prison population in private facilities, while the nationwide average was 8.2%. Today,

New Mexico remains the state most reliant on private prisons.[3] Privatized detention facilities in New Mexico are operated not only for counties and the Department of Corrections, but also for Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the U.S. Marshals.

Why do we need this bill?
The early promises of safer and improved conditions, cost savings, and economic development for New Mexico were not realized by privatization. Private prison contractors:

  • Are more expensive, overcharging the state for their services, while local economies
  • Suffer demonstrably from the economic drains of these facilities;
  • Maneuver in and out of contracts to try to maintain their profits, fail to pay fines by the state, and New Mexico has been unable to hold these corporations accountable;
  • Are responsible for egregious abuses of human and civil rights, creating poor and dangerous conditions; and
  • Find other populations to detain, such as immigrants, and will continue to drive mass incarceration.

The current global pandemic makes these problems and violations more acute, and reveals the major public health threat created, and exacerbated, by the negligence of these for-profit businesses.

Private Prisons are Expensive:

Between 2001-2007, state spending on private prison contracts increased 57%. In 2007, the Legislative Finance Committee found that private prison companies charged New Mexico higher per diem rates than other states. [4]

In 2012, private prison contractors GEO Group and Corrections Corporation of America (now CoreCivic) incurred $1.6 million in penalties in New Mexico for understaffing, contract violations, and holding inmates beyond their release date. New Mexico had to sue these private contractors for unpaid penalties and fines.

Private Prisons are Associated with Negative Economic Impacts:

Small rural towns hosting new prisons experience more unemployment, greater poverty, lower median value of housing, fewer housing units, lower household wages, fewer non-agricultural jobs, fewer youth residents, and less growth than small towns that did not host prisons. [5]

In the two New Mexico counties with the highest number of private prison beds, Cibola and Otero County, the establishment of prisons there produced no positive impact on employment rates. [6] It is a myth that private prisons provide jobs to rural counties. What few jobs do arrive are of poor quality and often do not go to local communities. In fact, much of the work to maintain facilities is done by those imprisoned or detained for little to no pay, benefiting private prison contractors but not our communities.

Private Prison Contractors are not Accountable to New Mexico:

Nationwide private prison corporations are destabilized financially.In New Mexico, several times profit losses prompted these companies to end their contracts within the state, often on short notice and with little transparency. These businesses also take measures to hide their wrongdoing from the public, including violating our state’s robust open government laws. Private prison company CEO’s recently lied to Congress about mishandling of COVID-19 and abusive behaviors in their facilities. These companies’ deceptiveness is a danger to our state.

Private Prisons Contractors Commit Civil and Human Rights Abuses:

In New Mexico, Management and Training Corporation (MTC), CoreCivic and GEO Group lost, settled out of court, or are currently defendants in major lawsuits filed by plaintiffs seeking justice for wrongdoing thatranges from violations of labor laws to wrongful death. Private detention facilities create worse conditions as a result of cost-cutting measures such as understaffing, lack of adequate medical care, and lack of access to basic needs.

Private Prisons are a Public Health Threat:

Private prison contractors rely on imprisoning the greatest number of people possible, while cutting their costs to maximize profit. Often leading to violations of CDC guidelines, [7] these cuts result in inadequate, and in some cases wholly inappropriate, responses to hinder disease spread. [8] This includes not providing
basic hygiene supplies such as soap, not testing, and continued transfers, including of individuals showing COVID-19 symptoms. This represents an immediate threat to the public health of already resource-strapped rural New Mexican communities in the midst of a global pandemic. As of October 2020, 97% of all cases of COVID-19 in New Mexico prisons and detention centers were in privately-run facilities. At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, MTC sought to back out of their contract unless Otero County could work with them to increase the detained population despite dangers of an outbreak. There is an inherent conflict between these corporations’ need to make money, and New Mexico’s responsibility to the public health of its communities.

  1. Phaedra Haywood, “Devastating Penitentiary Riot of 1980 Changed New Mexico and Its Prisons,” Santa Fe New Mexican, February 1, 2020.
  2. Roger Morris, The Devil’s Butcher Shop: The New Mexico Prison Uprising (Albuquerque, N.M.: University of New Mexico Press, 1988).
  3. Kara Gotsch and Vinay Basti, “Capitalizing on Mass Incarceration: U.S. Growth in Private Prisons” (Washington D. C.: The Sentencing Project (TSP), August 2,
  4. Susan Fleischmann et al., “Corrections Department Review of Facility Planning Efforts and Oversight of Private Prisons and Health Programs,” Report to the Legislative Finance Committee (Albuquerque: New Mexico Corrections Department, 2007).
  5. Ryan S King, Marc Mauer, and Tracy Huling, “Big Prisons, Small Towns: Prison Economics in Rural America” (Washington D.C.: The Sentencing Project (TSP), 2003); Terry L.
  6. Besser and Margaret M. Hanson, “Development of Last Resort: The Impact of New State Prisons on Small Town Economies in the United States,” Journal of the Community Development Society 35, no. 2 (2004): 1–16; Tracy Huling, “Building a Prison Economy in Rural America,” in Invisible Punishment: The Collateral Consequences of Mass Imprisonment, ed. Marc Mauer and Meda Chesney-Lind (New York: New Press, 2003), 221–39. https://avid.chihuahuan.org/2020/07/22/nm-rural-prison-hosting/.
  7. CDC, “Interim Guidance on Management of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Correctional and Detention Facilities,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), March 23, 2020.
  8. Mica Rosenberg, Kristina Cooke, and Reade Levinson, “U.S. Immigration Officials Spread Coronavirus with Detainee Transfers,” Reuters, July 17, 2020

We are interviewing leadership from People Over Private Prisons for a radio interview to be aired either January 9 or January 16. We’ll keep you posted.

Report Details Methodical Expunging of Almost 200,000 Georgian Voters, Most Black or Brown

This video focuses on just one aspect of voter suppression in Georgian. But the insidious nature of institutional racism finds many ways to deter black and brown vote. One million kudos to the thousands of organizers in Georgia. To overcome things like this…..

In solidarity and hope,

Paul & Roxanne

Categories: Election, Political Reform & National Politics

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4 replies

  1. The only reason the Georgia Secretary of State stood up to Trump is because if anyone investigated Georgia’s elections, Georgia’s Secretary of State would go to jail. Raffensberger is only looking out for himself.

  2. Hi Paul: I was a spiritual volunteer, teaching meditation at the Oregon State Correction Institution, a medium security prison in Salem, OR for five years. They had a program that awarded points, based on performance, that allowed inmates the opportunity to take classes, like mine. There were many options available. These inmates even formed a group to mentor mentally unstable or disabled inmates. It was quite amazing! There are prison systems out there that can be models for our prisons here in New Mexico. It can be done when people are treated with respect and dignity.

  3. Two words about the ‘new’ Senate majority – Joe Manchin.

    NO politician is immune to intimidation, bribery or extortion. To become a politico in ‘murka, you swear a silent oath and sign a document in invisible ink that you will not bite the hands that stuff bon bons down your throat.

    As far as I can see, the exit of Tom Udall from the federal political scene marks the final nail in the coffin of representative senatorial govt., as flawed as it always was.

    His final words on the Senate floor were, ‘the Senate is broken.’ He repeated it twice. A truly fine man from a family of nobles oblige.

    Today, criminal call girl Harrell will perform her first official act as the public servant of the southern NM district – she will obfuscate the public service duty of the Congress to certify the 2020 election.

    After that, she will begin her next grift, and whore around with the O and G cabal.

    I have no read on Ms. Leger, but trust that she is not too indebted to the NM DCC that she will forget who her constituents are and what their needs are.

    Deb Haaland appears to be a new version of Udall, a First Nations female, a woman who finds power in the sacred Earth, and has courage acquired via years of standing up for the downtrodden. Obviously, she has a keen intellect.

    As for the NM Senators, it appears they are cradled in the bosom of the DNC. All that is to be expected from them is that they will not rock the boat.

    The train wreck is far from screeching to a halt. It will not suffice for Biden to ignore or forgive the massive sins of the seditionists and traitors. I have never witnessed, in 72 years, a psychopath or sociopath who voluntarily ‘found dignity’ and either crawled back deep under its rock or ‘reformed’ itself and became a contributing member of any social order.

    These are chronic, terminal sicknesses, and they are infectious to those with weak integrity systems. TWD must eat, and they will not roll over and die. I really want to take a month off to de-stress, nurture myself and ‘hope’ for salvation. But that is impossible. Way too much is at stake, hourly. Violence never sleeps and misery never abates.

    That is the hard truth of these times. Karma, which is nothing but cause, effect and consequences, does not take time off. The effects are here. Our constant energies must be to alter the causes and mitigate the entropic consequences.

    The beauty that remains is our only refuge. Sigh.

    Mick NIckel

  4. As i write, I am watching the MAGA people storm our capitol, so it is weird to write about another topic. I want to say that I cheered the list of 15 priority bills that Retake has homed in on. They are all critical to the people of our state. However, I am concerned with a comment that Paul made on last week’s Zoom call — that the removal of the anti-abortion law doesn’t need our attention because it is a slam-dunk. Friends involved in Planned Parenthood tell me that state legislators are getting bombarded with messages against rescinding the law. They need our support. This issue — not just of women’s rights but of the right to privacy for ALL Americans–cannot and should not be on the back burner for Retake. I would hate to see the opposition win this and me be in the position of saying, I told you so. I’m really tired of using that phrase. Please step up vigilance on this issue as well as informing us of other–very important– issues.

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