Retake Input & Strategy Mtg., May 9, 2019

Below is a long list of comments made by people attending our May 9 meeting. Roxanne organized them into categories to make it a bit less random. For those who attended the meeting, did we get it right?  For those who missed the meeting, does this help?  Come to our next meeting on Wednesday, June 5, 6:30-8:30pm at 1420 Cerrillos to tell us.

Comments in green were made more than once.

*** indicates Roxanne/Paul comment on comments.  At the end of the summary are a list of roles identified by people attending the meeting, tasks that were felt we need to accomplish between now and the 2020 session.

What Worked

  • There was no negative feedback about Retake at the Roundhouse. We were well-received.
  • Retake has the potential to become a real “player.”
  • The research was effective and used well.
  • The partnership with NEE was very good.
  • Really good that we’re expanding beyond Santa Fe; we need more of that.
  • It felt good to know I was not alone at the Roundhouse.
  • I felt very supported.
  • We were part of a big progressive presence at the Roundhouse this year.
  • The Alerts were powerful. Alerts were fabulous, concise, well-written and up-to-date.
  • The alerts were great for Taos activists.
  • We received timely, accurate info.
  • Alerts were great for local activists, too!
  • Researchers did a wonderful job on summarizing the bills. Thank you!
  • Excellent job keeping up with the bills, getting info to people.
  • Retake’s leadership was very effective.
  • Retake has a message that resounds with voters: the name says it all.
  • Retake was able to access and motivate a lot of people to volunteer quickly. Well done!
  • The one-page bill summaries were a handy tool, concise and well-written.

Ideas for Improvement

II.    Alert System

  • Use the system for roadblocks, technical questions, etc. throughout. People need a means of asking questions during the session. This was a request for a kind of “help desk,” a good idea and we should recruit someone who can manage this function.
  • Give more advance notice of committee hearings, which bills will be heard, who to contact. [*Hard to do as committee hearings are only announced the night before.]
  • Streamline the system – more data, fewer words. I suggest using the MOP system. [Can someone provide us a sample of what this MOP system looks like?]
  • The Alert System is a powerful tool. Let’s expand it and energize it.
  • Speed up the process of providing info on bills by focusing on what’s most important.

II.  Advocacy – at the Roundhouse and from Home

  • Provide public-speaking training for advocates who attend Roundhouse hearings to speak.
  • Volunteers need more specific information and guidance before and during session. We need to know more about how it all works.
  • Are legislators’ minds made up before hearings? Is it all decided in advance? If so, how do we address that?
  • Does advocacy work? What about it really works? Is there benefit to sitting for hours waiting for bills to be heard?
  • Develop a buddy system for visiting legislators at the RH.
  • Committee hearings are so frustrating!
  • We can learn from experienced advocates.
  • Advocacy from home is probably much more effective than going to hearings during session. We need to figure out how to best get the message to legislators. *** While in CD-2 on tour, we heard from Joanne Ferrary who was emphatic that a packed hearing room was very important. We have been told that by other legislators.  Plus, without people there, we don’t get observation notes and table votes, both critical. But no doubt, the hearings are frustrating.
  • We need more info re our legislators’ objections to specific bills and arguments that might be effective.
  • We need to work on the email/phone advocacy. (No specific suggestions given.)
  • How can we better counter lobbyists?

III. Research & Ally Liaisons

  • It would be good to know more about the opposition: why, and what are the arguments?
  • We need early research focused on the opposition arguments, prior to the legislative session.
  • We need more group consensus on research.
  • Bill analysts are each giving input but need to meet to do the final cut.
  • Be more specific about what you want researchers to do.
  • Find time to write white papers on issues, examining what other states have done with similar bills.
  • For next session, find researchers who can review all bills that weren’t passed in 2019, research the opposition arguments, gather answers to factual questions that came up during bill discussions, and have those resources for the next round.
  • Research analysts can provide useful rebuttals to false claims made by opposition, to be used in hearings, on the radio show, and in LTEs.
  • Research Team should work more closely with allies before and during session.
  • Work more with allies to develop strategy.
  • Work FOR allies by making calls, delivering messages, etc.
  • I was an ally: it wasn’t fully clear to whom to send updates on my bills, so they went to Paul, Roxanne, and Lynne. I needed one liaison who wasn’t already swamped.
  • We need a gathering of allies periodically and throughout the session.**** This is not likely to be easily achieved as they are buried in work, but maybe we could organize a mid-session convening of allies and see who can make it.
  • Integrate Researcher role with Ally Liaison role; maybe assign Researchers to a single issue.

IV.  Website and Blog

  • Put key points at top of every blog and use hot links to jump to content.
  • More summaries, less verbiage.
  • The blog provides invaluable local information. You could try, if you have the time to broaden it.

V.  General

  • Follow fewer bills.
  • Celebrate more often! It was an intense session with a lot of volunteer hard work; also a lot of tedium. Emails of encouragement were helpful, but we need to keep everyone motivated throughout the session. Celebrate through regular informal get-togethers, recognition, etc.

Ideas for Moving Forward

I.   Communication with Legislators/Supporting Legislators/Governor

  • We should have more personal contact with legislators and other stakeholders.
  • Begin lobbying legislators earlier in the year.
  • Work with legislators on developing progressive bills.
  • Put pressure directly on individual legislators.
  • Legislators need more education on the bills (partly due to lack of staff). How can we educate them?
  • Speak to legislators on behalf of their constituents who can’t be at the RH.
  • Get MLG out of bed with Oil & Gas.
  • We need to get access to MLG.
  • What if we link Retake members with their legislators by: 1. Offering progressives help with info on bills and find out needs they have that Retake can support. 2. With “problem” legislators, we could figure out a strategy for Retake members to influence them & solicit their support on certain bills.
  • Work with Peter Wirth to improve the Senate rules regarding choosing committee leadership and around scheduling bills, possibly require they be heard in the order they are received in committee. (To avoid bills never being heard.)
  • Identify all the MP/P bills that died and consider them for the 2020-2021 lists.
  • Work to develop access to Governor; meet with her when she isn’t swamped and locked into issues. Dialog first, relationship building, then advocacy.
  • Send legislators a monthly briefing on the issues.
  • Survey legislators.

II.   Electoral Strategy

  • Identify and recruit strong candidates to run against targeted incumbents.
  • Provide guidance and support to new candidates.
  • Focus on electoral strategy: Get the bad guys and gals out! Especially heads of committees like Smith.
  • We should focus on the “unfriendly” senators; change them or get them out.
  • We need to highlight “bad” votes in the legislature & go after them.
  • We should do phone surveys in the “Dino’s” districts.
  • Look at how we can change the Senate committee leadership. Focus on committee chairs.

III. Outreach/Expansion

  • We need to grow the movement!
  • Have volunteers at Roundhouse doors every morning with flyers and buttons
  • Would be good to research and develop district database/profiles for key districts: the issues, local leaders, opinion-makers, economy (major employers), etc.
  • Continue to expand beyond Santa Fe, especially in Albuquerque.
  • Outreach to youth.
  • Look at voter rolls to ID people in other communities to join the Retake network.
  • Diversify our membership by connecting with groups like Sunrise and others (youth, POC, etc.) For the movement to succeed, it needs to be multigenerational and multicultural.
  • Youth involvement is difficult for so many. They need encouragement, good info, reasons why involvement is really important.
  • Expand the Retake Leadership Team, increase diversity.
  • Find technology to allow outlying folks to participate without need to travel to meetings.
  • Expand our base, especially in districts where we want to replace bad Senators; build a base of local volunteers in those districts.
  • We should partner with Indivisible, #Resist, and other statewide resistance groups with thousands of potential activists. For advocacy and electoral strategy.

IV.   Allies

  • What do we do if we disagree with an ally? Something to think about.
  • We need to bridge the gap with some of our allies.
  • Form a coalition with allies and make a plan together.
  • Debrief with allies: NEE, Health Sec. Act, Common Cause, etc.
  • Connect with the Bernie Campaign.
  • Build a Coalition Team with representatives from each ally group.
  • Survey allies.

V.   Training/Education

  • I’d like to learn how to converse with people who don’t agree with me to be more influential.
  • Continue to educate our volunteers.
  • Improve our advocacy with education, coaching, etc.
  • We need Civics Education!
  • Use State Innovative Exchange (six.org) as a resource for progressive bills.
  • Look into the Coalition of Sustainable Communities NM (www.coalitionscnm.org).
  • Get help organizing & motivating more folks to participate, i.e., trainings from experts in grassroots organizing.
  • Create a grassroots strategy for constituents to access their legislators.
  • Train advocates in negotiation skills, to work with legislators and allies.
  • Develop and provide roundhouse advocacy training sessions in late fall each year, including how to provide testimony at hearings, how to network at the Roundhouse, how to engage advocates in the halls of the Roundhouse.

VI.  Climate Change Activism

  • We should focus on Climate Change activism.
  • Climate change trumps everything else.
  • Connect with young people around Climate Change.
  • Form a Climate Change subgroup within Retake.
  • We need Climate Change legislation.
  • Thanks for recent posts on climate/extinction issues! We need to put targeted pressure on elected officials.
  • Push resolutions/declarations re Climate Emergency at local levels (cities, counties, state).
  • The climate crisis is too big a deal for most kids. How do we make this more local & tangible; appeal to their self-interests?
  • Develop a plan to get to net zero by 2050.
  • Put some energy into Regenerative Farming & Ranching.
  • We need to change NM’s status as the #1 emitter of greenhouse gases.

VII. Media Strategy

  • We need media campaign with human interest stories and TV exposure.
  • Develop media strategy with LTEs, press releases, etc.
  • Do something more with the radio show. ***** Not sure what more can be done?
  • Should we counter Fox News? Should we work on informing, waking people?
  • Find someone to be in charge of External Communications/PR.
  • Develop issue-based media work throughout the year to educate people on issues and build our base.
  • Develop a statewide social media team.

VIII. Other Actions/Ideas

  • Participate in Interim Committee hearings and at PRC. Use RRN to activate people for these.
  • Pressure the PRC to do the right thing – in a positive way. Build relationships.
  • We need to have a strong presence at the interim hearings.
  • Get note-takers at interim hearings.
  • Write our own Bill/Memorial.
  • Write position papers on the issues.
  • Consider “post card posses,” per Taos United.
  • Let’s have strategy sessions of “brain trust” of Retake, to get to pressure points.***Not clear what this is.
  • Develop a 90-day strategic plan.
  • Organize a Retake rally at the Roundhouse with key Retake leaders and legislative speakers.
  • We need legislation to promote and fund (at least partially or through tax credits) solar power for lower income folks and rural homes & housing. This helps 3 ways: de-carbonizes, builds unity with rural groups, addresses environmental racism.
  • We need to pay FULL attention to our “industrialized food system.” Our health and that of future generations depend on a food system that’s: 1. Poison-free; 2. Contributes minimally to global warming, and 3. Doesn’t kill the micro-biomes of our soils and our guts.
  • Committees seem to have too much power. They prevent the rest of Senators & Reps from “seeing” all the bills. It is undemocratic for 1 or 2 or a small group of politicians to have so much power. The system is not serving us, the people.
  • Apply for grants from foundations and the DNC for financial support.
  • Find someone to manage Voter Education for Retake.
  • Book a table in the rotunda on key dates for outreach.
  • Rent rooms on 3rd floor for organizing?
  • Engage indigenous and immigrant leadership and grassroots groups to explore how to better work with them.

Comments below were submitted on paper from an unidentified member of the Research Team:

Research

  • Add a free-form text field for research team to report on trends/patterns among all filed bills, e.g. numerous bills referenced “tele-medicine,” showing a concerted effort in that area; many bills overlapped on hospital staffing levels and “safe harbor” provisions.
  • Hand-written observation forms were hard to read. Convert to digital form so observers can type them.

Allies

  • Include more input on bills (and summaries) from allies.
  • Work more intensively, more frequently, more closely with allies. *** we can try but they are awfully busy and so have limited time to devote to us.

Accountability

  • We need an accountability phase after the legislative session that leads to the production of the Report Card.
  • We need a non-public roundtable discussion hosted by Retake, including allies and stakeholder orgs. It would include Retake leadership and active volunteers from the various teams. We should exclude legislators from attending. Attendees would be encouraged to speak frankly and bluntly about what happened to priority bills during the session. We would identify legislators who were allies or opponents, what worked, what didn’t. Allies would provide input about how well Retake assisted them and what improvements are needed.*** This is a good idea, but allies would not speak about specific legislators in even a modest sized group….too risky of it getting back to legislators.
  • Roundtable would also try to identify strategies going forward. An advantage would be that leaders in disparate areas (energy vs. healthcare) could compare facts and strategies and gain fresh insights. This would build synergy and add coherence to the network of allied orgs, volunteers, and build community. **** Organizing this would be a big task, so we need a volunteer to do it…or even a team.
  • Results from the Roundtable would feed into the Report Card, which would then not be just Retake’s RC but one from the entire relevant progressive community. The RC would not just be from Santa Fe but from orgs. Throughout the state. This would make it more powerful and hard to dismiss by opponents and legislators. *** This is a very good idea, but not practical for this year, but very doable for future years. May be a way to have some read a “final” draft.
  • There would be a summary public version of the roundtable with the same participants, inviting the public, the press. Summary Report Card could be emailed to list of all participant organizations.
  • Based on roundtable feedback, identify critical targets among Dems or Republicans who need to be opposed in primary or general elections.

Roles-Tasks.  It must be kept in mind that we need many more people doing work between meetings to advance any of the ideas that follow. And we need coordinators to oversee other volunteers working on these items.

  • Help desk person(s) who can provide guidance and direction for people knew to the system.
  • Offer public speaking training so folks are more comfortable at hearings and talking with others.
  • Provide an overview of how the system works. *** We have something like this on the RetakeResponseNetwork.org site. We should look at it and identify what more is needed.
  • Develop a buddy system for visiting legislators ***Not sure what this is.
  • Develop understanding of opposing arguments earlier.
  • Develop research summaries earlier
  • Convene advocates to prioritize bills to support more democratically
  • Provide a coordinator of ally contacts ***others have suggested that we need the researchers to be the allies, since they often need to go to them for clarification on bills when writing summaries.
  • Host 2-3 mid-session celebrations/meetings
  • Work with legislators to change how Pro-Tem is selected and how committee chairs are appointed.
  • Send legislators a monthly briefing on issues….
  • Survey legislators
  • Phone surveys and outreach in districts with problem Senators/Reps
  • Need to develop profiles of districts: key local issues, influencers, major employers, etc.
  • Outreach to youth
  • Expand/diversify leadership team
  • Expand base in problem districts
  • Find a way to allow folks from other parts of the state to participate in meetings.
  • Survey allies and form a coalition with them and plan together
  • Form a Retake Climate Action Group.
  • Offer a training series: We need someone to organize this.
  • We need a media strategy. *** We need an experienced media coordinator and statewide media team.  BADLY
  • Participate in Interim Hearings
  • Organize a rally at the RH with legislative speakers…. Good idea and doable.
  • Book table at RH during key dates **** You can book a table for four dates during the RH. We will do this next year. Hard to predict “key dates” except for opening day.
  • Rent room on 3rd floor for organizing*** need to explore this excellent idea
  • Create a digital observation form ***this will require notetakers to have tablets or laptops….but we agree this would be very helpful. Handwritten notes were very tough
  • Organize team of volunteers to organize a meeting with key allies to strategize. Not public, small group of Retake leadership and allies