Sunday, April 30, 2006

May Day is about solidarity...let's show some in Albuquerque

marjorie says...

Growing up in East Texas in a non-union family, “May Day” for me was all about skipping around the pagan maypole (my very Christian upbringing notwithstanding). Imagine my surprise when I found out as an adult that May 1 is celebrated around the world as the International Day of the Worker, and that its origins are right here in the U.S.

It began in the late 1800’s as a day of action by the U.S. labor movement to achieve an 8-hour work day and it became an international day of action when the world labor movement rallied in support of the anarchists framed and executed in the Haymarket Square travesty of 1886.

It continues to be observed as a day to affirm solidarity and labor unity throughout the world…while all but forgotten where it started, right here. Now that's a travesty.

The history I linked above sums up by noting that “… May Day is embraced by millions of workers in every country of the world as a day to raise its class demands. Its strength has been in raising demands not just of workers in a particular factory or industry, but of the working class as a whole. The demands of May Day-for the eight-hour day, for unity against racism and national chauvinism, against imperialist war-are demands of the working class against the entire capitalist class.”

I like that statement because the radical labor movement has always been about more than just winning improved working conditions…it’s always been about true social transformation toward equality and justice.

And in the U.S., labor struggles that have advanced our collective standard of living have always been energized and radicalized by waves of immigrants. This is why it is so appropriate that May 1, 2006 has been chosen as a national day of action in support of immigrant communities in this country.

It would be hard for any of us to have escaped noticing the current period of unrest regarding immigration. The fruits of the global "free trade" regime (which is pushed tooth and nail by, well, our government) are beginning to ripen...and we see increased labor flows between countries as working people seek out ways to support themselves and their families.

In the U.S this has meant a new period of increased immigration as people from all over the world come here...after all, we are the land of opportunity, right? This isn't something we haven't seen before. And the heightened reactionary jingoism we see in response isn't new either. This is why it is so important for progressives, liberals, radicals...for all of us to take a stand for human rights and show solidarity with immigrants to this country.

Here in Albuquerque there are activities planned (see below) that are worthy of our participation and support. Its been a long while since we’ve seen such energy on May Day and for this girl it’s a very welcome development…not to mention, well, pretty darn historic. Hope to see you all there.




3:00-5:00- TIGUEX PARK (Mountain/18th) for information, live music and fun for the whole family. As it is a no purchase day, take a picnic lunch for your family.

5:00— Peaceful march from the park to the Civic Plaza (3rd/Tijeras) and then march back to park.
To show that we are a unified community we will wear white or a white ribbon on May 1st and will carry white flags instead of national flags.

ATTENTION WORKER/STUDENT: If you decide to participate in the national strike and you have questions about your rights, call us.

For more information, El CENTRO de Igualdad y Derechos al 246-1627 or
go to: and click on SWOPblogger.

s: Southwest Organizing Project, Southwest Network for Economic and Environmental Justice, Community Health Partnership, Partido La Raza Unida.

Supporting organizations: ACORN, Albuquerque Center for Peace and Justice, Archdiocese of SF, Center for Economic Justice, East Central Ministries, El Centro de Igualdad y Derechos, Grey Panthers, Kalpulli Izkalli

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Why America Should Care about Ethics

Mikaela splutters:
I cannot even articulate my outrage but still must direct people to the Washington Post article about why Republicans in Congress feel they can pass a toothless ethics bill:

The scandal surrounding disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff has been a Washington obsession for months, but Republican lawmakers who returned from a two-week recess this week said they felt free to pass a relatively tepid ethics bill because their constituents rarely mention the issue.
Lawmakers acknowledge that the bill is more limited in its scope and impact than the provisions promised by congressional leaders immediately after Abramoff's guilty plea to federal charges of bribery, conspiracy, tax evasion and mail fraud nearly four months ago. But they say they do not feel compelled to push more stringent measures partly because voters do not appear to be demanding them. "We're all being rushed into a bill," said Rep. David L. Hobson (R-Ohio). "We panicked, and we let the media get us panicked."
Jo Maney, spokeswoman for Rep. David Dreier (R-Calif.), a chief architect of the House ethics bill, said: "Many members have told him [Dreier] that they are not hearing about corruption and lobbying reform at home. They hear more about immigration, gas prices." Still, Dreier and Hastert "feel strongly" that the ethics bill "is the right thing to do" and that it will "improve the public's perception of the integrity of the House of Representatives," Maney added.

Do you think these Congress members would say these things to elementary school classes about civics? That we should pass ethics bills to keep up the perception of integrity? Really?

This is horrifying. And yes, I know that Democrats are just as much to blame.

What the hell will it take to light the fire under their asses for change?

Debunking the Rags to Riches Myth

marjorie says...

What’s really interesting is Tony Snow blaming the existence of an obviously large poor black community on someone like Jesse Jackson rather than the structural environment that African Americans have confronted historically. A new report by an economist at American University debunks the notion that the United States is a place of unbridled “pull yourself up by the bootstraps” opportunity for all. In his study, Tom Hertz shows that when compared to other wealthy countries the United States is woefully behind in terms of economic mobility. The poor don’t get richer inter-generationally, but not surprisingly the rich stay rich across generations. The two largest indicators of a person’s ability to surpass their parent’s standard of living is education, first, and then…you got it: race. As the Washington Post story notes, the study shows that “on average, 47 percent of poor families remain poor. But within this, 32 percent of whites stay poor while the figure for blacks is 63 percent.”

What is even more interesting to me is the rags to riches perception highlighted by the study. Hertz found that 80 percent of the people he polled believe that through “hard work” one can move from poverty to relative wealth in their lifetime, compared to less than 60 percent who felt the same back in the early 80s. Why would 80 percent of the people polled think this given the world we live in today? It’s simply amazing to me considering just about everyone I know can see around them anecdotal evidence that our parents did a lot better than we can on much less education.

I think much of this perception is due to unrelenting propaganda…disseminated by a system that is truly profound in its complexity and ingenuity.

To describe this system, some people refer to media echo chambers constructed by competing groups in order to push their agendas; others speak of master narratives as “dwelling places in which we live” -- in this case speaking of the unconsicious assumptions of journalists; and others break it down theoretically into a very compelling propaganda model based on corporate ownership and profit.

In my mind, one of the master narratives articulated through our system is the notion that everything can be devolved to the individual. And when Tony Snow blames Jesse Jackson rather than society itself for a large black underclass he’s contributing one more small bit toward keeping our attention on the individual rather than on the larger system itself. In reality, we have a constant tension between individual responsibility and the larger social responsibility for ensuring healthy communities. And when particular sectors of society are clearly disadvantaged as a group we have to look beyond individuals for explanations and solutions.

Bush's Mouthpiece

Mikaela says:
There are 281 million people in the U.S. As of the 2000 Census, 62 million of us were employed as professionals. I couldn't find out how many journalists. Sue me. (Interesting, as an aside, that they're not called out in the Census. Wonder who made that decision.)

Out of 62 million people, the top person that Bush thinks should speak for him (and for us to other countries) is Tony Snow, who just last week, had this to say (courtesy Democracy Now):

People like Jesse Jackson who have committed themselves to a view that blacks are constantly victims, have succeeded in creating in the United States the most dangerous thing that we’ve encountered in our lifetime; which is, an underclass that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere.
This, opposed to nuclear bombs, ebola virus, avian flu epidemic, SARS, war in the middle east, etc.? Black poor people are what we should fear the most? Interesting. Because they're so powerful, right? Because they're in a great position to ... do what exactly? Stay poor? Take up arms? Take charity? Marry your daughter? What exactly are you afraid of, Tony?

Tony Snow went on to criticize what he described as: "the idiotic culture of hip-hop”:

You have people glorifying failure. You have a bunch of gold-toothed hot dogs become millionaires by running around and telling everybody else that they oughtta be miserable failures and if they’re really lucky maybe they can get gunned down in a diner sometime, like Eminem’s old running mate.

Why is he even talking about this? Why does it bother him? How does it affect him in any way? Unless, of course, he's a racist bastard... You decide.

So, Mr. Bush. This is the best mouth to spew your ... um ... positions, huh? Surveyed everyone available and chose him as your gold standard? What does that say about you and the kind of person who will speak for you? And what, exactly are you trying to say with this pick? And who are you speaking to?

Try again, Mr. President. This will not stand.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Gehry vs. Jacobs

Mikaela scoffs:
Looks like Frank Gehry missed the whole Jane Jacobs thing.

Read here about his latest version of intervention in L.A. in order to "find a downtown" or rather plop one down where the city and county have some land.

Ode to Sex Toys

Well, why fight it? It's on all of our minds, right?

Maggie's politicized it, but it's intensely personal, private, and powerful. Sex, sex, sex.

And if they want us to be abstinent, then what better than a sex toy? If they want us not to get abortions, why not safe sex with a sterile sex toy?

Oh, wait. I get it. Isn't this all about corraling sexuality? Keeping men important to women -- within the confines of marriage?

Well, our zoom cloud has started the Ode we should all be writing together. Our ode to sex toys and our own freedom and healthy, safe sexuality:

Rally, sperm,
you social justice sex toy.
Rally, vulvas,
you victims of invasion.

Next to you,
your neighbor,
your congress,
sex-spying in windows --
spy, sally, spy!

Sex toys split woman from woman
men from the boys
while the white house wages war
on your imagination
leaving you fingers
from paradise
chasms away
from those who would stop you.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Thanks, Jane

Maggie says:
Jane Jacobs, the grandmother of community-based, lively, walkable, livable urban planning, has died. She was 89.

Read her excellent New York Times obit here.

Jacobs' landmark book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, is the bible of how to think about cities and neighborhoods the right way, the human way, and the smart way.

Her voice is important; her presence cannot be overstated.

Thanks, Jane.

  • "The point of cities is multiplicity of choice."
  • "There is a quality even meaner than outright ugliness or disorder, and this meaner quality is the dishonest mask of pretended order, achieved by ignoring or suppressing the real order that is struggling to exist and to be served."
  • "Old ideas can sometimes use new buildings. New ideas must use old buildings."
  • "To approach a city as if it were [an]... architectural problem... is to make the mistake of attempting to substitute art for life... The results... are neither life nor art. They are taxidermy."
  • "Cities are problems in organized complexity."
  • "It may be romantic to search for the salves of society's ills in slow-moving rustic surroundings, or among innocent, unspoiled provincials, if such exist, but it is a waste of time."
  • "Lowly, unpurposeful and random as they appear, sidewalk contacts are the small change from which a city's wealth of public life must grow."

Technorati tag:

i can only aspire to be...

marjorie says...

then, at times, there is the mikaela/marjorie dichotomy...of late.

those were the days

marjorie says...

now, i KNOW that everyone who reads this blog remembers back in the day...

What Bush is Going to Do About It

Mikaela says:
Now that polls are down (read on to Maggie's post below), there's a plan to rescue Bush's presidency.

Sean Wilentz writes in Rolling Stone: "George W. Bush's presidency appears headed for colossal historical disgrace. Barring a cataclysmic event on the order of the terrorist attacks of September 11th, after which the public might rally around the White House once again, there seems to be little the administration can do to avoid being ranked on the lowest tier of U.S. presidents. And that may be the best-case scenario. Many historians are now wondering whether Bush, in fact, will be remembered as the very worst president in all of American history."

Former Nixon White House counsel John W. Dean writes on
If anyone doubts that Bush, Cheney, Rove and their confidants are planning an 'October Surprise' to prevent the Republicans from losing control of Congress, then he or she has not been observing this presidency very closely. . . .

Dan Froomkin (thank god for White House Briefing, which contrary to the real one, is still a source for information) reports on scuttlebutt that Cheney's next on the sacrificial block.

One possibility is that Dick Cheney will resign as Vice President for 'health reasons,' and become a senior counselor to the president. And Bush will name a new vice president - a choice geared to increase his popularity, as well as someone electable in 2008. It would give his sinking administration a new face, and new life.

Then there's the war against Iran...

Another possibility, Dean writes: "Bush may mount a unilateral attack on Iran's nuclear facilities - hoping to rev up his popularity."
Lest you think these are idle speculations by a "liberal media," here's evidence of the Administration's own plan:

Mike Allen writes in Time: "The marker that is uppermost in the minds of Bush's inner circle is Nov. 7, when Republicans could lose control of the House and even the Senate. 'If we don't keep Congress, there won't be a legacy,' said a presidential adviser. '

"Friends and colleagues of Bolten told Time about an informal, five-point 'recovery plan' for Bush. ... The Bolten plan includes

  • tough talk on Iran,
  • visibly beefing up law enforcement at the Mexican border,
  • an extension of rate cuts for stock dividends and capital gains,
  • continued courting of the press and -- get this --
  • bragging more.

White House officials who track coverage of Bush in media markets around the country said he garnered his best publicity in months from a tour to promote enrollment in Medicare's new prescription-drug plan. So they are planning more ... talk about the program's successes after months of press reports on start-up difficulties. Bolten's plan also calls for more happy talk about the economy. With gas prices a heavy drain on Bush's popularity, his aides want to trumpet the lofty stock market and stable inflation and interest rates. They also plan to highlight any glimmer of success in Iraq, especially the formation of a new government, in an effort to balance the negative impression voters get from continued signs of an incubating civil war.

Yeah, good luck with that one, Mr. President.

How 'Fair and Balanced!'

Maggie notes:
According to CNN--

Sources: Tony Snow likely to take White House post
Sources close to the White House said Monday that Fox News anchor Tony Snow is likely to accept the job as White House press secretary, succeeding Scott McClellan.

You're not surprised, are you?

As Fayetteville turns, so turns the country

Maggie says:
The news out of Washington is that Bush's approval rating just hit an all-time low of 32%. The news out of North Carolina is that support for the war in this (reluctantly) red state just dipped below 50%. The news out of Fayetteville, NC (a military and Republican stronghold if there ever was one) is that even in a town dominated by Fort Bragg, cracks are surfacing everwhere.

From an NPR piece this morning, we heard that the conservative bastion is:

  • home to the general who started the (in-house) call for Rumsfeld's head
  • a place where according to a local reporter, at every stoplight you can see a Bush/Cheney sticker on at least one bumper
  • a place where "Democrats are coming out the woodwork" as the Iraq war's gotten messier
The folks interviewed for the story were certainly not progressive activists who've been in hiding since the Gore defeat. NPR spoke mostly to veterans, worried about their grandchildren stationed overseas, worried about the state of the military today, worried about the lack of preparation and exit strategy, and just plain... worried.

The moment when blind trust starts to break is a powerful one.

But for some, unwavering trust is the only way to truly be patriotic: One man, to paraphrase, said that "bin Laden must be laughing his head off listening to American detractors while he's eating his goat cheese," and that American protestors "are playing right into his hands."


One of my favorite bumper stickers is "Dissent is Patriotic." Have you seen it? That sticker will always piss off goat cheese guy and those like him. But for the Americans full of worry, regrets, second thoughts, and doubt about where Bush&Co are leading us - in other words, the Americans who listen to their hearts and heads and use them - it might just be an inspiration point.

The tide is turning, folks.

Rio Rancho wants to MATCH ABQ's wages, not undercut them

Maggie says:
In news that I truly hope upsets the stomachs of minimum wage opponents who insist that Albuquerque will lose all of its business to Rio Rancho, the closest municipality now without a minimum wage hike, I offer this:

ABQ Journal

RR Could Get Minimum Wage Hike

Rio Rancho might be the next New Mexico city to adopt a higher minimum wage.

Mayor Kevin Jackson said he plans to form a task force to study possible options for raising the minimum wage in Rio Rancho. The federal minimum wage is $5.15 an hour.

"We are in a unique situation with the actions in Santa Fe and Albuquerque," Jackson said on Monday. "We need to start looking at what we can do on this issue."


"We are going to be next in going up in minimum wage," local AFSCME President Cindy Benz said Monday. "I can't wait because, if the city of Rio Rancho is going to be as visionary as they want to be, they are going to have to put their money where their mouth is."

I'm sure the new Wal-Mart in Rio Rancho just loves this.

And I hope minimum wage naysayers are taking note. Albuquerque passed its minimum wage hike just last week, and already neighborhoring municipalities are jumping on board wanting to compete - not with lower wages and worse conditions for workers, as "free marketers" claimed they would - but on the high road, with better wages and better conditions.

To quote a fellow local blogger who comes from the other side of the minimum wage debate, I'm not sure that's exactly laughter I'm hearing out of Rio Rancho, Mr. Outback.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Tagged by Scribblista

Maggie says:
Oooh... called out by one of my favorite local bloggers, the delectable Scribblista. Here's Scribblista's Four Things in 505, and here's mine:

Four jobs I've had:
1. Urban policy webjournal editor (duh)
2. Makeup counter girl (really!)
3. Independent bookstore/cafe cashier (of course)
4. Senator's intern (but not in that way)

Four movies I can watch over and over:
1. The Royal Tenenbaums
2. The Big Lebowski
3. How to Make an American Quilt (it soothes me, what can I say?!)
4. The Squid and the Whale (because I just got it as a birthday gift and it's my favorite movie of the year)

Four places I've lived:
1. Apex, NC
2. Boston, MA
3. Albuquerque, NM
4. Newport News, VA

Four TV shows I love:
1. Grey's Anatomy (but that fast-paced recap episode on Sunday was horrendous)
2. Back in the day: Six Feet Under
3. Back in the day: Sex and the City
4. Back in the day: Everyday Italian

Four concerts I'm glad I went to:
1. The Cure at the Orpheum in Boston (it's a tiny old opera house, for those not in the know)
2. All those "experimental" Dave Matthews shows in high school and college
3. B.B. King at the Palladium in Worcester, also a tinytiny place
4. Neil Young four times now... because how many more opportunities do I have?

Four places I've vacationed:
1. My all-time favorite vacation: the Outer Banks of North Carolina
2. Traveling through Mexico: Guanajuato (the most photogenic city in the world), Guadalajara, Mexico City, San Miguel de Allende...
3. For the low-key cheapo vacation: Burlington, VT and Portland, ME
4. SanFran for city-walking and day trips in salty air

Four of my favorite dishes:
1. Pesto on penne
2. Salmon with grilled veggies and orzo
3. Eastern NC BBQ
4. Sushi

Four sites I visit daily:
1. CNN
2. NY Times
3. Duke City Fix
4. Salon

Four places I would rather be right now:
1. My parents' kitchen table
2. On an OBX beach with my cousins
3. On the farm
4. Fenway Park

Four bloggers I am tagging:
1. Erik from Alterdestiny
2. Johnny_Mango from Albloggerque
3. Kelly from Eucatastrophe (ABQ misses you!)
4. Jeff from AnnikaHaiku (I'm dying to see if he can pull this off as a haiku)

*and, duh, everyone else in comments!

Captions, anyone?

Maggie says:
Here's the real caption: Mayor Martin Chávez, right, portrays Capitan Martin Hurtado as he hands a land deed to Maria Celine Apodaca Baca Radigan at Old Town Plaza on Sunday. Samuel Ulibarrí, center, is a 13th generation descendent of Capitan Juan de Ulibarrí, whom he portrays.

But I think we can do better than that, no?

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Remember 'Our Right to Bear Batteries?'

Maggie says:
Not too long ago I wrote about new laws in Mississippi and Alabama banning the sale of sex toys within their borders. Florida, Texas, and Georgia also have milder versions of these laws on their books.

What got me about the whole sex toy ban last time - although interestingly, I chose not to write about it then - was that these are Southern states behind this nonsense, which will only continue to deepen the blue state/red state dichotomy that's much too prevalent around the country. How can we convince young progressives to see past partisan politics and toward the real grassroots opportunities for change in Southern states when they hear they can't even buy a vibrator there?

Now don't get me wrong - how often does one really need to buy a vibrator, as as we know that can be taken care of online anyway - but these laws represent much more than their wording or their scope. In symbolism that I'm sure is not lost on their creators, the laws scream out that sex within those states is for procreation only, that women should not be pleasuring themselves (although Lord knows they're not exactly teaching their boys how to take care of that, either) and that sex is, basically, bad. Make no mistake about it: these sex toy bans are an extension of men trying to own women and their sexuality, which is as age-old as, well, sex itself. Sure, we can roll our eyes at these bans as long as we don't live there, Leno and Letterman can make a hell of a joke about them, and even Mikaela and I just laughed on the phone that we could start an underground vibrator supply business to Southern women, but the stakes are much more serious.

All of this is a preface to say that there's another sex toy ban in the works in yet another Southern state. Via the glorious Pam Spaulding of Pam's House Blend:

South Carolina ready to ban sex toys

Republican Rep. Ralph Davenport of Boiling Springs, SC, is the man with a plan to deep-six dildos. Under his bill (H. 4830), if you're convicted of selling a vibe you can receive up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine. (Anderson Independent-Mail):
Lucy’s Love Shop employee Wanda Gillespie said she was flabbergasted that South Carolina’s Legislature is considering outlawing sex toys. ...The South Carolina bill, proposed by Republican Rep. Ralph Davenport, would make it a felony to sell devices used primarily for sexual stimulation and allow law enforcement to seize sex toys from raided businesses. "That would be the most terrible thing in the world," said Ms. Gillespie, an employee the Anderson shop. "That is just flabbergasting to me. We are supposed to be in a free country, and we’re supposed to be adults who can decide what want to do and don’t want to do in the privacy of our own homes."
The proposed law is completely based upon the premise that selling a sexual device is a violation of obscenity laws.
A person disseminates a sexual device within the meaning of this article if it is designed or marketed as useful primarily for the stimulation of human genital organs and solely for the sale of prurient interest in sex.

Those who know me know I'm pretty serious about my North Carolina/South Carolina rivalry (or plain domination). But really... need I say more here? As I ponder my new business name and logo, I wonder:

How much will it take for those Chaaaahlston girls to get fired up and defend, you know, their right to bear batteries? Or for the male lawmakers in SC to realize just what makes their women and those drawls so damn appealing?

Technorati tag:

Friday, April 21, 2006

Harwood Anthology Reception

Mikaela says.
So, we at m-pyre believe in community. That should not be news to anyone who knows us or our blog(s). [The fact that we have multiple communal blogs is perhaps the most obvious proof.]

I found myself yesterday trying to explain why I feel so motivated to give back-bending amounts of time to helping organize poetry events that I'm not actually part of.

My answer surprised me, although it should not have:
because poets have a sense of community like the best communities have.

A couple weeks ago, I found myself trying to explain why I felt completely comfortable -- in fact entitled -- to stay for a week at a complete stranger's house in Boston (thanks, Eric! and Adam, who brokered the connection!). No, I'd never met him. Yes, it was fine. Why? Because we're poets. And that's what poets do. We travel. We're broke. We stay with poets. In return, we open our doors and our arms to traveling poets in return. That's the code.

It may surprise many people to hear that poets are organized. Slam poets, anyway. It's true! We're hardly ever on time, broke almost always, but we know how to network, share resources, and leverage support. Like most communities with limited resources, we have to in order to survive and thrive! Isn't that what community-building is all about? We compete and fight amongst ourselves like any good family, but when it's all said and done, we love the same things and give our lives to this strange pursuit for a reason.

So I find myself in this awkward position of promoting an event that I'm involved in not only as a worker, but as an artist. Very strange feeling, indeed.

The Harwood Art Center, the mothership of the spoken word poetry community in Albuquerque (along with all the other AMAZING community-building activities it spearheads and supports), outdid itself with this year's Harwood Poetry Anthology, featuring both celebrated and underground poets in and around Albuquerque.

And tonight's the party to announce its birth. Yes, I helped jury the entries. Yes, I'm in the book. Yes, that makes me squeamish and squirmy and embarrassed. I never said I was a performance poet (who thrive on acclaim and of course the spotlight); I'm a behind the scenes kinda gal. That's just the way I'm built. I like supporting community; I like buildinging community; and I dislike being singled out of the crowd.

This one time, I'm proud to stand with fellow poets to share and bask in a great accomplishment and a testament to Albuquerque's writing artistry. It helps that my own little poem already saw light of day here on m-pyre. And no, I won't post the link, you have to go search for it yourself! Better yet, just stop by this evening to witness & join a little poetry community celebration.

Friday, April 21, 5-8:30pm

Reading begins at 6pm!

Where: Harwood Art Center's
Poets' Plaza

1114 Seventh St NW (at Mountain Rd)

Thursday, April 20, 2006

BLOG-IN: Index

Here's an index of all the m-pyre Blog-In posts, starting from the top:

BLOG-IN: Wrap-up

Maggie and Marjorie say:
The councilors we like best - O'Malley, Benton, and Heinrich - all speak of "reluctant support," and there's something to that. We find ourselves in the position of wanting low-wage workers to have more money in their pockets, but wishing this was passed by a referendum properly, in full, with all the support of the town's progressive community.

Watered-down bill or not, Heinrich deserves credit and genuine thanks for sticking with the minimum wage issue. It would've been easy to give up on it amidst the Chamber's high-fives last fall. This issue matters. It's important to this city, to its workers, and to its quality of life. So for persistence, thank you Martin.

For speaking our conscience, for making us laugh, for being on the same page, thank you Debbie.

And for bringing us all together, thank you Chantal and Duke City Fix. Let's do this again; it was fun! passed, 6 to 3...we have a minimum wage for Albuquerque.

Don't know what this whole blog-in thing is? Follow the action here.

BLOG-IN: The "Gift" of the Free Market

marjorie says...

wow, Don Harris, who you know...I agree with Maggie is kind of, well, going to support the bill, or as he puts it: The expensive peace. Not quite sure what he means by that, or what he means when he says that housing in this country is a "gift of the free market." Yeah, I'd say the huge numbers of homeless people in this country and the people who struggle relentlessly to barely keep a roof over their heads do so because we live in your so-called "free" market, but I wouldn't call it a "gift".

I wish I had captured Debbie O'Malley's comments about how inadequate this bill is. She ended her comments by saying this: "I am disappointed... I wish we could've done more, but I will support this bill." We are all blessed to have Debbie on the Council. That's all I can say...she really rocks.

Don't know what this whole blog-in thing is? Follow the action here.

BLOG-IN: Come on, Sally

marjorie says...

Mayer just said she's been hearing from her constituents that "we let them vote" or "we gave them the opportunity to vote" 6 months ago...well, NO Sally, you didn't. You shut it down. The community and labor groups collected over 30,000 signatures to make sure your constituents got to vote. I agree with you, Sally, btw...that this should be back on the ballot in October...

Don't know what this whole blog-in thing is? Follow the action here.

BLOG-IN: getting there....

Maggie says:
So they just shocked the blogging crew by saying the public comments are over... already! High-fives all around.

Also, a cell phone went off in our blogging corner and Heinrich immediately looked over our way, laughing and shaking his head. Does this mean we're total misfits? Okay, we already knew that.

I just realized that the painting hanging on the wall beside Marjorie and me is absolutely nuts. I took a photo and will post it tonight.

In other news: one of the speakers horrified all of us and owns a restaurant in town, only we don't know which one! Please, someone fill us in so the boycotting can begin! He was the tall, youngish Republican in a suit. (Because minimum wage opponents never wear jeans like the rest of us, apparently!)

What I'm taking away tonight is how inevitable everyone is saying the minimum wage increase is, which is shocking to hear for those of us crushed by our recent losses... More to blog about later when I'm thinking deeper thoughts instead of the fragmented loose-cannon ones that seem to be coming out now.

I probably shouldn't have said that bit about Don Harris. Oh well. My cheesy philosophy of no regrets will continue...

Time to eat and drink. Really.

Let the voting begin.

Don't know what this whole blog-in thing is? Follow the action here.

BLOG-IN: Alterdestiny is also In The House

marjorie says...

I just want to point out that our fellow blogger over at Alterdestiny is also in the house...via M-Pyre's comment boxes.

Nice to have you at the blog-in Erik!

Don't know what this whole blog-in thing is? Follow the action here.

BLOG-IN: the FREE MARKET is In The House!!

marjorie says...

FINALLY, a bozo finally said it: "that proves that the free market is working"

and of course, "the market works"

Woohoo!! The "Free Market" is in the house. You all know how I feel about that mythical being.

This guy is Senator Cravens, representing PAVE: Protect Albuquerque's Vibrant Economy. Got to love that acronym.

Most of what he's saying is more of the same, yada, yada, yada. He's saying that there is no way a minimum wage will pass at the state level. And it should have to be passed at the Federal Level if at all.

Heinrich and Benton ask: Have you worked to get it passed at the Federal level??

Craven: uhhh...well, no....

Debbie O'Malley is currently taking him to task: I can not believe you are saying Eclipse would have scratched us off the list if this bill was in place when they were making the decision to move here...because they have been tremendously subsidized by us...and corporations move here for all kinds of reasons...the entire package. I can not believe Eclipse would say that. I just can not believe it. YES!! Debbie, we love you! Maggie says: that's my councilor!

Me: Senator...You are indeed Craven.

Don't know what this whole blog-in thing is? Follow the action here.

BLOG-IN: wages and... stomach growls

maggie says:
chantal is fortifying us with chocolate. not just any chocolate, but "intense pear dark chocolate." like i said, goddess.

and marjorie's a doll for letting me interrupt her flow using this computer.

and there's a lot of bullshit in the air over here. as in, every time the word "market" is uttered. or the phrase "I support a federal minimum wage." no shit. but as a copout? screw you.

this place is making me nasty.

i think this guy is actually tearing up right now talking about his love for abq. uh-huh. and that's why he doesn't want workers to be able to afford their rent and feed their families?

also - and this is really rude to say - i have a sneaking suspicion that councilor don harris is not terribly intelligent.

Don't know what this whole blog-in thing is? Follow the action here.

BLOG-IN: Worlds colliding

Maggie says:
When I listen to folks speak out against a living wage, I imagine them wearing shirts that say things like, "I hate humankind." Or maybe a hat that says, "I'm an ugly person inside, too." Or at least a sticker on their suit that says "I get off on people being poor." Because that's what it comes down to.

My dad and I had this fantasy once of plastering bumper stickers all over right-wing cars that respond to their own hateful stickers. A "W" sticker would be followed up by a Maggie & Dennis "I'm a hateful person" sticker, or maybe an "All I see is the worst in people" sticker.

This is like that.

In my own fantasy world right now, maybe folks watching this on TV (are there any of you out there?) are seeing captions that "translate" these speakers' comments to say what they really mean. No doubt about it, what they mean are the most base instincts there are.

We're watching good versus evil here. It always comes down to that. You either love and believe in people or you don't. It's as simple as that.

Don't know what this whole blog-in thing is? Follow the action here.

BLOG-IN: Quotes (okay, paraphrases...)

marjorie says...

I didn’t catch her name, but this woman spoke against the ordinance…and her reason was actually one I’d agree with in general:
The City Council is usurping our vote last October. So far the city council is not a dictatorship. Put the vote before the people again. Have the people decide, but don’t nullify our vote, don’t take away our vote, don’t make us feel like we’re sheep and you’re the shepherds.

Keegan King, League of Young Voters:
It sounds like a equitable solution but at the same time it seems that those who already give benefits a way to get around raising the wage.

Sandra Hahn:
I really am tired of all this priority being put on businesses and business owners…it means we lose our good low-wage workers, and what we have left over is well, the leftovers: the drug pushers, thieves, druggies, sex offenders…Marjorie: ummm…Sandra, are you saying that our low-wage workers are drug pushers, thieves, druggies and sex offenders?????

Donald Schiff, Small business owner in Nob Hill and active Democrat:
This isn't going to affect me at all but I can't sit around when people are begging on the streets because they can't live on the minimum wage. ...This compromise bill is a bitter of the hallmarks of a good compromise is that no one is satisfied...but this is an agreement that people on all sides have agreed on and I think you should vote for it.

Carolyn Kay, American Association of University Women:
Practical ethics require that we do the system we live in. As a white woman I ask where is my 30 cents? If I were Hispanic, I'd be asking where is my 37 cents?
We don't have an equitable system, and it requires intervention.

Ann Cass, Retired Family Court Judge:
It was clear to me as a judge that low-income and the stress it causes was a major factor in the divorce rate in this community.

Alan Parkman, Retired Economics Professor at UNM:
One of the things about economics is that there is no free lunch. You pass $7.50 in Albuquerque, workers will come to this market and when there is more competition who are the people who will lose out? The most vulnerable will incur the cost of this legislation. The are others way you can do this...what you should be focused on are things such as earned income credits. There will be a tremendous disadvantageous affect for the most vulnerable.

Marjorie: Well, I tend to think workers who make less than $7 per hour aren't going to choose to drive an extra 20-30 miles for an extra dollar or two an hour. I don't buy this argument.

Geraldine Amato:
Despite all the wizardry of the smooth tongued agents…too bizarre or high up in the clouds, or something, to quote. Okay, I would probably agree with Geraldine on lots of things...if we brought the lingo down a notch or two so that I could really understand her. And that observation does kind of freak me out. Especially when everyone in the room is laughing at her.

  • Maggie says: hey, at least someone used the word “seduction” at this hearing!

Don't know what this whole blog-in thing is? Follow the action here.


Maggie says:
Terri Cole is one of those women who makes gentle, little 'ol me want to rip her to shreds. Grrrr....

Don't know what this whole blog-in thing is? Follow the action here.

BLOG-IN: Remember $7.50?

Maggie says:
A bit ago folks were passing out NM$7.50 stickers. Remember those? They looked just like our fantastically bright license plates. I have one stuck onto the back door of my house. Just the sight of them made me sad tonight.

I remember NM$7.50 Day at the Roundhouse. Marjorie and I were there with SWOP and loads of people from around the state. The halls and rotunda were packed with folks who really cared, who wanted to make a difference, who wanted the right thing done for the people of New Mexico.

This initiative is going to pass - and I'm all about looking on the bright side and being strategic when you need to - but I have to wonder what's been lost in the process. The air is deflated here, the spirit weaker than you'd expect.

When I think of Albuquerque and New Mexico's minimum wage fights, I won't remember today. But I will remember NM$7.50 Day. How could we not?

Don't know what this whole blog-in thing is? Follow the action here.

BLOG-IN: technology downfall!

maggie says:
what a strategy backfire: the council chamber's wifi hates my computer. everyone's is working but mine! even technology goddess chantal couldn't come to the rescue.

using marjorie's computer instead. this place is filling up: finally. with word of a compromise in the air that will likely mean not much action tonight, my thoughts are wandering to which watering hole we'll find ourselves in later.


Don't know what this whole blog-in thing is? Follow the action here.

BLOG-IN: Compromise is in the Air

marjorie and maggie say...

They struck a deal...Heinrich's wage scale stays in place but employers get to deduct $1.00 if they provide more than $2500 in health and child care benefits. With the Mayor on board that means at least five councilors will go for it and it's a done deal.

So...there won't be much of a debate here tonight, although I'm sure there will still be plenty of "free market" nonsense voiced left and right.

Don't know what this whole blog-in thing is? Follow the action here.

BLOG-IN: City Council Live

marjorie and maggie say...

Here we are in the council chambers waiting for the special session about the minimum wage to start. We think it is very cool that we can blog straight from the chamber...although Maggie is struggling to get her laptop wireless connection to work...

...right about now we really wish we had some coffee and we're wondering where all the concerned citizens are.

Albuquerque: WHERE ARE YOU?

Don't know what this whole blog-in thing is? Follow the action here.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

the minimum wage bill is...well...problematic at best

marjorie says...

As you all know by now, we're participating in a "blog-in" tomorrow night at the City Council hearing on a proposed hike in Albuquerque's minimum wage. I'm looking forward to the debate, and to blogging about what I know will be a huge variety of crazy assertions against raising the wage. At the same time, I wholeheartedly agree with SWOP's opinion about this particular bill...which you can read here. I know, their write up was (coincidentally) written by yours truly, but the sentiment itself is pretty uniform over in the SWOP house. Heinrich's bill IS watered down way too much, and a better bill COULD win in October. I think it's important for all of us over on this side of the issue to seriously consider this going into tomorrow night.

Mattering more: the Pulitzer public service award

Maggie says:
The Pulitzers were announced this week, and to news nerds like myself, that's something worth noting. Some might look to poetry, history, or non-fiction Pulitzer awards for inspiration, and I definitely appreciate those categories, too. But for me, the Pulitzers are all about journalism, about showcasing the best work of the year and reflecting back to us what's missing from the breakfast tables in far too many communities these days.

For folks who don't know how newsrooms work, the Pulitzers also offer a spotlight into news worlds and how papers are produced. The Pulitzers split up the journalism awards into fourteen categories, including beat reporting, criticism, explanatory reporting, and editorial writing. The premier award, however, is the Public Service Award. It's the heart of the Pulitzers, the guts. It's the one I look forward to most.

The public service award matters because it represents the highest calling of newspapers, print journalism at its best, that moment when a piece of paper becomes something better, higher, more than it's ever been. The public service award captures the moment when a newspaper transcends itself, when people are waking up and grabbing the paper to see the latest story in a series, when the talk of the town turns on the words printed that morning. The public service award recalls our esteemed Fourth Estate, reminds us that newspapers should work for us, that they are guardians of something precious and beautiful and worth saving, and that thing is truth.

I hear from a lot of people that the current state of media is nothing to get worked up over because we shouldn't expect more, that it's the way of the world for us to downgrade our expectations. It's normal that newspapers would become mere transmitters for press releases without questions, mouthpieces for folks who have too much of one already. In that context, the Pulitzer public service award is crucially important, because it's the best place we can point to and say that they're wrong, to prove that courageous journalism is still happening. Hell, it even matters that depressed and deflated reporters can simply log on one day and follow the links to journalism that really matters. No better comparison or inspiration than that.

I've been watching these awards for a while. In 1996, my hometown newspaper, the Raleigh News & Observer, won a Pulitzer public service award for its coverage of the massive environmental problems caused by illegal hog waste disposal that was trickling into streams, rivers, and finally the ocean. That series was more than a dry scientific discussion, more than a technical description of bacteria run amok. It represented a place that was in the throes of change, showed the juxtaposition of farmer versus new resident, hog versus fish, sustainable family farming versus corporate agribusiness. In a way no local reader expected, a series on bacterial pollution became an explosive expose on values in a place in flux.

In 2003 the Pulitzer public service award went to the Boston Globe. For anyone who lived in Boston then, as I did, we will forever remember what happened that year and how the Globe reflected all of our hearts and minds in its pages each morning. It was the year of the clergy abuse scandal, and I can't tell you how horrific it was in many ways to read the latest details every day. The clergy abuse series - reported day-to-day as the scandal was unfolding, not a careful retrospective in any way - was absolutely courageous. The Globe tread that line between reporting terrible truths and asking the questions you almost couldn't bear to hear the answers to, while also respecting the folks and the communities that were coming forth with their horror stories. The Globe was our conscience; it is truly responsible for uprooting deeply-buried truths and demanding accountability. Today, things are very different because of them.

This year, the winner seems so clear after the fact. Our hearts have been in New Orleans for months now. The award goes there, too.

There are two Pulitzer awards this year:

Two Prizes of a gold medal each:

Awarded to the Sun Herald, Biloxi-Gulfport, Miss., for its valorous and comprehensive coverage of Hurricane Katrina, provided a lifeline for devastated readers, in print and online, during their time of greatest need.


Awarded to The Times-Picayune, New Orleans, for its heroic, multi-faceted coverage of Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, making exceptional use of the newspaper's resources to serve an inundated city even after the evacuation of its newspaper plant.

If you were paying attention, these awards probably don't surprise you. Just a few weeks ago, the New York Times ran a great piece on how the Sun Herald and the Times-Picayune were mattering to the devastated residents of the area. The story explored how both papers stayed afloat (literally) during the storm and how they've managed to keep going financially in a place where much of their readership may never return. The answer for both papers has been to matter more. No easy outs there. No excuses. Their towns needed them, so they came to mean something more. It's a lesson all of us should learn from.

In a non-news town like this one, in a country where no one expects the White House Press Corps to ever ask anything of substance or demand a real answer to even their lamest questions, the Pulitzers remind us of what we're not getting, of what we deserve, of what is right.

Imagine if like the Sun Herald and the Times-Picayune, we started demanding more of ourselves, of each other, and of our supposed watchdogs. Imagine what could happen then.

Technorati tag:

Ummm... Too much!

Mikaela says:
Despite 2/3 m's enduring crush on David Sirota of Sirotablog, I just went over there today and went suddenly queasy.

Don't know what I mean? Check it out for yourself. There's something profoundly Greek about this downfall. Hubris, anyone?
There is a fine line between making yourself a personality to gain a voice and once voiced, becoming nothing more than a persona. I'm a little ... creeped out.

Most of his charm was the "lone voice in the wilderness," "who-am-I-to-say-but...," "here's one little guy's straight talk opinion." Now? He just looks like another sleaze with good grammar.

ZoomCloud Charm Continues

Mikaela says:
Our little zoom cloud, on the other hand, charmed my sox (tip my cap to you, Mags!) off this morning with this little gem:

"organizing pleasure pyre"

Now if we could only find a poet to do something with that!

Decide This

Mikaela mocks:

Courtesy NY Times
"I'm the decider, and I decide what's best. And what's best is for Don Rumsfeld to remain as the secretary of defense."

I guess it's also best for Karl Rove to drop policy (a job he only took on a year ago) like a hot potato and for Scott McClellan to skulk back to the slimy cave he crawled from.

Does any one else wonder whether they're just pre-emptively cauterizing the wound that the Plame-gate affair will cause? Isn't the timing a wee bit suspicious? If anyone's seen any good analysis and/or speculation on that score, can you direct me to it?

I'm not sure what we're supposed to do about it if the worst is true. I want legal opinions about our options to deal with them out of their official capacities they were serving at the time it all came down. If we can still get 'em, I'm all for booting them out now. If the White House is just trying to sneak them out the door in the dead of night, where they will escape "Scott"-free, then ... well ... we should be doing more about this.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

This week: Minimum wage watch

Maggie says:
The big news around town this week is the upcoming minimum wage battle, scheduled for Thursday night. M-pyre will be there as part of the Duke City Fix Blog-In. Should be fun.

For a great update on the latest what-when-who-how regarding the proposal, check out Democracy for New Mexico. While you're there, join me in blessing Neil Young.

See you Thursday!

Route Words -- ABQ Poetry Contest Moving On

Mikaela says:
It's that time again. Time to wring out that soggy brain and don your creative hats.

Route Words, the Collaborative Project by ABQ Ride, the National Hispanic Cultural Center, and ABQ Slam Poetry Council to get poetry on the Rapid Ride is gearing up for another year of greatness!

This year's poetry competition theme is "Moving On." Do what you will with it, but be sure you only use 66 words or fewer!

Deadline's been extended, but you only have til
Monday, May 15
, so quick quick like little spring bunnies.

You'll get your poem on the bus, and all poems are collected into a gorgeous book at the end of the year. Stay tuned for the fruit of last year's efforts.

More info here or see below. Happy writing!

Monday, April 17, 2006

Food on the brain

Maggie says:
Okay, okay. We get it. It's reallllly lame that m-pyre is just sitting here like this. Here's the thing, though: it's spring. It's beautiful outside. My brain is in other places.

Rather than m-pyrically listing the fun places my thoughts are going to these days, I'll post them here, on sad and lonely m-pyre. Happy?!

Spring = sun = breezes = fizzy drinks. Right?

Well, not so fast. If you're a food-lover like me, every new season represents food in a new way. This winter, I cooked dutch oven upon dutch oven of yummy, hearty soups served with garlicky rustica bread, extra olive oil for drizzling, and a really robust wine. Soup is all I want in the winter; it soothes and warms and comforts me and is all I crave.

But when the weather starts warming up, I want zing. I want bite. I want green. And more than anything else I can consume, pesto represents all of those things. I want piles of it on perfectly cooked pasta, loads of it on panini, stockpiles in the fridge for whenever the mood strikes. (Pesto with eggs in the morning? Oh yes!) Trader Joe's understands my pesto spring fever. There, for only $1.89, you can buy enough basil for a pound and a half of penne. So if your plants aren't up yet and the thought of shelling out half your wallet for fresh leaves isn't appealing, spend the gas money instead and hike up to Ventura, where you can get basil and wine and still make out better than you can at Wild Oats.

Last week, with windows and doors open, summery music blasting, and donning the first tank top of the year, I went to town with basil, piňon, garlic, parmesan, and olive oil. The result was everything the sun had been promising me, everything my cold and bitter winter dreams had ached for. One bite and I'm done. Screw all that extra rain and cold we needed; bring on the Seasons patio! (Which we did, splendidly, one night last week.)

In one more note of food news, I'm thrilled beyond belief that a grocer is coming downtown. For real this time. Via the always-in-the-know Carrie Seidman (she of "Single in the City" and "Food City" fame), a Downtown Gourmet will open on Central next month. Before you start worrying that this place will be the kind of shop that'll sell imported artichoke hearts but not orange juice, Carrie assures us that it's going to be a mix of both worlds: "While it's not the big box grocer many Downtown denizens have been hoping for, Smoot says neither will it be only jars of overpriced olives and dusty tins of foie gras."

Take it from this "downtown denizen": buying groceries and enjoying cooking downtown as it now stands is a major pain, especially given the limited selection and hours of Lowe's, the closest thing we have to a real grocery store. (Running out of flour while making chicken piccata recently around 8 p.m. was a major mood-killer...) So the more grocery options downtown, the better. While we're at it, the more new downtown development that's retail- and service-based - instead of just more bars - is good for all of us downtowners. Mix in the soon-to-come influx of new downtown residents, and there's an even greater need for a neighborhood that's as livable as it is go-out-able. So to whomever's listening: Bring on the grocers and bookstores! And while I'm asking, how about a year-round farmer's market, too? Here's to the future!

(By the way, imagine me delivering that last line with a Slutty Bunny in hand, the genius - and strong! - concoction of the ever-delightful Sophie...)

PS: In other downtown dish, heard a promising rumor about the possible next tenant of Pearl's over the weekend. More to come...