August means many things to Americans. The end of summer drifts lazily upon the horizon, upcoming elections come into clearer focus and our elected representatives take a break from their customary lawmaking duties to return to their home districts to relax and meet with their constituents.
Democratic Congresswoman Deb Haaland returned to Burque this weekend and met with supporters, the press and the general public this past Saturday at a number of local events.
Weekly Alibi was there at the Albuquerque Museum to watch and listen as Haaland discoursed with a standing room-only audience.
The gathered crowd was excited to meet with their elected representative in the auxiliary auditorium at the Albuquerque Museum. Outside the institution, about a dozen “right to life” protesters implored voters to vote their faith before their political affiliation to ensure they don’t end up on the wrong side of the afterlife. They carried scores of malignantly graphic posters and signs and did the danse macabre in front of the museum doors, but were mostly ignored by a group of Burqueños set on interfacing with a Congresswoman they elected and jubilantly support.
An old Chicano man sat across the street at Tiguex Park with his little dog on a fancy leash, feeding the small pet treats and waving an American flag as both watched with fascination. Red, white and blue banners posted around the perimeter of the museum looked very official yet inviting as more than a 150 souls headed for the cool interior.
Inside, as people were seated and the lights in the auditorium dimmed, it became clear that the majority of the audience was composed of Baby Boomers and Gen-Xers. As gray heads bobbed in anticipation, the only young people to be seen seemed to be working for Haaland, taking photos, guiding the elderly to chairs and generally managing an event that turned out to be much larger—though perhaps older—than anticipated.
When Haaland finally took the stage, the crowd, a bit restless from waiting and perhaps walking in the heat of the sunshine outside, breathed a collective sigh of relief and came alive. The meeting took on the vibe of an old-fashioned campaign rally, as constituents cheered and electronic flash devices lit up photos documenting the event.
The Congresswoman from District One kept her remarks brief before taking questions from the exuberant audience. Those who asked the questions were chosen randomly, by lot. Each attendee was given a ticket as they entered and then one of Haaland’s assistants drew out numbers, lottery style, from a hat.
The first question from the audience came from a man who said he had spent a lot of time following recent activities on Capitol Hill. After a lengthy preamble he asked Haaland where she stood on impeachment proceedings in the House of Representatives. Haaland told those gathered—to uproarious applause and shouting—that “Donald Trump is my least favorite person.” She then recalled that she had done her best to make sure he wasn’t elected, but that “unfortunately, yes, he was.”
Further, she said her staff had anticipated the question of impeachment and continued, telling her supporters, “I just want to let you know about some of the things the House is doing, with respect to the President.” Those steps toward investigation and impeachment include moves by the Chairman of the House Judiciary committee to obtain relevant testimony as well as steps being taken by Representatives Elijah Cummings, Maxine Waters and Adam Schiff, who are all deeply committed to finding out the truth about Trump’s dealings. “Overall,” she stated, “my colleagues are moving to hold the President accountable.”
“Honestly, I don’t have an issue against adding my name to the folks who want an impeachment inquiry,” Haaland concluded. As the crowd cheered, Haaland told them her office had received over 1600 constituent phone calls calling for impeachment, but reminded them that the House has to get the entire majority of her chamber’s legislative body to vote for impeachment before any such attempt moves forward.
On other issues, Haaland was similarly engaged and committed to progressive ideals and reforms. She implored her constituents to contact Senator Mitch McConnell’s office to ask that important legislation like the election security bill is reviewed and voted on by the Senate and did not remain in “McConnell’s graveyard” to languish like much of the other legislation that the Democratic majority of the House had sent the Republican majority Senate during this past term.
After an exciting hour of recounting her current praxis as a member of the House of Representatives, our reporter had a chance to meet with Haaland as she took questions from the press. Representatives from the teevee news and KUNM asked more about impeachment proceedings and the Trump administration. We asked Haaland about her current thinking vis-à-vis the Kirtland Fuel Spill.
She said, “I met with the new commander of Kirtland Air Force Base. He has vowed to make sure that this process [of clean-up] is transparent. He said that he will open the meetings up to anyone who wants to attend. I suggested that he do that. I told him that we need to make sure that the allied organizations that are working for this clean-up, they need to be part of the process. They need to have access to all the data and information that the folks at Kirtland are working with. I understand there was a recent meeting that they opened up to everyone. I hope that all will participate. But I do have the commander’s word that he will keep it transparent. If he doesn’t, if I hear from anyone that they don’t feel the process is transparent, I’ll call him directly on his cell phone.”
After the event, an energized yet relaxed Haaland doffed her pumps and walked barefooted in the heat of the day toward her car and the next local event. The abortion protesters were gone, but the old man and his chihuahua were still there, waving the flag as her motorcade passed.