Cannabis Passes, Stansbury Edges Sedillo-Lopez, a Review of Biden’s Infrastructure Plan & What Rethink Our Democracy Is Reading & Viewing

NM Legislative Update, Biden’s Transition Proposal, Social Housing, Community Land Trusts, George Lakoff, De-Funding Fox, Marijuana, Nick Estes, Community Wealth Building, and more on the Retake’s new Rethink venture. Read on!

We offer a few updates and reminders, as well as an Action Alert, but the main focus of today’s post is a series of brief summaries and links to what Rethink is Reading and Viewing, the books, articles and video we are using to frame the development of Rethink. A core value of what Rethink hopes to become is an open forum for rethinking how our systems, our communities, our government, and our businesses might transition to a more just, equitable and sustainable future. To initiate that work, every week we will present a post like today’s which includes:

  • Reviews of books from indigenous historian and activist, Nick Estes; The Democracy Collaborative, our go-to progressive think tank; and George Lakoff, neuro-scientist and linguist.
  • News In Briefs focusing on addressing NY’s growing eviction problem, an effort to De-Fund Fox, and a review of Biden’s infrastructure bill.
  • Two video, one a truly eye-opening, informative one-hour talk by George Lakoff and a second an 8-minute PBS interview of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigeg discussing the Biden Infrastructure proposal.

But first a Legislative Update and some Odds & Ends.

Legislative Update

Ah, Legislature Over, Now Its the Governor’s Turn to Act!

HB 2 Cannabis Regulation Act Passes. With voting along party lines, the Governor achieved her major goal in calling the special session, legalization of recreational cannabis. The bill that emerged was the original HB 12, albeit amended and amended and amended during the regular session and amended some more before and during the special session. While the final version did include a plant count limit and a provision for a path to expungement of records, one of our most astute bill reviewers, Michael Sperberg-McQueen reviewed the 180 page result, and concluded, much as did Sen. Joseph Cervantes, that the bill language was a mess. This conclusion was based on what the bill actually said, not what it is intended to do. While the blanket expungement provision was removed, a path to expungement was introduced so that individuals with marijuana related offenses can seek to have those records closed to potential employers. The Governor has committed to signing the bill. Click here to read about the bill’s pluses and minuses and the vote to pass it, and click here to read about the expungement

Unfinished Business. The legislature may be done, but the Governor still has much to do. Click here to review our Action Alert (updated since sent out yesterday). It identifies a dozen bills supported by Retake that have yet to be signed and with a few of them, we are hearing troubling info suggesting one or more of these bills may not be signed by April 9. We also offer contact info and suggested wording for reaching out to the Governor.

Odds & Ends

Rep. Melanie Stansbury Edges Sen. Antoinette Sedillo-Lopez. By a razor thin six-vote margin, Rep. Stansbury has been nominated to run for the House seat vacated by Interior Secretary Deb Haaland (that has a nice sound to it). Stansbury will face off with Republican Sen. Mark Moores. CD-1 is decidedly Democratic and so it would be a huge surprise if Stansbury were not elected. CD1 voters should expect emails and mailers and ads any time now.

Wednesday, April 7, 6 pmWhat Really Just Happened in the Roundhouse, a Conversation with Joe Monahan and Paul Gibson, moderated by Roxanne Barber. Let’s learn from one of the most astute observers of the NM Legislative process, Joe Monahan. Click here to register for this important discussion. You must pre-register to attend.

What We Are Rethinking

As noted in an earlier post, we are stepping back a bit from 5 posts a week so we can focus on creating a 501c3, Rethink Our Democracy, and so we can begin doing the deep applied research and education that will be Rethink’s focal point. We will be offering just two posts a week, one previewing a product of that work: a brief or a draft brief initially outlining the need for Rethink and its vision, purpose and scope of work. Look for this next Monday after our board has had an opportunity to review draft. In subsequent weeks, we will begin to share briefs on priority issue areas on which we are working.

If you would like to be part of this research, we will begin meeting mid-April and meet twice monthly to discuss the issue upon which we are focusing and to share resources and to debate the efficacy of strategies we are researching. If you’d like to be part of that work, please write us at and we’ll send you a meeting invite.

The other weekly post will be published on Thursday or Saturday and will capture what we’ve been reading or viewing as part of the Rethink process. Today’s post is an example of this kind of post.

In both post designs, the intent is to make the development of Rethink Our Democracy a participatory, inclusive, dare I say, democratic process. We want your thinking and we will need help with the research. So please sign up.

Speaking of needing help. Many of you have generously donated since we posted our need for funds to develop the non-profit. We are so grateful. We are well over halfway to our goal of raising $10,000 and in only a week. At this point, we are especially seeking more modest, monthly contributions. Look at it as the cost of a subscription to Netflix or a newspaper! And thank you so much.

First, here’s the link to donate to Retake.
And here’s the link to Saturday’s post about our new direction and why we’re asking you to contribute.

Along with the donations we’ve received have been so many heartwarming notes, telling us how much our work means to you and how much you appreciate our work. While Roxanne and I are the focus of this gratitude, we don’t do this alone by any means a couple dozen volunteers were critical to our work in the Session and our allies are, of course, crucial to our success. So thanks to all of you.

What We Are Reading

Most of the week, we’ve been on the phone with allies and supporters to get input on our new initiative, but there has been some important reading to share.

Our History Is the Future, by Nick Estes. I purchased this at Collected Works two years ago and am just now getting to it. One of the joys of this “hiatus” and deep research is having more time to read books instead of just online articles. And Our History is the Future is the perfect book to read as we launch our new venture. Nick Estes is one of the founders of Red Nation. In Our History is the Future, Estes weaves a deeply personal and historical exploration of the colonization of Indigenous peoples. While condemning settler mentality, Estes also acknowledges the importance of evidence that non-indigenous people are finally acknowledging their history and joining in the struggle to fight an economic and political system that treats people and planet as resources to be exploited. I am halfway through the book and can say, it is both a good read and full of insights about how we must learn both from our settler past and from the cultural, agricultural and social mores of indigenous peoples. It is great to not be rushing to produce the next timely blog and have the time for more deep learning. Highly recommended. Get it from your local bookstore, not Amazon.’

The New Systems Reader: Alternatives to a Failed Economy. Edited by James Gustave Speth and Kathleen Courrier. An anthology produced by The Democracy Collaborative. For those who are intrigued by the direction we want to go with Rethink Our Democracy, this is perhaps the single most important book you could devour. The Democracy Collaborative assembled about 20 political and economic researchers who outline a range of themes or concepts that TDC feels needs to be part of the next economic system. It focuses on local economies, participatory decision-making, democratized workplaces with cooperatives and worker owned businesses, the use of community land trusts to foster affordable housing, an expanded “commons” and an expanded role of government. It also poses new ways of measuring community and economic health and well-being, measures far more connected to human experience than the Dow Jones Average and Gross Domestic Product. Finally, it outlines how we can transition from the current economic system, to a next system that operates in service of people over profit.

Don’t Think of the Elephant by George Lakoff. Lakoff analyzes how political framing can be used to sway and manipulate public opinion, determine voting patterns, and even change people’s political orientation. Lakoff asserts that conservatives are winning the framing war in American politics, explains the concept of framing and the use of language and describes how progressives can retake control of the civic dialog. If you want a preview of Lakoff’s thinking, below we provide a really excellent talk he gave to The Commonwealth Club in San Francisco.

Get any or all of these books from your local bookstore, not Amazon.’

News In Briefs

From Resilience: “New York City Considers a Bold Plan to Keep People from Being Pushed Out of Homes.” This piece illustrates precisely the kind of bold thinking that Rethink plans to explore. With millions of New Yorkers across the state facing eviction and hundreds of thousands in NYC, a proposal has emerged to turn over properties to those facing the loss of housing to the tenants, with government acquiring the land and housing, creating Community Land Trusts and implementing a “social housing” model. Once a fantasy, ideas such as these are now on the table and Rethink will explore a wide variety of options such as these.

For those who want to explore more, we recommend, Resilience and Next City as two online publications that research practical solutions characterized by the kinds of principles and values embraced by Rethink.

From Levelled: It’s Time to DeFund Fox News, Levelled is a new publication I’ve just discovered. Forcing Fox to report more honestly, is a worthwhile goal and boycotts have proven effective in the past. It is a brief piece and it would certainly be interesting to see what transpired if a broad boycott of Fox sponsors occurred. Georgia is experiencing significant push back from business over its anti-democratic voter suppression legislation. Maybe we need some consumer push back against Fox.

From Common Dreams: “Critics Warn Biden Infrastructure Plan ‘Falls Woefully Short’ on Climate Crisis” Initially reports on this plan were quite positive and while I concur with many of the findings in this piece, there remains much to like about what is being proposed. Indeed, on a Zoom webinar with Next City four activists from around the country were extolling the proposal, while acknowledging that they had only had time to skim it. The devil is in the details.

“”The investments in our electric power system are too small to transition to 100% clean renewable energy, will continue to waste money on dirty nuclear energy, and will send subsidies to fossil fuel corporations by devoting funding to carbon capture schemes,” Hauter argued. “The funding levels outlined in the White House plan are simply inadequate to meet the essential task of replacing our nation’s crumbling water infrastructure while assuring clean, safe, and affordable water for all.”

From Common Dreams:

While there are certainly going to be issues with the new infrastructure bill, New Mexico Voices noted one aspect of the bill that will be a boon to NM: ““President Biden’s proposal to invest $16 billion to clean up abandoned oil and gas wells and mine sites is welcome news for New Mexico. Abandoned wells and mines pollute our air and water and endanger our communities,” said James Jimenez, executive director, New Mexico Voices for Children. I’m sure that NM will get a hefty share of these funds.

What We’ll Be Watching

Attorney General Training On Open Meetings

The New Mexico Office of the Attorney General Hector Balderas is conducting an educational online training on the New Mexico Open Meetings Act and Inspection of Public Records Act, known as the state’s “Sunshine Laws.” This virtual training will be conducted by assistant attorneys general, Tuesday, April 27, 2021 at 9 am.

The purpose of the workshop is to educate and assist New Mexicans and our representative government regarding the importance of transparency and compliance, as well as the rights of the public under New Mexico’s Sunshine Laws.

The presentation on the Open Meetings Act will begin at 9:00 am and will last approximately 90 minutes, followed by the training on the Inspection of Public Records Act. Attendees can attend either or both sessions. The training will conclude around 12:00 pm, and the attorney presenters will take questions after each training presentation.

This event is open to interested members of state and local governments, school boards, commissions, public bodies, media, and the general public.  There is no charge for the training, however, due to limitations on the amount of people who can be in a Google Meet chat room at once, registration and attendance will be on a first come, first serve basis. We do encourage you to pass the invitation on to colleagues who you think may benefit from the information provided.

To register for the virtual training please follow the link HERE or contact Heather Sandoval at

An email will go out to all who registered, a day or two prior to the training with the link to the virtual meeting room and any further instruction/information. 

George Lakoff: Don’t Think of an Elephant

In the first five minutes of this brilliant talk, Lakoff lays out how, since 1971, the conservative business community developed and implemented a massive initiative to take over the media, created a network of well-funded conservative think tanks, and then successfully hijacked public discourse. It is a pretty staggering first five minutes and offers a glimpse at the formidable challenge we face.

Lakoff then goes on to explain the importance of “framing” and choice of terminology in persuasive communication. This is well worth your time, as Lakoff is smart as hell and also an entertaining presenter.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigeg on Biden’s Infrastructure Proposal

It is only eight minutes and provides a good summary of what is contained in the proposal, how it will be funded, the legislative hurdles, and progressive criticism. But what struck me most powerfully was that the discussion was entirely focused on the issue and that Buttigeg remarked several times that the President and he welcome input and criticism, that the process would be thoughtful. When asked about progressive criticism, Buttigeg did not call critics “socialist garbage” or disparage them or the criticism in any way. What a refreshing difference from just 4 months ago! And, while the NIB above pointed to some of the bills failings, it is indisputably a step in the right direction. Watch on!

In solidarity, hope and gratitude,

Paul & Roxanne

Categories: System Change

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2 replies

  1. Paul & Roxanne, do you have a Patreon account where supporters can sign up for monthly contributions?

  2. I agree. Patron will generate more income than a 501C3, which will take enormous amounts of time, board member sagas, and too much tax corrupt by 501C status (and that’s if you’re doing it the ethical way). There are many non profits which are just a tax haven for their millions of dollars, so they don’t have to pay taxes, especially here in Santa Fe, the 501C3 capital. What are all these non profits really doing? Nothing but serving themselves. Everyone serves on everyone else’s 501C3 so as to protect each other’s cash. Corruption, and another scheme for upper middle class to keep their cash. Hope you don’t subscribe!

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