[These are unofficial draft minutes; they have been reviewed and corrected by the executive committee but have not yet been approved by the caucus.]

The Adelante Progressive Caucus of the Democratic Party of New Mexico held a regular members meeting by Zoom from 6:30 to 8:00 pm on Thursday 7 October 2021.

Agenda

  1. Call to order and quorum check for business portion

  2. Election Review- old business Michael- candidates and acclamation vote

  3. Resolutions and SPARC- Jane Yee, C1 Ward 17A

  4. Preview of October business meeting -

    • Redistricting and Legislators
      Maurreen and small team? Endorse a plan?
      / Thank you to Chief Justice Chavez and team
      / CCP? “Progressives”, transparency and what is best for NM? Lobby the legislature?

      Legislators- Recruit, endorse, vacancies, who to replace?
      Three teams to meet with members
      CD1- Samuel, Nicole, and Patty, CD2 and CD3?

Adjourn business meeting

Guests

  • Amar Shergill, Chair, California DP Progressive Caucus Chair- actions in California and progress of a national coalition of Progressive Caucuses
  • Kathleen Burke, Fair Districts NM - current status of redistricting meetings, decisions, and future dates, with disclaimers

Attendance

Members of the Caucus:

  • Kathleen Burke
  • Muriel Carpenter
  • Pia Gallegos
  • Roger McNew
  • Nicole Olonovich
  • Carl Peterson
  • Scotti Romberg
  • Jane Yee

Officers:

  • Athena Christodoulou, political director
  • Patricia French, vice-chair
  • Frances Gonzales, CD-2 chair
  • Cheryl Harris (CH), chair
  • Jay Levine, executive committee member at-large
  • Samuel Nevarez, CD-1 chair
  • Karlyne Nordholm, webmaster
  • Michael Sperberg-McQueen (MSM), secretary

Guests:

  • Steve Aidikonis
  • Amar Shergill

1 Call to order

Cheryl Harris called the meeting to order at 6:30 pm. After a round of introductions, we reviewed the agenda. We confirmed that a quorum of the executive committee was present.

2 Election of officers

CH reported that an elections committee had been formed at the August business meeting, consisting of Chery Harris, Nicole Olonovich, and Michael Sperberg-McQueen. In early September, a call for self-nominations was issued; at the end of the self-nomination period, we had two eligible candidates for office:

  • Patty French for Vice-Chair
  • Samuel Nevarez for CD-1 chair

We had no eligible candidates for CD-2 chair, CD-3 chair, or at-large member of the executive committee. (There was a self-nomination, but the candidate has not been a caucus member for six months and was thus ineligible to run.)

It was moved and seconded (by MSM and Frances Gonzales) that in view of the number of nominations, we dispense with a formal electronic election and declare Patty French and Samuel Nevarez elected by unanimous consent as vice chair and CD-1 chair respectively. Motion passed unanimously.

3 Preview of October business meeting (19 October)

CH remarked that we need to recruit people to serve in the vacant positions, since there is work to be done. At the coming business meeting, CH would like to address two issues particularly:

  • Redistricting. CH thinks perhaps we should form a small task force to consider whether Adelante should endorse any of the published maps, and whether and how to lobby legislators between now and the special session in December.
  • Legislative elections next year. Some legislators will not run for re-election; we will need to recruit progressive candidates for those districts, and primary challenges may be in order for some incumbents. CH would like three meetings on this topic, one for each congressional district, to be organized by the CD chairs.

Jay Levine noted that Taos will have municipal elections in March and he has received inquiries about endorsement of candidates by ACP. CH said that should go on the agenda for the next business meeting.

4 Guest Speaker: Amar Shergill

Amar Shergill, Chair of the Progressive Caucus of the California Democratic Party, spoke about the situation in the California party. (See attachment for informal notes.)

Pia Gallego moved that Adelante sign on to a short statement of support for what the California caucus is doing, trying to get rid of fossil fuel and law enforcement money. Jay Levine raised a point of order, saying that PG could not make a motion as she is not an officer of the Caucus. Before the chair ruled on the point of order, Athena Christodoulou made the same motion, seconded by Patty French.

There was some discussion of whether a motion was in order at this point, whether outgoing officers were still in office, and whether the meeting still had a quorum. CH ruled that outgoing officers' terms run through the end of October and that the meeting still had a quorum. She asked whether the meeting was willing to entertain the motion; there was no objection.

At JL's request, the motion was stated in more detail: that the Adelante Caucus sign onto, or write, a statement of support for the California Progressive Caucus in its endeavor to stop fossil fuel money and law enforcement money from being donated to the party. The statement would then be given to key members of the California Democratic Party, in order to make them understand that this issue has national support and is not going away.

CH asked how much money is at issue; AS reported that this year (?) there had been $330,000 from fossil fuels; over the last few cycles the party has received over a million dollars of law-enforcement-related money (although none very recently). That's money to the party, not including any contributions to individual elected officials.

AS and PG presented the wording of the statement proposed by the California progressive caucus.

The Progressive Caucus of the ______[state]____ Democratic Party supports the call of California Democratic Party caucuses, including the CDP Progressive Caucus, for an Executive Board meeting to vote to end fossil fuel and law enforcement contributions to the state party. We must end Democratic Party reliance on money from the production of energy that is destroying the earth and from the historical policing – now militarized – that targets black, brown and poor people.

It was noted that the call for an executive board meeting was supported not just by the CDP Progessive Caucus, but also by many other CDP caucuses, including the Black Caucus, the Environmental Justice Caucus, the Children's Caucus, the Seniors Caucus, the Arab-American Caucus, the Latino Caucus, and others.

Nicole Olonovich suggested adding 'indigenous,' before 'black'. There was audible support for the suggestion, no dissent.

Asked what the chances of passing the resolution were, AS noted that the executive board is more progressive than the party as a whole, so if there is a vote, he thinks the resolution will have a fighting chance.

AS thanked CH for inviting him and praised her and Pia Gallegos's work establishing a nation-wide network of progressive caucuses. If we don't communicate, we can't learn from each other's experiences.

The motion then passed unanimously.

5 Guest Speaker: Kathleen Burke, Fair Districts NM

Kathleen Burke of Fair Districts New Mexico spoke to the meeting about the current state of the decennial redistricting process in New Mexico. (See attachment for informal notes.)

6 Other business

6.1 Environmental Justice Caucus

Muriel Carpenter reported on the formation of a new Environmental Justic Caucus. See the article in a recent Blue Review for a full description.

The new caucus has drafted rules (modeled on those of APC); they are now with the DPNM Rules Committee, which needs to approve them (and she does not know why it is taking them so long to approve them). The Adelante Caucus, she said, shows that we can create a special kind of power within the party by making a policy-oriented caucus. Ideally, she said, the new caucus should go before the SCC in their 23 October meeting. In order to be able to do that, the Environmental Justice Caucus will have its own internal elections October 16-17.

She gave a link for a signup form (https://www.jotform.com/build/212675080208149).

6.2 DPNM SPARC meeting, BernCo resolutions committee meeting

Jane Yee noted that there will be a DPNM State Platform and Resolutions Committee (SPARC) meeting on Saturday from 9 to 3. She encouraged people to attend. SPARC is holding monthly meetings from October through February. In order to make the platform a live document and ensure that it reflects current issues and views, they are looking at each section of the document in turn. This Saturday the general topics will be:

  • Ethics, elections, politics. (Speakers from OLE and Common Cause)
  • Civil rights. (Antoinette Sedillo Lopez, Barron Jones of ACLU)
  • Women. (EMERGE, Coalition against violence against NA Women.)

The SPARC web site is at https://www.dpnm-sparc.org/meeting-schedule.html; it has links to the agenda for individual meetings.

JY noted that there is a Bernalillo County resolutions committee meeting on 17 October; among other things it will consider a resolution calling on UNM to divest from fossil fuels.

Adjourned 8:05.

Attachment 1: Notes on presentation by Amar Shergill, Chair of the Progressive Caucus of the California Democratic Party

[N.B. These notes are an informal summary prepared by the secretary; they are not formally part of the minutes to which they are attached. Responsibility for them lies exclusively with their author.]

The California party is large -- twenty per cent of the Democrats in the U.S. are in California. And it has had great recent success: no Republican has won a statewide race in over a decade (since 2006 to be precise). The state also has a good congressional delegation, AS said. But in some ways, he continued, the party has been a victim of its own success. As Republicans continue their death spiral and Republican registration continues to decline, some centrist Republicans have been moving into the Democratic party. As a result, the Democratic party of California was more progressive some years ago, when there were more Republicans in the state, than it is now.

Progressives have had some victories on issues of social justice and bias -- issues, AS said, that don't touch the pocketbook. But on issues that do touch corporate pockets, progressives have taken some hard losses. The standoff rules for oil wells, for example, are worse in California than in Texas, AS said: in California there is no rule preventing the drilling of an oil well directly adjacent to a school; in Texas, that would not be allowed.

The organizational structure of the California party is complex; there is no single grass-roots election the determines control of the party. Instead, the legislature runs the game, through their appointed delegates, with strong influence as well from county committees and assembly-district delegations. For the last few cycles, the party has been controlled by the way labor and the Assembly work together.

AS said that progressives sat down some time ago with Rusty Hicks, the new party chair, who encouraged progressives to work within the rules and build consensus for positions they wanted the party to take. Progressives did work to build consensus on getting corporate money, fossil-fuel money, and police money out of the party. One function of the party, AS said, is to clean money and deliver it to candidates. The party accepts funding from the fossil fuel industry and uses it to support candidates. And this way the candidates don't have to admit they took money from the fossil fuel industry.

The party's finance committee agreed: no more police money. But the chair refused to put the resolution it to a vote. The same thing happened on fossil fuel money. The chair signed a pledge [not to accept money from the fossil fuel industry], then took $330,000 and used it to help elect legislators who then blocked the relevant legislation.

In practice, the response of the party to progressive efforts has been to say that if progressives build consensus on a proposal, party officials won't put it to a vote; if progressives come to the relevant committee meeting and make a motion, the motion will be ruled out of order.

The progressives have agreed that there is only one way to move forward: direct action, putting people in the street. Beginning a little later in October, progressives will be protesting at people's homes, bringing visibility to otherwise invisible apparatchiks who are voting to burn the planet and keep our brown brothers and sisters incarcerated. Progressives are also going around the chair, using the provisions in the rules for calling our own board meeting on 24 October, with our own agenda. AS had been hoping for a commitment today that the party would adhere to the bylaws, call the meeting, and adhere to the agenda. No news yet, neither good nor bad. We want a vote, AS said. If we lose the vote, we lose the vote. But we need a vote.

AS stressed that national support helps. When the California progressive caucus launches its actions in a few days, we hope you will amplify our voice. And later we will return the favor. As progressives, we can work together.

Attachment 2: Notes on remarks by Kathleen Burke, Fair Districts NM, and ensuing discussion

[N.B. These notes are an informal summary prepared by the secretary; they are not formally part of the minutes to which they are attached. Responsibility for them lies exclusively with their author.]

KB reported that today was the penultimate public meeting of the Citizen Redistricting Committee; tomorrow is the last meeting. If anyone has comments they have not made, they should join the meeting tomorrow and make them. Today's meeting was held at the Pueblo Cultural Center in Albuquerque, and the attendees were predominantly Native people, including Apaches.

KB is the project coordinator for Fair Districts NM, initially a project of the League of Women Voters of NM. The project has grown to a loose coalition or partnership of 32 organizations, among them the Adelante Caucus. APC was one of the first organizations to join, and Cheryl Harris, Frances Gonzales, and Athena Christodoulou have all been very active in the process.

The process, KB said, is working. We have counted over 40,000 NMs in support of fair redistricting (totaling the memberships of the partner organizations). We now have four DPNM caucuses on board: Adelante, the Native American Caucus, the Black People's Caucus, the Rural Caucus. This is good, she said, because it's the Democrats we have to convince in the legislature to get redistricting done in a fair and transparent way.

Gerrymandering in the US goes back to colonial days, and has a long history in NM. In NM, racial gerrymandering affecting both Native and Hispanic populations was at one point bad enough to require intervention from the U.S. Justice Department. Owing in part to that intervention, there is less racial gerrymandering here now. But we have not made progress on incumbency protection. Between now and the special session, we have a window of opportunity to get the word out to the population and to our legislators about incumbency protection.

Incumbency protection is just what it sounds like: legislators drawing the map to protect their own -- buddymandering. The parties will often make deals to protect EACH OTHER'S incumbents. This is our biggest problem in NM redistricting. It leads to a legislature full of people who have served a decade or more -- maybe they have been there too long? There aren't many young faces in the legislature.

For progressives, incumbency protection is a deal killer. If the incumbents are drawing the districts to ensure their incumbency, it becomes hard for incumbents to be challenged. The veterans know this game very well; they know how to protect themselves and their colleagues. And of course the public has no access to those meetings; they happen behind closed doors. They can even draw out someone who might challenge them. Jerry Ortiz y Pino spoke very frankly about it last year, as did Mark Moores.

Pia Gallegos said she had heard that the Democratic caucus in the House is trying to consolidate the progressive vote into two districts of Albuquerque, so as to limit the progressive vote in Albuquerque to two House districts. Is there truth to that? KB said she had no information on the caucus's views.

Nicole Olonovich asked whether, given that the last CRC meeting is tomorrow, and the Veterans Caucus will not be able to consider redistricting issues until November is there still work that can be done in November? Are there things we can do to pressure our legislators? any action we can take? KB yes it would be great if Veterans also joined the project.

Fair Districts NM will be organizing some things between now and then: webinars in particular, with an emphasis on educating about incumbency protection. Fair Districts will be sending out information; KB urged attendees to get themselves on the email list. Next year, she said, work would focus on a constitutional amendment for an independent redistricting commission, to take redistricting out of the hands of the legislature.

Cheryl Harris asked three questions.

  1. We've been hearing about CCP, the Center for Civic Policy, allegedly a progressive group. Who are they? Can they dictate a realignment that would give CD-2 to the Democrats?

  2. The 2020 census was very bad, especially for Native Americans. In Zuni, for example, a comment at the meeting reported that the census says there are 7000 Native Americans, but the pueblo rolls say 12,000.

  3. When I left it looked as if they were getting ready to announce what they were going to recommend. Did that happen? Also, some long-term legislators were speaking as I left. One was saying that due attention is not given to the South Valley, he would quit the legislature.

KB identified the legislator in question as Miguel P. Garcia. [Minute-taker's note: Rep. Garcia's written testimony to the CRC is given on the CRC web site, as is a map showing the area he refers to ("Traditional Hispanic District").]

KB said she did not have a great deal of experience with the Center for Civic Policy. They appear, she said, to represent primarily Hispanic and Native people. They have drawn their own maps, and have participated very actively in the public hearings, pushing for their map. [Minute-taker's note: the map mentioned by Joe Monahan appears to be that at https://portal.newmexico-mapping.org/submission/p5025; the CCP has also submitted a NM House map.]

Michael Sperberg-McQueen observed that asking his legislators NOT to practice incumbency protection would feel a lot like inviting them to sign a suicide pact; he did not know how he could make the request persuasive. And in his case, he observed, it's particularly difficult since his first thought on seeing any map is that it will be good or bad for particular incumbents he wishes to see continue in the legislature. Can KB provide any help?

KB said that we can like our individual legislators (and we should be happy when that is the case!), but the principle remains that voters should choose the legislators, not the other way round. We should ask our legislators to support a fair and open process. We know what a fair process looks like: there are plenty of states that have them. We don't need to ask our legislators to commit political suicide -- we can make it a general ask for fair redistricting. On the other hand, we can and should be firmer in communications with Speaker Egolf on the issue of incumbency protection.

JL agreed strongly. Redistricting is not about legislators. They are not there to draw districts so as to get themselves elected again; that's disgusting. Fair redistricting is about being fair to voters. The legislature should not be involved; we need a constitutional amendment for an independent commission.