Thomas: Voters want smart urban planning

January 27, 2008

Commentary by Steve Klinger
Commentary by Steve Klinger
Commentary by Steve Klinger

Passionate conservatism?

With all the talk about how to stimulate it, recipe
you’d think that the economy is a giant clitoris. Ben Bernanke may not employ this imagery, look
but the immediate challenge–and the issue bound to replace Iraq and immigration in the presidential race–is how best to get the economy engorged and throbbing again.

–Barbara Ehrenreich (Clitoral Economics)

By Steve Klinger

You’ll forgive me if I’m skeptical about the so-called bipartisan economic stimulus package that is supposed to buy the runaway corporatism known as the U.S. economy a little more time before the excrement hits the propeller.

Really, it’s hard to take seriously an election-year plan that essentially would print $150 billion to give most middle-income families about enough cash to buy a budget big-screen TV and expect that this will perform wonders on the economy – stimulate it into a metaphoric orgasm, or at least avoiding a recession.

One would first have to ask: recession for whom, the Fortune 1000 companies currently being battered on Wall Street or the vast majority of American households that have been squeezed for years now by outsourced manufacturing jobs, an unconscionable healthcare system and the inflationary spiral of rising fuel prices? You’d never know it from the presidential candidate debates, you might not be able to use the textbook definition that requires declining GDP for two consecutive quarters, but I’d submit that an alarming number of Empire-dwellers are already in a recession – or worse. They need a lot more than a rebate check to regain health and hope.

To believe further that the proposed stimulus package would help to any extent in recovering from the subprime mortgage fiasco and housing slump that is only the tip of our collective economic iceberg is nothing short of delusional. In fact, it seems a little like a hospital in equatorial Africa handing out boxes of bandages in the midst of an Ebola or dengue hemorrhagic fever outbreak — i.e., it may delay the debacle, but only until the next shift comes on.

It isn’t necessary to be an economist to understand that Bush-administration policies (“disaster capitalism,” according to Naomi Klein) that not only exploit but increasingly engineer public trauma events to further entrench the moneyed and empowered have exacerbated the critical illness of the patient that is America.

Cut (taxes), spend (on endless wars) and deregulate (banking, utilities, media, environment), and it isn’t long before the corporatist parasites start to devour the host. Just to ease the pain, distract the victim with spectator sports, addictive gadgetry and consumer pyrotechnics and the wretch won’t know what hit him, as long as he keeps getting his various fixes. (I know I’ve digressed from Ehrenreich’s lurid imagery, but that was heading in too graphic a direction, even for this rag.)

So, bring home that big-screen TV, tune in the Super Bowl, or whatever is on by the time the rebates come through, and you won’t worry about the next family illness wiping out your meager savings or your home heading for foreclosure. Spend that $600 each on an iPhone and you’ll be too distracted to care that the trade deficit, the weakening dollar and the burgeoning national debt are lapping at the financial underpinnings of the Empire. Of course since it’s all a pyramid scheme based on endless growth, we can prop it up a while longer if you’ll rush out and spend your rebate while we throw the business sector a few incentives.

In our quick-fix society, all that’s needed is the illusion of prosperity to keep the bears at bay on Wall Street. No need to tackle anything more fundamental, like the cultural model legitimizing perpetual debt as a way of life, or the relentless pillage of the planet. And no obligation to lend a hand to the poor, the unemployed or retirees on Social Security: If they don’t pay taxes they don’t deserve a rebate, and they can’t afford to spend it anyway.

That the Democrats, who hold all the cards, would go along with this pitiful and inequitable band-aid solution just shows how co-opted they are by the corporatism that drives our political system as well as our economy.

In a while it won’t matter, because as soon as we run out of new frontiers for growth and exploitation, the shoeboxes of money needed to buy the big-screen by then won’t power it up anyway, and we’ll have to go back to stimulating each other instead of the economy. By then it will be too late for passionate conservatism, or any other kind.


Commentary by Steve Klinger
Commentary by Steve Klinger

Passionate conservatism?

With all the talk about how to stimulate it, recipe
you’d think that the economy is a giant clitoris. Ben Bernanke may not employ this imagery, look
but the immediate challenge–and the issue bound to replace Iraq and immigration in the presidential race–is how best to get the economy engorged and throbbing again.

–Barbara Ehrenreich (Clitoral Economics)

By Steve Klinger

You’ll forgive me if I’m skeptical about the so-called bipartisan economic stimulus package that is supposed to buy the runaway corporatism known as the U.S. economy a little more time before the excrement hits the propeller.

Really, it’s hard to take seriously an election-year plan that essentially would print $150 billion to give most middle-income families about enough cash to buy a budget big-screen TV and expect that this will perform wonders on the economy – stimulate it into a metaphoric orgasm, or at least avoiding a recession.

One would first have to ask: recession for whom, the Fortune 1000 companies currently being battered on Wall Street or the vast majority of American households that have been squeezed for years now by outsourced manufacturing jobs, an unconscionable healthcare system and the inflationary spiral of rising fuel prices? You’d never know it from the presidential candidate debates, you might not be able to use the textbook definition that requires declining GDP for two consecutive quarters, but I’d submit that an alarming number of Empire-dwellers are already in a recession – or worse. They need a lot more than a rebate check to regain health and hope.

To believe further that the proposed stimulus package would help to any extent in recovering from the subprime mortgage fiasco and housing slump that is only the tip of our collective economic iceberg is nothing short of delusional. In fact, it seems a little like a hospital in equatorial Africa handing out boxes of bandages in the midst of an Ebola or dengue hemorrhagic fever outbreak — i.e., it may delay the debacle, but only until the next shift comes on.

It isn’t necessary to be an economist to understand that Bush-administration policies (“disaster capitalism,” according to Naomi Klein) that not only exploit but increasingly engineer public trauma events to further entrench the moneyed and empowered have exacerbated the critical illness of the patient that is America.

Cut (taxes), spend (on endless wars) and deregulate (banking, utilities, media, environment), and it isn’t long before the corporatist parasites start to devour the host. Just to ease the pain, distract the victim with spectator sports, addictive gadgetry and consumer pyrotechnics and the wretch won’t know what hit him, as long as he keeps getting his various fixes. (I know I’ve digressed from Ehrenreich’s lurid imagery, but that was heading in too graphic a direction, even for this rag.)

So, bring home that big-screen TV, tune in the Super Bowl, or whatever is on by the time the rebates come through, and you won’t worry about the next family illness wiping out your meager savings or your home heading for foreclosure. Spend that $600 each on an iPhone and you’ll be too distracted to care that the trade deficit, the weakening dollar and the burgeoning national debt are lapping at the financial underpinnings of the Empire. Of course since it’s all a pyramid scheme based on endless growth, we can prop it up a while longer if you’ll rush out and spend your rebate while we throw the business sector a few incentives.

In our quick-fix society, all that’s needed is the illusion of prosperity to keep the bears at bay on Wall Street. No need to tackle anything more fundamental, like the cultural model legitimizing perpetual debt as a way of life, or the relentless pillage of the planet. And no obligation to lend a hand to the poor, the unemployed or retirees on Social Security: If they don’t pay taxes they don’t deserve a rebate, and they can’t afford to spend it anyway.

That the Democrats, who hold all the cards, would go along with this pitiful and inequitable band-aid solution just shows how co-opted they are by the corporatism that drives our political system as well as our economy.

In a while it won’t matter, because as soon as we run out of new frontiers for growth and exploitation, the shoeboxes of money needed to buy the big-screen by then won’t power it up anyway, and we’ll have to go back to stimulating each other instead of the economy. By then it will be too late for passionate conservatism, or any other kind.


O SOLAR PIONEERS! (Living Off the Grid—almost)

By Anna Moya Underwood

Direct passive solar heating should be easy. Passive solar (without wires or electricity) is different from active solar, salve which is all about electricity. Many old Mediterranean cultures used direct passive solar heating. The ancient homebuilder’s first hot discovery was to orient his or her small home to the south, online and then to build or carve out a door or other opening to allow the southern sun in. The next discovery was that if one used some form of masonry — stone, adobe, bricks, pounded earth — as walls and floors, the masonry would hold and then release the latent heat of the sun during the night. Even south-facing caves must have been the most desirable! The third ancient idea was to shutter the door or window, or roll a stone in front of the cave opening at night to hold the captured heat inside. These ways of building passed from generation to generation and culture to culture because they worked.

Unfortunately, when we built our modern solar adobe 11 years ago, we made some serious errors in implementing the centuries-old direct passive solar heating. Following is a list of what not to do if you’re thinking about bringing the sun’s winter warmth inside your home to save fossil fuels, whether retro-fitting the home you have, or building new. Fortunately, our sunny New Mexico climate is perfect for keeping yourself warm without burning much gas, oil, or wood in the winter — if you do it right. Often doing it right, and lacking a culture that preserves old ways, demands research and expert advice.

1. While we did correctly orient our home precisely to the south, letting the long axis lie to the east and west, our south windows are too few in number for the size of the house that we’re trying to heat. Our house is 46 x 50, about 2000 square feet interior living space, excluding the thick adobe walls. The actual glazing (windows) square footage for direct solar gain should be, I now know, 7 or 8 percent of the functional floor space. The square footage of our windows is actually 57.5; they should total 70 or 80 square feet to heat even the south half (1000 sq. ft.) of the house. This area is ideally an open room; we do have a kitchen, dining, hobby, and living room without walls. So what happened? The windows were expensive, we thought we could safely reduce their size and cost; the design person I checked with was misinformed.

2. Two of the large windows on the south wall have an “e-film” within them that blocks the sun’s heat. This e-film and windows with it are popular in the South and Southwest because of the intense summer sun, and they are meant to keep houses cooler in the summer. My window salesman, who knew we were building a passive solar, did not understand that they would also keep houses cooler in the winter. For some reason I did not think it through either. It was only when I walked barefoot the first winter where the sunlight fell through the windows on the brick floor that I understood. The floor was warm near the second-hand French doors made with clear glass, and cool in front of the new, e-film windows. Luckily the four old French doors do transmit lots of sunlight and heat.

3. Our dark red brick floor is supposed to be our “heat tank,” one of the mass areas in the home that stores the sun’s energy. But because I am a romantic purist, eager to be living on tierra madre herself, the bricks are not on a concrete slab. My husband pleased me and put the bricks directly on “soil cement,” a magical mixture of soil, water, and powdered cement, tamped down with a compactor. However, without insulation, some of the heat absorbed by bricks goes right into the soil beneath them. A better plan would have been to use a concrete slab under the bricks with rigid styrofoam, gravel, lava rock, or other insulation beneath the slab. Indeed, a dark-painted and waxed concrete slab, with insulation beneath, makes a great heat tank for the sunlight coming through unimpeded windows of the right dimensions!

Even though our flawed direct passive solar heating is only partly effective, it still heats most of the south part of the house on sunny days. Still, we often need a back-up heat source, like a wood stove or other heater at night, when it is really cold. Heavy or insulated curtains over double or single glazed windows will help keep in the heat gained during the day. Triple-glazed windows will also profit from curtains, though not so dramatically.

Another consideration is body comfort. My husband is cold-natured, and at our average sunny indoor south-side temperature of 64 to 68, he is shivering, unless he is sitting right where the sun falls. Long johns under jeans, a sweater and/or a wool shirt keep me comfortable in that range. Everyone’s needs, especially those of children and seniors, are different.

Don’t forget to plan for the hot summers. You’ll need an overhang over your south wall to shade the less welcome summer sun. It passes higher in the sky than during the winter, and you can easily block it if you plan ahead.

If you want to retrofit an existing home with some solar heat, remember there are other ways besides direct solar gain. If your south wall does not have a window, designers can show you surprising ways to create “windows” to get southern sun in your house. Read books, get on the search engines, talk to and e-mail as many people in the field of passive solar energy as you can. The more questions you ask, the more time you spend in research, the fewer costly mistakes you’ll make.



Commentary by Steve Klinger
Commentary by Steve Klinger

Passionate conservatism?

With all the talk about how to stimulate it, recipe
you’d think that the economy is a giant clitoris. Ben Bernanke may not employ this imagery, look
but the immediate challenge–and the issue bound to replace Iraq and immigration in the presidential race–is how best to get the economy engorged and throbbing again.

–Barbara Ehrenreich (Clitoral Economics)

By Steve Klinger

You’ll forgive me if I’m skeptical about the so-called bipartisan economic stimulus package that is supposed to buy the runaway corporatism known as the U.S. economy a little more time before the excrement hits the propeller.

Really, it’s hard to take seriously an election-year plan that essentially would print $150 billion to give most middle-income families about enough cash to buy a budget big-screen TV and expect that this will perform wonders on the economy – stimulate it into a metaphoric orgasm, or at least avoiding a recession.

One would first have to ask: recession for whom, the Fortune 1000 companies currently being battered on Wall Street or the vast majority of American households that have been squeezed for years now by outsourced manufacturing jobs, an unconscionable healthcare system and the inflationary spiral of rising fuel prices? You’d never know it from the presidential candidate debates, you might not be able to use the textbook definition that requires declining GDP for two consecutive quarters, but I’d submit that an alarming number of Empire-dwellers are already in a recession – or worse. They need a lot more than a rebate check to regain health and hope.

To believe further that the proposed stimulus package would help to any extent in recovering from the subprime mortgage fiasco and housing slump that is only the tip of our collective economic iceberg is nothing short of delusional. In fact, it seems a little like a hospital in equatorial Africa handing out boxes of bandages in the midst of an Ebola or dengue hemorrhagic fever outbreak — i.e., it may delay the debacle, but only until the next shift comes on.

It isn’t necessary to be an economist to understand that Bush-administration policies (“disaster capitalism,” according to Naomi Klein) that not only exploit but increasingly engineer public trauma events to further entrench the moneyed and empowered have exacerbated the critical illness of the patient that is America.

Cut (taxes), spend (on endless wars) and deregulate (banking, utilities, media, environment), and it isn’t long before the corporatist parasites start to devour the host. Just to ease the pain, distract the victim with spectator sports, addictive gadgetry and consumer pyrotechnics and the wretch won’t know what hit him, as long as he keeps getting his various fixes. (I know I’ve digressed from Ehrenreich’s lurid imagery, but that was heading in too graphic a direction, even for this rag.)

So, bring home that big-screen TV, tune in the Super Bowl, or whatever is on by the time the rebates come through, and you won’t worry about the next family illness wiping out your meager savings or your home heading for foreclosure. Spend that $600 each on an iPhone and you’ll be too distracted to care that the trade deficit, the weakening dollar and the burgeoning national debt are lapping at the financial underpinnings of the Empire. Of course since it’s all a pyramid scheme based on endless growth, we can prop it up a while longer if you’ll rush out and spend your rebate while we throw the business sector a few incentives.

In our quick-fix society, all that’s needed is the illusion of prosperity to keep the bears at bay on Wall Street. No need to tackle anything more fundamental, like the cultural model legitimizing perpetual debt as a way of life, or the relentless pillage of the planet. And no obligation to lend a hand to the poor, the unemployed or retirees on Social Security: If they don’t pay taxes they don’t deserve a rebate, and they can’t afford to spend it anyway.

That the Democrats, who hold all the cards, would go along with this pitiful and inequitable band-aid solution just shows how co-opted they are by the corporatism that drives our political system as well as our economy.

In a while it won’t matter, because as soon as we run out of new frontiers for growth and exploitation, the shoeboxes of money needed to buy the big-screen by then won’t power it up anyway, and we’ll have to go back to stimulating each other instead of the economy. By then it will be too late for passionate conservatism, or any other kind.


O SOLAR PIONEERS! (Living Off the Grid—almost)

By Anna Moya Underwood

Direct passive solar heating should be easy. Passive solar (without wires or electricity) is different from active solar, salve which is all about electricity. Many old Mediterranean cultures used direct passive solar heating. The ancient homebuilder’s first hot discovery was to orient his or her small home to the south, online and then to build or carve out a door or other opening to allow the southern sun in. The next discovery was that if one used some form of masonry — stone, adobe, bricks, pounded earth — as walls and floors, the masonry would hold and then release the latent heat of the sun during the night. Even south-facing caves must have been the most desirable! The third ancient idea was to shutter the door or window, or roll a stone in front of the cave opening at night to hold the captured heat inside. These ways of building passed from generation to generation and culture to culture because they worked.

Unfortunately, when we built our modern solar adobe 11 years ago, we made some serious errors in implementing the centuries-old direct passive solar heating. Following is a list of what not to do if you’re thinking about bringing the sun’s winter warmth inside your home to save fossil fuels, whether retro-fitting the home you have, or building new. Fortunately, our sunny New Mexico climate is perfect for keeping yourself warm without burning much gas, oil, or wood in the winter — if you do it right. Often doing it right, and lacking a culture that preserves old ways, demands research and expert advice.

1. While we did correctly orient our home precisely to the south, letting the long axis lie to the east and west, our south windows are too few in number for the size of the house that we’re trying to heat. Our house is 46 x 50, about 2000 square feet interior living space, excluding the thick adobe walls. The actual glazing (windows) square footage for direct solar gain should be, I now know, 7 or 8 percent of the functional floor space. The square footage of our windows is actually 57.5; they should total 70 or 80 square feet to heat even the south half (1000 sq. ft.) of the house. This area is ideally an open room; we do have a kitchen, dining, hobby, and living room without walls. So what happened? The windows were expensive, we thought we could safely reduce their size and cost; the design person I checked with was misinformed.

2. Two of the large windows on the south wall have an “e-film” within them that blocks the sun’s heat. This e-film and windows with it are popular in the South and Southwest because of the intense summer sun, and they are meant to keep houses cooler in the summer. My window salesman, who knew we were building a passive solar, did not understand that they would also keep houses cooler in the winter. For some reason I did not think it through either. It was only when I walked barefoot the first winter where the sunlight fell through the windows on the brick floor that I understood. The floor was warm near the second-hand French doors made with clear glass, and cool in front of the new, e-film windows. Luckily the four old French doors do transmit lots of sunlight and heat.

3. Our dark red brick floor is supposed to be our “heat tank,” one of the mass areas in the home that stores the sun’s energy. But because I am a romantic purist, eager to be living on tierra madre herself, the bricks are not on a concrete slab. My husband pleased me and put the bricks directly on “soil cement,” a magical mixture of soil, water, and powdered cement, tamped down with a compactor. However, without insulation, some of the heat absorbed by bricks goes right into the soil beneath them. A better plan would have been to use a concrete slab under the bricks with rigid styrofoam, gravel, lava rock, or other insulation beneath the slab. Indeed, a dark-painted and waxed concrete slab, with insulation beneath, makes a great heat tank for the sunlight coming through unimpeded windows of the right dimensions!

Even though our flawed direct passive solar heating is only partly effective, it still heats most of the south part of the house on sunny days. Still, we often need a back-up heat source, like a wood stove or other heater at night, when it is really cold. Heavy or insulated curtains over double or single glazed windows will help keep in the heat gained during the day. Triple-glazed windows will also profit from curtains, though not so dramatically.

Another consideration is body comfort. My husband is cold-natured, and at our average sunny indoor south-side temperature of 64 to 68, he is shivering, unless he is sitting right where the sun falls. Long johns under jeans, a sweater and/or a wool shirt keep me comfortable in that range. Everyone’s needs, especially those of children and seniors, are different.

Don’t forget to plan for the hot summers. You’ll need an overhang over your south wall to shade the less welcome summer sun. It passes higher in the sky than during the winter, and you can easily block it if you plan ahead.

If you want to retrofit an existing home with some solar heat, remember there are other ways besides direct solar gain. If your south wall does not have a window, designers can show you surprising ways to create “windows” to get southern sun in your house. Read books, get on the search engines, talk to and e-mail as many people in the field of passive solar energy as you can. The more questions you ask, the more time you spend in research, the fewer costly mistakes you’ll make.



O SOLAR PIONEERS! (Living Off the Grid—almost)

By Anna Moya Underwood

Direct passive solar heating should be easy. Passive solar (without wires or electricity) is different from active solar, salve which is all about electricity. Many old Mediterranean cultures used direct passive solar heating. The ancient homebuilder’s first hot discovery was to orient his or her small home to the south, online and then to build or carve out a door or other opening to allow the southern sun in. The next discovery was that if one used some form of masonry — stone, adobe, bricks, pounded earth — as walls and floors, the masonry would hold and then release the latent heat of the sun during the night. Even south-facing caves must have been the most desirable! The third ancient idea was to shutter the door or window, or roll a stone in front of the cave opening at night to hold the captured heat inside. These ways of building passed from generation to generation and culture to culture because they worked.

Unfortunately, when we built our modern solar adobe 11 years ago, we made some serious errors in implementing the centuries-old direct passive solar heating. Following is a list of what not to do if you’re thinking about bringing the sun’s winter warmth inside your home to save fossil fuels, whether retro-fitting the home you have, or building new. Fortunately, our sunny New Mexico climate is perfect for keeping yourself warm without burning much gas, oil, or wood in the winter — if you do it right. Often doing it right, and lacking a culture that preserves old ways, demands research and expert advice.

1. While we did correctly orient our home precisely to the south, letting the long axis lie to the east and west, our south windows are too few in number for the size of the house that we’re trying to heat. Our house is 46 x 50, about 2000 square feet interior living space, excluding the thick adobe walls. The actual glazing (windows) square footage for direct solar gain should be, I now know, 7 or 8 percent of the functional floor space. The square footage of our windows is actually 57.5; they should total 70 or 80 square feet to heat even the south half (1000 sq. ft.) of the house. This area is ideally an open room; we do have a kitchen, dining, hobby, and living room without walls. So what happened? The windows were expensive, we thought we could safely reduce their size and cost; the design person I checked with was misinformed.

2. Two of the large windows on the south wall have an “e-film” within them that blocks the sun’s heat. This e-film and windows with it are popular in the South and Southwest because of the intense summer sun, and they are meant to keep houses cooler in the summer. My window salesman, who knew we were building a passive solar, did not understand that they would also keep houses cooler in the winter. For some reason I did not think it through either. It was only when I walked barefoot the first winter where the sunlight fell through the windows on the brick floor that I understood. The floor was warm near the second-hand French doors made with clear glass, and cool in front of the new, e-film windows. Luckily the four old French doors do transmit lots of sunlight and heat.

3. Our dark red brick floor is supposed to be our “heat tank,” one of the mass areas in the home that stores the sun’s energy. But because I am a romantic purist, eager to be living on tierra madre herself, the bricks are not on a concrete slab. My husband pleased me and put the bricks directly on “soil cement,” a magical mixture of soil, water, and powdered cement, tamped down with a compactor. However, without insulation, some of the heat absorbed by bricks goes right into the soil beneath them. A better plan would have been to use a concrete slab under the bricks with rigid styrofoam, gravel, lava rock, or other insulation beneath the slab. Indeed, a dark-painted and waxed concrete slab, with insulation beneath, makes a great heat tank for the sunlight coming through unimpeded windows of the right dimensions!

Even though our flawed direct passive solar heating is only partly effective, it still heats most of the south part of the house on sunny days. Still, we often need a back-up heat source, like a wood stove or other heater at night, when it is really cold. Heavy or insulated curtains over double or single glazed windows will help keep in the heat gained during the day. Triple-glazed windows will also profit from curtains, though not so dramatically.

Another consideration is body comfort. My husband is cold-natured, and at our average sunny indoor south-side temperature of 64 to 68, he is shivering, unless he is sitting right where the sun falls. Long johns under jeans, a sweater and/or a wool shirt keep me comfortable in that range. Everyone’s needs, especially those of children and seniors, are different.

Don’t forget to plan for the hot summers. You’ll need an overhang over your south wall to shade the less welcome summer sun. It passes higher in the sky than during the winter, and you can easily block it if you plan ahead.

If you want to retrofit an existing home with some solar heat, remember there are other ways besides direct solar gain. If your south wall does not have a window, designers can show you surprising ways to create “windows” to get southern sun in your house. Read books, get on the search engines, talk to and e-mail as many people in the field of passive solar energy as you can. The more questions you ask, the more time you spend in research, the fewer costly mistakes you’ll make.



 

destroyed home

By Neil Harvey

The threat of violent eviction continues to hang over Lomas del Poleo in Ciudad Juárez. A second forum on the land dispute in this poor neighborhood of western Juárez was again frustrated last Dec. 1. Events since then have only escalated the climate of fear that residents must live with every day. This area is located in the middle of proposed new border development plans that include the creation of a bi-national city on the New Mexico border at Santa Teresa and San Jerónimo, geriatrician
and the construction of a new port of entry at Sunland Park and Anapra.

Although supporters of these plans argue that the new investment will boost trade and employment, they are not considering the negative impacts on people who will be displaced as a result. The most urgent case is Lomas del Poleo, where the powerful Zaragosa family is claiming legal ownership against residents who have lived on the same land for over 30 years. The Mexican agrarian court has still to pass a final ruling, but in the meantime the pressure on residents to leave has intensified. Support for the residents has come from community groups on both sides of the border, as local people begin to see the connections between development plans as well as to protest the use of force. (The history of this dispute was described in a previous article in Grassroots Press, Nov.-Dec. 2007, including the claims by Lomas residents that Zaragosas’ guards are responsible for the demolition of more than 40 homes and the deaths of two men and two children during the past four years.)

At the second forum in Lomas del Poleo on Dec. 1, participants were prevented by armed gang members from getting close to the area where the forum was scheduled. About 60 young men, some with dogs and baseball bats, blocked the road leading in to Lomas del Poleo. The forum convened on the same road, and several participants began with the reading of poetry amid the shouts of the Zaragosa guards a few feet away. The organizers asked the municipal police to remove the blockade of the road, but the officer claimed that he had to wait for his boss to give orders and that he was not in the area. The police never opened up the roadway and the forum reconvened at a safer distance, where community members denounced the situation of hostility and denial of free transit.

Although the forum failed to meet in the way supporters had hoped, the experience was important in that it gave further impetus to the cross-border organizing that had begun earlier in the fall. For example, an initial meeting of activists from southern New Mexico, El Paso and Ciudad Juárez was held in Las Cruces in mid-December. In New Mexico, concern over the creation of new Tax Increment Development District (TIDD) in Santa Teresa was sparked by the potential diversion of tax revenues in Doña Ana County to fund a private development plan of the Verde Realty group. Verde is the same group that is proposing to redevelop the historic Segundo Barrio district of El Paso, a plan opposed by many residents who fear loss of their homes to big box retail outlets and expensive apartment complexes.

Verde’s goal of establishing two industrial parks and a residential area at Santa Teresa are part of a regional plan that includes development of the San Jerónimo area across from Santa Teresa. The owner of the land in San Jerónimo, Eloy Vallina, also sits on the board of Verde Group. These bi-national alliances are supported by politicians on both sides, but they ignore the displacement of people in Lomas del Poleo and Segundo Barrio, as well as the potential drain on resources for communities in southern New Mexico, where the needs of low-income colonias should remain a high priority.

The most urgent problem continues to be the threats against residents in Lomas del Poleo. On Jan. 4, guards working for the Zaragosas were accused by residents of stealing cable and fencing wire from their homes. When one woman protested she was struck with tree branches from the back of a truck, residents said. When the police arrived, they took her husband in for questioning. He was later released, but the situation remains tense with fear of further attacks in the near future.

In response, a bi-national protest was held on Jan. 14, with participants holding up

the letters that spelled out the name of Lomas de Poleo at the Mexican consulate in El Paso and the name of Segundo Barrio at the U.S. Consulate in Ciudad Juárez. Informational flyers were also distributed and formal letters of protest were submitted at each consulate.

Although the crisis in Lomas del Poleo has not subsided, the recent forums and protests have brought a new level of attention and awareness of not only the land dispute in Juárez, but also the connections to regional development of the U.S. – Mexico border. Future meetings are scheduled for Feb. 13, 6-8 p.m. at the Autonomous University of Ciudad Juárez, and for Feb. 19, 6-8 p.m. at the El Paso Community College. In Las Cruces, a group of concerned citizens is also planning a public forum tentatively called “Rethinking Progress: Community Perspectives on Border Development,” to be held in late April. Further information, updates and recent, excellent articles by Debbie Nathan and Pulitzer-prize winner Eileen Welsome can be found at the website of the Paso del Sur group at www.pasodelsur.com

Neil Harvey is director of the Center for Latin American and Border Studies, New Mexico State University. He can be reached at nharvey@nmsu.edu

 


Commentary by Steve Klinger
Commentary by Steve Klinger

Passionate conservatism?

With all the talk about how to stimulate it, recipe
you’d think that the economy is a giant clitoris. Ben Bernanke may not employ this imagery, look
but the immediate challenge–and the issue bound to replace Iraq and immigration in the presidential race–is how best to get the economy engorged and throbbing again.

–Barbara Ehrenreich (Clitoral Economics)

By Steve Klinger

You’ll forgive me if I’m skeptical about the so-called bipartisan economic stimulus package that is supposed to buy the runaway corporatism known as the U.S. economy a little more time before the excrement hits the propeller.

Really, it’s hard to take seriously an election-year plan that essentially would print $150 billion to give most middle-income families about enough cash to buy a budget big-screen TV and expect that this will perform wonders on the economy – stimulate it into a metaphoric orgasm, or at least avoiding a recession.

One would first have to ask: recession for whom, the Fortune 1000 companies currently being battered on Wall Street or the vast majority of American households that have been squeezed for years now by outsourced manufacturing jobs, an unconscionable healthcare system and the inflationary spiral of rising fuel prices? You’d never know it from the presidential candidate debates, you might not be able to use the textbook definition that requires declining GDP for two consecutive quarters, but I’d submit that an alarming number of Empire-dwellers are already in a recession – or worse. They need a lot more than a rebate check to regain health and hope.

To believe further that the proposed stimulus package would help to any extent in recovering from the subprime mortgage fiasco and housing slump that is only the tip of our collective economic iceberg is nothing short of delusional. In fact, it seems a little like a hospital in equatorial Africa handing out boxes of bandages in the midst of an Ebola or dengue hemorrhagic fever outbreak — i.e., it may delay the debacle, but only until the next shift comes on.

It isn’t necessary to be an economist to understand that Bush-administration policies (“disaster capitalism,” according to Naomi Klein) that not only exploit but increasingly engineer public trauma events to further entrench the moneyed and empowered have exacerbated the critical illness of the patient that is America.

Cut (taxes), spend (on endless wars) and deregulate (banking, utilities, media, environment), and it isn’t long before the corporatist parasites start to devour the host. Just to ease the pain, distract the victim with spectator sports, addictive gadgetry and consumer pyrotechnics and the wretch won’t know what hit him, as long as he keeps getting his various fixes. (I know I’ve digressed from Ehrenreich’s lurid imagery, but that was heading in too graphic a direction, even for this rag.)

So, bring home that big-screen TV, tune in the Super Bowl, or whatever is on by the time the rebates come through, and you won’t worry about the next family illness wiping out your meager savings or your home heading for foreclosure. Spend that $600 each on an iPhone and you’ll be too distracted to care that the trade deficit, the weakening dollar and the burgeoning national debt are lapping at the financial underpinnings of the Empire. Of course since it’s all a pyramid scheme based on endless growth, we can prop it up a while longer if you’ll rush out and spend your rebate while we throw the business sector a few incentives.

In our quick-fix society, all that’s needed is the illusion of prosperity to keep the bears at bay on Wall Street. No need to tackle anything more fundamental, like the cultural model legitimizing perpetual debt as a way of life, or the relentless pillage of the planet. And no obligation to lend a hand to the poor, the unemployed or retirees on Social Security: If they don’t pay taxes they don’t deserve a rebate, and they can’t afford to spend it anyway.

That the Democrats, who hold all the cards, would go along with this pitiful and inequitable band-aid solution just shows how co-opted they are by the corporatism that drives our political system as well as our economy.

In a while it won’t matter, because as soon as we run out of new frontiers for growth and exploitation, the shoeboxes of money needed to buy the big-screen by then won’t power it up anyway, and we’ll have to go back to stimulating each other instead of the economy. By then it will be too late for passionate conservatism, or any other kind.


O SOLAR PIONEERS! (Living Off the Grid—almost)

By Anna Moya Underwood

Direct passive solar heating should be easy. Passive solar (without wires or electricity) is different from active solar, salve which is all about electricity. Many old Mediterranean cultures used direct passive solar heating. The ancient homebuilder’s first hot discovery was to orient his or her small home to the south, online and then to build or carve out a door or other opening to allow the southern sun in. The next discovery was that if one used some form of masonry — stone, adobe, bricks, pounded earth — as walls and floors, the masonry would hold and then release the latent heat of the sun during the night. Even south-facing caves must have been the most desirable! The third ancient idea was to shutter the door or window, or roll a stone in front of the cave opening at night to hold the captured heat inside. These ways of building passed from generation to generation and culture to culture because they worked.

Unfortunately, when we built our modern solar adobe 11 years ago, we made some serious errors in implementing the centuries-old direct passive solar heating. Following is a list of what not to do if you’re thinking about bringing the sun’s winter warmth inside your home to save fossil fuels, whether retro-fitting the home you have, or building new. Fortunately, our sunny New Mexico climate is perfect for keeping yourself warm without burning much gas, oil, or wood in the winter — if you do it right. Often doing it right, and lacking a culture that preserves old ways, demands research and expert advice.

1. While we did correctly orient our home precisely to the south, letting the long axis lie to the east and west, our south windows are too few in number for the size of the house that we’re trying to heat. Our house is 46 x 50, about 2000 square feet interior living space, excluding the thick adobe walls. The actual glazing (windows) square footage for direct solar gain should be, I now know, 7 or 8 percent of the functional floor space. The square footage of our windows is actually 57.5; they should total 70 or 80 square feet to heat even the south half (1000 sq. ft.) of the house. This area is ideally an open room; we do have a kitchen, dining, hobby, and living room without walls. So what happened? The windows were expensive, we thought we could safely reduce their size and cost; the design person I checked with was misinformed.

2. Two of the large windows on the south wall have an “e-film” within them that blocks the sun’s heat. This e-film and windows with it are popular in the South and Southwest because of the intense summer sun, and they are meant to keep houses cooler in the summer. My window salesman, who knew we were building a passive solar, did not understand that they would also keep houses cooler in the winter. For some reason I did not think it through either. It was only when I walked barefoot the first winter where the sunlight fell through the windows on the brick floor that I understood. The floor was warm near the second-hand French doors made with clear glass, and cool in front of the new, e-film windows. Luckily the four old French doors do transmit lots of sunlight and heat.

3. Our dark red brick floor is supposed to be our “heat tank,” one of the mass areas in the home that stores the sun’s energy. But because I am a romantic purist, eager to be living on tierra madre herself, the bricks are not on a concrete slab. My husband pleased me and put the bricks directly on “soil cement,” a magical mixture of soil, water, and powdered cement, tamped down with a compactor. However, without insulation, some of the heat absorbed by bricks goes right into the soil beneath them. A better plan would have been to use a concrete slab under the bricks with rigid styrofoam, gravel, lava rock, or other insulation beneath the slab. Indeed, a dark-painted and waxed concrete slab, with insulation beneath, makes a great heat tank for the sunlight coming through unimpeded windows of the right dimensions!

Even though our flawed direct passive solar heating is only partly effective, it still heats most of the south part of the house on sunny days. Still, we often need a back-up heat source, like a wood stove or other heater at night, when it is really cold. Heavy or insulated curtains over double or single glazed windows will help keep in the heat gained during the day. Triple-glazed windows will also profit from curtains, though not so dramatically.

Another consideration is body comfort. My husband is cold-natured, and at our average sunny indoor south-side temperature of 64 to 68, he is shivering, unless he is sitting right where the sun falls. Long johns under jeans, a sweater and/or a wool shirt keep me comfortable in that range. Everyone’s needs, especially those of children and seniors, are different.

Don’t forget to plan for the hot summers. You’ll need an overhang over your south wall to shade the less welcome summer sun. It passes higher in the sky than during the winter, and you can easily block it if you plan ahead.

If you want to retrofit an existing home with some solar heat, remember there are other ways besides direct solar gain. If your south wall does not have a window, designers can show you surprising ways to create “windows” to get southern sun in your house. Read books, get on the search engines, talk to and e-mail as many people in the field of passive solar energy as you can. The more questions you ask, the more time you spend in research, the fewer costly mistakes you’ll make.



O SOLAR PIONEERS! (Living Off the Grid—almost)

By Anna Moya Underwood

Direct passive solar heating should be easy. Passive solar (without wires or electricity) is different from active solar, salve which is all about electricity. Many old Mediterranean cultures used direct passive solar heating. The ancient homebuilder’s first hot discovery was to orient his or her small home to the south, online and then to build or carve out a door or other opening to allow the southern sun in. The next discovery was that if one used some form of masonry — stone, adobe, bricks, pounded earth — as walls and floors, the masonry would hold and then release the latent heat of the sun during the night. Even south-facing caves must have been the most desirable! The third ancient idea was to shutter the door or window, or roll a stone in front of the cave opening at night to hold the captured heat inside. These ways of building passed from generation to generation and culture to culture because they worked.

Unfortunately, when we built our modern solar adobe 11 years ago, we made some serious errors in implementing the centuries-old direct passive solar heating. Following is a list of what not to do if you’re thinking about bringing the sun’s winter warmth inside your home to save fossil fuels, whether retro-fitting the home you have, or building new. Fortunately, our sunny New Mexico climate is perfect for keeping yourself warm without burning much gas, oil, or wood in the winter — if you do it right. Often doing it right, and lacking a culture that preserves old ways, demands research and expert advice.

1. While we did correctly orient our home precisely to the south, letting the long axis lie to the east and west, our south windows are too few in number for the size of the house that we’re trying to heat. Our house is 46 x 50, about 2000 square feet interior living space, excluding the thick adobe walls. The actual glazing (windows) square footage for direct solar gain should be, I now know, 7 or 8 percent of the functional floor space. The square footage of our windows is actually 57.5; they should total 70 or 80 square feet to heat even the south half (1000 sq. ft.) of the house. This area is ideally an open room; we do have a kitchen, dining, hobby, and living room without walls. So what happened? The windows were expensive, we thought we could safely reduce their size and cost; the design person I checked with was misinformed.

2. Two of the large windows on the south wall have an “e-film” within them that blocks the sun’s heat. This e-film and windows with it are popular in the South and Southwest because of the intense summer sun, and they are meant to keep houses cooler in the summer. My window salesman, who knew we were building a passive solar, did not understand that they would also keep houses cooler in the winter. For some reason I did not think it through either. It was only when I walked barefoot the first winter where the sunlight fell through the windows on the brick floor that I understood. The floor was warm near the second-hand French doors made with clear glass, and cool in front of the new, e-film windows. Luckily the four old French doors do transmit lots of sunlight and heat.

3. Our dark red brick floor is supposed to be our “heat tank,” one of the mass areas in the home that stores the sun’s energy. But because I am a romantic purist, eager to be living on tierra madre herself, the bricks are not on a concrete slab. My husband pleased me and put the bricks directly on “soil cement,” a magical mixture of soil, water, and powdered cement, tamped down with a compactor. However, without insulation, some of the heat absorbed by bricks goes right into the soil beneath them. A better plan would have been to use a concrete slab under the bricks with rigid styrofoam, gravel, lava rock, or other insulation beneath the slab. Indeed, a dark-painted and waxed concrete slab, with insulation beneath, makes a great heat tank for the sunlight coming through unimpeded windows of the right dimensions!

Even though our flawed direct passive solar heating is only partly effective, it still heats most of the south part of the house on sunny days. Still, we often need a back-up heat source, like a wood stove or other heater at night, when it is really cold. Heavy or insulated curtains over double or single glazed windows will help keep in the heat gained during the day. Triple-glazed windows will also profit from curtains, though not so dramatically.

Another consideration is body comfort. My husband is cold-natured, and at our average sunny indoor south-side temperature of 64 to 68, he is shivering, unless he is sitting right where the sun falls. Long johns under jeans, a sweater and/or a wool shirt keep me comfortable in that range. Everyone’s needs, especially those of children and seniors, are different.

Don’t forget to plan for the hot summers. You’ll need an overhang over your south wall to shade the less welcome summer sun. It passes higher in the sky than during the winter, and you can easily block it if you plan ahead.

If you want to retrofit an existing home with some solar heat, remember there are other ways besides direct solar gain. If your south wall does not have a window, designers can show you surprising ways to create “windows” to get southern sun in your house. Read books, get on the search engines, talk to and e-mail as many people in the field of passive solar energy as you can. The more questions you ask, the more time you spend in research, the fewer costly mistakes you’ll make.



 

destroyed home

By Neil Harvey

The threat of violent eviction continues to hang over Lomas del Poleo in Ciudad Juárez. A second forum on the land dispute in this poor neighborhood of western Juárez was again frustrated last Dec. 1. Events since then have only escalated the climate of fear that residents must live with every day. This area is located in the middle of proposed new border development plans that include the creation of a bi-national city on the New Mexico border at Santa Teresa and San Jerónimo, geriatrician
and the construction of a new port of entry at Sunland Park and Anapra.

Although supporters of these plans argue that the new investment will boost trade and employment, they are not considering the negative impacts on people who will be displaced as a result. The most urgent case is Lomas del Poleo, where the powerful Zaragosa family is claiming legal ownership against residents who have lived on the same land for over 30 years. The Mexican agrarian court has still to pass a final ruling, but in the meantime the pressure on residents to leave has intensified. Support for the residents has come from community groups on both sides of the border, as local people begin to see the connections between development plans as well as to protest the use of force. (The history of this dispute was described in a previous article in Grassroots Press, Nov.-Dec. 2007, including the claims by Lomas residents that Zaragosas’ guards are responsible for the demolition of more than 40 homes and the deaths of two men and two children during the past four years.)

At the second forum in Lomas del Poleo on Dec. 1, participants were prevented by armed gang members from getting close to the area where the forum was scheduled. About 60 young men, some with dogs and baseball bats, blocked the road leading in to Lomas del Poleo. The forum convened on the same road, and several participants began with the reading of poetry amid the shouts of the Zaragosa guards a few feet away. The organizers asked the municipal police to remove the blockade of the road, but the officer claimed that he had to wait for his boss to give orders and that he was not in the area. The police never opened up the roadway and the forum reconvened at a safer distance, where community members denounced the situation of hostility and denial of free transit.

Although the forum failed to meet in the way supporters had hoped, the experience was important in that it gave further impetus to the cross-border organizing that had begun earlier in the fall. For example, an initial meeting of activists from southern New Mexico, El Paso and Ciudad Juárez was held in Las Cruces in mid-December. In New Mexico, concern over the creation of new Tax Increment Development District (TIDD) in Santa Teresa was sparked by the potential diversion of tax revenues in Doña Ana County to fund a private development plan of the Verde Realty group. Verde is the same group that is proposing to redevelop the historic Segundo Barrio district of El Paso, a plan opposed by many residents who fear loss of their homes to big box retail outlets and expensive apartment complexes.

Verde’s goal of establishing two industrial parks and a residential area at Santa Teresa are part of a regional plan that includes development of the San Jerónimo area across from Santa Teresa. The owner of the land in San Jerónimo, Eloy Vallina, also sits on the board of Verde Group. These bi-national alliances are supported by politicians on both sides, but they ignore the displacement of people in Lomas del Poleo and Segundo Barrio, as well as the potential drain on resources for communities in southern New Mexico, where the needs of low-income colonias should remain a high priority.

The most urgent problem continues to be the threats against residents in Lomas del Poleo. On Jan. 4, guards working for the Zaragosas were accused by residents of stealing cable and fencing wire from their homes. When one woman protested she was struck with tree branches from the back of a truck, residents said. When the police arrived, they took her husband in for questioning. He was later released, but the situation remains tense with fear of further attacks in the near future.

In response, a bi-national protest was held on Jan. 14, with participants holding up

the letters that spelled out the name of Lomas de Poleo at the Mexican consulate in El Paso and the name of Segundo Barrio at the U.S. Consulate in Ciudad Juárez. Informational flyers were also distributed and formal letters of protest were submitted at each consulate.

Although the crisis in Lomas del Poleo has not subsided, the recent forums and protests have brought a new level of attention and awareness of not only the land dispute in Juárez, but also the connections to regional development of the U.S. – Mexico border. Future meetings are scheduled for Feb. 13, 6-8 p.m. at the Autonomous University of Ciudad Juárez, and for Feb. 19, 6-8 p.m. at the El Paso Community College. In Las Cruces, a group of concerned citizens is also planning a public forum tentatively called “Rethinking Progress: Community Perspectives on Border Development,” to be held in late April. Further information, updates and recent, excellent articles by Debbie Nathan and Pulitzer-prize winner Eileen Welsome can be found at the website of the Paso del Sur group at www.pasodelsur.com

Neil Harvey is director of the Center for Latin American and Border Studies, New Mexico State University. He can be reached at nharvey@nmsu.edu

 


O SOLAR PIONEERS! (Living Off the Grid—almost)

By Anna Moya Underwood

Direct passive solar heating should be easy. Passive solar (without wires or electricity) is different from active solar, salve which is all about electricity. Many old Mediterranean cultures used direct passive solar heating. The ancient homebuilder’s first hot discovery was to orient his or her small home to the south, online and then to build or carve out a door or other opening to allow the southern sun in. The next discovery was that if one used some form of masonry — stone, adobe, bricks, pounded earth — as walls and floors, the masonry would hold and then release the latent heat of the sun during the night. Even south-facing caves must have been the most desirable! The third ancient idea was to shutter the door or window, or roll a stone in front of the cave opening at night to hold the captured heat inside. These ways of building passed from generation to generation and culture to culture because they worked.

Unfortunately, when we built our modern solar adobe 11 years ago, we made some serious errors in implementing the centuries-old direct passive solar heating. Following is a list of what not to do if you’re thinking about bringing the sun’s winter warmth inside your home to save fossil fuels, whether retro-fitting the home you have, or building new. Fortunately, our sunny New Mexico climate is perfect for keeping yourself warm without burning much gas, oil, or wood in the winter — if you do it right. Often doing it right, and lacking a culture that preserves old ways, demands research and expert advice.

1. While we did correctly orient our home precisely to the south, letting the long axis lie to the east and west, our south windows are too few in number for the size of the house that we’re trying to heat. Our house is 46 x 50, about 2000 square feet interior living space, excluding the thick adobe walls. The actual glazing (windows) square footage for direct solar gain should be, I now know, 7 or 8 percent of the functional floor space. The square footage of our windows is actually 57.5; they should total 70 or 80 square feet to heat even the south half (1000 sq. ft.) of the house. This area is ideally an open room; we do have a kitchen, dining, hobby, and living room without walls. So what happened? The windows were expensive, we thought we could safely reduce their size and cost; the design person I checked with was misinformed.

2. Two of the large windows on the south wall have an “e-film” within them that blocks the sun’s heat. This e-film and windows with it are popular in the South and Southwest because of the intense summer sun, and they are meant to keep houses cooler in the summer. My window salesman, who knew we were building a passive solar, did not understand that they would also keep houses cooler in the winter. For some reason I did not think it through either. It was only when I walked barefoot the first winter where the sunlight fell through the windows on the brick floor that I understood. The floor was warm near the second-hand French doors made with clear glass, and cool in front of the new, e-film windows. Luckily the four old French doors do transmit lots of sunlight and heat.

3. Our dark red brick floor is supposed to be our “heat tank,” one of the mass areas in the home that stores the sun’s energy. But because I am a romantic purist, eager to be living on tierra madre herself, the bricks are not on a concrete slab. My husband pleased me and put the bricks directly on “soil cement,” a magical mixture of soil, water, and powdered cement, tamped down with a compactor. However, without insulation, some of the heat absorbed by bricks goes right into the soil beneath them. A better plan would have been to use a concrete slab under the bricks with rigid styrofoam, gravel, lava rock, or other insulation beneath the slab. Indeed, a dark-painted and waxed concrete slab, with insulation beneath, makes a great heat tank for the sunlight coming through unimpeded windows of the right dimensions!

Even though our flawed direct passive solar heating is only partly effective, it still heats most of the south part of the house on sunny days. Still, we often need a back-up heat source, like a wood stove or other heater at night, when it is really cold. Heavy or insulated curtains over double or single glazed windows will help keep in the heat gained during the day. Triple-glazed windows will also profit from curtains, though not so dramatically.

Another consideration is body comfort. My husband is cold-natured, and at our average sunny indoor south-side temperature of 64 to 68, he is shivering, unless he is sitting right where the sun falls. Long johns under jeans, a sweater and/or a wool shirt keep me comfortable in that range. Everyone’s needs, especially those of children and seniors, are different.

Don’t forget to plan for the hot summers. You’ll need an overhang over your south wall to shade the less welcome summer sun. It passes higher in the sky than during the winter, and you can easily block it if you plan ahead.

If you want to retrofit an existing home with some solar heat, remember there are other ways besides direct solar gain. If your south wall does not have a window, designers can show you surprising ways to create “windows” to get southern sun in your house. Read books, get on the search engines, talk to and e-mail as many people in the field of passive solar energy as you can. The more questions you ask, the more time you spend in research, the fewer costly mistakes you’ll make.



 

destroyed home

By Neil Harvey

The threat of violent eviction continues to hang over Lomas del Poleo in Ciudad Juárez. A second forum on the land dispute in this poor neighborhood of western Juárez was again frustrated last Dec. 1. Events since then have only escalated the climate of fear that residents must live with every day. This area is located in the middle of proposed new border development plans that include the creation of a bi-national city on the New Mexico border at Santa Teresa and San Jerónimo, geriatrician
and the construction of a new port of entry at Sunland Park and Anapra.

Although supporters of these plans argue that the new investment will boost trade and employment, they are not considering the negative impacts on people who will be displaced as a result. The most urgent case is Lomas del Poleo, where the powerful Zaragosa family is claiming legal ownership against residents who have lived on the same land for over 30 years. The Mexican agrarian court has still to pass a final ruling, but in the meantime the pressure on residents to leave has intensified. Support for the residents has come from community groups on both sides of the border, as local people begin to see the connections between development plans as well as to protest the use of force. (The history of this dispute was described in a previous article in Grassroots Press, Nov.-Dec. 2007, including the claims by Lomas residents that Zaragosas’ guards are responsible for the demolition of more than 40 homes and the deaths of two men and two children during the past four years.)

At the second forum in Lomas del Poleo on Dec. 1, participants were prevented by armed gang members from getting close to the area where the forum was scheduled. About 60 young men, some with dogs and baseball bats, blocked the road leading in to Lomas del Poleo. The forum convened on the same road, and several participants began with the reading of poetry amid the shouts of the Zaragosa guards a few feet away. The organizers asked the municipal police to remove the blockade of the road, but the officer claimed that he had to wait for his boss to give orders and that he was not in the area. The police never opened up the roadway and the forum reconvened at a safer distance, where community members denounced the situation of hostility and denial of free transit.

Although the forum failed to meet in the way supporters had hoped, the experience was important in that it gave further impetus to the cross-border organizing that had begun earlier in the fall. For example, an initial meeting of activists from southern New Mexico, El Paso and Ciudad Juárez was held in Las Cruces in mid-December. In New Mexico, concern over the creation of new Tax Increment Development District (TIDD) in Santa Teresa was sparked by the potential diversion of tax revenues in Doña Ana County to fund a private development plan of the Verde Realty group. Verde is the same group that is proposing to redevelop the historic Segundo Barrio district of El Paso, a plan opposed by many residents who fear loss of their homes to big box retail outlets and expensive apartment complexes.

Verde’s goal of establishing two industrial parks and a residential area at Santa Teresa are part of a regional plan that includes development of the San Jerónimo area across from Santa Teresa. The owner of the land in San Jerónimo, Eloy Vallina, also sits on the board of Verde Group. These bi-national alliances are supported by politicians on both sides, but they ignore the displacement of people in Lomas del Poleo and Segundo Barrio, as well as the potential drain on resources for communities in southern New Mexico, where the needs of low-income colonias should remain a high priority.

The most urgent problem continues to be the threats against residents in Lomas del Poleo. On Jan. 4, guards working for the Zaragosas were accused by residents of stealing cable and fencing wire from their homes. When one woman protested she was struck with tree branches from the back of a truck, residents said. When the police arrived, they took her husband in for questioning. He was later released, but the situation remains tense with fear of further attacks in the near future.

In response, a bi-national protest was held on Jan. 14, with participants holding up

the letters that spelled out the name of Lomas de Poleo at the Mexican consulate in El Paso and the name of Segundo Barrio at the U.S. Consulate in Ciudad Juárez. Informational flyers were also distributed and formal letters of protest were submitted at each consulate.

Although the crisis in Lomas del Poleo has not subsided, the recent forums and protests have brought a new level of attention and awareness of not only the land dispute in Juárez, but also the connections to regional development of the U.S. – Mexico border. Future meetings are scheduled for Feb. 13, 6-8 p.m. at the Autonomous University of Ciudad Juárez, and for Feb. 19, 6-8 p.m. at the El Paso Community College. In Las Cruces, a group of concerned citizens is also planning a public forum tentatively called “Rethinking Progress: Community Perspectives on Border Development,” to be held in late April. Further information, updates and recent, excellent articles by Debbie Nathan and Pulitzer-prize winner Eileen Welsome can be found at the website of the Paso del Sur group at www.pasodelsur.com

Neil Harvey is director of the Center for Latin American and Border Studies, New Mexico State University. He can be reached at nharvey@nmsu.edu

 


By Lauren Ketcham, diet
Environment New Mexico

 

The pollution performance of just a handful of corporations has a dramatic impact on the air we breathe and the climate we will pass on to future generations. General Motors, unhealthy Ford, site
DaimlerChrysler, Toyota, Honda and Nissan are responsible for more than 90 percent of the heat-trapping and smog-forming emissions from new automobiles today. The transportation sector is already the second largest source of carbon dioxide pollution in New Mexico, and the fastest growing source of new emissions.

 

With this in mind, on Nov. 28, the New Mexico Environmental Improvement Board passed tough Clean Car standards to reduce global warming and toxic air emissions from new vehicles sold in New Mexico beginning in Model Year 2011.

 

Despite overwhelming support (more than 2,000 individuals and organizations submitted public comments in favor of the program, while only about 30 comments were filed in opposition), the program is already under attack.

On Dec. 19, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Stephen Johnson announced that he was denying a waiver for California, needed under the Clean Air Act for that state, and by extension all states including New Mexico, to implement the global warming standards portion of the Clean Cars Program.

In making this decision, the EPA has chosen to ignore the science behind global warming, its legal duty and the Clean Air Act. Over the objections from its own legal and technical staff, EPA Administrator Johnson has bowed to political pressure from the automobile industry and its friends in the White House.

Quickly following this decision, New Mexico joined 15 other states that filed a lawsuit against the EPA opposing the decision. Unfortunately, while this works its way through the courts, the public and the planet will suffer from diverted resources and delayed action on climate change due to the federal government standing in the way of state action to address global warming.

 

In the meantime, a handful of state legislators and dealerships have been busy at work filing their own lawsuits. In November, four New Mexico state legislators — Senators Timothy Jennings and John Arthur Smith, and Representatives George Hanosh and Jim Trujillo — and a handful of businesses filed a lawsuit against the Environmental Improvement Board, alleging it lacks the authority to adopt the standards. Although the lawsuit has been dismissed, the parties have signaled their intention to appeal the decision.

 

At the same time, three dealerships — Zangara Dodge in Albuquerque, Auge Sales and Service in Belen and Phil Carrell Chevrolet-Buick in Carlsbad — have filed a complaint in federal court against the Albuquerque Environmental Health Department and the New Mexico Environment Department. The frivolous lawsuit is nearly identical to those filed in two other states (California and Vermont) in which judges determined automakers’ claims were without merit.

 

Automakers — and their friends in D.C. and the New Mexico state Legislature — need to stop litigating and start innovating. The Clean Cars Program is the single biggest step New Mexico and other states can take to reduce global warming from the transportation sector. The auto industry has the technology and the know-how to make cleaner, more efficient vehicles, but they’ve systematically stymied state efforts.

 

Please call the legislators that have filed the lawsuit and tell them to do what’s in the best interest of all New Mexicans and drop their lawsuit against the Clean Cars Program: Rep. Hanosh (Cibola and McKinley counties): 505-287-4451; Rep. Trujillo (Santa Fe County): 505-470-0143; Sen. Jennings (Chaves, Eddy, Lea and Roosevelt counties): 575-623-8331; Sen. Smith (Hidalgo, Luna and Sierra counties): 575-546-4979.

 

For more information, please contact Lauren Ketcham, Environment New Mexico, 505 254-4819, Lauren@environmentnewmexico.org

 


Commentary by Steve Klinger
Commentary by Steve Klinger

Passionate conservatism?

With all the talk about how to stimulate it, recipe
you’d think that the economy is a giant clitoris. Ben Bernanke may not employ this imagery, look
but the immediate challenge–and the issue bound to replace Iraq and immigration in the presidential race–is how best to get the economy engorged and throbbing again.

–Barbara Ehrenreich (Clitoral Economics)

By Steve Klinger

You’ll forgive me if I’m skeptical about the so-called bipartisan economic stimulus package that is supposed to buy the runaway corporatism known as the U.S. economy a little more time before the excrement hits the propeller.

Really, it’s hard to take seriously an election-year plan that essentially would print $150 billion to give most middle-income families about enough cash to buy a budget big-screen TV and expect that this will perform wonders on the economy – stimulate it into a metaphoric orgasm, or at least avoiding a recession.

One would first have to ask: recession for whom, the Fortune 1000 companies currently being battered on Wall Street or the vast majority of American households that have been squeezed for years now by outsourced manufacturing jobs, an unconscionable healthcare system and the inflationary spiral of rising fuel prices? You’d never know it from the presidential candidate debates, you might not be able to use the textbook definition that requires declining GDP for two consecutive quarters, but I’d submit that an alarming number of Empire-dwellers are already in a recession – or worse. They need a lot more than a rebate check to regain health and hope.

To believe further that the proposed stimulus package would help to any extent in recovering from the subprime mortgage fiasco and housing slump that is only the tip of our collective economic iceberg is nothing short of delusional. In fact, it seems a little like a hospital in equatorial Africa handing out boxes of bandages in the midst of an Ebola or dengue hemorrhagic fever outbreak — i.e., it may delay the debacle, but only until the next shift comes on.

It isn’t necessary to be an economist to understand that Bush-administration policies (“disaster capitalism,” according to Naomi Klein) that not only exploit but increasingly engineer public trauma events to further entrench the moneyed and empowered have exacerbated the critical illness of the patient that is America.

Cut (taxes), spend (on endless wars) and deregulate (banking, utilities, media, environment), and it isn’t long before the corporatist parasites start to devour the host. Just to ease the pain, distract the victim with spectator sports, addictive gadgetry and consumer pyrotechnics and the wretch won’t know what hit him, as long as he keeps getting his various fixes. (I know I’ve digressed from Ehrenreich’s lurid imagery, but that was heading in too graphic a direction, even for this rag.)

So, bring home that big-screen TV, tune in the Super Bowl, or whatever is on by the time the rebates come through, and you won’t worry about the next family illness wiping out your meager savings or your home heading for foreclosure. Spend that $600 each on an iPhone and you’ll be too distracted to care that the trade deficit, the weakening dollar and the burgeoning national debt are lapping at the financial underpinnings of the Empire. Of course since it’s all a pyramid scheme based on endless growth, we can prop it up a while longer if you’ll rush out and spend your rebate while we throw the business sector a few incentives.

In our quick-fix society, all that’s needed is the illusion of prosperity to keep the bears at bay on Wall Street. No need to tackle anything more fundamental, like the cultural model legitimizing perpetual debt as a way of life, or the relentless pillage of the planet. And no obligation to lend a hand to the poor, the unemployed or retirees on Social Security: If they don’t pay taxes they don’t deserve a rebate, and they can’t afford to spend it anyway.

That the Democrats, who hold all the cards, would go along with this pitiful and inequitable band-aid solution just shows how co-opted they are by the corporatism that drives our political system as well as our economy.

In a while it won’t matter, because as soon as we run out of new frontiers for growth and exploitation, the shoeboxes of money needed to buy the big-screen by then won’t power it up anyway, and we’ll have to go back to stimulating each other instead of the economy. By then it will be too late for passionate conservatism, or any other kind.


O SOLAR PIONEERS! (Living Off the Grid—almost)

By Anna Moya Underwood

Direct passive solar heating should be easy. Passive solar (without wires or electricity) is different from active solar, salve which is all about electricity. Many old Mediterranean cultures used direct passive solar heating. The ancient homebuilder’s first hot discovery was to orient his or her small home to the south, online and then to build or carve out a door or other opening to allow the southern sun in. The next discovery was that if one used some form of masonry — stone, adobe, bricks, pounded earth — as walls and floors, the masonry would hold and then release the latent heat of the sun during the night. Even south-facing caves must have been the most desirable! The third ancient idea was to shutter the door or window, or roll a stone in front of the cave opening at night to hold the captured heat inside. These ways of building passed from generation to generation and culture to culture because they worked.

Unfortunately, when we built our modern solar adobe 11 years ago, we made some serious errors in implementing the centuries-old direct passive solar heating. Following is a list of what not to do if you’re thinking about bringing the sun’s winter warmth inside your home to save fossil fuels, whether retro-fitting the home you have, or building new. Fortunately, our sunny New Mexico climate is perfect for keeping yourself warm without burning much gas, oil, or wood in the winter — if you do it right. Often doing it right, and lacking a culture that preserves old ways, demands research and expert advice.

1. While we did correctly orient our home precisely to the south, letting the long axis lie to the east and west, our south windows are too few in number for the size of the house that we’re trying to heat. Our house is 46 x 50, about 2000 square feet interior living space, excluding the thick adobe walls. The actual glazing (windows) square footage for direct solar gain should be, I now know, 7 or 8 percent of the functional floor space. The square footage of our windows is actually 57.5; they should total 70 or 80 square feet to heat even the south half (1000 sq. ft.) of the house. This area is ideally an open room; we do have a kitchen, dining, hobby, and living room without walls. So what happened? The windows were expensive, we thought we could safely reduce their size and cost; the design person I checked with was misinformed.

2. Two of the large windows on the south wall have an “e-film” within them that blocks the sun’s heat. This e-film and windows with it are popular in the South and Southwest because of the intense summer sun, and they are meant to keep houses cooler in the summer. My window salesman, who knew we were building a passive solar, did not understand that they would also keep houses cooler in the winter. For some reason I did not think it through either. It was only when I walked barefoot the first winter where the sunlight fell through the windows on the brick floor that I understood. The floor was warm near the second-hand French doors made with clear glass, and cool in front of the new, e-film windows. Luckily the four old French doors do transmit lots of sunlight and heat.

3. Our dark red brick floor is supposed to be our “heat tank,” one of the mass areas in the home that stores the sun’s energy. But because I am a romantic purist, eager to be living on tierra madre herself, the bricks are not on a concrete slab. My husband pleased me and put the bricks directly on “soil cement,” a magical mixture of soil, water, and powdered cement, tamped down with a compactor. However, without insulation, some of the heat absorbed by bricks goes right into the soil beneath them. A better plan would have been to use a concrete slab under the bricks with rigid styrofoam, gravel, lava rock, or other insulation beneath the slab. Indeed, a dark-painted and waxed concrete slab, with insulation beneath, makes a great heat tank for the sunlight coming through unimpeded windows of the right dimensions!

Even though our flawed direct passive solar heating is only partly effective, it still heats most of the south part of the house on sunny days. Still, we often need a back-up heat source, like a wood stove or other heater at night, when it is really cold. Heavy or insulated curtains over double or single glazed windows will help keep in the heat gained during the day. Triple-glazed windows will also profit from curtains, though not so dramatically.

Another consideration is body comfort. My husband is cold-natured, and at our average sunny indoor south-side temperature of 64 to 68, he is shivering, unless he is sitting right where the sun falls. Long johns under jeans, a sweater and/or a wool shirt keep me comfortable in that range. Everyone’s needs, especially those of children and seniors, are different.

Don’t forget to plan for the hot summers. You’ll need an overhang over your south wall to shade the less welcome summer sun. It passes higher in the sky than during the winter, and you can easily block it if you plan ahead.

If you want to retrofit an existing home with some solar heat, remember there are other ways besides direct solar gain. If your south wall does not have a window, designers can show you surprising ways to create “windows” to get southern sun in your house. Read books, get on the search engines, talk to and e-mail as many people in the field of passive solar energy as you can. The more questions you ask, the more time you spend in research, the fewer costly mistakes you’ll make.



O SOLAR PIONEERS! (Living Off the Grid—almost)

By Anna Moya Underwood

Direct passive solar heating should be easy. Passive solar (without wires or electricity) is different from active solar, salve which is all about electricity. Many old Mediterranean cultures used direct passive solar heating. The ancient homebuilder’s first hot discovery was to orient his or her small home to the south, online and then to build or carve out a door or other opening to allow the southern sun in. The next discovery was that if one used some form of masonry — stone, adobe, bricks, pounded earth — as walls and floors, the masonry would hold and then release the latent heat of the sun during the night. Even south-facing caves must have been the most desirable! The third ancient idea was to shutter the door or window, or roll a stone in front of the cave opening at night to hold the captured heat inside. These ways of building passed from generation to generation and culture to culture because they worked.

Unfortunately, when we built our modern solar adobe 11 years ago, we made some serious errors in implementing the centuries-old direct passive solar heating. Following is a list of what not to do if you’re thinking about bringing the sun’s winter warmth inside your home to save fossil fuels, whether retro-fitting the home you have, or building new. Fortunately, our sunny New Mexico climate is perfect for keeping yourself warm without burning much gas, oil, or wood in the winter — if you do it right. Often doing it right, and lacking a culture that preserves old ways, demands research and expert advice.

1. While we did correctly orient our home precisely to the south, letting the long axis lie to the east and west, our south windows are too few in number for the size of the house that we’re trying to heat. Our house is 46 x 50, about 2000 square feet interior living space, excluding the thick adobe walls. The actual glazing (windows) square footage for direct solar gain should be, I now know, 7 or 8 percent of the functional floor space. The square footage of our windows is actually 57.5; they should total 70 or 80 square feet to heat even the south half (1000 sq. ft.) of the house. This area is ideally an open room; we do have a kitchen, dining, hobby, and living room without walls. So what happened? The windows were expensive, we thought we could safely reduce their size and cost; the design person I checked with was misinformed.

2. Two of the large windows on the south wall have an “e-film” within them that blocks the sun’s heat. This e-film and windows with it are popular in the South and Southwest because of the intense summer sun, and they are meant to keep houses cooler in the summer. My window salesman, who knew we were building a passive solar, did not understand that they would also keep houses cooler in the winter. For some reason I did not think it through either. It was only when I walked barefoot the first winter where the sunlight fell through the windows on the brick floor that I understood. The floor was warm near the second-hand French doors made with clear glass, and cool in front of the new, e-film windows. Luckily the four old French doors do transmit lots of sunlight and heat.

3. Our dark red brick floor is supposed to be our “heat tank,” one of the mass areas in the home that stores the sun’s energy. But because I am a romantic purist, eager to be living on tierra madre herself, the bricks are not on a concrete slab. My husband pleased me and put the bricks directly on “soil cement,” a magical mixture of soil, water, and powdered cement, tamped down with a compactor. However, without insulation, some of the heat absorbed by bricks goes right into the soil beneath them. A better plan would have been to use a concrete slab under the bricks with rigid styrofoam, gravel, lava rock, or other insulation beneath the slab. Indeed, a dark-painted and waxed concrete slab, with insulation beneath, makes a great heat tank for the sunlight coming through unimpeded windows of the right dimensions!

Even though our flawed direct passive solar heating is only partly effective, it still heats most of the south part of the house on sunny days. Still, we often need a back-up heat source, like a wood stove or other heater at night, when it is really cold. Heavy or insulated curtains over double or single glazed windows will help keep in the heat gained during the day. Triple-glazed windows will also profit from curtains, though not so dramatically.

Another consideration is body comfort. My husband is cold-natured, and at our average sunny indoor south-side temperature of 64 to 68, he is shivering, unless he is sitting right where the sun falls. Long johns under jeans, a sweater and/or a wool shirt keep me comfortable in that range. Everyone’s needs, especially those of children and seniors, are different.

Don’t forget to plan for the hot summers. You’ll need an overhang over your south wall to shade the less welcome summer sun. It passes higher in the sky than during the winter, and you can easily block it if you plan ahead.

If you want to retrofit an existing home with some solar heat, remember there are other ways besides direct solar gain. If your south wall does not have a window, designers can show you surprising ways to create “windows” to get southern sun in your house. Read books, get on the search engines, talk to and e-mail as many people in the field of passive solar energy as you can. The more questions you ask, the more time you spend in research, the fewer costly mistakes you’ll make.



 

destroyed home

By Neil Harvey

The threat of violent eviction continues to hang over Lomas del Poleo in Ciudad Juárez. A second forum on the land dispute in this poor neighborhood of western Juárez was again frustrated last Dec. 1. Events since then have only escalated the climate of fear that residents must live with every day. This area is located in the middle of proposed new border development plans that include the creation of a bi-national city on the New Mexico border at Santa Teresa and San Jerónimo, geriatrician
and the construction of a new port of entry at Sunland Park and Anapra.

Although supporters of these plans argue that the new investment will boost trade and employment, they are not considering the negative impacts on people who will be displaced as a result. The most urgent case is Lomas del Poleo, where the powerful Zaragosa family is claiming legal ownership against residents who have lived on the same land for over 30 years. The Mexican agrarian court has still to pass a final ruling, but in the meantime the pressure on residents to leave has intensified. Support for the residents has come from community groups on both sides of the border, as local people begin to see the connections between development plans as well as to protest the use of force. (The history of this dispute was described in a previous article in Grassroots Press, Nov.-Dec. 2007, including the claims by Lomas residents that Zaragosas’ guards are responsible for the demolition of more than 40 homes and the deaths of two men and two children during the past four years.)

At the second forum in Lomas del Poleo on Dec. 1, participants were prevented by armed gang members from getting close to the area where the forum was scheduled. About 60 young men, some with dogs and baseball bats, blocked the road leading in to Lomas del Poleo. The forum convened on the same road, and several participants began with the reading of poetry amid the shouts of the Zaragosa guards a few feet away. The organizers asked the municipal police to remove the blockade of the road, but the officer claimed that he had to wait for his boss to give orders and that he was not in the area. The police never opened up the roadway and the forum reconvened at a safer distance, where community members denounced the situation of hostility and denial of free transit.

Although the forum failed to meet in the way supporters had hoped, the experience was important in that it gave further impetus to the cross-border organizing that had begun earlier in the fall. For example, an initial meeting of activists from southern New Mexico, El Paso and Ciudad Juárez was held in Las Cruces in mid-December. In New Mexico, concern over the creation of new Tax Increment Development District (TIDD) in Santa Teresa was sparked by the potential diversion of tax revenues in Doña Ana County to fund a private development plan of the Verde Realty group. Verde is the same group that is proposing to redevelop the historic Segundo Barrio district of El Paso, a plan opposed by many residents who fear loss of their homes to big box retail outlets and expensive apartment complexes.

Verde’s goal of establishing two industrial parks and a residential area at Santa Teresa are part of a regional plan that includes development of the San Jerónimo area across from Santa Teresa. The owner of the land in San Jerónimo, Eloy Vallina, also sits on the board of Verde Group. These bi-national alliances are supported by politicians on both sides, but they ignore the displacement of people in Lomas del Poleo and Segundo Barrio, as well as the potential drain on resources for communities in southern New Mexico, where the needs of low-income colonias should remain a high priority.

The most urgent problem continues to be the threats against residents in Lomas del Poleo. On Jan. 4, guards working for the Zaragosas were accused by residents of stealing cable and fencing wire from their homes. When one woman protested she was struck with tree branches from the back of a truck, residents said. When the police arrived, they took her husband in for questioning. He was later released, but the situation remains tense with fear of further attacks in the near future.

In response, a bi-national protest was held on Jan. 14, with participants holding up

the letters that spelled out the name of Lomas de Poleo at the Mexican consulate in El Paso and the name of Segundo Barrio at the U.S. Consulate in Ciudad Juárez. Informational flyers were also distributed and formal letters of protest were submitted at each consulate.

Although the crisis in Lomas del Poleo has not subsided, the recent forums and protests have brought a new level of attention and awareness of not only the land dispute in Juárez, but also the connections to regional development of the U.S. – Mexico border. Future meetings are scheduled for Feb. 13, 6-8 p.m. at the Autonomous University of Ciudad Juárez, and for Feb. 19, 6-8 p.m. at the El Paso Community College. In Las Cruces, a group of concerned citizens is also planning a public forum tentatively called “Rethinking Progress: Community Perspectives on Border Development,” to be held in late April. Further information, updates and recent, excellent articles by Debbie Nathan and Pulitzer-prize winner Eileen Welsome can be found at the website of the Paso del Sur group at www.pasodelsur.com

Neil Harvey is director of the Center for Latin American and Border Studies, New Mexico State University. He can be reached at nharvey@nmsu.edu

 


O SOLAR PIONEERS! (Living Off the Grid—almost)

By Anna Moya Underwood

Direct passive solar heating should be easy. Passive solar (without wires or electricity) is different from active solar, salve which is all about electricity. Many old Mediterranean cultures used direct passive solar heating. The ancient homebuilder’s first hot discovery was to orient his or her small home to the south, online and then to build or carve out a door or other opening to allow the southern sun in. The next discovery was that if one used some form of masonry — stone, adobe, bricks, pounded earth — as walls and floors, the masonry would hold and then release the latent heat of the sun during the night. Even south-facing caves must have been the most desirable! The third ancient idea was to shutter the door or window, or roll a stone in front of the cave opening at night to hold the captured heat inside. These ways of building passed from generation to generation and culture to culture because they worked.

Unfortunately, when we built our modern solar adobe 11 years ago, we made some serious errors in implementing the centuries-old direct passive solar heating. Following is a list of what not to do if you’re thinking about bringing the sun’s winter warmth inside your home to save fossil fuels, whether retro-fitting the home you have, or building new. Fortunately, our sunny New Mexico climate is perfect for keeping yourself warm without burning much gas, oil, or wood in the winter — if you do it right. Often doing it right, and lacking a culture that preserves old ways, demands research and expert advice.

1. While we did correctly orient our home precisely to the south, letting the long axis lie to the east and west, our south windows are too few in number for the size of the house that we’re trying to heat. Our house is 46 x 50, about 2000 square feet interior living space, excluding the thick adobe walls. The actual glazing (windows) square footage for direct solar gain should be, I now know, 7 or 8 percent of the functional floor space. The square footage of our windows is actually 57.5; they should total 70 or 80 square feet to heat even the south half (1000 sq. ft.) of the house. This area is ideally an open room; we do have a kitchen, dining, hobby, and living room without walls. So what happened? The windows were expensive, we thought we could safely reduce their size and cost; the design person I checked with was misinformed.

2. Two of the large windows on the south wall have an “e-film” within them that blocks the sun’s heat. This e-film and windows with it are popular in the South and Southwest because of the intense summer sun, and they are meant to keep houses cooler in the summer. My window salesman, who knew we were building a passive solar, did not understand that they would also keep houses cooler in the winter. For some reason I did not think it through either. It was only when I walked barefoot the first winter where the sunlight fell through the windows on the brick floor that I understood. The floor was warm near the second-hand French doors made with clear glass, and cool in front of the new, e-film windows. Luckily the four old French doors do transmit lots of sunlight and heat.

3. Our dark red brick floor is supposed to be our “heat tank,” one of the mass areas in the home that stores the sun’s energy. But because I am a romantic purist, eager to be living on tierra madre herself, the bricks are not on a concrete slab. My husband pleased me and put the bricks directly on “soil cement,” a magical mixture of soil, water, and powdered cement, tamped down with a compactor. However, without insulation, some of the heat absorbed by bricks goes right into the soil beneath them. A better plan would have been to use a concrete slab under the bricks with rigid styrofoam, gravel, lava rock, or other insulation beneath the slab. Indeed, a dark-painted and waxed concrete slab, with insulation beneath, makes a great heat tank for the sunlight coming through unimpeded windows of the right dimensions!

Even though our flawed direct passive solar heating is only partly effective, it still heats most of the south part of the house on sunny days. Still, we often need a back-up heat source, like a wood stove or other heater at night, when it is really cold. Heavy or insulated curtains over double or single glazed windows will help keep in the heat gained during the day. Triple-glazed windows will also profit from curtains, though not so dramatically.

Another consideration is body comfort. My husband is cold-natured, and at our average sunny indoor south-side temperature of 64 to 68, he is shivering, unless he is sitting right where the sun falls. Long johns under jeans, a sweater and/or a wool shirt keep me comfortable in that range. Everyone’s needs, especially those of children and seniors, are different.

Don’t forget to plan for the hot summers. You’ll need an overhang over your south wall to shade the less welcome summer sun. It passes higher in the sky than during the winter, and you can easily block it if you plan ahead.

If you want to retrofit an existing home with some solar heat, remember there are other ways besides direct solar gain. If your south wall does not have a window, designers can show you surprising ways to create “windows” to get southern sun in your house. Read books, get on the search engines, talk to and e-mail as many people in the field of passive solar energy as you can. The more questions you ask, the more time you spend in research, the fewer costly mistakes you’ll make.



 

destroyed home

By Neil Harvey

The threat of violent eviction continues to hang over Lomas del Poleo in Ciudad Juárez. A second forum on the land dispute in this poor neighborhood of western Juárez was again frustrated last Dec. 1. Events since then have only escalated the climate of fear that residents must live with every day. This area is located in the middle of proposed new border development plans that include the creation of a bi-national city on the New Mexico border at Santa Teresa and San Jerónimo, geriatrician
and the construction of a new port of entry at Sunland Park and Anapra.

Although supporters of these plans argue that the new investment will boost trade and employment, they are not considering the negative impacts on people who will be displaced as a result. The most urgent case is Lomas del Poleo, where the powerful Zaragosa family is claiming legal ownership against residents who have lived on the same land for over 30 years. The Mexican agrarian court has still to pass a final ruling, but in the meantime the pressure on residents to leave has intensified. Support for the residents has come from community groups on both sides of the border, as local people begin to see the connections between development plans as well as to protest the use of force. (The history of this dispute was described in a previous article in Grassroots Press, Nov.-Dec. 2007, including the claims by Lomas residents that Zaragosas’ guards are responsible for the demolition of more than 40 homes and the deaths of two men and two children during the past four years.)

At the second forum in Lomas del Poleo on Dec. 1, participants were prevented by armed gang members from getting close to the area where the forum was scheduled. About 60 young men, some with dogs and baseball bats, blocked the road leading in to Lomas del Poleo. The forum convened on the same road, and several participants began with the reading of poetry amid the shouts of the Zaragosa guards a few feet away. The organizers asked the municipal police to remove the blockade of the road, but the officer claimed that he had to wait for his boss to give orders and that he was not in the area. The police never opened up the roadway and the forum reconvened at a safer distance, where community members denounced the situation of hostility and denial of free transit.

Although the forum failed to meet in the way supporters had hoped, the experience was important in that it gave further impetus to the cross-border organizing that had begun earlier in the fall. For example, an initial meeting of activists from southern New Mexico, El Paso and Ciudad Juárez was held in Las Cruces in mid-December. In New Mexico, concern over the creation of new Tax Increment Development District (TIDD) in Santa Teresa was sparked by the potential diversion of tax revenues in Doña Ana County to fund a private development plan of the Verde Realty group. Verde is the same group that is proposing to redevelop the historic Segundo Barrio district of El Paso, a plan opposed by many residents who fear loss of their homes to big box retail outlets and expensive apartment complexes.

Verde’s goal of establishing two industrial parks and a residential area at Santa Teresa are part of a regional plan that includes development of the San Jerónimo area across from Santa Teresa. The owner of the land in San Jerónimo, Eloy Vallina, also sits on the board of Verde Group. These bi-national alliances are supported by politicians on both sides, but they ignore the displacement of people in Lomas del Poleo and Segundo Barrio, as well as the potential drain on resources for communities in southern New Mexico, where the needs of low-income colonias should remain a high priority.

The most urgent problem continues to be the threats against residents in Lomas del Poleo. On Jan. 4, guards working for the Zaragosas were accused by residents of stealing cable and fencing wire from their homes. When one woman protested she was struck with tree branches from the back of a truck, residents said. When the police arrived, they took her husband in for questioning. He was later released, but the situation remains tense with fear of further attacks in the near future.

In response, a bi-national protest was held on Jan. 14, with participants holding up

the letters that spelled out the name of Lomas de Poleo at the Mexican consulate in El Paso and the name of Segundo Barrio at the U.S. Consulate in Ciudad Juárez. Informational flyers were also distributed and formal letters of protest were submitted at each consulate.

Although the crisis in Lomas del Poleo has not subsided, the recent forums and protests have brought a new level of attention and awareness of not only the land dispute in Juárez, but also the connections to regional development of the U.S. – Mexico border. Future meetings are scheduled for Feb. 13, 6-8 p.m. at the Autonomous University of Ciudad Juárez, and for Feb. 19, 6-8 p.m. at the El Paso Community College. In Las Cruces, a group of concerned citizens is also planning a public forum tentatively called “Rethinking Progress: Community Perspectives on Border Development,” to be held in late April. Further information, updates and recent, excellent articles by Debbie Nathan and Pulitzer-prize winner Eileen Welsome can be found at the website of the Paso del Sur group at www.pasodelsur.com

Neil Harvey is director of the Center for Latin American and Border Studies, New Mexico State University. He can be reached at nharvey@nmsu.edu

 


By Lauren Ketcham, diet
Environment New Mexico

 

The pollution performance of just a handful of corporations has a dramatic impact on the air we breathe and the climate we will pass on to future generations. General Motors, unhealthy Ford, site
DaimlerChrysler, Toyota, Honda and Nissan are responsible for more than 90 percent of the heat-trapping and smog-forming emissions from new automobiles today. The transportation sector is already the second largest source of carbon dioxide pollution in New Mexico, and the fastest growing source of new emissions.

 

With this in mind, on Nov. 28, the New Mexico Environmental Improvement Board passed tough Clean Car standards to reduce global warming and toxic air emissions from new vehicles sold in New Mexico beginning in Model Year 2011.

 

Despite overwhelming support (more than 2,000 individuals and organizations submitted public comments in favor of the program, while only about 30 comments were filed in opposition), the program is already under attack.

On Dec. 19, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Stephen Johnson announced that he was denying a waiver for California, needed under the Clean Air Act for that state, and by extension all states including New Mexico, to implement the global warming standards portion of the Clean Cars Program.

In making this decision, the EPA has chosen to ignore the science behind global warming, its legal duty and the Clean Air Act. Over the objections from its own legal and technical staff, EPA Administrator Johnson has bowed to political pressure from the automobile industry and its friends in the White House.

Quickly following this decision, New Mexico joined 15 other states that filed a lawsuit against the EPA opposing the decision. Unfortunately, while this works its way through the courts, the public and the planet will suffer from diverted resources and delayed action on climate change due to the federal government standing in the way of state action to address global warming.

 

In the meantime, a handful of state legislators and dealerships have been busy at work filing their own lawsuits. In November, four New Mexico state legislators — Senators Timothy Jennings and John Arthur Smith, and Representatives George Hanosh and Jim Trujillo — and a handful of businesses filed a lawsuit against the Environmental Improvement Board, alleging it lacks the authority to adopt the standards. Although the lawsuit has been dismissed, the parties have signaled their intention to appeal the decision.

 

At the same time, three dealerships — Zangara Dodge in Albuquerque, Auge Sales and Service in Belen and Phil Carrell Chevrolet-Buick in Carlsbad — have filed a complaint in federal court against the Albuquerque Environmental Health Department and the New Mexico Environment Department. The frivolous lawsuit is nearly identical to those filed in two other states (California and Vermont) in which judges determined automakers’ claims were without merit.

 

Automakers — and their friends in D.C. and the New Mexico state Legislature — need to stop litigating and start innovating. The Clean Cars Program is the single biggest step New Mexico and other states can take to reduce global warming from the transportation sector. The auto industry has the technology and the know-how to make cleaner, more efficient vehicles, but they’ve systematically stymied state efforts.

 

Please call the legislators that have filed the lawsuit and tell them to do what’s in the best interest of all New Mexicans and drop their lawsuit against the Clean Cars Program: Rep. Hanosh (Cibola and McKinley counties): 505-287-4451; Rep. Trujillo (Santa Fe County): 505-470-0143; Sen. Jennings (Chaves, Eddy, Lea and Roosevelt counties): 575-623-8331; Sen. Smith (Hidalgo, Luna and Sierra counties): 575-546-4979.

 

For more information, please contact Lauren Ketcham, Environment New Mexico, 505 254-4819, Lauren@environmentnewmexico.org

 


O SOLAR PIONEERS! (Living Off the Grid—almost)

By Anna Moya Underwood

Direct passive solar heating should be easy. Passive solar (without wires or electricity) is different from active solar, salve which is all about electricity. Many old Mediterranean cultures used direct passive solar heating. The ancient homebuilder’s first hot discovery was to orient his or her small home to the south, online and then to build or carve out a door or other opening to allow the southern sun in. The next discovery was that if one used some form of masonry — stone, adobe, bricks, pounded earth — as walls and floors, the masonry would hold and then release the latent heat of the sun during the night. Even south-facing caves must have been the most desirable! The third ancient idea was to shutter the door or window, or roll a stone in front of the cave opening at night to hold the captured heat inside. These ways of building passed from generation to generation and culture to culture because they worked.

Unfortunately, when we built our modern solar adobe 11 years ago, we made some serious errors in implementing the centuries-old direct passive solar heating. Following is a list of what not to do if you’re thinking about bringing the sun’s winter warmth inside your home to save fossil fuels, whether retro-fitting the home you have, or building new. Fortunately, our sunny New Mexico climate is perfect for keeping yourself warm without burning much gas, oil, or wood in the winter — if you do it right. Often doing it right, and lacking a culture that preserves old ways, demands research and expert advice.

1. While we did correctly orient our home precisely to the south, letting the long axis lie to the east and west, our south windows are too few in number for the size of the house that we’re trying to heat. Our house is 46 x 50, about 2000 square feet interior living space, excluding the thick adobe walls. The actual glazing (windows) square footage for direct solar gain should be, I now know, 7 or 8 percent of the functional floor space. The square footage of our windows is actually 57.5; they should total 70 or 80 square feet to heat even the south half (1000 sq. ft.) of the house. This area is ideally an open room; we do have a kitchen, dining, hobby, and living room without walls. So what happened? The windows were expensive, we thought we could safely reduce their size and cost; the design person I checked with was misinformed.

2. Two of the large windows on the south wall have an “e-film” within them that blocks the sun’s heat. This e-film and windows with it are popular in the South and Southwest because of the intense summer sun, and they are meant to keep houses cooler in the summer. My window salesman, who knew we were building a passive solar, did not understand that they would also keep houses cooler in the winter. For some reason I did not think it through either. It was only when I walked barefoot the first winter where the sunlight fell through the windows on the brick floor that I understood. The floor was warm near the second-hand French doors made with clear glass, and cool in front of the new, e-film windows. Luckily the four old French doors do transmit lots of sunlight and heat.

3. Our dark red brick floor is supposed to be our “heat tank,” one of the mass areas in the home that stores the sun’s energy. But because I am a romantic purist, eager to be living on tierra madre herself, the bricks are not on a concrete slab. My husband pleased me and put the bricks directly on “soil cement,” a magical mixture of soil, water, and powdered cement, tamped down with a compactor. However, without insulation, some of the heat absorbed by bricks goes right into the soil beneath them. A better plan would have been to use a concrete slab under the bricks with rigid styrofoam, gravel, lava rock, or other insulation beneath the slab. Indeed, a dark-painted and waxed concrete slab, with insulation beneath, makes a great heat tank for the sunlight coming through unimpeded windows of the right dimensions!

Even though our flawed direct passive solar heating is only partly effective, it still heats most of the south part of the house on sunny days. Still, we often need a back-up heat source, like a wood stove or other heater at night, when it is really cold. Heavy or insulated curtains over double or single glazed windows will help keep in the heat gained during the day. Triple-glazed windows will also profit from curtains, though not so dramatically.

Another consideration is body comfort. My husband is cold-natured, and at our average sunny indoor south-side temperature of 64 to 68, he is shivering, unless he is sitting right where the sun falls. Long johns under jeans, a sweater and/or a wool shirt keep me comfortable in that range. Everyone’s needs, especially those of children and seniors, are different.

Don’t forget to plan for the hot summers. You’ll need an overhang over your south wall to shade the less welcome summer sun. It passes higher in the sky than during the winter, and you can easily block it if you plan ahead.

If you want to retrofit an existing home with some solar heat, remember there are other ways besides direct solar gain. If your south wall does not have a window, designers can show you surprising ways to create “windows” to get southern sun in your house. Read books, get on the search engines, talk to and e-mail as many people in the field of passive solar energy as you can. The more questions you ask, the more time you spend in research, the fewer costly mistakes you’ll make.



 

destroyed home

By Neil Harvey

The threat of violent eviction continues to hang over Lomas del Poleo in Ciudad Juárez. A second forum on the land dispute in this poor neighborhood of western Juárez was again frustrated last Dec. 1. Events since then have only escalated the climate of fear that residents must live with every day. This area is located in the middle of proposed new border development plans that include the creation of a bi-national city on the New Mexico border at Santa Teresa and San Jerónimo, geriatrician
and the construction of a new port of entry at Sunland Park and Anapra.

Although supporters of these plans argue that the new investment will boost trade and employment, they are not considering the negative impacts on people who will be displaced as a result. The most urgent case is Lomas del Poleo, where the powerful Zaragosa family is claiming legal ownership against residents who have lived on the same land for over 30 years. The Mexican agrarian court has still to pass a final ruling, but in the meantime the pressure on residents to leave has intensified. Support for the residents has come from community groups on both sides of the border, as local people begin to see the connections between development plans as well as to protest the use of force. (The history of this dispute was described in a previous article in Grassroots Press, Nov.-Dec. 2007, including the claims by Lomas residents that Zaragosas’ guards are responsible for the demolition of more than 40 homes and the deaths of two men and two children during the past four years.)

At the second forum in Lomas del Poleo on Dec. 1, participants were prevented by armed gang members from getting close to the area where the forum was scheduled. About 60 young men, some with dogs and baseball bats, blocked the road leading in to Lomas del Poleo. The forum convened on the same road, and several participants began with the reading of poetry amid the shouts of the Zaragosa guards a few feet away. The organizers asked the municipal police to remove the blockade of the road, but the officer claimed that he had to wait for his boss to give orders and that he was not in the area. The police never opened up the roadway and the forum reconvened at a safer distance, where community members denounced the situation of hostility and denial of free transit.

Although the forum failed to meet in the way supporters had hoped, the experience was important in that it gave further impetus to the cross-border organizing that had begun earlier in the fall. For example, an initial meeting of activists from southern New Mexico, El Paso and Ciudad Juárez was held in Las Cruces in mid-December. In New Mexico, concern over the creation of new Tax Increment Development District (TIDD) in Santa Teresa was sparked by the potential diversion of tax revenues in Doña Ana County to fund a private development plan of the Verde Realty group. Verde is the same group that is proposing to redevelop the historic Segundo Barrio district of El Paso, a plan opposed by many residents who fear loss of their homes to big box retail outlets and expensive apartment complexes.

Verde’s goal of establishing two industrial parks and a residential area at Santa Teresa are part of a regional plan that includes development of the San Jerónimo area across from Santa Teresa. The owner of the land in San Jerónimo, Eloy Vallina, also sits on the board of Verde Group. These bi-national alliances are supported by politicians on both sides, but they ignore the displacement of people in Lomas del Poleo and Segundo Barrio, as well as the potential drain on resources for communities in southern New Mexico, where the needs of low-income colonias should remain a high priority.

The most urgent problem continues to be the threats against residents in Lomas del Poleo. On Jan. 4, guards working for the Zaragosas were accused by residents of stealing cable and fencing wire from their homes. When one woman protested she was struck with tree branches from the back of a truck, residents said. When the police arrived, they took her husband in for questioning. He was later released, but the situation remains tense with fear of further attacks in the near future.

In response, a bi-national protest was held on Jan. 14, with participants holding up

the letters that spelled out the name of Lomas de Poleo at the Mexican consulate in El Paso and the name of Segundo Barrio at the U.S. Consulate in Ciudad Juárez. Informational flyers were also distributed and formal letters of protest were submitted at each consulate.

Although the crisis in Lomas del Poleo has not subsided, the recent forums and protests have brought a new level of attention and awareness of not only the land dispute in Juárez, but also the connections to regional development of the U.S. – Mexico border. Future meetings are scheduled for Feb. 13, 6-8 p.m. at the Autonomous University of Ciudad Juárez, and for Feb. 19, 6-8 p.m. at the El Paso Community College. In Las Cruces, a group of concerned citizens is also planning a public forum tentatively called “Rethinking Progress: Community Perspectives on Border Development,” to be held in late April. Further information, updates and recent, excellent articles by Debbie Nathan and Pulitzer-prize winner Eileen Welsome can be found at the website of the Paso del Sur group at www.pasodelsur.com

Neil Harvey is director of the Center for Latin American and Border Studies, New Mexico State University. He can be reached at nharvey@nmsu.edu

 


By Lauren Ketcham, diet
Environment New Mexico

 

The pollution performance of just a handful of corporations has a dramatic impact on the air we breathe and the climate we will pass on to future generations. General Motors, unhealthy Ford, site
DaimlerChrysler, Toyota, Honda and Nissan are responsible for more than 90 percent of the heat-trapping and smog-forming emissions from new automobiles today. The transportation sector is already the second largest source of carbon dioxide pollution in New Mexico, and the fastest growing source of new emissions.

 

With this in mind, on Nov. 28, the New Mexico Environmental Improvement Board passed tough Clean Car standards to reduce global warming and toxic air emissions from new vehicles sold in New Mexico beginning in Model Year 2011.

 

Despite overwhelming support (more than 2,000 individuals and organizations submitted public comments in favor of the program, while only about 30 comments were filed in opposition), the program is already under attack.

On Dec. 19, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Stephen Johnson announced that he was denying a waiver for California, needed under the Clean Air Act for that state, and by extension all states including New Mexico, to implement the global warming standards portion of the Clean Cars Program.

In making this decision, the EPA has chosen to ignore the science behind global warming, its legal duty and the Clean Air Act. Over the objections from its own legal and technical staff, EPA Administrator Johnson has bowed to political pressure from the automobile industry and its friends in the White House.

Quickly following this decision, New Mexico joined 15 other states that filed a lawsuit against the EPA opposing the decision. Unfortunately, while this works its way through the courts, the public and the planet will suffer from diverted resources and delayed action on climate change due to the federal government standing in the way of state action to address global warming.

 

In the meantime, a handful of state legislators and dealerships have been busy at work filing their own lawsuits. In November, four New Mexico state legislators — Senators Timothy Jennings and John Arthur Smith, and Representatives George Hanosh and Jim Trujillo — and a handful of businesses filed a lawsuit against the Environmental Improvement Board, alleging it lacks the authority to adopt the standards. Although the lawsuit has been dismissed, the parties have signaled their intention to appeal the decision.

 

At the same time, three dealerships — Zangara Dodge in Albuquerque, Auge Sales and Service in Belen and Phil Carrell Chevrolet-Buick in Carlsbad — have filed a complaint in federal court against the Albuquerque Environmental Health Department and the New Mexico Environment Department. The frivolous lawsuit is nearly identical to those filed in two other states (California and Vermont) in which judges determined automakers’ claims were without merit.

 

Automakers — and their friends in D.C. and the New Mexico state Legislature — need to stop litigating and start innovating. The Clean Cars Program is the single biggest step New Mexico and other states can take to reduce global warming from the transportation sector. The auto industry has the technology and the know-how to make cleaner, more efficient vehicles, but they’ve systematically stymied state efforts.

 

Please call the legislators that have filed the lawsuit and tell them to do what’s in the best interest of all New Mexicans and drop their lawsuit against the Clean Cars Program: Rep. Hanosh (Cibola and McKinley counties): 505-287-4451; Rep. Trujillo (Santa Fe County): 505-470-0143; Sen. Jennings (Chaves, Eddy, Lea and Roosevelt counties): 575-623-8331; Sen. Smith (Hidalgo, Luna and Sierra counties): 575-546-4979.

 

For more information, please contact Lauren Ketcham, Environment New Mexico, 505 254-4819, Lauren@environmentnewmexico.org

 


By Steve Klinger

With a resounding victory on Jan. 15, online Sharon Thomas took the District 6 seat on City Council, visit
expressing optimism that she can help chart a more progressive course for Las Cruces. Despite some backlash in area media after the November city election that unseated Councilor Jose Frietze and Mayor William Mattiace, voters in Dist. 6 showed that the earlier contest wasn’t a fluke, giving Thomas a 54 percent majority and a better-than-two-to-one advantage over her closest opponent, Karen Trujillo.

After the election, Thomas responded by e-mail to a list of questions from Grassroots Press.

Do you think the mood of voters in Dist. 6 was vigorously in favor of change, putting the brakes on rapid growth, or more a reaction to the specific candidates?

I think the voters in Dist. 6 are ready for the City Council to step up and be leaders in the planning of our community. That was my campaign message, and we consistently received positive reactions. And I don’t think people want to stop growth; they just want the city to plan ahead for the growth we know is coming.

How much can you attribute your victory to hard work and an effective campaign?

I’d like to say that hard work and an effective campaign were key. I believe they were. We worked very hard. Over 90 people volunteered to help in one way or another. We walked both on weekends and during the week. We covered every precinct twice.

Could you enumerate some priorities that you have set for yourself/your district, and also citywide issues you’d like to see the council address?

People in Dist. 6 want to see the Las Cruces Country Club retained as a golf course (public) or made into a park or some combination of those two. They are also concerned about traffic congestion, lack of parks and trails, bike lanes, neighborhood services, public transit, and safe routes to schools. In some areas, residents are concerned about neighborhood noise and crime. Many residents are also concerned about the design of the new Aquatic Center and the lack of a “green” plan for the new city hall. These concerns are all priorities for District 6.

Citywide, I’d like to see an assessment of infrastructure needs and a study of activity centers and connecting corridors that we could use as a tool to build neighborhood communities in both existing and new areas.

How do you feel about curbside recycling, which many feel was handled poorly by staff and ultimately jettisoned in favor of drop-off recycling bins and an eastside location?

I heard over and over again from Dist. 6 residents that they want curbside recycling. I have read that curbside recycling now serves half of the U.S. population. Surely we can figure out how to do it in Las Cruces.

We talked about the importance of a coordinated comprehensive plan (Vision 2040). What can the city do now to pull its weight?

The new regional, comprehensive plan (VISION 2040) will not be ready for another 1-½ to 2 years. In the meantime, the city council needs to develop some policies that will help us contain sprawl; balance commercial, industrial, and residential growth; provide more open space, trails, wildlife corridors, bike lanes, and parks; and address sustainability issues.

The council recently approved a (Tax Incremental Development District) TIDD for downtown… Do you support TIDDs for revitalization; how about for new development, and are you concerned about safeguards or oversight?

I do support TIDDs for revitalization. The use of TIDDs for new development is another matter. Safeguards and oversight are both sorely missing from current state legislation and widespread use of TIDDs for huge new developments (by mega, out-of-state developers) in several locations across the state could prove disastrous for the state’s general fund.

Is it your impression that factions with deep divides will be a big issue in city government? Are you encountering any continuing acrimony between “pro-growth” and “slo-growth”?

The kind of growing pains we are experiencing have already happened to many cities and towns across the country. Yes, factions emerge in these situations, but solutions have also been found. We need to focus on the good models and best practices other cities have developed to bring those factions together to work toward building sustainable, livable cities.

Steve Klinger is editor and publisher of Grassroots Press.

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