Why NM needs an independent ethics commission

Last Thursday, the US Senate Select Committee on Ethics issued its “Public Letter of Qualified Admonition” to Senator Domenici for pressuring then US Attorney David Iglesias to move quickly on the Bernalillo County courthouse scandal.

It’s worth noting that this same committee issued the exact same type of letter – the “Public Letter of Qualified Admonition” — to Senator Larry Craig of Idaho, for his misconduct in a public restroom last summer.

I wonder – can a legislative body police itself effectively? It’s an honest question, and one that is in play as the New Mexico legislature struggles with the question of whether to constitute an independent ethics commission to handle alleged ethics violations of its members. So far, the Legislature has failed to pass this ethics proposal. Continue reading

Dealing with “the Health Insurance Mafia”

I love mystery novels. One of the authors I’ll read on occasion is Jonathan Kellerman. But the op-ed he published in the Wall Street Journal last week was far from mysterious. His rip-roaring piece (The Health Insurance Mafia) savaged the health insurance industry as surely as his fictional villains savage their prey. Here’s just one sample:

The health insurance model is closest to the parasitic relationship imposed by the Mafia and the like. Insurance companies provide nothing other than an ambiguous, shifty notion of “protection.” But even the Mafia doesn’t stick its nose into the process; once the monthly skim is set, Don Whoever stays out of the picture, but for occasional “cost of doing business” increases. When insurance companies insinuate themselves into the system, their first step is figuring out how to increase the skim by harming the people they are allegedly protecting through reduced service.

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Lack of Transparency: Business as usual at State Land Office

The New Mexico Independent launched this week and not a moment too soon for a hard news hungry public. Digging for the story behind the story, the Indie’s Majorie Childress looked into how the controversy about how the N.M. State Land Office handles its development leases.

Land Office explains why it enters into no-bid deals that benefit developers

When Childress inquired how one might go about inspecting the eighteen short-term planning development leases mentioned in a recent Albuquerque Journal article, the following extraordinary exchange took place: Continue reading

Netroots Adventure: Ali Goes to Camp

I was given a choice. Go to rehab or to RootsCamp. I chose the latter.

What is RootsCamp you ask?

I was asking myself the same thing as I boarded a plane to D.C. for a weekend of RootsCamp adventures. Well it wasn’t quite THAT mysterious, and I have to confess that I did do a ‘lil homework about RootsCamp before I landed.

Here’s what RootsCamp says about itself:

“RootsCamps are debriefs for the progressive community – everyone from the “netroots” to precinct captains to field organizers to national message consultants – is invited to come together to hash out what we learned and how to apply those lessons going forward.”

I’ll admit I did indeed find a group of Web Wizards who were willing to share lessons learned and best practices and talk about the nitty gritty of how we take this powerful platform known as “the web” and propel it to new levels. Or should I say even newer levels. This thing changes and grows every second.

The first morning was a quick round robin of introductions that was a feat to admire. Imagine a room of 200 or so people who are all asked to introduce themselves. I was about to die in my seat until I heard the rules: Name, organization and 3 words. You got booed if you went over that. Nice. The other RootsCamp rule is: NO TOURISTS. Come prepared to give a demo, lead a session, or help with one.

You can see people in action posting session ideas and urging others to do a session.

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The sessions were wide and varied. A sampling of the topics included, “Closing the Digital Divide,” “Race on the Blogs,” “Online to Offline Organizing,” to “Dealing with Constituent Email,” and “Holding FOX Accountable.”

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I was inspired to be in the company of folks I admire in the field and am looking forward to holding our own RootsCamp New Mexico this year.

Wouldn’t that be fun?

A group of New Mexico bloggers, organizers and leaders sharing ideas and learning about how we can impact our state and provide folks with cutting edge information and new ways to engage in our community. If we can expand participation in our democracy, even better. Stay posted for more info on RootsCamp New Mexico and send me ideas for sessions you might like to do or learn about.

Check out Pics from RootsCamp DC

Clearly Progress: A Common Kinship

Often, our politics are not so much a choice as a birthright. Although mine were born half a world and half a century away, perhaps there is some kinship with all of us who make progress what it is: the voyage, slow at times, towards equity.

My story started in the first half of the 20th century. My grandfather, a professor, was kidnapped several times during the Japanese occupation of Korea, and then for good by the North Koreans during the Korean War, never to be seen again. With the devastation that all wars bring upon them, my newly alone grandmother huddled her six children, on the brink of survival and in abject poverty, until somehow, they made it to the United States before the war claimed them.

Fast forward almost half a century.

When I was twenty and in college in New York City, I ran across a viewing of the wonderful Civil Rights documentary, Eyes on the Prize, and specifically, the episode on the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee and Freedom Summer. Coincidentally, the very next day, The New York Times ran a story on the 25th anniversary of Freedom Summer, which was to be a bus caravan of young people to Mississippi and back. The article stated that Carolyn Goodman, the mother of Andrew Goodman – one of the Civil Rights workers killed that summer – lived in Manhattan. I looked her up in the phone book and told her I wanted to help with the anniversary project. She said, “sure, c’mon over.” Continue reading

Ali’s RNC Trip: Targeted Voter or Troublemaker?

You are not here to cause any trouble are you?” the young Republican who greeted me asked when I inquired about getting press credentials for the RNC State Chairmen’s Meeting at Tamaya Resort & Spa.

He was nice enough, but definitely nervous. After some delay, I was indeed granted a press credential to the Chairmen’s Luncheon. I also had the pleasure of a “bodyguard” who made sure I got my seat in the back of the room and didn’t leave my side in case I decided to “make trouble.”

Rick Davis, John McCain’s 2008 Campaign Manager spoke about the people the McCain campaign needs to target, “Wal-Mart moms, “Rehab” Republicans (those disengaged from the party), Hispanics, youth and Facebook independents.”

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As I sat in the room of predominantly older, white men I found myself thinking, “Hey I fit 3 of the 5 profiles.” I have a Facebook account, I am a youth (though some may beg to differ!) and while I consider myself a Chicana I am politically identified as a Hispanic.

So why didn’t anyone look like me in the room? Why did I have a “bodyguard” who kept asking me if I was going to cause any trouble? Was I a targeted voter or troublemaker? These were questions I pondered as I drove back home.