No Seat Unsafe

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No matter the readily available facts, no left-winger will ever let them stand in the way of him wielding his poison pen. I refer to Jim Scarantino’s description of Tom Udall’s Third District Congressional seat as not being “safe," and to Scarantino’s description of Udall’s predecessor, Bill Redmond, as a "right-wing Republican" [The Real Side, "Democrats Against the War," Nov. 22-28].

This “unsafe” seat was held by Bill Richardson, its initial occupant, from January 1983 to February 1997, a period of 14 years. Not bad for a seat that Scarantino describes as "not all that safe.” It is true that after Richardson resigned the seat to serve in the Clinton administration, Bill Redmond won the seat in a special election, and for good reason, too. The Democrats had nominated Eric Serna as their standard bearer. Serna had some ethical problems, and many Democrats also objected to the manner in which he was chosen. The Green Party ran a strong candidate (Carol Miller), who siphoned off thousands of votes that would have otherwise gone to Serna. She won 34 percent of the vote in Santa Fe County (close behind Serna’s 39 percent), and 28 percent in Taos County. (Final vote percentages were Redmond—43 percent, Serna—40 percent and Miller—17 percent.)

Many Democrats viewed the special election that put Redmond into office as an opportunity to destroy Serna. They knew Redmond couldn’t hold on to the seat in the 1998 election, and with Serna out of the way they could run a candidate without any baggage, and who would easily win. That win came for Tom Udall, who, with his name recognition, easily swept aside the Republican’s Redmond and the Green Party’s Miller.

As far as Redmond being a "right-wing Republican," this label is utterly baseless. Redmond was a Democrat at one time, and he worked on the McGovern campaign in 1972. His voting record in the House of Representatives was a mixed bag. For a specific evaluation of his record in the House, we can compare Redmond’s voting record with that of Bernard Sanders, a self-proclaimed Socialist who represented Vermont. In a published evaluation of 20 votes on a broad array of issues, Redmond received a score of 35 percent, and Sanders received a score of 30 percent. How can someone have a voting record that’s almost the same as a professing Socialist, yet be called a “right-wing Republican"?

Cut To The Crux

“Immigration? Who Cares?” by Jerry Ortiz y Pino [Nov. 15-23] revealed the crux of the immigration issue. No one cared enough to attend a well-advertised event that should have brought out the most virulent opposition. It is most curious that the sponsoring network, ABC, and local radio station, KKOB—well known for conservative views—would have attracted such a small showing from among those who support their analysis of the news. Instead, we witnessed a great dialogue, proving that once again We The People are the real foundation of democracy.

Ortiz y Pino points to the Johnny-come-lately hysteria concerning immigration and asks, “Why does the media call this a crisis, and when did it become one?” The media takes up any cry the Bushites tell it to, and this administration is not averse to using media to ignite the American public. Bill Moyers, before the 2003 National Conference on Media Reform, said, the “quasi-official partisan press ideologically link(s) to an authoritarian administration that in turn is the ally and agent of the most powerful interests in the world.”

Bushites will continue to influence the media until we turn them both off—at the polls and on the dial. Immigration, fear or fancy, is just another media uproar, a camouflage to blind patriotic Americans from observing the privatization of our tax dollars. First there was the war on drugs, then the war in Iraq. Now it is a pending war in Iran.

Immigration? Move over birth control and marriage rights.

Good Samaritan Discount

Every Sunday for two years, volunteers from Trinity House Catholic Worker have served picnics for hungry and homeless people Downtown. This summer, opposition from Downtown residents and the police forced us to leave Robinson Park. With increased community support, we are continuing to serve at Soldiers and Sailors Park.

The city wants us to apply every month for a special event permit, the kind a company would have to get for its annual park picnic. While embracing the chance to be in good communication with many groups who are affected by what happens in the park (homeless folks, as usual, are left out of the process), we feel this regulation is being applied to groups like ours inappropriately.

First, the national trend of cities criminalizing homeless folks in order to clear them out of Downtown and other gentrifying areas is appalling. When our economy does not afford everyone private space, it is imperative to maintain the rights of all people to use public space, as well as the right to freedom of assembly. There are more effective ways to fight crime, drugs and even poverty, than making it hard for homeless people to exist in public.

Second, the fact that at least 10,000 Albuquerque residents have no home is a state of emergency. According to the New Mexico Task Force to End Hunger, New Mexico ranks second in the country in terms of food insecurity and sixth in terms of hunger. When groups like ours step into this situation, it is because there is a void of adequate action by the city and individuals capable of getting personally involved. Instead of using a permit process to force us out of Downtown, can we get a Good Samaritan exemption?

Letters should be sent with the writer’s name, address and daytime phone number via e-mail to They can also be faxed to (505) 256-9651. Letters may be edited for length and clarity, and may be published in any medium; we regret that owing to the volume of correspondence we cannot reply to every letter.

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