Senators Udall, Heinrich Announce Over $500,000 for NM Parks, Outdoor Recreation through Land and Water Conservation Fund

U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich have announced that the State of New Mexico will receive $500,138 through the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) to support outdoor recreation and conservation projects throughout the state. LWCF funds are a highly effective tool for creating and protecting urban and rural parks and open spaces that provide recreation opportunities, enhance communities and create jobs, but the program will expire in September unless Congress takes action. Udall and Heinrich have introduced legislation (S. 890) to permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

“I’m proud to announce these funds, which highlight how urgent it is that Congress act to ensure this program is around for generations to come,” Udall said. “From urban parks like Valle de Oro and Petroglyph National Monument to the wild backcountry of the Valles Caldera, the LWCF has had a powerful impact in New Mexico communities, providing resources to conserve special outdoor spaces that enhance tourism and enrich our quality of life. LWCF is an investment that pays dividends – for every $1, we see a return of $4 to local communities. We need to allow the LWCF to reach its full potential by permanently reauthorizing it and guaranteeing full funding.”

“You don’t have to look hard in New Mexico to see LWCF’s impact. This vital conservation program has helped protect some of our most treasured public lands and helped create many community parks across the state,” Heinrich said. “These are special places that families go back to year after year to camp, hunt, fish, hike, and play sports. They also support thousands of jobs in the state’s outdoor recreation industry. We must act now to permanently reauthorize and fully fund LWCF so that future generations can enjoy our recreational public lands.”

Congress established the Land and Water Conservation Fund in 1965 to ensure access to recreational resources for present and future generations and to provide state and local governments with money to conserve open spaces for the benefit of all Americans.

Since the fund’s inception, more than $4 billion has been made available for state and local governments to fund over 40,000 projects across the nation. A recent analysis of the fund found that every $1 invested in land acquisition generated a $4 return on the investment for communities. Funding for the program is generated through reinvested revenue from offshore oil and gas leases. Congress has appropriated funding for the program at the full authorized level of $900 million only once in the past 50 years.

NM Dem Blacklist Claims Substantiated

While submitting a routine request for information necessary to conduct normal business, the Democratic Party of New Mexico uncovered a thinly veiled attempt by someone in the Republican Administration of Governor Susana Martinez to intentionally block the emails of DPNM staffers.

Access to the Voter File, the official list of New Mexico voters, is controlled by the Secretary of State’s office. The Secretary of State (SOS) is required by law to provide an accurate and up-to-date voter file to political parties so that they and members of their party are able to reach out to voters and constituents. Secretaries of State are affiliated with a political party when seeking office, but upon securing office, are expected to oversee and administer transparent, unbiased elections, in addition to providing the Voter File.

In July 2015, the Democratic Party of New Mexico confirmed it had been blacklisted from the Secretary of State’s office, and subsequently the entire State of New Mexico government servers.

The issue was brought to the attention of a member of the Bureau of Elections in mid-July, In the interim DPNM em_imgstaffers were forced to use their personal email addresses to conduct business with the state. These emails were not blocked.

On July 15, DPNM staff also submitted IPRA requests to over 30 government agencies requesting to view documents regarding Republican Governor Susana Martinez. The extent of the blacklist was not yet known until replies to emails sent from ALL state agencies bounced back with an error message “553- Sorry your email address (read: email address) has been blacklisted.”

After having raised the issue with staff in the Secretary of State’s office and being rebuffed, DPNM turned over the rejected emails to a reporter with the Associated Press and asked if there might be something that would merit further investigation. Before turning over the documents, DPNM consulted with the DNC press and legal teams to ensure that this was a unique instance, that other State Parties across the country had not experienced similar problems when attempting to contact their respective state governments.

Once the AP began asking questions, the response from the administration was mixed. First, it was to deny being made aware of the issue, then stated that they had resolved the blacklisting – even going as far as to send DPNM an email stating that we had been removed from the blacklist by the State IT department. The story changed later when the problem was blamed on DPNM servers, and members of the Administration made the assertion that DPNM had somehow blacklisted itself, then suddenly, without any action of its own, the issue was resolved by the state IT department.

“It is outrageous for the Democratic Party to imply that the Secretary of State’s office would prevent anyone from accessing public voter information,” said SOS spokesman Ken Ortiz on August 12.

However, an email from the State IT Department tells a different story. “The issue should be resolved,” Chris Pacheco told DPNM Staff August 10. “NMDemocrats.org email domain is now white-listed for sending emails to the State of New Mexico Email System.”

ap_image

The Santa Fe New Mexican even enlisted the help of a “forensic researcher,” Pierson Clair to corroborate the Administration’s assertion that the fault indeed was that of DPNM. Clair said that in this case the problem stemmed from the fact that state Democrats had set up the party’s domain name at Bluehost, a large hosting company, and used Google’s Gmail, instead of Bluehost’s email service. That caused some emails to be treated as spam.

“There is no scandal here,” Clair said. “It is more that the [New Mexico] Democrats don’t know how to set up their domain name.”

Clair said he was 100 percent positive in his assessment of the problem in the article. “At no time did this office block, blacklist, or attempt to limit communications in anyway,” Ortiz said in the New Mexican article. “The accusation is outrageous and is disappointing. Ultimately the issue was resolved the same day by the Department of Information Technology (DoIT), the Department that administers all state government email.”

DPNM Officials remained skeptical and hired an IT Firm to test the state email system with a domain configured exactly like the Democratic Party of New Mexico, and could not replicate the blacklist response.

“Pierson Clair ran 1 set of tests, probably at MX Tools, saw the error and just assumed that since it was possible that the SMTP error could cause a block result on a few specific system configurations, it must be the case,” said the firm hired by DPNM. “Blocked does not mean Blacklisted and the Symantic Cloud system is not configured to even Block for the SMTP error unless the sender’s SPF record instructs it to. Yours does no such thing.”

The firm ran the same tests first, saw the possibility and immediately started checking the actual specific system configurations involved here, to see if everything matched up to make that possibility a reality. They didn’t.

“Another fact is that the SPF record includes “+mx” indicating any DNS MX resource record that is listed
for the domain should be allowed to send on their behalf,” said the firm hired by DPNM. “Google is registered, and that flag in the SPF record comes first, giving it a higher precedence than the last and final option of allowed senders.”

State IT employee Chris Pacheco admitted exactly how this all came about when he said, “The nmdemocrats.org email domain is now white-listed for sending emails,” to the state email system.

There is only one Anti Spam filter in the Symantic Cloud System that can be changed by white-listing a domain; the Custom blocked senders list. From its own product page, “You can define a list of IP addresses, domains, or email addresses that you recognize as sources of spam or other unwanted email.”

Analysis: “DPNM was blocked by the State’s private block list. The email expert in LA did not look deep enough. You were right.”

We believe, and our investigation shows, that the Martinez Administration knew that it had blacklisted the DPNM. After our thorough investigation, it is clear that the blacklisting was intentional. As such, the culprits who enacted this juvenile ploy need to be identified and appropriate discipline should be administered. This behavior is beneath the level of professionalism and accountability that we should expect from our state government. The Democratic Party of New Mexico stands strong for the voters of New Mexico and will always demand fairness when it comes to voting rights.

——

Trump Recycles Old Ideas in Pandering to the Far Right

Today, LULAC National President, Roger C. Rocha Jr., issued the following statement in response to the release of Donald Trump’s immigration position paper:

“Donald Trump’s stated plan for much needed comprehensive immigration reform is nothing more than a restatement of old proposals from the far right. The plan is not based on fact, today’s immigration laws or the U.S. Constitution. Instead, it merely represents the views of those who are more interested in hateful rhetoric than true policy solutions. In fact, Trump’s plan is simply a laundry list of previously rejected ideas of the far right including, building a wall, deporting 11 million people, and ending birthright citizenship. At the very least, we would have hoped that Mr. Trump had some original ideas of his own on such an important issue, but that clearly is not the case.

We need real leadership in developing productive immigration reform. Such leadership requires politicians to put aside the politics of division and instead focuses on solutions to our country’s broken immigration system, which for too long, has punished the people who pick our crops, build our homes, and care for our children.

Two years ago Senators Schumer, McCain, Durbin, Graham, Menendez, Rubio, Bennet, and Flake put forth a bipartisan framework for comprehensive immigration reform. The reform included a balance between increased law enforcement and an earned pathway to citizenship. Unfortunately, the same political instinct to pander to the far right helped kill this bipartisan effort.

We must redouble our efforts in working towards comprehensive immigration reform which provides individuals with a realistic opportunity to excel as part of our workforce in a legal and orderly manner. Such reform would allow millions of hardworking individuals to live the American dream and will serve as a positive force in the nation’s economic recovery.”

Weekly Address: Continuing Work to Improve Community Policing

In this week’s address, the President spoke about the work the Administration is doing to enhance trust between communities and law enforcement in the year since the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson.  In May, the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing released their final report setting out concrete proposals to build trust and enhance public safety.  And across America local leaders are working to put these ideas into action in their communities.  The President noted that while progress is being made, these issues go beyond policing, which is why the Administration is committed to achieving broader reforms to the criminal justice system and to making new investments in our children and their future.

Watch and share President Obama’s weekly address.

District Attorney Mark D’Antonio’s Statement Regarding a Suspicious Device Located in Doña Ana County

Today, after being on scene, Third Judicial District Attorney Mark D’Antonio released the following statement in response to a suspicious device that was located in Doña Ana County:

“What I observed should instill confidence in our community’s law enforcement efforts.  On scene were representatives from a dozen different law enforcement agencies, to include, the Federal Bureau of Investigations, Homeland Security Investigations, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, Las Cruces Police Department, Doña Ana County Sheriff’s Office, New Mexico State Police Department and other agencies.  The level of cooperation and coordination I witnessed was extremely impressive.  I particularly noted that even high ranking police officers were assisting in traffic control and routing pedestrians and cars away from the potential danger zone.  There was a spirit of cooperation within the ranks of all first responders, doing what they do best, protecting the public.  Also, our community should share my confidence in the Dona Ana County Sheriff’s Office bomb squad.  They rank as one of the best response units in the nation.”

He continued, “There are indeed individuals who would attempt to intimidate us by threats of violence.  I urge our community to stand with defiant confidence with the knowledge that our law enforcement community is devoting an extensive amount of manpower and resources in a joint collaborative effort to prevent and bring to justice those individuals that would do us harm.  This is a clear example of how federal, state and local law enforcement can partner to ensure public safety.  As always, we need your help.  If you have any information that would lead to the arrest of any individual or individuals involved, please call the FBI Hotline at 1-800-CALL-FBI.”

Celebrating 80 Years of Social Security

Eighty years ago today, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act  into law, he sent across a simple but significant message: Americans, no matter their age or physical ability, should be able to live their lives with dignity.

Though the times and technologies have changed, that message remains at the core of the Democratic Party message to older Americans. For almost eight decades, Democrats have been the party fighting for seniors and retirees. Democratic presidents created both Social Security and Medicare, two cornerstones of American society that not only grant seniors financial and medical security but also the peace of mind to enjoy their golden years to the fullest.

Democrats believe that a dignified retirement is central to the American Dream and that Social Security and Medicare are the foundation of realizing that dream. In recent years, Democrats have beaten back Republican plans to privatize Social Security—plans that would have exposed the retirement funds of millions of American seniors to great risk on the eve of the financial crisis. Instead, no one lost a penny of Social Security.

President Roosevelt signs the Social Security Act

President Roosevelt signs the Social Security Act

Currently, Social Security helps provide almost 58 million Americans, including 37 million retired workers and 8 million disabled workers, with economic security. It is the major source of income for most of the elderly, who paid into the system throughout their lives. Even as we celebrate Social Security’s birthday, we have to work to ensure that future generations have access to that same type of security. That’s why President Barack Obama and Democrats are committed to  to protecting and strengthening Social Security, finding new ways to improve service delivery while cutting waste and fraud.

President Obama has further explained his commitment to Social Security in a State of the Union Address:

“To put us on solid ground, we should also find a bipartisan solution to strengthen Social Security for future generations. We must do it without putting at risk current retirees, the most vulnerable, or people with disabilities; without slashing benefits for future generations; and without subjecting Americans’ guaranteed retirement income to the whims of the stock market.”

To learn more about how Democrats and the Obama Administration are working to strengthen and sustain Social Security, check out these links:

Senator Udall Leads Coalition Pressing FDA to Tackle Toxics in E-Cigarettes

As e-cigarette popularity soars, clear standards are needed to protect public health

U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.) and Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) called for clear product standards and good manufacturing processes to combat the health risks of toxic substances in e-cigarettes as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration finalizes its first regulations of the aerosol-producing products. The number of e-cigarette users — especially among young people — has soared in recent years, but little is known about the long-term health risks for users and the risks of breathing in second-hand aerosol.

“Because e-cigarettes are not yet regulated by FDA, e-cigarette manufacturers have been able to introduce these products to the market without having to test them for potentially harmful substances, adhere to good manufacturing processes or meet other standards to minimize risk,” the senators wrote in a letter to Acting FDA Commissioner Stephen Ostroff.

More than 466 different brands of e-cigarettes in thousands of flavors have entered the market without any testing. Carcinogens and other toxins have been found in the aerosol produced by e-cigarettes, and poor manufacturing can cause problems like battery leaks and explosions.

“Studies have shown that the level of toxic substances can vary significantly among different e-cigarette products as a result of the content of the e-liquid and the design features of the e-cigarette. For example, the type of solvent used and the voltage of the battery appear to affect the levels of formaldehyde and acetaldehyde that are generated,” the letter continues.

“Clearly, research and oversight are lacking for e-cigarettes, including a better understanding of the long-term health risks of using them and the risks to non-users of breathing in second-hand aerosol emitted from them.”

The vast majority of e-cigarettes sold in the United States are produced in China, and a New York Times investigation exposed low safety standards among some Chinese manufacturers.

The full text of the letter is available HERE

DPNM SCC Meeting September 12 in Las Cruces

Dear Democrats,

Today, I am proud to announce our next State Central Committee Meeting will be held at the Hilton Garden Inn, in Las Cruces New Mexico, on Saturday, September 12th, from 12:00 – 4:00 pm.

The purpose of this meeting is to receive committee reports and conduct such additional business that is detailed in committee reports.

Rooms are available at a discounted rate for SCC members by calling Hilton Guest Services at 575.522.0900.

If you have any additional questions, please contact the State Party at 505.830.3650.

Thank you for your service,

Deb

Debra Haaland
DPNM State Chairwoman

HHS announces an additional $169 million in Affordable Care Act funding to 266 community health centers including three in Doña Ana County

Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell announced today $169 million in Affordable Care Act funding to 266 new health center sites in 46 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico for the delivery of comprehensive primary health care services in communities that need them most. These new health center sites are projected to increase access to health care services for over 1.2 million patients. These awards build on the $101 million awarded to 164 new health center sites in May 2015.

Three clinics in Doña Ana County will receive awards totaling $2,172,116 to serve a proposed 20,378 new patients, including Ben Archer Health Center headquartered in Hatch and La Clinica de Familia and St. Luke’s Health Care Clinic headquartered in Las Cruces.

“Across the country, health centers have provided a source of high-quality primary care for people in rural and urban communities for 50 years,” said Acting Deputy Secretary Mary Wakefield. “These Affordable Care Act funds build on the strong legacy of the health center program and provide even more individuals and families with access to the care they need the most.”

This investment will add to the more than 700 new health center sites that have opened as a result of the Affordable Care Act, including those awarded earlier this year. What started with one clinic in rural Mississippi and another in South Boston is today a national program that supports 1,300 community-based and patient-directed health centers with 9,000 sites serving nearly 23 million people.

“Health centers now provide primary care to one in fourteen people living in the United States,” said HRSA Acting Administrator Jim Macrae. “These awards mean that more communities than ever can count on a health center to help meet the increasing demand for primary care.”

From August 9th  through the 15th, more than 1,000 events will be held around the country in observance of National Health Center Week, an annual celebration that highlights the many accomplishments of the Nation’s health centers.

LULAC and Univision Communications Inc. Partner to Bring Broadband Access to Hispanics

LULAC is proud to join Univision Communications Inc. in continuing to expand broadband access in the Latino community. To that end, LULAC and Univision will collaborate to inform parents on how access to broadband can help increase educational opportunities for their children. In addition, Univision will promote LULAC’s sixty technology centers in key cities and air LULAC public service announcements encouraging Latinos to utilize Internet resources.

LULAC partnerships with AT&T, Time Warner Cable, Comcast, P&G, Verizon, Facebook, Google, and GM Foundation have provided Latinos with critical resources in order to utilize the many benefits of the Internet.

“LULAC welcomes the collaboration with Univision in order to highlight the important role broadband adoption plays in expanding educational opportunities for their children,” said LULAC National President Roger C. Rocha, Jr. “With 7 in 10 teachers assigning homework that requires Internet access, it is imperative that we work together to help Latinos access the Internet frequently and efficiently.”

Currently, LULAC’s Empowering Hispanic America with Technology program is part of LULAC’s broadband expansion effort. Through this effort, thousands of Latinos have access to educational resources, computer classes, job placements, and a variety of other community resources. LULAC remains dedicated to ensuring that Latino students have optimal educational opportunities that will help them succeed in life.
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