Southern New Mexico Common Cause (SNMCC)

Meeting Minutes for

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

 

 

Approval of October Minutes

Since Board members had not had a chance to review the minutes, approval of the minutes was tabled and each person was asked to review the minutes and send their feedback to Vanessa if there are any changes that need to be made.

 

Citizen Charter Review Committee – P. Banks

Common Cause sponsored a Las Cruces Mayoral candidate debate on October 23, 2003, that was attended by all of the candidates.  Subjects of the debate were the ten suggested amendments to the City Charter.  Each candidate expressed their opinions about each of the suggestions and some challenged the opinions of the other candidates.  We recorded the stance of each candidate.  To follow-up on this, it was suggested that the committee volunteer to hold a work session with the new city council to present the findings of the citizen’s review and explain why each suggested amendment was made.  We will follow-up with the council in the coming months to determine their acceptance of doing this.

 

Monitoring Public Meeting – J. Asche

The reports were held to a minimum since there were a number of time sensitive issues that needed to be settled before several members had to depart for other commitments.

The most recent City Council meeting, Monday, November 15, was primarily devoted to an inaugural celebration for Mayor Mattice.  A nice array of food was served (presumably at tax payer expense) and there was a large turnout to celebrate his installation as mayor

 

There was no report on the School Board in the interest of time.

 

A detailed report was tabled until next meeting in the interest of time.  However, the point was made that getting information about meetings and agendas ahead of time for Commission meetings is sometimes problematic.  The County Commission website often provides incomplete information and agendas are sometimes passed out at the last minute at the meetings.  This may be a matter that Common Cause should bring to the public attention or the attention of the Commission at some point in the near future.

 

         Board of Regents – J. Bloom

The meeting of the Presidential Search Committee that was open to the public was advertised on very short notice, the day before the meeting.  At the meeting the observers from the public were not privy to the printed materials that were circulated.  The members of the committee sat around a table and did not use microphones that could have made their conversation more audible to the observers; therefore, while the meeting was open to the public, it did not serve the purpose of open exchange of information.  John noted that there were two representatives of the pueblo Indians on the search committee, but other non-pueblo tribes were not represented such as the Navajo and the Apache Mescalero.  This fact raised the issue of fairness of representation among native Americans on the Search Committee.  John brought to the groups attention that he had emailed his report for the last Board of Regents’ Meeting to Jane Asche and Jim Kadlecek in which he posed a question about the openness of the Search Committee process and native American representation.  He did not receive a response from either person.  By our November meeting it was too late to do anything with these issues, a reminder that we may need to agree on a strategy for dealing with issues in a timely fashion if possible.

 

John also noted being asked the following questions by the Board of Regents:  (1) What is the purpose of the Common Cause organization? (2) How many people does the organization represent?  Gus Bigelow agreed to put together a brief paragraph or two that answer these questions, which can be used by any Board Member to explain the significance of Common Cause.

 

Memorial Medical Center Issues – J. Asche

The meeting mentioned in the October minutes that was to be set up with Lupika to review his revised plan on recommendations for the ownership of MMC did not take place.  However, Jim Kadlecek provided all Board members with an update, which posed two major issues that are potentially of concern to Common Cause about the process for decision-making with regard to the ownership of the MMC.  In addition, Jane Asche and Dolores Halls attended the public presentation on the consultants’ recommendations on Wednesday morning, November 19.  As Jim stated in his update, four options were presented for the sale of the hospital, along with a rationale about why a public option would be too costly to consider.  Lupika stated that his plan was 21 pages, and so they only shared the highlights at the meeting.  Marion Asche asked Ken Miyagishima if this report could be posted on the City Council website.  He said that he would check on this.  Ron Gurley, who was billed as the person to speak about a rationale for a public option, made about a 3 to 4 minute presentation about the need to create a balance between serving the public interest and considering the “bottom line.”  He made a plea to hold off the decision-making to the end of January so that there could be a reasonable amount of time to better explore a public option.

 

After discussion about information shared at the meeting, the Board members present made the following decision in response to the questions posed at the end of Jim Kadlecek’s memo:  Yes, we (Common Cause) do need to follow up on this issue and push for action to allow time for a better analysis of a public option.  Specifically, we should request that (1) persons preparing a public option have access to detailed financial records of the MMC, Inc. and the marketing “book” that was assembled by the consultant and made available to the bidders and (2) a the date for a final decision should be extended.  This should be accomplished in part by proceeding with the open records request that Jim drafted in September and revising it to request that all information provided to the bidders is also made open to those preparing a public option.  Pushing back the deadline will probably require an additional strategy.

 

Discussion of New Business

a.       Discussion of SNMCC co-sponsorship with AARP of a forum to discuss the issues of Medicare and prescription drugs.  Dolores Halls who is a local representative for the state AARP organization said she was not aware of this event.  She committed to placing a call to the state organization and getting more clarification on the details.

 

b.      January SNMCC Annual Luncheon.  The following decisions were made:

-         The price for the lunch should be held to $10.

-         Gus, Tami and Jane should go ahead and secure a place and a menu after Jane does some additional checking with Janie Blue at the Meson de Mesilla and the Best Western Mission Valley Inn.

-         The speaker Bob Johnson should be asked to give an inspiring presentation about trends across the nation relative to achieving open government and provide specific strategies that persons at the grassroots level can use to ensure more open and democratic decision-making by government officials.

 

c.       Convention Center Open records Issue – we did not have any information about the citizens’ group that has come together to review the sites for the Convention Center.  It would be helpful to have information on this emailed to all Board members and possibly all Common Cause members.

 

d.      Need for change in our Meeting Time on Special Occasions.  There was general agreement that when there are important public meetings on the third Wednesday of the month such as the MMC public presentation, we should push our meeting time forward to 12:30 PM so we all Board member who wish are able to hear the full public presentation.

 

Closing

        Next meeting will be Wednesday, December 17, 2003, at 11:30 a.m.

        Meeting was adjourned at 1:30 p.m.

 

Respectfully submitted by,

Jane Asche

Vice President

 

 

Signature and date of Board Approval

 

 

Action Items (to be accomplished before the next Board Meeting):

  1. Phil Banks to contact the City Council about follow-up on the Citizen Charter Review.

 

  1. Gus Bigelow to prepare a brief description of the purpose of Common Cause and the NM membership numbers.

 

  1. Gus Bigelow and Jane Asche to contact Jim Kadlecek by Sunday evening November 23 about follow-up on the MMC issues.

 

  1. Dolores Halls to contact the state AARP organization to get more information on the forum on Medicare and prescription drugs that we agreed to co-sponsor.

 

  1. Jane Asche, Tami Smith, and Gus Bigelow to secure a place to hold the annual membership meeting no later than the last week of November, making sure to keep the price of the meal no more than $10.

 

* See next page for Gus’s brief description of Common Cause and its membership.


 

Common Cause

 

 

Common Cause is a nonprofit, citizens' lobbying organization promoting open, honest and accountable government.  Supported by the dues of more than 200,000 members and supporters in every state across the nation, Common Cause represents the unified voice of the people against corruption in government and big-money special interests.  Complete information about Common Cause is on-line at www.commoncause.org.

 

Common Cause is represented in New Mexico by Common Cause/New Mexico at www.commoncause.org/nm  and locally by Southern New Mexico Common Cause at www.zianet.com/common.  Local contact information is included