Face Mask 1
Westside COVID Surge -- STAY HOME and WEAR A MASK!

Good morning Westside Democrats,

I wish I was writing you with better news. As everyone knows, we are in the midst of a tremendous surge of COVID-19 cases in the state and around the world. But what most of you might not know is this: it is particularly bad on the Westside of Albuquerque.

If you look at the case count by zip code, you will learn that we have four of the top 25 right here on the Westside. The top zip code for cases is also here: 87121. We honestly cannot get any worse when it comes to responding to this pandemic. But we can start to turn it around.

I know this is a hard ask. But please consider being more careful this holiday season. I urge you to reconsider traveling for Thanksgiving. I also ask that you only spend the holidays with those in your immediate household. I know that is easier said than done, but we really are at a precipice. We must do whatever we can to stop the spread.

You might not realize this, but I truly love each and everyone one of you. The Westside community has become an indelible part of me and who I am as a person. You always want to protect those that you love, and it is in that spirit that I make that ask. I want to see all of you on the other side of this pandemic... and we are close.

Rachel Maddow had a heartbreaking open before her show Thursday night (November 19). I ask all of you to watch it here if you can. We can get through this, but we need to take precautions to keep our loved ones safe.

Then we can get back to doing the good work, in person, next year. I hope to see you all there.

Kenneth E. Scott, Chair
West Side Democrats of Bernalillo County
Westside Legislators Present Aggressive Agenda
to Voters in a Celebratory Victory Lap
with West Side Democrats

In an inspiring evening, 7 newly elected and re-elected state legislators representing Southwest and Northwest Albuquerque and Sandoval Counties laid out an impressive list of bills and reforms they want passed in the upcoming 2021 Legislative Session which starts on January 19. They also accurately predicted a special session to be called by Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham announced for November 24 to help with COVID-19 relief for unemployed residents and small businesses.

The panelists were featured on November 18 at the monthly meeting of the West Side Democrats, and had the opportunity to thank their volunteers and donors for helping them win their seats. West Side Democrat Harold Pope, Jr., who will be the state’s first African American state senator, joined his colleagues in supporting small business development opportunities to increase jobs on the Westside. Pope, a retired U.S. Army veteran, also plans to support legislation to make it easier for military families who are professionally licensed to find employment when then move to NM by reducing the barriers around reciprocity. Pope flipped the seat held by Republican Sander Rue since 2009.

Newly elected Senator Katy Duhigg, who also flipped a red seat to blue, wants to focus mainly on consumer protection bills, stating “We can’t allow consumers to be abused.” Duhigg beat Republican incumbent Candace Gould. She joined re-elected Representative Joy Garratt, who shared her passion for consumer protection.

Garratt, a school teacher, said she plans to continue her work to bring more teachers into the pipeline. Garratt also plans to work with her colleague, Daymon Ely, on reshaping the Extreme Risk Firearms Protection Bill to strengthen its intent to protect vulnerable populations from using guns for self-harm.

Representative Ely, who has served in the House of Representatives since 2017, wants to work on criminal justice reform and ban private prisons in New Mexico. He pointed out that NM has the highest number of private prisons in the country. He believes that criminal justice reform can be a bipartisan effort, citing the Koch brothers as proponents of keeping non-violent offenders out of long-term jail sentences due to the costs to taxpayers for incarcerating individuals. He also advocated for more creative ways to bring the Internet to the entire state, which has become even more crucial since COVID.

Representative Patricia Roybal Caballero, re-elected to the seat she has held since 2013, plans to sponsor a bill to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour. She is a long-time proponent of the Community Solar Act and plans to re-introduce the bill that creates opportunities for solar energy to be shared among subscribers. She also supports legislation for paid sick leave and family medical leave.

Senator Linda Lopez who has held her seat since 1997, plans to re-introduce the anti-institutional racism bill which has had past support from the other Westside legislators on the panel. She urged serious changes in how state government operates in light of the racial divides fueled by the lame duck Administration in the White House. She also plans to introduce a bill on teaching ethics in the classroom, and plans to partner with the ACLU on a bill to reduce excessive use of force by the police.

Representative Antonio “Moe” Maestas, who has held his seat since 200, advocated for accessing the Permanent Land Grant Fund for early childhood legislation. He supports legislation to require students to complete a financial literacy course before graduating high school, and will continue to be a leader for criminal justice reform. Specifically, he would like to reform the state’s probation program to help reduce reincarceration for minor violations. Another bill he plans to introduce is on liquor licensing reform, which he believes will help decrease the costly barriers associated with starting a new business.

One of the common themes throughout the evening was the need to expand the legislative sessions, which currently do not provide enough time to get much needed work done. Currently, the legislature meets for a 60-day session every other year, then alternates the other years with a 30-day session. All of the panelists were in agreement that reforms are necessary to help bring the legislature into the 20th century. “The days of the horse and buggy are gone,” said Roybal Caballero.

Among the wish list for the panelists include a repeal of the 1969 abortion law in NM, raising taxes on cigarettes, education reform to address the Yazzie/Martinez lawsuit, support for the Health Security Act, assistance with student loan debt, public banking, and campaign finance reform.

“With a new Senate, we have an opportunity that I think is going to be rare to be able to rock and roll,” said Representative Ely.

We can’t wait for the fireworks!
Is Now the Time for a Public Bank in New Mexico?
A Conversation with Public Bank Supporters Sarah Manning and Melissa Pickett of the Alliance for Local Economic Prosperity

A New Mexico-owned public bank is the goal of AFLEP, the Alliance for Local Economic Prosperity. Melissa Pickett and Sarah Manning of AFLEP are confident that the creation of a public bank will spur economic development in the rural areas and small towns of New Mexico, while productively using our tax dollars.

The citizens who live in New Mexico, especially those who live in small towns and rural areas, are desperately in need of financial help. A few years ago, there were approximately 60 local banks operating in New Mexico, today there are only 34. This is the result of an era of bank acquisition and mergers which began in the 1990’s. Today, four big commercial banks control 45% of all deposits in the United States. Their goal is to make money for their shareholders, so they are uninterested in the kind of small loans that will foster development on the family farms and in the small towns of New Mexico. Lacking access to capital, small business owners have been forced to turn to payday lenders for the money they need to develop their businesses. Payday lenders can charge very high interest rates of up to 100-175%, rates which strangle the borrower and consequently economic development in New Mexico.

AFLEP believes a state public bank is the answer. So, what is a public bank? It is a real bank, one which follows the same rules and regulations as the big commercial banks and is run by bankers. A New Mexico public bank would be owned by the citizens of New Mexico and operated by professional bankers. It will be a “banker’s bank,” loaning money and providing loan guarantees to local New Mexico banks and credit unions. Local banks and credit unions are engines of development; they know their customers and they know where to invest. They can make investments targeted at growing new businesses for New Mexico like renewable energy, and they can sustain the businesses and farms that are the backbone of rural New Mexico. Big, commercial banks are interested in big loans and transactions and their knowledge of the local economy is limited.

The profits generated by a New Mexico-owned public bank will be returned not to shareholders but to New Mexico citizens in the form of revenues for the state’s general fund, and a public bank will invest in New Mexico not Wall Street. It will not have the high overhead costs associated with commercial banking such as advertising and the provision of banking services like ATM’s and tellers. With less overhead, a public bank can charge its bank and credit union customers lower interest rates. This allows borrowers to pay a lower rate also.

Rising interest in a public bank led AFLEP to commission a one-year study to define the potential role and organization of a New Mexico-owned public bank. It was conducted by outside finance experts, including retired bankers and a team from the Anderson School of Management at UNM. The study recommended that the state of New Mexico capitalize the bank at $50 million. An additional $50 million would be added from the state’s general revenue fund. That $50 million would be replenished by the state as necessary.

A public bank could do the state’s banking, thus saving the fees New Mexico now pays big commercial banks to oversee our money. A New Mexico-owned public bank could also loan money to New Mexico cities and counties and even to the state to fund small capital projects. Currently, government infrastructure projects are funded via public bonds which have expensive up-front costs. A public bank provides a way to avoid those fees.

The profits earned by a New Mexico-owned public bank would go back into the state general revenue fund. Thus, a state bank would be an engine for New Mexico economic development, especially in our rural areas. It would also save local governments and state governments the money they currently pay big commercial banks. New Mexico’s taxpayer dollars would be invested in New Mexico and the profits from the bank would be returned to the state to keep the cycle going.
The big issue is education; a lack of understanding can be death of a new idea. AFLEP’s goal is to provide information about what a state bank is and what it can do for New Mexico to as many voters, legislators and state officials as possible. Currently, support is growing and AFLEP hopes to see legislation introduced in the next session of the state legislature.

If reading this article has convinced you that a New Mexico-owned public bank is a worthy idea, Melissa and Sarah hope that you will contact your legislators and urge them to create a public bank. For more information, check out the Alliance for Local Economic Prosperity webpage at https://aflep.org/

The West Side Democrats of Bernalillo County is a membership organization that helps to educate, mobilize, and educate voters about campaigns and issues pertinent to Albuquerque’s west side. Anyone can join for $10 per year. Your membership fee helps to pay for costs of organizing events that bring West Side voters together.

We are so grateful for everyone who is currently a member. As our mission continues, it is time to begin collecting dues for 2021. Those who have paid dues in October and November have been credited for 2021. Everyone else can either pay via our website (https://westsidedems.org/pay-using-paypal-or-a-credit-card/) or send a check to West Side Democrats, PO Box 67154, Albuquerque NM 87193.

If you have any questions, please email finance@westsidedems.org. Thank you for your support.
Dues are $10.00 per calendar year.
You may donate any amount.