Do the unsheltered families living in their cars have a voice in our city’s housing policies? Does the unemployed young addict have any say in how the public transportation system works? Do the undocumented laborers have any influence in the issues that might directly impact their lives, such as healthcare and education?
The answer, we all know to be true, is that our federal, state and local governments govern with a rarefied slice of the public’s interest in mind. Those who are gainfully employed or successfully retired, usually with a college education, with a roof over their heads and a car (nowadays a Prius) in the driveway, are the voices that government officials and elected leaders hear from, along with the paid lobbyists and corporate shills. These are the people who show up to city council meetings and air quality control board hearings, while the great majority of our community is absent.
Progressives have a responsibility to recognize these empty seats at the table and make sure we do everything in our power to lift up their concerns at every opportunity. Monday, May 15th at 5:00 pm is such an opportunity at the Albuquerque City Council.
City leaders are grappling with the lack of affordable housing in our community with an estimated 1,300 people experiencing homelessness on any given night and half of Albuquerque renters pay more than 30% of their income on rent. In 2021, rents in our city increased 21%. The problem is complex but the city has a number of proposed reforms that might help. We know one culprit are the investors who gobble up the housing stock for AirBnB and short-term rentals. They drive up housing prices and remove many units from the market. The city wants to limit the number of short-term rentals and add other requirements to make sure we’re focused on the needs of our community and not an investment haven for Californians.
The renters and unsheltered persons in Albuquerque would benefit from this amendment (O-23-69) but the only people who stood up to speak about it at the first hearing were real estate folks and property owners, and they spoke against it. I plan to speak in favor of these changes on May 15 and hope others will join me.
Since New Mexico is the 2nd largest oil producing state in the country and the 5th largest gas producer, New Mexicans owe a big apology to the rest of the country for our failure to address climate change in the recent legislative session.
This short interview (Apr.8) explains the seriousness of New Mexico’s contribution to the climate emergency.
Permian development fuels climate change
The continued oil boom in the Permian Basin is reflected in New Mexico’s budget. But it also affects the climate, local communities, and the landscape. Not only that, but many companies pollute even beyond what regulations allow, with few repercussions. Jerry Redfern, a reporter with Capital & Main, talks about the role his reporting played in fines levied against two Texas companies – and about New Mexico’s disproportionate contributions to the planet’s warming climate.
In our state legislature where both chambers are controlled by healthy Democratic majorities, who should we hold responsible for the dismal failure to pass strong climate bills? The honest answer — the Democrats. New Mexico is the country’s second-largest oil producing state and fifth largest natural gas producer. Our state’s impact on global greenhouse gas emissions is massively out of proportion to our measly population of 2.1 million, and our failure to rapidly reduce fossil fuels production is enormously consequential for the planet. Our elected New Mexico Democrats should be sending notes of apology to their constituents and the world.
Jerry Redfern, reporting in Capital & Main (Mar. 29, New Mexico Legislature Fails IPCC Test, https://capitalandmain.com/new-mexico-legislature-fails-ipcc-test) enumerated some of the bills that died: “Stricter regulation on who can drill wells? Dead. A provision allowing citizen groups to sue when the state drags its feet over prosecuting oil and gas companies? Dead. A nominal increase in oil and gas taxes that applies only to future wells only on state lands? Dead. Updates to the state’s 80-year-old foundational oil and gas law to include protections for human and environmental health? Dead. A fund to help fossil-fuel energy workers transfer to new careers? Dead. The latest in a years-long push to add environmental protections to the state constitution, similar to one in red state Montana? Dead.”