Gov’t Overreach In AZ? Apparently The Tea Partiers Don’t Think So

Sometimes what you don’t hear from a movement speaks much louder than what you do.

Take the Tea Party – known for screaming about the alleged Constitutional violations perpetrated daily by President Barack Obama and his health care endorsing goons, not to mention the federal, state and local government that dares to tax them for providing vital services like roads, schools and law enforcement.

Why oh why have the Tea Partiers kept silent about the new immigration law in Arizona?

You know, the law that requires Arizona police to stop and question anyone they think might be in the country illegally, based on a poorly-defined premise of “reasonable suspicion” that virtually every legal expert says is a direct violation of the Constitution’s demand for freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures?

The law that has attorneys advising brown-skinned, Spanish-speaking native-born Americans to carry their identification papers with them in Arizona – just in case they are stopped by police for questioning – or face possible jail.

Why have Tea Partiers not held screaming rallies about the specter of law abiding American citizens caught up in the Arizona police’s new mandate? Is it not the perfect example of government overreach and intrusion?

I’m not the only one who’s wondering. Here’s a take from Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post:

But where was the Tea Party crowd? Isn’t the whole premise of the Tea Party movement that overreaching government poses a grave threat to individual freedom? It seems to me that a law allowing individuals to be detained and interrogated on a whim — and requiring legal residents to carry identification documents, as in a police state — would send the Tea Partyers into apoplexy. Or is there some kind of exception if the people whose freedoms are being taken away happen to have brown skin and might speak Spanish?

Yesterday I checked every national Tea Party site I could find – nada.

Then I checked New Mexico Liberty, the local site run by the self-described ‘free market’ think tank and huge tea party supporters the Rio Grande Foundation. I found plenty of articles about killing cap and trade and slamming the teachers union – you know, their usual stuff. But nothing about a controversial immigration law in a neighboring state that’s held the headlines now for nearly a week. Not one thing.

I didn’t find anything on the Albuquerque Tea Party’s site,  either.

Does this odd silence mean Tea Partiers agree with the state of Arizona’s stunning overreach? They certainly have spoken out strongly against every other governmental action they’ve opposed.

I’ll be watching and waiting to hear a coherent Tea Party position on this one.

AZ Immigration Law? We’re Better Than That, New Mexico

A bill that would require Arizona police to stop and interrogate people about their immigration status if they have brown skin or speak Spanish is sitting on Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer’s desk –and it looks like she just might sign it into law.

If Brewer signs the bill giving the state the power to enforce federal immigration law the repercussions would usher in a police-state mentality in Arizona that would go well beyond the immigrant community.

All brown-skinned, Spanish-speaking people in Arizona – including those who are just visiting the state – would be subject to questioning by police. The definition of “reasonable suspicion” that would allow cops to stop people is murky – one California legislator even suggested it could be based on someone’s assessment of a person’s clothes or shoes.

And it wouldn’t just be brown-skinned Spanish speakers at risk of being stopped by police – read this legal interpretation from Gabriel “Jack” Chin, a University of Arizona law professor and constitutional-law expert who has spent years crafting other bills and thinks this law is poorly written.

It was published Thursday in the Arizona Republic:

“If the person was born in Mexico and doesn’t have satisfactory identification, I would think there is probable cause to arrest that person for violation of this section: There is evidence they are not a U.S. citizen (foreign birth), they do not have any evidence they are authorized to live in the United States. . . . I would say the answer is: If you look Mexican or Hispanic or Asian or Black, then you should carry ID because there’s already some evidence that you could fall into this category.”

The proposed law has earned Arizona scorn from most of the rest of the country and condemnation from many, including the Catholic Church, President Barack Obama and New Mexico’s own Governor Bill Richardson. Police chiefs across the nation have panned the bill, legal experts question whether the law is constitutional and civil rights advocates call it outright racial profiling.

Could a draconian law like Arizona is considering ever pass in New Mexico? That’s what everyone I’ve been talking to wants to know.

I asked Rachel LaZar, executive director of the local immigrant rights group EL CENTRO de Igualdad y Derechos, whether she thought New Mexicans would ever tolerate a law like the Arizona proposal.

“I am optimistic that policies such as those in Arizona won’t be passed in New Mexico, but we must be vigilant and continue to work together as a community to ensure that doesn’t happen,” she said.

LaZar said that, unlike in Arizona, public and private organizations in New Mexico have worked together for many years to cultivate an atmosphere where immigrants are treated with respect.

“New Mexico has a proud history of passing non-discrimination policies that are conducive to immigrant integration,” she said. “These policies are a result of recognizing the long history of cyclical migration in New Mexico, cultural connections, the recognition of shared values, and due to successful organizing and advocacy efforts led by immigrants leaders, elected officials, unions, faith leaders, and civil rights/civil liberties organizations.”

It is important to note that, if passed in New Mexico,  a law like the one being considered in Arizona would affect much more than just immigrants.

Anyone who is brown and speaks Spanish could be subject to interrogation – including your primo from Cruces or your tia from Chama – and would be well-advised to keep identification with them at all times.

Precious and scarce police resources could be drawn away from serious crimes.

Passage of the bill could spark a tourism boycott like the one they are expecting in Arizona,  and further damage our already precarious economy.

And studies show the atmosphere of suspicion and increased attention to people’s skin color and language could well lead to a spike in hate crimes.

“It is important to understand that anti-immigrant policies have an impact on native born Latino/Hispanics as well, subjecting them to higher incidences of racial profiling, discrimination in the workplace, and hate crimes,” said LaZar. “That is an additional reason for immigrants and non-immigrants in New Mexico to collectively oppose these types of proposals.”

So New Mexicans, please: Let’s not let what’s happening in Arizona ever happen here. We are better than that.

What Would Stewart Udall Do?

Earth Day 2010. Conservation Voters of New Mexico today released its annual scorecard documenting state legislators’ voting records. It’s title: WWSUD—What Would Stewart Udall Do?

CVNM Executive Director Sandy Buffett writes:

Stewart Udall devoted his life and work to protecting the unique and sacred places of the natural world. Most of the landmark environmental laws of America—clean air and water, endangered species, wilderness, trails and scenic rivers—can be traced directly to his efforts.

So when we’re faced with the global climate crisis—perhaps the single greatest environmental challenge we’ve ever faced—we should ask ourselves: WWSUD? What Would Stewart Udall Do?

While you ponder that question, watch this 17 minute documentary on the life and legacy of the man known as the father of the environmental movement by filmmakers Joe Day and Grant Taylor. Stewart Udall passed away last month at the age 90.

Timothy McVeigh, Robert DePugh and the Civil War Pre-Enacters of 2010 (Part 1)

Today, we mark the fifteenth anniversary of worst act of domestic terrorism in American history, the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City by a racist, anti-government fanatic named Timothy McVeigh. The death toll was 168 men, women and children with hundreds more maimed and wounded.

Is there a New Mexico connection?

Hold that thought for a moment. We’ll get back to it.
But first here’s quick pop quiz.   Which one of these icons of the tea party movement — Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Sarah Palin or Michele Bachmann – was responsible for the following urgent call to action:

Our nation has reached a point of no return… Today the chains of slavery lay lightly on our people but with every passing day the chains become stronger and the American people are more tightly bound. We must either break these chains soon while they are yet weak or else we must face an uncertain future, frightful to behold.

…the legal government of the United States has been taken over by the foreign ideology of a socialist bureaucracy. The enemies of liberty have preferred to describe this as ‘political change.’

If we are to win this desperate battle in the short time available we must use every possible weapon at our disposal.

It’s a trick question. The answer is “none of the above.”  Of course, if you substitute “hopey- changey thing” for “political change” then it veers toward Palinism, if not Palinspeak.

No, the author of this rhetoric of extreme national emergency, the kind of thing we can hear daily on the Fox News Channel or KKOB radio in Albuquerque, was Robert Bolivar DePugh.

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Battle For Clean Drinking Water Going On Now In Santa Fe

Is clean water important to you? If so, you should be paying attention to what’s happening at the Roundhouse right now.

On April 13, the state Water Quality Control Commission began hearings on a package of rules and regulations regarding disposal of waste generated by the dairy industry.

New Mexico’s dairy industry has never been regulated before – until now, the only rules that were ever applied to the industry had been cobbled together from other areas of oversight.

The initial push for regulations actually came from the state’s dairy industry, which said its members would rather face a clear set of rules than a bunch of haphazard ones.

The Water Quality Control Commission, which is a committee of the New Mexico Environment Department, formulated the regulations after holding a series of meetings with stakeholders – including dairy farmers, landowners and dairy industry leaders – all over the state.

But now the dairy industry and its powerful trade groups are pushing back hard, saying the set of rules that the New Mexico Environment Department is proposing is too restrictive and will cost farmers too much money to implement.

The Groundwater Problem

The regulation proposal would require dairies that are proven polluters to install synthetic liner for their manure lagoons. Many of the polluters use clay liners, which are cheaper but much more permeable. The new regulations would also require dairies that pollute to install groundwater-monitoring wells. The rules would apply only to new dairies and to existing dairies that are proven polluters.

The proposed rules are the first step toward addressing what by any measure has become an appalling situation regarding groundwater contamination in New Mexico.

According to the New Mexico Environment Department, two thirds of dairies operating in New Mexico are contaminating the groundwater near and directly underneath them.

Here’s a little history about dairy in New Mexico: Until the 1990’s, America’s dairy industry had largely been located in California’s Inland and Central Valley. But since then, encroaching regulations and increasingly expensive land drove the industry into states like Idaho and New Mexico, where the land is cheaper and the regulations – especially in New Mexico – were non-existent.

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Watching Tea Partiers Play “Spot The Black Person”

black guy tea party

Black Guy At A Tea Party

By Tracy Dingmann

Is the Tea Party finally waking up to the realization that they have a public relations problem when it comes to, you know, brown people?

It’s interesting, because lately I’ve been detecting some sensitivity on the part of Jim Scarantino, one of the biggest local Tea Party boosters around. You can catch Jim glowingly singing the praises of the Tea Party on TV and radio and blogging about it at a number of sites.

The other day, he posted the most fascinating picture on the New Mexico Liberty blog, which sponsors the local tea party and many of its events.

This is what the picture showed: It was a black guy at a Tea Party. You heard me right. An actual black guy at a tea party in St. Louis. Speaking, no less. And standing right behind him – another person of undetermined brownness. With a big crowd of white folks staring up at the both of them.

Scarantino gave the picture the sardonic headline: “Another Racist Tea Party; Scroll Down for Photographic Evidence from St. Louis.“

And that, my friends, is apparently all we should need  – one photo of a black guy at a Tea Party somewhere as proof positive that the Tea Party movement doesn’t have a racist bone in its body.

Sadly, since I’ve been a black person my whole life,  I know this game very well.  It’s called “Spot the Black Person” – and tea partiers have been doing a lot of it lately. And I understand why. Headlines like this and this can’t be good.  Not to mention this collection of wretched posters. Although to be fair, a couple of these pictures are not actually  racist – just incredibly offensive. We trust you’ll be able to tell the difference.

This flood of bad publicity is drowning the Tea Party movement as it celebrates its first birthday. And I think all the bad publicity is starting to make some of the people in the movement nervous.

Why do I say that? Because they’ve been whining a lot lately about how the racist incidents and kooky statements from some of their followers have overshadowed what they really stand for.

And they are doing damage control.

Check out this email from the Columbus, Ohio Tea Party, which features the admonition: “Actually, what your signs say matter a great deal.” (That’s in response to the many Tea Partiers who like to say, “It doesn’t matter what my sign says, you’re going to call me a racist anyway.”) Serious rehabilitation going on there.

But really, who are the tea partiers, and what do they stand for? A poll came out today that helped the rest of us delinate their demographics. According to this NYT/CBS poll, they are largely white, Republican, older and male. Fair enough.

The poll also shows they are more likely to think its okay to think violent action against the government is justified. Wow.

Yep, the Tea Party is in the midst of a public relations crisis over its identity…and I don’t envy it.

And Jim, I’m sorry – sending out pictures of lone black people at Tea Party events is not going help.

PS. Check out this hilarious blog from someone calling themselves Tea Party New Mexico. We found this blog by cruising the official NM Tea Party Patriot directory –  but this guy or gal is clearly a ringer.

Check out this quote from all-caps post called “A Response To My Critics:”

FIRST OF ALL FRED, THANK YOU FOR COMING TO MY WEBSITE, I DO APPRECIATE YOUR TIME, AND PLEASE TELL ALL YOUR FRIENDS IF ANY OF THEM ARE MORE PATRIOTIC THAN YOU ARE THAT YOU THINK IT’S A REAL GOOD WEBSITE THEY OUGHT TO CHECK OUT. SECONDLY, THE TEA PARTY IS NOT A RACIST MOVEMENT. IF YOU HAD READ MY SITE WELL, INSTEAD OF JUST DISMISSING IT WITHOUT EVEN READING IT, YOU WOULD HAVE SEEN THAT AT THE MOST RECENT TEA PARTY MEET AND GREET MEETING HERE IN ALBUQUERQUE, WE WATCHED A VIDEO OF GLEN BECK FANS AND ONE OF THEM WAS BLACK AND HE GAVE A GOOD LITTLE SERMON ABOUT FREEDOM AND LIBERTY. THE TEA PARTY IS NOT RACIST, AND THAT IS JUST A FACT. NICE TRY, COMRADE.

Here’s another quote from a post called, “ I Can’t Stop Crying.”

I was going to write today about how it turns out Obama probably isn’t an android or robot or altered guy or whatever (though he is a Kenyan and a Muslim and a socialist and maybe the Antichrist), because my wife heard from a reliable conservative source that that guy James David Manning wasn’t right about that.

I was GOING to, but then when I went to type about it, I thought of some things about this once-great nation of ours, the United States of America…and Obama, and the Democrats, and that she-wolf Pelosi, and that traitor to our race Bart Stupak, and my daddy and his drinking, and how the Tea Party is working so hard to fight all that, and I just started crying and crying and I still can’t stop.

It’s taken me over an hour just to type these words through the tears and the shaking and, anyway, I guess I won’t be able to do a full write-up today.

Hopefully, tomorrow I will be feeling better.

UPDATE: I finally stopped. I’m okay now.

Read the rest …it’s a postively Swiftian takedown of tea partiers. (We thought he was real for quite some time. And then we laughed and laughed.)  Whoever this is – he or she gets the joke.

How ‘Bout Some Manure With That Drinking Water?

Cows are nice, aren’t they? I mean, they’re a little stinky sometimes, but what’s more American than a good, old dairy farm and some happy, milk-producing cows?

Here’s the problem – modern dairy in New Mexico is big, and it’s anything but bucolic.

Just like in every other state, super-sized New Mexico dairies cram cows into high-density feedlots so as to maximize milk production. These cows have no access to grass and are milked several times a day.

In New Mexico, those industrialized dairies produce 5.6 million gallons of manure each day – enough to fill nearly 8.5 Olympic-sized swimming pools daily. The waste below these dairies seeps into the groundwater, contaminating the water that you and I drink.

The bottom line: According to the New Mexico Environment Department, more than 65 percent of New Mexico’s drinking water underneath or near the dairies is contaminated by nitrates alone. If other contaminants are considered, the number could be closer to 90 percent.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

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Suck on this New Mexico, it’s Dick Morris of Citizens United on the phone!

“Please stay on the line for an important message from Dick Morris of Citizens United.”

That’s just part of what an untold number of New Mexicans heard in a campaign phone blitz this week.

By all accounts, the call was slickly produced and deployed.

The caller would ask for a specific person in the household. Let’s call her Mrs. Wellington. Once it was confirmed that Mrs. Wellington was indeed on the line, the caller would introduce himself:

“Hello, I’m Gil from Citizens United.”

Oh yes, this is the same Citizens United that won a recent 5-4 Supreme Court decision – Citizens United V. Federal Election Commission — which struck down much of the McCain-Feingold Bipartisan Campaign Finance Reform Act of 2002 law along with overturning Teddy Roosevelt era bans on corporate campaign contributions. By conferring on corporations the same rights as an individual (corporate personhood), the decision now allows them to open up their treasuries and completely buy up all television time, thus potentially drowning out drown out everyone else’s voices in political campaigns.

But let’s get to Gil on the phone with Mrs. Wellington. After a brief riff on how President Obama has “taken your health care away from you,” Gil asked Mrs. Wellington to stay on the line to hear an important message from “Dick Morris of Citizens United.”

Then a recording of the Fox News pollster/guru and noted toe sucking fetishist, Dick Morris, commenced.

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Update: Statement From Arturo Uribe On Helena Defamation Verdict

By Tracy Dingmann

Last night a Las Cruces jury ruled against Mesquite community activist Arturo Uribe, ordering him to pay Helena Chemical Co. $75,000 for saying his children were made ill by the fertilizer company’s warehouse located across the street from his family home.

This afternoon I got this statement from Arturo Uribe:

“I wasn’t expected to show up. I wasn’t expected to win. This lawsuit was expected to shut me up and intimidate me. That’s what I believe. I believe what I’ve said to be true. I don’t understand the jury’s verdict. They made mistakes and we will appeal. Does this stop me from continuing our organizing and our struggle to make Mesquite a safe place to live? I think not. What it has done is make me wiser and stronger. It has shown me how much support I do have. Will I continue to hold Helena and other polluting industries accountable? You bet. No matter what happened to me, the fact remains that Helena has been fined for numerous violations in which they have paid. Helena is in an abatement plan that will require them to clean up. We went up against a giant corporation with high dollar attorneys, high dollar expert witnesses and expensive paid studies by Helena. They asked for $600,000 the jury came with $1 for actual damages and $75,000 for punitive. It doesn’t make sense. This won’t destroy me. It should send a chill to non profits and organizations that deal with environmental justice and those who defend free speech. But it’s not going to scare me from speaking out when I believe something is wrong. I wasn’t even expected to show up much less win. I will hold my head up high I have nothing to be ashamed of.”

Today, the state Environment Department announced that it has issued a new notice of violation to Helena for “failing to correct deficiencies in its groundwater cleanup plan.”

According to reporter Heath Haussamen, writing on NMpolitics.net:

In January 2005 the department required Helena to clean up groundwater contamination at its Mesquite facility because contaminants there exceed state groundwater quality standards for nitrate, sulfate, fluoride, chloride and total dissolved solids, according to a news release from the environment department.

The problem? Helena, according to the release, has failed to submit a required plan to monitor all of those except nitrates to ensure the contamination doesn’t continue.

“We are disappointed in Helena’s refusal to monitor groundwater contaminants underneath its facility that exceed water quality standards,” Environment Department Water and Waste Management Division Director Marcy Leavitt said in the release.

“The company… must immediately address this issue to protect groundwater underneath and around the Helena facility and to meet its responsibilities to the surrounding community,” Leavitt said.

Helena has 30 days to submit the plan. Though it wasn’t announced until today, the notice of violation was issued March 31, the release states.

Helena could face additional fines if it doesn’t comply. The company has already been fined almost half a million dollars in recent years for environmental violations, most relating to air quality.

Earlier today, Helena released a statement saying, in part:

“The truth is Helena is not adversely impacting air quality, drinking water quality or the health of the citizens of Mesquite.”

Westland DevCo/SunCal Bankruptcy Was No Surprise To TIDD Opponents

Opponents of a state-backed tax scheme to help develop a parcel of land on Albuquerque’s West Mesa say they aren’t surprised by news that the company behind the plan has filed for bankruptcy.

Here’s a copy of the bankruptcy filing.

“What we all said was going to happen and what we knew was going to happen finally happened,” said Rep. Ben Rodefer, a Democrat from Corrales. “They were not viable financially and not of the caliber we should want to be in a relationship with.”

One year ago, Rodefer was one of the strongest voices against California-based Westland DevCo/SunCal’s quest for legislative approval of a plan to tap future state tax receipts to develop a 55,000-acre parcel of land into a master-planned community on Albuquerque’s West Side.

The funding scheme, called a tax increment development district, or TIDD, is supposed to be used to spur revitalization of historic districts or other infill development within cities – not to aid companies who want to build up previously undeveloped tracts of land.

Westland DevCo/SunCal announced this week that it has filed for bankruptcy on its New Mexico properties after defaulting on $188 million in loans. A number of the company’s developments in other states have also gone bankrupt.

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