Why We Need a Break

We’ve not written a blog or an Alert for two weeks, and not because nothing has been happening. Roxanne and I are taking a break and we want you to understand why. So today we fill you in on our plan and update you on Avangrid and an important film on improving our health system. Read on!

Film About Improving the NM Health System

Today, hospital care is more often about money and power than serving the health needs of patients and the community. “American Hospitals” examines the pernicious incentives driving healthcare’s astronomical pricing, its monopolistic practices, and the pervasive inequities in access and treatment.

NM’s health system is a mess, with collapsing rural hospitals and health “systems,” doctors leaving NM, increasing co-pays and premiums, and with very long waits for appointments, even for patients with critical conditions requiring immediate interventions. It doesn’t have to be that way. But lawmakers are not health policy experts, so we may need to introduce them to proven innovations. The film identifies innovative solutions that deserve national attention to restore hospitals to their historic focus on community health at affordable cost.

Indivisible Santa Fe has secured the rights to screen this important film tomorrow only, Thursday, Apr 27, at 7:30 pm at the Violet Crown in Santa Fe (6:30 p.m. show is sold out). You can also stream it from your couch (link below).

From Indivisible Santa Fe:

“Our longer term desire is to build a coalition around fixing NM’s health care system.

We’re hoping everyone will share this out with their lists.”

Indivisible Santa Fe

Retake strongly supports the effort to fix NM’s health system and feels learning all we can is a great first step. If you can’t get to the Violet Crown, you can stream the film from your couch.

Avangrid-PNM-PRC Closed-Door Plan Exposed; PRC Admits Error & Withdraws from Seeking Supreme Court Order to Rehear Merger Case

Thanks to the ever-vigilant New Energy Economy, the closed-door meetings that led to PNM, Avangrid, and the PRC filing a brief with the Supreme Court asking to withdraw PNM & Avangrid’s appeal of the PRC’s unanimous denial of the merger proposal have been exposed. And likely due to a barrage of emails and calls from folks like you, the PRC relented, acknowledged the error of their ways, and withdrew their request seeking the Supreme Court to direct the PRC to rehear the case.

There is no way to overstate the hubris involved in this new twist to a process that has exposed the degree to which state leadership will go to bypass the people and impose the sinister, profit-driven schemes of their corporate donors/masters. But in Thursday’s New Mexican, attorneys and readers chimed in:

Retired attorney Bruce Throne, who represented clients before the PRC and its predecessor agencies for more than 40 years, said after reviewing the emails he believes the messages show a “significant institutional failure” at the PRC.

Throne said PRC’s Office of General Counsel should never have allowed the discussion to take place and Commissioners Aguilera and Ellison “should have known better.”

John Boyd, an attorney and board member for Santa Fe nonprofit New Energy Economy, which opposes the merger, called the emails “distressing.”

“This should never have happened,” Boyd said. “This is not supposed to happen in our system of justice.”

Santa Fe New Mexican: “PRC, utility lawyers had one-sided talks ahead of filing” by Nicholas Gilmore.

From the readers, we provide all comments appearing Thursday Morning:

“I wholeheartedly disagree that these communications are prohibited,” Aguilera said Monday. “What’s important to note is that we have not made any decisions.” IMO We don’t know a decision has been made behind closed doors. It seems that this board is running as fast as they can for the gold at the end of this rainbow.” Richard Reinders

“Are we ready for a Federal Department of Justice investigation?” Manuel Garcia

“Solar panels, wind turbines don’t stink. This does.” Emily Hartigan

“Does anyone else detect a bad smell in the room?” Khal Spencer

“Corruption, pure and simple. And the new PRC exposed for what it is.” Mike Johnson.

“And the clown show continues!” Arcy Baca

It appears no one is fooled by this smoke-filled room cabal, but then how could we be surprised after the Governor’s shady, dark money (PNM) funded campaign to remove the elected PRC Commissioners and allow her to hand pick Commissioners to do her bidding? Likely there is nothing we can do to prevent MLG from choosing Avangrid to lead the state’s hydrogen hub, which advances despite massive public and bipartisan legislative opposition. But we can fight this merger. I am assuming an effort will continue to resurrect this deal, although I am told that the Avangrid CEO has told shareholders that Avangrid will walk away from the deal if a rehearing will be a full hearing with testimony from the prior hearing augmented with new evidence illustrating their unethical behavior.

But we must remain prepared as there is just too much profit at stake. While this PRC seems predisposed to rehear this abomination; they also seem responsive to public furor, quickly backing away from their back-room deal once it was exposed and public anger surfaced. If this is reheard, there will be still more evidence or Avangrid’s malfeasance, as they have been busy the past nine months, persisting in overcharging ratepayers, shutting off power to those in arrears and to many who were not. There is no end to how greedy and profit-focused Avangrid can be. But we need to be ready with strong public comment should this rehearing occur.

In anticipation of this we want to help you advocate as effectively as possible, hence this update on this pernicious process, and below are links to Retake posts on Avangrid last year, outlining their horrific track record. To keep current on evolving Avangrid ploys, subscribe to New Energy Economy’s eblasts by going to https://www.newenergyeconomy.org/ and scrolling to the end of the home page to sign up.

We offer two Retake posts focused on Avangrid, with plenty of ammo for creating your speaking points or written comment. If you sign up with NEE, they will alert you as to how and when oral and/or written comment can be made and will, no doubt, update you on what Avangrid has been up to over the last months.

If you want more, just go to RetakeOurDemocracy.org and put Avangrid in the search engine. You’ll find plenty more on this merger and on Avangrid. You’ll also be both incredulous and angry that our state could willingly partner with what amounts the EXXON of energy.

Taking a Badly Needed Break

At our last Zoom Huddle, Roxanne and I announced that we need to take a break. Since launching the Bernie campaign in northern NM in 2015, it has been non-stop activism, neglecting all kinds of health, family, and personal priorities and goals. Plus our dream of establishing Rethink Our Democracy as a sustainable organization has made almost no progress. We barely keep up with a weekly radio show, thrice weekly blog, and Alerts when your action is called for. Clearly we can’t build or fix a plane while flying it. It is not sustainable or effective. If we are going to create an organization that endures, we need to stop flying and focus on building… and the time for that is now. I just had my 72nd birthday this week, and Roxanne ain’t far behind. We need to do less so we can restore balance to our lives. But we also feel that this work is important, and so we’d like to devote time to figuring out how we can create a staffed, 501c3 organization that can sustain and even expand the work, with Roxanne and I taking a step back. It is time, because:

  • For the last five years, Roxanne has been working on two novels in her spare moments. She has completed enough to want to devote more time to those projects, and for any of you who write, you know how much time it takes.
  • For my part, I want to return to being a retired person who does more than sit on the couch and write blogs. I’ve long fostered fantasies of writing a book myself, and it is time to try or to abandon the fantasy.
  • Watching Warrior basketball aside, I have virtually no hobbies anymore, and Roxanne handles the lion’s share of home projects while I do this—write the blog. I want to be more of a partner in our household instead of an appreciative observer.
  • For both our parts, aside from a couple of 3-4 day trips to see kids and grandkids, we haven’t had a vacation since our honeymoon 13 years ago.

We need to restore balance. So we are planning to take six months to figure out what we want to do with the rest of our lives, a decision we made a few weeks ago, only to have various hearings and issues continue to erupt. Instinctively we felt we needed to alert you to action. But while the instincts kicked into gear, our desire for balance only increased.

We had planned to announce our decision ten days ago, but the need to address some pressing home tasks kept me from the laptop, and then the arrival of our daughter, Joanna, for a one-week visit helped me ease away and enjoy time with her and enjoy a birthday weekend with Roxanne and Joanna. This brief time focusing on our personal lives and priorities has only reinforced the need for a break.

At the same time, the recent LANL hearing and the Avangrid action reinforced the importance of Retake/Rethink’s role in our activism community. We remain convinced that an organization focused on long-term, sustained engagement, education, and activism across issue silos is a vital contribution that should be sustained, albeit with paid staff.

During our hiatus, we will ponder what we’ve been doing that has been most effective and what is not so impactful. We’ll try to map the roles Roxanne and I play and what kind of staffing would be needed to perform those roles. We’ll also consider what things we thought would have been good to do, but never had the time to try.

One thing we think needs to be part of the next iteration of Retake is leadership development and organizing. While we took stabs at building volunteer leadership and an organization, neither of us had our heart in organizing and coordinating volunteers. That needs to be part of whatever comes next.

But before we turn to planning the future of Retake/Rethink, we need to rethink our own future and what we want to do with the rest of our lives. In the last four years, I’ve had a saddle embolism and a serious stroke, a message that the spring has turned to fall, if not winter. In either case, there are things we want to do beyond Retake and we need to figure that out.

Know that while we’re certain we are doing what’s best for us and ultimately for the organization, it feels weird to not be plotting the next blog, Alert, or Zoom. And I know that some day soon something will erupt or unfold that warrants analysis, a blog, and an Alert. So one of the things we are doing now and will complete soon is a rework of our resources page, to help you take action without us. It badly needs updating so that the resources are current and relevant. We will send out a blog when that work is complete and just to say hello.

So for now and for awhile, we’ be laying low. Be well, stay engaged and active. See you soon.

In solidarity & hope,

Paul & Roxanne

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