election night party

May 29, 2010

The election night party for the David Bacon campaign will be held in the side room at the Mineshaft Tavern in Madrid from 6:30 – 9:30. There will be plenty of food and you can order drinks from the bar. Please join us AFTER you vote ! We’ll actually encourage people to talk politics. Hope to see you there.


County responsibility in the face of BP and other corporate crimes

May 25, 2010

As commissioner, I will begin drafting a state wide, county based ordinance that clearly delineates county powers that protect the health, safety and welfare of citizens as superior to those rights currently enjoyed by corporations.
As we see from the ongoing BP Gulf disaster, any pollution that Tecton , or any other corporate entity, may have caused to Santa Fe County’s aquifer would have been very hard, if not impossible, for the county to either fix or collect damages from. This violates the lawful charge that the county is given to protect human health, safety and welfare. This is a basic constitutional issue, not lightweight tea bag stuff, and it may be THE constitutional issue of our times. I will work to get other counties on board – many are already in the midst of fighting corporate injustices.( I’ll update this info as I collect info.) I do know that right now Catron County is fighting corporate water withdrawal of some 1.5 billion gallons/year from their aquifer. Mora, Rio Arriba and San Miguel counties are encountering corporate oil/gas exploration and drilling efforts. The community of Mesquite in Dona Anna county is fighting a toxic landfill as is Wagon Mound in Colfax county. There is an ongoing effort among the traditional farming community to pass a seed sovereignty ordinance that would diminish the power that any corporation producing genetically engineered seed would have if their product infected native seed stock.  We now see clearly the shocking and deep power that big corporations have over our elected representatives, and our democratic process. Corporations will not relinquish this right unless we stand up to them. We can do this most effectively as united counties.
My late, great friend Russell Grider from Clovis got 30 of 33 counties in NM to pass a declaration of local agricultural emergency. This was a truly wonderful grassroots action. I feel we need to build on Russell’s work to pass a county powers declaration . The building of this declaration in and of itself will be very empowering in furthering grassroots democracy at the county level.

I’ve got a grievance with the union ! Who do I talk to ?

May 11, 2010

At the CLC forum I, along with every other candidate for county commissioner, was given 3 minutes to “present” myself to CLC representatives. I wandered somewhat, but tried to get across my dedication to fight for economic justice and open government for the last ten years or more – difficult to do in 3 minutes ! I had 30 seconds left to sum up when Jon Hendry began his comment on who I was ( a good guy) and why I was in the wrong race ( the PRC was the right one for me ), and how I had not told labor what I would do for them ( no talk of jobs ) and how the office of county commissioner had nothing to do with municipalization of our electric grid and only to do with, in his words, the everyday “minutiae” – pot holes, lot splits, water rights transfers, etc.
Since he took up what was left of my time, I will respond in this forum…AND will fully invite responses not only from the union(s) but from other readers. Let’s use this opportunity to kick this around some.
We ratepayers in Santa Fe City and County together pay PNM a little over $80 million per year for our electricity. Of this, some $70 million leaves our local economy in the first pass, never to multiply, to create jobs or other economic benefits. If we were paying a MUNICIPALLY owned utility, all of that money would stay locally and become a major driver for local economic activity. The muni would also have a substantial union workforce – some 200 people or more as I figure it after looking at Farmington and their muni since we’d be bigger.. This is what I believe Jon Hendry was referring to as minutiae – as if I could only pay attention to his version of details. He also must know that ONLY a municipality can create a municipally owned grid – not the PRC – they have nothing to do with it. The right of a municipality to create their own utility is also written into our constitution . But when I look at this basic and huge piece of the local economy leaving each year to a go to straight to wall street and not even hang out here for one pass , I get pretty amazed and outraged – like please PNM could we just use our money one time after we pay you? NO ! You’re a mere county commissioner and you have no right to question us! Well, you get the point. Why have we had no leadership on just this one issue. There are after all over 2,000 muni owned grids in the U.S. Many municipaliites derive a significant percentage of their income from the proceeds of these publically owned entities. Remember one important question was on whether or not we supported “privatization” ? Well, this one act alone – creating a muni grid – would reverse an old history of privatizing (PNM) that which should be publically owned. Think that in just 14 years we will have lost one billion dollars of local economic activity …$ 1 BILLION ! This at a time when we’re looking to ax jobs and close schools and raise fees and taxes. Kind of important to at least think about as a candidate…yes?
So, what about the cost of creating a grid, wouldn’t that be expensive ?! Maybe, but it would also be stimulus, a huge job creator. Call your union brothers and sisters in the Cape Wind district and ask them how many jobs are being created to install that off shore wind farm. Jobs that won’t leak toxins, blow up workers, or ever run out of fuel, and that will create literally millions of opportunities for economic growth.
This would add millions of dollars to our economy right now ! right when we need it and would create essential infrastructure. How any union leader could ever argue against this is beyond my comprehension. Or county commissioner for that fact. Here I’m only talking about electricity. It’s important to remember we can do the same thing with local heat and local transportation fuels. Just add more local millions in our economy for those “alternatives” as well. So yeah, it’s minutiae, but it’s  minutiae I’ll happily tackle as a commissioner along with trash pick up and pot holes. I know the people, I know the engineers,I know the lawyers, I know the non profits, I know where the funding is. We have to move fast while there’s still money to invest, but, if we do, we set our own course to energy self suficiency and create one hell of a lot of high paying , essential union jobs . Sounds good to me…what about you?

New Mexico Constitution Article II, section 2

May 10, 2010

All political power is vested in and derived from the people: all government of right originates with the people, is founded upon their will and is instituted solely for their good.

Our founding fathers wrote this section of our constitution as one of the first things they did. I consider it to be the basis for governing nearly 100 years later. The statement is a concise definition of what government is, why it exists, and who it is for. In Santa Fe County we have gotten away from the basic sense of this article, much to our detriment – we have to get back to a system that honors and supports the direct democratic involvement of citizens in their own government.

Here are some ways we can begin to immediately put this process into place. 1) Create citizen boards that will guide county staff and commissioners in key areas: energy, water, food, agriculture and ranching, local economy, health care, housing, new codes,governance. Every one of these groups would be made up of intelligent, committed citizens with a strong track record within their chosen group.  They could then begin to define problems and desired solutions . set goals and objectives, do study , outreach and education and finally draft ordinances for the BCC. This way, we put our local talent to work solving local issues in  the most thorough and innovative way.

2) Begin the drafting and ratification of a Bill of Rights for Santa Fe County citizens. We need to have this document to honor and affirm our rights as citizens of a democratically run county.This process can move up through existing communities, existing groups within the county and individuals. This can be a powerful process for setting down in direct language, the agreed upon rights of individuals and communities . We do no have such a document yet, consequently, our rights are never clearly defined and never really exist.

The unfolding BP Gulf environmental disaster…and Santa Fe County

May 5, 2010

As Phaedra Haywood asks me when I bring up the topic of peak oil, ” What’s it got to do with Santa Fe County?” Maybe the (horrible) events in the Gulf can give us some answers.
First off, peak oil just means that we’ve produced and burned the first half of our oil reserves – in America, we peaked in 1970, a date predicted almost exactly to the day by Shell oil geologist King Hubbert in 1955.
If you’re old enough to remember the Arab oil embargo of 1973, you remember that a mere shut in of 10% of imported oil caused our economy to seize up , gas lines to grow everywhere, and just general unpleasantness and chaos. What you probably don’t remember is the Arab embargo of 1967. Why ? because there were no gas lines, no disruptions, no chaos, the country just went humming along. That’s because we hadn’t peaked yet and three counties in Texas could open the valves and make up the deficit without a blip. But now, as US military intelligence informed us just a week ago(link)…we’re looking at global peak by 2015 with possible deficits of 10 million barrels (bbls) per day – serious s*** ! This will send our economy, already in deep recession, into the toilet.
Our national economy is the least efficient in the world using the most energy per unit of economic output, which means we will pay the hardest and first. And Santa Fe County ? Same thing – economic hard times, dust bowl hard, great depression hard, and maybe even harder than those days were . Hard times like a candidate for public office just doesn’t want to talk about. But what about reality ? actual issues ?
As a candidate, I have to think about this unpleasant fact. I acknowledged its reality when I ran for governor in 2002. I also have to come up with some solutions to a hard crash.
So here’s my idea(s)/solution. Number one, we launch hard on the transition to a local, sustainable agricultural economy. This would be a web that includes small gardens to several acre farms to multi acre farms and ranches.Lots of green houses and hoop houses and orchards as well. It would also include substantial trade with neighbouring counties that are agriculturally rich. Of course it would mean a net work of production, transportation, retail and wholesale – a local food web.
Concurrently, we launch hard into a sustainable energy economy – a locally owned electric grid powered by wind, solar, biomass, efficiency, same with a thermal grid, and a liquid fuel sector based on appropriate bio fuels with a strong component of algal production along with a far greater emphasis on public transportation. Radical ? A plan like this wouldn’t be radical even if global oil reserves were not about to peak, much less when it’s imminent. This is a simple road map for revitalizing our local economy – returning ownership and control of basic sectors to local hands which would then cause a huge upswing in job growth and an infusion of sustainable money into the local economy. We have to move this way, and fast, to simply survive.
But what about BP, wasn’t one problem that it sat over a field with too much oil ? Doesn’t that give the lie to global peak ? Not when you consider that BP’s top estimate of oil in that field was 6 billion bbls. Sounds like a HUGE reserve of oil, right ? Actually it’s enough to supply global demand for around 72 days, 2 1/2 weeks ! BP’s 100 miles out in the gulf, 5,000 above the sea bed, and then 20,000 feet more below that. This is hideously expensive and environmentally disastrous – all for 2 1/2 weeks of global consumption. As US military intelligence warned, we’re approaching global peak really, really fast, by 2015.
If we begin a transition IMMEDIATELY we can survive. Or we can follow Cuba’s example, wait until our fossil based energy is curtailed, and begin starving until we learn how to farm. It took Cuba several years to make that transition, during which time people got very skinny and malnourished. Now they’re the most organic country in the world. I’d rather get a jump, especially when that jump would benefit our economy and our environment. It would also allow us to survive. So, that’s what peak oil has to do with Santa Fe County…to be continued