Anyody’s guess as to when the Senate will vote on the Sen. Judiciary Committee substitute for SB2, the map that has so offended indigenous leadership and advocates for a transparent redistricting process. We start today with New Energy Economy (NEE) delivering another crippling blow to PNM, a huge win for NM.
Total NEE Win! PRC Unanimously Denies PNM’s Plan for Four Corners Power Plant, PRC Also Rules for a Prudence Hearing
It was a total win again yesterday. And PNM will be subjected to a prudence hearing where they will face two formidable challenges:
- Defending $300M in FCPP investments they made without conducting any analysis to assess whether shoring up the plant was as cost effective an investment as other renewable energy options.
- In the absence of any analysis, PNM will be empty handed when they encounter their second formidable challenge: the truth. NEE ran the analysis that PNM never did and found quite clearly that the investments made no sense and would not benefit ratepayers:
“The Commissioners have affirmed that PNM is not above the law. So called “abandonment” is denied and securitization of $300Million is also denied. Abandonment was not going to close the plant and PNM’s sale to NTEC would have prolonged the burning of coal! Additionally, the Commission required PNM to live up to its past obligations agreeing to a prudence review for its investments and life extension of Four Corners. The Commission has acted in the public interest.”Mariel Nanasi, Executive Director, New Energy Economy
While we tip our hats to Mariel Nanasi and NEE, we also need to acknowledge the dignified manner in which the PRC managed the last two hearings. And remember that the Governor launched a successful campaign to replace these Commissioners with those she will appoint, beginning in 2023.
In the last week I’ve spoken with many folks who would like to see another joint resolution to put on the ballot so that voters can reinstate Commissioners selected by vote, not by Governor appointments. There is speculation that PNM/ Avangrid/Iberdrola will wait for the Governor (who inexplicably supported the merger) to appoint new commissioners in 2023 and resubmit their merger application. If there was ever motivation to retain our current PRC and the selection of future Commissioners by vote of the people, we witnessed it over the past two weeks. As Roxanne noted last night, “If the governor had appointed the Commissioners, we would have lost both these cases.” So true.
What I take away from the last two weeks of PRC hearings is the dignified and transparent manner in which they were conducted. In both hearings our elected Commissioners heard all the evidence in public and discussed their reactions in public. And in both decisions they came to two highly collegial unanimous decisions… in public, basing their decisions on facts and principles. Compare that process with what follows below. How could anyone who watched these PRC hearings feel anything but regret that these five Commissioners, supported by an excellent staff, will be replaced by three Commissioners appointed by the Governor in 2023.
Redistricting in the Legislature: Behind Closed Doors on Steroids; It Keeps Getting Worse
The more we know, the worse it gets. The quote below is from Joe Monahan this morning, describing the US Congressional map on the way to the Governor. (Stick around. The discussion of SB 2 that follows is even more astonishing.)
“Compared to the existing map used for the previous decade, the new boundaries dramatically reconfigure each district to transform the 2nd from a solidly Republican seat into a light-blue swing district. Under the old lines, the 2nd voted 55-43 for Donald Trump in 2020 and supported him 50-40 four years earlier; with the new border, it would have backed Joe Biden 52-46, according to Dave’s Redistricting APP, and Hillary Clinton 48-42. This transformation is achieved by splitting up Albuquerque, about 95% of which was in the reliably blue 1st District under the old map. Now, about a quarter of the city—including its most heavily Latino southwestern quadrant—is in the 2nd. To compensate, the revamped 1st extends further into the suburbs north of the city as well as rural areas in the middle of the state. As a result, it drops from 60-37 Biden to 56-42 Biden. The 3rd undergoes a similar change, giving up some of those suburbs north of Albuquerque to the 1st while grabbing a swath of dark red territory in the state’s southeast. Likewise, it falls from 58-40 Biden to 54-44 Biden (or about Biden +11 without rounding). Local politics might offer a keener lens, though: The 3rd now includes a large swath of the area known as “Little Texas,” which is home to much of the state’s oil industry. That in turn could pose new challenges for Democratic Rep. Teresa Leger Fernandez.““Politics with Joe Monahan Dec.16”
Monahan goes on to paraphrase a GOP analyst and Herrell supporter in saying:
In an upcoming wave year in which Republicans are expected to pick up seats that are rated 7, 8 or 9 points in favor of the Democrats, the objective analysis should be that Reps. Melanie Stansbury and Teresa Leger Fernandez should be scared, not Yvette.“Politics with Joe Monahan Dec.16”
All this deception and the Dems may have just screwed themselves. But as bad as SB1 is, SB2 below is more revolting.
SB2- Sen Judiciary Committee Substitute: Almost Beyond Belief
A quote often attributed to Shakespeare, but really first penned by Sir Walter Scott, certainly applies in relation to SB 2 committee substitute: ‘”Oh what a tangled web we weave/When first we practice to deceive.” Both Dems and GOP Senators should be embarrassed that instead of the Tribal Consensus, they have created and appear to be about to agree to the “Contrived Consensus,” or better, the “Incumbent Consensus.” From Monahan’s report yesterday:
A visible example [of incumbent protection] is Senate District 29 held by Senate Republican Leader Gregory Baca and Senate District 30 held by Republican Joshua Sanchez. In an effort to avoid a primary between themselves, as would have been the case under the new, proposed maps, the Senators came up with a “new” version of a map. Not only did they redraw the lines to eliminate a run-off, they also redrew the lines to eliminate the Minority Leader’s 2020 Democratic opponent, Paul A. Baca, who lost by less than 2%. It appears Senator Gregory Baca understood the stiff competition and deliberately redrew or had the lines re-drawn to move the boundary for District 29, 1 block north of Paul Baca’s home and literally behind his business, an attempt to eliminate any type of re-run against Minority Leader Baca.““Politics with Joe Monahan Dec. 15”
As Roxanne said this morning: “Did they think we wouldn’t notice?” My reaction: “Any wonder they don’t want to discuss this in public?” Would you want to have constituents listening in as the GOP argued for the final twist in Dist. 29 boundaries to remove Paul Baca from Gregory Baca’s district and then in full view watch Democrats support the idea?
If you want to watch the next chapter:
The Senate is scheduled to convene at 2pm today to continue the debate on SB2 and it is expected to be quite interesting. Watch the webcast here.
Senate Rules is scheduled to hear HB8, House Redistricting, which should begin at 12:30PM today. Watch the webcast here. This just in from Dick Mason, FDNM: “No public comment on HB 8 in Senate Rules. One more nail in coffin of transparency. They claimed technical problems.”
Rather than us overloading you with constant changes and updates, we suggest you keep checking here for updates: https://www.nmlegis.gov/Calendar/Session. Even that is not terribly helpful, when hearings are postponed at the last minute, presumably to finish private, behind-closed-doors discussions like those described above.
All of this misbehavior led the NM Foundation for Open Government to send the letter below to Sen. Leader Wirth, Speaker Egolf. and Pro-Tem Sen. Mimi Stewart:
December 15, 2021
Hon. Peter Wirth (sent via email to firstname.lastname@example.org)
Senate Majority Leader
New Mexico Senate
490 Old Santa Fe Trail
Santa Fe, NM 87501
Dear Senator Wirth,
Transparency is at the heart of everything we do at the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government (FOG). The New Mexico’s Legislature actions during this past special session show they do not share this value.
For months this summer the Legislature-mandated Redistricting Committee held public meetings and gathered public comment to create fair, equitable maps outlining congressional, state senate and state representative districts. It seems much of their work has been done in vain.
Surveys show that the public wants a process that is open and engaging. FOG believes the public’s business should be conducted in full public view, the actions of the public bodies should be taken openly, and all deliberations be made open to the public, yet the Legislature has conducted their meetings about redistricting behind closed doors, in partisan enclaves, eliminating any public access to the proceedings – access that is an essential element of a properly functioning democracy.
The voters in New Mexico deserve better. They want to see transparency in the redistricting process and the new districts. A fair process begins with genuine openness and transparency. The public hearings held across the state were an important blueprint for lawmakers. We request that all negotiations and deliberations regarding redistricting be conducted in an open and transparent manner that is accessible to the public.
Melanie J. Majors
Cc: Brian Egolf, email@example.com
Mimi Stewart sent by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Well said. The best incumbency protection strategy the Senate could have employed would have been to follow the CRC principles and the process described by Melanie Majors above. Then voters would have been proud to cast votes for their incumbent. As it stands, Senate behavior could result in a raft of new candidates challenging incumbents of both parties on a platform of doing things differently. Sad.
If you are offended by this process and you know who your Senator is, click here to get phone number and email address. If you really want to make an impression, write an old-fashioned letter and mail it to him/her today.
If you do not know who your state Senator is, click here to identify your Senator simply by entering your address. Then come back to this page to click the above link to secure contact info.
In solidarity and embarrassment,
Paul & Roxanne