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A Sunday morning gathering of progressing thinkers who explore, through presentations, issues that influence our daily lives and the lives of future generations. We hope these gatherings, through understanding and knowledge of the world around us, will ignite change for the common good and provide a sense of community.
Senator Peter Wirth, (D-Santa Fe-25) is a first term State Senator elected during the 2008 General Election. He spent four years as a Representative in the State House from 2004 through 2008 replacing Max Coll who retired from the seat.
Peter’s New Mexico roots go back several generations on both sides of his family. His maternal grandfather, John Gaw Meem, was one of New Mexico’s preeminent architects and first came to New Mexico in 1920 to recover from Tuberculosis. His paternal grandfather was a math teacher and camp counselor at the Los Alamos Ranch School before World War II. Peter’s late father John Wirth, a historian, took great pride in the fact that he was born in Dawson, New Mexico, now a ghost town.
When he is not working at the Legislature, Peter is a lawyer in Santa Fe.
Tax Equity for our New Mexico Businesses:
For the eighth straight year, I am sponsoring legislation to close New Mexico's corporate tax loophole. We are the last western state with a corporate tax that lets multistate companies use subsidiaries to transfer otherwise taxable money out of New Mexico and avoid paying their fair share of corporate tax. Amazingly, this different set of rules is available only for out of state companies, meaning our New Mexico businesses pay corporate tax while some of their competitors pay little or no tax. This is unfair and needs to stop.
Senate Bill 9 requires all companies that pay corporate tax to play by the same set of rules and apply the same tax rates. For multi-state corporations, it requires a "combined return" which accounts for New Mexico's share of the corporation's profit.
Click here to see the pre-filed bill.
As you will see, not only does SB 9 level the playing field for New Mexico businesses, this year's legislation lowers the corporate tax rate. By creating one set of rules, the tax base is broadened, leaving room for an across the board reduction in the corporate tax rate.
Cleaning up New Mexico's tax code continues to be a top legislative priority for me in 2012. Let's start by closing the corporate tax loophole.
Disclose Corporate Campaign Donors:
A very important "transparency" bill this year is Senate Bill 11 which requires so-called "Super PACS" to disclose the names of donors when they engage in "express advocacy" for or against a candidate. After the extremely misguided decision by the US Supreme Court in Citizens United, corporations on both sides of the political
spectrum can give unlimited money to independent expenditure committees. While states cannot cap the money coming into the political system, New Mexico can pass legislation to let the voters know the source
of this money.
A similar version of this bill passed the state Senate in 2011 and was waiting to be heard on
the floor of the state House when the session ended. The legislation has bipartisan support and was unanimously endorsed by the interim Courts, Corrections and Justice Committee. It needs a message from Governor Martinez to be considered in the 2012 session.
Here is a link to SB 11.
How you can Help:
I am often asked what constituents can do to further these efforts. Here are some ways:
1. Contact the Governor's office asking her to add Senate Bill 11 to the 2012 agenda by clicking here.
2. Join the 3600 other New Mexican's who have signed the online petition to Governor Martinez and legislators asking them to "Level the Playing Field for New Mexico Businesses" by clicking here.
Once you sign, consider forwarding the petition on to your e-mail lists.
3. Write a letter to the editor of your local paper supporting SB 9, SB 11 or both.
(click here for Santa Fe New Mexican | click here for Albuquerque Journal)
4. Attend legislative committee hearings and testify for or against bills. This year we need committee rooms full of New Mexicans and New Mexico business owners telling legislators you are tired of some corporations playing by a different set of rules. I assure you the lobbyists will be there for the special interests. Let's match them this year and make our voices heard.
I plan to "tweet" about the progress of these bills and other important issues in the 2012 session.
My Twitter account is @senatorwirth which you can access either through www.twitter.com or at my webpage www.senatorpeterwirth.com by simply clicking the blue Twitter logo under my picture.
You do not need a Twitter account to view these tweets.
Do not hesitate to e-mail if you have questions. It is a great honor to represent Senate District 25 in the New Mexico Legislature.
Senator Peter Wirth
Paid for by the Committee to Elect Peter Wirth, Lorna Calles Treasurer
708 Paseo de Peralta, Santa Fe, N.M. 87501
A conversation with KSFR Radio Host David Bacon, Executive Director of Interfaith Worker Justice of
NM Holly Beaumont, and others. Sponsored by JOURNEYSANTAFE at Travel Bug Books. 505-474-1457.
A conversation on the concerns about Education in this country and upcoming programs
that will focus on this topic in Sherry Tippet's special Education series. Sponsored by JOURNEYSANTAFE at Travel Bug Books. Come join the
conversation! Contact 474-1457 for more information.
In Conversation with KSFR Radio Host David Bacon.
The Risks at Buckman
by Mark Sardella, Jul 31, 2011
Santa Fe recently brought online a new system that takes water out of the Rio Grande to supplement it's municipal drinking water. Unfortunately the new system, called the Buckman Direct Diversion, draws water from directly beneath several canyons that regularly dump storm water laced with radionuclides and other bomb-making contaminants.
What on earth would prompt Santa Fe officials to draw municipal drinking water from below the Los Alamos National Labs – host to more than 2,000 known toxic dumpsites? You might ask them. Seriously, call these members of the Buckman Diversion Board and ask what they were thinking:
Consuelo Bokum: firstname.lastname@example.org 505-982-4342
Chris Calvert: email@example.com 505-955-6812
Danny Mayfield: firstname.lastname@example.org 505-986-6200
Rosemary Romero:email@example.com 505-690-3016
Liz Stefanics: firstname.lastname@example.org 505-986-6210
Virginia Vigil:email@example.com 505-955-2755
Rebecca Wurzburger: firstname.lastname@example.org 505-955-6815
They will tell you that they commissioned a study to look at the risk to Santa Fe residents, and (good news!) the study came back and said there was “no health risk” posed by drinking water from Buckman.
Here’s are a few things you should know about the Buckman and its risk to Santa Feans:
First, there is no such thing as “no risk.” Everything has risk, and when it comes to engineered systems, history is rife with examples of engineers under-predicting risk. I pointed this out in a letter to the Santa Fe New Mexican last November, and surprisingly I got a call the next day from an investigator from the New Mexico Board of Registration for Professional Engineers. He reminded me that when I became licensed as an engineer in New Mexico, I agreed to abide by a Code of Professional Conduct that includes reporting substandard engineering practice that might effect public safety. So I filed a formal complaint against ChemRisk – the company that did the risk analysis. The investigator, Roman Garcia, told me that no ChemRisk employees could be found on the roles of licensed engineers in New Mexico.
It’s one thing to practice engineering without a license, and it’s another to tell 100,000 users of a water system that there is no health risk from drinking water taken from beneath a nuclear waste dump.
The results of ChemRisk’s report were released in draft form in October, 2010 after Santa Fe had already spent more than $200 million on the Buckman project. ChemRisk charged $200,000 for the analysis -- about one-tenth of one percent of the project cost. Seems to me it would have been a good idea to determine the risk ahead of the project, rather than after it’s completion. But wait, there’s more!
On it’s website, ChemRisk bills itself as the “premier contractor in the U.S for characterizing former nuclear weapons complex sites.” In other words, they have carried out millions of dollars worth of work on behalf of LANL and other weapons complexes. Are they willing to jeopardize those contracts in favor of a little $200,000 contract for Santa Fe? It’s what you might call an “inherent conflict of interest”.
ChemRisk’s integrity has been questioned before. In 1997, the Wall Street Journal reported that ChemRisk “reanalyzed” data from another scientist and published a story in a scientific journal, under the original scientist’s byline, reversing his conclusion that chromium contamination in drinking water leads to an increased risk of stomach cancer. ChemRisk didn’t mention that their work was paid for by PG&E, who was working at the time on the infamous Erin Brockovich case. PG&E paid $333 million to settle the case, and the scientific journal retracted the article.
Did ChemRisk’s do anything unethical when they analyzed the Buckman data? In my opinion, they did. Buried in the report is an assumption that four of the most dangerous contaminants known to wash into the Rio Grande above Buckman are removed before anyone drinks the water. In other words, they analyzed the risk of contamination after the contaminants were removed, allowing them to state that there is “no health risk”.
Just about anyone can tell you that after you remove contaminants, there is no risk of contamination. You don’t need to spend $200,000 to find that out. But the media, and no doubt the public, didn’t pick up on this point. All that was reported, and all that was heard, was the part about “no risk”.
I haven’t carried out my own analysis of the risk of LANL contamination getting into Santa Fe’s drinking water and making people sick, but common wisdom tells me that it’s around 100 percent. My reasoning is this: If you put one bullet in a six-shooter, spin the cylinder, point the barrel at your head and pull the trigger, the odds of killing yourself are just one in six. But it is a well established fact that if you repeat the game over and over again, hour after hour, day after day, you will surely kill yourself. The Buckman system is slated to be used for many, many years, and LANL contaminants aren’t going away anytime soon.
In fact, if they get their new $6 billion weapons factory, the contamination up there will only get worse.
My complaint to the engineering board has yet to be acted upon, nearly nine months later, and as far as I know, Santa Feans are still drinking the water.
Who signed us up for this game of Russian Roulette anyway?
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