What a Ride: Acquittal in DC, Tabled ETA Amendment in the Roundhouse, Plus a Hut in a Field of Riches

While we report on the continuing Legislative Session and offer reflections on the past week, in between we share a lesson learned from a powerful Upaya Zen discussion that put in context the bitter legislative defeat from SB 155’s tabling.

Legislative Update: Never a Dull Moment

SB 155 Energy Transition Act Changes: My head is still spinning. After such a cogent presentation from bill sponsors and experts, tepid public comment in opposition, and very strong supporting public comment, in just a minute it was over. A motion to table SB 155 was introduced by Sen. Gallegos. I wasn’t terribly concerned, as this has been a GOP tactic in damn near every hearing. Even after Sen. Cervantes voted “yes” (to table), I wasn’t concerned as we still had five solid Dems ready to vote no…until Senator Hamblen voiced a “yes” and just like that the bill was tabled. This isn’t the final death of the bill, but it is certainly on life support. We are going to mount a strong campaign to let these two Doña Ana Democrats (Cervantes and Hamblen) hear from us. See below. An hour later, the same committee advanced SB 149 the Fracking Moratorium bill. I would have dreamed this would transpire on the same day in the same committee. Lesson learned: you can’t take anything for granted in the Roundhouse.

SB 10 Abortion Ban Repeal Prediction. As suggested in Saturday’s post, Speaker Egolf assigned only a single committee to hear SB 10 in the House, and he didn’t wait long to confirm that. SB 10 will be heard at 1:30 pm on Monday in House Judiciary. That means that by Tuesday or Wednesday you can expect a House Floor vote. And it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if Egolf directs Democratic Reps to not respond to GOP questions, as such discussion is pointless and wastes valuable time.

Speaking of Speaker Egolf. Constituent-Legislator Conversation with Speaker Egolf at 4pm on Thursday. As time permits, we will be asking him about

Ranked Choice Voting SJR 22, introduced. Ranked Choice Voting is used in Santa Fe and in Doña Ana County, and it is such a tremendous way to eliminate the need for expensive and exhausting run-off elections. Common Cause offers this excellent description of how RCV works.

Conversations on Key Transformational Bills: In the last week, we’ve recorded Conversations with Maya van Rossum (Green Amendment), Mariel Nanasi (Local Choice Energy and ETA Amendments), Angela Merkert (Pubic Bank), and Mary Feldblum (Health Security). These conversations focus on the most important aspects of each bill and on counter arguments to concerns offered by opponents during hearings.

A Hut in a Field of Riches

On Saturday I was stunned when Sen. Hamblen voted to table SB 155 Energy Transition Act Changes. It took a while to absorb this setback. I didn’t move for several minutes, puzzling about how this could have occurred. Senate Conservation is generally a friendly venue and Sen. Liz Stefanics, the chair of the committee, is one of the bill sponsors.

PNM exhibits voracious greed and no ethical restraint in their pursuit of profit. Amending the ETA would have restored PRC authority, but with the bill tabled and needing a miracle to be revived, I was seething. I was supposed to observe and offer public comment on the Fracking Moratorium bill that was to be heard next, but I decided to check in with Roxanne who was back in her office.

Turns out she’d just begun watching a Upaya webinar with Roshi Joan Halifax and Frank Ostaseski on “BECOMING: Awakening in the Midst.” I decided I might benefit from 90 minutes of Zen discussion focused on awakening as it might help me recover my bearings. The discussion could hardly have been more timely, as it focused on how to actualize yourself when you land in the midst of suffering, chaos, or fear.

Roshi Joan talked about a Zen koan from “The Iron Flute, about “a hut in a field of riches,” presenting it as a metaphor for our isolation during the pandemic and describing how even in isolation one can construct their own “field of riches” from within. She offered an example of Santa Fe-born poet Jimmy Santiago Baca, who spent six years in prison for a low-level drug offense. Four of those years were spent in isolation. Needless to say, his hut was far more circumscribed than any of ours, yet in the four years in isolation he taught himself to read and write and began publishing poems. Roshi Joan read one of his poems about that experience, “Who Understands Me,” with the opening lines below. I highly recommend checking out the entire poem.

They turn the water off, so I live without water,
they build walls higher, so I live without treetops,
they paint the windows black, so I live without sunshine,
they lock my cage, so I live without going anywhere,

The poem ends with his take-away from his years in prison, “who understands me when I say this is beautiful?” The discussion that ensued was about how we often do not have much control over what life offers us, but it is what you do with it, how you react, that we can control. They talked about facing illness, death, isolation, and other challenges life serves up. We all have our hut; we have what life serves us, and we have what we become in the midst.

Upaya Zen Center has a decided focus on social justice, which is what attracted us to them in the first place. Roshi Joan offered that no matter how difficult the challenge, “don’t abandon the project,” even in the midst of “the great churning.” As an analogy she offered a Sisyphean challenge. A disciple of a monk is responsible for cleaning up the monk’s dwelling. He drops and breaks the only thing the monk owns: a clay tray. He apologizes but the monk will have none of it, demanding that he restore his tray. Each day the disciple returns with a clay tray replacement, only to have the monk reject it. But the disciple doesn’t give up the project, day after day, returning with another tray.

I reflected on Jimmy, facing years alone in his hut with no sunlight, no hope and how even there, he crafted a way of becoming; he did not abandon the project.

I thought about Jimmy in his solitary hut, realizing that my hut is far from solitary as it is shared with my life partner. When considering the disciple and his daily failures, I reflected on the current legislative session and the bitter defeat of SB 315. It didn’t take long to put that loss in perspective, not by minimizing the consequences of this defeat, but by understanding that one can’t abandon the larger project. There are hearings to observe, public comments to make, bills to pass, and more clay trays to deliver.

A Look Back at Last Week: What a Ride

I always try to offer suggestions as to which of the prior week’s posts are most worth your review. From last week’s posts, I’d say that Saturday’s is most important (last in the sequence below) as it describes how, in 2019, an industry-dominated ad hoc group crafted SJR 1, which passed and went to the voters to approve a constitutional amendment purported to add expertise to the PRC. The post outlines how the ad hoc group crafted a bill and subsequently an amendment that was entirely misleading in its intent and scope. The post also outlines how almost $700K in dark money fueled a misleading mail campaign orchestrated by Noah Long, Natural Resources Defense Council. It is a must read if you want to understand the forces at work in the Roundhouse.

My other recommendation is to re-examine last Monday’s post, as it provides summaries and links to a number of very substantial posts.

  • An examination of how we can transform our food systems in NM;
  • An analysis of our national economic policies over the last 70 years and their implications for NM in 2021;
  • An examination of two of our most important Transformational bills, HB 236 / HB 313 the state public bank effort, and SJR 3 the Environmental Rights Act, aka the Green Amendment.

Plenty to review, so please read on.

URGENT ALERT: ACTION NEEDED NOW! Plus a Legislative Update; A Look Forward, and a Look Back at Last Week

Monday, February 8. This is why we do this. A team of advocates has been working for months with bill sponsors to develop SJR 3, aka The Green Amendment. An unfriendly amendment from Sen. Ivey-Soto threatens to undermine the bill’s intent and power. We must email and flood the phones TODAY, 8 – 9 am.

Click here to read the full post.

Does the Energy Transition Act Need to be Amended? Plus Water Heist in Los Lunas, Valencia County

Tuesday, February 9. We offer a Legislative Update, a report on Valencia Water Protectors’ efforts to prevent Niagara Bottling Co. from grabbing almost 400 acre feet of agricultural water, and a report on exactly why the Energy Transition Act needs amending.

Click here to read the full post.

A Look at the Impeachment Process; Legislative Update (Sen. Passes Abortion Ban Repeal); Video Interviews with Leaders of ETA Amendments & Public Bank

Friday, February 12. We relied on CNN for 21 quotes from Trump’s new and remarkably inept impeachment lawyer. The quotes are hysterical. Plus Heath Cox Richardson offers a solid summary of the Democrats compelling impeachment case. We close with a shocking 13-minute video of the capitol insurrection that was used in the trial. After the Legislative Update and two News in Briefs, you will find the capitol insurrection video followed by interviews with Mariel Nanasi, New Energy Economy, advocating to amend the Energy Transition Act and to establish Local Choice Energy in NM, and Angela Merkert, Alliance for Local Economic Prosperity, advocating for establishing a state public bank.

Click here to read the full post.

Dark Money & Misleading Info from NM “Environmental” Advocacy Groups is the Feature, but Also News of a GOP Bombshell that Could Tilt Impeachment Vote

Saturday, February 13. We began with two uplifting videos, one from Nina Turner and a second from HSA’s Mary Feldblum. The talk by Nina Turner is incredible and just under 2 minutes. Then we dive into a NM In Depth report on what it called “a cut and dry case of dark money,” a shocking industry-directed campaign to gut the PRC. and

Click here to read the full post.

Categories: Local-State Government & Legislation

Tags: ,

10 replies

  1. I so appreciate everything you are doing. Thank you for the moments of Zen mixed with the daily crazy and some good news too. Also too the motivation to keep on.

  2. I told you be ware if who you oust, Hamblen may not be the savior you traded Papen for!

  3. Hi Paul –

    A Riddle – How many clay trays does it take to make a Monk happy?

    Answer – None. A Monk who demands even one tray will never be happy.

    Consequence – If a clay tray is necessary, one will appear when needed.

    Lesson – In your search for a clay tray, enjoy the search, learn from it, value it, contemplate that search and live it to the fullest. If you should find a clay tray, hold it in your tired hands, caress it, observe its every characteristic, its weight, its texture, its color, its smell, its surroundings. Then break it, and rest your weary bones.

    The Tray – The Buddha; love, peace, compassion, harmony:
    The Monk and the Acolyte – The Dharma; the life and teachings of the Buddha, including the Four Noble Truths, the first being the Five Dukkhas; karma and Nirvana:
    The Zen koan – The Sangha; the life of the community of pilgrims searching for meaning in the Dharma. The Fourth Noble Truth is The Eightfold Path, the practice of living a noble life in the midst of absurdity.

    IF a clay tray IS the project, then it must be asked if there is only one clay tray available, but inaccessible; OR, are there some other phenomena that will suffice to accomplish the task that a clay tray provides?

    From Camus and The Myth of Sisyphus:

    “Rising, tram, four hours in the office or factory, meal, tram, four hours of work, meal, sleep and Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, according to the same rhythm—this path is easily followed most of the time.

    “One recalls Dorothy Parker’s poem “Philosophy”:

    “If I should labor through daylight and dark,
    Consecrate, valorous, serious, true,
    Then on the world I may blazon my mark;
    And what if I don’t, and what if I do?”

    “Parker’s simple lines flick the absurd in the ear.

    “But one day the ‘why’ arises and everything begins in that weariness tinged with amazement […]

    “Weariness comes at the end of the acts of a mechanical life, but at the same time it inaugurates the impulse of consciousness. It awakens consciousness and provokes what follows.

    “What follows is the gradual return into the chain(,) or it is the definitive awakening.(?)

    “At the end of awakening comes, in time, the consequence: suicide or recovery.

    “In itself(,) weariness has something sickening about it. Here, I must conclude that is good.

    “For everything begins with consciousness and nothing is worth anything except through it.”

    That last line is like watching the explosion of a supernova.

    Pushing the rock, with or without the punishments of gods, is Our karma. But imagine if we broke that huge rock into a thousand pieces, and each of us carried just one piece up the hill, or, all together, would mix some mud and built a solid community from all those rocks, embarrassing the gods (politicos/elite) and impressing them so much they conceded they had underestimated us and overestimated their own importance.

    I paraphrase a koan I learned years ago, which I think exemplifies our karma with the ETA and its provocateurs, the Birds of Appetite:

    At first light, the Birds of Appetite pushed off their perches, forcing their bodies high into the sky, circling far and wide, desperately searching for the energy they sought to fill their bellies and fulfill their glory. Hours later, they were weary, having found only enough to sustain their laborious glide back to their lonely perch.

    Most garnered the meager leavings, while the few big vultures hoarded much of the carrion. Exhausted, they closed their eyes to empty dreams. Meanwhile, all around their nightmarish lair, the wholesome table of nutritious food revealed itself, where it had always been, to be equally shared by the resilient and studious creatures of the night.

    Mick Nickel

    • As always, you offer such compelling insights, Mick. Great comment.

      • A 4 degree morning grants me a crack between two worlds, time enough to break a few rocks. If the gods want to punish me they will have to kill me, face to face. Chop wood, carry water.

  4. I am reminded of another the Zen quote attributed to Shunryu Suzuki, “To give your sheep or cow a large, spacious meadow is the way to control him.”

  5. It was good to have the balance of “re-minding” from the Zen stories. Because Senator Hamblen blew my mind with her vote. Having a little personal familiarity with her from her professional presence in Las Cruces, I do believe that the several public comments “against” from the various Native Americans were the deciding factor on that vote. That was a strong move by the opponents to have them lined up. The fact that none of what concerned them would change, that those benefits would still be there, was totally ignored. Who gets the credit for that? I have to believe that the split in the environmental community is the root. Sierra Club and their environmental partners are either filled with hubris or part of the gamed system. Let’s keep making clay trays and showing up. Thanks to Roxanne and Paul and ALL the Retake volunteers.


  1. Why Bills Sometimes Go Sideways or Die, Tools / Actions to Prevent That, Plus 30 Minutes with Speaker Egolf – Retake Our Democracy
  2. Times Are Desperate, So Democrats Study, Plan, Procrastinate & Adjourn: the Same Approach that Brought Us to the Verge of Civil War – Retake Our Democracy

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: