Las Cruces Citizens Quash City Ordinance, Protect Right to Water
By Rich Bindell
Some good news to kick off your Independence Day! In Las Cruces, New Mexico, local citizens rallied to defeat an unfair city policy that would have blocked citizens with unpaid traffic tickets from having the right to water.
If you recall, Food & Water Watch issued an unofficial citation to the city council for violating the right to water. Just a few weeks later, the council backed off and declared that the city would seek alternatives to punishing violators.
This is a wonderful victory for the local citizens of Las Cruces! It’s nice to be able to report to volunteers, organizers and our supportive social media community that their voices were heard!
Food & Water Watch Volunteer Jason Burke, who lives in Las Cruces, said it best…
“As a citizen of Las Cruces and a volunteer on behalf of Food & Water Watch, I applaud the leaders of the City of Las Cruces for making the right decision by choosing to rescind their policy on unpaid speeding tickets. Denying anyone the human right to water is never acceptable, even when it’s purpose is to punish wrongdoing. I congratulate the citizens of Las Cruces and their advocates across the country for strongly voicing their concerns about this issue through the democratic process. The people spoke and we affected this decision tremendously.”
According to Food & Water Watch volunteers who live in the region, Las Cruces City Manager Robert Garza downplayed the city council’s intent on fully applying the law if it had been passed. He claims that they were planning on using the law to target four specific offenders:
“One thing I want to mention before I put the police department on to explain the history of the program and where we are and so forth and that has to do with the termination of utility services connected with red light cameras. I want to be clear from the very get go that that particular decision was an administrative decision to deal with four offenders that we have in our community and the administrative decision that was made has now been made very clear that we will not be using that particular tool as any part of plan for collections for red light cameras. So, I just want to make sure that that’s up front because that’s really not what we’re here for. We’re here to talk about the program, how we’re doing with it and we do need to talk about collections and some alternatives that are viable.”
The key to this victory is the outrage that residents expressed through e-mails, calls and visits, and the support our social network offered to the community from around the country. Thanks again to everyone who commented on and shared this issue with others.