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Local Leagues in New Mexico

 

Present:Judy Williams, Diane Goldfarb, Kim Sorenson, Laura Atkins, Akkana Peck, Karen Douglas, Becky Shankland, Dick Mason, Barbara Calef, Chris Furlanetto, Janet Blair,Karen Wentworth, Leah Ingraham, Meredith MachenOlivia Ridgeway (guest, a new LWVSFC member)

The meeting was called to order at 11:04 am.

The agenda was approved with one addition, for Action: should we sign on to the climate agreement? There was a brief discussion on how detailed board meeting minutes should be. Some thought details of discussions should be left out, others thought it was a useful record for members who can't be at the board meeting. Karen Wentworth moved to approve the minutes. Passed.

Judy Williams said that most items that would otherwise be in a President's Report would be covered by later agenda items.

TREASURER'S REPORT:

Suzanne couldn't be at the meeting, but had sent out a report. Several people commented approvingly about the format she's been using for the Treasurer's reports -- very readable and concise.

ACTION

Dick Mason proposed going to each of the Leagues, maybe around mid-November through early December, to talk about what each League's priorities are for action, and who might be interested in in being involved. He'll send out email with his available dates, and presidents can figure out what day might work.

Ethics Commission enabling legislation:

Linda Lopez is leading a subcommittee of Courts and Corrections on Ethics Commission enabling legislation. Mason said that advocates outnumbered the legislators at a recent meeting: a lot of different groups are interested. Mason suspects the enabling legislation will be strong. The next meeting of the committee will be Sep 25 at UNM Medical Center in ABQ, discussing details of the enabling legislation. On Oct 18, they will present it to the full C&C committee. We need someone to take the lead on this issue, someone who can go to nearly every meeting.Our other Ethics Commission issue is publicity, promoting the amendment to voters.Akkana Peck wondered if there was any organized resistance to the amendment. Mason said people were overwhelmingly in favor of it, but Meredith Machen said there were several groups mounting opposition claiming that an Ethics Commission would be too expensive.

Automatic voter registration:

Legislation is being drafted, with Sen. Steinborn leading. Steinborn also supports same-day registration, and may introduce a separate bill for that. We know that the Secretary of State and a lot of the county clerks will oppose same-day registration.Barbara Calef spoke with a friend who is a judge at polling stations: he says that New Mexico isn't ready for same-day registration. Many polling stations have no internet access, and poll workers aren't well trained: in the primary, Rio Arriba workers at one polling station tore up ballots. Mason says the legislation will probably give a lot of the power to the SOS, letting them approve entities like the DMV for voter registration.

Redistricting:

The League will present the Iowa Redistricting Model to legislators at a meeting in ABQ on Oct 18.

Legislative Reception and League Day:

Judy Williams reported that the Legislative Reception will be at Garrett's Desert Inn, Feb 6. They're willing to host us even though they've changed management. We don't know yet about League Day on Feb 7: we have booked a church room, but after the election, we'll ask the new Land Commissioner about whether we can use the Land Office. Local leagues are asked to put the word out that we need volunteers to staff the League Day table at the Roundhouse.

Reproductive Rights:

Diane Goldfarb reminded everyone that New Mexico still has a law on the books that criminalizes abortion. There will be a big push, and hopefully a lot of publicity, during this legislative session to decriminalize it, in case Roe v. Wade falls at the federal level. There's a coalition (of which we're part) that's trying to get the word out to members: there will be an online petition and we can make hardcopy with our logo on it. Diane read the text of the petition.Janet Blair wondered if we could change the text: she thought it was too wordy and doesn't get to the point, and several people agreed. The petition isn't public yet, so there may still be time to change the wording; Goldfarb and Blair will work with the coalition on wordsmithing.

Census Advocacy:

Barbara Calef reported on Robert Rhatigan's talk at Los Alamos Lunch with a Leader. He calls himself "New Mexico's unofficial demographer". He says that what needs to happen now is for the Governor to sign a Complete Count order. Williams and Calef have sent a letter to the Governor asking for one.

Rhatigan also says there will be a state Complete Count committee and he's hoping the League will be part of it. The purpose of a Complete Count committee is to make sure that everybody in the area they're looking at gets counted, by talking to elders and community leaders. In the last census, there was plenty of funding for in-person visits, but there's a lot less funding this year, and in addition, the possible citizenship question will be a problem. Rural communities, especially native Americans living on reservations, are the hardest to count. Young children under age 5 are also particularly difficult to count.

Becky Shankland pointed out that Rhatigan told LWVLA that a 1% undercount means 20k people not counted, which is a loss of federal funds to NM of $6.1 million/year, or $60 million over 10 years.Williams wondered if there was a place for volunteer census takers, in addition to the paid census takers and the volunteers on the Complete Count committees. No one knew.

Williams said that a national coalition called the Center for Civic Policy in ABQ is holding census task force meetings. The CCP is a nonpartisan 501c3; Mason was familiar with them, and Goldfarb thinks they've sent us donations for Voter Guides in the past. We need to join the coalition and get someone to meetings.

Becky Shankland moved that we join the Center for Civic Policy: passed.

Williams says they have various webinars; she will send out information.

Climate Action:

There was a statement we've been asked to sign on to. Karen Wentworth brought it up at the CNM board and had been told that it was an issue that should be limited to the national board. Several people were concerned that some of the positions in the statement might not align with existing LWVNM positions.

VOTER SERVICES (Diane Goldfarb):

The state Voter Guide is going well, though there was a last-minute change in the Libertarian slate. Goldfarb has gotten in touch with the new candidate, who has promised to get her the answers by Monday.

Native American Voter Guides: Rebecca Martinez, the elections administrator in the Secretary of State office, asked the League to get involved with Voter Guides for the Native American areas in the state. The Secretary of State is responsible, both statutorily and constitutionally, for reaching Native American voters, and they have to do it by radio and paper. Problems are the language barrier, and that many Native Americans don't have internet access and don't have information on how to vote. Martinez suggested that we could make a Voter Guide targeted toward people in that situation. Of course, this costs money. The Thornburg Foundation has offered funding.

Automated Election Services, the printer who has handled the CNM Voter Guide for many years as well as handling the automatic printing on actual ballots, said they could do this, but they would have to set up 11 separate Voter Guides. The expense is in the setup, and they'd need the information by next Friday.Goldfarb has asked Ballot Ready whether they could do printed ballots; they said they could, but they haven't done that before and it sounded like it might not be a good idea.We could give them just names, which might help, but we consider the Q&A to be the most valuable part of our Voter Guides. But their most important need is not the Q&A but the information on where and how to vote. It's probably too late to do Q&A, because we'd only have responses from some of the candidates.

The Native American Voter Guides will be in English with contact information for translators, which the Secretary of State office will provide. There will be one for each county, a total of 15,000 copies.

We will have an online Voter Guide for the whole state, done by Ballot Ready. We don't have a URL yet but it might be something like "lwvnm.corecivic.org". The state website and all the local websites will link to that. It will go live October 1.

October 19 there will be a congressional candidate forum in Santa Fe. There's been some talk of a Gubernatorial forum Oct 8 in Santa Fe, but that's up in the air. There was some discussion of which local leagues have candidate forums planned.

PMP for Students:

Barbara Calef moved that we waive PMP (Per Member Payment) for students, as authorized at the national convention, and revisit the issue at the next state convention. Passed.

COMMUNICATIONS (Janet Blair)

Machen highlighted two exciting developments this election cycle: the statewide online voter guide and the Native American voter guide. We need a publicity blitz to let people know.

Blair says that normally, we'd be working with "earned media", meaning that our story is important enough that news organizations will cover us on the merits of the story. We will be sending out press releases. Blair will send out a news release to a selection of papers, and will also send it to the board and to local league reps who can make sure their paper prints it.

If we want to buy time or have an ad in the papers, that's not cheap. We might only want a few papers, but even then, we could be talking thousands of dollars. Williams said thousands of dollars for ads is probably a non-starter.

Dick Mason said it might be most important to get the word out in the rest of the state where we don't have local leagues, since now we have a Voter Guide for them. The local leagues do a good job in getting the word out in their areas.

Blair recommended "boosting" our postings on Facebook -- it costs $15 and we she suggests we do it around once a week.Dick Mason suggests that we should have a follow-up phone conference for all the people involved in this media push -- maybe Sep 27 around 3:30 pm.

Kim Sorenson suggested that we should make Facebook posts with catchy images, like a cute dog with the message "did the dog eat your voter registration?" Blair will work on some messages like that, will post on Facebook and boost it. Akkana Peck volunteered to tweet them if Blair sent her the content; Blair said she would.

Blair moved that we allocate $1000 for advertising for the election, for things like Facebook boosts. Passed.

On the ethics commission, Blair will make contact with Heather Ferguson of Common Cause and if she has any messaging, she'll jump in.Dick Mason thinks that at some point we should send out a Constant Contact alert regarding the ethics commission: we support it, get out and vote. We should send this both to our members, and to the Constant Contact address for media.

SPECIAL PROJECTS: Anniversary (Meredith Machen):

Leagues should start getting their pictures, records, and accomplishments together so they'll be ready for the anniversary celebration. We need to spend some time at a board meeting where we discuss specifics on exactly what we plan to do. Since we don't have a huge budget like some state leagues, maybe we should combine the celebration with our League Day in 2020.

PROGRAM:

Public Lands

(Barbara Calef)The committee will meet Sep 28, and Calef needs to contact local leagues to set up dates for consensus meeting between November and February, so there's a position by the March board meeting.

Nuclear Waste Storage (Karen Douglas)

The situation is changing daily, and the two sites are moving ahead rapidly. Holtec and Interim Storage Partners in Texas is expecting to move forward as planned, and accept waste starting in 2023. The Eddy-Lea group is also moving forward rapidly, and they expect to be able to receive waste starting in 2022.

The $37b Yucca Mountain judgment fund, the money that's been collected from operating nuclear reactor sites, can't be used because it was earmarked to be used only for Yucca Mountain, but it's possible that it may eventually be made available. Yucca Mountain couldn't be used for 20 years even if it was greenlighted today. So, if one or both of these sites is approved, Congress will have to pass a bill making the judgment fund money available for these sites. Texas is accepting waste from shut-down reactors; Eddy-Lea will take all waste.The national position says to leave nuclear waste where it is until a permanent repository is found.

The original goal of this study was to develop a state position, which of course must be relevant to state issues; but Douglas said she was told to cease that effort. She will circulate the latest revision of the proposed consensus questions to the executive committee.

We read through the discussion from last month. The national position seems to contradict itself: it says waste should stay where it is until there's a permanent location, but it also says that states should take a strong role. If we wanted to take a position that we were in favor of the interim storage sites, thus taking a strong role, it seems to contradict the part of the national position that relates to not moving waste.We've been doing advocacy already -- we submitted a list of concerns to the NRC. We can certainly advocate on issues like making sure the roads are adequate to handle the waste safely.

Douglas will send the board the July 30 letter sent to the NRC, as well as the most recent list of proposed study questions.

LOCAL LEAGUE REPORTS

Los Alamos:

Robert Rhatigan's talk has already been discussed.

The county's Zero Waste Subcommittee received a petition from a high school environmental club regarding charging for plastic bags.

Sandra West interviewed David Friedman regarding recycling in light of China's decision to stop taking waste. They stressed how important it is not to have contaminants in the recycling; and just because it has a triangle doesn't mean it's recyclable.

The Early Childhood Education forum went very well but took a lot of resources from everyone working on it. Two hours turned out not to be a lot of time considering all the experts who spoke. It was videotaped and will be on YouTube.

Judy Williams wondered if it might be worth working with Voices for Children to hold a bigger forum after the election. Dick Mason thought that was a good idea: early childhood education is an issue young people care about, and focusing on it would make the League more relevant to many younger people. Williams said Santa Fe is having a lunchtime forum soon with an analyst who has studied early childhood education issues.

Becky Shankland will be holding a DC Statehood meeting soon in Los Alamos.

There are also DC Statehood events coming up in the Albuquerque and Las Cruces Leagues, plus an event in Santa Fe that isn't affiliated with LWVSFC.

CNM:

They held a march where they all wore "Vote NM" sashes.

The November meeting will be Nov 17 at Socorro Public Library.

Meeting adjourned at 2:47.