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the rubble, remembrances and reverberations of mexican september

commentary: as a frequent visitor to mexico, i have endured my share of earthquakes and tremblers. in some parts of the country, small earth movements are so common they’re accepted as part of daily life. fortunately, the ones i’ve experienced haven’t caused much damage and played out with the people around me spilling into the streets to wait nervously until it felt safe to go back inside.tuesday was different. in an eerie replay, the magnitude 7.1 quake that struck southeast of mexico city and rolled up buildings in the capital city and nearby areas recalled the 1985 disaster that happened on the very same day, sept. 19, and killed anywhere from 3,200 to 25,000 people, according to different estimates.iivangm / flickrthe mexican flag. (photo credit info)both events happened three days after mexico’s sept. 16 independence holiday, a date still honored in some parts of the united states as well. unlike the tragedy 32 years ago, a barrage of internet-zipped images, sounds and stories — the stuff that gives a faraway observer a real sensation and appreciation of the scope of disaster — circulated around the world in real time.videos of spontaneous rescues, audios of screaming survivors and snapshots of frantic faces electrified mexican news sites and social media. instant appeals for help and solidarity were posted. maps of sites where buildings collapsed could be clicked on and viewed.comparing 2017 with 1985, the activist news site desinformemonos.org noted si...





with visa renewal denied, border journalist says farewell to las cruces

rene sigalaformer krwg reporter simon thompson, right, working in ciudad juárez with ricardo gutiérrez, a juárez producer with anarama productions.commentary: as an australian citizen, i was brought to las cruces on a high-skilled work visa by new mexico state university to fill a tv reporting/producing position at krwg. the borderlands of southern new mexico proved to be a far more interesting and magical part of the world than i ever fathomed. there is a treasure trove of important, fascinating and untold stories beyond green chile and child poverty.i spent my first year living in relative boredom and was underwhelmed by what las cruces had to offer. but i eventually was welcomed into an authentic music scene and a tangible community of authentic, talented people working to make las cruces everything it could be.  i recently disappeared from las cruces and the airwaves. having built a profession on telling other peoples’ stories and immigrant experiences, there is an obligation to share my own. when i went to renew my work visa this year it was denied, officially in line with 214(b), insufficient material confirming ties to my home country. but according to the lawyer, a mesilla traffic violation that i paid late and some reporting documenting opposition to the current administration were compounding factors in the visa’s ultimate denial.i leave behind a slew of unfinished stories, good friends, a mentoring program for las cruces high school reporters, a charmingly ...





abq public financing system should be updated, not undermined

commentary: in a rare demonstration of bipartisan cooperation, democratic and republican mayoral candidates and their operatives have teamed up to discredit the albuquerque open and ethical elections system passed by voters overwhelmingly – 69-31 percent — in 2005. by attacking the only publicly financed mayoral candidate in the race, they may have signed the death knell for the system and any hopes of reducing the influence of big money in local elections.courtesy photoeric griegothere is no question that the city’s public financing system needs to be overhauled.   making it more accessible, accountable and viable is fundamental to reducing the oversized role of powerful interests such as big developers and city contractors in city elections.however, some mayoral candidates and their political operatives are campaigning against the system for their own political gain. while this may be great for their own current political aspirations, it is bad for clean elections and addressing the corrosive effects of campaign contributions.as the primary sponsor of the ballot measure in 2005, i worked with my colleagues on city council to strike a balance between making the system accessible to more candidates but difficult enough to qualify for so that only serious mayoral candidates, with deep community support and experience, could qualify for the $1-per-voter campaign funding from the public.in 2009, the first year mayoral candidates could use this system, all three candidate...





zinke doesn’t recommend shrinking two new mexico monuments

heath haussamen / nmpolitics.netthe historic topp hut structure in the organ mountains-desert peaks, one of two national monuments in new mexico for which interior secretary ryan zinke isn’t recommending a reduction in size.u.s. interior secretary ryan zinke is recommending no reduction in the size of two new mexico national monuments, but he is seeking some changes in how they are managed.the wall street journal and washington post obtained and reported on sunday evening about zinke’s previously secret recommendations to president donald trump after reviewing dozens of monuments designated by recent presidents under the 1906 antiquities act. zinke’s charge was to determine if the monuments went too far in grabbing land.while zinke is recommending shrinking at least four other monuments — bears ears and grand staircase-escalante in utah, gold butte in nevada, and cascade-siskiyou in oregon — the organ mountains-desert peaks and rio grande del norte in new mexico aren’t on the list of recommended monuments to shrink. both were designated by former president barack obama.but zinke did recommend some management changes for the new mexico monuments. from the washington post:the secretary urges trump to request congressional authority “to enable tribal co-management of designated cultural resources” in three ancestral sites: bears ears, rio grande del norte and organ mountains-desert peaks.also from the post:while concerns about ranching are raised more frequent...





with visa renewal denied, border journalist says farewell to las cruces

rene sigalaformer krwg reporter simon thompson, right, working in ciudad juárez with ricardo gutiérrez, a juárez producer with anarama productions.commentary: as an australian citizen, i was brought to las cruces on a high-skilled work visa by new mexico state university to fill a tv reporting/producing position at krwg. the borderlands of southern new mexico proved to be a far more interesting and magical part of the world than i ever fathomed. there is a treasure trove of important, fascinating and untold stories beyond green chile and child poverty.i spent my first year living in relative boredom and was underwhelmed by what las cruces had to offer. but i eventually was welcomed into an authentic music scene and a tangible community of authentic, talented people working to make las cruces everything it could be.  i recently disappeared from las cruces and the airwaves. having built a profession on telling other peoples’ stories and immigrant experiences, there is an obligation to share my own. when i went to renew my work visa this year it was denied, officially in line with 214(b), insufficient material confirming ties to my home country. but according to the lawyer, a mesilla traffic violation that i paid late and some reporting documenting opposition to the current administration were compounding factors in the visa’s ultimate denial.i leave behind a slew of unfinished stories, good friends, a mentoring program for las cruces high school reporters, a charmingly ...





dark money rearing its head in abq elections

will keightley / creative commonsalbuquerque at sunset. (photo cc info)with albuquerque’s city election less than a month away, a number of independent groups have registered with the city as political committees, ramping up to make their views known.as of last friday, when the latest campaign finance reports were filed, such committees had raised a combined total of $824,441. that’s 20 percent of all the money raised so far this election cycle — which will see a new mayor elected, as well as numerous new city councilors. voters will decide on a controversial ballot measure as well.the money will be used to bombard albuquerque voters – and all other listeners to the big television and radio stations – with political ads for and against candidates and issues.while some groups have filed reports of money they’ve raised, others are actively running advertising with little or no information about them available.these sorts of groups epitomize the term “dark money” that is often applied to independent political committees.for instance, make albuquerque safe is running a negative ad against state auditor tim keller. the advertisements will run before nmid or the public are able to see any reports about who is paying for the ads, and there is little information on the group’s registration form telling voters who they are.when they do file their fundraising report next friday, it’s possible the money will have passed through other obscurely named pacs that make ...





in indian country, obamacare repeal is a life-or-death issue

u.s. geological surveyshiprock, which is located on the navajo nation in san juan county, n.m.nowhere has the federal government’s failure to meet its treaty responsibilities to american indians and alaskan natives caused more human suffering than in its failure to provide adequate health care. american indians and alaskan natives are the original peoples of this country. when they ceded their lands by treaty to european colonists in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, they received certain guarantees in exchange, including the promise that the u.s. would provide them and their descendants with education and health care.during the obama administration, congress took a major step toward remedying the long-standing catastrophe that was the american indian and alaska native health-care system. the affordable care act of 2010 gave states the option of expanding medicaid to include all adults ages 19 to 64 who met income guidelines, and promised to pick up 100 percent of the tab for the first three years, phasing down to 90 percent in 2020. thirty-two states, including the district of columbia, took up the offer, and indian country began to see improved health services and outcomes.but now the trump administration’s push to repeal and replace the affordable care act (aka obamacare) puts that at risk. both the health care bill that the house passed in may and the bills the senate refused to pass in late july would cut billions from medicaid funding, undo medicaid expans...





the rubble, remembrances and reverberations of mexican september

commentary: as a frequent visitor to mexico, i have endured my share of earthquakes and tremblers. in some parts of the country, small earth movements are so common they’re accepted as part of daily life. fortunately, the ones i’ve experienced haven’t caused much damage and played out with the people around me spilling into the streets to wait nervously until it felt safe to go back inside.tuesday was different. in an eerie replay, the magnitude 7.1 quake that struck southeast of mexico city and rolled up buildings in the capital city and nearby areas recalled the 1985 disaster that happened on the very same day, sept. 19, and killed anywhere from 3,200 to 25,000 people, according to different estimates.iivangm / flickrthe mexican flag. (photo credit info)both events happened three days after mexico’s sept. 16 independence holiday, a date still honored in some parts of the united states as well. unlike the tragedy 32 years ago, a barrage of internet-zipped images, sounds and stories — the stuff that gives a faraway observer a real sensation and appreciation of the scope of disaster — circulated around the world in real time.videos of spontaneous rescues, audios of screaming survivors and snapshots of frantic faces electrified mexican news sites and social media. instant appeals for help and solidarity were posted. maps of sites where buildings collapsed could be clicked on and viewed.comparing 2017 with 1985, the activist news site desinformemonos.org noted si...





dark money rearing its head in abq elections

will keightley / creative commonsalbuquerque at sunset. (photo cc info)with albuquerque’s city election less than a month away, a number of independent groups have registered with the city as political committees, ramping up to make their views known.as of last friday, when the latest campaign finance reports were filed, such committees had raised a combined total of $824,441. that’s 20 percent of all the money raised so far this election cycle — which will see a new mayor elected, as well as numerous new city councilors. voters will decide on a controversial ballot measure as well.the money will be used to bombard albuquerque voters – and all other listeners to the big television and radio stations – with political ads for and against candidates and issues.while some groups have filed reports of money they’ve raised, others are actively running advertising with little or no information about them available.these sorts of groups epitomize the term “dark money” that is often applied to independent political committees.for instance, make albuquerque safe is running a negative ad against state auditor tim keller. the advertisements will run before nmid or the public are able to see any reports about who is paying for the ads, and there is little information on the group’s registration form telling voters who they are.when they do file their fundraising report next friday, it’s possible the money will have passed through other obscurely named pacs that make ...





don’t let martinez politicize science education

commentary: next generation science standards focus on hands-on, problem solving-based learning rather than rote memorization and teaching to a test. they also equip students with the updated science information and skill sets needed to compete for 21st century jobs.courtesy photog. andrés romerounfortunately, susana martinez has failed over the last four years to put these new standards in our classrooms, even after her own staff professionals recommended them. that’s why we sponsored the next generation science standards bill in this past year’s legislative session. during one of the committee hearings, a former member of her staff admitted the reason for the governor’s decision. “toward the end of my tenure at the public education department, i was tasked to edit and change some of the language in the standards to make them politically sanitized.” after having passed both the house and senate, the governor vetoed the bill.we didn’t know what was meant by “sanitized” until last week, when the governor released her version of the standards. the word “evolution” was replaced with the term “biological diversity.” language documenting the earth’s rising temperature (which has been proven over and over again) was replaced with words describing temperature “fluctuations.” the age of the earth (widely seen by the scientific community as 4.6 billion years) was completely stripped. it was all in an attempt to politicize science education.apparently ma...





zinke doesn’t recommend shrinking two new mexico monuments

heath haussamen / nmpolitics.netthe historic topp hut structure in the organ mountains-desert peaks, one of two national monuments in new mexico for which interior secretary ryan zinke isn’t recommending a reduction in size.u.s. interior secretary ryan zinke is recommending no reduction in the size of two new mexico national monuments, but he is seeking some changes in how they are managed.the wall street journal and washington post obtained and reported on sunday evening about zinke’s previously secret recommendations to president donald trump after reviewing dozens of monuments designated by recent presidents under the 1906 antiquities act. zinke’s charge was to determine if the monuments went too far in grabbing land.while zinke is recommending shrinking at least four other monuments — bears ears and grand staircase-escalante in utah, gold butte in nevada, and cascade-siskiyou in oregon — the organ mountains-desert peaks and rio grande del norte in new mexico aren’t on the list of recommended monuments to shrink. both were designated by former president barack obama.but zinke did recommend some management changes for the new mexico monuments. from the washington post:the secretary urges trump to request congressional authority “to enable tribal co-management of designated cultural resources” in three ancestral sites: bears ears, rio grande del norte and organ mountains-desert peaks.also from the post:while concerns about ranching are raised more frequent...





the path to civility is not the easiest way, but it is possible

courtesy photochris cervinicommentary: it’s all broken. it’s ok to admit it.we all — every single one of us — have played an active role in its breaking. and that’s more important to admit.i will try to assure you that these are not the ravings of a liberal still stinging from the rise of trump. hell, i’ve had an inkling our entire political system was in disarray for more than a decade and my side has had some historic wins over that period.but, regardless of whether my team or donald trump’s team wins an election, the fact remains: the basic underpinnings of our entire political system is a hot mess held together with spitballs, chewing gum and dark money.there have been volumes written about the symptoms of the problem — the erosion of civility and the dehumanization of opponents as both “libtards” and “cuckservatives,” a media culture that turns up the volume and raises the stakes, turning every single issue into a wedge issue — but none of these get to the heart of why the system is so wrecked.advertisementthe answer is not an easy one — and therein lies the whole point of this article.politics is hard. politics is boring. it should be. the gears and machinations that move our government’s policies are laden with complicated details that require close attention. sadly, in our current instachatface world, we have become a political culture of scoring quick, pointless political points and firing off thoughtlessly cruel takedowns.let’s take...





the rubble, remembrances and reverberations of mexican september

commentary: as a frequent visitor to mexico, i have endured my share of earthquakes and tremblers. in some parts of the country, small earth movements are so common they’re accepted as part of daily life. fortunately, the ones i’ve experienced haven’t caused much damage and played out with the people around me spilling into the streets to wait nervously until it felt safe to go back inside.tuesday was different. in an eerie replay, the magnitude 7.1 quake that struck southeast of mexico city and rolled up buildings in the capital city and nearby areas recalled the 1985 disaster that happened on the very same day, sept. 19, and killed anywhere from 3,200 to 25,000 people, according to different estimates.iivangm / flickrthe mexican flag. (photo credit info)both events happened three days after mexico’s sept. 16 independence holiday, a date still honored in some parts of the united states as well. unlike the tragedy 32 years ago, a barrage of internet-zipped images, sounds and stories — the stuff that gives a faraway observer a real sensation and appreciation of the scope of disaster — circulated around the world in real time.videos of spontaneous rescues, audios of screaming survivors and snapshots of frantic faces electrified mexican news sites and social media. instant appeals for help and solidarity were posted. maps of sites where buildings collapsed could be clicked on and viewed.comparing 2017 with 1985, the activist news site desinformemonos.org noted si...





in indian country, obamacare repeal is a life-or-death issue

u.s. geological surveyshiprock, which is located on the navajo nation in san juan county, n.m.nowhere has the federal government’s failure to meet its treaty responsibilities to american indians and alaskan natives caused more human suffering than in its failure to provide adequate health care. american indians and alaskan natives are the original peoples of this country. when they ceded their lands by treaty to european colonists in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, they received certain guarantees in exchange, including the promise that the u.s. would provide them and their descendants with education and health care.during the obama administration, congress took a major step toward remedying the long-standing catastrophe that was the american indian and alaska native health-care system. the affordable care act of 2010 gave states the option of expanding medicaid to include all adults ages 19 to 64 who met income guidelines, and promised to pick up 100 percent of the tab for the first three years, phasing down to 90 percent in 2020. thirty-two states, including the district of columbia, took up the offer, and indian country began to see improved health services and outcomes.but now the trump administration’s push to repeal and replace the affordable care act (aka obamacare) puts that at risk. both the health care bill that the house passed in may and the bills the senate refused to pass in late july would cut billions from medicaid funding, undo medicaid expans...





farewell to an extraordinary border journalist

commentary: i first met journalist marisela ortega lozano around the turn of the century. it was a critical time in the history of ciudad juárez. a wave of feminicides, narco-violence, the 9-11 clampdown and a bout of recession were terrorizing the city and casting shadows on the border, closing down the great flow of people that make the paso del norte such a unique and wonderful place.courtesy photojournalist marisela ortega lozano, who died earlier this month.i remember passing time with marisela and hector oaxaca, the legendary juárez photojournalist who was more than a generation older than her but had similar traits. both professionals had brilliant, friendly eyes and were quick with humor to boot. who could forget that laugh of marisela’s, which practically boomed across the border?marisela and hector, who died in 2013 at the age of 87, were steeped in the politics, people, history and culture of the paso del norte borderland. they possessed wide knowledge learned not in a faddish school of journalism but on the gritty ground of life twirling with sights, sounds, smells, scams and scandals.theirs was a world of roving street vendors dangling belts, pirate cds, flowers and gum. roaring, rundown city buses jumping potholes and reckless private transporters ferrying low-paid women and men to the factories that produce gadgets of all manner for u.s. consumers. stern border guards, deportees, ancient street beggars and dashing burrito sellers. upscale fresas downing co...





an invitation to restore democracy in doña ana county

commentary: over 90 percent of registered voters in doña ana county do not vote in local elections. over 90 percent of people are not being seen, not being heard, and are not being included in the decisions that impact their daily lives — decisions that are meant to increase our quality of life and preserve our dignity.courtesy photorose ann vasquezthis is unacceptable.   democracy in doña ana county is in crisis.  we need an analysis that applies to our local communities to increase voter participation. false assumptions do not fix problems. if we want to turn that number around in the next few years, then we have to do something different. we cannot begin to solve the problem if we do not know the problem.the county clerk’s office has begun the work of engaging voters for the purpose of listening to them and developing a local analysis, and we invite you to join us.on saturday, sept. 16 at 9 a.m., the clerk’s office and the election advisory council have organized a community conversation: democracy in doña ana county, at the government center, 845 n. motel blvd., to listen to people in our community about why people are not voting, and more importantly, how to inspire them to vote.the event is free and open to the public. we have also made efforts in the past several months to reach out to people between the ages of 18-35 who only voted in the general election to invite them to join us. i am a native and this is my community. i am employed with the doñ...





realtors and developers give big money to abq mayoral candidates

the amount of money being raised and spent in the albuquerque mayor’s race is already an unprecedented $2,646,494. of that, 68 percent comes from private contributors to candidates.pictures of money / creative commonsthe real estate and land development sector has given roughly $1 of every $4 raised so far in the albuquerque mayoral race once you subtract public financing dollars for one candidate and a half-a-million-dollar loan another candidate gave to himself, an nmid analysis shows. (photo cc info)an often-heard saying about elections is that candidates spend their time asking anyone they can find for money to fund their campaigns. but a look at the campaigns of the three candidates raising the most in private dollars suggests one constituency is being asked a lot more than others.the real estate and land development sector has given roughly $1 of every $4 raised so far in the albuquerque mayoral race once you subtract public financing dollars for one candidate and a half-a-million-dollar loan another candidate gave to himself, an nmid analysis shows.no other sector even comes close in its giving power, according to the analysis. the next closest group — attorneys — gave less than a third of what the real estate and land development sector did.a wide range of construction-related businesses, real estate industry professionals and companies, and land developers gave more than $476,000 of the $1,788,574 in privately donated cash or in-kind support collected by mayora...





remembering pete domenici | nmpolitics.net

commentary: my grandfather loved to tell me the story about a young pete domenici coming into my family’s drugstore.heath haussamenwalter haussamen sr., my gramps, owned the shop on central avenue in albuquerque. domenici would often stop in – sometimes with friends from the neighborhood, sometimes by himself to get a butterscotch sundae from the fountain. gramps smiled each time he got a chance to tell that story.gramps was proud that i’d become a journalist and had a voice in discussions about the future of our state. in his later years, as his health declined, he was excited that i got to talk with people he loved, respected and missed – like domenici.when i saw domenici in 2009, just before he completed his 36-year career in the u.s. senate, i shared gramps’ story. domenici told me he remembered the drugstore. he shared fond memories of old albuquerque. he smiled, put his hand on my shoulder, and asked me to say hello to my grandfather – a message i was able to pass along before gramps died a few weeks later.that was the pete domenici i knew. like my gramps, he loved new mexico. he was a formidable fighter, but also a believer in respect and civility. and he loved telling stories about albuquerque.domenici died wednesday at 85. he leaves behind an immense legacy in new mexico and the nation.my gramps often lamented in his later years, as civility declined in washington, the loss of politicians like domenici.gramps wasn’t alone. former u.s. ...





people, groups should stand proud when they make political donations

commentary: when your job is to reform our democracy by advocating citizen-driven good governance policies, you open yourself up to shots from partisan special interests. when such interests attack you personally, you can rest assured you are making good progress.courtesy photodoug nicklein their partisan and comically titled rant, “new mexicans should be suspicious of secretary of state’s anti-privacy rulemaking,” the center for competitive politics and rio grande foundation teamed up to attack me, a fellow conservative, for daring to support intelligent disclosure regulations. my grave sin? i crossed arbitrary partisan lines in support of commonsense rules proposed by a democratically elected democrat secretary of state.i don’t mind being the target of emotional, non-factual, derision. i’ve been in liberal crosshairs since i was a conservative at the university of california, berkeley. i’ve been targeted since, often by conservatives, who assume because i went to berkeley that i must be a liberal-in-conservative-clothing. such is the experience of a country-first, nonpartisan reformer.truthfully, i agree with the ideological missions of most conservative organizations, including the ccp and rgf. in principle, we probably align on 98 percent of the issues for which we advocate. we simply disagree on the need for transparency in the area of political spending.i’ve met mr. gessing, executive director of the rio grande foundation, and enjoyed discussing a range o...





dark money rearing its head in abq elections

will keightley / creative commonsalbuquerque at sunset. (photo cc info)with albuquerque’s city election less than a month away, a number of independent groups have registered with the city as political committees, ramping up to make their views known.as of last friday, when the latest campaign finance reports were filed, such committees had raised a combined total of $824,441. that’s 20 percent of all the money raised so far this election cycle — which will see a new mayor elected, as well as numerous new city councilors. voters will decide on a controversial ballot measure as well.the money will be used to bombard albuquerque voters – and all other listeners to the big television and radio stations – with political ads for and against candidates and issues.while some groups have filed reports of money they’ve raised, others are actively running advertising with little or no information about them available.these sorts of groups epitomize the term “dark money” that is often applied to independent political committees.for instance, make albuquerque safe is running a negative ad against state auditor tim keller. the advertisements will run before nmid or the public are able to see any reports about who is paying for the ads, and there is little information on the group’s registration form telling voters who they are.when they do file their fundraising report next friday, it’s possible the money will have passed through other obscurely named pacs that make ...