AlamogordoTownnews.com – Mayoral Candidates A Question on Pay and Accomplished Legislation

Alamogordo is in the middle of early voting for multiple positions within the municipal government. AlamogordoTownNews.com issued 26 questions to the two mayoral candidates and received their responses. A few questions of the 26 were questions around campaign finances and personal finances related to the salary of commissioners and the office of the mayor.

The Founding Fathers never intended a permanent political class controlled by the wealthy and never intended for there to be career politicians. Our government was set up for citizen statesmen, not for career politicians at every level be it city or county commission, mayor, or congress person.

The idea was “citizen statesmen.” Our founding fathers wanted honorable people of common origins to do their duty and serve their city, county, state, or country for a limited time, then step aside and go back to their farms or businesses and let others serve in their place. The design was not for careers in politics. No matter how good the man or woman, as terms pass and decades tally, they become beholden to the powers that perpetuate them.

So, in that vein of thinking in our 26 questions we asked the two mayoral candidates question number 23.” Given the job is a part time job and one of public service, would you be willing to accept the position if elected for NO pay and dedicate the public check each month to a local community organization rotating the donation monthly?”

The responses were almost comical, if one really reads into them, and one should really read and digest the candidate responses.

A question for the public is this? Non-profit organizations have oversight by an appointed board and operate on a volunteer basis (without pay) to ensure the non-profit is managed in the best interest of the agencies mission. Board members are not employees of the agency, they have the same oversite responsibilities of that agency as the city commission and mayors’ office has of the budget and enforcement actions of city government.

 Why do we not, hold the positions of part time politicians, to the same principle?

Do we get better leadership at the city commission level and the office of mayor by paying for it?

Is the leadership of Alamogordo better than the leadership that works for free of the best local non-profit organization? Think about that for a moment?

The city budget is about a $50 to $60 Million dollars and the pay to the commission is little in comparison to the overall budget. However, pay, any pay does lead to career politicians. The sitting commissioners get $500.00 a month. The mayor gets $800.00 a month in salary.

The requirement is to attend 2 commission meetings per month.

Wonder what the hourly wage of our potential mayor would be? Now let us make some presumptions for thoughts to ponder…

Let’s divide two meetings, an average of 3 hours a meeting and let’s say each candidate puts in 3 hours of preparation and reading before each meeting, soooo… about, 12 hours a month in direct services.

Now of course the commissioners and the mayor answer email on occasion and take constituent phone calls.

We will make another presumption based on our experience in government service in a city many times the size of Alamogordo. We doubt that constituent dialog is a daily occurrence given the size of Alamogordo, so let’s suppose they devote 8 hours a week to constituent services that 24 hours a month.

Total constituents work we will estimate at about 36 hours a month. (Of course, each candidate will more than likely defend their work suggesting they work countless hours for constituents and the city of Alamogordo.} The constituents know the truth!

For the mayor that would be an average of about $22.00 an hour or double the minimum wage or average wage for a Wal-Mart employee, restaurant worker or hotel worker in Alamogordo. Per the US Census and Wikipedia, males in Alamogordo have a median income of $28,163 versus $18,860 for females. The per capita income for the city was $14,662. So, the pay inequity of women becomes more obvious as women per capita in Alamogordo make about $9.00 and hour. So, the mayoral candidate, elected will be making 2 times the average per capita income of their constituents under this presumptive scenario.

There again, what happened to service for one’s community? Most candidates running for an election are using other people’s money or “campaign donations”, then the candidate gets paid for the job. What a deal! What other job in American does one use other people’s money to campaign for and profit from? Only a career politician.

We are not advocating for no pay for political leadership; however, we do wonder if pay were taken out of the equation of politics, what kind of leadership would we then have? If the political system was held to similar oversight as non-profits would the results be what one sees today or better? A thought to ponder….

The responses to the question that we …

AlamogordoTownNews.com – “Given the job is a part time job and one of public service, would you be willing to accept the position if elected for NO pay and dedicate the public check each month to a local community organization rotating the donation monthly?”

Susan Payne Response: “This question is full of presumptions. I assure you I don’t really get a paycheck for this position, but I am grateful for the medical and dental insurance that my paycheck goes toward even if it’s not enough to cover all of it.”

AlamogordoTownNews.com Fact Check – The candidate gets a paycheck per the city budget, so the answer is rather misleading. Rather the candidate spends her money on medical or dental insurance is irrelevant to the question. It is income and she, per her answer “is spending it on insurance.” According to the US Census 6.9% or about 2200 residents of Alamogordo don’t have insurance, thus the “medical and dental insurance that candidate Payne’s paycheck goes to” affords her coverage that about 2200 of her constituents can’t afford to maintain. Thus, yes candidate Payne does receive a payment from the city of Alamogordo and based on her answer she

Nadia Sikes Response: My job as a commissioner has been FULL-TIME. I spend all my time working for the betterment of our community and if anything, would support an ordinance to pay our Mayor and Commissioners more fairly.”

AlamogordoTownNews.com- Fact Check – We cannot substantiate candidate Sikes response that her job as commissioner has been “full time.” AlamogordoTownNews.com believes both candidates spend much of their time for the betterment of their community. Givin their resume of community service we believe that to be a fact, that they each work toward their vision of betterment to the community.

The question however is, are they doing in while in service in their official roles as government leaders, or a private citizen or as a leader of a non-profit? Only they know what is in their heart, and only you the voter can interpret their actions.

Ms. Sikes response that she would support and ordinance to pay the mayor and the commissioners “more fairly” is concerning. What is “more fair” is a question? And since the topic of “fairer” pay was raised, how do the candidates stand on the minimum wage for city staff? Are the entry level minimum wages paid “fairly’ based on their contribution to the city? Who is of more value the lifeguard making minimum wage protecting the drowning child at the city owned pool or the mayor? You decide?

AlamogordoTownNews.com rates both candidates answer to the question of pay for the mayors’ office a failure, the responses don’t represent the Christian values of “selfless service to one’s community” one would expect for a small town of 31,384 constituents.

Along the vein of pay, the question then becomes; are we as citizens getting the government, we pay these candidates to provide us? Both are sitting commissioners, and both have the power to initiate dialog, craft proposed ordinances and lead the city via legislation.

So, are we getting the legislative progress we deserve in the city of Alamogordo to elevate one of these two individuals to the level of mayor and spokesperson for the city of Alamogordo? Along that line we asked the following question

AlamogordoTownNews.com – If you have held office please provide 3 pieces of legislation, ordinances, or initiatives that you personally sponsored that were focused on jobs or education. Please provide the outcomes to the legislation since passed…

Nadia Sikes Response: “Proudest of my work with Code Enforcement, with improvements to our green spaces and the Bark Park, Alamogordo Mainstreet and ZIA, our public transportation, our library. Before I initiated the ordinance to require campaign reporting on the City level, there was NO reporting.

AlamogordoTownNews.com Fact Check – the question was what three pieces of legislation, ordinances or initiatives did you personally sponsor that were focused on jobs or education. Based on the response it would appear the direct answer is zero however Ms. Sikes did initiate a very important piece of legislation that would follow under the sunshine laws to require public reporting of campaign contribution. We too, agree that is an important piece of legislation to have initiated and are happy that was successfully passed by the full commission.

We ask both candidates to please provide the AlamogordoTownNews.com a direct copy of your last campaign filing? We could request one via the open records act and will do so if the candidates don’t provide us such information, but it would be timelier and more considerate if each candidate would email the AlamogordoTownNews.com a copy of their most recent filing prior to election day for publication.

Susan Payne Response: “The city does not specifically have any ordinances that would fall into either of these categories. HOWEVER I was heavily involved in reworking our LEDA ordinance which focuses on job creation. In addition, I sit on the Otero County Economic Development Board and focus allot of time on Job and business creation.”

AlamogordoTownNews.com Fact Check – the question was answered by Ms. Payne and the answer is indeed interesting that the city “does not have any ordinances that fall into the category of job creation or education.”  Ordinances that may be true, but initiatives or legislative actions? It does appear the commission has acted in relation to jobs and education.

The city during the tenure of both commissioners has acted or initiatives on job creation at some point. Incentives or accommodations by the city were given to the Medlin Ramps leadership with a commitment of so many jobs to be created. The commission under Ms. Payne passed a “resolution” recently related to schools as a statement on school polices by the state. Thus, the board and Ms. Payne has acted related to jobs and education, yet both candidates seem to have skimmed over their actions in their responses.

What other actions have the candidates taken and skimmed over?  

An informed citizen is important as the role of the mayor and the commission is to work on behalf of Alamogordo’s citizens. Our role as citizens is to be informed, educated, and ensure our local governmental leadership is responsive to our local community needs. Learn, ask questions act, and get involved.

Both candidates have a very solid resume of service to the community and on the level of service and passion for the community both certainly have passion and a commitment to service.

The question we need to ask ourselves is which candidate has the temperament of collaboration and is the candidate to best represent the city of Alamogordo with the state and national leadership to help secure matching state and federal funds for public works projects, major street, and highway repairs, for business development and revitalization.

Which candidate has the stage presence, to collaborate with the powers of other regional cities, the county, state, and federal leadership and represent the bests interests in Alamogordo?

Vote, the future of Alamogordo is decided by your vote.

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AlamogordoTownNews.com Mayoral Candidate Susan Payne Responds to 26 Questions

Susan Payne candidate for Mayor of Alamogordo has politely responded to our request to answer 26 questions as compiled from polling of our readers.

The race is down to two candidates as the 3rd withdrew thus the silence in response. Early voting begins tomorrow, in a race that has had no public forums other than a few meet and greets, no published position papers and no candidate websites to see a detailed plan of what a Sikes or Payne administration would mean to the city of Alamogordo and it’s citizens.

What Alamogordo is in for, is a cat fight between Nadia Sikes and Susan Payne, in what one hopes will remain a non-partisan and polite race. Will the newcomers purchasing homes and investing into Alamogordo make a difference in this race or will the machine that some say runs Alamogordo select the candidate due to voter complacency?

The next 30 days will tell the tale.

Below are the 26 questions submitted to the candidates from AlamogordoTownNews.com and Susan Payne’s responses…

AlamogordoTownNews.com

1. Provide a brief biography of your governing and business experience.


Susan Payne Response:
 “Six years as a city commissioner, 2 years on the community development advisory board. Over 30 years of corporate and small business experience including an accountant for Mazda Motor of America Corporate Headquarters, Bramalea Corporation, United Way of Otero County and more recently for the past 12 years I have built a successful non-profit whose mission is to assist those less fortunate and take people from dependence to independence. 

I hold a BS in Criminal Justice and a Master’s in Public Administration with a concentration in Public Management. I have been recognized with several awards including the Community Hero Award given by the NM Coalition to End Domestic Violence, The “Pursuing Excellence” award given by Love INC National and the Community Service Award given by ITA International. 

Although often asked, I do not sit on allot of boards as I take it very seriously and I just don’t believe I can be effective and still balance my personal time. I also think that
because I operate a non profit it would inappropriate to focus too much energy on raising money for other non-profits although there are a couple that my husband and I personally support.”

2. AlamogordoTownNews.com – If you have held office please provide 3 pieces of legislation, ordinances, or initiatives that you personally sponsored that were focused on jobs or education. Please provide the outcomes to the legislation since passed...

Susan Payne Response: “The city does not specifically have any ordinances that would fall into either of these categories. HOWEVER I was heavily involved in reworking our LEDA ordinance which focuses on job creation. In addition, I sit on the Otero County Economic Development Board and focus allot of time on Job and business creation.”

3. AlamogordoTownNews.com What piece of legislation or ordinance have you passed that you are proudest off?

Susan Payne Response: When I was first elected to office, the police union had been working without a contract for 18 months. I’m honored to have really pushed for reasonable negotiations as part of my first few months in office and extremely proud that we were able to find resolution after all those months. Allot of what I’ve pushed for over my years on the commission is really “cleaning up” and clarifying many outdated ordinances.”

4. AlamogordoTownNews.com – Why are you running for office?

Susan Payne Response: “Before I ran for office I would spend each commission meeting literally watch commissioners argue with each other. Often the meetings would go on until midnight. I never believed that it was the way things should be done as it showed absolutely no decorum. Since my time on the commission things have changed drastically and, while we don’t always agree, we also don’t allow that to get in the way of doing what is best for our community. I believe I have allot to offer and running for Mayor will simply give me greater opportunity to do what I’ve been doing in terms of improving our city. I am passionate about economic growth and believe Alamogordo has allot of potential. I have allot of support and I can only attribute that to my work so far on the commission.”

5. AlamogordoTownNews.com – What is your vision for the office you seek?

Susan Payne Response:  “My vision is to see our city grow while still maintaining that home town feel that most citizens enjoy. The Mayor is only one vote and part of the commission as a whole. Our current Mayor was a large and visible presence before the pandemic and really helped to change the tone of city hall. I would like to continue that as I work with administration and the citizens to be a leader that our community can count on to represent our city in a positive way. Alamogordo really is the total package and as Mayor I want to ensure that the rest of the state recognizes that.”

6. AlamogordoTownNews.com -When we sit down 4 years from now what will you tell us you have accomplished while in the office you seek?

Susan Payne Response: I will demonstrate the economic growth that we will have undertaken. I will be able to show a growing work force and I will also show off the arts and cultural district that I think we all have an interest in seeing enhanced.”

7. AlamogordoTownNews.com – When is the last time you visited New York Avenue and shopped or spoke in person with the shop owners of that business district? Specifically what shops and when?

Susan Payne Response: “I am not a big shopper however I believe it was about a month or so ago. I purchased a gift certificate from Victoria’s (one of my favorite downtown stores) and spent about 45 minutes speaking with Alice and her employees. I enjoy our downtown businesses and try to shop there first as the need arises.”

8. AlamogordoTownNews.com – What do you view as the biggest opportunity and how you can assist with that opportunity for business growth in the New York Avenue business corridor?

Susan Payne Response: “I try to stay involved in Alamogordo Main Street and actually attended a meeting last week with state and local leadership of that organization. Before the pandemic, Mainstreet and the downtown merchants association were really beginning to thrive. There was the evening art walk once a month and I, along with MANY citizens was a regular attender. I see these types of events as truly the backbone of our community. It is a great way to not just help our merchants but to bring our community together.”

9. AlamogordoTownNews.com – When is the last time you attended a High School Sports program?

Susan Payne Response: “I attend them all the time. My son-in-law is a football coach (Go Tigers!) and our family loves going to support our team. In addition, my grand daughter runs track and is a varsity basketball player and we are proud and devoted grandparents. Finally, Love INC (the non profit I run) is a financial sponsor of girls basketball.”

10. AlamogordoTownNews.com – When is the last time you attended a High School Academic or Arts Program? Which event?

Susan Payne Response: “I have been a judge for several spelling bees, again, our grand daughter is a National Honor Society and Golden Scholar inductee, I attend high school graduations and have also been involved with Junior Leadership Otero. This year my grandson is involved with the Chaparral Choir so I’m sure I will be attending concerts and finally I’m a huge supporter of STEM.”

11. AlamogordoTownNews.com – What is the last event you participated in at the Flickinger Center?


Susan Payne Response: “By participating I’m going to guess you mean attended? I attend most all of the Alamogordo Music theatre productions as I really enjoy musicals of any kind. I really wanted to go to the last summer series but unfortunately due to illness I missed that one. I’m looking forward to the November production of “A funny thing happened on the way to the forum.”

12. AlamogordoTownNews.com –What have you done to support local entrepreneurship and jobs growth the last 4 years?

Susan Payne Response: “I’ve devoted my entire time in office to both. Alamogordo does not lack jobs but we do lack a workforce. One of my grandkids is actually a local entrepreneur and we are incredibly proud of how hard she has worked and how successful her business has been in such a short time. My high school grandchild is actually a baker and bakes beautiful cakes. My husband and I are looking at what we can do to assist her with a facility that perhaps she can rent space in when she is baking as she gets numerous requests for her cakes. Finally, after 27 years of working for a local business in town, my husband just retired and now is a small business owner himself.”

13. AlamogordoTownNews.com – What have you done to improve upon the blight of abandoned homes and derelict businesses in Alamogordo or Otero County in the last 4 years?

Susan Payne Response: “I would say half of the calls I receive from constituents are for code enforcement issues. This is something I take seriously as I recognize that our citizens do not want to look at unsightly properties. Having said that, I also recognize the rights of our property owners so always feel it is better to try to work with them to come to some kind of resolution. Perhaps the most notable property that the commission was finally able to demolish was the Sahara Apartments. Tinsley trailer park is finally getting cleaned up. There is a property in my district which ahs literally been a health hazard, that is finally being demolished after many years and much effort. There was a business on White Sands that I was able to get cleaned up. Many of the properties in my district we have seen drastic improvements on. I have participated in many “Keep Alamogordo Beautiful events” including painting and cleaning up balloon park.”

14. AlamogordoTownNews.com -Where do you stand on the Recall of Couy Griffin and why?


Susan Payne Response: “It would highly inappropriate and incredibly unprofessional of me to comment on this issue as Couy is a fellow county commissioner and we will continue to have many occasions where we possibly have to work together. Also, it has nothing to do with my ability to be Mayor.”

15. AlamogordoTownNews.com – Where do you stand on the exposed broken sewer line issues and amending the law so the city would be responsible from the sidewalk to the street?

Susan Payne Response: “This is an ordinance that has been enacted since the 90s. After much research I see no way to change this without doubling water and sewer rates which would cause an undue burden on our low income residence including those living in public housing. I’m open to viable suggestions.”

16. AlamogordoTownNews.com –What have you done to welcome new businesses into Alamogordo?

Susan Payne Response: “I am a member of the board of Otero County Economic Development, the chamber of commerce and I am the vice chair of Maingate United and as such I work diligently to create ways to attract new business to Alamogordo.”

17. AlamogordoTownNews.com – Name the top 5 locally owned businesses that you believe best represent the image you would like to see of Alamogordo going forward.

Susan Payne Response: “I support all of our businesses and would never pick just 5″

18. AlamogordoTownNews.com – Do you support an arts and cultural zone and diversity?

Susan Payne Response: “Absolutely. This is something Alamogordo Main Street is currently working on. I attended their latest meeting and listened to their ideas and I’m very excited to see their vision come to fruition.”

19. AlamogordoTownNews.com – What outreach have you done to build bridges of understanding and collaboration between people of color, the LBGTQ community and local government and the business community?

Susan Payne Response: “Hmmm??? I haven’t specifically done outreach in this arena however, working in the field that I do, I have many occasions to work with many diverse groups of individuals. As Mayor I will continue to work with everyone for the betterment of our community.”

20. AlamogordoTownNews.com – How are you funding your campaign?


Susan Payne Response: “My campaign is being funded by friends and supporters.”

21. AlamogordoTownNews.com – Would you support a local city and or county ordinance that requires annual reporting and transparency of finances on anyone in elected office with annual reports on campaign fundraising?


Susan Payne Response: “We already have one, so yes, I suppose, I would, since I have nothing to hide.”


22. AlamogordoTownNews.com – Would you participate in a public drop in, questions and answers and/or a public forum hosted at Roadrunner Emporium 928 New York Avenue in mid-October?

Susan Payne Response: “Possibly, if my schedule permits.”

23. AlamogordoTownNews.com – Given the job is a part time job and one of public service, would you be willing to accept the position if elected for NO pay and dedicate the public check each month to a local community organization rotating the donation monthly?

Susan Payne Response: “This question is full of presumptions. I assure you I don’t really get a paycheck for this position but I am grateful for the medical and dental insurance that my paycheck goes toward even if its not enough to cover all of it.”

24. AlamogordoTownNews.com  – Would you support moving the farmers market to New York Avenue and amending city ordinances to allow weekly events and street fairs?

Susan Payne Response: Of course. At one time it was downtown however a couple of business owners were not happy about this and because of the way the ordinance was written, the event was moved to Alameda Park. One of those business owners has since closed shop but one is still there. I am personally not opposed to bringing this back before commission and actually talked about that at the Mainstreet meeting last week.”

25. AlamogordoTownNews.com –  Would you support the growth of more bars, restaurants, galleries, and entertainment venues in Alamogordo’s New York Avenue area? What will you do personally to support growth and revitalization of the corridor?

Susan Payne Response: “I will continue to support Alamogordo Mainstreet and their efforts including the funding that they currently receive for these types of projects. Simply put, the city already has begun this process and I support efforts made to that end.”

26. AlamogordoTownNews.com –What is the one thing about Alamogordo that excites you the most?

Susan Payne Response:  “There are lots of things about our community that excite me. The multitude of events and activities. Driving around and seeing our young people playing in our parks and green spaces. Friday night football games at tiger stadium. Early morning listening to the Tiger band practice. Enjoying a meal at a local restaurant and inevitably running into several other people I know. Working with other agencies and non-profits to assist those in need. Seeing and hearing the excitement when new businesses come to town. Maintaining our small town feel while seeing economic growth. Showing our unwavering support and pride for all things military, first responder and law enforcement related. Seeing our town come together for various parades and special events.”

AlamogordoTownNews.com thanks candidate and sitting Commissioner Susan Payne for taking the time to process the questions, with well thought out and honest answers. 

Running for political office is never easy and one’s life is put under a microscope of which some wonder, is it worth it? It takes a lot of ego and self confidence to be able to withstand the scrutiny of the voting public, social media and the press. 

Any candidate for office is to be commended, for opening themselves up to this scrutiny while running for office, and years after, as the public spotlight always follows those who were once public.  

With any set of questions, responses bring more questions for specifics in details, examples of progress and a need for more information. We hope the voters engage in dialog and follow-up with both candidates and actually get out become active and vote.

We hope this race, and whoever the winner of the race is, stays committed to the principles of non-partisan behaviors, shows compassion and empathy, is timely and accepts the role as their primary focus to truly represent the broad diversity of Alamogordo with tact and diplomacy and always puts their constituents above their personal interest or agenda.

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Governor Gavin Newsom (D), Commissioner Couy Griffin (R), 2 Peas of the Same Pod – Lessons on Recalls

The Lessons on Recalls; Gavin Newsom and Couy Griffin – Similarities and Differences

Otero County Commissioner Couy Griffin Facing Recall with California Governor Gavin Newsom Surviving Recall (AlamogordoTownNews.com)

“Recall” is the mantra yelled by those not happy with the actions of politicians. Daily we hear recall the governor, recall the commissioner, recall, recall, recall. The threat of a recall can has consequences on an incumbent politician and can hamper their reputation and ability to govern or lead.

In New Mexico, the recall effort of Otero County Commissioner, Couy Griffin, the founder of Cowboys for Trump has garnered local, state, and national media attention. In California the recall effort to unseat Governor Gavin Newsom, once the most popular politician in California just ended as a $300 Million dollar debacle for the Republican party of California. The taxpayers are forced to pick up the $300 Million dollar tab for the “special election” that just concluded with Newsom overwhelmingly remaining in office.

What are lessons learned from the recall of Newsom, and are there any parallels with the soon to conclude effort to recall Commissioner Couy Griffin.

The Governor of California, Gavin Newson; represented the largest economy in America, the 5th largest in the world, the most prosperous state in wealth generation and the engine that drives the American economy via Silicon Valley; so yes, much is at risk when a governor of California failed the competency test. A former governor of California was successfully recalled, Gray Davis, leading to the rise of Arnold Schwarzenegger to the office of governor but that is because of the electric crises, and he could not keep the lights on for business thus the California economy was at risk

Couy Griffin, as County Commissioner of Otero County represents a district within Southern New Mexico that was once the home and the center of America’s space race, nuclear program and contained a school system ranked in the top 10 in the nation. His district in the 60s thru 80’s, while rural, was like California in the concentration of scientist, researchers, innovation and was a center of military industrial collaboration and commerce. Now, however, the district has transitioned to one with increasingly dilapidated buildings, a drain of a qualified and educated work force compared to its past. The district contains one of the lowest vaccination rates and some of highest high school dropout rates in Southern, New Mexico and a lot of blame against the governor and northern New Mexico for the problems plaguing the district.

Mr. Griffin has been a lightening rod of controversy from his affiliation as leader of Cowboys for Trump to missteps in rhetoric that often gets him in trouble, and his handling of campaign finances and those around Cowboys for Trump. These have been lightening rod issues which provide poor optics politically.

What does Gavin Newsom and Couy Griffin have in common that led both to battle a recall effort? Both had a significant issue with optics and understanding voter perceptions.

Mr. Newsom before a statewide lockdown was seen eating at one of the most prestigious restaurants in the US, the French Laundry, celebrating the birthday of a close friends and ally. He implemented policies that were viewed by many as harsh, over reactive, and harmful to business.

In retrospect, yes indeed he was insensitive and created very poor optics thus deserved to be called on his actions. But at a cost of $300 Million to the taxpayers? That’s not quite an example of fiscal responsibility and taxpayer sensitivity by the Republican machine.

Economics are showing that when it came down to his policies, over the longer term, the state of California has bounced back stronger than ever, with the largest budget surplus ever and an economy that is churning stronger than at any time since it was founded. Wealth creation is at an all time high and business interests embrace Mr. Newsom because he himself was a connected and prosperous business owner and operator of high-end resorts, wineries, and restaurants. He came from a history of wealth generation and job creation thus the policies he implemented impacted his business interest directly, and he also felt the pain of those decisions. His net worth when entering the governor’s mansion was estimated as at least $20 Million.

The business community never turned-on Newsom, thus the overwhelming rejection of his recall and a failure by the Republican Party of California to unseat him.

Was Katilyn Jenner and Larry Elder the best the Republican party could do to unseat Newsom? If that is the best and the brightest of California’s Republican party, then the Republican party of California certainly has some soul searching to do. Sadly, the taxpayers of California must pick up the $300 Million dollar tab of this debacle.

Back to Commissioner Griffin, he is embroiled in the final weeks of the effort to get a recall question on the ballot. So far with less than 2 weeks left in the effort it appears Griffin may very well survive the recall effort without a vote ever getting on the ballot. Signature collection is sluggish at best. There will be entertaining commentary once the signature drive is over as the real stories of behind the scenes come to light.

Like Newsom, Commissioner Griffin has a horrible problem with optics and the public perception of his behaviors. Yet, he does not seem to care.  

With the deadline of the recall fast approached he appears emboldened and as such is speaking his mind more, traveling in spectacle with his horse red and the American flag near Holloman Airforce Base this past week, and a trip to Montana in the works.  He made statements at the most recent County Commission meeting that his opponents felt were “unbecoming of a commissioner.”

Will Couy Griffin survive the recall? As of September 7th, the Committee to Recall Couy Griffin had 991 of the 1574 required. The deadline for signatures is September 28th and then assuming 1574 are valid then there would be a special election as the deadline for the November election was missed.

Will Couy prevail as Newsom did in California? Odds at this point are yes unless there is a sudden influx of valid signatures over the next 12 days.

History has proven recall elections are won and lost based on how the business community sides.

In the case of Gavin Newsom, the business community was tightly aligned with him. In Silicon Valley he received over 80% of the vote against recalling him. Even in Republican rich, Orange County, the election swayed to his favor. Business executives contributed heavy to his campaign and saw no need in a change to the status quo.

In Otero County where is the business community in relation to Commissioner Couy Griffin?

He has not proven to be an effective business leader or wealth generator. He claims to make less then $23K per year in salaries.  He has not delivered skilled employment opportunities or high paying jobs to his district through any direct demonstrated successes. He attempted to get the Forestry Service to revisit lumber laws and forest management but that fell through during Covid. His ties with the Alamogordo Chamber of Commerce, now the Center of Commerce, are one of the contributing factors that led to the recall effort. One of the 5 accusations for the recall, is that his travels to DC were not county business, and the county should not pay. To bail him out the Chamber “passed the hat,” Couy’s term. That hat passing, created a flurry of investigations with the County and Secretary of State and was a contributing factor to Couy’s issue of recall.

Alamogordo and Otero County business interest seem to be silent on the recall of Couy. No major corporate contributions have been disclosed to this point, no statements in support of the recall by the area’s largest employers, no endorsement of the recall by the Center of Commerce but equally silent is no loud voice of support. Basically the business community is absent in this fight though the County Commission controls a good deal of government leverage in interfacing with state and feds on redevelopment funding and infrastructure improvement.

 So, what does Commissioner, Couy Griffin and California Governor Gavin Newsom have in common?

Though political ideological opposites that are united in common purpose, to survive a recall.

  • Both failed to understand the public outcry that can result from poor optics or poor management of their image as political leaders.
    • What one says and does matters to the public.
  • Both were temporarily weakened by the recall efforts, but both are now feeling a new sense of embodiment toward their ideology and beliefs as the result of victory or potential victory over the recall efforts.
  • Both enriched their campaign or personal coffers because of the recall efforts and the publicity around them.
    • Newsom brought in over $70 Million into his campaign coffers and has a large chunk remaining unused.
    • Griffin going into the recall claimed he was broke, lost his wife, almost lost his C4T Pickup Truck and his horse- Red, thanks to fundraising efforts led by the controversial Ben Bergquam Frontline America with alleged ties to the Proud Boys. Via Bergquam’s fundraising efforts for Griffin, Griffin has $41,142 in a funds of the $50K fundraising goal that Bergquam created for him.
  • Both love the media spotlight.
    •  Newsom is the “pretty face” of the progressive movement and is a media darling
    • Griffin is the lightening rod cowboy for Trumpian ideology, on a horse, attending rallies around the country.
  • Both got a pass from the business community
    • Couy got a disinterested business community that for the most part is waiting out the recall effort and is staying mute in dialog and direct fundraising.
    •  Gavin Newsom got a bounce and significant funding to maintain his role from the business community.

What the recall movement has done is it has brough two politicians, opposite on almost every topic, but united in a battle to win over the prevailing winds of a recall effort.

Newsom won his effort to stay and prevailed. September 28th is D Day for the Committee to Recall Couy Griffin. Will he prevail and join the club of recall survivors with Gavin Newsom? Stay tuned…

Get past Masks, Universal Basic Income is the New Debate

While a small group of vocal locals are myopically (without thinking about anything outside your own situation) or short sightedly focused on not wearing masks or fighting against vaccines a real undercurrent of change is happening, and this vocal group needs to step back and look at the bigger world of issues that are about to it taxpayers on the horizon. This is not some esoteric idea from California but being tested not too far from here in New Mexico.

At least two New Mexico cities – Las Cruces and Santa Fe – are already considering, or moving forward with, targeted guaranteed basic income pilot projects

The economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic prompted state and federal governments to send direct payments to citizens and is now fast tracking the dialog around a Basic Universal Income that in the past was considered a fringe idea. The newest debate on the horizon could center on guaranteed basic income, a policy that provides low-income residents with regular financial payments.

The argument:

In our country today, 40% of earners make $20K or less a year. What’s even more shocking is that 40% of earners actually make less than the 1968 minimum wage.

In Portland Maine, for example, the poverty wage for 1 adult with 2 children is $9 per hour. The state’s minimum wage is $10 and the living wage is estimated to be at approximately $29 per hour. The Personal Care and Service industries in Maine, which represents a large part of unskilled employment, is at or below the poverty level at an average of $23,288 annual income for an adult with 2 children. The required annual income for this demographic is estimated to be $59,101 before taxes.

Maine is not alone. Almost every area of the United States shows that workers are earning well below what is considered a livable wage.

MIT Defines a living wage via its living wage index for New Mexico as 28.65 an hour for a single adult with a child. Their living wage calculator methodology is the hourly rate that an individual in a household must earn to support his or herself and their family. The assumption is the sole provider is working full-time (2080 hours per year). The tool provides information for individuals, and households with one or two working adults and zero to three children. In the case of households with two working adults, all values are per working adult, single or in a family unless otherwise noted.

The state minimum wage is the same for all individuals, regardless of how many dependents they may have. Data are updated annually, in the first quarter of the new year. State minimum wages are determined based on the posted value of the minimum wage as of January one of the coming year (National Conference of State Legislatures, 2019). The poverty rate reflects a person’s gross annual income. We have converted it to an hourly wage for the sake of comparison.

https://livingwage.mit.edu/states/35

An Explanation of a VESTED Economy and how everyone earns a livable wage…

In a vested economy, everyone earns a livable wage. No one is left behind. No one is underpaid. The technical explanation is that a vested economy is one in which the market surplus is distributed to the individual laborers who produce the surplus through an equitable process. Individuals become vested by successfully completing one or more requirements. For example, someone can be vested by completing an educational requirement or serving in the military. The non-technical explanation is that vested economics provides a metaphorical sponge for absorbing an economy’s excess supply of goods and services and a distribution mechanism called National Vesting for apportioning that excess back to its producers in an equitable manner. In other words, no one has to earn a poverty wage ever again.

The economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic prompted some countries to send direct payments to citizens and is now fast tracking the dialog around a Basic Universal Income that in the past was considered a fringe idea.

In an attempt to put low-income workers on more solid financial footing, New Mexico lawmakers in recent years have approved a minimum wage increase and a paid sick leave requirement, among other policies.

Several legislators said they’re planning to watch the local-level efforts play out before possibly moving forward with a statewide proposal.

Santa Fe’s guaranteed basic income pilot program that will be funded by a national advocacy group as a “stability stipend.” It will provide 100 people under age 30 who have children and are attending Santa Fe Community College with monthly payments of at least $400.

Several other cities nationwide are also moving forward with similar programs that follow on the heels of Stockton, California, which provided 125 low-income people with $500 a month for two years.

New Mexico has long struggled with high poverty rates and more than 926,000 state residents – or about 44% of the state’s total population – were enrolled in Medicaid as of May.

 While state revenue levels have been on the upswing since plummeting at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, providing just 10% of those residents with $100 monthly financial payments would cost roughly $111 million annually.
But there could be different types of funding mechanisms available if New Mexico were to pursue such a policy, as Alaska has long offered its full-time residents an annual dividend based on the investment earnings on mineral royalties. The dividend amount for 2020 was $992 per person.

The Albuquerque Journal reported:

Las Cruces City Councilor Johana Bencomo, who is leading the push for a basic income program in the southern New Mexico city, described the traditional approach to addressing poverty as “patronizing and patriarchal,” and said cash payments allow recipients to use the money as they deem fit.

“I do believe that poverty is a policy choice,” said Bencomo, who is also executive director of a nonprofit group that advocates for immigrant and worker rights.

She also cited the impact of cash assistance programs funded by federal relief dollars during the pandemic, which included one-time payments of $750 for those who didn’t qualify for a federal stimulus check.”

During the presidential run Andrew Yang the Silicon Valley Billionaire brought the topic forward as a credible discussion siting the transition of business to a technology driven economy that he believes will displace up to 24% of the population from present employment types. Times and jobs are changing and while we are myopic in our arguments on masks, vaccines and the school system approach the rest of the world is moving forward in ways that could leave Otero County in the dustbowl of poverty unless elected leaders begin recruiting tourism, cultural arts and technology industries to the area to compete. 

With a solid business base of livable wage employment, a Universal Basic Income policy is a non-starter. However in areas of poverty without employment opportunities for livable wages or where there is huge income inequity with a shrinking middle class the theory takes hold and government is forced into seeking alternatives or action.

The action voters need to demand now is that the city commissioners and county commissioners partner with the state and federal governments and do real business recruitment and put ideological social issues aside and drive business opportunity. November 2nd several commissioner seats and the mayors office will be on the ballot. 

Consider this when voting. Register and get out and participate. Let your voice be heard at the ballot box.

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New Mexico’s Couy Griffin Recall Status Update

As we reported on June 28th, 2021 the New Mexico Supreme Court cleared the way to allow the political action committee that is leading the effort to recall Commissioner Couy Griffin could go forward.

In follow-up, about two weeks since the ruling, the committee has begun circulating a petition and gathering signatures within his district to recall Cowboys for Trump founder Couy Griffin from public office as a commissioner in Otero County.

The non-partisan Committee to Recall Couy Griffin consists of an equal number of representatives of both parties with a charter to collaborate for the removal of Griffin for the greater good of the overall county. Partisan politics has been put aside to work together for what the group deems is the common good of Otero County, the district, and Southern New Mexico.

The group is not focused on his removal due to rhetoric and outlandish statements, which are in themselves unappealing and lack dignity. Though the statements are unappealing and show a level of ignorance that does not shine well upon the county for business recruitment, they are not the basis of the recall.

The committee and the Supreme Court ruling affirmed that the focus of the recall effort of Griffin was for using his elected county position for personal gain and a variety of other charges.

The committee assert in their brief before the New Mexico Supreme Court that, Griffin used his office space to solicit contributions to Cowboys for Trump that covered his personal expenses. They also are criticizing Griffin’s pursuit of travel reimbursements from taxpayers for a cross-country trip that culminated in a visit with Trump at the White House. Additional causes for recall argued were Griffin’s attendance of Otero County Commission meetings by phone rather than in person, his banishment from the Mescalero Apache Reservation along with alleged use of Otero County Commissioner offices for personal business.

Griffin has called those allegations” frivolous, baseless and politically motivated” per his many public rebuttals. Griffin says that the Cowboys for Trump is a for-profit endeavor and as such that is not subject to financial disclosure requirements for political organizations. The state of New Mexico ruled against this assertion affirming that Secretary of State may go after him and the organization for failure to comply with New Mexico political reporting laws.

Since the positive ruling signature gathering has moved forward to get the question of recall on the ballot. AlamogordoTownNews.com reached out to the Committee to Recall Couy Griffin to get their assessment of how the effort is going. We presented committee spokesperson Scott Fredrick with questions for an update…

AlamogordoTownNews.com – Do you have any updates on the recall effort?

Scott Fredrickson – “We had good traffic this weekend at the La Luz and Tularosa locations. Only 2 people came to the locations that did not support our efforts, but they were nice and with discussed our case with them.

AlamogordoTownNews.com – When and where are the next signature drives?

Scott Fredrickson – We have a meeting Monday night to discuss the next weeks efforts. The committee will be at Veterans Park in Tularosa again next Sunday, July 18th from 1 to 4 at a minimum.

AlamogordoTownNews.com – Do you anticipate meeting the deadline to get the question on the November general election ballot?

Scott Fredrickson – “We have been told that we need to have the signatures to the clerk by August 5th to have them validated in time for the recall to be in the November general election. We are going to do all we can to prevent having a special election at an additional cost to the taxpayers.”

AlamogordoTownNews.com – What is the deadline to qualify for a special election of the August deadline is missed?

Scott Fredrickson – “We have 90 days from July 1st (September 28th) petition initiation date to get them to the clerk.”

AlamogordoTownNews.com – Has Couy Griffin been in touch with your group in the last week?

Scott Fredrickson – “We have not had any contact with Couy other than one of our committee members briefly spoke with him during a break at the county commission meeting last week.”

AlamogordoTownNews.com – Has the group encountered any recent hostility?

Scott Fredrickson – “No.”

AlamogordoTownNews.com – You are now the acting spokesperson for the Committee to Recall Couy Griffin, for what reasons are you involved in this effort and what is your community and political background?

Scott Fredrickson – “I am involved in the effort because I voted for Couy and do not like how he has represented me as a commissioner. I feel he spent too much time in his Cowboys for Trump role to effectively tend to the needs of Otero County. I live in District 2 and I am active in local politics because I want what is best for the local area. I am a registered Republican and ran for the city commission in the last Alamogordo District 2 election. I retired from the US Air Force 5 years ago and stayed here because we like the area and I work for Holloman.

Mr. Fredrickson concluded, “Our committee has 5 Republicans and 5 Democrats, and we are a non-partisan organization. Our goal is to get a commissioner who will work for Otero County and not bring negative press to the local area.”

The recall initiative is moving forward. The committee is in the parks and around County Commission District 2 gathering signatures. Couy Griffin is at present attending Commission meetings but is also embroiled in multiple lawsuits that are a distraction from serving his constituents.

Today, Couy Griffin is divorced, disparaged by family, and confronts a political recall drive, a state corruption investigation, and federal charges. He is charged with knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority, according to a United States District Court criminal complaint. In Washington, prosecutors unveiled photographs of Griffin climbing a toppled fence and another barrier to access the Capitol steps.

Griffin has been rebuked by many Republicans over his racial invective. He’s also been suspended from Facebook and banished from Native American lands in his district as he contests charges of breaking into the Capitol grounds and disrupting Congress that could carry a one-year sentence. A recall effort is underway, amid a plethora of lawsuits.

The New Mexico Secretary of State says that Cowboys for Trump operated by Couy Griffin qualifies as a political committee, amid its parades on horseback and merchandise sales in support of Trump. The secretary of state’s office prevailed in a June arbitration and appeal to court decision that ordered Cowboys for Trump to register, file expenditure and contribution reports and pay a fine of $7,800.

According tp the Santa Fe New Mexican Jan 18, 2021 “New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas said he intends to see Griffin removed from his elected office. Balderas said his office is aiding the federal investigation into Griffin, 47 — who is charged with knowingly entering or remaining in a restricted building or grounds without lawful authority — while also gathering evidence for a criminal probe into Griffin’s time on the Otero County Commission.”

“We’re hopeful the federal prosecution will move rather quickly and the evidence presented there will help make the case for his removal clearer,” Balderas said Monday. “The general public should be outraged about what he’s been able to do while in office.”

The two other County Commissioners; Gerald Matherly and Vickie Marquardt — both Republicans have asked Couy Griffin to please, just resign, so they can focus on the county’s business without distractions and drama.

At a commission meeting in April the drama and debate around Griffin intensified with both Republicans making statements that he needs to leave.

Matherly was clear about his position, “We have gone through many days of drama, with our staff and my office. I’ve received threats myself because of your actions. This is office supposed to be taking care of county business, and I don’t think you should be using county property for Cowboys for Trump business and filming personal videos. Every time we have county meetings, it turns into a meeting about Couy Griffin’s personal life and has nothing to do with county business.”

Marquardt didn’t hold back either, “How many hours do you think you actually spend on county business each week? You generate hate that rains down on this county, and we have to deal with it,” she said.

Griffin said that everything he did under the auspice of Cowboys for Trump was for the good of the county. “It was to represent the conservative values of Otero County.”

Griffin continues in defiance against all odds but now it is up to the voters of District 2 to decide. 

The question each voter should ask themselves…

Is the District better off since Couy Griffin was elected to his position?

What value has he brought to the district?

Has Mr. Griffin enhanced employment opportunities, recruited new businesses personally or via commission directives? What has he done to lower the poverty rates in his district?

Is he a good spokesperson for Otero county to recruit good paying jobs, tourism and new development?

Is he devoting a majority of his time to local constituent concerns?

If not allowed on the reservation, how does he represent their interests within the county and participate in collaborative dialog?

What has he done to improve the lives for our children since being elected?

What has his done that improves the lives of seniors and the middle class in his district since being elected?

The poverty rate for Otero County is 21.2% with the high number of individuals living in poverty, located in District 2, what has he done to help solve the issue of poverty since being elected, and how much time and how many speeches has he given specific to this topic since being elected?

Are you better off now then before he was elected?

If the responses to most of the questions above are positive, then he is your commissioner. If the answers to most of the questions above, are he has not impacted the issue, has not addressed the issue or has not proposed solutions and work towards them in district and on behalf of his constituents then the citizen should sign the petition for his recall.

Those who participate make the decisions. Be informed, participate, make a difference for yourself, family, and friends and for future generations. What we do today impacts tomorrow. The future of your district and of business growth and wealth creation for you, your family and future generation may indeed be impacted by this very recall effort.

Is Couy Griffin worth the gamble for the future of District 2 and Otero County? District 2 registered voters of all parties, that is up to you to decided.



New Mexico Supreme Court Clears Way to Recall Couy Griffin

Today the New Mexico Supreme Court Ruled that the Committee to Recall Couy Griffin may proceed with the recall per the attached…

An effort to recall the founder of Cowboys for Trump from his public office as a county commissioner can move forward under an order of the New Mexico state Supreme Court.

In a written order Monday, the Supreme Court rebuffed an appeal from Otero County Commissioner Couy Griffin and upheld a lower court ruling that said voters can circulate a recall petition. A successful petition would trigger an election vote on whether Griffin can finish his four-year term in office.

Retired military veteran Paul Sanchez and other members of the Committee to Recall Couy Griffin are accusing Griffin of using his elected county position for personal gain and a variety of other charges.

They say Griffin used his office space to solicit contributions to Cowboys for Trump that covered his personal expenses. They also are criticizing Griffin’s pursuit of travel reimbursements from taxpayers for a cross-country trip that culminated in a visit with Trump at the White House.

Griffin has called those allegations frivolous, baseless and politically motivated per his many public rebuttals. Griffin says that the Cowboys for Trump is a for-profit endeavor and as such that is not subject to financial disclosure requirements for political organizations. The state of New Mexico ruled against this assertion affirming that Secretary of State may go after him and the organization for failure to comply with New Mexico political reporting laws.

The losses continue for Griffin… 

Separately, Griffin is defending himself against criminal charges in connection with the siege on the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Jan. 6.  Couy Griffin spent nearly three weeks in a Washington jail, after a judge released him and said she will trust Griffin to show up for trial in connection with the Jan. 6 siege on the U.S. Capitol.

The U.S. District Court Chief Judge Beryl Howell reversed a magistrate judge’s prior detention order that described Griffin as a flight risk. Griffin denies federal charges that he knowingly entering barricaded areas of the Capitol grounds with the intent to disrupt government as Congress considered Electoral College results even though there are photos from his own official photographer that the prosecution is basing their case on that shows otherwise.

Griffins luck continues to be bad in related to cases pending against him as witnessed by the KOB Channel 4 story showing him climbing a barricade to gain access to a restricted area of the nations capital.

The status of the initial lawsuit  regarding the recall succeeded with District Judge Arrieta in proving probable cause for all 5 allegations the committee asserted. The judge he gave the committee permission to begin collecting signatures toward having a recall election. 

However, as Commissioner Griffin exercised his right to a single appeal under the New Mexico Recall Act and appealed the case to the NM Supreme Court (NMSC), until today they were waiting for the Supreme Court to rule on Griffins appeal. 

The committee could NOT collect any signatures until the NMSC rules. 

Commissioner Griffin filed that appeal within his appropriate time limit on 18 Apr, ’21.  The Recall Act required the district court that the case was filed in to hear the case within 14 days of when the committee initially filed. 

It was actually 28 days from filing to the hearing. Then from when the judge issued the ruling in favor of the Recall Committee, Commissioner Griffin had 5 days to file an appeal. 

Commissioner Griffin actually got 11 days to file his appeal. He filed on the last day with the New Mexico Supreme Court. 

The Recall Act says that the NMSC must hear the case and rule on it “forthwith”. 

Because of the way that Judge Arrieta correctly wrote his ruling, because Commissioner Griffin did file an appeal, the committee was prohibited from even collecting signatures until today’s ruling which upheld the recall initiative. 

Paul Sanchez is the Chairman & Spokesperson for the Committee to Recall Couy Griffin

The committee information can be found on their Facebook Page at:

https://www.facebook.com/RecallCouy

They are fundraising per the committee webpage at

https://donorbox.org/committee-to-recall-couy-griffin

As it stands now it is not the courts but the voters that will decide if Griffin represents their best interests? The question for his district is the district better off now under his leadership on the commission that it was without him? What has his record been on lowering district poverty, bringing in livable wage jobs, improving education and securing state and federal money to enhance opportunities via grants and support to his district? The voters will decide!

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Alamogordo Town News History & Traditions: The History of Fathers Day Dates to Eastern Orthodox Church Traditions..

The Founding of Fathers Day;

For centuries, the Eastern Orthodox Church has appointed the second Sunday before Nativity as the Sunday of the Forefathers to commemorate the ancestors of Christ according to the flesh, starting with Adam and emphasizing the Patriarch Abraham, to whom God said,

In thy seed shall all of the nations of the earth be blessed

— Genesis 12:3, 22:18

This feast can fall between December 11 and 17. This feast includes the ancestors of the Mary, mother of Jesus and various prophets.

A customary day for the celebration of fatherhood in Catholic Europe is known to date back to at least 1508. It is usually celebrated on March 19, as the feast day of Saint Joseph, who is referred to as the fatherly Nutritor Domini (“Nourisher of the Lord”) in Catholicism and “the putative father of Jesus” in southern European tradition. This celebration was brought to the Americas by the Spanish and Portuguese. The Catholic Church actively supported the custom of a celebration of fatherhood on St. Joseph’s Day from either the last years of the 14th century or from the early 15th century, apparently on the initiative of the Franciscans.

In the Coptic Orthodox Church, the celebration of fatherhood is also observed on St Joseph’s Day, but the Copts observe this on July 20. The Coptic celebration may date back to the fifth century.

Whether to celebrate this day worldwide or not remained a debatable topic. In 1908, Grace Golden Clayton proposed the day to honor those men who had lost their lives in a mining accident in the US. Though it was not accepted then, in 1909 Sonora Smart Dodd, who along with her five brothers was raised by her father alone, after attending Mother’s Day in a church, convinced the Spokane Ministerial Association to celebrate Father’s Day worldwide.

In addition to Father’s Day, International Men’s Day is celebrated in many countries on November 19 in honor of both men and boys.

Closer to Home Fathers Day in the United States

The history of Father’s Day in the United State goes back over a century. It was first celebrated on June 19, 1910, in Washington State. However, it was over 6 decades later, 1972 before it became a nationwide holiday, 58 years after Mother’s Day became an official holiday.

The campaign to celebrate fathers in the nation did not have the same enthusiasm as that was with mothers.

On July 5, 1908, a West Virginia church sponsored the nation’s first event wholly in honors of fathers, a one-time event that included a sermon dedicated to the 362 men who had died in explosions at the Fairmont Coal Company mines in Monongah, the previous December.

 Sonora Smart Dodd, a daughter of a widower in Spokane, Washington attempted to have an official holiday which would be equivalent to Mother’s Day for male parents, was successful. She went to local churches, the YMCA, storekeepers, and officials to drum up support for the holiday. Then on June 19, 1910, Washington State celebrated the nation’s first statewide Father’s Day.

In 1972, Richard Nixon signed a proclamation making Father’s Day a federal holiday.

The idea of fatherhood changed as well. It’s not viewed as the “feminine model” with flowers, but it has become more of a day that celebrates what Dad likes to do, whether it’s going fishing or flying or go-carting! It focuses on the larger roles that dads play with their children.

Partly, this change is due to the way society has evolved. There are no longer huge armies of workers toiling away in industrial factories, while women spend hours hand stitching and handwashing the family’s clothes. The modern role of the father has changed so that mothers and fathers are partners, each taking more responsibility within family life.

Fathers are now seen as significant influences on children; we know from many studies what happens when a father figure is lacking. In a sense, today Father’s Day helps to demonstrate the importance and value of fatherhood—and the gifts beyond material goods that a father bestows on his children and family.

Today, Father’s Day is celebrated on the third Sunday of June. And Economists estimate that Americans spend more than $1 Billion each year on Father’s Day gifts. 

So to the fathers everywhere may you have a happy and blessed Fathers Day!

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Our Responsibility for the Soul of the GOP

Republican Party at a Crossroads

The struggle for the heart soul and the future of the Republican party is real and is divisive. The Republican party is at one of its most difficult crossroads since its founding. Two factions are fighting for control of the party and its future. Some question rather the party has a future based on its present trajectory given the demographic shifts taking place in the US and the radicalization of Trump loyalist that have controlled the direction of the party the last 4 years.

But four years after winning the presidency, Trump and Republicans are now on the outside looking in, having lost control of the House, the Senate, and the White House. A fight to define the future of the Republican Party is playing out among a small, but influential, group of Republicans, even as Trump remains central to the party and to its identity. He keeps trying to assert his influence, but it is waning as time passes from his presidency.

The heart and soul of the party is in conflict by the two competing sets of ideology – Trumpian ideology and true conservatism. Groups and old guard party leaders like the Bushes, Cheney’s, McCains, the Lincoln Group, George Will, and others represent the old guard conservatives. What those on the outside and within are viewing is a war for the go forward path for the party.

That infighting is a war that is very visible to the outside world, and many believe the Trumpian ideologists are winning the war. Are they?

At first peak it would appear they are as they are loud, radicalized, utilizing visuals and demonstrations in radical formats, and gaining media attention. What is being fought is a war of ideology, but the tactics are changed from ideological wars of the past.

To an outsider it would appear the old guard is fighting the war using 19th Century ideals and wanting to fight a gentleman’s war verses the Trump ideologs fighting with guerilla tactics. To an outsider is almost appears and has been compared to the American Revolution.

The old guard British fought at the beginning of the Revolutionary War, using the standard tactics of war used on the battlefields of Europe.  This called for large formations of men to be lined up three deep.  They engaged the enemy in open fields and exchanged fire.  Part of the British strategy required the use of certain battlefield weapons.  The most used weapon for a British soldier during the war was consisted of Brown Bess (75 caliber 3/4 of an inch in diameter), cannons, and bayonets.

The tactics of the British were not designed to shoot down the enemy until retreat, but to break up the organized lines so your side could then march forward, in an organized and linear fashion, and charge with the bayonet. A disorganized unit cannot stand against an organized bayonet charge.

The war for the soul of the Republican party by the old guard some would argue is a fight like the British colonial fight. They are using old school tactics and trying to fight a gentlemanly war for the ideology of the Republican party.

On the other hand, we see the Trump ideologs. They are fighting the public relations war verbally, loud and in an obnoxious and rambunctious format some would say they are fighting using guerilla war tactics.

Francis Marion, otherwise known as Swamp Fox, was a Revolutionary officer during the Revolution. He is well known today as the Father of Guerrilla Warfare for introducing and bringing guerrilla fighting tactics into the war.

 The British had a much greater advantage in terms of weapons, abilities, and numbers. Militias had no change against them with their lack of supplies and military experience. However, commander Francis Marion changed that by planning secret guerrilla attacks against the British. While the British troops had supplies, strength, and order, the American rebels compensated with their creativity and wits. Compared to large, fully armed armies, guerrilla groups are generally small packs of fighters. They are not equipped with any uniforms, weapons, or other useful resources; instead, they scavenge for whatever weapons they can find. They use the land around them for resources like food and shelter, whereas professional soldiers are provided with all these necessities.

The traditional fighting tactics of the time meant meeting the enemy in open field ready to battle. Marion and his men, however, knew they could not do this because they would not stand a chance against such well trained and equipped soldiers. Marion took a different approach and fought his enemy using stealth and secrecy. The British never expected these attacks because it went against the unwritten rules of war. Secret ambushes were not something anyone during the war could expect. For this reason, guerrillas could do a lot of damage to their enemy. And because the groups were always moving, it was exceedingly difficult for the enemy to catch them.

Some say that Donald Trump and his team are the guerrilla fighters in the war for the ideology of the Republican party. His team and his followers have become the master of disruption and manipulation. They learned to make up facts and to craft and spin a story on social media and if it is repeated loudly and enough then it becomes the storyline and assumed as factual by the masses.

From a romanticization of history and the ideals of the founding of the republic one would think at first glance that the guerilla methodology will win the war, and that the fight they are fighting, is just and noble, but broad public opinion is turning against the cause. The more silent majority is tiring of the hysteria, conspiracies, and lack of intellectual dialog.

An underestimated element, within the ideological fight for the soul, and go forward path of the Republican party is what most political scientists and polished politicians know, that is the party has within it the “silent majority.” What is the silent majority?

The headlines in the ideological fight for the party are crafted by those that scream loud, stage rallies, post crazed memes’, proclaiming extremist statements on Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms.

What is not always recognized is most of the party is made up of centrist, traditional conservatives, and independents.

During the presidential election cycle the mouthpiece of the party was the Trump ideologs.

Now, in the post Trump era that “silent majority” is becoming more and more uncomfortable with the divisive actions and speech and the nonsense of science deniers by this element as the true conservatives are working to claw their way back and save the party.

The Mitt Romney’s and Liz Cheney’s of the party are being portrayed by Trumpian ideologists as out of step with the party and out of step with the populist ideals the party represents. But are they?

The party is a party of with a history of conservative ideology. Few, of the Trump influenced leadership that now controls many of the nations’ central committees and the ideology of the party even understand the roots of the conservative movement or what true conservatism is.

Polling shows that Trump enthusiasts actually only represent fewer than 30% of register Republican voters, but their media presence makes it appear, they are the majority, versus the fact that there is a more silent responsible majority.

A history lesson on conservatism:

Conservatism is an aesthetic, cultural, social, and political philosophy, which seeks to promote and to preserve traditional social institutions. The Republican party has traditionally held the political views that favor free enterprise, private ownership, and socially traditional ideas.

At least that was until the Trump machine took the lead of the party. Now the fight that exists between the Trump ideology and true conservatism. But how did conservatism and its marriage to the Republican party begin?

In 1955, William F. Buckley, Jr., wrote that the purpose of his newly founded magazine National Review was to “stand athwart history yelling stop.” The phrase belongs to modern conservatism, which defies the dark, incoming tide of liberalism. Interestingly, only one of the conservative heroes mentioned in this essay, Edmund Burke (1729-1797), had the self-conscious idea that he was standing athwart the tides of history. That is one reason why he was the first truly modern conservative.

Burke looked at the French Revolution and realized that the tide of the times was flowing in the wrong direction. Before the Revolution, France had a brilliant culture and provided cultural leadership to the West. The Revolution inflicted such profound damage to the culture and social fabric of France that French society and culture never entirely recovered its former glory and brilliance. For those who cared about civilization and high culture, the French Revolution was a catastrophe.

Although Burke pronounced bitter anathemas on the French revolutionaries – who destroyed a culture in the name of abstract theory – he was sympathetic to the American Founding Fathers, who fought to preserve the rights of Englishmen. He used his influence as a member of parliament to promote conciliation with the American colonies.

When William F. Buckley burst onto the national scene in 1955, conservatism was a dead letter in American politics, as some would argue it is dying now, under the ideology of Trumpism trying to suppress it.

“Lots of people thought that it was outdated, anachronistic, prehistoric, foolish, not very intelligent,” Carl Bogus was once quoted on All Things Considered by host Guy Raz.

Bogus is the author of a biography, Buckley: William F. Buckley and the Rise of American Conservatism. He says that back in the 1950s and ’60s, there really was an established liberal elite in America, which controlled both political parties.

Buckley set out to change that. As a Yale graduate, he published a book called God and Man at Yale, which took the university to task for failing to promote Christianity and free market economics.

He collapsed in that book religion, economics and political ideology,” producing the mix of ideas we recognize today as conservatism: free-market capitalism, support for American military actions, libertarianism, and social conservatism.

“It was Buckley who made that coalition. He held within him all … of those beliefs. He was what today we call a neoconservative, a social conservative and a libertarian.”

Building on the prestige of his first two books, Buckley founded National Review in 1955. He staffed the journal with talented intellectuals. Buckley’s and National Review’s articulation of an intellectually coherent conservatism, as well as its sharp and often witty criticism of the eccentricities and intellectual laziness of the dominant liberalism of the era, soon earned it a large audience on the right as well as massive hostility from the left. By the end of the 1950s, National Review was easily the preeminent journalistic voice of conservatism and one not easily dismissed by liberals.

Buckley and The National Review acted as gatekeepers of conservatism, excluding those ideas and groups they considered extremist, nutty, or dangerous. Among those considered unworthy of inclusion in modern conservatism were anti-Semites, white supremacists, the extremist anti-communists of the John Birch Society, and Ayn Rand and her ideology of hyper-capitalism combined with hyper-atheism. Note each of those groups were embraced into Trumpian ideology of the modern era thus the clash of the old guard Republican Conservativism verses the Trumpian ideologs of today.

Within national Republican politics, Buckley supported the 1964 candidacy of Senator Barry Goldwater, first for the Republican Party nomination (successfully) and then in the general election for the presidency (unsuccessfully). Buckley was only mildly enthusiastic about Republican Richard Nixon, initially supporting his presidency in 1969 but breaking with it in 1971, over Nixon’s pursuit of detente with the Soviet Union and Communist China and his attempt to establish a government-funded national minimum income.  

(Note a government funded national minimum income is not a new Democratic nor Biden creation of socialism but was first introduced in concept by Republican President Richard Nixon.)

In 1973, Nixon appointed Buckley to the post of American delegate to the United Nations.

Buckley was an early backer of Ronald Reagan for the presidency, first in Reagan’s unsuccessful campaign for the Republican nomination in 1976 and then in his successful campaign for the nomination and the presidency in 1980. Buckley later wrote a book about his long friendship with Reagan: The Reagan I Knew (2008). Some view the Reagan presidency as the pinnacle of the conservative movement and that there has not been conservative leadership in this nation since and as such the Republican party has lost its way thus opening the door to Trumpian ideology due to it being a party that lost its way.

Regardless of what factions eventually take the leadership of the Republican party as it limps along to the 2022 mid-terms one this is for sure; Americans waiting for the Republican Party to return to “normal” by historical standards, waiting for “traditional” Republicans to be guided by the better angels of their nature, that party of yesterday is NOT going to happen. And if playing a waiting game to sit back watch and remain silent then that wait is going to be lengthy.

In his 2012 book “Coming Apart,” conservative sociologist Charles Murray portrays the white poor in terms he once reserved for African Americans, describing them as a socially disorganized, economically dependent, culturally deficient, and even genetically debased population. It is no coincidence that Trump’s strongest support comes from working-class Republicans who feel their whiteness no longer protects them and that is the honest root to Trumpian ideology.

What now for the GOP?

Per Joseph Lowndes, Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Oregon

“In every polarized era, one or two key problems become the lens through which all others are viewed. In this Second Gilded Age, these are perhaps the twinned issues of excessive wealth and economic abandonment. Yet unlike the leaders of past populist revolts however, Trump seems less a champion of working people than a figure who confirms their debased status. Having titled his campaign memoir Crippled America, the then candidate reveled in such terms as “disgust,” “weakness,” “losing,” and “pathetic.” And of course he was the star of a reality show whose tag line was “You’re fired.”

Trump’s followers respond less to appeals to their value as producers, which in a financialized economy seems nostalgic anyway, than to brutal rage against immigrants and Muslims, who along with establishment elites are seen as the authors of their misery.

Delegitimizing elections, authoritarianism, cult of personality, white supremacy, destroying trusted institutions, ignoring the Constitution, flouting the rule of law. That is Trumpism. That is the Republican Party at present but several do hold out hope that the silent majority has about had enough from the 30% that Trump has indoctrinated and that the middle, the true conservatives the real American Patriots that get up every day go to work, raise a diverse and respectful family that those diverse patriots of the silent majority will again rise up and say, enough is enough and reassert their base of power.

Most Americans are now decades into an era of stagnant or declining wages. A Princeton study on rising morbidity and mortality rates among non-college-educated whites is merely one indicator of the physical and psychic costs of this abandonment. Yet these white middle and working-class Americans who are getting left behind are dismissed by conservative elites and thus the divide of the Republican party that allowed the opportunity for Trumpism it exist and thrive. And thrive it does primarily in rural and poor or depressed areas. Alamogordo, Mexico peaked in the 1960s and early 70’s due to the investments and technologies in Space and missile defense. Since then, it has slipped and is just of hundreds of examples of towns that were once centers of innovation, science and technology and now are strongholds of Trumpian ideology despite its progressive history.

Time and circumstance can yet move Republicans in new directions. Demographics could shift the GOP to the wayside. Time and demographic trends favor the Democrats over the next decade. But rejuvenating the party will depend on examples of leadership, vision and a base ready to reembrace conservatism’s highest ideals. There are groups trying to mobilize those conservative ideals of a proud party that represents the big tent of George Bush Jr. and the optimism of Ronald Reagan. Groups such as the Lincoln Group, Retake Republicanism and others are fighting for the soul of a GOP to ensure that demographics and extreme ideology of Trumpism to not move it to irrelevance over the next 2 decades.

In 2016, the renowned sociologist Arlie Hochschild, whose book “Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right” documented her journey deep into conservative country, Louisiana, and said that a key to understanding the tea party and later Trump voters was that many felt “dishonored” and “disrespected” by those in power. They saw in Trump a warrior to battle on their behalf, someone who would bring a gun to a cultural knife fight.

But Trump’s most profound imprint on the Republican Party is in effect, in disposition, in temperament. Republicans, time and again, accommodated themselves to Trump’s corruptions; as a result, they became complicit in them. By the end of the Trump administration much of the Republican Party was animated by cultural and class resentments, gripped by fear and implicated in Trump’s brand of politics.

In some cases, Republicans have been led down strange and dark paths. For example, nearly 30% of Republicans believe the fantastical claims by QAnon that “Donald Trump has been secretly fighting a group of child sex traffickers that include prominent Democrats and Hollywood elites.” It is no surprise that with the help of powerful Republicans like Jim Jordan, Marjorie Taylor Greene, a far-right conspiracy theorist, was elected to the House of Representatives.

“They just legitimized a person that used tactics I would say 10 years ago, even five years ago, would have been abhorrent to the Republican Party,” Elizabeth Neumann, a former assistant secretary in the Department of Homeland Security in the Trump administration, observed. “But … they know they can’t condemn that behavior because they know the base loves it.”

The danger for the GOP is that those who hope to succeed Trump could lead the party into even more appalling places, since there are indications from focus groups that post-2020 election, a sizable group of Trump voters are more inclined to embrace conspiracy theories and they are becoming more, not less, extreme.

Importantly, there are several influential figures within the Republican Party who are determined to see the GOP move beyond Trump, and they have this argument on their side: The Republican Party at the national level has been shut out of power after a single Trump term. Today Democrats enjoy a rare double-digit lead over Republicans in party favorable ratings, and a recent Gallup poll found the largest Democratic lead in party affiliation over Republicans in nearly a decade (49% compared to 40%).

Alamogordo New Mexico and Every Depressed Community in America…

The road forward for the GOP starts with leaders and voters who show integrity, act courageously, and speak words of truth in the face of political mediocrity. Guerilla Warfare does not win political wars, it just causes dissention in the hive. Old school debate, and local activism changes the hearts and minds of neighbors with responsible dialog. It starts with us holding local political leaders accountable. Does Couy Griffin serve the best interest as a commissioner for Otero County or is there someone who has leadership, vision, and courage. Is Evette Herrell effective or will she grow into the position beyond Trumpian ideology and represent the diversity that is New Mexico? Do local commissioners have vision to build a diverse economy and expand upon local tourism and cultural opportunities within Alamogordo and Southern New Mexico? Is the Republican Party in rural America capable of embracing a solutions-based platform and lead the people or does it want to rest on its laurels and play victim? The answers to what is next for the Republican party will NOT begin in Washington, nor in a think tank in New York or at Harvard or Princeton. What is next for the Republican party begins here and now with you, me, and every concerned citizen at the local and state level and with that participation and leadership then the national party will fall in line.

The GOP was once a great party of great ideals. It still can be again, if it turns away from the ideology of white victimhood and accepts its role as a leader of a diverse multi-cultural country where every person is valued regardless of skin color, nation of origin, education level, sexual orientation and the party embraces its responsibility to plan, lead and not always do what is easy for now but what is right for future generations.

The party must turn away from the corruption of money and greed and join the effort to lead on term limits, responsible investment in infrastructure, jobs and education and turn away from social issues and yet again engage on issues of strength and fiscal power.

 As a citizen are you up to the challenge of sacrifice today to show leadership for tomorrow? Republican conservatism calls for you to place the good of those around you above your personal comfort. The greatest generation did it during WWII now can you step up to the plate? Its on you to turn away ideology of ignorance and embrace the ideology of diversity, economic prosperity, and strength.

Sources: Bill of Rights Institute, Wikipedia, The National Review Archives, The Biography of Willam F Buckley, American Conservatism, Time, People, NPR, Firing Line, Duluth Tribune, The Conversation, The Desert News, Peter Wehner Ethics and Public Policy Center, The Washington Post, The Congressional Review, The White House Archives, Retake Republicanism.

Commentary by Author, Political Activist, Business Leader and Registered Republican Chris Edwards.

Chris Edwards New Mexico Bestselling Author and Executive Coach. Fitness, Sports History, Healthy Life Balance make up our core values. We focus on physical, mental, and spiritual fitness for a healthy lifestyle. We provide tips an offer A Social Perspective, Philosophy and participate in Political Activism for societal change as a Writer, Businessman, Lover of Life Experiences, Ambassador and Proponent of the Cultural Arts, Advocate in Exploring The Best In Humanity and the Celebration of Life Experience.

Author of the Coach Robert Sepulveda Book Series and the 90 Days to a Glass Half Full Lifestyle 2 Hours Unplugged series offered at fine independent book sellers and on amazon.com.

Supreme Court Upholds ADA for a 3rd Time

The Supreme Court on Thursday tossed out a closely watched legal battle targeting the Affordable Care Act, rescuing the landmark health care law from the latest efforts by Republican-led states to dismantle it.

The court ruled 7-2 that the red states and two individuals who brought the dispute do not have the legal standing to challenge the constitutionality of the law’s individual mandate to buy health insurance and ordered the case to be dismissed.

Justices Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch dissented. Justice Stephen Breyer delivered the majority opinion for the court.

As originally enacted in 2010, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act required most Americans to obtain minimum essential health insurance coverage. The Act also imposed a monetary penalty, scaled according to in- come, upon individuals who failed to do so. In 2017, Con- gress effectively nullified the penalty by setting its amount at $0. See Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, Pub. L. 115–97, §11081, 131 Stat. 2092 (codified in 26 U. S. C. §5000A(c)).

Texas and 17 other States brought this lawsuit against the United States and federal officials. They were later joined by two individuals (Neill Hurley and John Nantz). The plaintiffs claim that without the penalty the Act’s min- imum essential coverage requirement is unconstitutional.  The court concluded they had no standing. 

To read detail of the ruling visit

https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/20pdf/19-840_6jfm.pdf

Thursday’s 7-2 ruling was the third time the court has rebuffed major GOP challenges to former President Barack Obama’s prized health care overhaul. Stingingly for Republicans, the decision emerged from a bench dominated 6-3 by conservative-leaning justices, including three appointed by President Donald Trump.

“The Affordable Care Act remains the law of the land,” President Joe Biden said, using the statute’s more formal name, after the court ruled that Texas and other GOP-led states had no right to bring their lawsuit to federal court.

At the time of printing no statement has been released by the New Mexico Republican Party concerning the ruling. 

The lawsuit, initially fashioned as Texas v. United States, was filed in February 2018 by 20 Republican state attorneys general and Republican governors. The plaintiffs wanted to revisit National Federation of Independent Businesses v. Sebelius (NFIB), where the Supreme Court, in a 5-4 vote, upheld the mandate as constitutional. In that decision from 2012, Chief Justice Roberts construed the mandate as a tax, concluding that it was valid under Congress’s authority to tax and spend.

The challenge in Texas is related. The plaintiffs argued that the individual mandate is unconstitutional after the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, in which Congress set the penalty for not purchasing “minimum essential coverage” coverage to $0. That bill was adopted in December 2017 using the budget reconciliation process after Congress repeatedly tried and failed to repeal the ACA throughout 2017. Without the penalty, the plaintiffs argued, the mandate is unconstitutional. They further argued that the mandate is so essential to the ACA that it cannot be severed from the rest of the law, meaning the entire ACA should be struck down. At a minimum, they asked the court to strike down the law’s guaranteed issue and community rating provisions alongside the mandate.

The state plaintiffs were later joined by two individual plaintiffs who live in Texas and purchased unsubsidized marketplace coverage. These individuals objected to having to comply with the mandate but intended to purchase ACA-compliant coverage in 2019, even after the penalty was set to $0, because they wanted to follow the law. The individual plaintiffs were likely added to the lawsuit to bolster the states’ weak standing argument in the lawsuit—which we now know was to no avail.

Democratic state attorneys general from (initially) 16 states and the District of Columbia—led by then-California Attorney General (and now Department of Health and Human Services Secretary) Xavier Becerra—were allowed to intervene in the case to defend the ACA. These states sought to protect their interests in billions of dollars in federal funding under the ACA, to ensure that their residents have access to health care, and to prevent chaos in their health care systems if the ACA was found to be unconstitutional.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) partially agreedwith the plaintiffs and declined to defend the constitutionality of the mandate and other key ACA provisions. This was a highly unusual position: historically, the DOJ has defended federal statutes where a reasonable argument could be made in their defense. Then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions informed Congress of the DOJ’s position that the mandate was unconstitutional and that the ACA’s provisions on guaranteed issue, community rating, preexisting condition exclusions, and discrimination based on health status were inseverable and should also be invalidated. At that point, the DOJ had drawn the line there, arguing that the rest of the ACA was severable and should remain in effect.

In December 2018, Judge O’Connor, a federal judge in the Northern District of Texas, agreed with the plaintiffs and declared the entire ACA to be invalid. He reaffirmed this decision in late December when issuing a stay and partial final judgment. Many of district court’s legal conclusions, from standing to severability, were criticized by conservative legal scholars, the Wall Street Journal editorial board, and the National Review editorial board, among others. 

The Fifth Circuit

The DOJ and Democratic attorneys general appealed Judge O’Connor’s decision to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. Democratic attorneys general from an additional four states and the U.S. House of Representatives were allowed to intervene to defend the ACA while two plaintiff states withdrew from the case. On appeal, the DOJ under then-Attorney General William Barr took the new position that the entire ACA should be declared invalid. From there, the DOJ changed its position twice more, suggesting first that the district court’s decision applied only to the plaintiff states and two individuals, and second that the court’s remedy should be limited only to the provisions that injured the individual plaintiffs.

After oral argument, the Fifth Circuit, in a 2-1 decision, partially affirmed the district court, agreeing that the mandate is now unconstitutional. However, instead of determining what this meant for the rest of the ACA’s provisions, the court remanded the case for additional analysis on the question of severability. One judge disagreed with these conclusions and filed a lengthy dissent arguing that the plaintiffs lacked standing and that, in any event, the mandate remains constitutional and severable from the rest of the ACA. She opined that there was no need to remand, especially on severability.

At The Supreme Court New Mexico Joined The Argument the ACÁ Should Stay Intact

The Democratic attorneys general and the House appealed the Fifth Circuit’s decision to the Supreme Court. They initially asked for expedited review, which was denied. However, the Court agreed to hear the appeal on a non-expedited basis and also granted a conditional cross-petition filed by Texas, which asked the Court to uphold the district court’s decision. By granting both petitions, the Court considered the full scope of legal issues in Texas—from whether the plaintiffs have standing to whether the rest of the law could be severed from the individual mandate.

During the briefing and oral argument, 18 Republican attorneys general and governors, two individuals, and the Trump administration argued against the validity of the ACA, which was defended by 21 Democratic attorneys general and the House. The 18 challenger states were Texas, Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, and West Virginia. The 21 intervenor states were California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Virginia, Vermont, and Washington. Republican attorneys general in Montana and Ohio were not parties to the case but filed an amicus briefarguing that the mandate is unconstitutional but severable from the rest of the ACA. And a bipartisan group of governors from Maryland, Maine, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin filed a separate brief arguing that the ACA should be upheld. All but four states took a formal position in the lawsuit.

Briefing was completed in mid-August, and all filings are available here. Prior posts analyzed opening briefs from California and the House; amicus briefs from nearly 40 health care and other stakeholders; opening briefs from Texas, two individuals, and the Trump administration; amicus briefs from six organizations; reply briefsfrom California and the House; and reply briefsfrom Texas and the two individuals.

Oral Argument

Oral argument was held on November 10, 2020 by the full panel of judges, including then-newly seated Justice Amy Coney Barrett whom President Trump nominated after the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. (The Texas litigation and oral argument loomed large over Justice Barrett’s confirmation process in the Senate.) All three core issues of the litigation were discussed during oral argument: whether the plaintiffs had standing to sue, the continued constitutionality (or not) of the individual mandate, and whether the rest of the ACA could be severed if the mandate is unconstitutional.

As discussed here, much of the oral argument focused on standing. Many Justices seemed troubled that the penalty-less mandate could not be enforced against the plaintiffs and that invalidation of the mandate alone would not address their alleged injuries. Many also raised concerns about the “standing through inseverability” theory advanced by the plaintiffs and DOJ. These topics were key in the Court’s ultimate decision, discussed below.

Post-Oral Argument

Following the 2020 election, the Biden administration formally changed its position in the litigation. In early February, DOJ submitted a letter to inform the Court that it had reconsidered its position and no longer adhered to the conclusions in previously filed briefs. Upon reconsideration, DOJ’s new position was that the individual mandate, even with a $0 penalty, remained constitutional: The 2017 amendment to the ACA to reduce the penalty to zero “did not convert [the mandate] from a provision affording a constitutional choice into an unconstitutional mandate to maintain insurance.” DOJ’s argument echoed the briefs filed by California and the Housebut did not address standing at all.

It is worth noting that Congress enacted the American Rescue Plan Act in March 2021. This new law expanded upon the ACA by temporarily enhancing marketplace subsidies for lower- and middle-income people through 2022. To the extent that the Court looked to subsequent congressional action, this would have showed that the current Congress believed the ACA remained sound and constitutional. 

New Mexico Health and Human Services Department estimated that over $1.7 billion in federal funding was at risk because if the Medicaid expansion went away, then that would have away too, and so underpinning all of the ACÁ is not just the coverage that people have. It’s also the money that comes into New Mexico from the Federal system.

There was also concern about people with preexisting conditions, which is a protection under the Affordable Care Act that prevents insurers from discriminating against those who have them. If it had been overturned those protections would have also gone away.

Yet serious problems remain.

Nearly 29 million Americans remained uninsured in 2019, and millions more likely lost coverage at least temporarily when the COVID-19 pandemic hit according to the Kaiser Foundation. In addition, medical costs continue to rise and even many covered by the law find their premiums and deductibles difficult to afford as inflation rises.

In response, Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package enacted in March expanded federal subsidies for health insurance premiums for those buying coverage. His infrastructure and jobs proposal being negotiated in Congress includes $200 billion toward making that permanent, instead of expiring in two years.

But his plan includes none of his more controversial campaign trail proposals to expand health care access, like creating a federally funded public health care option or letting Medicare directly negotiate drug prices with pharmaceutical companies. While those proposals are popular with Democratic voters, they face tough odds in a closely divided Congress.

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